Disco- the first sin
It was his first time and was excited about it. Any first time activity, from our birth till our last breath, entrusts us with a store of excitement. The excitement masks itself in different forms, happiness, fear, etc and the mask changes based on the activity and the individual’s values. He couldn’t decide which mask of excitement had engulfed him that day, his first time to a disco club. A contemptuous frown concentrated between his eyebrows at the thought of alcohol and smoke around him in disco club. A fear chilled his spine at the imagination of encountering any of his or dad’s friends. What would he answer if they ask “hey Mohan, what are you doing here?”
He had watched movies and had thought about disco as a cultural flaw, an exhibition of human weakness, an act of taking a step back in the hard earned civilization. Yet, he was waiting for the sun to sleep and hoping all others he knew to sleep along with the sun, leaving a set of alien anonymous crowd who don’t bother about him and themselves when they plunge together into the abyss of disco. Despite his efforts, he never could rationally analyze what’s so wrong with disco clubs. It's just an opaque rigid wall in the mind, which stops all the logical thoughts to a heavy halt in hearing the name ‘disco’ and turn back to say ‘No, it's wrong’; like it said ‘no’ for smoking and alcohols. Nobody has ever told what the cultural issue with smoking and alcohol is. No, it’s not due to health. There are several products which are not good for health, starting from the adulterated cheese to bread, chips, fruit beverages and what not? But they were not banished by the cultural purists. Yet, smoking and alcohols were banned with a ‘No’ label long back, long before they understood the effects of nicotin and even before they found nicotin in tobacco. They are essentially the symbols of man’s weakness for pleasure, a weakness which openly challenges the spiritual advancement of human beings to oneness, which is often referred as god. Disco clubs enjoys similar and even worse treatment when compared to other weaknesses; as it provides almost everything that are advised to be kept at a distance.
So, it is natural for anyone like Mohan, born and brought up in a culturally conservative family to close his eyes and ears, and more importantly mind from several things in the society, with disco among the top few things. The present world would be a heaven if everyone follows what is known to them or taught to them as right. No mind is tougher than its weak moment and it gives up under pressure to pleasure, only to lament later 'Why I did that?'. Such weak moments are unfortunately not rare and occur every day, like we break our diet resolutions the moment we encounter a bakery. However, few weak moments are stronger and wilder like the big tides washing away the sand homes of faith built ashore. Mohan was sucked in one such weak moment, which took him for a toss in its whirlpool. How else could he have agreed to Philip when he persuaded to join him to a disco? The beauty of the weak moment is that they are momentary, yet it pushes us into a world of illusion or curse that we realize it only after our action, however long it may take. Philip brooded over the idea of disco in the first half of the day. But Mohan didn’t think whether it is right or wrong according to his moral values, until he came out of the disco that night. The only thought that had occupied his mind was 'Disco, Disco!!' and he was desperately waiting for the evening during the first hour in the class room. Our mother earth started teasing him by revolving slowly; it seemed a second was longer than a second and it appeared as if it took several hours to cover one hour in clock. As the dusk passed, when sodium vapour lamps compensated the daylight, Mohan was doubly excited about the approaching significant event in his life. He walked out of the gent's room after a clean shave, dissatisfied, he shaved again. He was generous with the after shave lotion to ensure that he gains a dashing shiny chin as they show in commercials. He wore his favourite light blue shirt and a matching ‘John-Miller’ navy-blue trouser. The only leather shoes of his underwent a double coat of polishes and sparkled when his friend's shine-x was lavishly applied. When a thin film of 'cuticura' talc was gently spread over his coarse face and armpits, Mohan, satisfied with his rituals took extra care not to sweat and started fanning himself with whatever he got. But his tension was so fierce that his body fluids fought their way through his skin pores and his hanky was half wet. Philip entered his room, “Mohan, what happened? Are you not coming for disco?”.
“No, i'm ready, i am waiting for you.
He couldn't appreciate his genuine shock till he entered disco.
“we are not going for a job interview”, frowned Philip and redecorated Mohan with his party wear gadgets. Philip swayed a jet of deodorant confined in a container labelled 'adidas' and exclaimed “Mohan, you still use talcum powder ?”.
"There's a lot of restriction for disco clubs these days", Philip explained, "so much debate going on about its impact on culture etc. I don't understand these lunatics. Disco is about smoking, drinking and dancing with women. This was there always. During historic days, only royal court and rich men had this luxury and they employed women slaves for dancing. These days, we have broken the aristocratic supremacy and have liberated the privileges for common man. Above that, instead of having slave women, we have given freedom for equal rights to women.
equality and freedom- isn't quite a revolution?. The thick heads never
understand that." He didn't refer to me, but i know with utmost clarity
that i belong to that group of thickheads preventing a silent revolution
progressing without daylight and I felt responsible to undo it. My first step
was self-liberation through participation. I walked in with confidence. Liberty
“The premium discos , which are often a part of 5 star hotels allow only pairs and costs very much. This one is suitable for college students like us; the entry fee is only Rs.500. You know what, they give two complimentary pints too and yours is for me, since you don't booze. I don't force people to booze; that's against my policy”, the good Samaritan Philip continued “I have brought lots of first-timers to disco. I keep a count and you are 63rd”.
