On the Rocks – Happy Families
“There’s nothing more painful for a woman than to watch a man she loves destroy himself because he refuses to admit he needs help. It’s hell. So don’t you fucking tell me that I hate men. I wish I did. It would be far better than this agony.”
Lana slammed down her glass as she stared at Shevan across the table. The whiskey sloshed out and onto the counter. Precious drops of Glenlivet glistened on the wooden table top in a jagged line.
Shevan stared at Lana. He sighed deeply, looked down and sipped from his own glass of whiskey. On the rocks.
That’s what he and Lana had become. On the rocks – battling with each other because Lana’s father was being ‘difficult’ again. Difficult was a mild way of putting it.
Mr. G, decorated corporate top gun was a raving alcoholic. He had drunk his way through his 40s and now in his 60s, he was barely holding it together. In the process he was dragging Lana and her elder brother Ravan down.
Lana had tried, getting people to ‘talk to Appachchi’. Disaster. He refused to acknowledge that he even had a problem. He just “put a shot” once in a while. Yeah right.
That “shot” was daily. Because the bottles kept piling in the kitchen and he paid Samarasinghe to get rid of them before his children or wife could see.
But of course, in true Sri Lankan fashion, his wife, Aunty Padma, knew very well what was going on. She once threatened Samarasinghe.
“Here Samarey. You tell me the truth. I am the lady of the house. Is my husband drinking all this??”
Samarey, in true servile fashion, never betrayed his master. But he could not lie outright to the Nona either. So he fumbled and bumbled and never said anything.
“Ah yes, the master is always drunk no. You didn’t know?” Kusuma would gossip to the neighbourhood maid gang that she often hung out with. Kusuma had her own secrets to keep. From Mrs. G’s shopping sprees to Lana’s teenage trysts, Kusuma aided and abetted the household women. But of course, everyone knew what was going on. But in true Sri Lankan fashion – everyone was pretending.
If only Kusuma & Samarey could talk. They would lay bare the farce of so called Colombo happy families. Aney bung.
Lana was now in her late 20s and she and Shevan were engaged to be married. Instead of focusing on their future, they were squabbling about Mr. G’s past and his alcoholism.
It had reached a point where he would be passed out in the hall at night and his bloodshot eyes were becoming more noticeable.
The whispers and comments started long ago but no one in office dared say anything about the master. He was a good man. He only had this “small habit” as he put it.
A habit that grew daily like a parasite coursing through his veins until he could no longer stand properly or even walk steadily.
Mr. G went for daily walks and used to gym and play golf. Those activities had slowly dropped. He now walked everyday but he was unsteady on his feet. His skin was a mottled red and you could see the veins on his face. His brown eyes were almost amber now with the bloodshot look. He looked like the alcoholic version of Edward Cullen.
“You have to just accept it Lana. You can’t change the man. He is too old now. You have to let it go” Shevan tried to tell her this as gently as he could.
He knew where her pain came from. He could see the frustration. Lana was a strong willed woman. She never took no for an answer. Hence this was like a trial by fire for her.
Besides the talks, she and Ravan had tried telling off Appachchi and had been met with a stony silence. Appachchi was stubborn. It was a part of his success and in this instance was now a part of his downfall. He had dismissed both of them and disappeared into his study.
The study held books on law, economics, the environment and also harboured a lovely collection of whiskey, brandy and other liquors collected over the years from his trips abroad and gifts he got.
“Why the hell can’t he accept that he needs to address this?? It’s killing him!” Lana exclaimed. “It’s also killing me” she muttered almost as an afterthought.
Shevan reached over and squeezed her hand. “Lana, let it go. Please. You tried your best. Now just let it be. There’s nothing you can do. Just accept it. You can’t fix everything in life”.
No shit. Lana hated this fact. She knew it though, deep inside. Appachchi was too far gone. It was just a matter of letting him be and hoping he did not do anything stupid.
Last time, he had come home and collapsed across the couch in the hall and had gone on himself. When Aunty Padma had come down in the morning she could get the smell and saw the stained couch and Mr. G sprawled out.
“Daya! What is this?! Aiyo Samarey please carry him from here!” she had screamed in horror and got Samarey to take him to the guest bathroom – still half conscious – and wash him and clean him up.
She had to get a professional cleaner to clean the couch and had asked Kusuma to mop the whole house with Lisol.
Daya had been sheepish the next day and had listened like a puppy dog as Aunty Padma had ranted and raved at him. But it was no use. He was back at it the next evening.
Lana had been horrified when she heard this story. She never asked Appachchi about it. How could she? It destroyed another bit of her regard for the man she had grown up idolising. She had finally told Shevan about it. Part of her was embarrassed because this was what Shevan was going to marry into. An asylum. But Shevan was not judgmental. Somewhere in him he understood why Mr. G was like this. Men somehow seem to get each other with this bro-code of theirs.
Aunty Padma never considered leaving her husband. Her own father had been somewhat an alcoholic so this was par for the course.
Lana sat at the table staring out the window into the late evening. The moon was not fully out and it was dark. She thought back to her childhood, her early youth and how her father had been the man who was there no matter what. Through school, sports, when she won anything – he was there. He was not without his faults. But this. This was something else. It felt like all the things she had built her life on were slowly crumbling.
She started seeing her mother for being a woman who put up with shit – literally – when she should not have to. Why had Amma not said something before? She saw her father in all his vulnerability – an alcoholic. Now almost a shell of his former self.
Lana continued to sip on her drink and Shevan kept his hand on hers and held it. Almost a reassurance that she would not have to face that with him. Or so she hoped.