“There are two types of drinkers; those who drank to enhance their personalities and those who sought to take something away.” – Haruki Murakami
Warning: This is not the regular two men in a bar kind of story you’d expect. It is not funny. So, proceed with caution.
The other day I was at a bar with a friend who I wasn’t very interested in. So, I was looking around and observing other people. The bar was teeming with the regulars. A single girl dressed to the nines, holding one drink for the rest of the night hoping it turns into a sweet one. A group of loud young adults, who had recently discovered what it was like to drink in a bar legally with money of your own. A couple trying very hard to whisper sweet nothings but had to actually yell at each other over the music to be heard. A 30 something girl typing furiously into her laptop with a glass of whiskey and another refill ready to be consumed, clearly she’s had a rough day and tomorrow wasn’t going to be any better for her. What caught my eye was this young couple who were seated right next to me. They seemed too young to be drinking legally, yet they seemed to fit right into the loud, obnoxiously rich and particularly busy bar.
The girl was dressed in a regular tee shirt and jeans and you wouldn’t think she was hot or beautiful but there was this aura around her. The fact that she didn’t have a hint of makeup, cosmetic or emotional on her was so intriguing and charming. Her kohl lined eyes were bouncing off the lights and her small lips parted every now and then to reveal a crooked but adorable set of teeth that gave the cutest hint of a smile. The guy in front of her didn’t look a day older than 17. Shy and quiet, he had his hands on his knees the whole time. He looked at her like she wasn’t real but he didn’t look long enough for her to feel awkward. She did most of the talking and he made sure he was listening. I don’t know if they were in an invisible bubble of their own or they had incredible hearing powers, because somehow the music didn’t seem to bother them. For most of the time, I only saw their lips move and their heads nod. I wonder how they understood each other. But then I was so intrigued that I listened closer. And this time I heard them.
The girl pulled up her full sleeves tee shirt to reveal cut marks on her wrists. She took one big sip of her vodka and touched her cuts gingerly. But without giving it a second thought she told him, ‘the first time I just wanted to harm myself. More like an attention seeking thing. But the second time, I wanted to kill myself. And I was so close to doing it, that’s why it’s a deeper cut.’
The guy looked at her wrists like he was transfixed. He leaned in closer to take a better look, but didn’t touch her wrists. He shook his head but didn’t say anything. The girl pulled back her sleeve and said, ‘I know… sounds stupid to someone who is perfectly normal. But then that was the time when I was perfectly lonely, so alone that it seemed like I could have killed myself and it wouldn’t matter to anyone. I would be thrown into a grave like a pile of flesh or I would be fed to birds. Loneliness and death was the only truth.’
I was so taken in by what she said that I turned and looked at her. She must have felt my eyes on her because she turned to look at me. Our eyes met for a brief moment and she smiled at me. A genuine, courteous smile. I smiled back and looked back at my drink. But continued to listen in. That’s when I heard the boy’s voice for the first time.
‘The truth is always changing. And it is the only drug that people like you and me are addicted to. It bothered you so much that you saw death as the answer. It bothered me so much that I saw you as the answer.’ He said, twirling the empty beer bottle on the table.
The girl smiled and said, ‘this truth will change again in sometime. But the addiction won’t. Our thirst won’t…. right?’ The boy smiled and nodded. I saw both of them bob their heads in unison as they took the last sip of their drinks. They walked out with the girl leading and the boy walking almost a foot behind her, so as to not touch her accidentally. They looked like they knew where they were going. And outside, was not the answer.
Long after they left, I was still thinking about what they said. I looked up at my friend who was busy with his phone. I looked back at the half empty coffee mug in front of me and wondered – the drink isn’t what intoxicates us. The truth on the other hand does…
What are you drinking to, tonight?