Legend has it that once upon a time at a bar in France, researchers made drunk people answer questions about philosophy. The more intoxicated the subject, the more utilitarian he or she was likely to be, the researchers believed. What legend does not recount, however, is that of all the terrible, embarrassing things that pursuers of truth have had to do in the 300,000-odd years of human history, being confronted with the cold logic of a drunkard must have been the most rewarding.
Such was the case in an episode of 'Ground Reports', covered by the Main Media news outlet, chancing upon the most brutally honest alcoholic to go viral in recent times. Out on election coverage ahead of the Bihar legislative assembly polls, the news reporter happened across a routine alcoholic while asking for directions at the Baisi constituency in the Purnia.
What followed next were a series of apparently hilarious exchanges that bore with it the cold truths of working-class life in India, more specifically, the candid confessions of an alcoholic in a state which has banned alcohol altogether.
"Nitish [Kumar] has sent me to jail thrice," declares Sanjay Rishi with peculiar righteousness, "for consuming alcohol, yes. I was forced to go to jail thrice."
Revealing more dismal details about the inner workings of our state machinery, the man, teeming with glee, said that he had had to lose money progressively in several rungs of the bureaucratic process during his 11 days in jail, in addition to the loss of daily earnings for the duration.
A sum amounting to almost Rs. 28,000 was spent in bail, he added, of which the lawyer took Rs. 16,000.
Almost certifying himself, Sanjay continues, "I may drink alcohol daily, but never have I ever committed a crime. Never been into shoplifting or burglary, never."
Facetiously, the 'interview' goes on with this man that the news outlet would rather prefer be identified as a memetic drunkard, often hiding shocking truths under flippant humour. When asked about the Bihar elections, the Sanjay lights up. It's obvious that he holds high opinions about the shifting allegiances of the powers-to-be in the state.
"Nitish slammed his erstwhile ally, broke off a partnership just to get ahead in the world," he winked, adding, "what would people say about me if I did that?"
Notably, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had in 2017 made public differences with his then coalition partner, Rashtriya Janata dal (RJD), following the naming of Tejashwi Yadav in a CBI probe. Subsequently, he joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which had thus far been the opposition, to secure a majority in the assembly.
Nitish Kumar had announced the ban on alcohol in the state in 2016. The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act empower authorities with stringent and often overreaching powers, like confiscating properties upon whose premises liquor is either consumed or stored or the police even being allowed to assume that manufacturing of alcohol was ongoing if utensils containing a mix of jaggery or grapes are found. According to a new amendment, first-time offenders are also required to mandatorily face a jail term, unless they pay a fine of Rs. 50,000.
"In any case, whoever comes to power, it doesn't matter," a drunk Sanjay appeared to force a wry smile, "For all the filth that's accumulated in here, the system for us is as good as dead."