“Shahzeb, five neat pegs are too much for the first time. Stop it now, call it off.” Raghav advised his employer cum friend, gently taking the refilled glass from his hold.
“The party has just started; besides I am not feeling even a bit tipsy yet, so stop behaving like my mother.” Shahzeb rasped in a deep drugged voice. He wasn’t that much tipsy or drunk, but his accent seemed heavier. Raghav shook his head and took his half empty mug of bear. He was on duty, and didn’t dare to consume anything heavy.
“Actually, do you see that girl in the purple Sari, with a silver backless blouse?” Shahzeb pointed towards Suhana Malik, who had arrived an hour ago with two of her American friends. She was bedecked in a purple Sari with silver Swarovski stones studded border. The drape of her Sari was too thin, unable to conceal the deep neckline of her silver sleeveless blouse. She was, as always, dancing to the slow beats of music, with provocative moves. She had raised her hand for greeting Shahzeb when she had entered; but at that time, he was too engrossed with Zoya to pay any attention towards her. Now, when he was finally comfortable with alcohol, and his senses were a little stimulated, he looked at Abbas Malik; who was looking right back at him.
“Tell her that Shahzeb is inviting her for having a drink,” he drawled lazily while lightening his cigarette. Raghav waved at a waiter and asked him to convey his employer’s message to Suhana Malik. The waiter complied and did what he had been asked to do. Suhana stopped on her track for a second to look along the direction of the pointed finger of the waiter.
“As far as I can remember, the last time we met, you were a goody good boy with a strong aversion towards alcohol.” Suhana chimed mockingly, and took the stool beside Shahzeb.
Shahzeb took a long drag from his cigarette and exhaled it in front of Suhana. Holding his glass in one hand and the cigarette in the other, he looked purposefully at Sardar Alam Khan and his companion. Both men were putting up the pretense of being busy in conversation, but Shahzeb knew that they were eavesdropping on his discourse with Suhana.
“You didn’t contact me after your sister’s wedding; I was expecting a call from you. We celebrated my official joining of the Party at our Ismailpur farmhouse; you were dearly missed on the occasion.” Shahzeb offered her a glass of wine. “And, as for your earlier comment, some people don’t like me being good. So, I believe it’s high time now that I scrape off this charade of being a good guy for those who don’t deserve to be served politely.” He took a large gulp of his whiskey to finish it off, while mashing the butt of his cigarette into an ashtray. His voice seemed a little slurred by now.
“Let’s get out of here; it’s too crowded for my liking.” Shahzeb stood up from his stool and grabbed his suit jacket which he had discarded before.
“The party isn’t over Shahzeb. I expect our guests to be treated properly. I want you to personally meet each and every one of them.” Sardar Alam Khan stated authoritatively.
“I don’t give a damn about their treatment, so please just call it off. I can’t sit here anymore, surrounded as I am by retired geriatrics.” Shahzeb, who was intoxicated by now, told his father mockingly. This was the first time he had been disrespectful towards him in public. Sardar Alam Khan was shocked to hear such a blunt declaration from his son.
Abbas Malik saw the gloomy look on his old buddy’s face. “It’s okay Sardar Sahab, his senses are consumed by the liquor. Just let him enjoy his day.” Abbas Malik tried to calm down his mate’s anger.
“Shahzeb, listen.” Saba called him from behind just as he was about to sit in his black SUV. Shahzeb turned to look at his sister, who was standing under the blossom covered arch of the open parking lot.
“Where are you going at this hour?” Saba came forward and asked a little roughly. If Shahzeb had been in his senses, he could have guessed his sister’s disappointment and despair. Her soft facial features had turned cold on seeing her beloved little brother drunk. She had nurtured him since his childhood, safeguarding him like her own child from the dirty world of her father. But it seemed that all her upbringing, sacrifices and prayers had gone down the drain.
“You broke your promise to me; you had vowed that you will never touch alcohol.” Saba sobbed while grabbing her brother by his shoulder. Shahzeb swayed on his spot on account of the force of his sister’s hold.
“Apa, it’s nothing. Do not worry and go inside; I will be back soon. Tell Zoya not to wait for me. She wasn’t feeling well; she needs some rest.” He coaxed his elder sister like a kid, while peeling her hand off of his shoulder.
“Shahzeb, listen to me please. Take Zoya with you; you are not in the right state of mind. You have lost control over your senses.” Saba pleaded in a low voice, eyeing Suhana Malik with disdain, who had wrapped her arm around Shahzeb’s waist.
“Ohh please Mrs. Meer. He is not a child, who would need a babysitter.” Suhana rolled her eyes and stepped into the conversation with annoyance.
Shahzeb was too drunk to react to Suhana Malik’s insulting remark towards his sister. Saba looked at her brother with misty eyes, who wasn’t even able to stand still.