The Conundrum

Chapter XXXI
The Soya Bean Conundrum: The Lunch Box Journal

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Story so far: While the mending seemed to have worked, there was still a certain distance that Akhil had been maintaining ever since that awkward conversation, which wasn’t as evident in the talks but that was as pretentious as it gets. Meanwhile, Sameer’s visa had almost reached the final steps of being processed and Neil and Gautham were amid partner searches.

It was a Friday and the guys had decided to play a badminton match a little early. By this time, Gautham, Aryan and Neil have been going to Badminton regularly and it was their ritual a little after their lunch time. But as it may have it, people used to see Friday as an early weekend they used to over crowd the Badminton court with their presence. And a little too selfish office was throwing the court in the face of the employees as the greatest thing that could be done by them instead of providing them a much safer, better and multiple courts. After all, the campus employed close to over seven thousand people and one court for all of them is a bit too much of a stretch.

In the middle of the summer afternoon they sat down to satisfy their empty stomachs. And that their hour long endeavor, their hunger pangs were urging to be satisfied as soon as possible. They settled in the middle of the canteen. By the time, two of the group members have started bringing their own lunch boxes. Earlier it was just Neil and Akhil, but now that Gautham had taken up a new place in the city, he was also getting a lunch box, as suggested by his mom. And he enjoyed the home made food nonetheless. This time he made a change to his usual lunch items. He rarely brings meat to office. So far it might have been once and this might have been the second time. Sameer and Aryan were still relishing the food from the office canteen. Aryan did have a cook but then he wasn’t interested in carrying a lunch box with himself to the office. He felt it was what the settled guys did, by settled he means the ones who are married. Either way, he wanted to keep his free. And a lunchbox even if someone insisted perhaps like his mom, it would have been declined. But maybe, things might change once he also settles down.

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After Mirza had left without saying a word and later having gotten herself married, the good friends of Neil took upon themselves to find him a replacement for Mirza, they found Nikhila who was pretty cute. But compared it Mirza, she was a compromise, the compromise the entire group was willing to make, while Neil wasn’t really much bothered about that. Though, the whole group’s actions did seem to give her the impression that the whole group might be after her and more importantly that they were being creepy. While there were many such awkward encounters that happened over the course of few months, it was different this time. It was close to afternoon and the clock had just turned to PM from AM while Neil, Aryan, Gautham and Siri were had just reached the badminton court and started their game. They might have bee a couple of games down when there was Nikhila stepping down into the court. Aryan started coughing all of a sudden, a fake cough all the same to indicate that there was someone coming into the court. While she settled herself on the pavilion which was on Neil and Gautham’s back, Aryan’s absurd and stupid cough gave the much need clue of what had just happened. Neil seemed completely calm and not bothered with any of that, but may be it was what he was showing. While Gautham has a bit of trouble remembering faces, it hit him a little while later about what was actually happening. Siri was completely oblivious of what was happening, she didn’t understand what was even happening. Since she was still a bit new to the group, she decided not to ask any questions about the absurd coughing or the creepy smiles of Aryan and Gautham. A few games were played with Nikhila who teamed up with Aryan and they parted their ways, but the whole story had to be narrated to the one’s absent on the badminton court.

The following lunch session was the ideal time to discuss it over food which was when the whole group would be together. While each one were interrupting one another to tell the story while the others were settling in their chairs around the table, Akhil asked Gautham what he had got for lunch. To which Gautham initially had told that he had got chicken but later corrected it as Soya bean curry. Akhil is a hard core vegetarian. Though he was once a non vegetarian, who had stopped eating when one of his relative had some complication with when he had chicken. Since then he had stopped having Chicken. Meanwhile, the others continued with the story of what had just happened. Neil and Sameer had informed Akhil that what Gautham had brought was not Soya bean curry but it was chicken indeed, which didn’t seem to register into Akhil’s mind. As the story was going on full fledged, there was one really angry guy at the table. “Fucking Assholes“, he shouted angrily.

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(To be Continued …)

Who was so angry? And what had happened that one had to curse the whole group all at once? What was it that had so horribly worng?
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The Lunch Box Journal

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