This story is about two friends meeting after four years. Vishnu stays in India while Nitesh is returning from Las Vegas. Vishnu is surprised by knowing that his friend has converted himself to vegan that too in Vegas.
It’s been half an hour since I am waiting for Nitesh, here, in our both favorite restaurant ‘The Khaanpaan’. As usually he is late again. The day is bright out here, the same I could remember as it was on our graduation day. It has been four years since that day, and even four years when I and Nitesh were together. That’s too long, but yes, we are meeting anyhow. Nitesh is coming here directly from the airport, he is returning from Las Vegas. After our Engineering he got placed in some IT company of the gambling city and I remained here. He was the most intelligent student from our batch. I was proud to be his friend. Before I tell you more about him let me tell you one thing, Nitesh was the first person who converted my vegetarian stomach into a meatatarian. It was not forceful but it was on my own wish, as I lost a bet of getting a girl’s phone number to him. The chicken was the first stuff which I ever ate that too in ‘The Khaanpaan’. That was the day when I got converted into omnivorous from herbivorous. Initially, it was difficult for me to accept, I always felt like I have got converted into some another religion, forcefully. But, the pleasant taste of chicken made me forget everything and I happily accepted my convergence. I never told this to my family as I belong to a Brahmin family, where eating animal is prohibited.
Since that day, it became our every weekend’s plan to visit ‘The Khaanpaan’ and get some chicken. Chicken tikka, chicken paneer, chicken tandoori, chicken lollypop, chicken this chicken that was on the top of the choice list every time. ‘’You give me one whole chicken, I will eat it all, including its bone”. Nitesh used to say every time. Chicken is the reason why I selected this restaurant for our meeting. Let him come then we shall recreate those moments.
“Hey Vishnu” I heard Nithesh calling my name. I turned back and it was him.
“Wow, you maintained your record of being late always,” I said happily. “Hahahaha, what should I do when all American flights are delayed’’ he said. “Well Vishnu, do you think this is the way we meet after four years?’’. I stood to embrace him.
As I moved forward to hold him even he moved forward but instead of holding him I punched him in his stomach strongly. “What was this for?’’ he asked. “Incase to remind you, the reason of my convergence”. I use to do this during college occasionally when we met. I do this for fun but not intentionally. He laughed, “you, still consider me the reason?’’. He said sitting on the chair. We both laughed the moment very hard. I sat after him and asked the waiter to come. “two special chai’’, I ordered. “Ahh! Thank you…but one without milk.” He changed the order. ’’So how are your days going with Infosys?’’ he asked me . “great…..it’s good to be there. Good salary and good learning environment even good girls around too. What about you?’’ I turned the question to him. He laughed and being to answer “Well! My bond with the company has come to an end, it was a great experience to be a part of a famous MNC in the Vegas. I am looking forward to work here in India”. He said. “How is Las Vegas?” I asked eagerly. “Pretty girls everywhere, lots of money in the city, very beautiful in the midnight. In short it’s amazing. We should once go together. ” He said. “Of course, who will not like to. ” I said.
The conversation started with our professional life, moved to personal life and further to the memories of college. People across our table started to look at us the way we were laughing. We were as if we are 10 years old children meeting each other since ages. Though we were meeting after four years but it just took four seconds to form the same bond which we used to have once. He was same as I saw him last time that made me proud. I was happy meeting him, even he too looked happy.
An hour passed talking. “Shall we eat something or just spend time talking?’’ he suggested.
‘’Of course, I was about to say that too, what would you like to have?’’ I asked while asking the waiter for order. “what will you like to have, sir?’’ the waiter said anxiously. “Chicken lollypop and chicken biryani, both two and rest I will say later”. “Wait wait!’’ Nitesh interrupted me “Vishnu, I no more eat chicken, I won’t mind if you eat. I shall order something else for myself’’. What the hell he just said right now, has he gone crazy. “What!! Are you kidding? That won’t be true. Come on, go on let’s eat it.” I said astonishingly. ‘’No, it’s true.’’ He said to me and turned to the waiter and said “we will call you in sometimes’’. “No problem sir’’ the waiter said and moved. I was continuously staring at him as if he has commented on my belief. “Vishnu, it’s been 2 years, for now, I have turned vegan’’ he said. I was completely speechless, for a moment I thought if he is the original Nitesh. “You are saying that now you are a vegetarian?’’ I said expressionlessly. “No, I am saying now I am a vegan’’ he corrected me. “Vegan? You got to be kidding. Being vegetarian was fine but are you saying vegan, what’s the problem with you? Do you have any health issue? That’s not possible, you cannot do this to you.’’ I said in one breath angrily.
“Cool down, I am fine. I know very well what I am doing” he said.
