Friday, May 20, 2011

Solai pushpangale

Alcohol night! You’ve somehow managed to raise enough cash by selling old newspapers (not yours, your friend’s), old bottles, and anything you can sell. The house on the corner, which had a forbidden aura till a few years ago has become your haunt of late. Your friend there has a wonderful music system, money to top up when you and your gang were short, which was always, and most of all, the run of the whole two storied house. Since it was just across from your house, your folks didn’t care about where you were. The money salvaged is enough to buy the cheapest of whiskeys and tapioca chips (potato chips were costlier which could be used for cigarettes), and regular gold flakes. You all sit around, someone is entrusted with the task of portioning the drink equally, and someone else goes and gets some food. The stench of cheap whiskey bolts out of the bottle the moment someone opens it and assaults your olfactory system and the rest. After soda with water is added to dissipate the smell, and everyone gets their glass, you say cheers, and take a sip. It’s gut wrenching. Literally. Your face twists almost in agony, but you persist and persevere. When the hooch is this vile, you don’t savour and sip. You just tip the contents in one swig if possible, eat the chips and light a cigarette. ‘Not bad’, you hear yourself saying. Worse, people are agreeing with you. There’s a makeshift table tennis table, and some of you are playing, the music is on from a two-in-one system that belongs to your friend’s brother. Soon it’s past midnight and the vile stuff is working in various ways. Some have been knocked cold. Some are high. You are about to heave. And you do, over and over till you feel all the insides have come out. Someone has left a tape with this song, and it draws you. Your only line to sanity and sobriety in a world that’s spinning out of control. You keep playing it, over and over again. It sounds so plaintive, it soothes and calms your nerves. You lost track of the number of times you played it that night. Perhaps that’s why it never leaves your memory.

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