Chapter 14

14

Vodka

"I 'h.:l:t· ~s ernp. Doe't you 'Ij,"'<l'll~ '1:0 do s:of.l1~l:hl!n.g you rredl,.. llike!"

,jJ: ]ike ·MOney. yJ AJQk s3~d ;!I! he finished 'his food. Uf1(til he

had the mane)~ ]par,an.t.iloU \,\rou.ld,lo.

Wcwcre lIlid=way tbrQu,gh 't1:1t ~eme·:lteT [ljO'!iVI and. !t;:v~~y new ~fjd then I would start ~hinkin,g ab·qut my goal - to do wel.l. ill Indent. By third ,ye<3r~ every UTIilnknow"S; his pl~. vVe were nOW fhle~pohu.e:rs rrOi:cn ill our piace; w€ had :modest:

CJ,i."'Pecta't1("nlS1 ';1 nd nur gr~u;les nev.·er disdppoi nred u S. [( o!,-\'e"ver1 in lndere ! wanted an A. ~omething that hzd never been on my gr;lJde sbeet, A]pk warned me abpu\ my laIty ambleion, l'Cheri 11 ~n chew you alive man. You hardly sleep the e da)'~. rem know he gh~s only two or' three ASa right?"

<I~ do. But [ h a ve to, ~'\-~ it Lll)' best. h is not JUSt ~~'l\lpid gt3de 1 but N eha -at stake. n

L!Ho~1 much. ba\'e )'ril'l:! .scored 'So, far in tbe ,assignments ~' ~ "Thirty-three-out of forty. 'Worked Ii~ a dbg on all of

rhe i~

nem,

"Yes right You need eighty total tQ SO' an A~"

U] know. -out of tbat the viva is, ten, and therna;jor' ls Aft-/" 1('50 unteS:s you ~t a111;0·&t a fun sczorein the m~jor.s, YOll

llr.lve 10 dQ decently in the vivn.s:. j,

1-4- I ~_- S ' .... 1..!... , h- . . JI" :r..' . lL "I ..•

U10\\~O nus ume, I ave to pu _ ~t tu-ro!J.lgn, ._ UI(l,

ilbjedly nervous ·~t the thought.

'~IJust relax man, a B WO:n"l be that Dad.'11

""''An !~. J\ I·l~ 1 'A II

1'1. .fl.l!l....., want in . ~

"Pine then. All the best," .A.lok said as S;asi del:-"lered more paQnthas.

IIHOltV is y,our girl?"" 'Rym sili.d.

"Neba ls nne. Jus~ wok rue to the pbce where her :b,m:~h~r met '\i\~d1 the .actidel1t. ~Sclj['~ tha r "we lruf" l said.

"M<l:ybe becauseyou are special Artcl·thc pla~(: hold:o:;. specltd m.ear:dng .Ior hee, ,. Alo.k sbw ugged .

.. f~tso i1i :right. Sh~ 1 lkes YQU rnah I '" Ryiln, said, 'l When lIle! her hmthe'f [lie: ~n,)',\!,.ay?'·'

'~Arouncl ~t.tre~ years 'ago, M3r 1 [ '~o be pred,$f'. Hie ha.dgOIlIil roggt n:g '!'V.h.CI.l 'bhcygb-t iii call mid -111OTI1d:I1_g) hIt 11.y a: rin,g.r;a.ih~J train. "

LL'l,il¢o\,\', ('hOlt is intredj:bl:e~ !l' Al!ok. :said, "and [ though,t no ~n:c used dlC' rblg. rajj\,\,~y.~·

I'He wasn't l1sing it Farso, He ju~t s= .hit by lt," 'f~)'an darifl;ed.

,'iYes1 prell)' gm:'}," ili I romed n'lly iE,'e!;.

,L·Thol],ghv.no goes jOgging on a bloorcl)' hotM.3y rnornilyg?"

