ravi-goswami1577527512 Ravi Ranjan Goswami

A story about a man and his family, struggling against alcohol addiction.

Short Story All public. © RAVI GOSWAMI

# #prayer #addict #alcohol #promise
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The promise (a short story)

James was exhausted and bleary-eyed. He had gone to the bar to remove his tiredness. He felt relaxed after downing a few pegs of whiskey. Then he met some fellow workers there. He further drank while enjoying conversing with them. Before he could realize, alcohol overwhelmed him. At once, he was again feeling tired and faint. He got drunk.

He walked out of the bar with staggering steps and stopped an auto-rickshaw. He got into it and told the driver his address.

Jenifer had fed her six-year-old daughter and put her to bed. She looked up at the clock on the wall. It was near 11 pm. She knew it sure that James would arrive drunk. She prayed that he would not create an ugly scene. Earlier, she had quarreled with him, when he got drunk. That created more problems for her. He started getting violent. She stopped quarreling. When he was not drunk, he was a decent human being.

She heard the sound of an auto-rickshaw stopping outside. Then she heard James arguing with somebody. She peeped through the eye of the door. James and the auto driver were holding the collars of each other. She could hear them shouting and threatening each other. They were quarreling over the fare of auto-rickshaw. She was afraid to go out, but she feared for James. He was not in his good mind, and the driver was a brawny young man, who might harm James. She opened the door and rushed to them. She pulled James away from the driver. She said sorry to the driver and made James pay him the amount he demanded. The driver left the place. She held James's hand and brought him inside. She thanked God that James did not protest and obeyed her. Furthermore, she felt relieved that the brawl disturbed no neighbor.

On entering the house, the first thing he asked, "Where is dolly?"

Jenifer replied, "She is sleeping?"

He was badly drunk, but he remembered Dolly, his darling daughter.

Jenifer asked if he wanted to eat. He answered in the negative. She had anticipated this. She turned and went inside.

He laid himself on the divan in the drawing-room and slept.

The morning he woke up to find himself lying on the divan in the drawing-room. He had a headache. He vaguely remembered the happenings of the previous night. He felt weak and dehydrated. He went to the fridge, took a water bottle, poured the cold water into a glass, and drank a glassful of water. He tried to recollect the happenings of the previous night. He could vaguely remember his argument with the auto driver. He also recalled that it was the 5th time that he had given away his promise given to Jenifer of not getting drunk. He felt angry and disappointed with himself. He looked up at the wall clock. It was at nine o'clock. He arose with a jolt from the divan. He had to reach his office at ten o'clock.

Jenifer came with a cup of tea. He took the tea from her without looking at her. He had no courage to look straight into her eyes. She too did not speak a word and went to the kitchen.

James did not want to be late for the office. Hurriedly, he took a bath and got ready. Jenifer had prepared the breakfast and kept it on the dining table. Dolly had gone to school.

He felt like saying sorry, but could not say. He finished his breakfast and rushed to his office.

After James left, Jenifer went to the door and started looking aimlessly in the direction he had gone. She felt angry, frustrated, and sad. She remembered that earlier James used to be a social drinker, who used to drink occasionally at festivals and parties in a small measure. After the sudden death of his parents, and his brothers' cheating in the distribution of property following their deaths, his drinking increased gradually. She prayed to God to reform him.

In the office, James was counting the hours. He could not concentrate on any work. He was feeling weak and nervous. His mouth was getting dry and throat parched. During lunchtime, he went to the canteen, ordered a meal, but could not eat much. After lunch, he attended to a few urgent tasks and requested his supervisor's permission to leave early, as he was not feeling well. The supervisor permitted him.

He was really feeling sickly and down, and he was feeling thirsty. He rushed to his regular joint, the Moon Light Bar before going home. There he ordered two large pegs of vodka and gulped that down his throat with soda. He needed an immediate kick. He felt good. Then he decided to leave the bar, as he did not want to be late to reach home. The reason was that for the last three days, he had not met Dolly because he reached home after she had gone to bed and woke up very late in the morning by which time she had gone to school. He hesitated for a moment as he thought about his night cravings for a drink. He turned to the bar and purchased a pint of vodka. He kept the bottle in his pants pocket and left out of the place. He owned a Hero Honda motorbike, but stopped riding that after narrowly escaping from an accident because of drunk driving. He hired a cab and reached home.