Both of them entered the dark room, equipped to explode with deafening music. The loudest music Mohan have ever witnessed was during the annual temple function in his village where the loud speakers supposedly communicate to anyone within half a mile. This volume was at least ten times more than those loud speakers of his village. The whole body of everyone within it was vibrating ; one can easily dance without much effort. The dark room was filled with clouds of cigarette smoke, too strong to choke the lungs of a non-smoker like Mohan. There were tables arranged in two rows, all of them round in shape encircled with slim chairs for one quadrant and a crescent shaped cushion chair for two quadrants. The central pathway which branched into blossoms of round tables at its sides was dashingly lit with multi-coloured twinkling lights. The strange combination of dazzling bright path and its dark peripherals was strange, yet synchronized well with our cosmic and philosophical model that light and darkness co-exist within a same bubble.
Mohan and Philip merged with the darkness in one of the corner tables. “This is the best place, you can have a view of entire dancing floor from here”, when Philip noted, Mohan was awe stuck by Philip's knowledge on minor details. The pints arrived and Philip's broad smile consumed his large square face. As the bottles became lighter by losing alcohol, so did Philip by consuming the same. The divine liquid ceaselessly went inside Philip, however Mohan's interests was not even faintly linked with alcohol. He came there to experience the fantasy world filled with glamorous women, which, to him had always existed only behind the silver screen. He was impatient when the bar was still occupied by him, Philip and their empty bottles. As the clock stuck eleven, two men came inside, and soon more men stuffed in the dark room. More bottles moved in the thick smoke blanket. With time, the fluid had its magic effect and people started dancing. Still the bar was packed with men. Mohan grew impatient and turned to Philip, “are you sure you have brought me to disco, this looks like a gay club”. Philip laughed as if it was a great joke , nodded his head and turned to the waiter to order one more round of whisky.
It was one hour since they came and Mohan finished two plates of excessively salted peanuts, a diet Pepsi and five glasses of water with ice. It was very difficult to pass time. Mohan was disappointed to see more and more men around; ugly, dark men with protruded belly filled with chilled beer, stone faced men devoid of any emotions except contempt and men who are disappointed without any women around. Mohan was trapped within a dark cell of men and was genuinely irritated with Philip for bringing him there. But, Philip was peaceful with his bottles and its fluids. His tranquility at that moment amidst the loudest music and ugly men amazed Mohan.
At around 11:55 PM, when Mohan went for his eighth round of plain water, a jet of fresh air gushed in near the door as it was ajar. The fresh air sneaked through the doors had its lung full of thick perfume announcing the arrival of much awaited womenfolk. A gang of four ladies paraded into the dark sanctum where mortals transform to divinity by consuming elixir. One of them wore a black tight t-shirt and a mini-skirt, the black colour merged with the darkness of the chamber. All of them were in high pointed heels creating an illusion of floating in the smoky cloud like angels. Despite their knowing that they are being watched by lustful eyes, they carried themselves a casual charisma expressing their indifference to the rest.
Ignoring Mohan's exposure to virtual silver screens, that was the first time he saw ladies smoking and drinking. The bartender whose cold stare intensified with his glasses of cold water showed a reverse trend with those ladies, for he conversed with animation, laughed easily and suggested new cocktails to those Barbie dolls in flesh and blood. Their presence had altered the equilibrium of the bar, with people entering the dance floor portraying their clown-like dance moves. Soon, very soon the sex-ratio got altered when few more women entered the bar. The alcohol loosened their stiffness and they soon decorated the dance floor. Their dance moves, though incoherent like the other men around, had an attraction and grace. With their dance moves, they drove away the laziness which had still then stuck with the people around like mosses on wet rocks. Along with, they also drove away the contempt and irritation of landing up there, especially a girl in a sleeveless yellow tops and black jeans attracted lot of people's attention.
Mohan's eyes were glued to the dance floor, trying to absorb as much for future memories. He was too shy to go there and kept looking at how easily others approached the ladies, bought them drinks and took them for a dance. When he went to toilet, he accidentally bumped over the yellow topped beauty pumping his adrenalin in full power. In the next ten minutes, he visited the toilet several times placing himself in strategic locations for potential accidents, though nothing happened after that.
When Philip called Mohan for the dance floor, he was excited; excited that his fantasies were finally coming true. Even amidst the mixed emotions, he didn't fail to thank Philip for bringing him there. Philip dragged him to the centre of the dance floor and started dancing. But Philip didn't pick any of those girls, didn't even go near them, worse than that, he didn't allow either Mohan to go near them. He started teaching Mohan how to dance. Though Mohan didn't appreciate the idea of dancing away from the crowd, with lot of ladies behind, he didn't want to disappoint Philip and complied to Philip and his movements. But he went on and on and Mohan whispered, “we shall go near the girls”. He frowned, “common Mohan, we are not here for them. We will dance”.