Rro\'lrl "1:"a.l"I:ted jo :k:ntJ<1I'v;

~'Shut upnljaj:rL The ,guy is dead, and you are m,alcing tun of him, ,. I protf'sted.

i4No. Tha,t].$ J1Jot what I mean, ~ mean, hey Fatso, "...!t1!i'~ lime does the fJ.F:Stfing, rc:lIh.vay ~rain. run?"

I~I dgn'l .knoVi;," .AJok .~jid. btl;$)' ,e~l1n.g, hi~~{l:lfilh!l.$ ~ml ~ome\vh~t. pi!lsedat the. fr~q'Uil';rlt reference to hin1 as F;]I'tsQ" ItM I bl0rvl~ ~cm ~'lh.in'k~ W:h:y?" I sald,

~~Vifelr! ~hink abo:u:t it, '~e:n In th,e,uo:min,g 'in MEl,. ] think it is ck~8e to forry d.egr~ts Jltid crap hot. Wh:o"goes jOK§DlJg on ,!'!: May mar nin:g? ~1

,1'WeJl, he did, Othen\ih;;e: he "v{)u[dn~t have died, rightr" Alok !;aid • .o.bvioli.l,dy i['rlrn:ted.~--te never vrent jo_gging"so ('gt1e5S .he dldn j L know better,

~! [ know he died. But my point is .. , ." Ryan ~a id, ,tj any'!i.f3~

I' ".,

:u;)r~;t it.-

·'What? r \'li'ant to ~nO'\:'\!i" I .sill·~d. ·'.N1.~'poitlt if>~ , .... "3.$ i,t an Ol{X:ident at ;;IlL"

I 'I\'oke !Up with a beadache on the' day or a-..er:ian'.s V1V,21. There v(eI{,<i couple of weeks l'eft. U.I.'J:tJ~ the rntaJors" hut w.day 'II/VOU W S(_.~I l1!ly[mit'm fat/c. '''Try to sJe~p, 'try to sleep," ] hfid triM m!i:.'lelJ .;bout a ]n,imo:n tlmes d1lc ,night be-ibrt'. ~lI te tlOU15f.

. "

"God I }"CUj look a mess," R)"i1 n gli~~te~ 'i 11 ithc- l('lJij'et 3_" W"

were .sha·dI11 together,

"Couldn't :sl!eep much, Hell, 1 know [ am going l10 screw this one up," [. saM and s:~app~cl water Oil ,my lace.

Ry~n pressed '[he nozale ~f his GiUetl!e sh~v-111g' ~J .~ nd p~:"Cpa.recl hi.'!: twi.n-blade ~{' nsar 'J:';d:ZQr. His '~rcDts 'had sent hi rn ;;ill these contraptiens to ]oqk even bd,ter ~Si if the 'guy needed to' hnprm'C hb looks- Why JtuuJcl:n;t he get.<I .rt"'~ :pimp.les nOll!Jv and Olga i n. like say AJok?

"Listen Hari," Ryalll StIDd [ll:tll:cimg de;;tn !jtrokes;--;,!Icr'~:s-'l Ms cheek, ~'yOl1 MV{" l~u...'Xtedi your ~~ for this ,oou~e 3l::ready. You mess this lip. and there is .1t0 lll?:pe. for' you man. Yon pmbabl)" 111m\' the anS'\'iI'ef.'S. better th:;!!(riI, ,~my'o:l1eE!g_e'.o;

"Since ,,.,.hen has iknollivin,g [he answers been. ill proble:m·?

A.t'1ld! this is Ch~rian, !';lven oormal guys get scared," I said.

"See! [ am~ot even aoing Jo.r his viva, B-u;lt if you are SQ.I :S-C;)lied,,] have an idea ,'"

"You ~ren."t cuming? RyJIil~ it l:!l ~e:n per~~flt . .An.d C!teit'i':ln will. go. ape-shit tr a l:itudiem doe5i;li't e.\'e1'1 come te the viva." "l haq~ \'O\'f,ed n-ot to \,j,E'lV ih:<tt hastard' s faee a s nmch.] s 1 can, And who cares ebont 1;(;'11 pe[l"'(;:~'I1!tT .~ dont" ha;!r'C: to irnpres"; tJ~e dad.'~

• Up ~,ii'I you. [ :i!tU! think yuu should come, A.Dy"IZlrY. what

i$ your ,tldea?"

