“Wai boss, this is Namcha”
“O yea dude, anything” I replied
“Yea man, come to our place, Maddy, Psycho Penjor and Fatso are here”
‘’So, I guess you want to go to party”. I retorted
“He has already consumed two eleven thousands, so just come man!” he said
“But dude, let’s not drink at the cost of his life and moreover he is a real nuisance once he is drunk, remember we are still paying for the 42inch television that he kicked in his drunken stupor” I said with concern.
“Cut the crap dude, he was already drinking when I came back from office, any ways you better turn up’’ and he hanged up the phone.
In the midst of this conversation I had forgotten to ask about my friend Penjor. He was working in Gelephu. I made up my mind that I should make it fast, after all, it’s rare for a friends to flock together once out of college. I strolled back to my closet, took my whether beaten Jean that has not felt the touch of water for couples of month, and unveiled the new shirt that my girl friend has gifted. As I was getting dressed up, the thoughts of my friends began to loom over me and I was taken back with reminiscences.
Namgay Wangdi alias Namcha was 5.8 feet tall, good looking, tough, burly and beefy who took pride in his look. May be because of this, in the 9th standard after the history class, he named himself, “Namcha” meaning Iron from the sky. Though vaguely, I remember him publicising and requesting others to call him “Namcha”. We were together since 9th Standard and went to complete the college together. I guess the long period of togetherness bonded us in some way or the other. He was a play boy by nature with an innate character to charm any woman from all walks of life.
Maddy, I met him in collage and was senior to me. We became close because of his heroic act to deliver me and Namcha from ragging. His heroic act thereafter was enough to bond us more than anything. It was until recently, when he conceded that saving us was not his intention but in his drunken state he has mistaken us for his friend’s brother. His Name was Karma Phuntsho and I still haven’t figured out why people call him Maddy. Some says he admired the charismatic role played by a Bollywood actor who drank too much in wooing a lady and got successful, so he decided to have it, and some says the name was bestowed by his friends during college days to mark his peculiar, bizarre and aberrant behaviour. But whatever he was a Maddy, with always a drink and a smile across his face.
I was taken back to my sense when my phone rang again.
“You coming man, we are waiting for you” it was Namcha again.
‘I will dude, don’t worry, but what about bucks man” I replied.
“Man I have few hundred but don’t worry Penjor is here on tour, so he has a fat wallet to cater us” he said chuckling.
“Well dude, I have few hundred too and when is Penjor going back”
“Cut the crap and come here fast, he will tell you once you are here” and hanged up the phone.
I switch off the light, and left the front door on latch since I couldn’t find the lock nor did it concerned me for there was nothing a burglar would be interested of. I hopped into a cab and after 7 minutes of drives I was there. As I entered the room, the cigarette smoke had engulfed every item in the house and there they were, seated on a couch with bottles of eleven thousands in front of them. They were watching an English Movie in their 14 inch television.
‘’hey guys” I said
Penjor stood up and gave me a hug and said, “Well dude, you have put on a weight, long time mosh”
“Yea man, how are you? Heard that you are married, who is that unfortunate one?’’ I said jokingly
“Yea dude, I am and stop that dude” he said
Penjor was an economic student and a real character. He was a silent man with few words. He was short and had a face as if every temper in him was stored there. During college days he hardly spoke with anyone. At first instance I thought he was a forlorn refugee in the college. But as time went by, I realised that was he. He used to love a woman, and I guess that was the only woman he spoke to and got turned down. Psycho was added to his name following an incident. He attended a class till the session was over. It was only when everyone walked out of class, he realised he was in a B.com Class. He was a heavy smoker who by now has spent a fortune on it.
As I turned my attention to Maddy, I could see him withering from a young man in college to an old man, though same age of ours.
“How are you feeling dude” I asked as I shook his hand.
“Jada what do you think” he said with the same smile across his face but this time it was vague.
“It was only last time, you had a detox” I said seriously.
“What do you mean yea so? This is going to cost your life, and you guys ain’t telling him anything” I said as I turned to other three.
‘’If only he listens” said fatso
“Hey guys don’t worry, I am strong, the stupid doctors will say and do anything” said Maddy as he emptied the glass and filled it again.
“Why are you drinking too much? If this is because of the Yangchen, then damn you” I said sternly.
“Wai forget her man, Dhea it’s now three years, she is a mother of two now” Namcha added.
“You want to know the reason huh! Is there any smart guys amongst you who can guess it” retorted Maddy
“Yangchen tey wai” said Fatso
“Because you are addictive” said psycho Penjor as he blew the smoke rings out his mouth.
“Fuck you guys! I am drinking because eleven thousand is a Bhutanese product.” Maddy laughed as he poured more into his empty glass.
“Yea all in the name of Bhutanese product but the consequence is costly, look at your health and remember the 42 inch television, and yea remember the incident with the police” I said with a tone of anger.
“Jada that was the least you guys could do as a friend’’ said Maddy and I could sense he was hurt.
“Guys cool wai…it’s Saturday and we are here to have good time instead of brawling among our self”
The room was quite for a moment and everybody’s eye was glued to the television. Fatso took the remote in his hand and started browsing the channel. The BBS was broadcasting the news and he kept the remote on the table and beckoned Penjor to pass him the Cigarette. The news read, “The parliament had approved the Tobacco control bill and it states, anybody found selling will be charged under misdemeanour and those smuggling will be punished under felony of fourth degree.……”
Namcha broke the ice when he said, “why can’t the parliament ban alcohol too when it can go to the extent of banning tobacco, it would do a great justice to Maddy”
“Because parliamentarian needs to drink like me and you know drink is inevitable” Maddy said this time with the same vague smile.
