Whenever you hear a person mention that they were brought up by an alcoholic parent, you probably only imagine a drunken father. Have you ever stopped to think how life can turn out under the care of an alcoholic mother? I’m writing on behalf of a friend of mine, and of course with his permission. Names have been changed to protect the identity of actual characters. Jack’s father was a teacher and his mother a mtumba (second-hand clothes) dealer. The teacher’s salary, though not that much, assured the family of four children a comfortable lifestyle. Their mother’s business was also not bad in terms of proceeds. Occasionally the family attended church.
Turn of events
Life took a bad turn when Mama Jack took a habit of drinking a little alcohol, say once or twice a week. This caused a ripple in her family, as her husband truly hated the habit. Baba Jack himself had been brought up by an alcoholic father, and had grown great resentment for drunken people. His wife’s new hobby was like a punch on his nose. Unfortunately, Mama Jack’s habit gradually went to full-blown alcoholism. Her business collapsed as she had less time and less money to run it. She even started incurring debts by taking short-term loans from her chamas. Severally, Baba Jack had to intervene and pay off his wife’s debts to avoid the shame of household items being auctioned off. Jack was the firstborn. His three younger sisters were Rose, Ann and Joy. This was a typical day in the lives of these people. Jack wakes up at four in the morning, reads some pages of his Form Two Chemistry book. At five, Baba Jack gets up and prepares breakfast for the family. He then gets himself ready. He’s on duty and has to be in school just before 7 am.
Mama Jack is nursing a bad hangover, she cannot get up that early. Rose, Ann and Joy are up by 6am. They all learn in the Primary school where their father teaches. Rose irons her father’s clothes while Ann packs up their lunch. By six- forty, they are all out of the house, leaving Mama Jack in bed. Once out of school, everyone rushes home. The house is a mess. The dirty utensils they left on the table are still there, fruit flies playing in them. The girls’ beds are unmade, as they had to leave hurriedly because their father was on duty and they could not drag him. He usually walked to school with them. Cat litter still in the carton box where the cat relieves herself. Chicken droppings all over the compound, and the chicken house not swept. The children quickly get to work, cleaning here and organising there, under Jack’s instructions. Mama Jack is nowhere to be seen. She must be in one of her favorite joints, drinking herself silly and laughing disgustingly with her drunken friends, or worse still, exchanging insults with bartenders. The latter often earned her a black eye. Baba Jack finishes marking some books he carried home with him, then rises to prepare dinner for the family. Meanwhile, Jack helps his sisters with their homework. By 8: 30 pm, the girls are in bed, and Jack grabs his books and retreats to his bedroom to study. His dad is left in the living room, pretending to watch a movie. The truth is, he’s waiting for the children to sleep so he can go out and look for his wife. Unknown to him, Jack is aware and really never falls asleep until his mother is safely in the house.