Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Die.

Like Ling Hee Leong, chronic alcoholics practice the principle of eat, drink and be merry. Engaging in loud and rowdy drinking sprees in an orgy of unlimited tobacco, casual sex, filthy swear words and an oversized self-esteem, they live life as though there is no tomorrow.

Sometimes, they happen to be spot on.

Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Die.

The whole country is still coming to terms with the recent fuel price increase. For the next six months, Malaysians in general would be in a state which psychiatrists term as adjustment disorder. The price of chicken rice in the neighbourhood would have most certainly increased by now. The size of its serving might also have shrunk somewhat, in tandem with the value of the Malaysian ringgit locally.

There are certain clusters of the population that are somehow unaffected by the rising cost of living. They are none other than the commercial sex workers, the chain smokers, the corrupted politicians, the reckless mat rempits and the binging alcoholics. Indeed, the earth may rumble beneath their feet, the storms may roar across the skies and the deputy prime minister may confess to murder, but life goes on as usual for these unique characters who more often than not happen to be the one and the same individual anyway.

Have you observed the mannerisms of drinkers in the ubiquitous pubs and karaokes in their routine binging session? Like Ling Hee Leong, chronic alcoholics practice the principle of eat, drink and be merry. Engaging in loud and rowdy drinking sprees in an orgy of unlimited tobacco, casual sex, filthy swear words and an oversized self-esteem, they live life as though there is no tomorrow.

Sometimes, they happen to be spot on.

A 40-year-old man was wheeled in at 4.00 am in the morning, reeking of what was most probably a lethal concoction of potent alcoholic brew. He was involved in a car crash after yet another late night out boozing into the wee hours of the day.

It was a surreal moment, watching the father of five lying there helplessly obtunded on the operating table with tubes and lines running out of his body orifices. His tummy was distended larger than a pregnant lady’s at term, suggesting massive internal injuries and bleeding. He was paler than Casper and must have lost at least three liters of blood by the time he was wheeled in for surgery. The torn spleen and bruised liver were expected and predictable. Brain and spinal injury were not excluded yet though. He might survive the surgery but if he might be spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair if there were brain and spinal injuries.

Over his chest and back were tatoos bearing images of fire-spewing dragons and the Kuan Yin goddess of mercy. They wouldn’t be of much aid to him at the moment. His wife and children waited impatiently outside the operating theatre, embracing each other in somber moment of knowing that head of the family was hanging precariously like a walk on a tightrope without safety netting.

I wonder what kind of life he led.

Was he another typical hard-laughing, smooth talking businessman who professes love for his wife in the morning and beds a Filipino guest relations officer at night?

Was he the irritating smoker who huffs and puffs at my face like a chimney when I am trying to have dinner in peace at a hawker stall?

Or was he the intolerant road bully driving his four-wheeled SUV and honking at every vehicle in front of his?

Maybe he was none of that kind. Maybe he was just a regular jock who has yet to discover his calling in life in a journey of self enlightenment. Maybe he was a loving father who comes home every night to cuddle with his wife in the marital bed every night. Maybe he was not even a drunkard or a smoker or an impatient road tyrant.

I will never know. Who am I to judge anyway?

Judge not, lest ye be judged by the same standards by which you have used to judge others.

I can’t help but feel sorry for the wife and kids though. Hers is yet another family destroyed by the consequences of driving under the influence. Hers was not the first and definitely won’t be the last.

Sad tales like this lends credence to PAS’s firm stand on regulating the consumption of alcoholic drinks. The Islamists falls short on another potent venom though. Their hypocrisy comes to full disclosure when it comes to cigarette smoking.

While drunkards with alcoholic liver cirrhosis succumb in an acute manner to sudden variceal bleeding, chronic smokers have a more protracted period of suffering and distress before moving on to the hereafter.

I am anti-smoking and anti-smokers and I am biased because I have allergic rhinitis that doesn’t gel well with cigarette smoke. Parents with an asthmatic child can relate to my strong sentiments on smokers.

It is outright irritating to have someone smoking into one’s face when one is trying to have dinner in peace and quiet after a long working day. So maybe smokers have a right to relax and chill out after their own long and tiresome working day, but they seem to have an additional privilege of doing so by denying others a hassle-free lunch and dinner. In a world that operates on violence and aggression, non-smokers cannot confront these walking chimneys lest they desire a bruised eye and a bloody nose. We end up penning our anger within, downing our meals in bitterness and walking off smelling like tobacco.

It is not the end of the story though.

The end comes eventually for the recalcitrant cigarette smoking person. Chronic obstructive lung disease sets in soon enough. There is only so much we can do to our bodies before nature takes its course. In the few months preceding overt respiratory failure, there will be multiple hospital admissions and nebulizer sessions. They are probably repentant by now but it is a little too late. They wheeze and labor for air until the very last breath, in a manner so dismal and beyond help.

Even so, there is no poetic justice or sweet vengeance at the sight of dying smokers.

After all, they receive subsidized healthcare just like the rest of us taxpayers. Difference is, they probably receive more than they have contributed. It doesn’t make any sense sometimes. Why should someone who chose to smoke one’s lungs away be given equal privileges to free healthcare as someone who actually took care of one’s health?

Are we promoting a sense of accountability to oneself or are we sowing a rent-seeking mentality of entitlement?

A gargantuan anti-fuel hike protest will be held on July 5th in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. As much as I feel the pinch of inflation and downsized nasi ayam, I will not participate in any such demonstration unless all of the chest-thumping, placard-bearing protestors are innocent of squandering their ringgit on booze and tobacco.


darren said...

Why not just close down the ciggy factories and that huge carlsberg factory in shah alam?

maybe just burn them down. make it illegal substance.

scar all newborn girls' face so they will look so ugly that no amount of lipsticks and short minis can attract any man to go near them.

the world is a beautiful paradise.


Kong said...

I too refuses to partake in any anti-fuel rise. Totally off target IMHO and I belittle those politicians for heading it.