It was a pathetic sight.
A man was being
manhandled by 3 men who were trying to shove him into a van.
When I went closer
– I realized that the man being manhandled was totally drunk.
One of the men
manhandling the inebriated drunkard was my friend – whom I had come to meet.
The intoxicated drunkard
was resisting and getting violent – so – my friend gestured to me to come and
I quickly walked
towards the drunk man – I grabbed his neck and I pushed down his head.
“Slowly…” my friend
said to me, “the bugger may die…”
The four of us
managed to forcibly push the drunk man into the van.
My friend and I
held the drunk man – while the other two men forced him down on the seat.
The inebriated drunkard
was reeking of whisky – his body smelt as if he was sweating alcohol from his
Suddenly – the drunkard
started vomiting – he puked all over – spewing filthy vomit on himself – on the
seat – and – on the floor of the van.
Then – he passed
out unconscious – dead drunk.
It was a disgusting
spectacle – and the putrid stench of the vomit was terribly nauseating.
The situation was
so repulsive and unbearable – that I got out the van – took a few deep breaths
– and filled my lungs with fresh air.
My friend got out
of the van – closed the sliding door – and – he gestured to the driver to start
In the rear side of
the van – the drunkard was comatose – dead drunk.
I felt pity for the
two men who were holding the filthy drunkard covered with his stinking putrid vomit.
After the van had
gone – my friend looked at me and smiled.
“Sorry for the sordid
“welcome” – let’s go up to my flat…” he said to me.
“Who is this bloody
drunkard…?” I asked him.
“My neighbour…” my
“That despicable bugger
is your neighbour…?” I said to my friend – shocked.
“Yes – he is my
next-door neighbour – he is a bloody alcoholic – he keeps having these binges –
they are taking him to rehab once again – this time – I hope they keep him
there for a long time…” my friend said.
“Oh – he has been
to rehab before…?” I remarked.
“Twice – but looks
like it isn’t working – he had a relapse again – you saw his pathetic condition…”
my friend said.
We went up in the
lift to my friend’s 9th floor apartment.
A maid stood
outside the open door of the flat opposite my friend’s flat – it was the
There was fear in
the maid’s eyes.
The maid held out a
pair of keys and spoke to my friend.
“Sir – please call
me when Sahab is going to come back – till then – you keep the keys…” the maid
said to my friend.
“Okay…” my friend
said – and he took the keys of the drunkard’s apartment from the maid.
My friend told the
maid that she could go home.
“Let’s go and check
his apartment before I lock it up…” my friend said.
We walked into the
In the living room
– on the mantelpiece – there was a photo frame – with a photo of the drunkard
and a woman.
I recognized the
woman in the photo – it was Nisha.
I picked up the
photo frame from the mantelpiece.
I looked at Nisha’s
photograph – intently.
My friend was
observing me looking at Nisha’s photo.
“Do you know her…?”
he asked me.
“No…” I said, “I
was captivated by her beauty – she looks so attractive in this photo – does she
look even more beautiful in real life…?”
“I don’t know – I haven’t
met her…” my friend said.
“What…? You are her
neighbour – but you haven’t met her…?” I asked – surprised.
“I moved in here 3
months ago – she hasn’t come here since then…” my friends said.
“Where does she
live…?” I asked him.
“Well – from the
little I know – she is a hotshot globetrotting investment banker – she is in
Hong Kong at present…” my friend said.
“Oh – she lives
abroad and her husband lives all alone over here…?” I asked him.
“Yes – it seems so
– at least for the last 3 months since I shifted in here…” my friend said to
“So – it’s a
Long-Distance Marriage…” I remarked.
My friend looked at
me curiously and spoke in an inquisitive tone.
“Tell me – why are
you so interested in her…?” he asked me – with a curious look on his face.
“Oh – it’s nothing
– just like that…” I said – trying to put on an innocent face.
