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Showcasing creative writing by university students around the world.

Published Sunday, June 8th, 2014

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The Poppadum Man

Once upon a time, there was an old woman who lived in a village. She decided to make a poppadum man. She mixed together chickpea flour and pepper and cumin and water, and cut it into the shape of a little sahib, with lentils for his eyes, a garlic clove for his mouth, and tiny little nuggets of aloo for the buttons of his waistcoat. Then she fried him in a pot of hot oil.
 
However, as his edges began to curl and his body grew crispy, the poppadum man leapt up out of the pot and ran from the hut. The old woman chased after him, but the poppadum man shouted back, “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the poppadum man!”
 
Past the market he ran, and into the village square, where he met a cow. “Moo, I want to eat you!” said the cow, who galloped after him. But the poppadum man ran even faster, chanting, “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the poppadum man!”
 
A little further on, he ran into a temple and met a priest, performing a puja with his lamp and his bell. “Namaste, I want to eat you!” said the priest. But the poppadum man hopped over the heads of the worshippers, chanting, “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the poppadum man!”
 
Down the road, he ran into a railway station and met a group of European backpackers, grubby and rasta-haired and smelling of hash. “Grüß dich, we want to eat you!” said the backpackers. But the poppadum man sprinted at breakneck speed, even faster than the speeding train, chanting, “Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the poppadum man!”
 
In the blink of an eye, he ran into a city and met a horde of technopreneurs. “Howdy, we want to eat you!” said the technopreneurs. But the poppadum man dodged their grasping paws, eluded their hungry efforts to crack his recipe and franchise him as a nouveau health food in Silicon Valley and Shanghai.
 
Finally, the poppadum man reached the sea. “Oh no!” he cried.  But then, out of the waters rose Annalakshmi, the goddess of sustenance, seated on a lotus blossom and garlanded with jasmine.
 
“Little poppadum man, why do you ignore your destiny?” she chided him. “Remember, we are all bound together in samsara, the eternal cycle of birth and death.”
 
“How true,” thought the poppadum man, and he sat down and started to meditate.
 
And as he sat there on the sand, with his crispy little legs folded into themselves, the technopreneurs, the backpackers, the priest, the cow, and last of all the little old lady, descended upon him. And as he reached the utmost state of enlightenment and bliss, they broke him apart, dipping his hands and feet and face into saucers of mint and yoghurt and chutney, then down into their hungry gullets.
 
“All is one,” he said.
 
And that was the end of the poppadum man.

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