When I first heard it, it sounded ridiculous. Like something you would hear in Moral Science class. But this was Geography! I looked around the class in consternation. None of the other imbeciles seemed to be puzzled at it.
The teacher was talking about the Solar System and the Earth.
“The Earth revolves around the Sun”, she gravely enlightened us.
OK, I thought. Fair enough, a planet in the universe, thousands of miles away from the next. Gotta do something, can’t just be suspended idly in space. Revolve, okay.
“The Earth also rotates on its own axis”, she declared further.
This was where it got to me. The incredulity of revolving and rotating at the same time struck my mind dumb.
“OA, too much overaction”, I proclaimed to the uninterested bench partner nodding off beside me.
A few years later, on a rowdy night preceding a dry day, my head was spinning furiously, rotating on its own Axis. My garbled thoughts revolving around the rotating head. Having been blessed to reside in a city that celebrates even Ram Navami by shutting down liquor stores, I had had one too many in advance and was drunk silly.
In my drunken stupor, the aforementioned geographic memory from school rose in my thoughts. Like a delectable ice cube rising to the surface of a brown glass of whiskey. My child-like incredulity at Mother Earth’s daily doings amused the shit out of me once again. I let out a heavily-laden-with-whiskey guffaw in the air-conditioned cab.
The Uber partner driving the car gave a start at my sudden gaseous outburst. The car immediately filled with the stench of cheap whiskey and bodily fluids. He immediately let the window down and gulped at the fresh air outside.
The chattering, pooling girls at the back of the Uber stopped their tittering and as I noticed slyly in the mirror, crinkled their noses in annoyance at the sudden smell.
I looked around in disdain at my co-passengers. So much drama! One would think I threw up in the car!
The car sped on. I hiccupped with every speed breaker the good ‘ol Police Department had laid out for our safety. In time, the girls got back to their chirping. Meanwhile, I was impatient, almost desperate to get home.
The spirit was at work, spinning in my head. I was kicking myself for not having kicked the habit already. Everyday drunkard spiel.
Finally, home. Fumbling with the door to step out, a sudden impulse came over me. Turning back, I belched loudly in the direction of my ex-fellow passengers before stepping out. Grinning, I thought to myself – Always leave a trace of you wherever you go.
I stumbled upstairs and straight into bed. I dug my head deep into the pillow willing to sleep right away. I could already feel the tingling of a hangover flirting with my grey cells.
I don’t remember when I finally fell asleep. But after what seemed like only a few minutes, I was awake. It was still dark out and I was still sloshed. But there was someone in the room.
The single bedroom that I lay in had never entertained a visitor before.
A giant elderly man was sitting in a large chair, a cigar trapped between his lips. Even though the room and the indeed the night was dark, he had dark goggles on. Insane, I thought. But he made up for it with a grand and shapely white beard, interspersed with just the right amount of black in it.
He also was looking at me, with a look of benevolence.
I blinked my eyes to cut the crap and the dream.
He didn’t budge.
In the dark, I tried to place him. He looked oddly familiar. But he also had the aura of someone majestic, someone I could only read about in the news but never meet.
Looking closer, I started to make out features. He looked like a baron, a liquor baron I knew. The whole of the country knew. He looked like someone who could get an entire country drunk first and then bankrupt it, fleeing to another country at the end of it all.
Even though he had the countenance of a divine being, there significantly was no halo around him. Magical figure maybe, I thought, but surely not one of the good ones.
“Are you God”, I whispered hoarsely.
Hungover phlegm and stale alcohol only let out hoarse whispers. Even in the presence of God.
“No”, he said, almost with love.
“Who, then?”, I enquired.
“I’m the King of Good Times”, he said, with the allure only a Banished Baron could possess.
My mind’s cork opened with a pop. It made sense now. Clear as Magic Moments vodka.
“I’m here to grant you a privilege, a super-power if you will”, he said in a perfect British accent.
“Why God Why! What did I do to deserve this”, I shouted in mock modesty.
“You have been steadfast unto me. You have devoured my potions, my liquids for years now. Not one night has passed without you passing out in my honor. Let me return the favor”, he said.
I belched loudly at him in happiness and praise.
A few days later, I found myself sitting at the bar of a cozy pub serving drinks. Not that they needed to serve any to me, now armed with Mallya’s super-power.
I had been touring the pubs in town gaily ever since the nightly visit. My pockets had earlier never been deep enough to pub-hopping, just wine-shopping. But things had changed, and how!
I ordered onion rings and sparkling water. Yes, sparkling water! But I hung around as the bartenders opened bottle after bottle to serve. I sniffed at the whiff of everything alcohol, which was really, the entire bar. That’s all I had to do now for a high. Sniff away to glory, an obscene high and as a further delight, an absent hangover.
The King of Good Times, true to his every word.
As I stumbled out of the pub hours later, drunk to my wit’s end, I saw my fellow drunkards milling about Ola Shares and Uber Pools.
“HAHA”, I bellowed.
After that night, I’ve also never had to go on a bloody cab ride either. With no alcohol going in, I was as un-inebriated as the next teetotaller.
I got to my car. Fumbled around for the ignition, rankled my way up the parking spot. I put on a racy raunchy number.
“O muddu pettave Jigelu Rani,
Kann aina kottave Jigelu Rani
Jil Jil Jil Jil Jigelu….”,
I sang lustily with the window down startling passers-by in cars of their own. The last of the many “Jigels” was not yet done when I was coerced into a line by the Alcohol Police.
Without batting an eyelid, I sidled up to the commotion of people that made up the waiting congregation. Paunchy inspectors with alcohol meters and excitable media men blinking with their harsh camera light.
One look at me and they knew they had struck gold. I was the picture of Highness!
Half a dozen meters were thrust at my face while the cameras centered on my glazed eyes. One of the policemen took back the meter, vigorously shook it as if it reset it to zero. He wanted to get it absolutely right. The media brothers jostled for a byte of what they thought would be a record in the making.
When it was finally presented to me for my input, I blew confidently at it, with all the Grace bestowed on me by the King himself, laughed loudly and drove off singing “Jil Jil Jigelu Rani…”
Write Club Hyderabad – One Fantastic – April 14th, 2018.