A few minutes later
– we sat in the balcony of my friend’s apartment – drinking tea – admiring sunset
– the glorious spectacle of the sun being swallowed up by the sea.
apartment was in one of the most classy and posh neighborhoods of “SoBo” –
South Bombay – or – South Mumbai – as it is now known.
I was wondering how
get some information about Nisha from my friend without arousing suspicion –
when – luckily – my friend broached to topic himself.
“I feel sorry for
him…” my friend said, referring to his alcoholic neighbour.
“I feel sorry for
his wife…” I said to my friend.
“You seem to be
quite “concerned” about his wife…” my friend said with a mischievous look.
“What are you
implying…?” I asked him.
“First – you were
looking so adoringly at her photo – and now – you showing so much “compassion”
for her…” my friend was saying – when I interrupted him.
“Shut up – I don’t
even know her…” I said – in an evasive tone of voice.
“I am sure you know
her – maybe she was your first love…” my friend said, playfully.
“No. No. I was just
feeling bad for her – poor thing – it must be terrible to have a husband who is
an alcoholic – she is suffering for no fault of hers…” I said – trying to put
on an expression of sympathy.
“Maybe it’s her
fault – maybe she is the root cause for his alcoholism…” my friend said, with a
“How can you blame
a wife if her husband becomes an alcoholic…?” I said to my friend.
“I am not blaming
her – I am saying that she may be the “root cause” for his “drowning his
sorrows” in alcohol…” my friend said.
“I don’t understand
what you are implying. Is his wife promiscuous…? Is she having an extra-marital
affair…? Is that the reason for his drinking…?” I said to my friend.
My friend looked at
me and spoke.
“I don’t think so. From
what little I know – it seems that he couldn’t cope with her success – he was
not able to stomach the fact that his wife was more successful than him…” my
friend said to me.
“She was more
successful than him…? Is your neighbour an investment banker too…?” I asked my
“Yes – they were
working together – and – it seems that – career-wise – she outperformed him –
though he doesn’t admit it – and he feels that his wife’s success is due to the
fact that she is a woman…” my friend said, “well – that’s what I gathered from
the few conversations I had with him – and a friend of his – an office colleague
– who visits him once in a while…”
“Oh – does he still
have a job – after all this…?” I asked, surprised.
“I think they have
given him long leave – hoping he will sober up…” my friend said.
“And his wife…?
Doesn’t she care for him…?” I asked, curious.
“I think she has
given up on him – the colleague said that she is extremely ambitious – and –
career success is her first priority – he said that she was brilliant – much more
accomplished than her husband – she moved on – globetrotted all over for better
prospects – she made the right career moves – and now – she had already broken
the glass ceiling and reached the top of her profession…” my friend said.
“So – she has raced
way ahead of him – and now – she is way above him – she is totally “out of his
league” – as they say…” I remarked.
“You can say that…”
my friend said, “but I think he is okay in his job too…”
“So – he is not a “failure”
as such…” I said, “then – why does he feel he is a failure…?”
“Most men have a
fragile ego – so they automatically interpret their wife’s success as their own
failure – and then – they take solace by resorting to “remedies” like drinking for
succour – thinking that alcohol will alleviate their bruised ego…” my friend philosophized.
I thought about my
friend’s hypothesis and pontificated.
“So – the “moral of
the story” is that – if you have a typical male ego – you must never marry a
woman who is out of your league…” I said to him.
My friend smiled at
me in agreement.
Later – on my way back
to my hotel – I reminisced about Nisha.
I had been most upset
and extremely sad and heartbroken when Nisha dumped me.
All these years – I
had felt a sense of deep regret and disappointment at Nisha’s decision to break
Now – I felt a
sense of relief that I wasn’t married to Nisha.
“It was good that Nisha
and I didn’t get married…” I said to myself.
Well – Dear Reader –
I am a typical “MCP” – a male chauvinist with “conservative” patriarchal views – and – I have
a rather “fragile” Male Ego.
Copyright © Vikram Karve
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