it was a joke when zubin dara cowasjee ran his car into a cow.
in the wake of the great real estate boom, the farms in gurgaon had turned to vast wastelands punctuated by giant yellow machines, giant embryos of rusty rod and concrete and roads.
the roads were beautiful - large, steeled miles of flashing concrete befitting the superstructures they were access to.
it was all so beautiful.
not for the cows, though. the cows got jacked. the new roadmap failed to register in gurgaon's thick bovine mindset. bessy, martha and june would cross the wastelands to the roads, their minds, given a genetic conditioning that had come to pass over the last three hundred years or so, would register 'cool shade of a tree next to acres of wheat crops' and they would sit. the concrete, burnt white by the sun, would scald them, there would be horns, traffic blockages and the occasional violent driver, but to them these were just hallucinations, paranormal intrusions into their conception of reality, material for a bovine x files.
therefore, for the cow that zubin's car ran into this would have been a UFO attacking.
for zubin, on the other hand, it meant 5 lacs in dead loss. the car had just been bought a couple of days ago. even the license plate said a/f. and then there were the jokes, how cow had gotten a cow, instead of the much deserved (in zubin's opinion that is) motions of pity, sympathy and offering to help with the dead loss.
the event, like all such events, was forgotten. buried by the cumulative of his first lay, promotions, new cars, children and a new cupboard for the living room. then, there was also the invasion.
the z'entradi invaded earth in large airborne fire spitting spaceships.
'we've persevered worse', said president obama, now serving his fifth re-election, 'we had to beat the apes and we invented fire, we had to beat the neanderthal and we invented the wheel, we had to beat the romans, and we invented the huns, we had to beat the british, we invented industry, we had to beat the soviets, we invented hollywood, we had to beat the orientals, and we invented globalistion. now it's all a question of waiting till we invent something to beat these guys.'
that was three seconds before a z'entradi footsoldier pushed a little yellow button and destroyed all of america.
the rest of the world quickly surrendered.
the z'entradi wanted slaves and land for industry. all of humankind, therefore, found itself gainfully employed, and all of earth found itself industrialised. outsourcing entered its intergalactic age.
as it worked itself out, earth found itself divided into large industrial sectors - factories the size of countries, connected by superhighways to ports where spaceships would fly to the z'entradi homeplanet with the produce. mankind resolved itself to slums around these roads.
in a little shack by one of these roads lived the cowasjees.
zubin, wrinkled, hunched and old, had been put in a closet. he had been driven to madness by the destruction of his house (while his wife was still in it) by the z'entradi. it was nothing personal, the aliens were just working on the superhighway, the cowasjee residence had been one of the thousands destroyed on that particular drive.
an asylum was now a luxury. and zubin was too much of an embarrassment to be kept in the room. so he knocked, cried and hawed in there while the others got used to it.
one day, zubin was unusually silent.
'is he dead?', asked young nauzer.
'my god', said zenobia, 'he's gone.'
the house hadn't in fact been destroyed, thought zubin as he tramped through the slums, this is all a big ploy to trick me.
he walked discreetly through the slums.
this is devendar vihar, sushant lok 4 should be a couple of miles in that direction.
the people looked at the old man strangely. there was something weird about him and someone ought to have stopped him and reported him to the marshals. people, however, are busy.
barack's going to be the first black american president, thought cowasjee, the world's going to the dogs. he wondered how his nephew in california was. he wondered whether he might go visit him.
suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks.
he saw his wife in the garden, putting out his clothes to dry.
with whatever life was left in him, he ran.
she spotted him and smiled. she dropped the clothes and ran to the gate.
he leapt forward, when suddenly he felt the soles of his feet melting. in the minute of sanity that pain affords, the heat on the z'entradi superhighway jolted zubin out of his delusion. the house and his wife faded. he saw himself in the middle of a great road. he sank on his haunches, trying to bring back the house, trying to bring back his wife.
he sat there, praying for an illusion.
he sat there, waiting.