And so it was that YHWH grew wroth at the state of mankind, and came unto Noah, to order him to build an Ark, so that not all would perish, but the righteous would live through the coming Flood.
And, lo, Noah was sleeping, and wasn’t exactly happy to be disturbed.
But still, he rose, yea, verily, though grumbling and wiping his eyes, because everyone, even he, knew what a cantankerous old bastard YHWH could be when He was riled.
And YHWH looked at Noah and asked, simply, “Hungover again? Noah, Noah, didn’t I tell you you’re hitting the bottle kind of hard? Didn’t I ask you to join Alcoholics Anonymous?”
And Noah hung his head. “Lord,” he responded, “most solemnly do I say unto You, that though the flesh is weak, the spirit is indeed willing; willing to be drunk, that is.”
So YHWH shook His head in exasperation. “Well,” He said, “make sure that you lay off the rotgut whisky, because I am come unto you to say that I am annoyed with the state of affairs in the world, and am determined to wipe it all away and start over. Soon will begin forty days and nights of rain, and then –”
“I see,” Noah said, scratching his head. “And so? What do you want me to do?”
“Build an Ark,” YHWH intoned solemnly, “And put in it all the animals of the world, two by two, and the fowl of the air by sevens; for, verily, I shall wipe the earth clean of all life.”
“Why me?” Noah asked, plaintively. “Why should I have to...you’ll drown me otherwise if I don’t? All right,” he said. “I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”
“Here are the specifications,” YHWH said, handing over a couple of stone tablets. “Make sure it’s done,” He ordered, and vanished in a grumble of thunder.
And, verily, Noah tried mightily, yet it was not done.
Then came YHWH back to Noah. “I see the Ark I ordered thee to build is not complete. Why not? After all, it is not as though I have not told thee what is about to happen”
“Yeah, well, Lord,” Noah said. “There are problems. You said you’d wipe the world clean of all life?”
“It is My prerogative,” YHWH replied loftily. “I made everything, caused it to come into being, so I can destroy it all if I choose. Why, do you dare challenge Me?”
“No, no, Lord,” Noah said. “I’ve done my best. I’ve gathered all the materials, I’ve employed illegal immigrants as sweatshop labour, I’ve even laid off the booze, and, Lord,” he whined, “you have no idea what kind of withdrawal symptoms I’ve gone through. But, Lord –“
“You said You’d drown the world with forty days and nights of rain? Uh, Lord, do You actually believe that the world can be drowned by that little rainfall? Have You even seen a globe? And then, where’s the rain going to come from, evaporation from the sea? And then when it rains, the water is all going to go back to the sea, right, Lord? So how...”
“All right, all right,” YHWH snapped. “I’ll think of something else, a meteor strike or something. But you get that Ark built, pronto.”
“I’ll do it,” Noah promised.
And he did not do it.
“What now?” YHWH asked, frowning terribly and causing a thunderstorm in Badonkadonkistan so powerful that the rebels there immediately surrendered to the government. “What’s wrong now?”
“Well, Lord,” Noah replied contritely, “let me get this clear. You said that You’re going to destroy all life except what I’d be taking in the Ark? All?”
“What are you, deaf? When I say something I mean what I say.”
“And only the life I take in the Ark will be saved? Sorry, but I have to get it absolutely clear.”
“Well, is it clear now?”
“In that case, Lord,” Noah said, “what do I do about the fishes and other water animals? What about the plankton, Lord? How much space do I have to spare to accommodate the whales?”
“Uh...” There was a brief pause. “Well, all right, you can forget about them. They can just stay in the water. I won’t kill them. Anything else?”
“You bet there’s something else, Lord. How about the plants?”
“Yeah, Lord, plants. You do know plants are alive?” Noah didn’t even pause to draw breath. “Bristlecone pines, giant sequoias, dwarf moss, not to mention the damned fungi. How about the mushrooms, huh, Lord? You’re planning to save the world without plants breathing in carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen? How’s that supposed to work?”
“All right, you take the seeds. Take seeds of everything. Happy now?”
“I’ve not yet even started,” Noah raged. “You do know about parasites? About disease?”
“Yea, verily,” Noah said, “we have a list of parasites. I mean, we’ve got tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, flukes and more; we’ve got plasmodium to give us malaria, filarial worms to give us elephantiasis, entamoeba to give us dysentery, and others. Look here, Lord.” He picked up a thick book. “That’s just an index of parasites. Want to read it for Yourself, Lord?”
“I can’t read,” YHWH mumbled. “Never managed to find the time to learn.”
“I should’ve known. And then we have lice and fleas and ticks. Well, my wife has plenty of lice, and I suspect that there won’t be a shortage of fleas among the animals, but, Lord, seriously, what the hell do you intend me to do about these diseases and parasites? You expect me to carry malaria and sleeping sickness and typhoid in my body, huh? I’m a Jew, in case You forgot, so I can’t even have pork, and so how do You expect me to carry a pork tapeworm in my intestines?
“And then what happens once You let us get off the Ark? We’re supposed to repopulate the earth, right? Well, if my wife, and I, and our sons and daughters-in-law are to do that, we’ve to screw ourselves silly. But how the hell are we expected to manage that if we’re loaded down with syphilis and gonorrhoea and H-sodding-IV, Lord? Care to give me an answer?
“And then there are the viruses. Rabies, for instance. You want me to carry rabid animals along with me, Lord? How long d’You think any of us would last?”
“That’s not My prob-“
“No, it’s my problem. I did my best, I brought together what I could, tissue cultures and the like. But, You know what? I couldn’t get them all.
“Smallpox, for instance. Only two places in the world have it now, labs in America and Russia. You want me to go waltzing over to these labs and demand some smallpox viruses? What do You think they’d do to me?” Bursting into tears, Noah pointed at a bottle of whisky sitting on the table. “I’ve been driven to the verge of hitting the booze, Lord, to drown my sorrows in drink, and I can’t even do that. You won’t let me!”
“OK, OK,” YHWH said. “Don’t worry about the parasites and diseases. Once you’ve repopulated the earth, they’ll just evolve again and...”
There was a long silence.
“Oops,” YHWH said.
“I should learn to keep My big mouth shut,” YHWH said.
“All right,” YHWH said. “Forget the whole damned thing. I won’t drown the world after all.”
“And what about the annoyance You had with the people?” Noah demanded belligerently. “You’ll forget the annoyance too? Huh? Or in a few days, will You get angry again and then blow Your top all over again, and we’ll go through this whole rigmarole one more time? What?”
“Move over, Noah,” YHWH said at last. With a weary sigh, He sat down next to Noah and reached for the whisky.
“What was that you were saying about drowning your sorrows in drink?” He asked.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2012