Laughter Club. and Taste Disorder. by Debasis Tripathy

I feel jealous of the people who laugh and do it together.

Fixed time, fixed place, agenda fixated on laughter.
I join the group and stand nervously in a circle of strangers.
Deep breathing, stretching, chanting and clapping -
gentle warm-up, only to deceive.

In no time, injected with rich hormones of deliberate lies
the mad medley of laughter turns into an unruly riot.

The mind has two hands, the right-hand fakes it and
the left-hand doesn't know what the other hand is up to.

Before you know authentic laughter is everywhere: loud, little,
male, female, canary trill, hyena giggle, supple, brittle, ...

Eventually, all kinds of laughter merge into
a thrilling kind of unity with a sole purpose to spread
like a dangerous epidemic, set loose on the world.

But I, as I am, remain quarantined against the sum
of all the insane infections. Or maybe, a sadistic alchemist
has delivered me a vaccination to confer immunity
against the simple joys of life like relishing
a platter of pleasure placed before me on a buffet table.

The only thing I have to do is serve myself,
but I am designed to fail.

Taste Disorder.
You chew the food and it reminds you of an iceberg;
not the temperature, but the taste (or lack) of it.
You can smell, see the colours, but total amnesia
of flavours - ginger, garlic, herbs, saffron, spices -

all a blur between blandness and foolish fantasy.
You pinch the nerveless dorsum, feel the pain
but fail to arouse the impotent tongue; still pink,
but no bitter, no sweet, no sour, no spicy,
no umami, no saliva-tsunami, nothing whatsoever.

There has been a carpet-bombing on the territory
of taste, total sabotage of tongue's talents.
Eating has become a chore, an exercise to ingest
on time - breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever.

This is not a war you can win; it is a lost cause.
You carry a white flag. You are desperate to surrender
to senses, to regain common chemical consciousness
of relishing food. Of a basic human instinct.

You may see a ceasefire soon. Peace will prevail,
but till then you are left to your own devices.
You can’t stop the obligations of living, you
can’t stop swallowing whatever comes your way.

Debasis Tripathy works for an IT Company in Bangalore. He also writes - poems and short fiction. His recent work has been featured in Turnpike, Adelaide Magazine, Kitaab, and Punch Magazine amongst others.