Story Collection - Chaalbaaz


“What happened son? It seems like yesterday that you were just having a beer with your old man and now, it is almost an year.” Gorvendra’s father said to his son while pouring a glass of beer for him.

“Here, have a sip and tell me what is wrong.”

“There is nothing wrong dad. I just don’t find any charm in it.” Gorvendra said not meeting his father’s eyes. He knew this day was coming. He just wished it was not the one-year anniversary for his sobriety.

“Is it that girl that you are dating. Is she making you do this?” Gorvendra’s mother spoke, her voice dragging as the words left slowly from her mouth. She hadn’t been sober since her mom gave her the first drag of weed when she was 12.

Gorvendra’s father looked at him dejectedly as he didn’t pick up the tumbler of beer. He turned to his daughter and Gorvendra’s friends and signalled them to pitch in the intervention.

“Gorvendra, I know how you feel. Mom and Dad are just too old fashioned, still after alcohol and weed. I mean, come on, the 70s are gone. Here, have a little of this. This is the latest and greatest in the industry. Trust me, you are gonna love it.” Nimisha said giving her stash of purple powder to Gorvendra. Gorvendra recognised it immediately. D29 — the drug that was supposed to change how you see the world. It was all over the television these days.

Since the invention of Alpha-29 during the world war 2, drugs were made legal. Alpha-29 simply removed the side-affects of other drugs and ensured that you would not die of an overdose. World war 2 was a devastating event and it was decided by most governments that the best course of action was to let people have some fun.

Corporates, obviously took the matter in their own hands immediately to ensure that the supply was met and more demand was created. Since then, the pharma companies have been coming up with weirder and weirder drugs. And the marketing companies ensured that being high was the path the society takes.

As with every big fashion, there was an anti-high movement forming underground. It started around the 70s. People stopped getting high and started having conversations and discussions. The music of that time was completely different and various forms of new music came into being. But the hippie culture, as it was called, eventually crumbled against the weight of the corporates.

Gorvendra had started reading about this culture online and he wanted to give it a shot. He had never known what not being high was like. He was around two when his mother gave him his first pill, to stop him from crying. It had been over 23 years now out of which for 22 years, he has been popping pills, taking needles and snorting stuff. He did not want to admit it initially but he was bored.

That is when he decided to change his life and stopped everything. First week and he was in the hospital. He could barely breathe and doctors injected even more drugs in one day that he would have consumed in one week. He found out later that drugs cannot be removed from the system like a switch.

He tried to find material on how to detox but it was rare and untrustworthy. Even though the 70s were over 40 years ago, people still didn’t trust people who weren’t high. A beer in hand was considered a necessity for going out. And if you haven’t at least used all the methods of injecting a drug at least once, it was considered a waste of talent.

Lucky for him, he found Selma. She was not on drugs for almost two years and while her parents had renounced her, she was alive in a way, Gorvendra had never seen anyone be. More time he spent with her, more he resolved to change his ways. While last time his attempt was half baked and almost fatal, this time, with Selma’s help, he was able to leave the drugs.

And today was the first year anniversary. ‘How could his parents do this to him?’ Gorvendra thought while looking at his family and friends. Their eyes were asking him like he was having a huge crisis in life. If he could make them understand, he would tell them that he felt like he was seeing the world for the first time. A much brighter world that was completely different from what he lived in right now.

Instead of being told to be high in an intervention, Gorvendra wanted to tell his parents that the world would be a much better place with drugs banned. The divorce rates would definitely fall from the current rates of 10%. Imagine! 10% of children have to see their parents separate. Will this happen if they weren’t high? Of course not. People make bad choices when they are high.

There have been two wars in the world since the world war 2. Over 1000 people died in them. Even WW2 could not stop people from fighting. All this, due to drugs. US is not ready to help fund the African mission to Mars. The whole continent got together and pooled resources to send man on mars. All they want is that US helps them out with the remaining 10%. But US is not ready to do it without having one astronaut from NASA in the mix. Will Africa be exploited like that if people could just be normal?

There was so much injustice in the world. There were only 43% women in the work force, the countries still had visa and immigration rules, and people still followed religions. Heck! Gorvendra had even seen christian activists being funded by muslims and jews. People were encouraging each other to believe such things instead of simply recognising science.

The world was divided in every way possible instead of people realising the simple fact that the whole world is a single entity with all humans the same.

All this wouldn’t have happened if not for the drugs. Drugs were making people stupid and he could not be a part of this stupid cycle.

“Nothing is wrong dad. It is who I am.” Gorvendra said gingerly.

“Probably its just a phase.” Gorvendra’s mother whispered to his father as Gorvendra’s sister rolled her eyes.

“Its that dumb girlfriend of his. I bet you.” Saying this, she popped a pill. Her eyes fluttered for a second and she was back as if after a reboot. Her eyes shone like a new born baby, full of excitement and wonder.

“It is not my girlfriend, and it is not a phase. I know it is difficult for you guys to accept but it is as it is. I am sober and you can either accept me or reject me. But I can’t change who I am.” Gorvendra said solidly.

His friends knew about this for some time now and thus, they were mostly silent. They have been trying to convince him for months and had mostly given up. They had accepted the truth or maybe just ignored it.

“Gorvendra. We love you. If this… this is what you feel is right for you, then we will love you as a… sober.” Gorvendra’s mother said while choking on the word sober. She put a hand on his head while taking a huge drag from her weed filled cigarette.

“Thank you mom.” Gorvendra said while looking at his father.

His father looked at him for one whole minute saying nothing. Gorvendra cut the eye contact several times and looked at other while stealing glances at his father.

“Sober or normal, you are my son.” His father finally said chugging down the whole glass he was holding for his son, in one gulp.