“They don’t drink like you” said fatso
“Yea why can’t they, if at all it is from the religious point of view, it’s the alcohol that has to be banished, remember the story of a monk who after drinking marries the women and kills the goat” I said.
“And the monk would have smoked too, if there was a cigarette in the menu” added Fatso.
“Yea dude! Smoking causes Cancer so does alcohol but after smoking you don’t get wild and kick 42 inch television” said Penjor as he leaned back thoughtfully and blew a puff of smoke into the air.
Maddy shook his head, smiled, clucked his tongue and then said, “hahah Penjor, now it won’t be long before you are behind the bars. I know you need cigarettes in the toilets too”
Penjor’s face brightened as he said, “Dude that’s why I am in Gelephu, where I can have easy access to Cigarettes from the border town”
“All in the name of democracy” said Fatso.
“Alcohol is fine because it’s a tradition and Bhutan produces it, it is embedded deep in our culture and now it’s a mammoth task to root it out. But we don’t produce cigarette” said Maddy defensively.
“Hahahaha in the name of tradition, we have drunken drivers veering off the wheel, we have accidents in archery field, battery case, family problem, and of course youth problems” said Namcha as he took a sip of beer and continued, “I am happy that they are going to ban smoking but it doesn’t get into my brain why they are not banning the sale of alcohol or the least monopolise the sale of alcohol, that way I think I will be saving some too” he said with smile.
Fatso Added, “and alcohol is easily available like any other ordinary commodity in Bhutan”
I nodded in agreement. Fatso went into the kitchen, came back with a glass, filled it and offered me. As I clasped the glass, he uttered, “if they ban alcohol, you will miss this”.
Well Fatso was a man with good sense of humour. His name was Sonam Rabgay, a short and fat man. At times I have seen his colleagues refer to him as “Panda”. The name Panda was derived from the animated movie “Kungfu Panda’, for his structure especially his fat ass resembled that of the lead character Poo. Since three of them were working in the same office, they were putting up together under one roof.
Suddenly Fatso stood up and with a jerk zoomed to the door and dashed off. It was only after few minutes when he returned with a 2 eleven thousands clenched in his hands, I realised the bottles in front of us were empty. He placed the edge of the bottle cap in his doma stained teeth and with a pull, opened it.
“Before you guys ban the alcohol, I should gulp down as much as I can” he said as he filled his glass and passed on the other beer to me.
“Yangchen is in RICB mo” Penjor asked.
There was a deadly hush after he asked the question. We knew it was not a time to put up such a question especially when the self afflicted victim was amongst us. It was just like any other sad love story. They were in love. Maddy like Yangchen, Yangchen liked Maddy. After sometime, it didn’t work and they broke off. Well! For any other rational people, it must have taken guts to overcome the pain but here we are dealing with an extraordinary love story. From the corner of my eye I could see Maddy craning his head and listening with rapt attention.
“Yea she is, and hey Penjor where did you meet your wife, is she working?’’ I asked just to divert the conversation.
“in discotheque tey” joked Fatso
“Well I meet her in Thimphu, Man! She is the most beautiful girl, we dated for a couple of months and decided to marry” Penjor said cheerfully.
“You are a lucky man” said Maddy and we knew he envied him.
“Every one of us is lucky dude! You know old dictum that says, everything that happens, happens for a good cause’. I said
“Except for Good karma” said Penjor jokingly.
“Fuck you guys” said Maddy as he rose from his seat and staggered drunkenly towards the loo.
“Hey dude, any help” said Penjor. And for the courtesy of help offered, he got the door slammed at his face and all we could hear inside was the running tap water.
“Hey dude, let’s get changed and shake our ass in ACE’’ said Namcha. And as if our office boss has entered the room, everyone rose from their seat and went to their respective room to change. I was alone for a moment browsing the channels in the little box. I was engrossed watching a panel discussion in the BBS television, when suddenly Namcha said, “move your arse…lets go”
“Ok dude, but where is Maddy” I said and could still hear the running tap water in the toilet. It has almost been half an hour and that jerk was still in toilet. Everybody was alarmed and started banging the door, there was no reply.
“Fuck man, lets break open the door, dhea shit” shouted Fatso.
And before I could figure out anything, Namcha kick opened the door with a bang. For a moment he stood frozen and as I helped myself into the scene, Maddy was lying with his face down and soaked in the water. Namcha hurried and picked him up and bought him back to the room. He had blood oozing from his nose and mouth. We were shocked and sick.
“Call 113 and tell them to sent the ambulance” said Fatso
“Jada instead they will sent you the police van and take us for interrogation” said Penjor
“Call Jango” Namcha muttered.
“ok guys, I will call Jango” I said.
After five minutes Jango turned up. Namcha carried Maddy on his back and rushed off to put him in Jango’s Santro. I was given the task to lock their house. As I went to turn off the TV, BBS was broadcasting the 10 pm news, “the joint sitting of the parliament passed the Tobacco Control Bill”.
I was infuriated. I kicked the remote control, and said, “Why only tobacco why not passes the alcohol control bill too”. The remote was into pieces and the TV went off. I cursed myself for breaking the remote, for not being able to guide Maddy and finally I cursed the Parliament for taking care of Psycho Penjor’s heart and ignoring my friend Maddy’s liver. I switched off the night, locked the door and ran down, joined them and took Maddy to the Emergency ward.