I was stumped. But — the combat weary officers are not enthusiastic about watching these boring USO shows. The officers just want to survive the war — complete their missions — and go home. So — very few officers attend these USO entertainment shows. How will they feel if nobody wants to go out and watch them…?

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I saw this in the Navy. Maybe — I would not have started drinking alcohol had I not joined the Navy. Today — I observe that — though smoking is on the decline — drinking is on the rise — especially among youngsters.

This is a fiction story. I have abridged, edited and revised the story suitably for easy reading on the digital screen. I felt sorry for her. It is true — to be married to a drunkard is the crown of all misery. I lay him on the sofa — I took off his shoes — and — I put a pillow under his head. The man who was dead drunk — Arun — he lay in stupor — oblivious to the world. It was only as I began to leave — that his wife — Sadhana — she rushed into my arms and broke down. Arun will be absolutely well in the morning.

Then I will come here — and we will talk. I drove home late at night. I lay alone in my lonely bed — commiserating — unable to sleep — wondering what to do. I knew I had to do something — because — I loved Arun dearly. Of course she can — you can take my word for it — like I loved Arun. Maybe — it was our mutual chemistry. Arun was my colleague. It is very natural to develop feelings of fondness for someone who you are in close proximity with for more than 10 hours every day. Arun was my classmate from our student days in the USA.

I was not only his constant companion at work and socially — but also his closest confidante. In such cases it is a thin line between friendship and having an affair, but we never crossed that line. There were no secrets between us — except the time — when he suddenly went to his hometown in the interiors of the mofussil — and he dutifully got married to the girl his parents had chosen for him.

Then — Arun rang me up in the office — and he told me the news of his marriage without much ado. He peremptorily commanded me to get his flat ready — and to come to the Mumbai Central Railway Station to receive him and his newly wedded wife.

She readily accepted me as a friend with honesty and openness. She generously understood my relationship with Arun — without a trace of suspicion, envy or rancour. I could not bear to see the poor innocent girl suffer like this. Tomorrow I would talk to her — I would counsel her. And — I would talk to Arun too. I had to find a solution — try to make them more compatible — so that they could be happy — and have a fun marriage. But first — Dear Reader — let me tell you how it all started.

Arun loved his drink. In fact — he loved his drink a bit too much. I think he had an innate propensity for alcohol. I noticed this — and I told him once or twice. But then — I let it go. Well — it was early days — and maybe — he was just enjoying himself. And maybe — they thought that marriage was the panacea.

She will surely improve Arun with her love. And — he will mend his ways after marriage. Many people do seem to think the marriage is the easiest solution to many ills — like alcoholism — and everything will be happy ever after.

She was an ordinary looking small town girl studying in college. It was a grand wedding. Sadhana turned out exactly as he expected. She was a nurturing, caring, loving wife who did exactly what he wanted. She pampered him to glory. She unquestioningly submitted to all his demands — except one — she did not allow even a drop of alcohol in their house.

On her first day she cleaned out his well stocked bar — by simply throwing all the bottles of expensive booze down the garbage chute. Arun tried to reason with her — he explained the ways of cosmopolitan culture — but Sadhana stuck to her guns, defiant. This was the last straw…!!! I noticed Arun seethe in silence. He felt totally humiliated in front of his colleagues — his juniors — his friends — and me.

But — he did not say anything. He reacted the next day — by going to the club bar after work — for a few drinks — before going home. Yes — from that day onwards — Arun started drinking with vengeance. Arun started drinking at the club bar — on his way home from work — every night. At first — I would give him company. But soon — I stopped accompanying him — as his drinking grew from bad to worse — and his behaviour would often become nasty after a few drinks.

And now this had happened. I got a call at midnight from the club secretary — desperately saying — that my colleague and friend Arun — he had passed out stone drunk in the bar — and would I please take him away — as they had to close up the bar for the night.

And so — I took the drunk Arun home — as I described in the beginning of the story. I went straight to his house. Sadhana was waiting for me. It was early — the club was empty. I chose a lonely inconspicuous table. I came straightaway to the point — not giving her a chance to start her sob story. Of course I want to help him. But how…? What should I do…? Spend your evenings with him. Arun will feel good. There is no harm in having a small — or some wine — now-a-days everyone does — even I do.

Arun needs companionship. I could sense her desperation deep within her — that would make her try out anything — any remedy — any cure. I am telling you again. Be his friend. Go to the club, sit with him, have a drink. He will start liking you. Now — drinking is his priority. Soon — you will be his priority. It will make life easier for both of you. Stop trying to control him. It will never work. If you nag him you will drive him away from you. Confrontations, threats, arguments — with these — he will only get worse.

I am sure he will respond positively. I want you to be able to laugh, relax, have fun and enjoy life to its fullest…!!! It worked. And though he did enjoy his drinks — I never saw him drunk again. The metamorphosis in Sadhana was truly fascinating. I would often see her sipping exotic colourful cocktails — rubbing shoulders with the cream of society. Now — his heart swelled with pride and admiration — as everyone noticed and praised Sadhana. Indeed — Arun and Sadhana were the toast of society.

Their marriage started rocking. In fact their marriage rocked so much — that soon — comprehension dawned on me — that there cannot be three persons in a marriage. So — I gracefully withdrew from their lives.

I changed my job — relocated — and yes — believe it or not — I got married to a nice young man — and commenced a blissful married life of my own. Of course — Arun and Sadhana attended my marriage — and at my wedding reception — Sadhana seemed to be in a vivaciously celebratory mood — swinging brightly and dancing wildly — downing glass after glass of bubbly Champagne.



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