After filling her plate with bread sandwiches, a bowl full of cornflakes and hot milk, she proceeded to sit in a lonely corner of the canteen. There she held the sandwich loosely between her fingers and brought it closer to her mouth. She was in a rather pensive mood, for she bit into the sandwich meditatively, almost mechanically she chewed her food, and was staring into blankness. Her plaintive mood depressed him, and he rolled his tongue over the over-chewed remains of a single bite of sandwich, much as a bull does in its period of rumination on a lonely afternoon under the shade of a banyan tree- with the sun trying to look through the leaves that shifted with a small whiff of air; and the flies poking into the thick skin; and the white swans deliberately walking over (with their thin weakly long legs, as if in eternal fear and trepidation of something or someone watching them, slowly balanced on one leg, and the other tucked in, about to be deployed. Oh but one must think! Above all one must be sure if the other leg has to be deployed or not. Look around and only after absolute certainty should one walk), the giant mammals preserve their stately state.
The man standing before the kitchen door wonders if breakfast cereals had fibers of melancholy in them, hidden inside they would await a victim, and once in mouth multiply and secrete a juice that produced the hormones of melancholy. And, now he is dragged in too. The network of rumination (the frightful clarity of staring into abyss) drags in each and every occupant of the canteen. Every new person that entered into the canteen, choose (by the inherent virtue of an unknown treaty) some place calm, some place morose, lonely, uneventful, once here the person would reveal himself, expose to the open jagged ends of the spider net. And, it goes on, the invisible spider crawls up above the floor of every single person’s mind, hooks them up and suspends them, baits them for every new person that enters the canteen. It is only a matter of time before everyone submits to the omnipotent and omniscient spider-the spider of drowsiness, and everyone merely stares into the abyss.
Great Lakes canteen is a rarity in itself, it has the seething brilliance of an afternoon, and accommodates almost punctually to the chaotic snacking of the evenings, princely (and stately) catering of the night, but above all preserves the glory (with a certain wickedness) of the mornings. After a vertiginous night out (with the brain servicing room for more, and more, and more….. flooding of information), and barely enough sleep (for the dusk sinks they are awake, and the dawn rises they are awake), Great Lakers wake up to a fine breakfast. Each student walks into a lonely corner of the canteen; (mornings) canteen is rid of the usual chatter, the kitchen door is open and the milk man walks in and out delivering packages of milk, a lonely person (where there would be tens during the rest of the day) stands before the counter serving nonchalantly, the white dog before the canteen door would still be sleeping, the maid inside the kitchen leisurely chops off carrots (or potatoes or tomatoes…). The absence of hubbub in canteen makes it such a desirable place that only sleepwalkers would fail to notice. Someone turns on the radio from inside the kitchen, or the delivery van has come and the man is unloading the day’s vegetables (fresh from the market), and the men get to work solely, slowly, languidly. The morning glory of the canteen lasts only for a precious thirty minutes (on some days, it lasts longer, perhaps on a Sunday), and it gradually dissolves into the surroundings as the kitchen crew pours in.
And, just as the morning glory of the canteen dissolves, the spider of drowsiness retreats into its shelf, and all the students un tethered and unhooked from the bonds of the spider, become active and the day goes on until the next morning, until the spider wakes up, until the morning glory of the canteen magically conjures up.