July 19, 2009

Tainted Alcohol

A story in CNN News is a story I can relate to. This story is about men who drank tainted alcohol.

"It's a big problem," said Southwest Delhi Deputy Commission of Police K. Jagdesan. "It's men who die more often from lower income groups. So they (the women) don't have anybody to support them."

Poor laborers and slum dwellers are often the ones who get sick because they cannot afford the licensed alcohol sold at government-approved shops. Or, they live in parts of India where it is illegal to sell alcohol.

In either case, people turn to illegal vendors who sell homemade hooch or watered-down cheap alcohol. The supplier sometimes adds toxic ingredients to these that are meant to get the drinker higher -- faster and cheaper.

One of the ingredients often detected is methyl alcohol, which is known to cause blindness".

My father grew up in Arkansas. He and his buddies would hunt in the woods and they were on their own most of the time. They would drink whatever they could get from other fellows they knew and sometimes from people they did not know. He must have been addicted to alcohol at a young age. When he was fifteen years old he drank something with gasoline or something like this article describes in it and it killed the optic nerves in his eyes. For the rest of his life he had less than two percent vision. He was labeled legally blind. No more hunting. No driving cars. No more school. No more friends. His life changed completely. The only thing that did not change was his drinking habit. He drank every day. He lived with us off and on for the first 10 years of my life and then I saw him occasionally. He had difficulty with jobs. Most of the time I knew him he did not work. But he always drank. And he smoked Camels without filters. He did pick up some grown up buddies sometimes, guys who would take him fishing with them and oh guess what, they drank all the time too. My father and his buddies would sit on the grass in the back yard so plowed they could not stand and they would grab my cat and pour drinks down my cat till it was bombed and stumbling like they were. This was entertainment for them. For me it was another spark of anger. Anger toward my father and toward his buddies and eventually toward other men too. Watching my father I learned that men make sure they get what they want, as he always had money to buy his liquor and cigarettes and we did not have food or clothes.

As an adult I was able to see that he was bitter about losing his sight. It was an excruciating event that would not ever be turned around. He would not talk about it, but I was the one who was always watching in our family. I watched them all. Just like I watched the ants on the sidewalk and the birds and the rabbits and the almost dead flowers and plants in the yard that I nurtured and worked with every day to try to bring back to life. I watched them all. By watching I was not participating. I knew when to stay out of the way.

When my father passed away in 1986, his then wife called my brother and gave him the news. I had not spoken with my father for about 2 years and I did not know he was living in a different state at the time of his death. I knew he had emphysema and he was still smoking 3 packs of the same cigarettes he had smoked all the years I had known him. And he still drank every day.


Scarlet-Blue said...

But you escaped somehow?
There are times when it's best to keep your head down, aren't there.

Berni said...

Terrible that your Father lost his sight. My father was an alcoholic too and I remember being so ashamed as I had to go pick him up where he fell on the sidewalk and get him home.He pretty much drank himself to death.

bermudabluez said...

That's so sad. I must agree with ScarletBlue...sometimes it's best to keep your head down.

Bunny Boiler said...

I can relate, except for the sight, my father could have been your father's twin.

Men always get what they want. Even slow suicide.

A Free Man said...

Reading this makes me glad that I quit drinking.

Great post. Sad, but all too common, story.

Shrinky said...

Despite the odds, you appear to have survived and come through shining.

Guess you had to stand on your own two feet early, and managed to suss it out for yourself. Speaks volumes as to who you are. Hold your head up high girl, you owe that young kid you were a strut!(Smile.)

Hilary said...

I've seen the devastation that alcoholism can do to a family. I'm sorry you had to live like that, but you're a survivor. I'm glad for that.