When he reached home, Jenifer and dolly were watching TV. On seeing him, they were happy. Dolly was very much delighted. She ran to him and clung to his legs as her height was up to his waist. Then she grabbed his hands and almost dragged him to her study room. There she showed her report card on her monthly test in which she had obtained Grade A. Then she showed him her new Barbie doll and a remote-controlled toy car, which were given as gifts to her by her maternal Uncle, Mathew. He brought these items from Singapore. He had visited them that afternoon. Jenifer, who had followed them to the study room, told James that Uncle Mathew wanted to see him also, but for the constraint of time, he could not wait for him. He had asked Jenifer to convey his blessings to James, and he had invited them to Singapore. Then she casually asked him if he wanted to have some tea or coffee. He agreed for a cup of tea. Jenifer happily made three cups of tea. They had tea in the drawing-room watching the news on TV. After having tea, Jenifer left James and Dolly there and went to the kitchen for cooking. Dolly had changed the channel and both father and daughter were watching a cartoon. Jenifer was extremely happy. She thanked God, wished, and prayed for the happiness and well-being of her family.

When dinner was ready, she served it on the table and called James and Dolly to dinner. This was after a long gap in time that they finally got a chance to dine together. Jenifer was extremely happy. She prayed to God that every day ought to be like that.

After dinner, Dolly went to bed. James and Jenifer continued to watch TV. Then James shocked Jenifer when he took out the pint of vodka from his pants pocket and set it on the coffee table. She looked at him with hurt and asked him not to drink anymore when they had such a lovely evening together. He told her that he would drink only a small measure. But she knew that he would be drinking till the last drop of the stuff was gone.

She left him there and went to the bedroom, as she had to wake up early to prepare a lunch box for Dolly, get her ready and send her to school on time. Actually, she wanted to shout at him, but that could disturb Dolly. So she kept her calm, but on reaching in the bedroom, she went to the framed photo of Jesus fixed on a wall. She unburdened herself by crying and praying to the Lord. For some time she waited for James but he did not come. Soon she fell asleep, as she was tired.

The next morning when she awoke, she found James sleeping by her side. While sleeping, he looked so innocent that she felt love and sympathy for him. Actually, she always loved him from the core of her heart. She loved him so much that sometimes she felt guilty for his habit of drinking. Sometimes she doubted if any of her deficiency had created that situation.

She affectionately ran her hand over his head and left out of the bedroom. Her morning was very busy as usual. She got free only after sending Dolly to school at eight 'o clock. Then she picked up a newspaper lying at the door, thrown by the newspaper boy. She read the headlines on the front page and turned to the page having local news. One piece of news gave her happiness and anxiety at the same time. James's office was not working that day due to some strike by the workers union. She felt happy that she could leisurely cook lunch and they could eat together. Moreover, spend some quality time together. Evening they all could go out for a movie or dinner; maybe both. Suddenly, so many ideas were born in her mind. The next moment she had anxiety about what if James went out to a pub for drinking.

She made coffee and with coffee went to James, who was still in bed. She woke him up. She knew that he preferred bed-coffee. She gave him a cup of hot coffee and asked him about the strike in his office. He was not aware of the strike. That might be a sudden call. She hesitatingly proposed that that evening they could take dolly to the city park as she had wanted to go there or they could go out for dinner; as it had been a long time since they had not dined out together.

He said, "Let us see".

Jenifer was happy that at least he did not say no.

After having coffee James went to become fresh and then went to the living room, turned on the TV and sat on the sofa. Jenifer went to the kitchen and prepared fresh veggie bread sandwiches. They had breakfast together watching TV. Earlier they would talk and discuss many and any topic. After he started drinking more he had become of brooding nature and absent-minded. Jenifer was also in a fix what to talk about. She had to talk about household things and requirements from him as he was earning member of the family. She did not have a job. She very well knew these things bore him so she purposely avoided talking on any such topic. He was silently watching the news on TV. She finished the coffee, collected coffee cups, and went inside. She had to prepare for lunch.

For some time James watched TV. During a break, he casually looked around in the room. There, an object attracted his attention. There was an alcove in the wall of the room. That alcove had a small statue of Jesus on the cross. A pink piece of paper was kept under the statue in such a way that half of it was jutting out of the alcove. James curiously went to the alcove and took out that piece of paper. Something was written on that paper.

He read the text –"Please God, tell my papa not to drink, Please papa doesn't drink." ---Dolly

As he read that prayer full message of the small girl, his daughter, something pure, sacred, and powerful happened deep inside his heart. He took a firm resolution and he promised to God, Dolly, Jenifer, and himself solemnly and silently that he would stop drinking. He folded that piece of paper and kept it in his wallet.

He surprised Jenifer by telling her that they would go to the park and would dine outside that evening.

In the evening after showing the park to Dolly, they went to a nice restaurant for dinner.

Since that day, he stopped drinking and was a changed man, the original James; charming, loving and a loveable person. Jenifer could not understand how this miracle had happened, but she always thanked God. Dolly knew that Jesus had answered her prayer and made their family happy; she too was thankful to the Lord.


March 26, 2020, 3:43 p.m. 0 Report Embed Follow story
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