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Beers And Betrayal

By Anushka Navetia

Every story needs a moral. Not everyone has to read the entire story to get to its moral. Thus, the moral of this story is pretty simple. Never trust men. In fact, this storyteller proposes that before you go on and read this story, you should break off any relationships you have with men. Don’t be scared to go overboard. These relationships are usually fragile in nature and can be smashed like a china plate.

Now now, before you call me a criminal against humanity, place curses over my head or call me a misandrist, have patience and listen to the tale this poor simple storyteller narrates before you all.

There are no main characters in the story, except for me and you poor readers who are unfortunate enough to hold this story in their hands.

There are six side characters in our plot who go through… you'll know soon enough what.

We start out the story from the scene of a party where the organiser, the planner, and the mother of the group, Kiran Sharma have summed up a whole bunch of alcohol which includes 4 breezers, 2 vodkas, 2 beers, leftover rum and our apple of the eye, the most revered, more beloved; babelicious Old Monk with some snacks for her profligate and heretic sister, Avantika Sharma.

It was Avantika’s first time drinking alcohol and her sister had made sure that A. Her first time would be with her. B, that she won’t have a deficit of drinks, she would start with a breezer and hopefully, end with it as well because the number of participants who wanted to get their hands on the alcohol had suddenly increased from 2 to 5.

These people were almost identical to any youngsters you would find at a party, always ready to make the best of free alcohol. Maybe the only thing different would be that you might assume at first that all the sex of these people would obviously be male, but there were 4 females and 1 male, enticed by the thought of alcohol, to forget their work and woes for at least one night before the woeful sun again peeps out of the window.

If you want the story to transform you, you need to care about its characters and how the night will change them for the better or worse. As a storyteller, it's my duty to make sure that you should feel the conversations of these characters as an extension of your own. And don't let the sex of the drunkards stop you from feeling, these characters are not just the culmination of their sex, they are a state of mind.

Jaya Mankad hailed from the dry state of India, where drinking was as prohibited as the use of camera in a temple. But when has that ever stopped a young soul? Completing her education in class 10, a diploma in coding, and then a master's degree, she walked in the footsteps of her brother convinced that if he can excel in coding, so can she. It turned out that she could do it but she didn’t want to, after 5 years of studies. She quit not long after and turned her heart to her new and true passion; fashion designing. Now after days and nights of eternal struggle, she finally got a job in a start-up and it was, in her words 'miraculous miracle'

Avantika Gupta was not the sister of Kiran Sharma but rather only a poor namesake of the aforementioned. She was born in a lower-middle-class family and ascended the ranks through hard work, silly mistakes and heroism. Her curving point in her life was determined not by her but by her ex-boyfriend who in the throes of being responsible for his girlfriend, selected Civil Engineering instead of Computer Science and engineering.

In an interview with her, Avantika confesses that the reason why her boyfriend broke up with her was that, in his words, 'she kept blaming him for all her mistakes and was making him feel very guilty'. This dunce could do nothing to console her except lay a sympathetic touch to this story.

Fortunately, Avantika did not let that curve change her destination, and like a side business, kept learning to code. In the status quo, she was in an internship while also applying to other prestigious companies. For a matter of convenience, we will hereafter refer to this Avantika as Avantika 1 and other Avantika as Avantika 2.

Avantika Sharma and Kiran Sharma were sisters with strong bonds. Nothing special can be said about both of them since they were quite boring, but one interesting thing this storyteller did learn was that they had a father. Now I know that having a father isn't exciting, but you see, this particular father was cheating on their mother and the siblings were, quite frankly, fed up with the charades and, quite unconventionally, just wanted their parents to have a divorce.

When I asked them why they were not as upset as I would expect daughters to be when the quintessential institution of marriage falls in front of their eyes. They simply said 'our father barely had any role in our upbringing except to lavish us up with things we didn't particularly require without ever engaging with the emotional aspects of parenting' while looking quite traumatised.

Finally, Shreyansh Shrivastav. The dark horse of the group. Prior to this engagement, only 2 people had ever seen him before and no one even knew his name. After asking a few intrusive questions masked in politeness, they got to know that he was a fashion student and was only one year older than Avantika Sharma.

I tried to hold an audience with him, but this hobo historian was denied.

Now, we enter the stage of the story, a hall equivalent to a total of 10 bunk beds put together. It sat in a circle-like formation, like believers surrounding their messiah. There were bottles of alcohol and chakra in the form of peanuts and freshly made Maggi, which everyone looked forward to with relish. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime to them, they finally agreed on the music: love dose by Honey Singh and finally closed the lights with individual packs in their hands.

I love to sing this song but I hate how fucking sexist it is, said Avantika 2 quickly as if someone was going to stop her before she could have said her point.

