A day before Holi, I was sitting in a tavern. It was a not so quiet spring evening and I could see the people sitting in groups and drinking. Piles and piles of beer cans lying all over the place. Even though I don’t drink, my friends had dragged me there and I was only tasting chakna. Two questions crossed my mind; why do people drink and who do they drink with? I was already lost in my thoughts thinking of the couplets that Urdu poets wrote about drinking. Poems after poems to make a library solely dedicated to drinking. In fact, I contributed a few as well:
Siyam-e-hijr ke faqe ke maare ham kahan jayenge
Chalo ham maikade chal kar zara iftaar kar aayen
(Whither do I go with the thirst of the fasting of the separation?
C’mon let’s go to a tavern and break our fast!)
That brings us to the next question; how much does one drink and for how long? The answer lies in the another of my couplets:
Na khatm hoti hai, na maarti hai tishnagi dil ki
Saqiya tujh ko mai ki qasam, pila to sahi
(Neither does it die, nor does it kill the thirst of the heart
Oh, Bartender! For the sake of wine just give me a drink)
So, I was thinking of all other verses that I read about drinking and how non-drinkers have also written many poems on it. I was having a first-hand observation of the people drinking there. The first question that why people drink is that it differs from person to person. As for an alcohol lover, I wrote:
Zulf hai, khum hai, tabassum hai aur woh ankhein
Toot jaye na kahin ye bharam, pila to sahi
(There’s hair, tresses in it, a sweet smile and her eyes
Let not the hallucination asunder, just give me a drink)
Being a non-drinker, I can only imagine what Devdas went through in his love for Paro.
And that spring evening while I thought about this, the lonely semal tree shed its lovely red pulpy, slightly heavy flower, on my friend’s head and that dragged me out of my thoughts. I moved my eyes to all the people sitting there; there was a rickshaw puller sitting with another companion, a man in a white safari suit probably an assistant to some politician with a few others; and there were two of my mates with whom I had come.
I came up with answers to both the questions; why do people drink and who do they drink with? People sometimes drink to suppress pain.
Not that alcohol suppresses the pain, but it suppresses some impulses in our mind and that leads to all the abnormal behavior that a drunkard gets involved in.
At times when people drink, as I have seen, they pour out their secrets which they hide on normal days. That’s again the function of our mighty brain. Secrets are like a burden to our minds and in order to release this burden, minds expel these secrets. And that secret is somehow only revealed to people one can trust.
There comes the answer to the second question. “A Friend”. Altruism, sympathy, and confidence are one of the many pillars of friendship, however, the latter is the most important aspect.
To talk of confidence a person seeks a confidante. Same is the case with me and that might be the reason that I don’t have many friends or at least the ones I consider as friends. In ancient China, people when confided to, used to go far into the mountains, dig a hole, spill the secret and cover it up with sand or soil which signified that the secret is buried forever.
Confidence, unlike sympathy, is very specific to a few people and that circle of few people comes into what we call “true friendship”.
A true friendship, you might believe, is a two-way process and it is to some extent. But expectation is a thing you must not have. For example, you must not believe that what you give to the other, you’ll receive as well. Because the moment you start expecting another pillar of friendship will dwindle i.e. Faith.
What to do?
At last, when you are left alone and your mind is troubling you, what would you do? If you are lucky to have a true friend, well and good, go ahead with the sharing.
If not and you choose to drink, go to a secluded area, drink and shout out all your secrets or you can do like the Chinese did. If you are not a drinker, you can write it and burn that secret or you can record your secret on your phone and then delete it.
When you are done with it, go look into your eyes in the mirror. Your eyes will tell you if you are still troubled. Go find a new way because eyes never lie. To say it in urdu:
Hota hai raaz-e-ishq-o-muhabbat inhi se faash
ankhein zubaan nahi hai, magar bezubaan nahi
(The secrets of desire and love are revealed by the eyes.
Eyes have no tongue but they are not without speech)
This story was submitted by Hanzala bin Aman.