Alien(s) On Valium
Over a series of short encounters, this narcissistic tale of self-realization is based in the near, mildly dystopian future, and portrays the quarter-life crisis of an Indian that is forced to move back to India in lieu of President Trump’s malicious agendas.
Alien(s) on valium focuses on the similarities, and the differences in human nature, the uniqueness, the perspectives and the variations.
Through the life of a few, it traces the paths of a billion, and maybe more.
If you haven’t, read Chapter 1, or just go for it!
Modern Relationships, that’s what everyone wants, right?
—- Over-whelma! —-
—- (Dil Maange More!) —-
Location: Planet Earth, a place where there is no extent to human satisfaction.
She was different, he felt a spark the first he ran into her, that was years ago though. On a scale where love-at-first-sight was on the bottom end, what he felt for her, was the upper fuckin’ limit, anymore and he would have had a paralytic attack, both physically and psychologically overwhelming, and then it all would have come to an end, because all good things do.
There are a few moments in everyone’s lives where they are about to say something exhilarating, a few words that would change life, or lives, sometimes more than one.
A heroin junkie running on English streets shouting out ‘Choose Life’ or a wrinkled sociopath in a boring red tie, shouting ‘We will build a wall.’ No matter whose life it is, at that moment of sheer contemplation, the surroundings dull down. As he whispered into her ear, all the noise around him blurred out, ‘from the moment I met you I knew I felt something strong, maybe love, but then I thought about love, as an independent concept, and felt that love would ruin everything, love felt too dangerous. But isn’t it always!?’ He asked, rhetorically, paused and then continued, ‘Still, ordinarily, I would’ve listened to myself, I usually do, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help not fall in love with you.’ He paused, he was a fool for love. He had learnt the hard way, to be smart enough to know why the road less taken was taken less. The only good thing about the situation was that she was reciprocating equally. As a couple, they were mutually, and by default, going with the flow.
A dangerous whirlpool is formed when too wild rivers meet, two worlds collide, and erode the shores nearby. Shores erode, and the only sense of calm left is in the silence of the ocean between the waves.
She was trying not to blush as he said these words from behind her, hugged by him from behind as they danced. At one point, she figured out she was not in the state to verbally reciprocate his feelings. She turned around and kissed him. Years ago, they met in social circles and house parties, and they hit it off well, but nothing happened back then. Now, they met years later, on Tinder. For a second they couldn’t believe it.
Seriously though, is love just a right swipe away?
They remembered having that connection from a long time ago, but never got the chance to find out if something lay there, whether the pot was firm enough to brew tea. Alas, we live in a world of beautiful caffeinated lapses. The memory had eventually made its way out of the active playlists of both their thoughts. From there to living the ‘what could’ve been’, a thrilling ride.
They were making out, but realized that it was not the best thing to do in the middle of an open-air concert, mainly because it led nowhere. The kiss ended organically. She slid back around in his arms, and continued to grind to the music. They started moving away from the bonfire, their own heat was proving to be enough on the early October night.
Right about then, the flashing lights started looking pretty and the thumping of the bass grew over their heartbeats.
A cool breeze blew past his head as she lit a joint. Thoughts started shuffling through his head like a slot machine on cocaine. The fact that she was “technically” a drug dealer was fun for him to learn. He was open about his judgments, and this was not a profession he deemed conventional. He thought of the first time he reacted to the fact, ‘you can’t bring home the bread by giving momo-munchies to half of South Delhi’. And then he paused and realized there was nothing wrong with it, ‘Or well, you can, and maybe you should!’ She was the most outgoing person he would come across in his life, she laughed every time she recounted his hilarious idiosyncrasies. Eventually, they both laughed.
Meanwhile, he struggled between hooking her up with more of his friends to sell to, and sometimes expressed mild discomfort with her curbside profession. He didn’t take or expect a cut on the sales he got her, they had a mutual understanding when it came to money, because that’s what modern relationships are about. She covered the narcotics, he covered the alcohol, and the rest was easily taken care of.
