Theta is a cleanliness freak. He is the reigning champion in fact; the whole world of clean freaks idolize him and Cleaners Digest ran a 10 page article on his sanitized undies. It is rumored that Theta will achieve the coveted Godliness stature in just another year; the only man to even venture into this program through the cleanliness track. He frets and fumes at the sight of a little thumb print on his sparkling wooden floor and will spend 30 agonizing minutes wiping the print off with some sort of liquid that will banish fingerprints, but will not alter the shade of the wood. We all watch in awe when Theta wipes off a dust particle from his balcony railing the minute it disembarks. The fact that he also manages a full time job elsewhere perplexes many. Dust Particles Mafia, in their grimy underworld, have allocated an award of 6 million USD if any of their kin set foot (or whatever they use to move around) in Theta’s house. If they can stay long enough to take pictures of his living room, they would be decorated in the Hall of Stain.
Theta starts losing hair (which he promptly picks up and discards) whenever he knows guests are to arrive in his immaculate abode, especially his good friend Alpha. Alpha is careless and absentminded, has no regard for spotless washbasins and leaves colorless fingerprints on the wall below his switch boards. She washes her hands and doesn’t even wipe the basin clean afterwards. She sits on his sofa and doesn’t spray Febreeze at 5 minute intervals. One day she walks in, offers to make Aloo Gobi and while carelessly mixing the vegetables laden with turmeric and masala, she flings a whole dollop of sabzi from the tawa to the carpet in the dining area missing the linoleum floor of the kitchen completely. Mortified Theta managed to keep his calm under circumstances. He was wheeled back from the hospital within a week of surviving a cardiac arrest. Then he promptly ran over to Walmart, bought the best carpet stain remover that claimed it could remove all conceivable stains from beetle nut spit to Dinosaur blood. But there was no mention of turmeric stain. Theta found the out the hard way that Stain removers don’t lie. He then spent a fortune on a kasmiri rug with stain protection to cover up the yellow mark. He has, since then, banned Alpha from cooking in his house, much to the joy of everyone concerned.
The incident was long forgotten and recently Alpha arrived in Chicago to stay over at Theta’s. Alpha was home alone that morning and deciding to show some appreciation for their lasting friendship, she embarked on a cooking spree. Palak Paneer sounded like a great plan. She boiled the spinach, taking utmost care not to spill anything anywhere. She meticulously cleaned up every box of condiments touched so that there is no evidence of her ever cooking there. Nothing could go wrong. She was going to break the myth of her being a cooking disaster when she cooked at Theta’s place. She brought out the mixie to grind the palak. She turned it on…
She didn’t know how it happened, but 2 seconds and a horrifying noise later, there was bits of palak everywhere! Not just in the mixie, but on Alpha’s face, on the floor, on the counter top, on the sofa, on the artificial flower arrangement and on his TV. Old memories came flooding. She also remembered breaking an egg on his cell phone by mistake. How come these things happen only in his house, she worried. Alpha felt she should have tied herself to the corner of the house and stayed there for the whole day licking a bone. Luckily now that he had moved homes, there was no carpet involved. It’s all wooden floor. Easy to clean. So Alpha spent the better part of the afternoon using up all his kitchen towels and cleaning liquids. She felt satisfied at the sparkling result while every muscle in her body ached. She would get allergic reactions at the sight of palak henceforth.
Evening arrived. Small references to depleted paper towels were made and dismissed quickly much to Alpha’s relief. Palak paneer, made out of remains that was lifted off the floor and extracted from Alpha’s nostrils, was immensely enjoyed by Mr. and Mrs. Theta. They licked it all off and asked for more. Alpha sat smug, exonerated from her secret crime.
Suddenly, out of the blue, Theta gasped loudly looking skywards, 'What the F*** are those things on the ceiling? Oh Man! Jeez, I never saw anything like that before! Is my roof getting fungus?!!!’
Alpha looked up and saw it too. Huge chunks of dried-up spinach were suspended like stalactites. Dammit! If only she knew where to look, there would have been sufficient quantity of Palak Paneer.
Now the world talks of their friendship in past tense.