What do you mean that it's sexist? her sister asked

I mean just listen to the song. It assumes the fact that we always need a man to take care of our stuff, that we couldn't possibly bear all our expenses, and that all our said expenses are something which has to be out of the world, Avantika 2 replied.

True evidence of an all-girls college. They are as feminist as feminism comes, chimed Jaya.

True, I won’t be able to say nor find this in my college, Shreyansh said, looking quite forlorn.

Avantika 2 flushed a little. It never hurt when a group of women and a man declared approvingly that feminism mattered and her views were correct. Don’t flatter me, she said. I'm pretty sure that I haven't said anything new in itself.

Kiran, you’re married, right? Jaya asks and then answers. But still, you live far away from your husband, don’t you crave physical intimacy? Don’t you crave– she vaguely moves her hands throughout her body in a way to emphasize sexuality and sex.

To be honest, we were both pretty career and education oriented from the start. We dated for 5 years but it was only a month or so back that we genuinely had sex. So, no, I don’t really crave it that much, Kiran replied

Really! Because even though I'm in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend, I constantly think about it. Whenever we meet each other, all I could think is that I can’t wait to jump on his bones

I concur, me and my girlfriend also have along distance relationship but my need for sex never really dies, you know? Like we use toys as much as we can but the intimacy of the other person is really just something else, Avantika 1 joined in, taking sips of her pack of old monk and coke.

Have you ever used sex toys Kiran?, Jaya asked

No, I never really felt the urge to discover myself in those areas

Oh you should, you really should. Sex toys are a really great way to know and understand what YOU want. It might also help you to spice up four own married life

I agree, sex toys are a must. They are… good, Avantika 2 demurely chimes after finishing her 1st breezer.

Look, I'll tell you how our relationship is. Me and Aryan already have age gap of 5 years, so I often feel that he is not that sexually active because of it, but when he wants to do it, it's often when he’s realy nervous about something, and at that time I refuse because I feel used, you now? Like why should the sex be performend only when he wants it and not I?

You’re right. You’re completely right, Avantika 2 said, peering at her sister.

Exactly why should only he gets to–

Jaya Di, will you please open up another breezer for me, Avantika 2 says, opening her empty pams as if looking for a devotional fee.

Sure hon, Jaya replies

Up until now, everyone had already finished their first pack. Kiran, always a lightweight, was already swinging her feet after her first beer and mumbling incoherently to herself and Avantika was on her second breezer, wondering if she was supposed to feel something.

What about you Avantika? Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?, Avantika 1 asked casually, slipping her old monk pack

Me? Nope. never, I was just more focused on my studies and stuff. Never really got the chance nor ever found the right person to test this entire dynamic with.

Do you want to have one?

Maybe, I mean I wouldn't mind getting one but I'm not particularly desperate at the time, you know? It's like I feel like if it's bound to happen, it will happen. Like this party, Avantika 2 answered, raising her breezer in the air as if offering a toast to that ill gathering.

By the way, do you want something stronger, because I don't think that breezer is doing shit for you

Yeah, sure

Avantika 1 made a pact with vodka and spirit with neat, precise ratios and handed it to her. The taste was a little sharp compared to the breezer, but it wasn't really bad and felt really warm when it went inside.

My father is such an asshole. I know that I don't earn very well, but I still want to provide for them, give them some of my earnings at least, but whenever I broach the subject, he just shuts me down by saying that he won't live on their daughter's earnings, said Jaya

Same! My father is also exactly the same. Even though I came from a comfortable family, the joy of spending money for your loved ones is something else, you know? And when they say stuff like that, it just makes me feel small. So for my first salary, I bought gifts for everyone except my father, Kiran said giggling at her evilness.

Babes, I'm not even from a very well-to-do family also but even then they refuse my salary. I keep trying to convince them to take it, but they keep repeating their patriarchal motto, Avantika 1 said

Had it been a boy, they would have never raised qualms about taking such money, Avantika 2 said

Exactly, I don't understand why the fuck is their ego so big. Like if you are educating your daughter, expecting her to work and earn, then don't shy away when they want to take care of you. It makes no bloody sense, Shreyansh said, pouring himself another pack of old mock.

Thank you!

By the way, I feel like this much booze won't be enough, maybe we should order more Jaya said, pouring the entirety of the remaining bottle into her glass.

By now, this simple storyteller, sober as a nun, saw that they had finished 2 breezers out of four, 2 vodkas and 2 beers and the old mock was almost gone as well, those spritely fuckers has gobbled them up faster than a bra thrown on the bed after a cruel day at work. Still thirsty as ever for more, they decided that they WILL get more booze.

Try Zotata, they usually have a section of wines in them, the most learned Jaya spoke

Nope, they have removed that section now apparently, Shreyansh said

Try Swing

Still no luck

Dammit, should we just go out and try to bring some booze?, Jaya asked in all seriousness

At 2'o o'clock in the morning? No chance, also it's raining really bad

As if in a sign, the clouds thundered, reminding them of their presence, filling the room with an earthy smell and continued weeping.