He was waiting for her outside the restroom when his phone buzzed, it was MD. He ignored it, but did start thinking about why MD didn’t like his girlfriend. Her profession was a quarter of the reason why MD didn’t get her. The second quarter, was her forward personality. The third quarter was her age. And the final pinching quarter was her name. As much as he loved MD, he couldn’t care for her naivety, he viewed it as a lack of urbanism on MD’s part. MD didn’t know how intellectually pleasing being with Pepsi was. The laws of nature were still applicable under these circumstances i.e., there was no limit to human satisfaction. Though, the good thing about him was that he was aware of the law, he saw it in everybody and everything around him, and he hated it. He loved the fact that he hated it, that’s who he was – the guy who hated the concept of ‘unlimited’, and he did something about it. He knew how important it was to know when to stop, to know your limits. Knowing everything he did about Pepsi, he knew she was the right person for him, he just had to control and monitor his dosage, because he could never have enough of her, and that feeling was not thrilling.
The heart wants what the heart wants, and it always wants more.
Love is not the drug you wanna overdose on!
On their way back from Zorba, his favorite music venue in town, they stopped at a ‘theka’ (liquor store), there was a lot of heat in his body, he needed a chilled beer. The bittersweet luxuries of Kingfisher Strong were unavailable at the hour, and so were those of the Old Monk, he finally ended up getting a bottle of whiskey.
The only form of whiskey he would’ve preferred was a smoky cocktail. He was reminded of one of his favorite things about North America, speakeasies. There was a thing about speakeasies, he’d always get compliments of the bartender, and then the bartender would say cheers with a coupe glass with a crystal stem in his hand. One time he left his wallet behind, and the bartender came running to give it back to him, even before he had ordered an Uber to get back home. Before he met Pepsi, he would lose things, like a couple of t-shirts went M.I.A., maybe a beanie, a white and black woven leather belt, and earplugs and such. But since he met her, he not only didn’t forget things at places, he was aware enough to care for things others might forget. He missed his days in North America, even though things were not at their best when he was there, he always stayed around downtempo speakeasies – nothing fixed his mood like going to a speakeasy. Being with her was like drinking a cocktail of homebrewed black coffee and 12YR old scotch, while on Adderall and caramel flavored edibles.
BLACK COFFEE AND A CIGARETTE
BOWMORE 12YR SCOTCH, ST. GEORGE NOLA COFFEE LIQUER, AMARO NARDINI, SUFMATO, PECAN CHICORY BITTERS
Pepsi mentioned she was hungry, she made the servant order Butter Chicken and Naan. Motion sickness was calming the heat inside him, and on Pepsi’s comment his thoughts took a small detour. The analogy of alcoholic beverages of choice varying from North America and India, also applied to the women, between the two continents and the food. While American women were beautiful, and forward – there was nothing like home cooked food (“ghar ki daal”).
Back in the Uber, occupying both windows, holding hands near the never-used rear seat buckles, enjoying the wind in their hair. He was thinking of the other good things he missed about North America, well parts of North America. He remembered how awfully social everyone was, people held doors open for others, people would greet everyone on the street, if only with a gentle nod, slowly heading to a Black Mirror-ish dystopian world. While at the same time, those gentle nods were trademarks solicitation methods of ‘pahadi’ (northern) hash slingers in South Delhi. A small bump in the road, one too many psychological reflexes as Pepsi’s hand grasped tighter, he started thinking of the acquaintances that came up to Pepsi, at cafes and bars, asking when the next batch of M-cream was coming down the hills of Tosh. As much as he loved hanging out with her, hanging out with her at his usual spots was a pain in his existence because common friends, people he had smoked coke-lined joints with in the back alleys of SDA listening to a fuck load of birds chirp, came up and tried to score from the woman he loved. As socially unacceptable it was, to the aunties of the colonies he lived through his lifetime in Delhi, he couldn’t really care. At the back of his mind, their relationship couldn’t have been more natural like the universe he lived in, maybe permanent right now, but eventually temporary in the grander scheme of things unknown.
Two sides of a coin can be opposing forces – that’s the whole concept behind the coin-toss.
While he had an unlimited supply of love and hash, he knew he wanted to move to Europe, he was aware that he could potentially be drug-tested for his next job. After having seen a small percentage of the fucked-up things that had happened in this millennium, he had learnt to live in the moment, the hard way. That’s exactly why his bank statements looked like a recommendation list of good bars from across the world. ‘Savings’ was a concept, that was only, recently discovered in his universe.
