If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Sep 9, 2008

The Twelve Steps

Mt. Carmel’s church is a gracious host. To the school kids of St. Aloysius. To her parishioners who troop in for mass. For burials and first holy communions.To the September Gardens with it's Giant Wheels and merry-go-rounds. For a meeting that happens once a week.
A meeting where each attendee introduces himself and confirms his addiction.
"My name is Tony G. and I am an addict."
Alcohol and drugs. What to most people are social pleasures. To everyone at the meeting is a Ravana. A hundred headed monster that has destroyed their lives. Fathers, sons, teachers, officers, peons. People who come from worlds that never collide. A world where they cease to function as a father , as a provider, as a husband. A world where most waking moments are given to feeding a hunger that is destroying them. And with them the people in their orbit. Where getting to the Auntie’s at Chimbai wins out over getting to the office on time. Where the sideboard your grandfather made with his own hands is sold to the jaripurana walla. The cashier at Pinky Wines and BoozeUp trades in hard cash. Not sideboards or wedding rings.
The children turn inwards . The wife to novenas . Which work. And Tony G. finds himself at Mt. Carmels basement with the will to change. Where he meets with a man called Fr. Joe P. Who gives introduces him to Ramesh C. , Imtiaz M, Gurpreet S. , Solomon E. and so on and so forth. And every day he struggles. To stay away from his Ravana. Just that one day at a time. Counting it out. Ramus been clean for 36 days. Imtiaz for 104. Guru hit a hundred days and figured one little drink would’nt hurt. If he could stay clean for a hundred days… he’d be able to stop after one drink. He was wrong. Sol’s first anniversary of being clean was coming up.
Prayers in the morning. A simple meal. House work. Sweeping and mopping this basement that was now home. Yoga. Meditation to try and exorcise the demons in him for ever. The first few days are the hardest. Shivers and chills. Someone stays with him all the time. A new kid comes in. His mother has come to drop him off. He’s never spent a night away from home.
They’ve moved from taking to giving. Of their time as they arrange the chairs in the quadrangle for Sunday mass. And clear it out so that it’s free for the kids to play the next morning. Of helping with the household accounts. With the marketing for which they would go in pairs. So that if you started to fall there was a shoulder to hold you up.
The wife and kids dropped by for a visit. He introduced them all around. They went across the road to the Irani’s for a cup of tea. The shame that had always been there but he had’nt seen, he now could. It almost made him head straight for the usual path to oblivion. Almost.
So it went. A day at a time. Till he felt he could get back home. He was back at Mt. Carmels for the meeting every week. The years moved on. At the kids weddings he toasted them with a Coco Cola. The wife did’nt insist they go into every party late and leave early anymore. { It used to cut down on his drinking time }. He did. Because he knew how fragile he was. Even now. And how fragile he will be. Right to the very end. Where his epitaph will read
"My Name was Anthony Gonsalves."

p.s. Ossie was the man who held it all together at the AA centre in Mt. Carmels.Fr. Joe's right hand. And he was ably assited by Rex. Silver haired and looking like a film star even when he was in the throes of recovery. And Smitthy and Russel who now help others from their so very different points in the universe.


Anonymous said...

You are brilliant. what more can I say!

Anonymous said...

amazingly touching! Bugger - you've said it all... keep writing or we'll need the 12 steps to keep us from going cold turkey

Anonymous said...

Fr Joe has done a great job...
Bandra Feast and the Sept Garden around the corner... :)

Anonymous said...

Then there was the real Anthony Gonsalves. Whose family hid his secret from the world because they did not want any one to know he was a part of Mary's clan, They suffered in silence. Their self concepts taking a beating because 'Daddy is not an alchoholic he just has a small peg to keep him happy'. And because the respectability of the family would suffer. His epitaph and obituraty both read 'Loving father and husband'. But his family is still in denial. Battling demons within their souls.

Neil said...
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