Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sujit R.I.P.

It was a bit of a shock. I liked the man, his witticism - quite sharp - and never let the client-agency relationship reduce to one of master-servant. Our exchanges began with a "Namaskaram" in Malayalam and we always spoke Malayalam though he was an accomplished copywriter in English and a creative mind par excellence. I considered him a friend. Together we created great brochures and ads for the company, together we sat in meetings with managers whose first reaction was, "Make the logo bigger." Yes, in most meetings the first thing said is this. Without change, without hesitation. So he made the logo bigger. Before that he would look at me and, as creative people, a look of understanding would pass between us. He was creative director of our ad agency. He died two days ago, in his thirties. It's time to begin life not end it. Damn it! I think it's unfair. Fate, or, whatever. It's not a cheerful end to an otherwise uneventful year.

Sujit was a divorcee. He lived alone. He was a child of nature. He loved street food, he loved travelling in second class though he had a car, he loved to taste life at its rawest. He also liked to taste the spirits of life. Yes, he drank heavily. I don't know if it's something in the Mallu gene that does this. (I explored this gene thing a bit more and used to accompany my Mallu friends in their binges and decided it's not for me. I became sick. I am a teetotaler now. I made a very expensive mistake.) He was in hospital once, saved narrowly by doctors and admonished not to drink, was admitted again, and succumbed.

Sujit R.I.P.

One thing about drinks is that in India what you get isn't actually liquor. It rarely is. Sometimes it is raw ethyl alcohol, which is a dangerous chemical used in chemical treatment. A huge cache of counterfeit liquor in genuine-looking bottles were caught just before Christmas. I wonder how many such caches have crossed into Bombay and the condition of the people who drank them.

First the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man." A Japanese proverb.

When the drink takes a drink, one doesn't distinguish between what is a good drink and a bad drink. One drinks anything. Even hootch, the strong drink made from rotting orange peels and God knows what. It becomes a man thing, a male thing to do, you know "I can hold my drink" and all that stuff. Then one goes on drinking unless counseling is given by spouse or parents. Friends will never counsel, they will encourage to drink more. For by this time the man must have gathered around him a band of zealots only bent on ruining themselves. That's why I don't tell my son not to drink (I know there will be some drinking), but to stop at two pegs maximum.

Drink carefully, responsibly. Or, don't drink at all. Seek help. Let not another Sujit succumb to his habit. It was the time to start living and not stop living.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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