According to his family, Prem Dasgupta was an irreparably calm man. But then they came home to find him squatting naked over the exquisite Persian rug. He was attempting to rebuke himself into one more successful bowel movement. “Damn you!” he kept saying, oblivious to his daughter and grandchildren staring in disbelief.
This was planned. For days, Prem Dasgupta had been eating ripe avocados and celery and hummus with baby carrots. At nights, he would mix a pitcher of Metamucil and single malt scotch. He had been strategically avoiding coffee. But that morning, when his family left to go Christmas shopping, he put on a large pot of his favorite Sumatran blend. Just the aroma of it percolating set him off and he began defecating around the house, in a pre-arranged order that he had chosen after doing research vis-à-vis his daughter’s and son-in-law’s homeowners insurance policy. They were usually very thorough, but Prem Dasgupta noticed that certain possessions were not protected by additional endorsements to the policy and as such their loss would not be reimbursed in total. It is all rather tedious, admittedly, but vital in understanding Prem Dasgupta’s decision to shit specifically on the Persian rug, the marble countertop, the antique day bed, the fine China, and the silk sheets. Of secondary concern was the children’s lego city, complete with renditions of the Eiffel Tower and the Guggenheim. But he managed to shit on that as well, on the police station as a matter of fact. This was also planned. Prem Dasgupta was an anarchist at heart.
When his family confronted him he was on his second tour of the house. They called him demented, which he forcefully denied. As he would explain over another Metamucil and scotch, he was attempting to save his family from materialism. They had become overly fond of things, worshipful even. His was an act of mild iconoclasm. They were losing their souls. His family scoffed at him. His youngest grandson wept at the sight of the ruined metropolis. Maids arrived within an hour to remediate the house.
On Christmas morning, Prem Dasgupta’s family gave him a superb bottle of single malt and a jar of Metamucil. Prem’s daughter then offered him a trowel and some of her earrings, not her finest certainly, but still a beautiful and expensive pair. And with her leave, he and his grandchildren buried them in the backyard. This reconciliation comes as no surprise. What Prem had done, the havoc he had authored, the disgust he had summoned in his heart and eagerly transposed as effluent, was inspired above all else by a troubling, tribal sort of love.
Avee Chaudhuri is from Wichita, Kansas.