Up in Smoke and Down in Alcohol

The screen is a blur………..numbers coming and going………….nothing is making sense as I lie here and await the inevitable………….

I could sense the movement around me, who was moving, I didn’t know. But did I care? Yes, I did. Because for the first time in my life, I wanted to live………..staring death in the face, I wanted to run back and embrace life………but life wasn’t giving me a choice. She got the better of me after all those years of me fooling myself that I got better of her.

I knew I was standing on the cliff, off which I had to jump, as the world on the other side didn’t want me. Rather, I had worked really hard all these years to convince it that I wasn’t worth a place there……….life’s little tricks………….she goads you into believing you’re the king and then, she appears one day, slaps you and makes you realize that SHE rules……….

One of the worst things about being on a point of no return is that you DO want to return.
Ironies……………………Ironies……………………Ironies

I wanted to return too………….to the world I had, to the world I could’ve retained………..the world I’d been working on ruining………..and succeeded in ruining………

_______________________________________________________________

“Hey Anubhav, what are you doing tonight man?”, my friend called out from his car as he was leaving

“Nothing much. I think I will go to the neighbourhood cinema and watch come movie. Or maybe, just be at home and finish up that painting I’ve been making”, I answered back.

Rahul wasn’t really my favourite class-mate but I liked the opposites between us. He was rash, bold and irresponsible. And stinking rich too. I had my roots in a middle class family culture. My father was in a Government job and mother, a school teacher. I had a younger sister who was a cute little tyrant in the family. So, I spent most of my spare time in helping my mother with small little things at home, or going for a walk with my sister
(where we used to fight our philosophical battles), or watering our small garden. Life was very content. Rahul, on the other hand, was the proverbial party animal. He was notorious for his promiscuity and rash ways of living. “Life has to move in the fast lane man”, he used to say. I never quite agreed with him, but we were still good acquaintances.

“Come over to my place, we’re celebrating my latest girlfriend’s birthday”, he said with a wink and a sheepish smile.

“No yaar, you guys are not my kind”, I said uncertainly.

“Come on man! We’re not going to make you lose your virginity”, he chuckled.

I laughed and added, “I’ll think about it”.

“Better think in my favour, ok? My place, 9:00 pm”, he shouted as he raced his car forward and almost collided with a vendor’s cart. He zoomed past, inviting abuses from the vendor.

I reached home and had a nice relaxing nap. When I woke up, Mom was ready with a cup of steaming hot coffee. Ah! The small luxuries of home. As I sipped on my coffee, I looked back at the day that just passed. And I remembered Rahul’s invitation. I thought, let me try his parties. There was no harm in trying. So, I called him up and said, I’ll be there.

I was ready at 8:30 as this was my first party in such a rich company. I wore my best shirt and trousers. I thought I looked rather good. My mother and sister kept making fun of me saying I looked like I was off to my wedding………….

I reached Rahul’s house and the first thing that struck me was the amount of noise! The whole place was immersed in a deafening roar. My idea of a birthday party was something totally different. In my family, birthdays are quiet family affairs. But anyway, “Rich people and their whims”, I told myself as I entered.

The sight that met my eyes was even more jarring. The room was dimly lit and a cloud of smoke hung thick. People were literally strewn around on the floor, some semi-clad. There were girls too. Some of them had matted hair like they hadn’t been washed in weeks. There were cigarette butts all over and empty and half filled bottles of beer adorned the rest of the available space on the floor.

My shock was multiplied even further when Rahul came in from one of the doors leading out of the room. He had two most skimpily clad women clinging to him in the most inappropriate fashion. The whole scene was right out of a horror movie, as far as my imagination went. Rahul waved at me and (thankfully) leaving those girls off, came to meet me.

“Hey man, I’m glad you came. Welcome to………………hey, what’s your name (a feeble reply of Shikha came)………….Shikha’s birthday party”, he slurred.

“Rahul, I think I must go. I don’t think I can enjoy these kind of parties”, I pleaded.

“Don’t be silly, you just came in. Come on in. We’ve got everything. You don’t drink, do you? Come, grab some coke”, he gave me a glassful of coke from a half-filled bottle lying nearby.

“Thanks”, I muttered. I was so uncomfortable being there. Neither the girls, nor the boys were anything like I would’ve thought. I sat down on the cleanest part of the sofa and sipped at the coke.

After about 5-6 sips, my head suddenly felt very light. I saw a lot of white around. And before I knew, I was gulping down glasses after glasses of Coke and was laughing like a madman. The rest is blacked out. How I reached my house was totally lost on me. I just remember waking up with multiple thunders roaring in my head. It took a full 24 hours to get back to normalcy!!!!!!

My mother and sister were scared to death and my father, uncontrollably angry. My mother was working hard at trying to pacify him, not to much avail though. My sister sat by my side with red-rimmed eyes. I knew I’d caused my family a tremendous amount of pain and I was guilty and angry like hell. I wanted to strangle Rahul for making me and my family go through this………………

Next morning, I somehow managed to make it to College and literally slept through the classes. I felt a funny wrenching in my stomach, almost as if I wanted to throw up but couldn’t. It was a nightmare living through that day. I walked around the college corridors, desperate to shake the nagging headache and parched throat. I gulped litres and litres of water but the thirst wouldn’t get quenched!!!!

While on my way to the water cooler, I bumped into Rahul. I knew I was very angry with him but somehow, I stopped myself from creating a scene. He gave me a weird smile and asked me if I was ok (I must’ve looked every bit the dumps I was in). I mumbled something to the effect of having a headache and funny stomach……….he said something like he knew how to ‘handle’ it and gave me a small tablet. I gulped it down with water and the effect was almost miraculous………..within minutes, I felt better. I thanked Rahul
and went to class. I felt almost euphoric after such a relief……………

But, the next day, I didn’t go looking for water…………..I went looking for Rahul and then, the next day and then, the next day……………somehow my pockets started emptying………..Rahul no longer offered a ‘free’ relief! I had to pay for it………..I started
bunking classes………….then, I sought more and more relief……………I started losing weight, my eyes became hollow, lifeless…………………I had a gait of a drunkard…………..I drank
and smoked and did drugs for I don’t know how long as my family tried desperately to save me……………………..I just fell deeper and deeper into this oblivion………soon, there was NO college I could go to. I was thrown out for lack of attendance and discipline…………

And then, came the jolt………….one fine day, I just crashed………….and when I woke up, I was already here…………..under the scalpel and knife. I don’t know if I shall live…………..I don’t know if I deserve to live…………..but I desperately prayed for a chance, just ONE chance………..just one chance at living that life yet again………………at trying to be a human-being my parents wanted me to be…………..at being a good brother………….at being a good student…………..

_______________________________________________________________

The blur returned………..and then, faded yet again. I could hear some voices but I no longer knew if these voices were from outside or the people in my head were talking. Everything was merging into everything else. It was all white………….and then, I could see myself. All hale and hearty…………..embracing my sister and mother…………..and then, a
fiendish smile appeared on my face and I stabbed them both in a stroke with a long steely knife……………..I screamed, they also screamed………………and ran…..I didn’t know where I was running to……I just ran and ran and ran………………into a white that just went on and
on and on………………..

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1 Comment

  1. Ananth said,

    October 18, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Really kool story. Just a few things are not too accurate. Firstly, the party starts pretty late in India, not 9.00 even thought the scheduled time is 9.00, so when anubhav gets to the party at 9.00 there would be only a few people around.

    Secondly, the tablet part does not make sense. Because if it were drugs, it wouldn’t just give relief. Either you will feel sleepy or euphoric.

    But a nice story and well written, and well meant.


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