Love & Other Drugs


by Idishta Nabi

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Aaraz clutched his award and began hurriedly walking towards the exit. He was not in the mood for chit-chat.

“Congratulations Aaraz!”

Aaraz spun around; it was his English teacher.

“Thanks Mr Naim” he replied courteously.

His English teacher could come to his award ceremonies, but his own parents were too busy to show up? Totally feeling the love mom and dad, thought Aaraz sarcastically.

The award ceremony of the 12th Bangladesh Short Film Competition had been exquisite; the sheer quantity of skill that had been projected on that screen was incredible. Adding to that were the legendary directors that had presented the awards; Aaraz felt privileged to be amongst such talent. And when his own film was screened as the one that had won first place, the feeling was euphoric.

As Aaraz accepted his award, he had looked out to the crowd hoping that his parents might have been late arrivals but had been met with disappointment yet again. It was customary for winners to have a courteous thank you speech. Aaraz hadn’t been sure who to thank, but then opted for the most typical of acceptance speeches where he spoke of the support and love of his parents – a filthy bunch of lies.

In truth, his parents probably didn’t even know he had entered this competition. After all, they weren’t aware of many other events in his life. His parents probably didn’t even care that the reason behind entering this competition was his aspiration to be like his father. Aaraz remembered the first time his father had taken him to one of his shoots. Instructing the men where to shine the lights, adjusting the different camera angles, explaining to the actors exactly how he wanted the scene to be – his father was in his element. Aaraz smiled at the memory; it was before his parents had gotten their “super-star” status.

“Mom and dad away being superstars?” asked Mr Naim snapping Aaraz out of his flashback.

Aaraz knew he wasn’t trying to be condescending, but he couldn’t help but feel a pang of annoyance. To be honest, Aaraz wasn’t sure where his parents were; they didn’t bother to tell him anymore.

“Yes” he replied curtly and with that excused himself and walked briskly out the door. His car was waiting for him at the foot of the marble white stairs.

Kamal, his chauffeur, hurried to take the brass vintage camera, with the words ‘1st place’ and under it ‘12th Bangladesh Short Film Competition’ embossed on them, from his hand. Ah, the privileges of being at the upper crust of the society, Aaraz thought as he handed it over and stepped into his latest Benz. He instructed Kamal to go to Tahsir’s house; that’s where the party was this weekend.

Aaraz was in his final year of high school studying at one of the most prestigious schools in his city. Impulsive would be the perfect word to describe this 17 year old movie making prodigy. That was the only thing in his life that he was sure of – his short films. There he controlled everything; he knew exactly how the elements were going to play out. Aaraz enjoyed being in control. Other than that, he was impulsive and dynamic. He had a tendency to do things without considering the consequences leading to several bad episodes in his life. But, once a while, everything would go perfectly right for Aaraz. After all, he was immensely talented, a hard worker and a team player.

Aaraz found his thoughts trying to figure himself out as he was sitting in his Benz. Life always confused him. It always felt like whenever he worked hard and tried to make others proud of him, he wouldn’t receive what he expected. The constant disappointment in others and himself left Aaraz’s thoughts muddled.

He missed his childhood dearly. He was reminiscing the happier days of his life when the car stopped at the guard station that stood at the entrance of Tahsir’s estate. The guards, recognizing Aaraz, were about to let the car through when he decided to walk instead.

He stepped out of his black Mercedes and caught a glimpse of himself reflecting on the window of the guard house. He was wearing his best Giorgio Armani suit that made him look taller than his 6 foot height. With his hair jet black jelled back and clean shave, Aaraz looked quite suave.

“Go on home” he told Kamal, “I’ll probably be spending the night here.”

Kamal gave him a respectful nod and drove away.

With a curt nod to the guards, Aaraz made his way towards’ Tahsir’s mansion, because calling it a house would be a felonious understatement.

It was a warm July night. As he walked, his polished shoes crunched on the gravel and a warm breeze spun through the lawn. Tahsir’s estate was picturesque and probably the only house that was larger than the one Aaraz was growing up in. As he got closer, he could hear the techno music blasting from the speakers. He could hear drunken laughter paired with occasional shrieks from girls having way too much fun.

Aaraz reached the house; he walked through the double mahogany doors and surveyed the scene.

The living room had been converted to a dance floor filled with girls, clad in clothes that showed too much skin, and guys, who clearly did not understand personal space, moving to the beat. Multicolored lights flickered hypnotically. He could feel the bass thumping in his chest. There were older guys leaning against the walls and taking long swigs from a variety of bottles. At the end of the room, was a very busy bar that was flowing with various drinks, no doubt all alcoholic. At a far corner, were a group of guys taking shots of cocaine, heroin and who knows what else. The party continued on to the swimming pool that was to his right behind a glass door. Aaraz could see swimming pool was filled with girls that were enjoying its cool waters in this warm July night.

Even in a third world country, such as Bangladesh, people knew how to party.

Aaraz made his way through the crowd and found Tahsir smoking up a joint with a group of others.

“Ma mann”, Tahsir said grasping Aaraz’s hand for a chest bump, “why you late?”

“Got caught up in something”, replied Aaraz hastily not wanting to get into the details of his award for the best short film in Bangladesh.

“Well enjoy the party!”

And Aaraz sure did enjoy.

After a few shots of coke and smoking a few joints of marijuana the world had become so much more vibrant. The bass seemed to be pumping through his body and controlling is moves on the dance floor. He was against so many different bodies; he didn’t even know who was who. In no time, his heart was racing yet his thoughts were clearer and Aaraz had all but forgotten his disappointment in his parents. He was aware of having hyped conversations about the most illogical subjects with people he had never met and would probably not remember.

The rest of the night was a blur of iridescence, loud music and sweaty bodies.

At some point, when he took a short break from everything, he was numbly aware of how monotonous life had become. Every Friday night was a party that was filled with provocative girls, alcohol and music. The heroin and cocaine had become monotonous too; the once euphoric rush had now become familiar. Aaraz stepped out of the house and wandered through the grassy lawn, only half aware of his surroundings.

“Hey Aaraz. Congrats on the first place.”

He turned around towards the sweet girly voice behind him. He was met with a flashing smile and a mass of dark brown hair.

“On what?” he asked, his words slurring and his vision blurry.

“Wining first place on the short film competition. It was really good”

“Um, I’m sorry. Who are you?”

“Keira.”

“Oh. Thanks”, he managed to mumble out before he blacked out.

He woke up for a brief amount of time when he was aware of someone running their fingers gently through his hair. It was a familiar comforting feeling; his mom used to do it when he was younger and had woken up from a nightmare.

Aaraz imagined what the other award winners were doing right about now. Probably having a nice homemade meal or having dinner at a fancy restaurant; celebrating their accomplishments with their family. While he was here throwing away his life, without his parents caring, with people who don’t have any idea of his talents, accomplishments or aspirations.

He caught a glimpse of a sad smile on pink lip-glossed lips and the tips of curly brown hair before drifting off to a surprisingly comfortable sleep.

Someday, his parents were bound to notice.

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