It was one of those days when we didnt have classes due to strike and our gang didnt want to go home so soon. As usual we went to the banana orchard near Poocha’s place. This place was our favorite hangout then (yeah we didn’t have cafes and pubs to hangout in our village back then) which gave us enough privacy. Also attached to the orchard was a small canal where we used to swim. That day also we took a dip in the canal and was wondering what to do next. Someone suggested drinking toddy.
Most of us, including me, had not had toddy earlier. So the idea was welcomed. The plan was to get toddy to the orchard so that we can have it at our own time. But no one knew where the nearest toddy shop was and also how to bring it. Sunny, the guy who lived in an ultra remote place, said that there were many toddy shops near his house. Poocha suddenly ran somewhere and after 10 minutes came back with 4 huge empty bottles.
Raju: From where did you get these?
Poocha: I went to the nearest house and asked….
Raju: Huh? Do you know them?
Raju: What did you tell them? Did they know that we are planning to drink here?
Poocha: No way. I told them its to get water. I also asked them if they can spare some pickles. But they said no.
The next step was to get the stuff. We all started looking each other. After some serious discussions Uppu and I were chosen to get toddy from wherever possible. The bottles and some money were handed over to us.
Then started our road trip. We just had some vague idea where Sunny lived. So we started walking towards that direction. We walked through the vast dry paddy fields hoping to hit some proper road. After 45 minutes of walk, we saw a narrow and deserted road. Uppu recognized it as the road that goes to Sunny’s place. We were on the right track but again after walking for half an hour, we couldn’t find the toddy shop.
We were really tired by then and thought of asking someone if there was any hope ahead.
Uppu: Chetta, is there any shaap nearby?
Random guy: Mmmmm yeah. Just walk straight…
Me: But how long?
Random guy: Mmmmmmmmmm OK do you see that water tap on the road?
We: Yeah yeah
Random guy: Ya. Just walk further down this road and when you spot the 5th tap the toddy shop will be on the opposite side.
We: Oh Thanks a lot chetta
Me: Uppu, how does that guy know about these taps so well?
Uppu: I think he is a regular at the shaap and after getting sloshed in the night he counts the taps to get back home.
We continued the walk with a new found vigor. We knew the destination was not far away. But we were wrong; the second tap was a good 20 minutes walk away. By the time we reached the 5th tap we were dead tired. But exactly like the random guy said, the toddy shop was on the opposite side.
We got the bottles filled and started walking back. I think that was the longest walk I have ever done. By the time we reached the orchard it was getting dark and the guys were becoming worried. As it was late we decided to quickly gulp it down rather than taking time to drink relaxing near the canal. Even though the toddy tasted funny, for me it was my labour of love. We finished the four huge bottles in no time and dispersed to go home.
When I reached home I was feeling totally sick. My stomach rolled like crazy and I was regretting drinking every second. Some time close to dinner time I started throwing up like crazy to the extend that I doubted if my intestines also came out. And there went my labour of love flushed down the toilet.