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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Whiskey Lullaby

This story was published in an e-magazine Word Splash in its issue of July 2012,http://www.wordsplash.in/the-whiskey-lullaby-2/


We watched him drink his pain away,
A little at a time,
But he never could get drunk enough,
To get her off his mind …

Pain or love wasn’t the reason why Prakash was the town drunk. “It’s my passion,” he would quote while listening to the Whiskey Lullaby,” It depicts my freedom.”
*
  It was two years ago, in Swindon during his working years, when Prakash was first introduced to liquor. He became a lover ever since. Gin was the drink he chose as his first love, Tequila came second. His decision of never marrying or rather being away from women was well-known by all his chums. He would recite it every time someone asks him to settle down and get married.

 A year went by quite peacefully with his “principles”- be drunk, spend all the money, come home after midnight, and never tie the knot. It was a call from the City Hospital, Dehradun which changed his way of living. His mother’s health was withering each day and he had to come back to her. A month’s stay changed into a year’s and at long last, resignation from his job in Swindon. 35-year old Prakash had no one but his mother in Dehradun. His father left the family when he was only eight, to remarry. Prakash became a disbeliever in marriage or love ever since. His childhood friend and neighbour Rajiv, a thin, square-faced bespectacled young man, was the second reason why Prakash would call Dehradun his home. It was Rajiv who took his mother to the Hospital when she had her devastating heart stroke. Prakash went directly to the hospital after landing, only to find that Rajiv had already taken his mother home.  He rushed home while his paralyzed mother waited for her son on her bed. Rajiv was the one who had to break the news to Prakash that the heart stroke cost his mother’s motility.

*
“Turning 36, are we?” Rajiv asked Prakash who was now sipping the last drops of vodka on his glass.

“Yeah, more drinks?” Prakash made a move to ask the bartender for more.

After spending a year in India, Prakash had now become accustomed to drinking vodka, Rajiv’s favourite.

His drinking habits were costing him a lot in his unemployed days in the country. A “compromise” is what he would call it whenever he had to settle for a beer.

“I hate to break it to you, but I’m getting married this year.”

Prakash dropped his jaw in disbelief as those words came out of Rajiv’s mouth.

“I thought we had a pact?” Prakash brooded while the pub played the Tequila Sunrise.

“I know, but the fact is that life can not be spent all alone, or at least I can’t.” Rajiv explained while the bartender poured more vodka in his glass.

“Losers, all of you.” Prakash kicked his chair and headed out of the pub, shoving the poor bartender out of his way.

*

“Stop being a child Prakash and go and attend your best friend’s wedding.” his mother shouted at Prakash while he prepared the night’s dinner. He turned on the TV aloud while the Pandit chanted the mantras at Rajiv’s wedding.

As obstinate as over, Prakash chose to spend the night with his beloved Tequila rather than attending his neighbor’s marriage ceremony. He did not even know the bride’s name or rather he never cared to ask.

*

Two days later it was a big day for Prakash: his first call of employment in Dehradun after being rejected by two and rejecting one where he had to work offshores. Rajiv was the first one to wish him luck in the morning and offer him a ride for his first day at work. Reluctantly Prakash accepted his offer.

There was already a woman, a beautiful one, sitting on the front seat of the car so Prakash went for the back seat.

 “Watch your head.” Rajiv warned as Prakash ducked to sit in the Nano car.

“Bhabiji, is she?” Prakash asked Rajiv pointing at the woman who was now powdering her nose while looking at a small circular mirror she took out from her purse.

Rajiv broke into a laugh while the woman looked at Prakash in disbelief with her large brown eyes.

Rajiv broke the ice, “Meet your colleague and Shweta’s sister- Riya, Senior Manager in the same department as you.”

*

Riya and Prakash got along quite well from the very first day they met. Prakash would keep wooing her with his humour and charm. They would go out for casual dates. Rajiv suspected this would happen from the very first day he introduced them to each other. After all Riya was everything a guy could ask for- beautiful, smart, working, caring yet insouciant. What he did not suspect was the way Prakash left his first love – drinking, within days of meeting Riya.

“One passion at a time, please.” Prakash would quote facetiously whenever Rajiv would tease him about replacing Tequila with Riya.

*

Prakash’s mother was recovering day by day as she now had three people to take care of her – her son, Rajiv and Riya. Riya would sometimes visit her in the evening, bring fruits and sweets, chat for an hour or two and then leave with Prakash for a night out.

Prakash’s mother had no reason to disapprove the marriage of Prakash and Riya, as proposed by Rajiv. A pundit was called and a wedding date was fixed. Prakash did not create any fuss this time.

*

Only a week was left before the marriage when it was disclosed to Shweta that Riya was pregnant.  A nonplussed Shweta approached Rajiv immediately to tell the news.

 It would not have been a problem if the baby were of Prakash.

“But we never had …” Prakash was shocked when Riya told him.

“You were drunk.” Riya reasoned.

“I don’t remember even touching any booze after we met.”

It was crystal clear that Riya was lying when the following night she fled with another guy of their office.

***

“One Martini.” Prakash, in a drunken state, ordered the bartender.

The bartender hesitantly pulled out a glass of martini while the pub played the Tequila Sunrise.

Every night when the sun goes down
Just another lonely boy in town
And she's out running around

Prakash slammed the glass hard on the table while the bartender stepped back in fear.

“I asked for a bottle of silver Tequila and this is what you give me?” Prakash shouted.

Bartender attended to his order without any hesitation as this was usual, episodic at that pub by the town drunk Prakash .

Sometimes Prakash would meet a well-wisher or two in the pub who would make him sit and understand that he should change his ways.

“It depicts my freedom, my passion, not some stupid lost love or anything.” he would reason while listening to the Whiskey Lullaby in his cell-phone, “Losers, all of you”.

We watched him drink his pain away,
A little at a time,
But he never could get drunk enough,
To get her off his mind …


13 comments:

  1. This is nice..Read it thru and liked it

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  2. Nice yaar.... U really are maturing as a writer!! Keep up.....

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  3. Thanks Sohum and Satyajit for reading and appreciating :)

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  4. Interesting story..:-) Although I do want to ask you...if there is one story of yours you definitely want others to read,which would it be???

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  5. @Rahul: hmn,, a tough one, but i would go for A Cup of Sugar co-written with Gaurav Deka http://storytellersprofessional.blogspot.in/2012/02/cup-of-sugar.html
    and if it should be all by me then it will be Remebered
    http://sanhitabaruah9.blogspot.in/2012/04/remembered.html because it's different than my other works.. still i love all my works you see, it's difficult to choose one...n i m having 2nd thoughts already :P

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  6. Read both stories.....Fantastic job!!!!!:-) I sincerely hope I will get see more such write ups from you...

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  7. Nice reading. Glad it didn't end in the cliched "happily-ever-after" manner

    This is my first time at your blog.

    Do visit mine

    Cheers
    CRD

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  8. thanks CRD, really appreciate this.. will check out ur blog for sure, keep reading

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  9. very nice.. i too have written a few.. hav to digitize it and post it soon in my blog

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