I saw him for the first time a few years ago. A waiter in the Cobra, then already my haunt, showed me this sixtyish guy who astonished him by boozing big style within three days after his return from a rehab. Pretty soon Cobra became his haunt too.
A true alcoholic, he was never mean, and when he did have money enough he was never reluctant to lend or share it. We drank many a dram together, [ˈʃtaʊfɛrka] as he called them, and before my own first rehab stay he gave me some valuable information, so up to a point I knew what to expect.
However, it didn’t take long before he drank away even his flat. Since then he just fought for survival. There were alternating periods of abstaining and earning money while living in shelters for homeless people who still haven’t given in entirely; periods of sitting in the Cobra (a 24/7 bar) for days and even weeks until the staff could bear his presence no longer; and periods of faking a mental disease or determination to quit booze forever in this or that mental hospital or rehab.
He had no illusions about this circle ever ending, but we all expected him to go on like this for many years. At the eleventh hour, his sense of self-preservation always reappeared. The last time he got a job in a different town, with a firm providing accomodation for those of its employees that didn’t live locally, and which paid him, considering, very good wages.
This Tuesday, walking from work, I met Marjána, a Cobra waitress, who told me that for two weeks or so he had been dead. Apparently, he had got into another boozing session, lost the job, and when after some three weeks all the money he had earned was gone again, he hanged himself.
For the rest of the day, I felt more old than I actually am.
He wasn’t one of my bosom cronies, but he belonged to the Cobra gang at the same time that I did and I certainly had a soft spot for him. I can’t exactly say I miss him; I do miss the knowledge he’s out there somewhere. The possibility of incidentally meeting him again.
Rest in peace, Pája. Bha mi ag òl an dràm mu dheireadh againne air do shon nuair a bha mi a’ sgrìobhadh seo.