The Question That Lies Between Us & Greatness: “Have I Left the Gas On?”

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The Question That Lies Between Us & Greatness: “Have I Left the Gas On?”

Illustration: Akshita Monga

 

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very time a space mission is announced and I am invited to be part of it I have to turn it down with a heavy heart.

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The thing is that I know that just as our spacecraft will cross the 10 millionth mile, I’ll be seized by a doubt that I have left my gas on. The niggling doubt would have crept in on day 50 of the galactic journey but I’ll try brushing it off as irrational.

But doubts are like faithful stalkers and refuse to leave your side. In fact they become nastier and more persistent with time.

By day 150 I will be a nervous wreck with added issues like, “Did I lock the main door when I left the house” echoing in my head in full Dolby fidelity. Of course I did, is how I will try to console myself. I am, after all, a responsible woman. I will replay the scene just when I am about to leave the house. I will recall locking all the balcony doors, checking the gas-stove for the 25th time, running upstairs to see if I had really switched off the iron. Finally, driven into a frenzy, I will take control of our inter-galatic spaceship that is on the brink of momentous discoveries, and ride it straight back to Earth.  

I know you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. On our last trip to Kazakhstan, I was a total wreck because I just couldn’t remember switching the iron off after I had ironed my favourite shirt that I wanted to wear on the flight. I spent the next week imagining our house being burnt to cinders, my 200 pairs of lovingly collected shoes gone. My saris that I never wear burnt to ashes, my measly 499 grams of gold melted. My lovely pair of jeans that makes my butt look like a million bucks charred beyond recognition. Damn it, I should have carried it with me!

My thoughts were in a free fall. Will I ever recover from the debilitating guilt of rendering my family homeless? What if I can never laugh again? As I sat on the hop-on, hop-off bus trying my best to soak in the sights, all I could do was wipe my tears imagining our homeless, penniless rest of our lives. And the stupid guide mistook it for tears of happiness.

When I suggested to the husband that we take an earlier flight back home because the weather wasn’t suiting me, he gave me that knowing look. What is it this time that you think you forgot to switch off, my darling? The darling bit was dripping with sarcasm. (I think this sarcasm thing is contagious. When we got married he was perfectly normal.) Anyway I don’t blame him.

“These days I prefer taking the lift up and down at least half a dozen times to check whether all appliances are switched off, the inner door of the kitchen firmly locked, before I finally leave.”

Initially he did indulge me. Like the time we were watching a play and I turned to him in panic and said, I think I left the gas on. He drove his bike so fast, by the time we reached home, our hair was looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And the gas was turned off. Strangely he did not share my relief.

Of course, experience has made me wiser. These days I prefer taking the lift up and down at least half a dozen times to check whether all appliances are switched off, the inner door of the kitchen firmly locked, before I finally leave. In fact this is such a good cardio workout, I recommend it for all.

But sadly this intense pre-prep will not work for the Mars mission. I will be too busy posting selfies on Instagram where I am pouting and trying to look serious at the same time with captions like: #excited #WohooMarsHereIcome #ITohRock #DoesMarsHaveMalls? Then I will have to reply to all the 197 comments on Facebook congratulating me and wishing I never come back.  With so much to do, the last thing on my mind will be taking care of mundane stuff such as locking the door. So naturally I will turn back.

Half way back to Earth, it’ll occur to me I should have asked my husband to take care of it but I will remember that he hasn’t been speaking to me for the last six months and has moved in with his parents.

They say phobia is irrational fear and the only way I can get rid of my phobias is by moving to an uninhabited place, with no electricity and just caves to hide in. Just like Tora Bora in Afghanistan, Taliban’s hiding place where they hatched plots to kill the infidels.

Maybe I will. The journey will be much shorter than the one to Mars.

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