(It was the right time for the girls to celebrate but it was the wrong bottle they chose. This is a true story. A woman I know revealed to me her first and last experiment with alcohol that went awfully wrong).
Sandhya got salary that day and picked up a bottle of alcohol to treat her friends. Their tension escalated to ionosphere as the time for celebration drew near.
Remani: Edi, I have never tasted it in my life. How do we understand when we get drunk?
Sandhya: No idea. They say, there would be too much loose talk. My God, I have seen people drinking only in Television.
Karthi: See, how my hands tremble. If the warden comes we are lost.
At 9pm, the power went out. In the darkness the girls gathered around the bottle in a circle. The cork popped out, they took the first round of swigs.
A couple of rounds after.
Remani (in whisper): Edi, how is it? Do you feel anything?
Karthi: Hi hi…it’s good.
Sandhya: My God! I think the drink has caught up with her, Remani. See how the devil laughs.
Remani: Hush! Edi, don’t wake the hostel up. Karthi, how do you feel?
Karthi whispered back: Hi hi. Not exactly ‘drunk’. But I think I have become a bit happy, I mean unusually pleasant.
Remani: I think I too have become…
“Mole, I want to tell you a truth.”
“Shh…Don’t be loud. Spit it out.”
“I am sorry. Don’t be angry with me. You want to know who called your mother and told her about your affair last week?”
“Yes Karthi. That son of a bitch! Who’s that bloody…?
“Forgive me dear. It was me.”
They silently took one more round of the sweet-hot drink.
“Forgive her dear. Who would have confessed such things in life? Come on, forget it. We are all true friends, alleda?” Sandha interrupted and hugged both her friends.
They all broke down into a common pool of tears.
Remani took a big swig of the drink and hugged Karthi again, “but you must also forgive me for what I did to you.”
“What did you do to me?”
“It was I who informed the teacher that you’d bring your guide to the examination hall when we were doing our degree.”
“Oh, bitch. How cruel! They threw me out of the exam for that. How could you!”
Silence again. They all took another swig.
“Leave it dear. Forgive and forget, friends,” Sandhya interrupted once again, “This is a night to open our bosom and let secrets tumble out. I think I have also got a truth to tell you, friends.”
“What is it mole?” Karthi thrust her body forward so that she could hug her friend the moment she confessed.
“My cousin, Prashobh…”
“Yeah, the IIT guy! You always speak high of him. The gentleman in your family, the good Samaritan who love to help the poor. The one who has Benz and Contessa at his home.”
“Benz and Contessa! Bastard! He has nothing. He is not in IIT but at ITI, Chackai. He is a complete asshole. He doesn’t even have a home.”
“Yeah, forgive me for those lies. He asked me to sell him down to you girls as an IIT guy. He told me he is deeply in love with whoever among you who believes those tales. On this bottle I tell you the truth, don’t trust him. He is a cheat, a fraud.”
“Oh, my God. I almost fell for the Benz.”
They all hugged, and broke down again into a common pool of tears.
“What a night this is, alledi! We don’t have anymore secrets among us. This is why boys drink. You know one thing? My father is a drunkard.”
“That’s nothing before my father. He takes bribes. He is rotten to the core.”
“None can beat my father, dear. He sees my mother in every stenographer who works with him. A proper womanizer.”
One hour later.
I think I want to puke.
Don’t puke. Get to the toilet. Quick!
Where is it?
What? The puke?
No, the toilet.
Over there, I will light the matchstick (The power supply played truant the whole night). Here go!” Karthi ran to the toilet and slammed the door behind her.
“Remani, don’t give her more. She has already gone off the limit.”
“Oooohhh…I wanna sing now.”
At 1 am, Ramani mumbled in sleep: “I want to tell you one more truth.”
“Oh, no. We forgive you for that also. But not anymore tonight,” her friends who were still sleeping threw their hands over Ramani’s mouth, hugged her tightly and relapsed into their common pool of slumber.
Near them lay the bottle, a bottle of grape juice on which it was written in bold letters: “Alcohol Free.”
Next morning Prashobh reached the hostel on time to pick her cousin and her friends as he’d promised. Not even a dog responded to his persistent horn. He wouldn’t believe that a bottle of grape juice had pulled his carefully built world down.
“Actually he is a good guy,” Sandhya whispered to her friends as they were still on their bed.
“We know,” Ramani and Karthi replied.
Sandhya screwed her eyes tightly as she heard another squeal of horn from her cousin waiting across the road.
(Sandhya picked up the bottle from the supermarket in a hurry. She spotted the word, ‘Alcohol’ but was too tensed to go into the details as she buried the bottle deep into her basket without catching any attention).
NB: I changed the names. But Sandhya could be reading this story from a distant place.