Half a Magnum, Kind Regrets
by Saumya Sharma
Hello! This week we’re really excited to have Saumya Sharma sharing with us on the gazette.
Saumya (she/her) is a freelance editor and writer currently working on commissioning and developing manuscripts for YA fiction and children’s non-fiction. When handed a plate full spicy potatoes x asafoetida–two things so beautifully Desi, she (almost) forgets to sporadically rant about all things third-culture, framing and reframing her breathless monologues into theatrical/ comedic narratives.
Read on for her first dispatch:
Half a Magnum,
And in the end, as my body surrenders its heat to the bed, and my brain to the 15-minute teriyaki noodles on Instagram, my pursuit in life- for all things good, comes alarmingly unstuck.
I am inclined to wrap up and move on to the next day.
A hard reset like they do in that new ghoulish romantic comedy with Pete Davidson and Penny from the Big Bang Theory (whose real name keeps getting cleared from my cache), although I never did understand the point of going back to the same flashy Indian restaurant every time, and a joke about Sophie's choice while picking the RIGHT Indian restaurant obviously lands where it belongs- in the compost pit.
I am inclined to fall asleep and undertake the journey of some intentionally visualised, vividly respondent myriad of dreams that work like a green juice cleanse; general dissatisfaction, oxalate-funded kidney stones, Cruciferous breath beignets (for fuck's sake- the word cruciferous with it's 'crucife' should be enough to terrify one away) and yet one somehow comes out feeling like the poster child for 'Planet Mindful'. I am inclined to wake up tomorrow; fuelled by this grass-fed euphoria, take a cold shower to recirculate the blood flowing out of my ass and into my brain again, and run thirteen minutes north to find triumph in the realm of the saturated Eat-Pray-Love self-help sensibility trope, now at the discounted price of only £31.99 a month.
I am inclined to finish here, but I am salty, blood and thunder, woe is me and this moment is my cataclysmic event (of the day), so I am also inclined to insert a flashback dating back to this AM–
Albeit, it isn't the AM, is it?
It's 12 something. I have a certain awareness, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I am awake. My stomach gurgling and lurching me back into consciousness; something it does daily, followed by thoughts of buying turmeric pills with less faith, more showcase of endeavour towards better gut health, something a certain numerologist predicted would be the cause of my ultimate demise. eek.
Anyway, a parched mouth, sticky with thick saliva, heavy eyelids weighed down by the sleeping pill we took for 'fun' the night before, a tissue stuck to my lower lip, the glue is the drool that has been successfully kept from my silk pillowcase and of course– dread and regret, my besties on mornings that have simply passed me by. The only thing that forces me to get up are the messages on my phone, not the ones asking for a group clean up, but ones to which I respond with– 'I love you, come home. I am ordering ice cream.' And with that, we have set a tone for today. For people who know me, I know, I am asking myself the same question– ‘ICE CREAM?’ I don't have a sweet tooth, rather my enamel can only accept sweets in one variety– it involves clarified butter, orange boondi's and is of Indian make. The only rational explanation is- It has happened. I am finally living the chick-lit’s I consume and am subconsciously orchestrating a morning hang, with keywords and tags including 'indulging' 'letting go', the size of the container directly proportional to the event, and the struggle that has ensued.
Ice-creams are ordered with yet another discount code, unfortunately not tubs for the dollar-dollar bills only live in our fond memories. One Magnum classic, One salted- caramel blah-blah, and two vegan magnum almond packs. First for the bereaved, who swears by the magnum's time and generosity spent on the nutty dairy-less stick. Second for the experimenter, a hipster chemist with a penchant for oscillating between minor explosions and constipation. The previously ongoing cleaning has been abandoned, some hugs have been shared, and the group has settled into the sofas. It just so happens, this past week has hit every one of us like a truck, and our ice creams are now a catalyst for group therapy.
(A side question I'd like to submit to chick-lit authors who are reading this is How does one eat sugar in such quantity for breakfast and focus on the problem at hand, without running to the bathroom, palpitating or just collapsing inwardly?) We are four, and we spiral from pay-per-view to dilemmas in dozens. Don't get me wrong, we are friends for we can all settle into a certain misery beithak and simultaneously perform our best Daniel Sloss monologues, with abandoned laughs that kill hours. The guilt from unnecessary calorie consumption hasn't hit yet, although there is a half-eaten ice cream wrapped up in the remnants of its original packaging sitting in the freezer. It is of the vegan almond variety, and I can't help but wonder...
