My Father was quite gregarious; stout in frame.
On most evenings he frequented pubs and drinking
establishments. It was the bane of my Mother’s life,
calling around on godforsaken nights (her words),
only to find him at some club house, or thereabouts,
holding up the bar, blathering away in incoherent tones.
I clearly recall the near frantic search to tell him that
dinner was ready.
My Father was an amiable fellow, a barfly. Good at
conversing with the best of them, until his “better half”
(his words) would summon him home. Then with a few
stiff whiskies under his belt, he would leave the pub,
his tumbler of whisky still half full and make his way
home in frenetic gestures, of an anesthetized state.
The whiskey glasses and beer mugs that ended up at
our house became trophies from countless pubs,
where apparently his name was still good. My Mother
hid them surreptitiously at the back of the kitchen
cupboard. I was never aware that my Father was
ashamed of his stash; many times I had observed
him flaunt them in the company of good friends.
To a small child they were a wonderful collection of all
the places my Father had been, and the misadventures
he’d had along the way… keepsakes of long forgotten
inebriated nights out. My understanding was that it was
a proud collection.
One evening, two well-to-do, yet sombre looking Gentlemen
sat in our tranquil sitting room, sipping scotch whiskey
from my Father’s trophies. An animated conversation
ensued about the weather and the political furore of the
day and perhaps a little banter about the work my Father
did. I was quite oblivious to the seriousness of the
Bright spark I, a small child, thinking I should add a little
of my Father’s barroom swagger to the conversation,
I piped up proudly: “My Dad stole those drinking glasses
from the Bulawayo club”…….an icy silence contaminated
the once convivial night air. Frozen in time I sensed the
disdain in my father’s hushed yet loud hissing.
Livid, my Father ushered me out of the room. How could
I divulge his secret pilfered collection to prospective
colleagues…..I was just a little tattle tale. I was exiled to
my room and told not to come out until the coast was clear.
I sat on my bed wondering what I had done wrong.
My Mother would later tell me “it’s no laughing matter girlie,
you don’t air the family’s dirty laundry!”
and then at a tender age of innocence, I understood that these
were treasured goblets of my Father’s well kept but illicit stash,
unmentionables of his escapades that only our family should be
and from that day forth, I kept all our family’s secrets.