I have reached my saturation point. I cannot write one more word about how to sell tomato ketchup. I do not even like tomatoes they are unpleasant. They are sweet, bitter and tangy all at once. Sometimes they taste earthy. Why? Why cannot they stick to tasting the same? Why all the varieties? I hate the taste, hate the look (are they orange or red?) and hate having to write about how to sell them.
Mom gave me tomato sandwiches for lunch today. I have been sulking since then. She knows how much I detest that vegetable (or is that a fruit?) and yet, the moment I opened my lunch box, there it was. I guess she forgot… Again! However, the way the slice of that wretched contradiction sat between the bread slices, on the cheese, dusted with some salt and pepper, it seemed as if the tomato was mocking me.
“Neal, Feroz wants to know whether you are ready with the final concept of the ad.”
It is Adi, a design intern. She is overly enthusiastic and extremely annoying. She believes that she knows the mantra of success without making an effort. Pish-posh, I am aware of every mantra there is to know. Silly girl!
“No. I need some more time.”
Ah! Those anger management workshops have been a great help. I have finally learned to control my anger.
“Well, it’s just tomato ketchup. Hurry up!”
“Hey!” she dares to speak to me like that! She needs the good old spanking. I could do it now but she has already trotted away.
I am Indraneal Sengupta, 47 years old, unmarried and most of the time, I talk to myself. I am not mad let me tell you that. I enjoy my own company. People only pretend to know and understand me. However, they do not. Unlike others, I get myself. I do not need others. Although, we are not rich, my mother, Sulochana, and I live in a posh area in New Delhi. You have probably guessed by now I work for an ad agency as an assistant creative head. It is not that I hate my job. However, there are days when identifying the unique selling proposition of an ordinary product can take its toll. I do not like to talk much about myself though; it makes me nervous. I do not like it when I am nervous; it makes me angry. And, when I am angry… Well, enough about me for now. Feroz, the senior creative head, must be waiting for me.
“Neal, you are here, finally. All right, dazzle me!”
Unusually, he seems to be in a good mood today. I show him my work. I can see the change of expression on his face. He does not look dazzled by my work.
“It is okay… but it’s not brilliant.”
Why do I see joy in his eyes then?
“We should… make the ketchup bottle slightly… sexier. You know… Naughty tomatoes. What do you think, Neal?
I think you are full of shit. A SEXY TOMATO KETCHUP BOTTLE?
I can feel anger drumming at my temple. The newly sharpened pencil lying on Feroz’s desk is luring me with its sleek and glossy redness, urging me to pick it up and caress its smooth body. The touch of the pencil in my hand feels comforting.
“Feroz, do you mind?”
In a swift action, the pencil is jabbed into Feroz’s throat. I did it. That bastard does not know how much I hate tomatoes.