It's late afternoon, and it's my turn to unpack my trauma from this week. A date gone painfully wrong, shards of memories slicing through the previously sickly sweet safe space created by our Ice-creams. I am feeling a little sick from the combination of the two. I am encouraged to share, but I have a distinct feeling that if I do, I will not speak, I will throw up. Words, tears, expletives? Unsure. So we do the next best thing, we take a cyclizine for our emotions and watch the 7th episode of White Lotus. As the theme song comes on, an uncanny familiarity instantly washes over me, my body slumps and suddenly nausea turns into post-hangover, fry-up hunger. This hunger can only be fulfilled by carbs and greasy fat. So I piss everyone off by pausing right after the intro, to make myself some Maggi and Cheese toast. For those who don't know, Maggi is a slice of Desi heaven, shipped from India by my lovely mother, that takes form in noodles; a two-minute preparation sans paraphernalia, temporarily thwarted by certain antagonists for containing excessive AGM, but coming back into our lives, stronger than before, with masala flavouring that is evocative of my childhood, and lives rent-free in my brain.
The only thing that can ruin this for me, is the Gym reminder by my friend who has also signed up for the same discounted torture, asking me to eat well before we leave. The problem with remembering one responsibility is, the others don't hold back. They latch on and stick to you like wax strips gone cold, only to be removed with excessive lubrication, nevertheless leaving some damage in their wake. My besties- dread and regret- are back, and with them I open my laptop while eating and trying to watch Jennifer Coolidge do her best. I kind of wish I was Carrie Bradshaw– of the no reading, wearing silky scarves with no stains, dusting her hands of some pizza flour and pushing 80 words a minute variety, but sadly the only thing she and I have in common is the lazy posture in writing and lack of personal and professional boundaries within the content. My hands are slipping over my keys from the fat of the cheese, adding to the grease that has been sitting on my keyboard for days, with sprinklings of crumbs stuck in that little valley between the screen and the keys. I give up in the first fifteen minutes and continue munching till it's time to leave for my dreaded workout.
“Do it for the endorphins, we will all feel better!” my friend says, as we trudge up north, thirteen minutes now twenty, and as we reach the door– the man at the reception tells us to kindly fuck off, for we have clearly missed the 'CLOSED' sign. A moment of silence, followed by a moment of contemplation, and finally a unanimous decision to hit the bar. Twenty minutes walking home to collect the cigarettes we definitely need, and another twenty to our hideout. That's a healthy endorphin-filled walk, isn't it? Not to forget all the energy we have expended in dissecting certain storylines presented by the men in our lives. So we do what we do best, settle ourselves within the safe space of the white noise and eat finger food in large quantities. Potato fries, less fries more wedges, less fried more boiled, with dips in ketchup and mayonnaise and as one beer becomes two, the dipping gets more lenient while the conversation veers from considering the possibility that alongside rice paper, I am also allergic to being alone but pathologically avoidant of the kind of supportive relationships that nurture creative work to shit collection at the clinic, or what my friend calls 'the most degrading experience of her life'.
As I walk through the door, my health app pops up with a notification that says– 'new levels of activity detected, on average you're walking more this year compared to last year'. Well Siri, on one hand, I understand the plot for I have acknowledged it myself. I am substituting potatoes for lettuce, peanut butter and jelly for chia seeds, and brown rice for white rice. I am moving beyond the occasional self-deprecating joke about the archetype of clean living, as an aspiring cerebral striver. On the other hand, I am trying to actively avoid the 'circle of control', as the stoics call it and let my indulgences not feel like payment towards this labour that is this venerated status-based earned luxury of keeping my body young but my mind, exhausted.
….and it has only been a month.
In the end, as my body surrenders it's heat to the bed, and my brain to the 15-minute teriyaki noodles on Instagram, my mind in a truly diegetic manner wanders from the goals of tomorrow to the ingredients in my cupboard. sizzling Garlic in chilli oil to spring onions, spring onions to a little more chilli oil, chilli oil to soy sauce and back to the fine egg noodles…