I was hanging out with my buddy Rajiv a few weeks back, and it was his birthday yesterday so it’s why I’m writing about him today.
I’m thinking about him.
He’s currently in Corfu and headed back today in fact – he was there for the last week.
I was with his twin brother yesterday at his place celebrating their 35th birthday.
Lots of fun – all 6 of us!
I’m not sure when you’ll be reading this – but as it stands October 2020 – social distancing rules only allow 6 people to meet up at a time.
We made a call to him at around midnight to wish him a happy birthday.
Maybe 20 minutes later he called back to respond to the video message I ended up leaving him.
I answered his video call to see a relatively sober face that had a scab across the bridge of his nose. It looked like he had fallen over and hurt himself recently.
Otherwise, however, he seemed in control of his faculties and calm and in touch.
We again gave him some birthday wishes and the call ended shortly after.
He’d be back in the UK the day after and it was a relief he was able to pick up the phone and respond properly.
Rajiv’s life over the last several years had taken many twists and turns, mostly bad, and we all hoped he’d come out from the darkness which seemed to keep enveloping him.
Alcoholism was not something that was new to our family, but Rajiv was really the first one amongst us the once ‘youngest generation’ to fall into its crosshairs.
As a twin brother, growing up he’d always been the quieter, more nervous, shy and less social one of the pair – him and Amir.
They’d grown up extremely close and as the years passed they went to separate universities to claim their own true independence away from each other.
In hindsight it was probably there, looking back I first began to notice the negative influencers around Rajiv alongside the destructive behaviour patterns, and with Rajiv being a twin, I was able to draw direct comparisons.
Amir was dating, and spending time making new friends and was forced to do all of this as he’d moved much further north than his brother had. In Manchester, he was a long long way away from his home in West London.
Rajiv had moved to Hertfordshire as did some of the people he went and studied his A-Levels with, and was able to keep the same friendship circle.
I was also at university at the time at Warwick and followed a similar path to Amir, trying to find myself in and amongst all of the new people that I met along the way.
Occasionally, Amir, Rajiv and I would meet whilst we were all back from university at the same time during holidays and had opportunities to catch up. Outside of this though, we were busy in different parts of the country; living out our university experiences.
On the few occasions, we found time to party together, Rajiv would tend to get furiously drunk, and there seemed to be a pattern of the two friends he spent most of his time with, generally ridiculing his drunken behaviour and encouraging the ridiculousness to continue.
It would involve falling over, shouting in the streets, making unintelligible grunts and noises and generally stumbling about the place until he moved from a drunken stupor to a sleep coma.
We thought nothing of it, because well we were young and being a little crazy during our university years was normal. You had permission to do this whilst at university.
Rajiv and I were never that close but it made our evenings out all the more memorable – and as he finished university he began working selling kitchens at shopping centres on stands. His brother came out of a relationship, and Rajiv had apparently spent one night or rather moment in a bush with a girl called Sarah and outside of this – there was no dating to speak of.
I’d gone through my own trials and tribulations with the several relationships I’d had whilst I was at university and was also in the process of growing up.
Amir got his first job working for our uncle – which would ultimately become the job/company he would stay with for the next several years, whilst Rajiv bounced around in different jobs. Amir, through this job would also meet the woman who would eventually become his wife.
Whenever Rajiv and I had an opportunity to spend time together the pattern was generally the same – all of us, including myself and Amir didn’t have the best relationship with alcohol. Growing up we’d seen various members of our family struggle with it – and our culture seemed to be one of – meeting up at the weekend and getting as drunk as we could manage.
Rajiv would lead this charge typically and the nights would turn into a mess.
Some years would pass, and I didn’t know much about what Rajiv was doing on a day-to-day basis as I was busy figuring out what to do with my life I left to go backpacking, started and left Deloitte and then ventured into the world of entrepreneurship.
The pattern generally remained the same with Rajiv however, like me there was no set direction, but unlike his siblings and cousins – there was no dating/relationship to speak of. Something we found to be an oddity.
The years passed and Amir, Rajiv and I would ultimately end up living together for several months in Northolt.
Daniela came into my life and I went through a period of great pain, turmoil as well as love as I met the woman who I’m still with now and will be with until my last days.
Having her come into my life precipitated great change as she found the way I conducted myself when drinking, and my inability to control my tongue or my basic coordination when drinking to be unacceptable.
It led us to break apart several times and put me onto a path of self-development that had whispered to me in the years before Daniela came into my life but positively shouted once she firmly arrived.
It is around this period because I lived with Rajiv that his peculiarities began to be clearer. Or rather the patterns. The drinking hadn’t really improved, dating was close to non-existent and it was unclear if there was any ‘plan’ as such.
As we lived together it seemed that life would consist of working and then coming home to watch football and drink beer for hours on end. This was a central part of a relatively unchanging routine that became startlingly apparent as we lived together.
The years passed and ultimately Rajiv headed to Vietnam for several months where he would seemingly find love.
He met a local Vietnamese girl on an evening out and they proceeded to start dating. It was big news for us back home, as it was the first real time Rajiv had been in an actual relationship.
This was big news and it did seem as if things were going well; for a time.
They were a world away from us, and all we could do was take Rajiv’s word for it. Over time, however, cracks began to appear.
Arun, another cousin of ours as part of a trip away decided to visit Rajiv in Hanoi, and upon his return – as he was to be the first person in our family to meet Thung – did the oddities begin to become clearer.
“How was it mate?”.
“Mate, Thung is a nice girl – educated, good English, nice friends…I can’t understand how Rajiv behaves around her and how drunk he gets though…and I don’t understand their relationship either – it’s terrible!’.
I looked at Arun, and he looked at me….
And I’ll continue with the rest of this story in the next update folks.
Be well 🙂