Have you heard of 23andme tests which are trendy at the moment? You spit in a tube and send it away to be examined and it tells you about your ancestry. I got one for my last birthday, and I received the results this week. I’ve always been proud to be 50% Asian but it turns out I’m only 46.9% South Asian (I’ve got a bit of East Asian and North African in there too which makes up for it).
Even though I am very proud to be British Asian there is one thing as a community we’re not very good at doing, and that is talking about alcohol. Councillor Vijay Luthra recently wrote an interesting article about how, as a country, we are getting better about taking about alcohol. But in my experience, the Asian community are still struggling to talk about this outside of the family.
We like to hide what may be considered private business and only share news that is to be celebrated. When I graduated university I’m sure my proud Indian father went knocking on every neighbour’s house to tell them (although I’m convinced he’s told everyone I’m a manager because he doesn’t understand that I love working face to face with carers and would not want to give that up – but that’s a separate issue). On the other side of the coin, when my Dadima (Grandma) was dying of cancer, she asked distant relatives to fly over from India to look after her rather than allow strangers into her house. We’re not good at saying we need help from strangers, particularly first and second generation immigrants in my experience.
It’s only years later I’m finding out from some of my close friends that they were scared to go to Temple or to their Mosque after school. I’ve learned for them it meant one of their parents getting drunk afterwards, and they didn’t know which version of them they were going to get that night. We’re taught from a young age to keep secrets within the family and that it’s no one else’s business, and we owe it to ourselves to do better.
If you’re affected by the drinking of someone in your family, please reach out and ask for help. Our service is free, confidential and non judgemental. People often tell us how helpful it is to be able to talk to someone outside of the family about it. If you are worried about your own drinking, please contact Forward Leeds for a chat.
I’m writing these Dry January blogs to raise awareness of the work of Alcohol Change UK. If you are interested in supporting my Dry January fundraiser, you can donate online here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kai-markanday.
Kai Markanday – Concerned Other Support Worker