Shuntoo: Ketchup

“I do not want to be a part of this complex cycle of needless absurdities.”

This was Shuntoo’s response to my advice that he should seriously think about getting a steady job or, if he could not persuade himself to work for someone, to start a small business of his own.

“Complex cycle of needless absurdities?” I repeated. “Sounds good, but doesn’t make much sense” I said with a smile.

“That’s what this whole business world is, bacchay! Let me explain. Do we need tomato ketchup?”

“Well!….” I began but the son of bitch waved a hand to shut me up yet again.

“I am not asking you bacchay! It was just a statement. No matter how good it makes the food taste, we do not need it. But someone suddenly decides that it would be a good idea to make tomato ketchup. So he gets a loan from a bank, hires architects and laborers to build a factory, hires all kinds of staff like engineers, accountants, food experts, drivers, security guards and what not, starts purchasing tomatoes from farmers and is on his way. He then hires marketing people to sell the ketchup, advertising agents to let the world know he’s made ketchup and still other agents to supply it to the markets. He hires more accountants and lawyers to take care of his tax matters. He even hires agencies to give speeches to his employees to motivate them. The list is endless.”

“So?” I was confused and annoyed. I was annoyed because he was confusing me and my confusion probably stemmed partly from the fact that I was getting annoyed for no apparent reason. “What’s wrong with all this?”

“Bacchay!” he was smiling his patronizingly irritating and irritatingly patronizing smile again. “I never said there was anything wrong with it. I said I found it absurd. What purpose does all this serve. Except that it makes sure that all these people make money. Why? To buy things, things like …….” here he paused for a moment before saying “tomato ketchup.”

He lit a Marlboro and continued. “If one fine day the world realizes that it does not want tomato ketchup, the whole edifice falls, doesn’t it? And as I said, I don’t want to be part of this.”

I wanted to explain to him that he was wrong, but I just couldn’t figure out how.

I just wondered.

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