“Today is my ninth Birthday”

My dad told us (my mom, elder sis and me) while we sat down together for breakfast. His 59th birthday was celebrated with great pomp and show last month. But the 9th one was undeniably a milestone birthday, not only special to me and my family but also to the entire world I must say. It is very particular because it carries an inspiring story of ‘nine years of life’ – a life which is lived by the man in us and not the hidden animal. Yes, it has been nine years since my father last drank the killer-drink (read: alcohol). Nine years, though it may sound small, is what my dad considers as ‘lived’ by him.

I was in my seventh grade when I first heard of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).

*[Following is the definition of A.A. appearing in the fellowship’s basic literature and cited frequently at meetings of A.A. groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.]

Two men (most likely in their 50s) came to my house one evening to meet my dad. There was a power-cut at home and mom lit a candle. Conversations went on. I observed dad listening to the guests very patiently. Though I couldn’t understand everything that they discussed, I was sure that those men were god’s gift to us – they were sponsors from A.A. who had come with a mission to take my dad to the beautiful world of sobriety. I was glad and hopeful of a brighter future with my family whose backbone is my dad, the tower of support. Today I realize that my hope didn’t go to waste.  My dad is nine years old with A.A.

“He is still a child. Treat him like you would care for a kid, with all love and affection”. Mom reminds me often.

Before the magic called A.A. cured my den with its miraculous wand, we had visited and known other organizations/associations which claimed complete cure for Alcoholism. But only A.A worked with us, for it is not just a togetherness that helps you in bringing alcoholism to a close but also teaches you a ‘way of life’—the way of life anyone would covet—where only love, peace and truth prevail.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept

The things I cannot change,

And to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference”

Since that incredible night (after sharing with those two men), dad has never skipped the routine of chanting these words of wisdom in our prayer room.

The members of A.A. meet daily at different venues to share their thoughts, shortcomings and experiences. On Fridays it is at the church, opposite Malabar Christian College where we get together. While dad joins A.A. in one room, I with my mom and sis join the Al-Anon/Al-Ateen family group in another room, where we share almost everything that happens inside and outside the family. I have seen women sobbing helplessly while sharing their miserable trials and tribulations in life (Al-Ateen/Al-Anon members in Kerala are not alcoholics. They come solely for their husband/father). According to A.A. alcoholism is a disease. These women who are wives of alcoholics sacrifice a lot while going through the initial stages of A.A. because the alcoholic undergoes his own irritations and disturbances of not in-taking the killer-drink. The astounding shift from chronic alcoholism to serene sobriety is looked upon as a wonder. Children who are raised amidst  chaotic situations of alcohol-affected families need to be given special care. This function is carried out by the esteemed Al-Ateen family group. The most amazing factor of A.A. that leads to light of the future is the egoless sharing and revelations by its members. There is no point in shying away from sharing about ourselves when we do it in our family – A.A is a family. Alcoholics stand up to share their innermost feelings ( even what we wouldn’t want ourselves to approve of us) shamelessly (no pun intended) in front of the large family comprising doctors, advocates, fishermen, police officers, writers, light-boys, electricians, plumbers, house-maids and what not ? Each of them overlooks their respective status in the society while mingling at A.A.

As usual the meeting commenced at 7pm. In the small room, after a pledge, ten to twenty alcoholics came forward and made their heart-touching sharing. Moyidoottikka (one of the two men who came to sponsor my dad on behalf of A.A. that evening, 9 years back) who is 17 years with A.A. made a confession-like sharing. Being rueful, he said that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness  after having thrown a cup of mud on the food his wife prepared for him to break Ramadan-fast.

“I was not under my control. I was angry and disturbed with something already. The only way I could bring down my uneasiness was by getting mad at my wife though there was no reason. When that lovingly cooked plate of food turned into a plate of waste because of my thoughtless action, I suddenly woke up from my unconsciousness — just to see tears forming in her eyes, rolling down her cheek silently, splashing down on the floor in front of me.  I humbly beseech theeforgive me, O Lord, and forgive me. I was unable to suppress the evil in me at that terrible moment. Forgive me…”

Moydoottikka’s eyes welled. Ours too.

He is an alcoholic. Though he hasn’t literally taken in the destructive-juice (read: alcohol) for the past seventeen years, the traits of an alcoholic reside within him silently, waiting eagerly to eclipse him and others around him by making a redundant appearance. Forgive him! Everyone in that room would have prayed for him, I am sure because it was a confession of an alcoholic.

The clock rang 8 pm. The day’s meeting had come to an end. Dad was seen conversing with a man (looked elder to him by five to ten years). He was limping and shabbily dressed. Soon I learned that he was just one day old (read: it was his first day in A.A.). A once-upon-a-time famous foot ball player from Calicut, on whom high hopes were hung. But unfortunately the killer-drink restrained all prosperity from coming to his life. His family left him a few years back for being an ill-fated prey of the killer-drink. I wish his life with A.A. progresses well and his family back with love and gratitude. The life of another child begins. Long live A.A, soon bring future prospects of the killer-drink together for a revolution against the same.

These books were given to me by Moidoottikka