For me it was like, he was the one who took me to the brothel for the first time, we both selected prostitute for us and after everything, I got to know that the one which I selected is an AIDS patient.
I got very upset, the reason why I am omnivorous no more exits. I can’t imagine one who is coming from Vegas is talking in this manner. This might be the craziest thing happening in the world. Instead of getting addicted to drugs my friend has turned vegan, that too in Vegas. I don’t know why I felt that I have been fooled. He had not even forced me that day to eat chicken, now I feel like my best friend has betrayed me. This is hard to accept for me.
“Vishnu, what are you thinking? What’s the matter? ” he asked. I didn’t reply him. “And this is why I ordered the tea without milk, I feel happy on my decision. I am proud that I am vegan.” He said. “But how all this happened, had anybody forced you?’’ I said trying to be normal. I tried to control my internal anger to know the reason.
“All these happened in Vegas two year before. I visited a poultry farm to install some software device” he was speaking and I began to hear it patiently. “There I saw a group of hens inside fence pecking grains and communicating to each other, the same way we humans communicate. Meanwhile, a man entered the fence region and picked one hen from the group of many and took him out. As rest other hens ran behind that man in order to save her, but they weren’t able to do that. ”
His words were getting my attention. “Right after that, there was hustle bustle in the hen’s society. All the hens began to run here and there. Everyone cried.” He stopped speaking. “So what? That’s how we get chicken in our kitchen. That can’t make you stop eating a hen.” I said. “No Vishnu, that’s not the point, imagine we both are sitting here and having a nice conversation and some other creature come and pick me to eat, how will you feel knowing the next turn is yours? You can’t even save me or yourself.” He explained.
“Have you seen the red colored comb on the head of hen? What does it look like to you?” he asked. I kept quite. “Don’t you think they look like the crown, the same which the kings used to were of their head?” I was totally confused for a moment.
He looked crazy. “God had gifted them the crown by their birth. God has made them born kings and we are killing the kings appointed by the gods, aren’t we going against the god? In fact, the rooster is a vahana of ‘Bahuchara Mata’ the Hindu goddess.” he explained.
“But was Vegas a right place?” I asked. “You don’t need to see the place to awaken your mind, it may happen anywhere, just like some important discoveries were made in the bathroom. You know that too.” He said
“Screw you man, you are not same as you were. Something is wrong with you.” I said in order to prove him wrong. Though his explanation was correct but I was not ready to accept it. Today a Brahmin boy is no more Brahmin just because of him and he has suddenly converted himself to Brahmin. This thing was hurting badly in my heart. But my blame was worthless. I can’t stop remembering the first time when I ate chicken with him. “You could have converted to vegetarian then why vegan?” I asked. “I decided not to use any animal’s product because I don’t want to harm any animal only for my requirement.” He said. “What’s wrong with the milk, Nitesh? I don’t appreciate what you are doing.” I said.
“Come on Vishnu, only a child has full right on mother’s milk. If this is applicable to humans then why not for animals? How can I drink milk which is the right of a calf, the cow gives milk for her child, not to human’s child? You must think about it.” He said. 2.8 million Animals are killed daily only in America for the human requirement. Can you believe it? ” he asked. I said nothing.
“Little silkworms for silk, small bees for honey, elephants for ivory, lions for nails, snakes for skin are killed, don’t they have right to live. God has created man as a most intelligent creature in the nature but we are misusing are power. We are using it against god, we destroying the nature, for which we don’t have any right.” He continued speaking. “You can’t stay selfish. You can’t stay foolish. You can’t keep killing”. He said. “But what about those animals, which you have killed in the past?” I asked. “Yes, I will always regret about it. I did that in innocence. It can’t change the past but I in future I will never repeat it. I know I cannot bring their lives back but now I cannot take their life too.” He said.
“It all didn’t happen in just one day, it took time. Previously four animals were killed per week because of me. I tried bringing the numbers down every month. And now no animals are killed for me. ” He added.
“But what about me, it was you the one who made me addicted to it.” I said sadly. “I am sorry for that. I know that was the mistake which I committed. But the past is past incident it can’t be changed. You turned animal eater because of me. Some animals are killed only because of me just because you are a animal eater. I will regret it. I am sorry.” He continued “do you know sometime this makes me sad.” His eyes began to become wet. He was about to cry. “No Nitesh, I am sorry for talking like that. You are not the reason behind me. Please don’t blame yourself.”I said. “I can’t accept that, Vishnu. I should have not done that to you.” He said in the worried voice. “Forget the past dude, it cannot be changed, I am proud that my friend is a vegan. In fact, you are the first person whom I know is completely vegan. You are inspiration for us.” I said.
Today, I have again followed the steps of Nitesh and I am a vegan too. That days Nitesh’s word touched my heart deeply. Even I suggest you, try being vegan it will be a good feeling.