Monday, August 23, 2010

2 mates and a bottle

"Let's get drunk!! " Were the first words out of Drew as he met Stuart.
"These are the greatest three words I have heard the entire day. Take out the goods" exclaimed Stu.
Drew eyes brightened up.

The duo crossed the creaky pathway to sneak into the barn. Drew cautiously uncovered the rusty looking bottle of country vodka out of hidden spot.
Stu though used to drinking more finer liquor, didn't complain. After a mundane and superficial evening with his father's aristocratic and self righteous friends, any kind of alcohol would content him. The two friends formed the most unlikely pair. Stu, the only son of the local parish with his polished demeanor, was so different from Drew, the son of the village locksmith, and his countryside simplicity. While Stu could read and write 5 languages, Drew could faintly read basic Russian. But sometimes intense variance forms the foundation for an everlasting relationship. The duo's alienity to each others' world formed the crux to their friendship. Maybe it was the dynamicism of the era which defined this unique friendship. 1916 Russia was a difficult place to comprehend. A bitter and violent conflict between two different worlds was on full throttle. The Tsar’s influence was weakening alarmingly and Marxism was gaining flair. However, the 2 were oblivious to the external world. All they saw today was the bottle of vodka and an evening where they could shed all their inhibitions and be themselves.

" What’s taking you so long to open the bottle. Hurry up. Will you?" blasted Stu."Patience -my good man!! Trust me, the wait will be worth it" and Drew unscrewed the cap masterfully.
The glasses were out and the liquor was poured. Cheers were shouted out loud. "Long live Gustav Mahler". “To new Russia!” and the drinks were gulped. The glasses looked pleading to be reconnected with the divine fluid. And their wishes were answered.
Drew adroitly refilled the glasses and the alcohol met its assigned destiny. When the two drank, they didn't talk. Enjoying the feeling of intoxication, both were lost in their own ocean of thoughts. They thought about the meaning of life, religion and music. But unlike their thoughts, the bottle had a finite boundary, and after 2 more drinks, it reached its limit. Now, with the bottle depleted, it was time for conversation. This was their ritual- the first half was dominated by alcohol; the second half by their conversations.
Tonight, Stu was unusually philosophical. “Drew, life can be delusive. Just when you start believing that everything is in control, life plays a ruthless trick on you. At times, I lose faith in the spirit of life”
“Well said Stu. Life is unreliable. Tell you what, this empty bottle, which is smirking at us, is more trustworthy than life. After every drink we make, it audibly shouts out loud that I am abandoning you. And when we see the empty bottle without the Vodka, it is undoubtedly hurtful but we knew its coming. This reduces the pain”.
Stu nodded in approval. Drew carried on. “One more thing Stu. You were lucky to have got out of that Stephanie Business. That girl was no good for you.
Stu was unmoved and silent. Drew smirked “It’s good that you are beyond her now. She would have made life a living hell for you. It is better that she gets married to some other chap. Maybe to that fraud banker’s son, Edward and make his life miserable.”
All of a sudden, Stu felt this pang of despair. He only saw thick dark clouds of hopelessness hovering over him. The thought of losing her forever had never occurred to him and now this reality of the situation struck him.
“Now Stu, you need to be strong. Maybe, Stephanie will want to come back to you but Stu, you need to be strong. You will not take her back. I will not let you take her back”. Stu smiled. The possibility of she coming back and they being together made him feel better.
“Watch your smile Stu. I know what you are thinking. You are not going back to her and I will ensure that”. Stu nodded but he knew that all is not over. He felt happier. Maybe if he pleads hard enough, she might take him back.
Drew was too drunk to understand his compatriot’s ambivalence. “You are a true man Stu. She is not good enough for you. She kept you in a leash and she will make you give up everything you love. And what about her snobbish father who treats you like dirt. You need to forget her and it will be better for her to forget you as well”. Drew’s words pierced Stu’s heart like needles and the pain was unbearable for him. All the Vodka inside him was not helping either.
“I would rather not talk about it” Stu offered.
“Yes. We will not talk about it again. We ought to get drunk. We should go to the town and get more Vodka. Come on Stu. Get us two of your father’s finest horses and we will ride to the town like the Cossack’s cavalry”.
The idea of riding horses to the town and more Vodka brightened Stu up. He immediately unhooked two horses from the stables and gave the leash of one to Drew.
It was a full moon night and the beautiful Narva river sparkled like a new bride. The two friends rode the horses in such grandeur as if they owed the town. Stu felt much lighter. The pain seemed to be alleviating and memory of Stephanie was fading away. A lightning struck; Stu was jolted from his thoughts and once he regained them, he couldn’t recall her face. It felt much better.
The rain started pouring and teenage girls were scampering for shelter. Stu bowed to one of the pretty ones and rode away while Drew gave a knowing smile.

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