The lights were dim.At times,the lights flickered.Eric ordered one more shot and licked the left over chilli chicken masala.He tried to figure out which song is played.He looked around and saw more boys and girls than men and women.A gang of ten was celebrating one of their friend’s birthday,another gang was celebrating a bachelorette party and a newly married couple was romancing in a corner couch.He got up from the seat and walked up to the smoking room.He pushed tipsy boys and girls to find a way.The room was packed but he got little place to lean on with his right shoulder.He noticed the young couple standing opposite him and smoking the same cigarette by taking turns.She wore a small black top which was up to her belly button and a micro mini skirt.Her boyfriend was enjoying the attention he and his girlfriend were getting.She took a puff and then kept her head on his shoulder and told him something.
“Oops,is she talking about me?“,Eric asked himself and walked out of the smoke room.
He thought about his friends teasing him,“Hook up with someone man;otherwise what’s the point of going to the pub daily and drinking alone?”
“Yes,I am alone.I am 43 and I have no one,forget about woman,in my life”,he stumbled on a shimmering high-heeled stilettos,“How on earth are these women wearing them?”
When he walked up to the seat,there was a girl sitting in his chair and there was a guy hugging her and standing next to her.He stood in front of them for a while wondering what to tell to make her get up from his seat.
“Eric sir!”,Rakesh called out holding out a mug of rum coke.He took the mug and walked to the dance floor.
This pub has been Eric’s evening place for past five years.Earlier he used to come here with his friends.Later all of his friends got married and now they either don’t have time for him or don’t get the permission from their wives.Bullshit! Today every bartender is his friend.Bouncers greet him with a smile and there is no stag entry fee for him.Even during the most crowded nights,he will still get an entry.He leaves only when any of the bartenders asks him politely to leave.People never mess up with filthy-rich single men.
During his teens he was against drinking.He made sure he isn’t drinking or tasting alcohol even by mistake.For him the smell of alcohol was the smell of his Mom.Every night when the car horn honks in the midnight,he would run and stand at the stairway.His unconscious Mom would be in the hands of the driver.He would lift Mom and then make her lie down on the couch.One day,the driver smooched her only to find Eric standing in the hallway.He left hurriedly but Eric couldn’t forget what he saw.In fact there was nothing he could do then.He heard lots of stories about his Mom from the housemaids and his friends.Looks like she was an introvert simple girl when she married his Dad.Something happened between them which nobody knows clearly.But,when his Dad died of out blue,she was the happiest person on the earth.There was a rumor that she didn’t even shed a single tear when his Dad passed away.Eric was a year old then.When we wakes up in the morning,she would be still asleep and she would still smell alcohol.He dresses up alone and one of the maids would serve the breakfast.One of the drivers would drop him at the school.When he comes back from school,she would be sitting at the dining table in glittering translucent saree which showed every curve of her body.He would sit opposite her and the maid will keep a mug of hot milk in front of her and a mug of coffee in front her.She would talk sweetly to him for which he would answer in monosyllables.When the car honks,she would get up from the chair to kiss him.Every evening,there will be a patch of red lipstick on his cheeks.She didn’t notice him growing up and one night the hell broke loose.Eric still loses himself when he thinks of that night.
“Excuse me Uncle,could you please change the seat?Our gang doesn’t have enough space there.”,a boy in his early twenties sat next to Eric and pleaded.Eric smiled at the boy’s usage of the word Uncle rather than Sir.He silently occupied the other seat.He kept thinking about his inability with women.No!he isn’t impotent but he has trust issues.He trusts nobody.He trusts no woman.Wait! He had trusted one during his college days but when she learned stories about his Mom,she left him even without letting him know.He got to know about his own breakup news when his friends told him that she is going out with one of his classmates.
At times he wonder whether he has loved his Mom or not.But,he was sure about one thing.As he grew older,he started sympathizing and empathizing her more and more.But,even then there was no love for Mom.It was a feeling of hatred melting into practical nonsensical sympathy.
He had stopped waiting for her car coming home in the night.He was in Class Twelve then.When the car honked he didn’t bother about it.Later,he heard arguments downstairs and before he reached the hall he heard a thunderous slap and Mom’s shrieking cry.He saw Dad’s best friend Mahesh Uncle standing determined for slapping her for the second time.Eric ran to him and beat him up with the chair at the dining table.When Mahesh Uncle shouted *****,Eric lost all the control.He beat up Mahesh Uncle and dragged him on the floor to the car porch.He smashed the car glass and shouted at Mahesh’s driver to get out of the place.Eric was shivering in anger and went back inside.He saw his Mom crying.His senses weren’t working.All the anger which had been boiling inside him for years erupted without any control.He pulled up his Mom from the sofa and slapped her hard.He slapped her until he overcame his rage.His Mom’s nose and lips were bleeding and her face looked purple.He ran into his room and opened the bathroom door.He stood in the shower until he broke into tears.He didn’t wipe himself and fell on the bed.
Next morning he woke up hearing the non-stop knocks on his door.He had appointed one of the maids to knock on the door until he wakes up and opens the door.He made the maids satisfy his early morning sexual thirsts too.When he opened the door,a crowd welcomed him.Nobody seemed talking and he almost guessed it right.He saw his Mom’s dead body and policemen in the house.She had hung herself the night before.
After that day,he has been always alone.He fired the maids and drivers.He punched his Uncle when he and his family tried to stay over at his place.He lost lots of money trusting wrong people.He stopped college and took over the business at the age of 23.
“Sir,bill.”,Rakesh stood there with a smile and a bill.
Eric kept two hundred bucks extra and winked at Rakesh.
The watch showed 12.45 AM.He slowly walked out of the pub and waited for an auto.In front of the pub,a couple was fighting over some issue.“You cheat!”,the guy was shouting at top of his voice and the girl showered him names.
“Everybody cheats and I am cheating myself”,he sang and walked on the road until an auto rickshaw followed him and insisted him to get inside.After reaching home,he searched for the light’s switch and saw the photograph of his Mom on the wall.
“You *****!”,he shouted and fell on the couch and slept off.
Next day,again at 7 PM,he sat in the pub and ordered for another shot.