A Tale Of Alcoholism In The Land Of Premeria
Premeria had its own brand of alcohol. It was called Boot-Prem. In fact, some people still argue that the term “bootlegger” was coined in Premeria. Anyways, alcohol was easily available in Premeria; not to the common folk but only to certain segments of the elite. It was the Marshals of Premeria who controlled alcohol storage and distribution; no one without their blessing could obtain even a drop, while those who had that blessing could bathe in it for years if they wanted to. Premeria was a strange state. General public sentiment was anti-alcohol. The elites who consumed – often referred to as Boot-Premis – despised it publicly and continuously incited the public against it. Marshals who stored and distributed it always denied having anything to do with it. For decades the Boot-Premis help build an anti-alcohol narrative among the public and warned them of alcohol’s negative effects on Premeria’s well-being; all the while taking turns in consumption – alcohol’s and Premeria’s.
Alcohol was always the main agenda point in Primeria elections and political discourse. It was always a battle between those who had the blessing and those who didn’t. Alcohol in Premeria was addictive, as it is anywhere else. There were, however, certain other permanent and long-term side effects including a selective memory loss, permanent distortion of concepts of morality, justice, rule of law and an inability to distinguish Premeria’s wealth from one’s own personal kitty. There was one particular effect of alcohol which was quite unique to Premaria; large scale and continuous consumption by the elite seemed to have left certain effects in Premeria’s air. Despite having never tasted or seen alcohol, the common folk also displayed mild symptoms of memory loss and distortions in their perceptions of justice, morality and rule of law. Once hooked, a person just couldn’t let go and would crave for Boot-Prem desperately if the marshals took it away. A segment of elites who were bathing in alcohol yesterday could today be its loudest opponents.
The heaviest consumers among the elites were a segment called the “N’s”. These N’s had a love-hate relationship with the Marshals and had been Boot-Premis for the longest duration and had consumed the most Boot-Prem in Premerian history. Then there were the “P’s” who once had a patch where they genuinely turned anti-alcohol when their leader died of an overdose; but then when all of the leader’s well-wishers also died, the P’s came back to being the consumers. Then there were smaller segments called “Q’s”, “F’s”, “M’s” etc. These were segments worst afflicted by alcohol addiction and would align themselves with whichever segment enjoyed favour with the Marshals, just to get their hands on whatever small quantities of Boot-Prem they could get.
The common-folk were largely unaware of these drunken games played by the Marshals and the elites. There were times when a certain segment of the common folk would try to make their way into the zone of elites; and like the elites, would do so riding on the back of an anti-alcohol wave, only they would genuinely be anti-alcohol. The few Premerian intellectuals and anti-alcohol activists from among the common folk would see a glimmer of hope in such moves and lend them all the support they had.
“I’s”, for instance, were a segment of the common folk that rallied millions behind them and waged a war against alcohol and other evils marring Premeria. Exposing the Marshals and the elites, their leader promised to put an end to this filthy game and rid Premeria of all drunkard elites often disguised as anti-alcohol warriors. The common-folk, the intellectuals, the activists, all pinned their hopes on the “I’s” while they journeyed towards becoming the first common-folk segment governing Premeria. Somewhere in their journey, a leader of the “I’s” was invited by the Marshals to taste alcohol and see how it actually wasn’t that bad, rather a necessary evil to counter so many other evils in Premeria. Apparently the leader resisted the temptation for a while but succumbed eventually for just a little taste; a little taste was all it always took. Soon he too was an addict. This leader of the “I’s” believed that once he managed to become one of the elites, he would shun Boot-Prem once and for all and then begin fulfilling his promises. Little did he know that becoming a Boot-Premi was in fact what would get him a place among the elites. So now “I’s” became the consumers and alcohol was distributed and consumed as it always was. “Ns”, “Ps” and “Fs” were now claiming to be the flag bearers of an anti-alcohol drive and several Premerian intellectuals and activists from the common folk rallied behind them now, unaware that N’s, P’s and F’s were all still desperately attempting to get back into the Marshals’ good books, as they did whenever their supply was cut.
The common-folk, intellectuals and activists in Premeria were still anti-alcohol; desperate to see an end to Boot-Prem, desperate enough to believe in illusions of hope. They naively believed any segment of the elites that claimed to be anti-alcohol after having fallen out of the Marshal’s favor, even if for just a while.
Apart from the Marshals, the elites and the common folk, there was this one other class of Premerians called the Deciders; who were responsible for deciding disputes between Premerians. Some say that neither the Marshals nor the elites would matter if the Deciders decide to rid Premeria of Boot-Prem. But then some also claim to have often seen empty bottles of Boot-Prem in the Deciders’ trash…
The author is a lawyer based in Lahore. He is also a former member of Punjab Assembly.