By Faraz Shauketaly
This is a true story based on factual occurrences of a young man who entered the netherworld of drugs by accident, and who is attempting to wean himself on the devastating consequences of addiction.
The story was related to me by two business friends who saw their business, and more importantly (to them), their friendship torn apart, by an addiction to cocaine. It is a 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 business partner and friend Rizwan and parents are haunted by the thought that success slowly but surely destroyed everything and everyone around them.
Gayan: “When I left school with just my ‘O’ levels, I honestly didn’t think that the prospect of being a drug addict was anywhere on my radar or in the horizon. I hung around at home and I was pampered by my parents who had only love to give me, their only child. Not only was I the only child, I was – for at least nine years – the only offspring from my mother’s side of the family, which consisted of two brothers and three sisters. I must have reveled in that luxury even if I did not know it at the time. My parents were both working and we had, what Colombo folk and Colpetty people might construe as a ‘simple’ life. We did not own our house but rented out a couple of small rooms. I barely made it out alive from my mother’s womb, as the umbilical cord had wrapped itself around my head. I was quite an ordinary product. I had no special talent in sports. I was very careful with my toys, most of which I still have, including the original packing. My friends were loyal and it was a small core group. They are still my friends. We were, as a group, in trouble many times and won our colours when the Kosgoda Police arrested all of us and took us to the station where the officer in charge made full use of a cane he had. I believe that our backsides were sore for a while. The OIC insisted that our parents collect us from the station. Both the police and our parents had no regard for ‘double jeoprady’ law: we got beaten at the station, on the way home and at home too. All because we showed up as a form of ‘gang’ intent on taking to task another lad who had given ‘eyes’ to a girl who was being ‘lined’ by one of our friends. Incongruously, he escaped the police beating. He assured us that he did get a beating from his father; we have our doubts about that – twelve years later.”
Rizwan: “The tsunami of 2004 not only brought in its wake a lot of heartache and devastation, but also swept into my life a family who were indirectly involved with the tsunami. About a year later we had set them up in a business their son had expressed a desire to do. The store was a roaring success and Gayan had an uncanny knack of choosing the right stock for the store. Over a two year period, he upped the ante and went to the East no less than four times to get his stock. Not bad, we thought, for a person who had only seen planes in the sky and not even at the airport. The town he was from had the usual vicious thoughts of Gayan and his family but the young people kept coming and business was up. A second store followed in a Colombo suburb. When that store showed signs of waning in profits, it was shut down and the core work followed. Other businesses followed and it appeared he was on his way. There was the experimenting with Ganja which seemed quite rampant in his town. We had no idea of the devastating consequences that would follow this recreational use by Gayan.”
Gayan: “I had used Ganja when I was 17 and was training at a hotel. All my peers were at it and after a long shift it was fun. With the others I also tasted my first alcoholic drink: a simple beer but soon progressed. I developed a penchant for Red Label whisky. Working in a hotel certainly made it easier. I had also developed a liking for cigarettes but never bought a packet outright. It started with two at a time, then six and progressed to a full 20′s pack. The smoking of ‘joints’ was not a regular affair but it certainly was part and parcel of when we all got set for an evening of drinks.
By the time I had opened my shop, I was 21 and considered myself street-wise. Flying to the East to buy stock was a revelation. I marveled at what the city looked like from above and enjoyed what I was doing: my shop. Sales were up, return trips and the use of Ganja continued. Then I stopped for a year when I had taken way too much and was puking all over a friends’ room. I was happy to wrap and roll for others but didn’t take it myself for a good year.
My business gave me a powerful motorbike as a birthday present and I was over the moon. But the group of friends who brought this to my town – helping me ride my bike from Colombo – were all into hard drugs, not just Ganja. I tried my first taste of a cocaine-based drug they called ‘brown sugar.’ I didn’t really care for it and the constant presence of my business partner and the fact that it was in my hometown that this first happened, made me wary and I did not pursue it at all. However on further trips to Colombo I did try it and the trips to Colombo increased in frequency. Looking back at it, I guess the addiction had started even if it was very under stated. One particular friend of mine was already a heavy user and seemed always drugged. When my business partner complained continuously of his state and presence wherever we went, I actually avoided him for a while until we met him at a club out of the blue. He and I became close friends and shared a liking for tattoos and bikes. The occasional Ganja became a daily occurrence and we also ventured more and more into the use of cocaine.
Beach parties saw us use this much more. On one night my friend, who was earning around Rs. 50,000 a month, used up nearly Rs. 10,000 on buying packets of cocaine. We deliberately stayed in a different hotel from our other non-user friends – and you could say we had one hell of a party. The feeling I got after use gave me a huge kick. Many said having sex under that influence was good – I never quite found out what that entailed. I found it worked to oppose. Even the young person’s quest for sex was muted by kudu.” (…continued next week)