One day, everybody was talking about it. It had even been printed in the newspapers. A great and learned sadhu had prophesized a conflagration, a natural disaster of such proportions that more than half of the world's population would be killed. Dil was on his way to work at the construction when site he stopped briefly to listen to a man propounding the benefits of a herb against impotence. Then he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, long lines of goats converging onto the green. "What's going on?" he asked. And the people told him: "Everybody's buying meat so they can have one last good meal before they die."
Dil, following this precedent of preparing for the end of the world, went into the shop and bought a kilogram of goat meat. On his way back home, he stopped at Gopal Bhakta's shop, where all the men saw the blood-soaked newsprint packet he was carrying in his hand. "So what's the big event, Dai? Are you celebrating Dashain early this year?" they joked. So he told them how goats were being sold in record numbers, and how the butchers were going a roaring business down in Tudikhel. The men, seizing on this opportunity for celebration, all decided to buy some meat for their last meal.
Sanukancha, who owned a milk-shop down the lane, said that his entire extended family of a hundred and sixteen people were planning to stay home that day so that they could be together when the seven suns rose the next morning and burnt up the earth. Bikash, who had transformed from an awara loafer to a serious young teacher since he got a job at the Disney English School, said that so many children had come in asking to be excused that day that the schools had declared a de facto national holiday. Gopalbhakta said that his sister, who worked in the airport, had told him that the seats of Royal Nepal Airlines were all taken with people hoping to escape the day of destruction.
Dil, showed up that night at his house with a kilo of meat wrapped in sal leaves. He handed it to Kanchi without a word.
"Meat! We don't have a kernel of rice, not a drop of oil, not a pinch of turmeric in the house. And you come back with a kilo of meat! We could have eaten for a week with that money." Kanchi was exasperated.
"Shut up, whore, and eat". said Dil. "You might be dead tomorrow, so you might as well enjoy this meat while you have it."
"How am I going to cook it? With body heat?" demanded Kanchi. There was no kerosene in the house. Dil stretched out on the bed, his body still covered with the grey and red dust of cement and newly fired brick from his day of labor at the construction site. He stretched out and stared at the ceiling, as was his habit after work. When he did not reply, Kanchi asked: "And what is this great occasion?"
He contemplated the water stains on the wooden beams for a while, and then answered: "It's the end of the world."
So that's how she learnt that a great star with a long tail was going to crash against Jupiter, and shatter the earth into little fragments. It was true this time because even the TV had announced it. It was not just a rumor. There were also some reports, unverified by radio or television, that several - the numbers varied, some said it was seven, others thirty-two thousand - suns would rise after this event.
Kanchi was just about to go and get some rice from Gopal Bhakta, the shopkeeper who knew her well and let her buy food on credit, when her son arrived, carrying a polythene bag with oranges. "Oranges!" She swiped at the boy, who scrambled nimbly out of her reach. "You're crazy, you father and son. We have no rice in the house and you go and buy oranges. Don't you have any brains in your head!"
But the husband said nothing, and the son said nothing, and since it is useless to keep screaming at people who say nothing, Kanchi left, cursing their stupidity. "May the world really end, so I won't have to worry about having to feed idiots like you again."
Merci pour la lecture!