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An estimated 3-minute read

Law School Academy University 4: Enter Vodka

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We kept a safe distance between ourselves and the bottle as though we feared it might come to life, leap at us and pour itself into our bloodstream.


“Oh, come on!”, said Medha exasperated, “I can’t believe you are such saints”.


Indrani was quiet. “Can we talk about it like reasonable people?”, I asked, “I mean… really frankly?”


“People do that after the drink”, muttered Medha, “but fine…you can talk”.


“If I drink, I won’t be able to say that I am a teetotaler. You see? There’s no going back. When my folks are talking about drunken student parties, I can’t ever say virtuously, that I wouldn’t do that”, I burbled.


“This is the stupidest thing I ever heard”, Medha was exasperated.


Indrani put her hand on Medha’s arm to calm her as she talked soothingly to me, “but honey, no one actually tells their parents the truth”, she cooed. “It isn’t as if I ever told them that I have a boyfriend”.


“But I always tell them the truth”, I was really getting worked up.


Medha got up. “Look, if we are being reasonable, let’s be reasonable”, she said. “What exactly is wrong with having a drink? You are eighteen, you are an adult. You don’t plan to drive or operate heavy machinery. You are in safe place. So what is the big deal? If this is about some ‘good Indian women don’t drink’ moral crap then let’s call a spade a spade”.


“It … it bothers people”, I said hesitantly, “it makes them uncomfortable”.


“That’s true”, added Indrani. “I would never tell anyone that I drink. Especially for a girl…it goes against our culture. Personally, I think it is fine for women to drink but it is socially unacceptable and one has to be practical”.


“What culture?”, said Medha impatiently. “And what social acceptability? Yesterday, you two were all gung-ho about women’s lib after that sociology class about how the patriarchal world blames sexual violence on the way we dress instead of blaming the perpetrators. Queen Victoria here even broke out a spaghetti top in solidarity, to assert her right to dress sluttily. That makes people uncomfortable too, and it isn’t always ‘practical’ to dress daringly.” Mild little Medha clearly had a temper.


We both looked embarrassed. “Look, I just don’t want to do this because of peer pressure”, I ventured again, “I want to do it because I want to and for no other reason”.


“Sweetie, there’s no pressure”, said Medha flatly. “Not from me. But ask yourself this. Are you refusing to drink because you really don’t want to, or is it really because of family pressure, social pressure and all sorts of other baggage that has to do with where you came from? Because I don’t buy the morality crap about drinking, and I don’t buy that it is okay for the guys but not for us. Also, there are plenty of people in this class that I can drink with, so there’s no reason for me to make you do something you don’t want to. Now I’m going to terrace for a smoke. Try not to faint from moral outrage. You know where to find me if you need help breaking out the vodka”, and she stomped off.


“That’s just really unfair”, I complained, “she’s being so pushy”.


“No, she isn’t”, said Indrani quietly, “but I get where you are coming from. Also, breaking hostel rules might get us into trouble. So I’m putting the vodka here under all my clothes. And we’ll touch it or not depending on how comfortable you are”.


And that’s how I found myself listening to the lecture in class on the nexus between law, morality and feminist jurisprudence and wondering what that might mean for my relationship with the bottle of vodka enthroned among Indrani’s pyjamas.


Law school Illusion 4: What happens in the classroom stays in the classroom, and what happens in the hostel stays in the hostel. Shattered.


Lesson learned: A lecture on theory and a bottle of vodka can commune in your mind.  And if what happens in the classroom stays in the classroom, then what use is to you it when you go out to live in the world?


Dilemma: Do I stay true to my parents and my upbringing, or do I succumb to this new world and its rational-sounding temptations?

[All characters, institutions and events in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, institutions or events is purely co-incidental]

Read Chap. 1

Read Chap. 2

Read Chap. 3

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