My mom like most mallu moms, thinks that sleeping without dinner is some sort of a big ‘No, No’… like belly dancing and voting for communists ( the former in her scheme of things is a lesser evil). No matter what I have eaten in the evening she will not budge. Dinner is what she makes, anything else eaten outside the house is not counted. There is no point in arguing with her and so most days I will drag myself to the table half asleep, eyes closed and serve some rice onto my lap and the gravy onto my Dad’s lap, take a bite off the plate and plonk back into bed. Apparently her great great veliyammachi (grandma) would say that it was bad to sleep on an empty stomach. And in my family no one argues with my mom’s great great veliyammachi’s wisdom. She still rules our house with an iron fist like she did a couple of hundreds of years ago.
Mom: Son, finish all the food in your plate.
Son: I have had enough.
Mom: Your great great great veliyammachi used to say…..
Son: ok ok spare me the crap and I will finish the food!!!!
Mom: *contented smile of mothers in TV commercials*
Then came middle school and we started learning about the Human Anatomy in Science classes.
Teacher: The Stomach is a carnivorous organ. It can digest itself and anything ….
Me: You mean it can digest anything like the other organs too?
Teacher: Of course it can digest anything!
Me (interrupting): Oh my gawddddddd!!!!
I nearly passed out in class. After that day I never gave any problem with dinner. I had horrific visions of waking up with all my innards gone because I had slept on an empty stomach and my hungry stomach had made a meal of my internal organs.
In fact I was so scared of my stomach eating my internal organs up that during evening prayers I would wait for the time when we were allowed to say a silent prayer for our personal wishes. My prayers would be something like this.
Dear God, please keep watch over me in the night,don’t let my stomach eat me up…thank you God….oh yes please bless my dogs….and the family too. Amen.
In fact such a catastrophe nearly happened two weeks back. I was scheduled for a Pre Employment Medical Test (PET) at this swanky Diagnostic Clinic (‘nothing but the best’ said HR, with her nose in the air). And horror of horrors… they told me to come for the test on an empty stomach and 'wait for my turn'!!! The receptionist, a recent graduate from the Achumama School of Charm and Faultless English (affiliated to the Uma Bharti Finishing School ),who had clearly bunked classes when they taught about the carnivorous stomachs in school, refused to listen to my pleadings and told me to “stop this naansence, no eating till blood testing!!!”
I resignedly sat down in the waiting room to wait for my turn. It was 8 am. Now, a Diagnostic Clinic (DC) is quite a cheery place if you are pissed drunk or on pot.
Me to lady at the right: I am here for a PET. What brings you here?
Lady: Bubonic Plague
Me: How interesting.
Me to Gent on the right: And what brings you here?
Me: How very interesting er…excuse me but I need to go urgently go to the other side of the road.
It was 8:30 am by now and I think my stomach was fast asleep because all was quite in the region of my stomach. Then around 9 am it woke up, yawned and looked around for food. Since none was forthcoming it sort of coughed to catch my attention. I pretended to be busy reading the list of BMTC Buses on the other side of the road. Then it started growling. I ignored it. Soon it was looking very greedily at my Liver….then at my Kidneys...then at the Intestines. ( I am pretty sure I heard it drooling).
I felt it give an experimental tug at whatever it was that was holding it in place to check if it could make a break for it. I silently thanked God for keeping it securely tethered in its place. Soon it was very hungry and angry and lunging madly at my Pancreas and Kidneys and other organs. My turn for the Blood Test was yet to come and the situation inside me was getting kind of desperate. Any moment my stomach could break free and go into a feeding frenzy. Imagine going for an ECG and finding out that you don’t have a Heart, let alone a heartbeat?!!! How embarrassing that would be!! And imagine going for a Chest X Ray and seeing a gaping hole in the ribcage?!! I would just die of shame!!
I desperately tried to remember if the Science Teacher had said anything about the stomach having teeth. I mean, if suppose my stomach was still hungry after eating my internal organs would it then chew on my bones? How inconvenient!!! I was sweating buckets by the time my turn came for the blood test. I have never been so happy to see a Hypodermic Syringe in my whole life (except that one day long time back when my brother had to take a Tetanus Shot…it was pure bliss to see him yowling.) After the Lab Assistant had removed enough blood for the blood test and to start his own Private Blood Bank, I was told to go and have breakfast at the Cafeteria in the DC and get back for the rest of the tests.
Now… a cafeteria in a Diagnostic Clinic????? Hellooooo! Who in their right senses would eat in a Cafeteria run by a Diagnostic Clinic????
Cafeteria owner to lab assistant: I am little short of mutton for the Biryani today; could you spare me some Liver?
Lab Assistant: Sure. That means I get 8 free lunches ok?
Cafeteria owner: Throw is a couple of kidneys and you have a deal.
Lab Assistant: *sigh* you drive a hard bargain. Deal!
So I said a polite thank you and beat a hasty retreat and bought myself a packet of biscuits and completed my tests. In the evening I decided that I will read up more on the Stomach so that I am not faced with such dangerous situations again. I Googled a little bit and then a little more bit and then a whole lot more and could not believe what I read!!!! Apparently the stomach has a protective lining that prevents itself from turning carnivorous!!!!!
*groan* That is twelve years of full tension for nothing. A little knowledge is a terrible terrible thing :(