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A Bathtime Story for The Lighthearted

By Yaschen Dlima

Last Tuesday, something very odd was happening. But I didn't think twice about it. Tuesdays tend to be like that. I learnt this fact at Sunday School. Nevermind that. So as I was saying, something odd was happening. I found a squirrel squatting on top of a garbage can outside my window, meditating. Naturally, I took her for a mathematician who dabbled in Buddhism. I decided to approach her for advice on how to be better at math. I told her I was having a tough time at school; felt like I was falling behind; was disappointed in myself. I thought I was good at math. I mean, that’s what my mother said when I was just six weeks old; and I believed her: one tends to be quite naive six weeks into life. But now, I wanted to give up math forever. Hated it. Everyone else understood differentials so well; but me, no, I could not.

And thus spoke the squirrel:

“Shit. That’s a lot. You're going through some shit. You’re weighed down maan. Heavy. But you better calm that sad-ass of yours down. You got an ass. That’s pretty great for starters. Most sad people don’t. You’re a good sad person. One day you won’t be sad anymore. But you’ll still have that ass. That smooth sexy ass. One day, people won’t take you for granted anymore. They’ll respect you. Man fuck that. You don’t need these people. Get that straight. What you are is separate. What they are is separate. They’re idiots for the most part, especially the good ones. They think they know you, even when they say they don’t. Nonetheless, you need these idiots. They help you grow and learn new things. But they’re still idiots. Even the cool ones. All idiots. I’ve nothing else to say.”

She then frantically leaped off the garbage can and scurried down the street, disappearing into a gutter. I was left befuddled. Puzzled. Confounded. Confused. And a whole bunch of other such words.

A zebra, who stood watching the scene unfold, drew near. Said he knew her in her better days. They were colleagues; they worked the night shift at a call center. She used to be bright; well-versed in small talk; employee of the month. That sort of thing: agreeable. Soon, however, she fell into ill company. As often happens with bright squirrels well versed in small talk. She hit it off with a charming Siberian Cactus at the supermarket. They shared a love of The Beatles and scented bathroom soaps. Turns out our friend from Siberia dealt Methamphetamine for a living. Few days later, back at his semi-furnished apartment, he offered her some good ol’ meth. She took one sniff and that was the end of all her agreeableness. She was hooked, like a teenager on TikTok, scrolling till kingdom come. Lost her job. Twice imprisoned for battery and theft. Was sent to rehab last April. Her father gave up on her. Her husband too.

The genial zebra then enlightened me that squirrel language is not quite what most humans make it out to be. “Trouble with math” translates to “depressed as fuck” in squirrel language. Who would’ve thought? All that talk about asses and idiots was a metaphor for inescapable existential suffering. How odd! If only I had clinical depression instead of being bad at math, her advice would’ve helped.

By Yaschen Dlima

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