They set up a cake on the table — baked by one of finest bakers in town and handcrafted to remind me of my happiest day from earlier this year. But the cake failed to grab my attention which instead decided to fixate on the thing kept right beside — a shot glass holding 60ml of a cola-coloured liquid. It was gazing at me with utmost composure, as I looked back with hesitation and doubt. The cheer in the background was growing louder — “a speech and then shoot!”.
I shook my head in protest, but they wouldn’t relent. There was a loud cheer as I gulped down the half-filled beer bottle I was holding. And immediately the focus shifted back to the shot glass. Their chant was unanimous. I could feel my heart sink as I raised it and held it close to my nose in an attempt to gauge its potency.
“Speech and shoot!”
The smell was pleasant, like an Ayurvedic medicine made from herbs and spices. It didn’t help though. I remained tense. Several loose thoughts ran through my head, but I failed to converge them into a speech. It came out as a spiritless thank you. At that moment one of them darted into the kitchen and brought out a second shot, for reasons best known to him, completely oblivious to my reluctance. Now there were two shots of potent liquor intensely staring at me.
I’ve escaped similar demands all my life — through four years at a hostel, a year and half working at a corporate and nearly four years of running a business — and I could’ve avoided it again. Only this time a hard-headed refusal would’ve unturned every effort I had made to put together a memorable shindig. A rejection would’ve been the most prominent memory they’d have carried back home.
“Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”
And I did. The liquor gushed through my gastrointestinal tract leaving behind a warm soothing sensation. It didn’t burn. It felt good. They all charged up. The celebrations continued.
Hours later it was time to hit the bed. Everyone had fun. Everything went well. But yet, as I laid back, I was upset. And I knew exactly why. It was the feeling of compromising on a principle that I had proudly lived by all my life. It was the pain of succumbing to peer pressure.
Now it’s history. The kind I wish never repeats itself.