'~J dO~~l knew 1f It "viii \*,rk."

!.II ust 't en me man. 1 am desp ~n.t" ." r said,

Ryan. 'wiped his race "vith a 'towel. He opened a bome ·of some fancy overpriced American aftershave and s:pl.ashed it liberally en his cheeks.

"Vodka: dlt!: solution. ta !I1U problems, 'VI

I~,at? Vodka? I, am taHdng ".bout a viw, 1\;'111. lam not OT~l,}izFn.g il party;'1

tIl' ..kntP,\ •• But you know 110'\.\1 vo lka makes one Jess inh.~bIfG"d and mm& you talk more? \-i\lho b'l.mvs1' ~ couple ,of swig..s and it m..ay work f:aryou.,j

"'Yau are crazy. The '\1\r:lli is :a:t d~\"CrI in the morning. It lS ha,tcl:ly the ti me to d:dnk ... n

,j I r Y6U ~t iii zero in h.i!> viva ~ you U"li nk Nelia \vl,U e~r inteoduee y'0u tn daddy?"

The in1Jnge or a zero and a B OF C til Indem Dashed aceass mv m'ind. "How much r'

.

iil USi a ,c.,.vupl.e or shots. Come, 1 hfl\!eC some in my eleset."

I wellt !dO Ryall"s roorn where ·amidn bt,amte-d clothes he hid his, stash tl'~' aloohoI.Along$~ue the botdc were en~e1opes., ~]] with US stamps,

~\yan p@ur:ed vodka in ,0) steel gbtSSj l':l'l.aking if -'1, thWd-full. ~!What .are those en\'o-eIO'pest·, 1 said,

'·Nothi.llg. Here, one shct ... ODf:. two, three," R~n sald, i couldn't believe 'tile e.nvelopes weee unimpertant.] meaDt

there were like·(I h~mdred Df'tt. m lil'~~·:;Il~y.

Hletters· from Y0ur palSents; are!!'} ·n.ey?·'H ,[ h;;i:;z;ari!ed a gue~~.

b~¥ea 11.. Here h~ve a.notlJ'er ene," Ryao ~id .. ~ly01:..l sure th,s won't ~, to,!} iiluchf1i' [·said.

"Nt'l'. In met iU)i"'~ a, dlird. one j!;!;st to be sure, Here, I'll

"

aa:Olllpany you.

Wi til th~~t, H~.fal1 joined me ~n my tbi.rd shot., The \,&d h

went down: li,ke ~ flreba1lt hitting my lempty -S'l!01.1iI.3dl! spearirlg

mv hnesl"ines.

" ~~1 rigtlrt then. o:rF I .;go· to meet the d~dd);" I s.a.id.cbeerfully.

~rulthe best, Han. A.nd llsten, just don't ~U Alok about.

the e nvelopes ."

"Ieli vvl:1at~tI [ said, lba'fdly kne""ill1ythingabout them and

I \,i\"ouldn't. have if Ryan ha:dn'Pt mentioned ~'t.

"No.thing" i,..:st dou"t mentIon k They write ,e·vcry .!lr.-'eg.~ ,a:nJ send a cheque 'O:oCtll oil I'TI:Q'tlth. [ n.«'\r.er repl}; that Is all," "Why don~t you ~ply?~ 1 a-sked. balking in ~be spirit Inslde ,of: mI!.

"'Cause .f hate.them, Ac-t1l:1..:JiJly. J don't care: ~OO1Jt thern, [ mean, nenher do they about me, So wby pte.ten:d1;~ R}'a!J\ said+ I'IRyan1 you knQI\'1' this ·whole big deal ybu make about not cHirng ahO'l;t yOlM:' parentS'?" the ",odkaspoke [or me ..

