Home > Fiction > The Keeper of Secrets: Weeds

The Keeper of Secrets: Weeds

A good night’s sleep. It was a long time since he had one without nightmares or one in which he was woken up by a phone call. He was a light sleeper; always ready to jump out of bed. Last night’s sleep was different. Deep, sound and peaceful.

The groceries were all still on the kitchen top. He has use of one ingredient; instant coffee. Not his first choice but for now it would have to suffice. A lot of work was still left to be done on the home.

The gothic garden screamed for his attention. It would take a whole day, maybe more, to make it look like a well-tended garden. He heated up the milk he had purchased yesterday. From the shelves he got out a white cup. He scooped out a liberal spoonful of coffee and waited for the milk to boil. Boiling hot milk and instant coffee; no sugar, it tasted ok. With the coffee in one hand he walked into the garage through the connecting door and pulled out his gloves. They were brown and black with residues of mud, grease, oil and a host of other things.

Sipping on his coffee he opened the wall cabinet to pull out the tools he will need to tend to his gothic game ground. He was looking at them as if testing which of the tools were talking to him. Sipping on the remnants of his coffee he chose one tool at a time. The empty coffee cup found its spot near the edge of the work table. He preferred to use old traditional tools; more out of a sense of control. Dressed in blue denims and a cream coloured shirt, which was a silent witness to many of his dark deeds; he picked up the tools and walked in to the garden. Folding the sleeves he donned the gloves deciding to trim the shrubs first. The shrubs were easy on him but the grass and weeds were ruthless with him. He spent the rest of the day toiling hard to make the garden look like it had been cared for. Cutting the grass and raking the leaves was the tough part.

The earth was just like all human beings; layers of dirt and finally a plate on floating magma. Shake the plate and the earth shuddered. It was the same with humans, either the hot magma killed them or the moving plates brought them down. It made him smile. He was no different. He had his weaknesses and his quirks. His only defense was he masked those repetitive habits and had been able to get away till now.

The gardener in him overtook all his senses and engulfed all his self and time. The sun was moving behind the mountains and the garden looked good. It was green with no colourful flowers to interrupt the continuity of landscape. He suddenly felt pangs of hunger. He had not eaten for the whole day but a sense of achievement and satisfaction washed over him. He carried the gardening tools back to the garage and dumped them in the corner. He dropped the gloves on the table. They were covered in mud and a lot of his sweat had been absorbed by the gloves.

He shut the garage door and walked into the house picking up the empty coffee cup on the way inside and placed it noiselessly in the kitchen sink. He headed for a shower. Scrubbing of the dirt was a task in itself. His body ached with all the hard work and the hot water soothed his aching limbs.

His hunger was growling. He had to eat. He quickly finished his hot shower and wiped himself dry. He tied the towel around his waist and made way towards the kitchen. Mechanically making another coffee he decided a quick fix was the first step to addressing his hunger. He got out the bread and cheese slices and though he hated it, this was purely a survival necessity. It was a first in many years he was making changes in his schedule. While the milk boiled he took out a slice of bread and sprinkled liberal amount of mineral salt on it. Placing a slice of cheese on the bread another liberal dose of mineral salt coated the cheese and another bread slice covered it all up. It was his sudden thinking brand of quirky foods. He wolfed down the sandwich and the instant coffee made it easier to wash it all down.

His hunger was satiated for now but innovative cooking was on the cards. He dug into the refrigerator to see what he had that could be turned into something with good taste to completely satisfy his hunger. He found spinach and tomatoes. He washed them both in cold water and got ready to play chef. He chopped the spinach into small pieces. And the 2 tomatoes he chose into a total of 16 symmetrical pieces. He needed some more stuff to make his dinner; 2 handfuls of rice and some tamarind from his earlier stocks. He was all set for cooking up a storm. It was more a frugal dinner than a king’s feast. He placed water to boil on the gas stove. While the water boiled he washed the rice. He took some of the hot water and put the tamarind into it to soak for a while and the rice he dumped into the rest of the hot water and let it cook. He mashed the tamarind with his bare hands and turned it to pulp simultaneously watching the rice cook. He strained the tamarind as he had use only for the flavored water. As the rice cooked he let the water simmer in the vessel.

Cooking would not take too long as the vegetables he chose did not need too much time to cook. He let a little water boil in another vessel and added the tamarind base and the tomatoes to it. He watched the tomatoes and the flavoring tamarind waltz together into one synergy. He dropped the spinach along with them and it looked like colours being splattered all over; green, red and brown. He added a little yellow turmeric to it and salt to taste and let it simmer on low flame.

The rice beckoned for his attention, the frothy starch nearly overflowing. He used a ladle to take a little of the rice out and see if it was perfectly cooked. He was satisfied with his examination. The rice was soft like a rose petal. He found a perfect lid for the rice vessel and clipped it shut and turned the vessel on its sides draining out all the excess starch and water. The tomatoes and spinach too had finished with their royal waltz. He was not sure how the two would taste together, he would soon find out.

He shut the gas and placed the spinach and tomato gravy on the kitchen table in the middle and let it cool down he got out an orange china plate and placed it beside the gravy and was waiting for the rice to be drained fully of its starch. The cheese and bread were still in his stomach.

He had a few minutes and he thought that this was as good a time to log on to the internet and read the news and check his mails. Curiosity had gotten the better of him. He looked at the figures 27 suicides and 9 murders. It was as if the gods of death had descended on the city and its people, all because he left the door open. Like his dinner that was cooling down, eventually all will be back to cool and normal in the city; almost normal.

His mailbox was overflowing with emails. All of them had the same content, different only in degrees. Some begged to know where he was, other demanded, some threatened and some others promised suicide if there was no response. He selected them all and deleted them all in one click of a button.

The business news sites he found were more interesting. A cursory glance over them was all that he thought he would need but he was very wrong. His eyes rested on a topic that he realized was an eyewash. He clicked on the report suddenly forgetting about his dinner. The report was about a state backed infrastructure bonds. The investment opportunity and its 8% interest compounded yearly did not interest him. The name of those bonds given by the state, Road and Railway Infrastructure Fund and the line that they could be bought by any citizen of the state from Stockholm to Sydney made him sit up and read the report carefully again,. They were small value bonds that were to be sold to citizens of the country alone. They had something new in them. These bonds could be purchased online using credit cards and one needed a valid passport number to give to the authorities if residing outside the country.

The bonds were locked in for one year on of purchase. From second year onwards premature withdrawal was allowed but with a small fee attached. The bonds were available for different periods from 5 to 50 years.

Reading the report he knew things were set in motion. He was a cog in this large wheel. His aching body was now rigid and dinner long forgotten. He pulled himself off the chair and walked back slowly to the kitchen. He knew that it was a call he cannot ignore. He had sworn an oath of allegiance to it. The rice was drained of its starch. Along with the tomato and spinach gravy, the rice blended perfectly in taste though he was lost in another world. The new situation took his attention more than the tasty food he had prepared with his own hands. His hunger for food was now secondary.

New equations were being drawn all over and he wanted the answers to all of them, as soon as possible.

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