Wait! There might be some hope. I remember my friends once ordered booze directly from a store once, I'll ask them from where, Shreanysh said, looking as peached up as a kitten

That's a great idea! I always thought that there would be some benefit to having friends who might possibly be alcoholics, said Kiran, swaying and slurring her words. Out of everyone there, she was the only one who was totally drunk. It turned out, in a funny game of chance, that her sister's tolerance was higher than hers. Promptly, as if to prove this pimp's point, she called up her husband and started talking rubbish with him.

You know Avantika, had it not been for your sister, we all would have not been together right now, Avantika 2 said

What do you mean? Avantika 1 asked, confused

This is a really big city, it's really easy to get lost and alone here and we were before your sister came and chewed our ears off with her talks

Yeah, she can be like that sometimes, Avantika chucked

She was the one who came into my room and initiated the conversation with me. We talked for like 2 hours after that, Jaya said, glancing at the gossiping figure of Kiran

I have been living here for almost 2 months but all we did when we passed each other in the hallway was give an awkward smile. This is the first time that I had ever been able to be so frank with my flatmates, Shreyansh said appreciatively

Your sister really is a good person babe, it takes a big person to be able to move everyone into such a big party, Avantika 1 concluded.

A sweet and nostalgic silence fell over the group

I need more booze now, this is not gonna work, Sheyansh, any luck with your friend?, Jaya said diverting their energy back to what was more important

Umm yes, they have given me the number of the place they ordered booze from and now all we have to do is wait as I've already placed the order.

Cool. give me the call when they ask for payment, we can't let the 2nd youngest pay here when elders are present, Avantika 1 said

Who are you calling old! I'm barely 25, Jaya responded

I didn’t say old, I said elder! It means that we are wiser than that poor kitten over there

Sure, whatever. Jaya went back to her glass, sipping the last few drops left in her glass.

The phone ringed

Give it to me, Avantika 1 said. Shreyansh obliged. As she picked up the phone, a slighly sluured and grumpy voice came from the other side like they had just woken up.

Hello Ma'am, I'm just on my way but you have to pay before you could get your delivery, the man on the other side said

Sure. you can just send the code verification number on 7594123678 and I’ll convey it to you.

Ok, cool

Yeah, the pin code came. 4512. Is the payment done?

Yes Ma'am you paid 1500 but the bill is for 1510. We'll send you a pin again and as soon as the pin comes, you have to tell us! Don't wait before you tell us or the code will expire, hurry

An air of urgency swept up. Within two seconds the pin came, and Avantika gave it to them. One second later she realised that the payment OTP was for 50,000 bucks. She quickly ended the call, in the hopes that they might have not heard the last pin code. But when has luck and time listened to the woes of a woman? Seconds passed like the sacriligious heartbeat of a heart patient, every ounce of sobriety that the alcohol had taken away from her suddenly came back with a vengeance.

A message came that the transaction has been accepted. 50k has been successfully transferred into the aforementioned number

A silent hush took over Avantika 1 for one moment, then the panic hit. Franatic calls to the numbers were made again and again but to no wail. Everyone in the group, when they heard what happened, scrubles back to their senses. With their own phone number, everyone tried to call that number but nothing worked. The phone was unreachable, the caller was deliberately not picking up their phone. from the dead of the night to the ressurection of the dawn, every person present there had tried more times than they could count to get justice.

Finally, they sat down and held their heads in their hands, wondering what to do next. The police was out of question because the news that their daughter had filed an FIR would definitely reach her parents and then they’ll have to know that not only she was drinking, but that she also just lost 50k. Avantika 2 at that time, hated the entire hierarchy and the abhorrent patriarchy that gave them this space to do such mis-deeds and get away with it. At last, Avantika 2 decided that she would work harder than ever and recover the 50k saving she had lost in one night.

Day and days after that incident came the date of payday. Everyone aggred except one that they should contribute Avantika 2 and help her lessen her losses.

You know what bothers me about that night? Kriti said

What? Avantika 2 replied

It bothers me that no one knew the contact of the alcohol dealer except Shreyansh. Think about it, he was the one who introduced us to the dealer and no one knew about him before that day either. He was and is a proverbial dark horse.

True. and he was the only one who did not contribute, just because he is a student. If he wanted he could have proposed that he’ll pay back slowly and slowly but there was no such incentive from him, Avantika 2 said.

The world exploded into red and white for Avantika. What kin of an heartless person takes advantage of a drunk woman? Takes advantage of someone who’s also not as a financially well off as their counterparts, and even after doing that, keep on living their life like nothing have happened.

You tell me, who can trust unknown men or men in general when your flatmate coud pull something like that on you, Avantika 1 asks this poor old story teller. And what I say except to nod my head in agreement and pass on this message to you all after listening to her story.

By Anushka Navetia

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