Bottomline: I say this with the utmost respect to those struggling with alcohol addiction; I can be numerous things, including an attention seeker, but never a bibulous mother. So help me, God.
I could have given him a chance, no doubt. By chance I mean my curvaceous physique, my time, my national identification card- one of my most treasured possessions at the time topping it up with my salary (meagre as it was), if he could have asked for it.
Barely past my eighteenth birthday then and working as an attendant in a small but significantly elegant restaurant somewhere in the unknown hinterlands of LA ( Lang’ata). Just to mention, I loved my job, not only for me the much needed financial freedom at the end of every month but it provided a platform for attention, necessary or otherwise.
My physique was at its peak awarding me the artful potential of attracting attention of male customers and coworkers alike. I loved the fact that I was inviting customers earning massive tips in the process more often compared to my colleagues most of whom had backpacks of experience in the job. I could have been saving new phone numbers to my contact list every day if not for the fact that I always lied about not possessing a phone.
For those who did not believe the lie insisting too much pestering me for too long as if I was the ‘meal’ that necessitated their visit instead of the actual meal. I had them write down their numbers on tiny pieces of paper torn from my notebook, at the end of the day they all ended up in the trash can.
Sometimes I detested the kind of people that approached me, especially those that thought I was in that line of occupation because of desperation thanks to lack of opportunities. The kind that judged me as a miserable youth trying to nurse her adulthood frustrations by enduring the agonies of a low paying job, I wish they had known what twelve thousand Kenyan shillings at the end of every month meant to an 18-year-old like me.
Beginning to get stabbed with the night shifts two months into the job. It was so discouraging that I began to contemplate my resignation until a knight in shinning armor came walking to the counter one slow night. He was an NBA-player in height with muscles tightly packed they could injure his immaculate white sweatshirt.
There was beauty in his movement with a striking look on his face, an upswing to his awesomeness. He wore trendy headphones, I could swear he was listening to Soft Rock because the charisma by which he rolled was indisputably very smooth. The scent of his fresh, elegant cologne selfishly dominated the entire atmosphere and I instantly fell in love.
He was God sent, to lighten up my dark night sending a thrill down my spine. The type of thrill I get when I hear my capital city being bestowed positive credits in a celebrated Hollywood movie, only that this particular one was more robust with a glimmer of romance. He walked straight to me, lowered his headphones, and began.
“Do you guys have to wait till the end of the month for warmers too? Everyone in here is literally freezing and no one is wearing not even a scarf!”
Hah! So he had a sense of humor too. Too bad it was a lame one. I did not want to entertain his lame humor so as not to seem interested nor sell myself out as a capable prospective girlfriend. He probably had one waiting for him to get back home with two portions of fries with spicy chicken wings for dinner.
“What can I offer you tonight, sir?”
“Save the ‘sir’ for someone else, call me Tobby, I would like ten German sausages, a friend of mine referred me to this place, she says your meals are heavenly, especially the sausages.”
Oh, I was terribly wrong about the fries with wings but it didn’t rule out the possibility that there was a woman close to his heart.
“Your friend couldn’t be more right. We offer the best.”
“I trust you, Annie.”
He knew my name! Sweet Jesus, this charming human knew my name! I was so excited about the fact that I did not remember that I had a tag with my name on it pinned to my work shirt. The joy stayed with me for hours until later on when I was changing back into my clothes in the washrooms. I felt embarrassed.
It turned out Toby’s ‘friend’ was right about our restaurant because he always stopped by each evening to say Hi in the name of grabbing a bite. He tipped me off on several occasions thus he became the very first client I offered my phone number to and willingly saved his to my phonebook. He made his first call one Saturday morning during my off day inviting me for lunch at his place. I obviously declined. Days passed by. Three weeks later I decided it was now time I tasted his cuisine. I visited Toby’s home that Saturday afternoon. What met me was unfathomable.
