I am a burger.
It is difficult for me to ascertain the precise moment when my identity rose above that of the many objects that constitute me to become that of a burger. Some might say, that in this peculiar mode of origin, I am like a nation. Made by bringing together smaller entities of economics values just as small, to form a composite being that inspires and commands both a higher economic value and emotional respect. I have been told by learned peers that men have gone on hunger strike for being bestowed with Statehood. I also hear of children who do not wish to take food except for burgers. I have seen, in the formative years of my being, a little boy swinging from his mother’s arm on the floor and howling abominably with the intent to embarrass her in public to get himself a burger. So even in bringing men gastronomic satisfaction, burgers and nations go together.
Like nations, we too have our own problems. Many of my component elements, especially those blasted lettuce leaves, have secessionist tendencies. They plan to fall out at the sides with the first bite and walk to freedom. In vain do we try to make them realise their freedom is but delusional, a lonely cabbage leaf is only likely to get trampled over or go straight to the dustbin, to be nibbled at by cockroaches or maybe the occasional rat, doomed to a future far removed from the glory of bracing the end at the mouth of a hungry human. The best case for these fledglings is to be eaten by pets, though I have heard cases when some people have picked up lettuce, tomato and onion pieces from the floor, looked around and put them in their mouths. Such extraordinary luck is rare.
The most important question that confronts us burgers is, as succinctly put by a man while biting on one of my ancestors, that of suicide. To paraphrase it, as the said man did in an essay, existential crisis stares at us in the face from the moment we are born. Add to it the crisis of identity that haunts us as much if not more, and you have the subject matter of a Zack Snyder movie. But being born of and with these two crises makes us similar not only to the glorious idea of State that is so dear to man, but to man himself.
I knew a rebel of a lettuce leaf. He was here just sometime back, though. When entreating him not to fall off, he asked me what the use of the entire exercise was. We were all going to end up the same anyway, some probably in ways perceived less glorious. The top loaf quipped, “But you will go knowing you were part of an ABC burger! We are famous!” “And pray tell me,” said the lettuce leaf, before a man came in and flicked him to the floor, “what good would that-”
His sentence was left unfinished. While the dissenting voices inside me were all waiting to be quelled by time, I, their collective conscience, could not help but wonder about the lettuce leaf’s point. I have seen my cousins across the cardboard cut-outs on the floor. In fact, I heard my would-be-consumer talk about a relative of mine whose picture he had seen on a bill-board. But I wondered, that was not me. To this consumer and even to that man who puts together my constituents to create me, I am just another burger. No different from the ones put on advertisements or the one last consumed. Just another burger, marketed to be exceptional than others, but actually very similar, in use and by birth.
I may scream and shuffle my loaves in hurt pride at the thought to being told I was same, and go to great pains to show how the lettuce inside me is of a different shade of green, how specially has the chicken or beef patty been prepared, the subtle touch of spices to render the precise characteristic taste but in the end, when you look at it, I am not that special.
I am just another entity formed entirely of things that might be same across other burgers or sandwiches or even salads, given a name for consumption and made to feel different by the powers that be for economic gains. And suddenly, the patty and lettuce inside of me, or even the loaves, seem to have a bigger claim to an identity that I ever did.
But my time has come. I have been served hot on a plate, a curved piece of paper lying next to me on top of paper tissues, with two sachets of ketchup for company. I go to embrace the most defining moment of my life. It should seem ironical, that my destiny is fulfilled in consumption. But it does not, suddenly. My identity starts and stops at the plate. Before that I was nothing, beyond this I would be nothing. All the human being would have consumed would be just an idea. An idea of a being that I am sold as, something he should know very well.
And with these words, I depart, leaving you to chew on what I hope would be more than food.