An alcoholic’s partner

Published: November 2, 2013

She had discovered alcohol's uncanny bliss. It would turn her husband into a loving prince. PHOTO: AFP

The tangy smell of his breath dissolved the boundaries between good and evil for her. Together, the two of them had no need to be conscious of each other’s presence. What smelt good, what looked better – everything becomes meaningless, almost non-existent.

It didn’t take her much time to discover alcohol’s uncanny bliss. This discovery, however, didn’t present itself like an immaculately packed gift. It grew on her, silently and gently, till she realised its advantages.

There could be nothing more vulnerable than an alcoholic, she had understood that. All the moral babble she had heard so far about the fiery wrath of a boozer, seemed like a trap of deceit, a plan to keep others away from the benefits of living with an alcoholic.

She gently stroked his soft hair, transmitting a message of assurance and security to him. Drinking would cause him to open up his emotional side and be closer to her.

The roles would get reversed once he starts drinking. She would no longer play the part of a timid wife, always waiting for her husband’s affection. She would have power over him. She would have the authority to forgive him, to understand his inner self, to make him feel guilty and then to absolve him from the guilt.

She had never experienced the ecstasy of such power before.

The story of this ecstatic power goes a long way back. Unlike great stories, it lacks the grandeur of a classical beginning. It cannot be simply started with a Jane Austen or Dickensian one liner. It is too ordinary for a fine beginning. The ending could have been mundane too, if she had not stumbled upon those lines in The Palace Walk,

The woman relished the intoxicated love of her Afghan lord and how it was the only time he truly loved her.

The idea brought a new dimension to her life. She closed her eyes and found herself twitching the kaftan in anticipation.

Her story began on a slithery, humid night. She had had countless lousy nights before but tonight, it was going to be different. Tonight, she had to do something to startle him, to catch his attention. It was her silence that would do the trick. Her silence suggested acceptance and this meant that she was willing to work towards a peaceful coexistence between herself and her alcoholic. She won’t be a problem for him anymore.

It had all worked out perfectly, as perfectly as she had anticipated.

In his euphoric state, he would kneel before her, tell her stories, boast about his success and then they would make love. She would become his listener, pardoner and lover; she would make the most of it before it was morning. Because morning would turn her prince back into a husband again.

For a while this arrangement went on. Both spent happy nights together. But the story didn’t end there. If it had, then again it would have been another ordinary story. It was something which happened in between that made it worth telling.

The road from victim to controller was a smooth one. She wanted him to continue with his addiction, so she could savour hers as well. Alcohol was his addiction and his alcoholic state was hers.

‘Dear, you look so stressed out, why don’t you take a shot and relax. You know sometimes it works in your favour.’

‘No darling, how you could leave it cold turkey? It could kill you and you know that very well. You must slowly cut it down like they recommend.’

She had absolute assurance that he would never let it go. It was becoming difficult for her to adjust with his non-alcoholic behaviour. The lack of drama made her life vacant. He became unbearable in those sober days or perhaps she was becoming unreasonable. He would become a normal husband when he was sober, one who neither showered attention on her, nor needed her saviour skills to help him feel good.

The story’s climax took place on her fourth day in the facility. Her sudden bouts of panic became frequent and unexplained. It was triggered right after his recovery started. His recovery was slow but successful and he was finally free of the bane.

His long fight with alcohol has taken its toll on her health, thought the doctors.

They didn’t realise that it was never a conflict for her, but a fulfilling companionship. She had lived the best part of her life with his drunk self and she could not compromise on anything less than that now.

She could never tell them the fact that the addiction of living with an alcoholic was far worse than the alcoholism itself.

At the end, she realised, that it was not him who needed rehab only. She did too.

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