Meet Binesh. The sprightly moustache that lines his upper lip and his very round features make his appearance immediately likeable. The readiness of his hands to help and the smile that never leaves his face makes it extremely difficult to imagine the things of his past, the times when he passed his days with half a bottle of whiskey or brandy, firstly in small, private rooms in bars with his university friends and later on by himself, all alone, drinking the dark seconds away.
Excessive drinking was a habit Binesh developed, just like many other teens, at university. He felt free from the ‘jail’ that was his Christian parents’ house in Kerala and from all of the rules that coloured his childhood. The thick alcohol running through his veins and the friends he believed would never desert him made him feel powerful and limitless. After Binesh graduated from university in Hyderbad with a nursing degree, a married friend of his offered to let him stay in his house in Delhi. He moved to Delhi with every idea of a bright future of fun and fortune, but nothing was as it seemed.
At his friend’s house, though there was an extra bedroom, it was filled with furniture, so he was forced to sleep on a quilt on the balcony. Simply touching a chair angered his friend, who often reminded Binesh that the house and furniture did not belong to him. His friend’s anger was incited by any small thing, leading to frequent fights between him and his wife. He showed no gratitude to her for being the only one of the two who worked. The violent and hostile living environment drove Binesh to drink more often, to isolate himself because he didn’t feel motivated to meet new people in Delhi and to despise the thing called work that forced him to get up and leave his damaged corner of the world. He never liked the idea of working and as he begun to lose the little bit of might he thought he had, every other ambition was drained from him.
Soon, yet another downtrodden soul entered his life, Rekha. Rekha was the step-sister of his friend’s wife who was offered the same chance of living in their apartment but treated even more severely than Binesh. The couple took all of her salary for rent, leaving her with nothing but a place to live. She worked hard to pay for a sad and soul-destroying home. She was also the victim of verbal abuse as well as many a threat. As a result of their common struggle, Binesh and Raika grew close, cheering each other up with whatever jokes they could muster after a day’s struggle, protecting each other from the wrath of the unkind people they lived with and being a soft pillow of gentleness where there was only the hard floor of disappointment.
The friendship grew through their hardships, even after they both moved to separate accommodation. Leaving the torrid household behind, they still carried with them the weight of disappointment and Binesh was somehow never able to feel mighty no matter how much he drank. But their bond and love for each other gave them hope and ultimately brought them together in marriage, a marriage which was at first a wet plaster over their wounds because more trouble was yet to come. Binesh still hated working and had little desire to put himself out in this way. So when Raika became pregnant with her first child and stopped working, Binesh started taking loans from friends to finance their living expenses and his drinking habit so that he wouldn’t have to work as many hours. One hundred rupees turned into thousands, on top of which his university loan was accruing interest in the bank. Debt weighed upon him, he continued to pour whiskey and beer down his throat like it was water and anxiety paralysed him with the impending birth of his child. In a desperate effort to turn his wretched life around, he contacted an old friend from Kerala named Jenith.
Jenith is a Christian who often tried to convince Binesh to go back to church but was always shut down. Until that day. With no power left in him, Binesh was forced to turn to the source of power itself, God. Jenith took him to Dwaar in Lado Sarai and that was the beginning of no less than a dramatic 180 degree turnaround. At first it was the drums that drew him in, then the words of the songs that sunk into his tired heart, the words like ‘Yeshu naam, pyaara naam’. The sweet name of Jesus etched itself onto Binesh’s heart and caused him to love learning scripture, to want to give more and take less, to want to surround himself with the people of Dwaar. He started going every day to the Dwaar centre in Lado Sarai to help with whatever he could, in the process making real friends for the first time since he moved to Delhi. Soon after that he moved to Lado Sarai.
‘I was going to Dwaar to find an answer to my terrible life. After coming here I felt freedom because in Dwaar there are no rules, there is only Jesus. Jesus taught me to serve people well. He showed me the reasons why I was drinking and why I should stop. He answered all my questions. I was lost, so lost, but now I am found.’
Who Binesh used to be is now far behind him. We all know him now as the talented tabla player at Dwaar Satsang and the great friend who is always ready to climb a ladder to fix something in our venues or give any amount of time to loving and serving his brothers and sisters with a heart that is broken like his once was.
As told to Bianca Walker