“I’ll have another drink,” he told the waiter.
“It’s your fourth,” I said.
“So you’re good at counting,” he acknowledged.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“I know when to stop,” he said, looking at me red faced and eyes glazed, “D’you know what my commanding officer called me today?”
“No,” I said.
“He called me a drunkard.”
I looked at him, he was a senior officer in the armed forces, a talented man who seemed to have got carried away with the good life. “So what did you tell your officer?” I asked.
“I told him I was not,” he said, “that I knew when to stop.”
“Maybe you do have a problem.”
“You mad?” he asked, “I know when to stop. Waiter pour me another!”
I accompanied him back to his car. His driver looked at me and looked upward helplessly. We put him into the back and he tried to wave. “I know when to stop,” he groaned, “I know when to stop!” He fell asleep.
I looked at the retreating car and knew the officer had a problem. My thoughts went to two others, Swami Vivekananda and Mother Teresa.
Once upon a time, the young Swami Vivekananda was known as Narendran. One day Narendran was going to the temple of Durga in Kashmir, when a troop of monkeys started following him.
Narendran was scared not knowing what to do. He decided to run and escape. With all his might he began to run. But the monkeys were equally fast.
A Sanyasi was watching the scene. He cried out, “Don’t run. Face them!”
Narendran did as he was told. He stopped running and turned around. The monkeys also stopped and after a while, one by one slunk away.
The same happened to Mother Teresa.
One day while nursing leprosy patients in a Calcutta slum, a ferocious bull charged towards her. It was about to butt her and the patients were terrified.
But Mother Teresa courageously stood up and stood her ground.
Seeing her so calm, the animal lost its rage and left the place.
I stared at the retreating car with the army officer. He had been taught to fight from the day he joined defence college. He had the latest guns and the best ammunition. He could handle missiles, rockets and bombs. But when it came to facing the enemy of alcoholism he ran and the drinks ran behind him.
I wonder how many of us face the same situation?
We pour ourselves our next glass and next glass and next. We puff at cigarette after cigarette and tell the world we don’t have a problem.
Maybe it’s time we stopped running in denial, and faced the enemy..!
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