“What? Dance?, well , if we need to dance, we can do it in our hostel, I need not come here to learn dancing”, shouted Mohan overcoming the screaming DJ's music. Philip started laughing at his desperation, at his weakness; when Mohan left him with irritation. He then marched to the dance floor and started dancing with fierce random body movements in front of a girl. She smiled and moved away to another guy, who bent and whispered something into her ears before they settled to a corner. He then went to the next lady; but she was already dancing with a guy. He stood near them and danced for a while. Receiving no attention, he went to the next girl. He imagined that Philip would be laughing at his actions, but he was angry at him and didn't care to look towards his side. The girls, old & young, dark & fair, slim & plump were there in plenty, yet no one paid any attention to Mohan. As time passed by, the men around formed couples and started leaving slowly; Mohan became inert to the lack of attention he received.
He went to the bartender, asked for a glass of plain water with ice and came back to Philip's table. Philip's eyes were closed, and his face bore a divine serenity. His sweat spread over his face and glistened in the tiny flame of a lighter in the next table. They left the bar soon. When they came out, one of the couples they saw inside was returning. Mohan , visibly upset told Philip that he couldn't impress even a single girl. Philip turned calmly, exhaled the puff his lungs had temporarily borrowed from his cigarette and said, "You know Mohan, not a single girl turned here today is worth pursuing. All of them are hookers".
"Who else do you think will come to such disco clubs? most of the clubs allow only couples, and real couples will go only there. Only hookers come here to win their customers."
"you mean, those girls with red tops, black tops , the fat girl- all of them ??? "
"Well, let me not disappoint you . Very few of them are not. Few college girls who can't afford their alcohol also come here. But the whole of today's crowd belong to the first category and they got their customers easily."
Suddenly, Mohan felt it so disgusting. It dawned to him that no wonder discos are considered bad. It's a gateway to decadence of our own moral values. The guild feeling of voluntarily jumping into abyss churned his stomach and he started sweating profusely.
"You brought me to prostitutes", Mohan's words were sharp with frustration.
Finishing his last puff, Philip replied casually "Not exactly, I brought you to disco, where they too come". His smile was intense and to Mohan, he appeared so ugly like a satan who dragged him into the quicksand of evil. Mohan's pace slowed with shock.
The night was troublesome. He couldn’t sleep well, his heart was burning constantly; two bottles of cold water was gulped in feverishly. Despite his mental restlessness, he was too tired and after a struggle between his mind and body, he somehow slept. But he couldn’t sleep well, his dreams haunted him teasing for his loss of morals by walking into the disco. He woke up startled , wept for a while and then slept again. The cultural shock he was subjected to was too intense for his gentle mind to handle.
He wept for the whole sunday, even skipped the fried rice, the only worthy food of the hostel. But, one day was too long for any information to pass through the transparent ears of his hostel mates and by sunday evening his adventure was known to all.
As he entered his classroom monday morning, Anand, Gokul, Abhijit, yusuf and many other greeted, "hey Mohan, welcome to our disco group". But the bolt from the blue was when Raghavendra, the pious, gentle and topper of the class told him "next week, you come to my area, that’s better."
Mohan was surprised and angry; surprised to know that there are actually so many regulars and angry that no one ever told him. He just smiled and avoided the crowd. That night's sleep was again disturbing; his dream was about a debate between two Mohans arguing the positives and negatives of disco. Unlike the previous night, the new Mohan of his dream was justifying disco with new vigour. Next day, he went to Ragavendra, "isn't wrong?”
Ragavendra smiled, "Mohan, there's no absolute right or wrong. Every moral rule is defined by the standards of the then society. Our society has changed greatly and the rules you define are outdated. If you think this is wrong, then quitting dhoti to trousers, quitting 'paatshaala' to colleges and every similar occurrence is wrong. Don't confuse yourself. The only rule is the purity of your heart. "
Mohan felt refreshed in the new age philosophy casually conceived by Ragavendra. Yet, he was still confused. Wednesday, he met Gokul who said, "If one day visit to disco can spoil you, then your mind is perverted and is already impure whether you go there or not." Mohan couldn’t accept the new accusation of perverted mind and started to yield slowly. By Thursday, he was able to justify that what he did was not a crime and there is nothing wrong in mere going to a disco. In fact, people who had never been to one, allowed lavish imaginations and unnecessarily spread irrelevant moral policing.
Seven days passed since then when Mohan stood before Anup's room, "Anup, can you spare your adidas shoes tonight?"
"No prob dude, by the way, where are you going?"
Mohan was quick to reply without hesitation, "To disco, with Philip".
P.S: I was inspired to write this on the basis that anyone who plunges himself into practices or habits which he/ she considers unacceptable, undergoes a tumult based on the original values. However, once a weakness is exposed, the person and his environment encourage him/her to continue and often justify the new habit. Slowly the habit just sticks..