~'Yea.h. wh~t a.brmt that? tI

"I don't think it is true. [ mean! ht;lw can it be: true?" I .5a".d, ignoring hi!> h05tl~o si21nce. I k~nd of :m~nt ii.. \Vith ,~Il the Gillette and, aften:have.s they sent, how could h~,l):Q-t Rpv.e tne·mt

·'~t's true. You are a kid in Hf~ man jwt gP gi·W! your viva," ~"ro:n s~id and lit up a dgflre'too. Smoke ma,de the manmore profound.

"I jim g(ring. But if it were true" ·why 'wo~~ yot.1 b6~puLi the letters?!! [ a.sk€dJ beatirng a re~",~.

Chcri.J'Q '\I,'fJ.S already ht cl.J.:S~. j\1y turn carne in ten mlnutcs rid 1 sat next to AJ ok,

~1'Wb(,1"I~ is l~y7m}'ii hE! .whispered, t1ipp~ng through his i"Ultc::S,

A10k ahv3)" ' revises Linti'l the last mtmue. il' Be ,i s skipping: it /' Lsaid.

"What? He is e:l'"cazy man," 1w shook his ~ead.

"Says be doesn It care, J U5'U as he doesn't ~ for his parent&,; h ,~ sald, ob'!l!ioudy 'the second plua.,,~ came because of the '!j,'odb~ 4~\re' you okay, Harl? You sound kind of garbled. And \"l'hal h than: smell ... ,~'3 it 'IHili1e Y€;l1IJ been drinki ng? ~I

"Shh ... keep qulc', Just a tittle bit. Ryan S3~d h: ht"Jp5 rc}ax.1' jf,R~r;1n! ,Ryan. J~'afi., ri~{l you ever thi.n.k '~:Ot yeurselfl"Alok sald,

ij'Hari1~' ]~or Chriall called l'l'lly H!'I.I.'l:'I!e lI;!\ien be-fure 1 could answec Alok, k1.y monlcLlt was here, ,My firn AWi:s. to be dedd·cl. ttl! the l1e;xt _fii!;'e: IJ1 i tlUlC Ii.

~\S,~, what .is lh~ Japan s-e system for manuf<1ctul:"ing tha:t lowers ifl'Ve-rlt"Ories? n Prof Ch~.ridfl s.tJ.:lFii:e'di,as uiaJ!a] l>v:il!UJtit any greetings or pleasantries. Just a str:aight firm voice l.ike Lro:m, a maehi rte .

"'G ·d· '. . 11'[ "d_.

_ ,00 :mornl r§ .s I 1':, ' S<'I.\Ii

'!·Gt?od mOTlliitg~ Hart Now~ns'i;'i,1ernlY qu!::-stiJolJ.<;' His-eyes

~ooked. li~'e big'l bL1'[~lllg versions ,of Neba 's 'fj'¢5.

uGood m.or.:nlhg, sir," 1 s.aiid ,a~~J1" '~O kiCb-51l!-~H1 my hraln, nt]f,,;n is :firu~! H a rl, NOlI.' il.rn>"'wer p:leas.~ "I f yOu. don~t miud. i, I. 51:.; the mapane.se Inventor y l(Mi,~rering sy'St~'I'l'l, •. 'II J bS~m" "Yes, that ov.tc .. 'You know the answer o-r not!'" Prof Cherl.m

sald, bis voice w,tti:ng )Qud. r.

II sir. , .. J, .si it" ••• " ~ l5aicl"

Lilt is lIT or Just [n Time, Cannot belleve siudents tQrlay

"\\liU YOIl cut QUIt thot lU-i::U:te? II .• '\J'Q,k SJimd, "SO '1~'ha:~ ;l1f'C y u §Offing to do run.'\!' Har.i?'"

"Do "Ii1att' I JGSc ~he i\ fi)r .SIJIJI"C. And Che:riilln thlli1ks r'l11 a: drm~k.lrcl.W3y :no g$J fO'!" hm:,:; da.ugh'!:c~~5 boyfrj.~nd. ~I I stUd. co\'e-ril1g my face wi ('hom), ba;nd,s,

Thump, .dlurnp., tb;ump~ I~r~n ~~Pl ~i]ent <is the GtlIy I\b~ he. mad~· ''''':!lS ,~it], tl,'lie ball.

