Red Wine by Nayan Raj Pandey

Red Wine by Nayan Raj Pandey

“Oh! You never drink, hajur? Really? You are not familiar with the taste of rum, brandy, whiskey or wine? We are blessed to have a person like you. We are happy. Extremely happy. We are so eager to work under your leadership. We are excited. We are desperate. We will cooperate with you with our minds, bodies and souls.”

“But we would be extremely glad if you drank a little. This small party has been organized in your honor. No, no, we haven’t spent much for this party. We understand your feelings. We understand your spirit. In fact, we are followers of your ideals and principles. It’s just that we cannot expose ourselves. Otherwise, we would follow in your footsteps…”

“There is no harm in taking some wine, hajur! Wine is not really liquor. The alcohol percentage in wine is not much. It’s just about 9 to 11 percent. In some cases, it is 13 percent. Even the herbal tonics which nursing mothers are given contain this much alcohol. Wine is made from fruits, hajur. There is no harm even if you drink a glass or two every day. It is not harmful to health. It works as an appetizer. Are you a heart patient? No worries. Take some red wine. Even heart patients can drink red wine without any worry. Even the doctors say so. Now you will have to visit various places inside as well as outside the country. You will have to meet domestic as well as foreign guests and participate in dinner parties. Sometimes, you yourself will have to host such parties. On occasions, you will have to drink just as a courtesy. It would be better if you drink some wine on such occasions. You have to get used to this, hajur. You have to practice.”

“It doesn’t smell; wine doesn’t smell at all, hajur. It is tasty as well. Sweet and sour. Ok, hajur. Take only a little. Here you go. Cheers! May you have a successful tenure! May there be revolutionary changes during your tenure!”

“Your article published the other day is very remarkable. We all read it. We have kept a newspaper cutting of the article. Your article on corruption published in Kantipur last week is also very well-written, hajur. That, too, is in our collection. Your writing style is amazing. The language, too, is right up there. You also have a wonderful vision. How could your predecessors have such a vision? Otherwise, this country would have reached much farther.

I almost forgot; your book sold very well in the book fair the other day. Your book was in almost everyone’s hand. We have all bought that book, hajur. I myself have recommended your book to 50-60 persons, telling them that it’s a must read. It’s a wonderful book. How do you manage the time to write such thick books and articles? Do you write in the night or in the morning? Do you have to be in the writing mood to write or can you write under any situations? What is your writing process? Oh, your glass is empty. Shall I replenish your glass, hajur? One glass as a request. It’s just wine, hajur. On top of that, red wine. This will do no harm, hajur.”

“He is a joint secretary. It’s been 28 years since he has been in government service. He is just a batch junior to me. He, too, is a great fan of yours. Like me. He is very competent. He was also in the Foreign Service. A very studious person. You remember we talked about forming that board this afternoon? It will be appropriate to make him the chairman of that board. He will cooperate with you to the fullest. Opposition parties may protest. But you should make him the chairman of that board even if you have to press hard for it. It is also a matter of your prestige and honor, hajur, isn’t it? Oh, your glass needs to be re-filled. A little, now. To raise our morale. Just one glass. A light one. It won’t harm you. It’s just wine, hajur. Red wine.

“Isn’t it you who broke out of jail?  You are a man of courage, hajur! Oh yes, you fought in the war as well. We heard that you were critically injured by a bullet. It’s all because of people like you that the great change came in the country. If it wasn’t for your help, how could that Girija and Makune bring republicanism, hajur? The republic became possible because of you, hajur. Otherwise hajur, that Gyane would still be ruling the country. Once I had a fight with Paras, hajur. Whatever, change came to the country. Now, the state restructuring should take place, hajur. Society should be transformed. Your party can do all this, hajur. The people have a huge expectation of you, hajur. You take the lead. We will support you, hajur. You make the plans; we will implement them. We are like co-fighters in your battle. That’s a promise! Shall I replenish your glass, hajur?”

“Yes, hajur. We shouldn’t bow down to India. The bastard has done a lot to corner us. We have to take a stand. We shouldn’t follow each and everything it says. They uprooted 230 border pillars only yesterday. We have received a report, hajur. This is the height of hegemony, hajur. It has encroached upon our borders. You must do something about this, hajur. The people have a lot of expectations of you. Oh, the glass dropped. No problem, hajur. No, no, why do you need to pick up the glass, hajur? We are here. Shall I pour some wine? In a new glass? There isn’t even the least influence of wine on you, hajur. Your voice is still so clear. Who can say that you have taken any wine? I talked about that tender a little while ago; let’s give that tender to Jagadamba Construction. And, I have a brother-in-law, hajur. He is in a remote and rural area. It would be better if he could be transferred here.”

“What? Fifteen glasses? How come, hajur? I have myself kept the count. It’s only five glasses. Again, how would one get intoxicated by drinking this foreign wine? May be you are feeling dizzy in this closed hall. No problem, hajur. The wine will take care of everything. Red wine is very good for health, hajur. Even Dr Bhushan Upadhyay drinks 4-5 glasses of wine in the evening before retiring to bed.”

“No, no. There is no problem with the wine, hajur. Your stomach is churning because you didn’t take any snacks. It’s not that you are going to vomit. You are not under the influence of wine at all. Your face is brightly lit. Voice is so clear. It’s not that your feet are staggering. Rather, it could be an earthquake shock? Nepal lies in an earthquake-prone region. So, small tremors keep on striking without our knowledge. That’s why you staggered, hajur.

“Don’t worry, hajur. We are here. We won’t leave you alone. We will support you fully. We won’t let your ideals, devotion and principles get harmed in any way. Oh yes, this is the file of transfers. This red one of promotions. This one of tenders. And this one of payments. Ok hajur, you can certify the files right here. Wow, your handwriting is so good. The signature, too. Now, let’s put some wine in your glass, is that ok hajur? It’s just red wine. The wine of your favorite color.”

“No problem, hajur. There’s no one else here. It’s only us here. No, no. Don’t sit there. That’s not a chair but the commode, hajur. You can vomit in the wash basin. Don’t panic. Wine doesn’t do any harm. You just have a slight case of indigestion.”

“Oh, no! You have fallen down, hajur. No problem. We are here. Oh, it got unfastened? Allow me to fasten your trousers.”

“What? You want to drink whiskey? Ok, hajur! It will do no harm. Imported whiskeys do not do any harm. And again, we all bureaucrats are your supporters. You don’t need to feel odd with us.”

“Waiter! A peg of Blue Label for the honorable minister. Quick. Ratnaji, look for the honorable minister’s shoes. They must be somewhere here.”

“What? The minister has lost…Consciousness or his Shoes???”

NayanRajNayan Raj Pandey is a popular novelist and short-story writer from Nepal. He has received many national awards and accolades. His bestselling Nepali language novels include Ulaar, Luu, Ghamkiri, and Sallipir. Mr. Pandey skillfully presents a realistic picture of contemporary Nepali society in his works. Originally written in Nepali, Red Wine was translated by Akhilesh Tripathi


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