I am 24 years young. I work with one of the leading consulting organizations. I have been educated in one of the premier universities of the country. I am smart & witty. I have tasted professional success the way nobody else my age has. Did I mention I am beautiful? I have a fantastic sense of humour. In college, I used to be the one to provide clean entertainment to friends. I can sing & dance. I can write. I work out for an hour daily. I eat healthy but I love food. My taste in music, art & books is very well-known & people come to me for suggestions. I have a heart of gold. I believe in being good. I do not think I have harmed anybody till date. A lot of people call me ‘perfect’. But you know what- I am still ‘uncool’. Can you guess why? It is because I do not drink. & because I do not understand why people have such a fascination for alcohol.
My colleagues hang out after work over a couple of drinks, but I choose not to, because I abhor the idea of using alchol to drown your sorrows or to celebrate your happiness. In the beginning, they tried hard to convince me to accompany them. They tried almost every means possible. Saam, daam, dand, bhed, i.e., advice, bribe, ostracisation & blackmail. Then they just went along with ostracisation. They stopped calling me to office lunches & then even to lunch in the office cafeteria and coffee breaks. Then it spread to work itself. Most of my colleagues do not even talk to unless they have a specific requirement of me. I am avoided like a plague. When I am spoken to, it is as if it is to an untouchable. I did not know taking a stand was such a crime. & that too, against something that does not add any value to anybody’s life.
Alcohol causes intoxication, dehydration, damage to the liver & brain, alcoholism & obesity. A few argue it is good for the heart but you know what- it increases the risk of stroke & causes high blood pressure as the frequency & quantity increase. & who are you kidding- do you tell yourself/ your friends “oh this is for the heart”? Of course not! People drink because it helps to escape reality. But I am not that weak. I can face reality quite well. People drink to have a good time. But I have an equally good time when I am doing yoga or when I am travelling. People drink to lose inhibitions. But I do not have any inhibitions. I do what I want to do. I do not cower behind covers. Lastly, people drink because it is the ‘in-thing’. Hey! In that case, I prefer to be outdated.
I was told many-a-times that even if I do not drink, I can always accompany the crowd. But I am afraid I cannot. The very fact that people lose all traces of decency & intelligence repels me. A few hide behind alcohol to say/ do whatever they please. & above all, alcohol is just wrong. Why should I be forced to be a witness to it? I did not mind being ostracised from these ‘social’ gatherings, but now that it has moved to normal everyday life, it is painful. I can almost imagine what untouchables in India must have felt 70-80 years ago. When a woman is successful at work, it is anyway quite difficult for her. She is considered ‘catty’ & a ‘bitch’. On top of that, if she cannot socialise over ‘spirits’, it is downright suicidal.
Nonetheless, I have chosen this life for myself. I have a small coterie of friends: friends who come to book readings with me, friends who go for the 5 am jog with me, friends who attend yoga classes with me, friends who travel to exotic lands with me, friends who love me for who I am. I wish more people understood & respected a person’s decision & stand. I am sure a day will come when alcohol will be banned in entirety. I am also sure I will not be alive to see that day. Till then, cheers to the ostracisation!
(This is a work of fiction. It is not based on anybody’s life. I have just tried to imagine what the life of such a person look like. I will be happy to hear somebody’s first person account.)