Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Drunk

He sat down on the rusted swing. His boots were dirty from walking in the rain. He ran his hands along the chain and thought someone should fix this soon. The children were going home and the few that were playing were being hunted down by tired mothers looking to get homework done. The clouds crept just as tiredly across the sky, as he lit his fifth cigarette.

He did not care if he rained again. He was tired. His work had drained him. The fight with the CA and the accounts department head did not help either. He swung a little, to feel the air in his face. It was wet, cold and smelled of the rain that was to come. It also smelled a little of the rain that had gone. Time is constant, in the past and the present, he thought. He puffed again and watched the grey smoke against the pitch black sky.

The first showers of July had passed. Soon, it would flood the city, he thought. I need to get rain wear for the kids. The little one had just entered school. She needed new rainy clothes. But that was for another day. This was another week. His life had changed suddenly and unexpectedly. Some things are more important than the rains and shopping. Things like family.

There was a question to which he had no answer. Not yet, he thought. Then again, maybe, not ever. But he had no choice. He had to make a choice soon. This was his last week. He took another drag and let the burn settle into his lungs. There was a strange comfort that alleviated the restlessness. The time ticked off the seconds on his watch, and the cold crept into his blood, slowly but steadily.

He could hear Dr. Mehta in his ears. The man had the moustache that reminded him of Kakkad uncle, his father’s military friend. ‘The shivering is a sign of regression,’ Dr Mehta had said. ‘It will last till your body feels the craving. Just focus on the eventual goal.’ He said. He was an optimist. This thing was harder than he had thought.

He never believed in goals. Life had a tendency to take his goals and fuck them bad. Take his career for instance; it had gone from being a journalist to a copywriter to a manager within the span of 15 years. Every decade had resulted in a loss of direction and a complete return to the life of a homeless remnant. Thankfully, some people too his eccentricity to be a sense of adventure. Except her. She really believed him. Or so he thought. Till that eventful day last week.

He tried to inhale the smoke again. But the intoxication was gone. He no longer felt calm. The shivering was beginning to come over him again. He could remember her face, when he saw her in court. Her brown eyes were bloodshot. He knew she had not slept the night before. Just like him. The judge ruling their divorce, was blissfully unaware. Or he had too many cases that he did not want to bother over.

He would have called it off. He had tried talking to her. But it was always the same argument. You won’t change, she had said. Change! He was willing to give it all up. Did she even realise the extent of his pains? He was torturing himself to stay sober every day. But did she know it? NO! She would not have any of it. He kicked the last cigarette into the mud. It sank with the last gasp of smoke escaping the water.

He did not blame her. She had stood by him when most others had given up. She had been around when a better life was calling her. Yes, he knew he had problems, but who did not? Every man hid something dark within me. Some did it better than others. But they did hide it. And so what if he did have a problem? Would that make him any less of a father? Any less caring? Had he not provided for his children? Did he not try his best to be at every one of their major events? Why could they not understand how impossibly, ginormically and hugestic difficulty it was to quit the bottle? Dammit, smarter men than he had failed at the effort. But he was getting there. He would’ve. Eventually.

She should not have done that.

The watchman took Mr Lall home that morning. He had been in the rain, drenched all night. The fever had taken a hold of his body. The watchman rushed out to call the doctor. He spotted the bottle of Jack Daniels lying by the swing. The watchman never could understand why Mr Lall chose to suffer the cold and torrential rains, rather than take a shot of the Jack Daniels. He laughed, ‘crazy rich bastards.’