Each Sauntering Step : Chapter 7
Reminder, Anastasia Myshkin’s voice says, Call Viren
I’m going to do it.
“Call Viren, Miku,” Ashwin says.
What should I do?
The doorbell rings. The dial tone follows. Ashwin ignores the doorbell. He gets a busy tone on Viren’s number. The doorbell rings again. He opens the door.
I: Hey Singh.
My phone beeps.
Miku: 1 New Message from Viren.
I: Yeah, Miku.
In a meeting. Speak to you in half an hour. Hope it’s good news. Cheers.
Singh: Yo Ashwin, you’ve got to check this out.
I: Check what out?
Singh: I got this amazing thing from the weird antiques guy downstairs.
I: Come in, come in. Arun’s out.
Singh: Yeah, I know. Dude, come downstairs.
I: What is it?
Singh: I’m not telling you. You’ve got to see it with your own eyes. It’s incredible.
I instinctively check if Viren has messaged again. He hasn’t.
I: Sure, let’s do this.
Singh’s place is empty. A black wired controller is connected to a black box, which is in turn connected to another black box connected to the monitor.
I: What is it?
Singh: The Playstation 2. It’s an old video game. It’s extremely —
I: Yeah, I know what it is. Really cool. I haven’t seen one of these before.
I turn to the monitor. The top left corner reads EVE 1 – 0 MANU.
Singh: I got the Playstation, that converter box, to make it playable with the new monitor, some 50-odd games, those CDs there. This is an old football game. I think he’s crazy for giving it to me. This must be very valuable now.
What, twenty plus years after they stopped production. Collectors will go crazy to have this. Want to play? It’s got two controllers. So we can play 1v1. Just be careful. All the things are old and it’ll be close to impossible to replace it or repair it.
I: Nah, I’ll let you complete this game. I’ll play after.
Singh: Actually —
The doorbell rings. Arun’s at the door.
Arun: Oh, there you are.
Singh: Yeah, I was just showing him this little baby right here.
Arun: No way! Is that the PS2?
Singh: Yes. Yes it is.
Arun: Get out of here.
Singh: Actually, I was just going to plug in this incredible 1v1 fighter. Want to play?
Arun: Yeah, of course I want to play.
Singh removes a CD from a box placed next to the stack of boxes on the floor, and inserts it into the CD slot. The monitor reads: Rogue Fighter.
Singh: I was thinking we should go to Freakshow for lunch. I’ll just skip the intro.
I: Lunch? Why?
Singh: I don’t know. Won’t dinner be too late?
Arun: Won’t lunch be too early?
I: I don’t know. I prefer lunch, to be honest.
Singh: As do I. I spoke to Fatima; so does she.
Arun: Ok. Works for me. Which character should I take?
Singh: Pick any. I’m not sure which ones are good yet. I’m taking this old man. This button’s for jumping. This one’s for kicking. Joystick to move around. I don’t know what any of the others do, but this should be good enough.
Arun: Cool. I’ll pick the old guy too. That way it’ll be fair.
I: Sunayna coming?
Singh: Maybe. Not sure.
The speakers blare, “Round 1. Fight!”
Arun: Shit. Ah! I’m kicking myself.
Singh: No you’re not, you idiot.
Arun: Give me a chance to —
Arun’s old man collapses; Singh’s does a little victory jig. The speakers say, “Flawless!”
Singh: Ha! You suck at this.
Arun: You’ve played it before. No wonder I —
“Round 2. Fight!”
Arun: What, one more? Shit —
Singh: Come on! Punch!
Arun: Not again!
“Flawless! Perfect Match!”
Arun: Well, this is embarrassing.
Arun: Love the countdown. So retro.
Singh: Yeah, it was kind of retro even then.
Singh: Yo, Ashwin want to play?
I: Yeah sure.
Singh: Right. Here you go. Same fighters.
I: After what happened to Arun?
Arun: Let it count down. I want to see what happens.
Ashwin’s phone buzzes.
Miku: Call from Viren, Ashwin
Singh: Ashwin, pick a fighter.
“Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.” This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no-bullshit value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.”
David Foster Wallace, This is Water