The snowy white magical powder shot up through his nose and instantly infused with his bloodstream. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh……….. He was a rocket ship. A Space x machine booming through the sky, shattering the stratosphere, emerging beyond the high, all captured in his heaven-induced sigh…
The world became a circus ring, he its lord and master. Commander, ruler, emperor, conqueror, the absolute. Chemically defining his self-worth for over five years now, this, was his nightly escape. His moonlight drive. His break-on-through, to the other side. Anonymous king, basking in the delectable stench of opioid, Himmat, found his namesake!
On his way back from work each evening, he’d stop under the Powerhouse Gym, the kind of seedy establishment that served as the epicentre of an altogether ‘greater’ fitness. There, hiding in plain sight at this Juhu crossroads, one of the busiest intersections in Mumbai, he’d meet his maker – the maker of his evenings, the saviour of his day’s drudgeries. His dealer. It was a well-oiled and rehearsed precise exchange. Seven pm, Himmat and the ‘dealer’, caps partially veiling their identities, would slip money in return for the desired, each evening. A split-second transaction, an entire night of merriment. It was just perfect.
Saturday. The end of the week at Himmat’s dreaded advertising agency. No more nagging, unappreciative bosses, no more banal client meetings, no more story-weaving, no more lies – even if, just for one day. Sunday. Special treats were planned. A cocktail tonight. No fewer than three varied narcotics, Himmat had decided, and set it all up through the dedicated phone he had that ONLY spoke to his delights.
The appointed hour arrived, as did Himmat. Powerhouse was bustling with protein-pumped wannabe actors admiring themselves like hedonistic man-slaves as they lifted the weight of the world using their scant brains. No sight of the ‘dealer’. 9314268989…….. “this phone is either switched off or not reachable.” Death to the deserter. Traitor. Bastard. Himmat remembered his mother’s warning from the year before – “your body is a temple, respect it”. In return he recollected his much-admired chef-writer Anthony Bourdain’s immortal words – “your body is a rollercoaster, enjoy the ride”, which he had, much to his mother’s increasing woes, snubbed her reprimand with. He snapped out of his hazy déjà vu. The tips of his toes curled up. His knees began to knock against one another. His mouth became dry like the desert camel who’d searched the parched barren land for all but one elusive drop of water.
He got into his car and scurried out of the curb, brushing the fender against a superbike that was obviously compensating for one of those ‘lifters’ upstairs. He couldn’t give a damn. His car rushed against the traffic demonically. Within minutes he was home. Oshiwara. His mother opened the door to incessant belling. He stormed in. Straight to the bar. A glass of neat single malt. Down the funnel. Momentary relief.
“Feels horrible to be sober doesn’t it?” “SHUT UP… SHUT UP… SHUT UP…” Himmat ran into his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Fell to the ground. Weeped like a child. Then screamed like a banshee. Then cried some more.
Suddenly, there was utter silence. The room was heavy with breath. Drenched in whiskey. Soaked in despair. A minute. Two. Four. Ten. Not a sound. Not a word. Not a cry. Time for another round? Himmat arose. His urgency had dissipated. He carried the ungainly girth of his misery in lethargy-filled steps. Out the door. Into the living room. Past the kitchen. To the entrance of his flat. Then out. Into the hallway. Towards the service steps. Just one flight up to freedom. Permanently. Forever. Eternal.
He reached the terrace and made his way blankly to the edge. He could see the ocean of people and cars, the ever-present Mumbai cacophony, but not hear it. He could touch the sick humidity, but not feel it. It was on its way out, and away. Life, was leaving him. Liberation. At long last. He shut his eyes. Said a prayer. “Himmat, STOP”! A deep baritone yelled.