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  • The woman tells me, “My husband drinks. I do not mean to say he has a drink or two or six and a hangover the next morning and then that was that. Already when I met him, he suddenly would be so drunk, he would fall in a ditch beside the street and if I had not fished him out and walked him home, he would have slept there. He would wake up in the morning and first thing drink from his Tequila bottle at his bedside and then smoke a couple of cigarettes. I would find him naked screaming and yelling in the street or under the living room table, because he had delirium tremens and feared people were stealing all his belongings.

    I loved the man. He could be drunk and so lucid, he seemed a wise man. We talked through the nights. Then he stopped drinking for weeks or months and several times for a whole year. He accomplished great projects in his dry periods.He was a very loving husband and father.

    After I knew him just 2 weeks I felt so abandoned by him being drinking in some cantina somewhere off with friends, that I wrote him a farewell letter, packed my stuff and bought my bus ticket to some place far away. There was just one café in town back then, I went for breakfast there and he appeared. He had not come to hold me back; he had not read my farewell letter.

    I did not leave. My life and his would have been utterly different hadn´t he appeared that morning at that time in the café or had I been stronger.

    My life was lived on two levels. Every few months he would drink for a week or a month. For the umpteenth time I would feel utterly abandoned, be so angry, feeling absolutely impotent.

    He never got physically violent, but I still was scared of this unknown person going wild in front of me. I suddenly understood, where the belief comes from that a spirit can take over a person. That is how it appears to me: the alcohol takes over his personality and I understand how people have come up with the idea of exorcism.

    My son also drinks. Look at him holding and drinking a glass of wine and he and his father seem to be clones!

    When he was 16 my son smoked a joint on a rooftop and fell. He broke his skull, hurt his spleen, his lungs collapsed. His life was eventually saved by sophisticated modern medicine.

    A different boy came out of the coma than the one who had fallen into it. He is not quick with words anymore like he used to be. No, he has turned into a very quiet boy, having a lot of troubles taking the tiniest decision, always feeling bored and never passionate about absolutely anything. He does not seem to fit into life anymore.

    He drinks and sniffs and smokes. Then he talks. Then he offends his brothers and best friends. His house a mess. His dog goes hungry.

    Often he comes to eat in my house. I say.” I wonder if deep inside you there is a force that wants to kill you. The accident did not kill you, but it seems as if you want to finish the job!"

    I do not know if he listens. Often that same night after we have talked he gets dead drunk again.

    He will be thirty soon. The other day at the beach I saw his body. The body of a man. I suddenly could see his body in another ten years, starting to grow old. Sadness emanated from every cell…”

    I listen to stories like this one all the time. It seems that this is the most common pain Mexican women suffer with their husbands and sons.

    A Tzeltal Mayan woman once told me:” I got married when I was 15 years old. Life with my husband was hell. One day other men of my village killed my husband, they drove a nail into his skull. I do not know why they killed him, but hadn´t they killed him, I would have.”

    A Tzotzil Mayan weaver confided,” I was just married for 2 years, then my husband died of a stomach infection. He was a good man, because he just drank twice a year. That meant he just beat me up twice a year!”

    A weaver from Carranza exclaimed," My life is good since my husband died 16 years ago!"

    Maybe this is the most common pain of women everywhere?

    I am sure the Masai women I visited in Tanzania would have told me similar stories, had I been able to speak their language.

    Ovambo-,Herero-, Nama- and Xhosa – women in Namibia and South Africa told me similar stories.

    Probably what Apoorva listens to working with women in India is not very different…..

    Art by Kiki ( The Tree Of Life Is A Tree Of Broken Hearts)

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