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The ripple effect

“…and then he died, just like that,” he said, “I did not know what or how to be then, what to do and how to do it. He always barked out orders at us, you see. Never could call us softly. It was always in a commanding voice. Warmth?” he threw out the rhetorical with a bitter chuckle, “Do all fathers yield that power to it? My father must have missed in the assembly when such a thing was being distributed. That your father ever hugged you?” he seemed bewildered at the notion, “How did it feel? Does it hurt?” he retorts, the sarcasm not lost on any listening ear. He looked sad, confused, and miserable, his dirty tattered appearance did not make it any better. A shower, what was that?

His father had died without any command on what a man was and without ever giving the boy a chance to be. Many wayward decisions later, the son was now a seemingly hopeless drunk who looked to have never known real love or even how one gave it to receive some. Bitter and angry, at some point, had responded to life ruthlessly and been mean to plenty of persons he met along his way. “Now all because of my old man, I may never get to have even the slightest semblance of a relationship with my own,” on his son who was now growing up at God knows where he remarked. He had come home in a drunken stupor one day and caused mayhem to the woman who had tried to be a wife to him and mother to their son. Not that it was anything new, it was just as he had many a night before but this time, something must’ve been different, because this time the woman said she would leave, he had asked her what she was waiting for like he always did. This time, she had left for real and never came back. Last he had heard of her, she had gotten in a drunken accident, she was alive and given herself to the drink like never before. As far as she was concerned, she had tried to live a clean life but it had only left her with devastating heartbreak. The poor young innocent child of that dysfunctional union, one can only imagine how his life will turn out, yet, one can only hope he responds more positively to life as compared to his father and his grandfather before him-who clearly must’ve gotten all that his cold demeanor towards his children from. “But I will do my best, to rise and see if I can finally get myself a life of purpose. I know am well in middle age, but I will try. It is not easy; sobriety is the hardest, from both mental and substance abuse, but if you say it’s possible, then I am trying. Today I promise to drink at least two pints less than my usual as well as not throw any feat in anger. I promise to walk back home in silence.”

See, we are all just a product of the environment we grow up in and adapt easily to new environments as well. The way we respond to life and its challenges matter. It’s interesting how there will always be two sides to anything. In such a homestead, one son can grow up believing it is his sole purpose to out-drink his father and make the best drunkard and/or alcoholic that ever lived, in all his macho drinking glory. The other can easily grow up hating the devil drink, aspiring to give all he never received in love, warmth, and wisdom. Either way, the response can go down to generations to come up until the point where someone finally realizes it and gives it their all to break it for the sake of their generations to come.

Funny, I find, how if one looks for something or someone to point at to blame for their predicament, one never lacks. The question I feel we should at least ask ourselves in such situations is one of power and control. ‘Who has the power over my life? Me or them?’ Because I often feel, that any time we act out because of someone’s way of being and/or doing, then they have more control over us than we do with ourselves. This is because, we never have any control over who or what the other person chooses to be at any given moment, but we can control our response, and therein lies our power. Once we realize that we wield the power of choice over our lives, then and only then can we move towards the best sort of life we would desire for ourselves at any given moment. To choose to be angry, bitter, vengeful, or any other negative emotion in a single moment, or forgiving, peaceful, hopeful, or any other positive emotion. Of course, it is not easy, is there anything ever? Yet, with practice, little by little we get there.

“Shut your mouth, you foolish woman! I said shut. Up!!” Then a loud bang followed, then piercing silence. Perhaps he had hit her too hard this time, he thought as he looked over her motionless body on the ground. Suddenly, their son’s heart-wrenching wails, laced with overwhelming distress, like a sharp sword, cut through the still evening air all around. ‘Oh no. What have I done? I was drunk, but how could she leave my child alone and go drinking herself? All those men she has been going out with lately. What time is this she was coming home and in such a state. The audacity! But… what if I’ve killed her? All I ever wanted was love and someone to love… what do I do now? Oh, God.’ The young man sat holding his head in his hands, heart beating fast, all the rage replaced with this desperate fear. How did he get here? How did his life come to this? All this in his youth, was this what living and being a man is all about? Was I never destined to find honest love?

She lay on the ground, passed out cold. She could almost feel her soul leave her body; her son’s wails called to her to come back. Is this what marriage entailed? All she ever wanted was a good life. What she did not seem to know is that it did not come that easy, that much came about on how to be a woman, not just how well she could hold a drink or how many men drooled in the light of her shriveled seduction. Perhaps the most annoying thing about it all was how little she paid attention to her motherhood.

The four-year-old boy sat by a pathway crying. It was cold and dark, and he was hungry. No one was home, as far as he knew, his mother had forsaken him. Who was there to love him now? Maybe he is the one to grow up and break that yoke. He has a powerful heart in him, yes, no doubt he can rise and be the difference life needed on that plane. Somewhere down the line, it gets better, it has to.

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