I must have been a liquor lover in my previous birth, as time and again I am tempted to think of wine and write about it. Though I cannot lay claim to having seventy five percent wine in my blood a la the great poet Bachchan in his masterpiece- Madhushala , somehow the Providence does throw me in such situations when it is difficult for me to decide whether I should stick to the tag of being a teetotaler or just give way to the pleasures of having a sip or two occasionally from the goblet , full of Manna.
Some more than twenty years back, while serving in a tribal area, I was deputed to hand over some departmental properties to the Irrigation department so that the transferee department could maintain them and ensure full optimum use there of. The day was spent in preparing detailed inventory of furniture and other articles to ensure that not even a small thing like spoon was left out.
Since, the representative of the other department and I were staying at the same place, there was enough time in the evening to indulge in gossip and discussions . I was a bit shocked when the person, a professed teetotaler expressed his desire to have some local brand . Somehow his wish was fulfilled and he started having the drink. I jokingly reminded him that he had once told me that he never touched wine. . “ Even today, I am not touching wine !" pat came the reply.
Elaborating his point he related to me an incident relating to Akbar and Birbal.
Now Birbal one of the nine gems of Akbar’s durbar , was known for his wit and wisdom and was a favourite of Akbar . Due to this , there was no dearth of persons around hatching conspiracies to make Birbal lose his position and esteem in the eyes of Akbar . Birbal, they say was given to liquor but never made a show of it nor did many people know about it. . Someone,who knew it complained to Akbar, who never believing in hearsay , especially if it pertained to Birbal, set about to enquire into the matter himself. Birbal as usual came to know about the entire scheme .
Akbar , on an appointed day, took a vantage position near Birbal’s residence, Birbal mindful of Akbar’s presence stared his evening ritual. A dialogue -in a voice loud enough to be audible outside-ensued between Birbal and the wine like this :
Birbal holding a goblet full of wine before his eyes : Who are you ?
I am dawa
Fine,( gulps it down )
After some time ,
( holding the goblet for the second time )
Who are you ?I am suroor
Fine, ( gulps it down too )
Again after some time
Who are you ?
I am wine !
On this Birbal threw the glass on the floor and mouthing choicest abuses , said, "If you are wine , how dare you come near Birbal !"
Akbar went back silently , once again impressed with Birbal’s wit and logic.
Now if the actual wine starts from the third peg, my friend above was perhaps right as he had completed his quota in two !