You are an Alcoholic
It starts with a kiss (doesn’t it always!). Your lips touch the glass (or bottle) with naïve curiosity. You take a sip and taste the liquor on your tongue. Doesn’t taste so good, you think. You wonder what the fuss is always about. You feel it burn your throat slightly as it makes its way to your stomach. First mouthful down and you still don’t get it. You take another sip and another. Telling yourself that there must be something good about it, else it wouldn’t be so popular. Soon the glass, bottle, is empty. You are not the same person. Now you get it.
You are a young man at the prime of your life. You are doing well financially; you have advanced your education well enough to get a good job. Your career is headed just where you want it to be heading at this stage in your life. There is a house, a car and women to boot. This is life as you imagined it. Beautiful. Life = Good!
Then you see her in some club one night. You are out with the boys and didn’t expect to find her here. As you start to walk towards her, you see from a distance that she has company. It’s a guy. Probably a guy from work, you give her the benefit of the doubt. The guy is carrying two drinks in his hands and offers her one as he plants a kiss on her cheek. Ok? People kiss other people’s cheeks all the time, nothing wrong with that. You continue walking towards her. She hasn’t seen you yet. The club is full and you are busy squeezing through drunken men and women to get to her. She accepts the drink from the guy from work and places it on the table with a smile. She then cups his face in her hands and kisses him, not on his cheek, but full on the mouth. You must be seeing things. You stop walking, blink repeatedly. The kiss is still ongoing. It is a deep, tongue-sucking, saliva- fusing, disgusting, nauseatingly endless kiss. Your world comes to a stop. He is not just a guy from work!
You could have done anything for that girl.
Lucky, you have your drink.
You are doing so well. Chasing paper like no one’s business. And what comes with money? The honeys! There are so many women out there! You wonder where they were hiding before you made it big. They are throwing themselves at you. They smile at you when your car is stuck on a traffic jam. They wink at you all over the place. Part their legs for you to get a good view. Some touch your arm. How does anyone get anything done in this city, you wonder. You are weak. You cannot control the burning desire in your loins. You succumb to passion. And re-succumb. Again and again. To the smiler, the winker, the leg-parter and the arm-toucher. Your girlfriend finds out. She leaves your ass. You loved her to death. To hell with her!
You have your drink.
You are convinced that yours is a marriage from hell. Your wife is ever complaining and is too clingy. How she survived before you came into her life, for the life of you, you cannot understand. She checks up on you every five minutes when you are not with her. Every five frigging minutes!
Honey, where are you?
I’m watching football (playing pool… whatever)
When are you coming home?
I’ll be there when I’m there, ok?
What is that supposed to mean?
It means I will come home when I come home woman! (Damn! I wear the pants, don’t I?)
Silence. She disconnects the phone. You know she will call back again shortly and you almost smash your phone at this thought. Only that it’s a Samsung Galaxy. It cost you an arm, a leg and then some. Let’s not be stupid now.
Go ahead. Have a drink.
You’ve waited for this day since forever. Your boss promised you a promotion at the end of this financial year. The day finally comes but all you get is an apology: Ken, I’m sorry but we saw it better to promote someone with a better understanding of the company given their past client history. You will be considered next time. Wait, someone with a better understanding of the company? Who had a ‘better understanding’ than you? The person in question has only worked for five years in the company. You’ve put your life on hold in order to serve the same company for eight good years. What you are not being told is that you do not carry the right surname to qualify you to hold such a key position. Your name betrayed you. You get nothing for the eight years you’ve worked late nights. For working on weekends. For missing your son’s school thing. And many other school things for that matter. You’ve never been there for your little man’s birthday-he is turning seven in a month. Your missus left you – said she is better off single because even while married to you, she felt like a single mum anyway. All these for what? No promotion! In outrage, you quit your job. You have never felt so useless in your life. Now you have no job and no family.
Thankfully, you have your drink.
Your brothers are fighting you left right and centre. Don’t call me brother they insist. Step brother is what you are. Your father is dead now. You and your mother don’t belong with this family. This is the first and only family. The first wife is the legitimate wife. Second wife my foot! Your inheritance my foot! Your rights be damned! You are broken. You don’t know how to help your mother overcome her loss. You mourn. Both for you and for her. Misery has set camp on your doorstep. You have lost your father and your inheritance.
You thank God that you still have your drink.
Maybe you are a young stay at home mother. Married to a rich oil tycoon. Wenye wivu wajinyonge, you tell your haters while flashing deuces. You give your best to your tycoon. But he is not bothered. He has other women out there and you know it. He gets upset easily. Though you work extremely hard not to upset him, you always seem to get on his last nerves. The blows rain on you every single day. It’s your fault, you believe. You have a knack for upsetting him even when it would do you well not to. You are a pitiful sight. You have a broken nose and a black eye.
You also have your drink.
You are an alcoholic. You feel invincible. No matter what life throws at you, you will always, always, have your drink. It’s in your refrigerator, your kitchen cupboard, medicine cabinet, bedroom drawer, the desk cabinet in your office. It never leaves your side. It is safely tucked in your blazer’s inner pocket or your trouser’s back pocket.
Your drink is loyal. It comforts you. It calms your mind. It helps you deal with heartbreak, difficult marriage, joblessness, death. All those suckers of life.
It controls you. It owns you.
You want to break free but your cry for help is veiled in words like “I can stop drinking whenever I want”
No. You cannot. You are an alcoholic.
You need help.
First Published on the Storymoja Festival Blog