Happy birthday. I wish you happiness. True and real. Wherever you find it.
Your heart gets broken, your colleague steals your idea, your bowels develop mood swings, you sleep with your boss, your salary cheque shrinks, you chase a deadline for 48 hours without sleep, you catch your husband having an affair, you delete all your computer files with a clumsy finger, your child dies, you find a cockroach in the office tea, you develop cancer, you get yelled at by HR for playing loud music, you smash your car and still, and still, every single day you wake up and go to work.
Then a day comes when you wake up and you don’t go. That’s when the fears come home gnawing at you with small, sharp teeth, that hurt in the darkness as you lie on your bed. You wonder if you’ll miss the filling up of your bank coffers every month. You wonder when you’re broke whether your Friday evening friends will stand you a drink. You wonder if you fail miserably, whether you can get up and go find another job. Or worse, if anyone will give you one.
It’s how you deal with this fear that will define who you are. It will shape you with its strength or weakness, either into a corporate rat, an individualistic rat, an artistic rat, a failed rat, an entrepreneurial rat, a freelancing rat, a famous rat or a lost rat. For at the end of the day, that’s what we all are, tiny rodents, chewing chunks of cheesy mediocrity, filling our bellies with what we call life.
The first time I had a single malt, I decided that it was better than an orgasm. Though at that time I didn’t know what an orgasm was. I was 21 and the branch head of my company had called me home. It was my first job and I was one those eager beaver corporate slaves, willing to kill myself to get the next promotion. The branch manger recognised quality cheap labour when he saw it. Luckily, he also recognised good whisky.
It was a Glenfiddich and I remember with my first sip I thought it tasted better than ada pradhaman or chakkavarati or even the Prasad laddus from tirupathi. All for some reason great favourites at that time.
I remember that since the second sip, I let the liquid stay on my tongue, bits of it slipping under , creating a little stagnant pool of happiness. I thought or I think I would like to have thought that it felt like a dog who had his ears scratched with a forceful, digging finger at an exact itch point.
It was the first time I was away from home and loneliness had engulfed me along with the self pity of trying to survive on 1500 bucks a month. Existentialism, when practised was hard work and idealism was losing its way. That single malt washed away a lot of the negativity that had built up, unsuspectingly.
It made me believe in art, literature and in some moments I even felt grateful to be a human. Of course, I may be plain neurotic to have got so much from that one evening, where the hero was the bottle.
Over the years, a single malt has never failed me. It brings along with it the tingle of ice cubes, the palm cupped heaviness of a crystal glass and liquid that oils my soul into contentment. No matter how bad life gets, I always know, that at least, there is single malt, somewhere waiting for me.