In a tired, drunken daze, he took the cigarette pack out of his pocket, opened it with the same hand, because he had Pepsi’s hand in the other, it was calm enough to not let go in that moment. So, he slid a cigarette up with the same thumb and it went straight from the pack to his lips. He kept the cigarette pack on his thigh and reached back into his pocket to get the lighter. He tried to light his smoke, but realized he was holding his lip balm instead. He was hoping Pepsi wasn’t looking, but he heard a giggle as he realized how wasted he was. He saw the same look in Pepsi’s eye’s, and remembered, like the North, that this was a moment she would love to have a smoke, he took out his lighter from the other pocket and still lit it up. Every day, every second with Pepsi was like that, limitless and borderline insane, and while they both enjoyed it, there was a subtle control in the air, for love was not a victory march. As much as one would like it to be, they were far away from couples that posed crazy pictures on Facebook about how much they loved each other, some natural poses on Instagram were acceptable along with mild public display of affection, but nothing too sloppy. He took a deep drag on his cigarette, inhaled, and let the smoke out in one smooth manner, and now the street lights on MG Road were a mere string of bokeh. Like a meteor burning its way down to the surface of the earth, an impulsive red string of bokeh passed next to him, fast. Followed by a siren.
Light travels faster than sound. In life, sometimes you can foresee, you know what will happen, you let it happen, it takes time to absorb, sometimes you get lost in the happening, and only realize until someone says it out loud.
It was an early stage in their relationship, and unlike any other relationship he had ever been in, he decided to say what came to his mind. He didn’t support the timing of Gandhi’s non-violent agendas, he often said, ‘don’t get me wrong, I preach peace all the time, but sometimes violence is necessary. Rebellions aren’t peaceful, unless you’re in South Korea!’ Every time he said that, he would get distracted by thoughts of Korean BBQ.. He snapped out of it, back to the one good thing he liked about Gandhi, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ and that’s how he was trying to approach life these days, thanks to one self-help article on Medium. Even with Pepsi, he decided to say everything and anything that came to mind – he told her how crazy he was about her, but also about how overwhelming the feeling was. Usually, he would have been a cluster-fuck of mood swings in such a relationship, but somehow trying to be what he always wanted to be was proving emotionally empowering.
He noticed Pepsi swiping through the pictures of the concert on her phone, he thought about how he was handling things with Pepsi, he was surprised at himself. Occasionally he told her about it, ‘to be honest, I hate reading news articles about who tweeted what, and how many likes it got, that’s the news these days, it’s so hard to find the truth, and I feel so unaware when all I get, from every direction, is just hypocritical feeds and misleading streams of data, and it’s not just politics, it’s changing lives. I’m glad we aren’t one of those couples that fight over not posting pictures on social media or not declaring their relationship status online. If you are being forced by your partner to declare your relationship status online, so the world can see it, always select “It’s complicated” – and let the world see.’
He would always start relating things to himself, to his being. Irritated by the corporate America he was forced to leave behind, he focused on the war on information at a professional level, the corporate environment that got fucked a long time ago. The only difference now was that everybody roamed around like zombies on Adderall, sleek smart watches slapped on their wrists with futuristic designs. However, in this case, people didn’t know that these watches were being used to track every movement, every drop of alcohol, every impulse in blood pressure and anger, every heart beat in lieu of “people management” – that is the future of HR. And everybody was informed with misleading news.’ He understood the greed behind misleading news, but he was tired of the mines of misleading facts, the virus had already spread, all over, virus was the norm. In his mind, a scheme was formulating, he wanted to fight the war on information, especially after he was asked to leave the country, he had been riding a wave of fuck-all corporate America. He hated living in the bull-shit economy driven, capitalistic, money-in-the-bank world that was deprived of true social experience.
He envisioned the next big thing, his idea would not only revolutionalize the journalism industry, but could also end the war on information.
After the whole American election fiasco where Russia rigged the news sources and social media in favor of Trump, he grew tired of not being able to trust anything he read, he knew an effort had to be made. The effort that he put in was to check the credibility of the source, and the content. He came up with a double verification Blockchain news reporting system. Of course, setting up something that disrupts political agendas came with an uncountable numbers of speed bumps, like the streets of South Delhi. He was giving into some shady, unethical means, but only because he knew that once it was setup, there was no way out of it. On some level, that is exactly what Pepsi’s part shady lifestyle was about, it was an unethical means to get to a steady state, and he didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Of course, all of this was beyond MD’s grasp. MD was not worried about Pepsi being in trouble, she didn’t care much about her, they hadn’t even met. MD was worried about him, MD was worried that he could potentially get hurt both professionally, and personally – both at the same time was mos-def not a good idea.
