A friendly challenge thrown over an earthen cup of steaming chai proved fatal for a 20-year-old during a typical north Calcutta adda. And all for Rs 20.
Sohail Akhtar took the bait on Sunday evening, when his friends promised the wager if he could down a bhaar of burning hot tea in one gulp. Sohail finished the tea at a go, picked up the prize, but burnt his insides.
A while later, the youth started vomiting blood. He was rushed to Nilratan Sirkar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital, where he battled for life, before succumbing early on Monday to the internal injuries caused by the steaming cup of tea.
Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department, described the incident as “strange and sad”. He added: “We have prepared a detailed report but will not pursue the case, as it was an accident.”
According to the police, the bizarre tea-tale unfolded on Keshub Sen Street, in the Amherst Street police station area. Sohail, son of a trader, left his Gas Street residence in the evening and headed for a tea-stall where he would hang out with his friends almost every evening.
In the course of the adda, at around 8.30 pm, one of Sohail’s three friends came up with the idea of the ‘garam-chai challenge’. Who among them could, in one gulp, finish off a bhaar of steaming tea' Or, alternately, down a litre of any chilled soft drink' The prize for the pain: Rs 20.
Initially, no one showed any interest in taking up the challenge. It was too daunting a task, one of them later observed, when quizzed by the cops on Monday.
“But Sohail, known to his friends as a daring youth, decided to pick up the gauntlet, in this case a steaming bhaar of tea. The friends asked the tea-stall owner to prepare a full bhaar of tea and serve it as hot as possible,” said Mitra.
Once the tea was ready, Sohail picked up the bhaar and downed the contents in one gulp. “As soon as Sohail finished, we declared him the winner and handed over the money to him,” recounted one of his friends.
But minutes later, Sohail sat down on the pavement, clutching his throat. “Realising that he was in obvious pain, we went to a nearby cold-drink shop and got him a bottle of chilled mineral water. He drank that, but judging by the expression on his face, it was evident that his insides were burning,” another of Sohail’s friends told the police.
Sohail’s friends then took him home. “After an hour, his condition worsened,” said Sohail’s cousin, Jameel Akhter. “He started throwing up blood and a local physician told us to rush him to a hospital.”
Sohail was admitted at NRS around 11 pm. He died at 3 am on Monday.