He had a lovely place for a home. It was a lavish apartment in which he lived with his mother, he made sure to let me know of that fact before I visited. Everything was accurately placed and his room looked a little too neat for a twenty-year-old man, yeah, I miraculously found myself in his room but he was decent enough not to cross the boundaries that I had set, our relationship was to remain strictly platonic. We had a delightful afternoon, impressively coated with a delicious meal of vegetable salad and chicken pilau but everything changed with the arrival of his mother.
She looked devastated, judging from her ragged, messy hair and an unbuttoned shirt. She was depressingly lanky for her tall height. There was a hidden youthfulness that sprung out of her blood-shot eyes. She seemed to be in a trance because of the way her eyes darted hopelessly around the house as she muttered staggering past us to the kitchen, flinging a bottle of whiskey in her left hand.
She was suffering, I could tell it. Her heart had failed her and one could easily tell that she had shed too much tears that her tear glands were in exhaustion. I must have mistaken her for some jilted lover who had been hurt by Tobby thus came to claim back her position. Clearly, I could not have guessed her to be Toby’s mother. Toby did not look embarrassed nor disappointed but he noticed my bewilderment hence he tried explaining things to me.
“That’s my mum. She has been that way ever since my dad passed away. My uncles have been frustrating her for months, she feels so pressured taking solace in all the wrong places. Don’t judge her, she’s been through hell.”
The fact that Toby had invited me to his place knowing very well that I could encounter his mother in her lowest, was proof enough that he had long accepted the situation in the process making peace with it. I admired that he had the courage to justify his mother’s actions but still, I did not really find it amusing for a mother to walk into her house allowing her son to see her in that state. I was so troubled with the sight that I did want to stay one more second in that vicinity.
“She needs help, Tobby.”
“I know. Everyone says that. We shall deal with it.”
I left Tobby’s home so disturbed that I swore never to be a drunken mum. He went silent on me for two days, replying to none of my text messages on top of declining my calls. The only text he left me with was an apology. ‘I’m sorry for what my mother might have caused you.’ Read the text message.
I never heard from him since then. He cut me off, just like that, my prince charming got rid of me without even a single kiss. The last thing I heard about him was that he was supporting his mother by attending A.A sessions with her somewhere in Central Kenya. His love for his mother was gloriously admirable, I hope they are in a safe place full of decent solace. I wish he could have given me a chance to explain that I had nothing against his mum, I was only mad at the bottle.
Now that I am a mother myself, it is time I practiced what I swore to more than five years ago. I have been through my own tipsy moments, especially this year. Before it goes too far, I need to stop! My main reason for engaging in the Detox Africa™, #SeekBalance campaign.
Detox Africa™ is a health & wellness platform that provides resources, content, and experiences for those seeking to live a more sustainable life. The program has been in existence for quite some time and is majorly concerned with connecting a diverse group of people with a similar interest in living a wholesome life and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the program also seeks to help people live a responsible life by helping them understand how to manage alcohol consumption and drink responsibly.
Aside from providing the necessary tools aimed at achieving healthier lives, the program also visualizes the inclusion of experiences that will feature a monthly Pop Up Health and Wellness Experience. These occasions will take place monthly at different venues throughout Kenya engaging members of Detox Africa™ in activities such as:
- Yoga and meditation workshops
- Holistic Health Seminars
- Mental Health Resources
- Pop Up Spa
- Healthy Food Vendors
- Juice Bar by Mockingbird
- Pop Up Market and
- Live Entertainment (DJ Acoustic Performers
Under the tag line; Seek Balance, Nathan Gathegi, founder of Detox Africa™, partnered with the legendary artist, Amisi Frasha, and developed a wellness program dubbed #90DaysAlcoholFreeChallenge. The program targets those who are interested in Seeking Balance in boosting their health by restraining from alcohol consumption for ninety days then balancing alcohol intake by drinking responsibly thereafter.
The initiative has so far, since the 1st of August, managed to bring together more than thirty receptive celebrities and influencers from diverse career corridors and is currently mushrooming by each passing day. I am on a journey and I know where I am headed, that is why I am striving to Seek my Balance with Detox Africa™ I am certain that this journey is worth my faithfulness and my full vigor😊.