What you need to know:
- My friend’s inebriated father would return home in the wee hours carrying a kilo of meat.
- He would expect his wife to wake up and cook the meat for him.
I once had a neighbour who loved his tipple so much, that he would partake of it every other day. We knew how often he drunk alcohol because he always made a loud entrance, and always when the entire neighbourhood had retired to bed.
He would start calling out to his wife as he approached the gate, referring to her using all sorts of endearments, including “mother of my children”, even though his favourite was “rib of my rib”, all said in my mother tongue.
It was actually entertaining, sweet even, though annoying as well – there is nothing as irritating as being rudely woken up in the dead of night, because going back to that state isn’t easy.
From that narration, he obviously wasn’t the kind that got violent and abusive when drunk, which is why, I suspect, neighbours tolerated his frequent 3am declarations of affection for his wife.
There was also the fact that when he got into his house, he became relatively quiet.
We also had fun among ourselves referring to his beloved wife as “rib of my rib” behind her back.
“Where is rib-of-my-rib today?” a cheeky neighbour would inquire, after which we’d burst out loud in laughter.
I have a friend whose most vivid memory of her father during her childhood was him returning home late at night, drunk, pulling them out of bed and then shepherding them to the living room, where he’d regale them with his pre-independence stories, most of which would be repeated and often disjointed.
Helpless, she and her four siblings would sit there grumpily fighting sleep because walking away or protesting at being woken up at such an ungodly hour would have been seen as a sign of disrespect. She narrates this story often, but doesn’t tell it with mirth, therefore it must bother her to date.
Another friend once told me an almost similar story, only that in her case, her inebriated father would return home in the wee hours carrying a kilo of meat, which he expected his wife to wake up and cook, then wake them up too so that they could partake of the meal together.
Sometimes he would ask them to show him what they had learnt in school, even though they could tell he was in no state to understand any of it. She resented the late night get-togethers, but the fried meat dulled some of the resentment.
Today, she tells the story with amusement, pointing out that her story could have been worse, after all, her only complaint was being woken up in the middle of the night to eat meat, which was scarce those days.
There are many other versions of such stories that revolve around alcohol, but unlike these three, these ones are more cringe-worthy and leave a bitter taste in the mouth, having been the cause of permanent emotional and psychological scars that many carry around with them.
They are stories of violence, physical and emotional abuse dished out for many years until the recipients were old enough to flee their tormentors.
I wonder what your alcohol story is – would you tell it with amusement or a faraway look in your eyes?
The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation, firstname.lastname@example.org