National

The Potato Story

Somewhere in the heart of the heartland, a man was lynched, because he ate a potato. The nation erupted in protest.

The Potato Story
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I was halfway through my
plate of potato risotto
when my phone rang.

It’s a potato lynching,
I was told.

Somewhere in the heart of the heartland,
a man was lynched
because he ate a potato.

The nation erupted in protest.

“Killed for eating a potato? That’s inhuman,” said the liberal.
“That potato was grown on an
industrialists’ farm,” said the leftist.
 “Only the Devil eats potatoes,” said the conservative.

“Ban all potatoes,” said the Opposition.
“Ban all potato eaters,” said the despot.
“Profile all potato eaters,” said the editor.

I looked down at my plate
of potato risotto
neither saffron nor green
A vegan mush
of brains and guts
but no answers.

So I went to the heart of the heartland
To meet the potato eaters.

In the heart of the heartland,
potatoes were everywhere.
And so were the potato eaters.

People had been eating potatoes for centuries.

Then why was a man killed for eating a potato?

I went to the heart of the heartland
and asked all the right questions.

Was he one of us or one of them?
He was, I was told.

Was he devout or urban-naxal?
He prayed every day, I was told.

Prayed five times or 108 times?
He lived alone so no one saw, I was told. 

Did he speak the dominant tongue?
He spoke like us, I was told.

Did he dress like those in the West?
He dressed like us, I was told.

Did he dress like those in the East?
He looked like us, I was told.

Did he or they know the difference?
Not really, I learned.

Did he like Gumbads or Gopurams?
He was a heathen, I was told.

Did he like Tansen or  Baiju Bavra?
He was deaf, I was told.

Did he like green or saffron?
He was colourblind, I was told.

Did he like salaan or dal?
He liked sambhar, I was told.

Did he believe in ayurveda or unani?
He was allopathic, I was told.

Did he root for Trump or Biden?
Sanders, I was told.

Did he like Asha or Lata?
Geeta, I was told.

Did he like JP or Lalu?
Priyanka, I was told.

I returned home with no answers.
I returned home thinking of the potato.

And the man who was killed
For eating a potato.

Can potatoes die? Or kill?
Are potatoes reborn?
Can potatoes be avenged?
Does a potato know
right from wrong?
Do potatoes feel?
Do potatoes
have a religion?
Do potatoes die and
go to heaven or hell?

Is the potato eater as helpless
as the eaten potato?

Was the potato poisoned?
Or the one who ate it?
Was the one who ate it poisoned
Or the one who didn’t?

The potato eater died, I wrote,
Because he didn’t like potatoes.

The story did not get published
I lost my job

Now, I grow potatoes. 

[DISCLAIMER: The following stories in this issue are a work of fiction inspired by the state of news media today and are meant for reaction purposes only.]

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