“Hey, do you booze?”, I asked my friend, “No buddy, I am totally clean”, he replied. ‘Totally clean’, his words pestered me for a while as I began to think about how the interpretation of alcohol consumption has changed with time. Although drinking has remained to be a leisurely practice, what it has dragged along with it, is the duality of thoughts.
We presume drinkers as unruly and non-drinkers as ‘clean’. By this, a responsible drinker also becomes not ‘clean’ and his habit of drinking for pleasure turns uncivilized and his freedom of choice is questioned. Being ‘clean’ does not owe me an opinion for clearly, its antonymous counterpart holds no meaning. Lately, drinking is being stapled with women empowerment, with the idea that a woman who drinks is empowered, which is a positive aspect, but then not ‘clean’ because of the fact that she drinks.
All I struggled for is to bring this duality down to a simple narrative with my frail understanding of human thought process, history, and spiritualism. What I discovered was that ancient Indian scripts accounted that gods were also fond of drinking and Varuni is the goddess of alcohol in Hindu scripts and Dionysus is the Greek god of alcohol and winemaking. If gods were drinkers and if drinkers are not ‘clean’, so are gods. But we still pray them. I don’t aim to idolize alcohol consumption by any means but my sincere efforts lie in clearing the dilemma it carries. A person becomes a party pooper by pointing to drinkers as not ‘clean’ and still maintains to stay ‘clean’ after having ‘bhang’ under the name of ‘prasad’ on Holi.
After thinking a lot, I concluded that the actual flaw lies in the unidirectional glamorization of alcohol consumption. Meretricious Bollywood movies and gaudy numbers have always portrayed alcohol as an asset associated with the antagonistic or notorious characters. We have consumed alcohol to look cool at some point in our life, imitating the badass movie actors. Mainstream middle-class households raise their children by refraining them from alcohol. We are told that we shouldn’t drink but we are never told why we shouldn’t drink because there is not a clear reason apart from the potential health risks which can be tackled with the appropriate instruction about responsible drinking. The aspect of seeing drinking as a very occasional and casual activity is never addressed. Alcohol as an integral part of our civilization has lost its reverence because of its irresponsible consumers and improper portrayal. Irresponsibility comes with lack of instruction. We have been growing around unchecked morals which demonize drinkers.
Being a prig at parties isn’t something very appreciable as respecting other’s choices and not being judgemental about them is what one should really entertain. Actually, ‘clean’, not ‘clean’, good and bad aren’t analogous anyway. Alcohol consumption shouldn’t be glamorized nor should it be disgraced. It should rather be a passive element of our culture because at the end what counts is your choice as far as it doesn’t bother people around you.