He had lived life cautiously, safely. Without realising that he had been living safely and cautiously.

The silly boy had equated drinking with vice, parroting the state's sanctioned messages - 'drinking is bad; people who drink are bad'. He thought that one can easily be addicted to drinking. Just one sip - one miserly sip with pursed lips - and your life is no longer yours.

In a way, he was raised to please. It seemed natural to not drink while he was at home. Just as natural as it felt - a paradox? - to accept the shots of rice wine offered so generously by the villagers. And so, to please, he drank.

The rice wine, it was horrible. It had seared down his throat and left a fiery, bitter aftertaste.

Why drink? He asked a seasoned drinker.

'Beer is akin to barley rot. There's nothing nice about it.'

'Huh, then why do you drink so much then?'

'It's all about the company. You drink when you're happy, in the company of friends. You drink when the atmosphere is festive.'

Ah, positive psychological associations with drinking. In that light, drinking seemed acceptable. In fact, to not drink would be unpardonable. He relaxed a little and drank more.

Many times, he was on the cusp of being drunk. He can sense it in himself. The wooziness while walking, excessive smiling, a certain disregard for social norms. Quite cool to be on the twilight between wakefulness and drunkenness.

'How many bottles have you had? I had one today and that's, like, an achievement for life,' he proclaimed proudly.

'One? I had one by breakfast already. Seven bottles in total so far.'

Pfft, he felt his sense of accomplishment deflating. Pfffft.

P.S. He's not an alcohol addict. Didn't even have a simple drop of alcohol while he's back in Sg.

Fun fact: drinking alcohol only gives the illusion of being warm. Many village lores tell of people keeping warm in the winters by downing shots of alcoholic drinks. Alcohol merely diverts heat from within the body to the skin without actually raising the body's temperature. If you ever find yourself on the snow-capped mountaintop of Everest, avoid alcohol for it diverts heat from essential organs to create a mere illusion of warmth.

A mirror of and for Life, it seems. One that parallels the diversion of essential energy - time, love - for mere egocentric reasons.