By Faraz Shauketaly
The following is a true story based on factual occurrences of a young man who entered the netherworld of drugs by accident and is attempting to wean himself off the devastating consequences of addiction.
Related by two friends – Gayan and Rizwan – this week (part two) Gayan’s story takes us through how he was caught using hard drugs and how he entered this murky world. It is powerful testimony of what dependency on controlled drugs does to family, friendship, social and business relationships. As the young Gayan struggles to cope with relative success his family and friends are haunted by the lies and deceit that was heaped on them by Gayan.
RIZWAN: “I can honestly say that until I started having my suspicions about Gayan and other ‘non-ganja’ drugs, just over a year ago, I had no cause to suspect anything. Looking back now I realise how wrong I was. The sales in the shop started to go downhill, the shop was more closed than open. He soon started to visit Colombo much more frequently and suggested we close the shop and look for something in Colombo. Readily agreeing I asked him to secure premises in Colombo. Gayan failed to find premises and the shop barely made its rent let alone generated growth. The spark Gayan had seemed to have been extinguished but I never once suspected that he had a hard drug use dependency. I never really liked his friend Joel and I could have happily murdered him last week when Gayan came close to losing his mind. My hatred of that man is intense but Gayan was an adult too when he experimented and it ought to have been his call. That sounds great, but in practise it was clear that he had fallen to peer pressure and succumbed to these menaces. It is no excuse but simply factual. Some minds are strong to resist peer pressure but it is clear that Gayan fell victim to Joel who we now find has had a history of drug abuse going back over five years.”
GAYAN: “My friend Joel had a regular supplier of Ganja. Joel was a seriously heavy user of Ganja. He was also quite liberal with his views on drug usage. He bothered no one and was ready to try anything out. His supplier was ‘Sukiri’ who hung around the bridge on Attidiya Road. It was they who introduced the kudu to Joel – initially it was for free they would give him a packet at a time once in a while to try. Sukiri and his colleagues must be very good marketing people – they certainly knew how to identify and retain customers – something even great salesmen routinely aspire to be able to do. Joel is still on drugs and has changed his supplier, who curiously, is from a town that is far removed from Attidiya as one could imagine: Hambantota. Joel is at a stage which I was just about entering myself before I was found out: pawning personal items like mobile phones and other valuables from the house. Once the money is gone, the pawning starts. Then I guess it’s a whole different ball game.”
GAYAN: “I soon found that to hoodwink my parents and friends was easy. My friendship with Joel was the key. His home was mostly empty during the day and it is there that we took our packets of kudu to smoke. It was about two a day. Every day. It was interrupted only by my Mother’s calls to come home on some flimsy excuse. But I knew that to keep doing what I was by now enjoying I had to make those visits home. It was easier than I thought: I took some packs with me on the way home by now we had progressed to using well over ten packets a day. Our ‘feelings’ were very sweet. And the deception continued. That itself was a different feeling.”
GAYAN’S MUM: “when I got a call from my son’s business partner saying that he suspected my son was a drug user, I did not believe him. I presumed that they had a business disagreement and that his partner was talking due to an acute case of ‘sour grapes’. However he told me that the first step in stopping this had to be that, we his parents, had to realise that our son had a problem. We saw that he had lost weight considerably. He claimed that his business partner had blocked his money and was not giving him enough money to eat! I really did not believe that but did feel sorry for my son. Gayan made the biggest mistake thereafter: when his partner badgered us to come to Colombo and “save” our son as he put it, I sent his Dad to Colombo. When he called his son and asked him to come to the guest house he was staying at Gayan told his Dad that he was already on a bus going back home and asked his Dad to follow. It transpired that he was not on a bus but was actually in a guest house less than a kilometer away from where his father was and he came home only two days thereafter. My son had never lied to us before and this was the turning point. Together with his friends we launched a concerted and concentrated effort to track him down. It took us about three days but it could have been quicker if not for his convincing lies. He came home and two days later said he was going for a wedding in Panadura. He came back two days later not the next day as he said he would. He never explained why he got late. When I checked his bag I found that he had not worn his shoes, his shirt was still as it was ironed and neatly folded and it became clear to me that what I had been told was true. I told his friends that if this was true – the drug use – I would rather hang myself than leave my house even to go to work. Bit by bit his partner, who was my greatest source of strength, proved to us that Gayan had lied on every visit when he came home and was creating excuses to keep returning to Colombo. He went to the shop when he was here but we later had eye witness accounts that he was smoking kudu in the shop behind the counter.
We finally traced him to a guest house and at 1:30 a.m. when I called him and said that his father was seriously ill, my son, this boy who was our only child could only ask me how I found out where he was. He ignored the fate of his father saying he would return in the morning – I found it shocking and hurtful that he displayed such a callous attitude. I knew then that while he was talking to me he was very much under the influence of something or the other. He was mad at me for finding out and even more mad at his partner who had helped us. My dreams, my pride and the hopes I had for my only son – with whom I struggled so much and trusted so very much – simply evaporated when it finally hit me that my son was a kudu karayaa. Careless whispers began to reach me. My feelings were not only different they were all mixed up with emotion, hurt and hatred. Probably in equal measure.
RIZWAN: “I was convinced that he was using hard drugs but I could not prove it. He had lost weight, was dirty, smelly and an absolute wreck. And he could not eat. Cocaine, I read later, was an appetite suppressant. His friends were also convinced from loose talk they overheard when Gayan was talking to his Colombo friends. But we lacked the proof. I called a friend in the Narcotics division of the Police who told me that if they were to search him, if he had drugs on him, he would be instantly arrested. We resolved to leave the Police out and catch him red handed. We deployed some friends in the home town and others in Colombo. We tracked him until we knew he was on a bus home. We then waited patiently till he arrived. We knew he would have drugs on him so no sooner he arrived, we met up with him and walked the short distance to his home. We had a small chat and then asked him outright. He was denying everything. We confronted him one by one.
Thusitha said he had seen him inhaling a few days ago; Anura said Gayan had told him he was feeling ‘sick’ and needed kudu; Gayan’s girlfriend confirmed that she had given him over Rs.125,000 in about eight months of which there was nothing left in his account; I confirmed what the business had given him; one by one the stories were told to him face to face. It was our turn to be shocked when he finally admitted to it but claimed that he wanted to stop. We demanded to see his bag and wallet. We got the bag but not the wallet. We wrestled it away by force and were dismayed when our worst fears were confirmed: he had three packets of kudu a piece of aluminium foil and a straw like gadget. We promptly destroyed the drugs by flushing it down the toilet and told him that he was the pits. If there were harsher words, we would have happily used them. It was a relief of sorts to finally face reality.”