walnutbrowniesA sizzling hot brownie with vanilla ice cream, topped with hot chocolate sauce, beckoned Adi from the menu card he was holding. It was a Friday evening – an evening that Adi was glad had arrived – after a relentless and hectic, but resourceful week.

As he relished the possibility of devouring the treat that lay, still on paper, in front of him after a sumptuous meal, two inevitable, conflicting views inside him seemed set for a duel.

The yielding, softer part of Adi, urged him to gesture to the attendant waiting to take orders and call out for the brownie from the menu. Adi had reason to believe that he had earned the brownie, especially following a continued spate of stressful late nights at work. Pressure situations generally brought the best out of him, which made him immensely proud, but what was even more special this time around was that he had not given up, despite all the political odds stacked against him. There were people who did not want to see him succeed, who seemed to despise him. Adi had paid little heed to their intentions and kept marching ahead, over achieving his targets, winning every accolade possible from his superiors. And this, at the least, deserved a brownie.

As he was about to give in to the luscious prospect, precisely at that moment the rational, conscientious part of him spoke up. It warned Adi of the generous sugar and calorie levels that the brownie was packed with. He was not getting any younger after all. Yes, they said that 40 was the new 20, but he knew they did not really mean it. For instant taste bud gratification, one was actually inviting a layer of potent flab that innocuously lay hidden beneath the appealing brownie. It would perhaps mean painful additional hours at the gym and lesser hours of sleep on the weekend. Was it worth it?  After all, while the week had no doubt ended well, it wasn’t as if he had hit gold! He still had a long way to go before he met his target for the year.

The smile on the face of the attendant waiting on Adi’s table was blissfully oblivious to the tussle in his mind. Whether Adi ordered for a brownie or asked for the bill, the attendant’s smile would stay unaffected. How Adi envied him at this moment. He gave the attendant a helpless smile and pretended to look composed, sitting on the edge of his cushioned seat, even as his eyes stayed fixated at the brownie. He politely asked the attendant for five more minutes to decide.

Was I the only one to have to deal with situations of this nature? Adi thought.

There were temptations galore that life had to offer, that Adi could easily succumb to. Indulging liberally at the SPA, skipping the morning run, skipping the gym routine, helping himself to an extra cup of coffee with sugar or an extra ounce of butter on toast, indulging in home cooked fried snacks or ultra-rich, sinful sweets, were a few of his vulnerable sources of both joy and thereafter guilt!

Sometimes it could even be as simple as taking a cab back home at the peak hour (which was outrageously expensive), when the train station was well within sight. At other times, it was the added helping of rice at dinner time. The list the lady of temptations had seemed endless.

She seemed to have the guile to trap even a saint with her repertoire, Adi swore. And succumb he always would, although it was not before there had been enough mental drama and conflict, between his well-meaning, ‘rational’ brain and his friendly, flexible, impulsive brain, his partner many-a-time in crime. His rational brain prescribed the ethics to be adopted and actively controlled his dos and don’ts. His indulging brain on the other hand believed in taking things easy and just yielded.

Science had it that, in a day, the mind had to contend with as many as sixty thousand diverse thoughts on an average. Wow, some number that was! And several of these thoughts were to do with temptations. The lady of temptation coaxed you to undertake a fulfilling action every single time, but with no assurance that once fulfilled, she would not show up again. The rational side of the inner self advised you to refrain from paying heed to such thoughts. But this other side of the self, the friendly one, just wanted to give in, without listening to the rational side.

Irrespective of what the lady of temptation had on offer, at the back of his mind Adi knew that once he had given in, the aftermath would hit him with a splurge of guilt and helplessness.

“Why did I do it again” his mind would go typically! He would then, tend to spring to action, any action, typically one that would qualify to be rightful and would somewhat mitigate the guilt of having given in to the lady of temptation.

For instance, he could end up confessing to his wife or a close friend and take pleasure from being reprimanded for the guilt creating action, almost as if that would undo part of the ‘sin’ that has already been committed. Phew!

And then came the promise. That he would not yield to it, the next time around. The mind drew some more comfort there.

A few days then passed by merrily and with no event, but then the lady showed up again, with a different bait to prey him.

The inevitable conflict once again sprang in the mind. The aftermath was a heavy toll to deal with. It rather seemed easier to say no at first instance.

‘To yield or not to yield’ as William Shakespeare would have put it.

His quote years ago “How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds, made ill deeds done” was apt to this day, Adi thought. If the brownie had not shown up, he would probably have not been tempted by it.

All of a sudden, recollection of the quote gave Adi a stir. If Shakespeare had to come up with that quote many years ago, it only meant that man’s ability – or actually inability – to deal with temptations was well known. He was not alone, he thought. Strangely, that made him feel better.

The attendant appeared again promptly after the five minutes that Adi had sought.

Save him the trouble, said Adi’s inner voice. He looked up from the menu with a renewed element of confidence, thanks to William Shakespeare, but yet, not with the decisiveness he would have liked.

The smile was still intact on the attendant’s face. At that moment, Adi knew what he was going to do.

“One Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, please”, said Adi. Eating a brownie after all, was not so much of an ill deed, he thought to himself.

“Sure, Sir” said the attendant, turning to leave.

“Make that with an extra topping of hot chocolate sauce” he called out, heaving a big sigh of relief and sinking into his cushioned seat.

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