Yesterday, or to be accurate in the wee hours of this morning, for the first time in his life he experienced gaps in his memory. Huge chunks just went missing. No idea what he had done or how he had got to a particular place. It all started at a lab mate’s house warming party with mixing beer and vodka. About two measures of vodka gulped straight. The process was to first put this horrible orange powder in your mouth and then take a swig of the vodka, allow it to mix with the powder and then swallow it. After about an hour of this insane gulping he started reeling from the effects of so much alcohol in his system.
What followed then was purely surreal. Surreal as he looked back now. Not then. For then he was in a zone. For in the next instant he found himself on the stairs going down. He couldn’t remember when he took the conscious decision to leave the party. He did not even say bye to anyone. Later, he remembered that he had even left behind his jacket and umbrella. Much later he was told that he had puked all over the stairs.
The next thing he remembers is walking on a road. He knows not how he got there. He knows not what road it was. All he remembers is walking, walking in the general direction of his home wherever that was. He remembers crossing the road once. He knows not for what reason. He remembers puking a little into the bushes once or twice along the way. He remembers thinking about flagging down a taxi even though he had no money in his wallet. But for some unknown reason he did not follow up that thought. All he did was walk. He does not know for how long he walked. He did not even know the time even though he had a watch. Then suddenly he was in a road tunnel. Cars were zooming past him doing 80 kmph or so. He can’t recall how he got into that tunnel. Perhaps he did not know where he was walking, although it was in the general direction of his home. He was on a narrow pavement-sort-of-thing to the side of the road. After a few minutes the tunnel ended. He saw that he was walking on a thin strip of clear pavement not encroached by the road side shrubs. And the cars were still whizzing past. Not many but at regular intervals.
Suddenly, a car pulled up by his side. It was a police car. Was he doing something wrong? Walking on highways is illegal there. But until one of the police officers told him it had not even registered in his zonked brain that he was on a highway. They asked what he was doing there at such a wee hour. He told them that he had kinda lost his way. One of them asked him if he was drunk. He said no. They asked him to get into the car. They asked for his passport. He did not have it. It was at home. So he gave them his student id card instead. Was he scared? Not really. He was in a place where emotions did not register at all. After driving for what seemed like a short while they stopped the car and asked him to get out. One of them wanted to administer a breathalyzer test. He actually took out the instrument and was in the process of opening what looked like the plug you keep in your mouth and blow into. He then remembers feeling some vague sort of trepidation. What if the test results were off the charts? What would they do then? He remembers one of the officer’s laughing at him too as he went about this process. That police officer kept repeating that he wanted him to “blow for freedom�?. But again he did not feel anything. Feelings were still far away. Perhaps still at the party place he had left. They would need some time to catch up. Fortunately, the officer driving was not interested in the test. They asked him to go home and left. He looked around. He recognized the place where he was. He was about one or two kms from home. He did not notice how they had got him there. The route they had taken had not registered at all. And there was light. It was dawn. He looked at his watch for the first time in hours. It was 5 am. He had been walking for at least three hours. To his side above perhaps the first tram of the day passed on the fly-over. As if echoing the slowly brightening day the mists covering his brain also started lifting. He started walking and reached home in about 20 mins.
He crashed on the bed and slept for about 7 hours. He awoke to the slow tempo of a jackhammer performing a solo in his head. The symphony had not started yet. This was only the entrée. He discovered that he had slept half-naked. Another first in a longtime. The rest of the day was pure agony. The agony of a woozy head and screwed up stomach. He ate some cornflakes with milk hoping that it would settle his stomach. But things got worse. The food gave him a high. Must have been the glucose. He felt even sicker. His stomach wanted to throw all its contents out but the mind was stopping it. He promised himself that he would not touch alcohol ever again, although he knew that he would be drinking by the end of the following week. He closed his eyes and cursed life, the universe and everything.