Lj~top it," Alak .'Said~ grabbing the ~ajl from Ryan" '''say. somerJliogm[id aqw!'r;-

1"A..I'~'Jd·-;' SCUlleone shrOui;¢d from QlItsi~e. It V,las the securitY. gtJ .a rd dO'l,vn.stairs.

·~P.hQnt' c-aU fo:rAJ:ok, I' the, ~'~rrd ld1o'Uted.

~. MI/ts,t bf fronil home, n flj,ok said, I~Cot:lle H.ari. no p61m di.~Dl:nssh~g In~em now."

r came dO\ffi with Al(lk jf for nothing else hut m be distra'cted fr~m the "fndem t1a5co ..

!;I 'Be]] 0, MWlm~ .f-~(oware-you? Yes, 1 kn,Qw I have not rome bo,me fOr iii lang l;jmc\ n Altik s-aid on the phOlle.

"What! Di~Ii gal enga~d) Dlli you me~~'A tilt"' bot's side h-a,'e- a.greed~ II' JIJok :ta,i~ hi~ yoke c~ciJf:ed.

llVes'l 1. a:m rea~ly bapp)) ~l(}W is Dad .. J lb~mlV, ... of CQ,urse .fIn pay fOf ~ferytlh:ing once, ~ get .<1 job M,o;:)]·". y{'s~ 'VDU are.

taking ,a Joa 11 [o.r i tts ... ", . J

I 'oou[d hear ()lIlly lDlrdf the OOrJivers<ll;:ioll •. but could prct~ mud~ fm~l'e' out '1'natwas gC:dng O~. Alok"s p'Il"ents ~I:lI,d finally iIlulll;!aged ttl pa1m 0,« th,eir d:,ug.h,tet to &0meo.f,Ii~. A5 be explaiued later, the groom~~ :fami]y \~f.Itcd a Manni '~r in dcn.ItTy, but had ~,:gmed tQdefe:r It lIllti1iUok pass~d out ,and s:tart~d ''WOrking. Tha~)l'i when (be marriage wouJd l'lke place bu.t ''If ~east tbey had a ~-JeaL

~iCOflgra:tula'tIGiIlJi~. }~o!i:lr Bis~e'r i1i ~t'tiJ.'ig. rn'l'lrl"ied. Is yOUi"' famn)' eNci't~~ 9r littc snd aT ~orot:tb~ngsince ~hcC"UgO; aMlaiY?"

1 said 1'0 AJ'Qk aFI:er the esll. _

W[hey are relleved more than IInyt'hing I lhillk. I j~iI: hope m get a jebthat f~Ys lor th1:s dll.~;nft ,aH'il'ir. ,A~,n fro:n.l the rCi,f, th~N will bea f~mctionas n -en. 101,

