I’d be doing it for the wrong reason. I’d be opening the spice cupboard while I knew that it wasn’t spices that I was looking for. Well, maybe not knew, but had a mediocre gut feeling about it. So, you know, why open the spice cupboard?

But I was hungry. I was looking. I wanted food. The spice cupboard looked exactly like the kind of place where people always told me you’d find food. So I gravitate towards it. Strongly. I’m not saying that I actually move. But I gravitate towards it. I can feel that pull. But I resist. I question it. Without stopping. I get answers, I get cross questions, I get exasperated outbursts, but never alter my simple strategy: reply, question, probe, take apart, put back together, re-examine, contextualize, de-contextualize, and just keep on pushing. I really never tire. I mean, I do, at times. But I never really think about deciding to give up. I get distracted, sure, that’s in the nature of the damn thing (or just in mine?), I get tired, but my resolve nevertheless doesn’t change in any significant manner or magnitude for the entire episode.

Which is why I manage to stay away from the spice cupboard. Because it isn’t really food, is it? It’s basically a bunch of condiments, when it comes down to it. You don’t eat spices. You flavor, or garnish (do you? I don’t know), with spices. You don’t eat them.

So why would I look in the spice cupboard? Why should I? I don’t want spices, I want food. Glorious, wondrous, food. I want the innocuous yet beard-tangling juice you’d get from a seemingly dry piece of meat. I want to feel the contrast between the husky outer layers and the smooth filling of a sandwich. Heck, I’d even settle for that incredibly frustrating sticky sensation you get on the roof of your mouth after you’ve eaten a sapota ‘of a certain age’. And I’d take them all together as well. Or just one. But something. Most definitely something. I was hungry, as I mentioned, and distractingly so.

Which brings us back to where we were. Staring at the spice cupboard. Contemplating. Wrestling. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What have I got to lose? What if a genie appears in the spice cupboard and grants me all the food that I could ever want?

Ah yes, the lure. It is luring, for sure, a more devoted servant to her purpose you would never find, that damn lure.

I’ll make a full disclosure at this point and reveal to you that I passionately hate the lure. The zeal with which I loathe this being gives my love for food a good run for its money. I suppose this is because the circumstances connecting both these emotions are so closely connected. Wherever food has been known, or thought, or rumoured (as it mostly is) to lie, I have always, I repeat, always, found her to be present, never far off.

And it’s her whom I constantly argue. I wish I could say that I duck, dodge, and avoid her arguments while returning in kind. I’d like to say that I know all or most of her tricks and deal with them in a demonstrably competent manner. I don’t. They come at me, and being the bull in the china shop that I am, without a hint of grace of strategy, I catch them with my bare hands (and at times face), and grapple with them. It’s messy and it’s complicated and it’s difficult. But it really is the only way to carry out my inquiry that I know how to execute. At this point I’d like to say that that’s because I’m honest by nature. But I know that I have suspicions about my seemingly equally natural stupidity as well. So with a considerable amount of effort and lot more mental agonizing, I stave her off the scene each time. Until the next time. When I do it again. Sometimes I lose, and sometimes I win, but I always know that I can expect her to be at that next location, always sharp and waiting. I’m forced to ask myself at times whether it’s her that I’m after or the food.

So she was here as well, sharp and ready. And I, as ever, was hungry. And for all the times that I repeatedly face her, I’m still pathetic at taking her on. A simple maneuver that had stumped her a million times before was all I needed, but it just never comes to mind, and the fight is dragged on to several times this possible length because of it. My reactions in each battle are so vastly different, there is simply no formula to my fighting. Sometimes I doubt myself here as well — am I simply that incompetent that I must make such an episode of each fight, or do I actually enjoy them in some secret corner of my mind? Irrespective, I never stop fighting.

It’s a cupboard isn’t it? A cupboard in the kitchen. Kitchens deal in food. This is a cupboard in the kitchen. You put two and two together, and you have a definite imperative to open it. Look inside it. Because that’s what the imperative is. You’re hungry, you look in the kitchen cupboards, no questions asked. Because mistakes always happen. Someone or the other is bound to put the wrong jar in the wrong cupboard, and that chance is all I really need. It’s what I live on when the other cupboards have failed me. This sliver of hope is enough to make me take up an entire goddamn fight against the lure just to check that one cupboard. Such is life.

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