I was angry, very mad.
It had taken the last toll on me and I swore that it will never affect me again.
My dad had just come from his drinking spree, and started pouring insults on my mum. We were really young by then, my siblings and I could not do anything about it. We could just watch as our mum, shed tears-day-in-day-out.
But, on this particular day, I was so mad. I was angry at him, I was angry at the bar owners from where he got this deadly drink. I was angry at the manufacturers: anyone who made that drink had pissed me off up to the neck. I had watched my mum suffer because of it from a young age. She used to cook food stuff at the roadside, so that we could eat and get an education.
Back then, life wasn’t expensive, and the inflation rate in Kenya was manageable. A huge chunk of my dad’s salary went to drinking alcohol; before long he became an abuser and didn’t care about the repercussions. We wore tattered clothes- some borrowed or bought at a cheap price. Being the eldest, it was not easy. We lived in a slum, and it was not like my dad couldn’t afford to rent a decent home for us, he could, but that was the least of his concerns.
Mum tried so hard to keep us in school. I remember carrying books in a green paper bag. I wore one uniform for 7 years- it was full of patches- but it served me very well. I cannot even explain the social, mental and health problems that we faced as a family, because of alcohol abuse.
We had just taken a nice meal of ugali and sukumawiki for supper; there was no meat. Sales for that day were low-mum couldn’t afford to buy meat for us. At around 8pm, dad came back. Mum, being the loyal, caring and loving wife that she was and still is, served him his portion of that day’s meal. “Is this the only food that you can serve me today, why is it that there is no meat?” He asked. “My husband, I didn’t make enough money today so I couldn’t afford meat.” Mum answered him.
All of a sudden, all the food plus water which was in a jug was thrown at her. Mum run from the living room screaming as she headed towards our room. It was a very devastating scene to see, we all hurled in the corner of the room, fearing what could happen next.
On my way to school the following day, I decided that I would not let his behavior and alcohol abuses affect either me, or my siblings. I started advising them and encouraging our mum too. And whenever things got out of hand, we could just stay outside till he cooled down. I became a free spirit.
This was just was just one of the many incidents that occurred to us. Our grades were being affected. We lived in fear, constantly running away from dad. We couldn’t stay with him in the same room when he was drunk. I had faith that he would one day stop, but, as the days passed by, so did my hope diminish.
He still drinks till to date but I no longer see it as a threat, because we have learned to live with him the way he is. Sometimes it becomes worse; his health has really deteriorated. All doctors have urged him to stop, but his body is already accustomed to alcohol consumption and he cannot do without it even for an hour, unless he is asleep.
The short and long term effects of alcohol are massive. It affects both the abuser and the people that surround him or her. It affected us, but it affected him more.
A heavy user can experience both short term and long term effects. Short term effects include headaches, nausea and vomiting, disruption of sleep, drowsiness-that is why they are advised not to drive or operate machines if they are under the influence, as the results could be catastrophic, lowered body temperatures, emotional changes and slurring of speech.
Long over consumption of the same raises the risk for cancer- which is a deadly life taker, liver damage, reduced sexual performance, depression, and depression of the immune system.
Your social life also reduces as most of the time, you spend your time with those that drink like you. Time for family is reduced, time for development and self improvement reduces too.
How about family and close relatives? How are they affected?
Well, the pain of seeing a loved one lose his life by depending on alcohol is so devastating. In instances where the effects are so severe, they are forced to spend their revenues treating them, taking care of them.
Its more hazardous in cases where the addicted person was the sole bread winner of the family.
Many homes and families have been ruined because of alcohol addiction. We were lucky that we did not end up on the streets-mum was there for us, and I long for the day when alcohol will be taken at the required quantities.
We have to support our loved ones, whether mildly or strongly affected. We have to be there for them and in instances where transformation and reformation is not possible, we can only accept them for who they are and love them still.
Those who have fought alcohol or any drug abuse and won- can help encourage others-and thus help in building a better nation, and a great world.
Live life and love life!