One day when I was fourteen, my dad came home after a long trip. He unpacked his things and went to take a shower, but burst out less than five minutes after going into the bathroom.
Someone had left a soap wrapper in the bathroom shelf.
In retrospect, it could only have been the maid. There was no reason for anyone else to take a bar of laundry soap out, she was the only one who laid hands on that thing. But she immediately denied having forgotten to throw it away. That left mom, me, and the younger two. One of us must be ruled guilty. One of us, would have to be punished.
It wasn’t mum, dad was clear on that. The main suspect was me, but I was vehemently insistent that I didn’t do it. My brother was eight, my sister six. One of us was lying. One of us simply had to be punished.
To help us confess, we weren’t given any food for three days.
It was summer vacations, we didn’t have to go to school. He told mom straight up that if she fed us in his absence, or if she snuck us food, he’d divorce her and kick her out in a blink. We couldn’t sneak any food since we couldn’t leave the house. We sat at the table at every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to watch, not to eat, till the person guilty of leaving the soap wrapper in the shelf confessed. He ate, and we watched. We watched for three days.
Then my six year old sister ‘confessed’, because she was hungry. I’d tried to make the ‘confession’ on the second day, but he didn’t buy it. I wasn’t as good a liar then, I didn’t know how to make it convincing. My sister was young enough that he didn’t know the difference.
On the third day, we were allowed food again. My father was triumphant. He’d caught the liar- “See? That’s all it took. They just needed to be taught a lesson.” We didn’t care. We were hungry.
I’m not a child anymore. None of us are. It has been almost twelve years to that day, to those days. But there are still nights when these things that happened, these half forgotten fears, they reign supreme. They come back with a ravaging force to eat away at whatever self confidence I’ve scraped for myself. They laugh at me, at my supposed happiness and my contentment and my love, and I’m that fierce, lost child again.
But I’m not lost, and I’m not a child. And I love as fiercely as I used to be just fierce, back in those days. And when they come back, they are banished into the inebriated cover of sleep. And it’s 4 am now and the last glass has sunk in properly, but I’m a happy drunk in what began as a sad night.
And that’s why I love whiskey.