They finally got to Pepsi’s place, beats from Midival Punditz and Nucleya were still ringing in their heads, thanks to Ms. Molly. Plus, they had been smoking the best cream that came down the hills in a year. They went straight to the Jacuzzi. Some whiskey on the rocks, as they lay silent in the Jacuzzi, until they started fucking their way into the night.
Their sexcapade ended on the bed, she rolled what was supposed to be the final go-to-bed joint of the night, but little did they know how potent the Molly was. They had hopes of passing out together, spooning, but they just lay next to each other, breathing heavy until she started telling him instances from her messed up life, ‘babe, you have no idea of the comic tragedies I’ve been through, you know I spent a year at King’s College, I started my Double Major, English and African History, and had to come back after my dad passed away of a heart attack. Then we found out about the debt he left us in. I had to come back, I had to support my mother, we were all we had, all we needed. We had to sell all our properties and move to our late grandmother’s small DDA apartment, which was something my dad found beneath him, even though we grew up in that house. We had to start a catering business that worked out for a few years, we didn’t have enough money for me to continue an education, barely enough for DU. We slogged for a few years, one thing to another, then we started renting out one of the rooms in our apartment to foreigners traveling through Delhi. I set up a website and started earning by showing hippie tourists around New Delhi, and then my mom also got involved in it. Mom knows Delhi way better than I ever will, the spots from her early years were still going strong, stronger than ever, Pahad Ganj, Chandni Chowk, North Campus, she knew those places inside out.
I’m a mere South Campus student, take me to Khan Market and I’m sorted!
But that was not enough, and then this hippie business was spreading over the place rendering our model unsustainable. We were living hand-to-mouth, until I started working at this NGO, but twenty thousand rupees a month isn’t enough to survive in Delhi, we were glad we didn’t have to pay rent. At one point, we decided to take a break from everything for a few days when an old distant ‘chacha’ (uncle) of ours surfaced out of nowhere, everyone thought he was dead, but he had migrated to the hills of Manala, opened a few hostels in Kasol and Manali, and he was making dope, literally and metaphorically. So, when we went up there, I saw how things were, and suggested a marketing revamp, only because his place had huge potential, and so I became his Business Development Manager, another fifteen thousand rupees a month. But fuck my life, right? Cause how can things be perfect!’ She paused and took a deep breath, ‘Mom started getting sick and we were yet again driven into a hand-to-mouth economy, so I asked my chachu to hook me up, and I started selling hash to these upper middle class kids of Delhi, these elite fucks that roam around in their father’s BMWs.
“yeh saale jo apne baap ke paise ki BMWs me ghoomte hain”
Selling them a T of hash that I myself wouldn’t pay more than thousand rupees for, for like six thousand, was only playing fair, it was all about having a targeted market segment.
He just lay there, high beyond he could handle, listening to her describe her misery ever so smoothly, falling in love with her over and over, and then moved his hand from her back to her head, ‘you know, you deserve so much happiness’ and he kissed her, and she kissed him back, but she also told him, ‘as much as I agree and love you for saying that, don’t ever say this out of pity’. It was instances like these, he felt little in front of her, like he was actually younger and lacked the experience of life unlike her, and respected her, and he told her what he felt, ‘you know I really hope that this, us, works out, but a part of me feels that this there is a decent chance that it won’t, call me a pessimistic, I am at times, but sometimes I am surprised how good things are, and a part of me wonders if this is too good to be true!’ and she replied, ‘to try, is the only way to find out, right?’ and so they just let the music play and passed out.
He drifted into a dream, a mild hallucination took over, some weird creatures, but familiar sounds. He instantly realized that he was still tripping, but it was under control, he could hear the song change to Frank Ocean’s Godspeed on Alexa on the far corner of the room, he went to safe place, his totem, the memory of the time Pepsi cracked him,
“what do you call a paranoid Mrs. Flintstone?”
Feedback welcome and viewed as constructive criticism.
Interested in knowing what happens next? Read Chapter 3 here.