Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Unceremonious Death

‘Unky’, as he was popularly known, died when the last vicious bacteria dug deep into his tuberculosis lungs. He was known to everyone but lived a very unpopular life. He staggered along the village road in drunken stupor. Stretched his arms for his insatiate thirst for alcohol. The inevitable happened at the age 54.
As a young man he pulled and pushed handcarts full of Monday Market provisions in huge gunny bags. Carried on his back, quintals of dry fish, and pushed them into huge National Permit Trucks. All the while he enjoyed the drunken enrichments of the adulterated toddy, consumed in large quantities from his favourite Athirampuzha ‘Shaap’. During the day he had his fists full of wet currencies smelt of sweat and salt but by evening, he staggered back home with an empty pocket.

In the last days of his life, when he was no more able to pull handcarts and coughed up crimson phlegm, many people who knew him in Athirampuzha sympathetically placed a few coins in his palm as he walked his unsteady steps to his self determined destiny. God had pity on him and he died in his peaceful morning slumber this morning.

He had a very beautiful wife, married after a relationship of courtship, who gave birth to his two kids, a boy and girl. When she could no longer stand his drunken madness and abusive ways, she gave up and ran away, never to return. Both his children did well enough to settle in life comfortably. May be, somewhere in his heart he had a glitter, that made people sympathise for him. I know that he was a loving father, who told me once….”I have not been able to give them any thing but God looked after them.”

There is a tinge of pain in my heart when I think of him because I would often see him and he would always speak to me with a spirit of warmth and smile. May be, society needs to take serious stock of such people. May be, we have a greater responsibility as social beings.


  1. I agree that the society should take an innate look at the origin and substance of these problems. These kind of characters can be seen in every village in Kerala. Maybe it is because of our deviated outlook on alcohol, or maybe it is the society's inherant devious pleasure at viewing such things happen without taking any remedies or prevention. I as a member of the society wish there was something I could do, no matter how small. ...
    Do you know which way the wife went?:-)

  2. Rene, we still vigorously boast about your witty lunch breaks to the new comers. 'Once upon a time..there was a man who poked pun at everyone...that it was so blunt that it hurt none.

    Rene, great to read your comments and very thoughtful thought that makes me have more thoughts.....

  3. didn't the wife come bac seeing his present condition!

  4. Anky's wife died of cancer a few years ago after having lived with another man for sometime...

  5. Alcohol problems are individual problems and can best be prevented by teaching individuals and families better coping mechanism..The society is a network of individuals and the awareness must begin from each one's family..
    A Person becomes an alcoholic over a period of time..during this period he or she has a negative attitude and always find fault with others ..
    so giving society an awareness is a very good thinking ; practically impossible.However,those who are close to such victims can give them companionship and emotional support which is very important when it comes to understanding an alcoholic.Hence i would stick on to my view that individual awareness is very important and make him understand where to draw the line.This effort would definitely give an awareness in the society and the approach will be also is all about changing life styles.

  6. I don't think this is a Kerala exclusive thing. It happens in several parts. There is a huge stigma tied to alcohol. Even in New York, I work with people who see alcohol addiction as an obstacle in their lives. I guess such people are aware of the stigma tied to it.

    Great blog! I will definitely follow it! I always love accounts of other countries from people who live in there day by day.

    India is a country I want to visit eventually, yet I am more interested in how Indians live their everyday lives there than in the Taj Mahal, for example.

    You have a gift for words! Keep going!

  7. Well done...Will you write a great Indian novel.

  8. Hi George,

    Thanks for your comment with a beautiful short story. One extend you are also right; our small brain is not enough to contain the unlimited knowledge of the Universe.

    Human being is the only entity in the Universe who can think about the Universe. So let us use this privilege. When a child grows, not only his physical body but also his perception, ability and acceptability to understand things also grows. His consciousness expands.

    What we understood in our childhood and what we understand today and what the great philosophers and thinkers understood are in deferent level of frequencies.

    There is nothing like that perfect or absolute in this
    world rather than the journey towards perfection makes sense. This is what I believe.

    I like the language and style of your writing. I can see the expression of love, compassion and deep understanding towards the fellow human beings in your writings, which make higher meanings.

    Best wishes…

  9. this guy seems good despite his vice. society should look deeper. but, no one today has the time to look deeper, hence presentation matters.

    good blog!

  10. I also agree that something should be done about the over-consumption of alcohol. i think every1 should have a good moral education...there should be easy access to de-addiction centres...
    we youngsters should something about these things...we can spend atleast 3-4 hrs every week with any NGO...its High we did something...wat do u say guys?????

  11. sir, u can visit my bogs on
    have a nice day

  12. This is such a sad, common story. I have seen thousands like him, throwing up or asleep by Indian roadsides. And they ruin themselves and their families. Alcoholism is the worst disease I have seen. We can save thousands (millions?) of families if we work towards creating awareness....suggest how?

  13. alcoholism is a big menace and it is really sad to see and hear about such stories.
    Rehabilitation and a strong family (emotional) support is surely important.