A young promising life perished lately in Srinagar after battling addiction-ailment for weeks. In the backdrop of this fresh fatality, leaving another Kashmiri family shattered, the author reproduces a former druggie’s firsthand account of his dope life.
I was in my flourishing youth, about to do something big as I thought. But life had a twist for me.
I wanted to do many things. I would think of lofty tomorrows and bright mornings lighting up my future days.
At 24, I was thinking that I’m different, like everyone would think. I would talk less with people and stray-talk with my friends. I planned to move out to Europe for studies and within a month I became an addict.
I was living indoor with my dreams when some friends leapt inside with sweet words and cordial responses. I liked them for their sweet tongue and they liked me for being an innocent guy.
So, we liked each other and started hanging out together. They were all drug abusers.
They would always hunger for heroin and thirst for company. I knew that drugs are bad but the excitement in them before doing it wasn’t. It was a burst of passion in unison. They seemed united and I fancied to be a link of that chain of unity. I thought life was being unjust to me so I hated to struggle.
Time sped in complaining and I found reason in the unison of which I immediately became a part.
The unison gave us all some strength to lose ourselves for days and nights. And when I woke up completely, a year was sped past.
‘Life is unjust,’ I blabbered to myself.
When the time came to return home, my conscience was more dead than my conceited friend whose conscience was dead out of pride.
I was neither proud, nor conscience. I was just slow and lost in stupidity.
My sweet home was full of love but I wanted drugs.
I distanced my parents and embraced heroin which was easily available in my hometown. I started shooting up heroin on mountains and on riverbeds away from civilized men and would come back home exclaiming that I was tired and only needed my room to cushion me.
And when I would wake up, it would be all the same—same thirst for heroin and a bit more resentment of losing time. More resentment needed more drugs and a bit harsher kick on my responsibilities.
I was 25 and my parents wanted to know what was going in my life. They opened up subtly saying that they trusted me, that I was mature enough to make decisions about my life. Their fragile suspicious eyes gave me a pang at heart but I firmly lied to them that I would never do anything wrong.
I fooled them and they trusted me.
I bragged about it later with my friends that how much my parents trust me. I was happy about it. It was an emotional thing for a moment, but the heroin wasn’t going anywhere. It was my habit.
One odd day I called up a friend who had left heroin a long time back. I was aimless and so were my abilities unexplored.
I was a tender heart with surroundings directing my next step. I waved at a friend in aimlessness and moved away thinking that the person was better than me. It was an awkward and unreasonable thought, but I didn’t know how to proceed with an awkward thought. I knew less about people, less about reality.
Nonetheless, I found an old friend back, smart and handsome and unexpectedly aimless like me. I belonged to him. I found his pile of immature thoughts converging with my thoughts. I sat with him more. The more we sat the more we wanted to escape aimlessness together.
We were sitting together on a riverbed. I unpacked the heroin and started filling up my syringe. I liked doing it myself, self-injecting and hurting myself. I felt stronger containing the pain, taking a high dose and felt braver testing my nerves every next time.
In the meantime, perhaps, I had tempted my friend to take a shot.
He was sad and said that he doesn’t want to live without parents, that his heart is not at peace without his mother, but to fend for himself in a jobless city needed more thought and how bad it was that more thought plunged him into despair.
“When I was going through rehabilitation, I would shiver, face seizures and had to bear pain in seclusion, it was a struggle of not wanting to die and when it became unbearable I would hide my face under the pillow and weep. I would weep until my mother would soften my heart and lighten my sorrow. I started spending more time with her until I came out of it completely,” he said.
I took the needle in and felt the heroin slowly melting inside my veins, skidding toward my mind and hampering my eyes to move left to see my friend.
I was too slow to understand anything on time and with everything starting to fade – I saw my friend preparing a dose and injecting himself with it. I saw him feeling the dose with my eyes half open and then I went off to deep plagued sleep.
Someone screamed nearby and it was about us. I thought about the scream and after a moment opened my eyes. I was slow and confused. I tried to stand and straighten myself up but my legs were dwindling, dwindling enough not realizing my friend’s heart had ceased to beat.
I tried to wake him by all means available but he didn’t. I was frustrated, agonized and wanted to bite his ear to see him screaming. But I didn’t.
I was slow and my decision would have been horrible in a state of ‘heroin high’. After all, I wanted to beat my heart and whack my face.
It was a police case now. The thought of leaving him there did flit through my mind but then I fought with my dazed selfishness and carried him to the hospital. He used to be nice and decent. Above all, he was my friend.
But I turned out to be the enemy of my own friend. I was guilty and he was dying.
Doctors said he is dead. Then came along few shocks and he woke up from dead. Now he was a little less dead.
Parents seeing their son on a deathbed tried to talk to him. They called him with all the lovely and respectful names, but he didn’t move. He was breathing because of the machines around him. He didn’t even hear them. He didn’t seem alive. He was 25 with a life to be reckoned but now he won’t live.
Doctors don’t want to say it on face. It’s harder for them to face his parents. They want his parents to be fatigued until they accept the reality over a period of time. They didn’t want to strike them down with grief all at once.
His parents are involuntarily looking at each other, expecting the other to be strong but both are meekly crying imagining themselves tomorrow, or next week, or a month later, walking without their son in the garden.
His uncle, a strong man with no emotions at all in his normal days, was now thumping his chest and subsequently wiping his tears mindlessly.
He was languidly compounded with a thought whether to weep over him, or to feel the shame of it by telling everyone that my nephew couldn’t have done it.
Next morning, he gives away food to the poor at a shrine, so that the dead saint would advocate the matter before God, so that the god will free his life from imminent death. Would He? God is supreme, none can influence His will.
Life is never unjust. It always gave us a chance to correct our bygone mistakes but he isn’t living anymore.
He is dead or he is dying at least.
He has become incorrigible and unable to defend himself from the ugly narratives of people. A sudden addict’s death beckons an unjust end to youth. It tosses a flying man into the dust and resurrects the everlasting sorrow from it.
Dust will settle but the sorrow will remain.
And men either find someone to blame or they are wise enough to accept destiny. How grim destiny is without youth, ask an old man who loses his son.
I still hoped him to wake up and be on my side on the different track of life, a life without escaping, a life facing all the problems with integrity and resoluteness, but deep down I know it will never happen.
I also know my life is dark ahead.
I will scream and none will hear my pain. I may also die and the world will say he was an addict. I will die like an insect or even worse maybe dishonoured. They will bury me chanting he was an addict and he killed his friend.
Badar Bashir is a Srinagar-based scribe who writes about travel and tribes.