nVtlJw don 't ','au guys< man y bel" ,off b . .rcr.? W'hat is tbe ~h1,

,.I ._

~~~ .

"The older sl1LC geb,tne more dO\'\TY J"G0pl,e will dernend.

"iVa'iring "~U mean more C',,-;-pell~e later. I'm happy the de;a~ ,i's

. t"

cu ".h ~ound~d like crlEdj,t card debt. If you don't get rid of it now, 1t\'I1jll (,:0:5'[ you II I.ot more bter. The relief \:tr3,'S und :t'$~ru:bble.

t!%a;t does.. rhe groom do t' • said,

nOh. I den', knm'<:, I: for:got tg a:>k;'3 Alok satd,

S6-eflll ~\.'ee'ks~;u:err~ we 'lI'I;'CfC' Ln the ifumaon .tne5S eating dmrt<:r.

[ . '.' TI . d' .' I g' iess r ..... r 'tit-at is when Kllmao n had

t W.2I:5 . lur:s: .<11,_........ ..~ 1,1...0, __ .

Iccmtin flttl~ d~lll1E::r. In ma~~tY1 h: c\!V:a:S .jtlst <lin excuse f6f'me:S:5- workers: 1.0 not ,gi'l.'e us real f'Ood. Til" mertu !;Ouf)~'ed iJ~€e - noodles French (ries, toa:s:t and OOiUp. Ittasted aurfw. The ICOO~ made the noodmt's in 5uperglL1~ or somethhlig - _tbe), stud::: 'to each o1her a~ ene u:nl~po.5ite ~$ in the 111l,~ s:e~rving pan. The F.rench Cries. '1\'ere oold a.rid eith~r cXbemcly undercoeked or burnt to-ta.st~ :hkeT~L The creem ofm.usl.troom soupcowcl.have been mi:stak.en fo:l!' muddy water, only It was warmer and ~ltie:r.

"This ls. bad man," Alok said as his noodles i;r f.m:ed to

I j'

Yacat~ hts fork! 14[ toJci you et~s gQ aut.

·~] didm~t knQ~v it wOIJh1 be so b;;!cL And the semester is, a)mti:Mit O'\'c:r. I am tota.Uy out Qf cash."

"That l5 rtgbt ~rlJ~lly..') Al~k saId, <C'b ·tte.t st1lrt sttW:)'i[l;g .for the l"najars. Less than teu uay~' iiO\\': li

.~\to.s" IlOt thin r C'J'fC 1"10'll\l: MIfI(!:r Indern .nes.sed UP'I I ttion:i'r re-aJ!y care beyond :pa~l1tg.c3C!h crrurse.'

"'Ryam, I think :you should fot.""Us on fndem. o.e:ria'lil didn~t like JOu missing the ,1'!.12Ir. He_.s.Q1irks;:vh~n he !'i'U!l'1.tiO'f'lIS yO~lr name 111 d3,S$ a~u'end"l'l.ce}~

-r tm.O\\,'" R~n said. dropphlg h,is lli1l1f-eate.n r'fe~ch fry:un disgust. I~[ 'got !5ixt~cn QU'!: of forty i.A ''1IU1'nes and. zen, In viva, N~d b"r;·e.nty~follr 'out of fifty in .majors. to pass it:"~

'i~Not 'that: f'3!SYi" I pointed out the OblidOUl!i,.

u~ra~ Case I J fl~1I1k_ &0 \'i'ha:t?'il 'Rya.n -said and tri.·d lh.~ roup, Wil,hoU't 4ir.ing fOT ·etiq'l).eue.! l~e spe,,,,,,td thiE mnt<ents oULt (1"0111 his mouth back into lite bowl.

'~Ch~a!1 ,dU make you do:;it a.gain, lt's a cote c'Our:se,~' A1ol.: ~id. ".lib drinking the sOIIP ;;1'0\1 ju.~t ~<:Bt out."

!l!1.FlLlek/, I\yZliIl ,S:a,jd. I \·ll3Isntt sure ifhis comment wa:s:aimedi

~t the fnnd Of 'theprOs1JiJect of repeatin_g Cherian"s, course, ~'Mar ~ U" 'Only f had. an A. I could ,.finaUy get N~.h.a. , .. " I ~id. !>~J: ltfdnk we can sfn. do ~omethi.ng'I~1 Ityan said.

"What! D'rink .enougb to fg~get Neh~?n I mncke'd .

. ~ i No ,. W f you compi,e;ely ,crn.c!k ·the majo.ri" you. c;t:n still'nu;ke

• • 'l. J"~

!t, ngfCIt.

1-'1 ha,·~ thi.rty;..Uu'tc on ,~tn:1E)~ J~,ood ,eig~ for an A~ Mitjor is nfty POiLl1ts •. Hnw':am I golilg to ~t (Or.iy=.5ID.'en lon nftyl'~ "'No 'W:lY mal'll. 'Ryall. d,orr't I r.ouhle the guy M(U'f. It is Q\'~r. j; Il!;i.t ii;s not m'~r" my :i'rl.cnds, it ltie~er is, Ir I leU )'Oll t'h~t you call ~~t ,il pe:rf:l~ct: ~core In maJors., 'will yOU! believe me?"

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