Christopher Poindexter, one of my favorite poets, wrote truth. Mmmh…pen or gun?
Take Dan, Carol and Anna for example.
For the first time, I came out bare…in my weaknesses, struggles and pain yet felt understood and worthy of a second chance at life. Thank you. Dan texted.
When I decided to write about drug abuse for a local daily, Rob referred me to Dan. The latter was our classmate in campus. My immediate reaction was that of dismissal.
Dan?! Ever vibrant Dan?! I thought.
Rob assured me that there would be a gruesome twist of perception. Well, he was right! During the interview with Dan, another side of him unravelled. I saw him for who I never thought he was capable of being. His usual optimistic, bubbly-self transmuted to that of a child forced out of a bouncing castle. I felt guilty for taking him back down that road, psychologically.
One year later, I received that text from him. For the first time in my history of writing, I was at a place of immense self-worth and tranquility. I felt that as an emerging writer, I was on the right path…on a worthy course.
My sentiments aside, Dan was introduced to ecstasy by a close friend while at Braeburn School in Nairobi. He was fourteen at the time.
“My family had problems. I needed something to get me away from it all. I was always in the company of at least four friends. They all had issues they needed to cope with. Soon ecstasy seemed incompetent so we turned to Burn; mixture of cocaine and marijuana. By the time I was 16, I was also doing Reo; crystal meth. See, supply of hard drugs in academies was always popping. Schools for the rich,” he muttered.
Soon, Braeburn’s management began to threaten to discontinue Dan due to his poor grades. His parents transferred him to Muhoho Boys Secondary School in Gatundu, Central Kenya. Due to a lower supply of drugs in his new environment, he began to spiral out of sanity. He would skip class and/or run away over the weekend to meet up with his Braeburn crew.
“One lonely Saturday afternoon, I was smoking some of my good stuff in my room when my elder sister walked in on me. She told the whole family over dinner. My dad was especially furious and swore to never support me in any kind of way. With no financial support from my parents, I began to steal to support my lifestyle. This one time, I took ten grand from my dad’s safe. He called the police on me but my mom bailed me out. This created a rift between my parents,” he recounted ruefully.
In 2007, Dan ran the risk of being charged with first degree murder. He had a girlfriend with whom he did the drugs. They usually had violent confrontations. One day, as the couple relaxed in a friend’s house waiting for him to bring drugs, they got into an argument. He lifted her flimsy body off the couch and smashed her against a wall.
“I then took a knife ready to chop her into a million pieces but someone hit me from the back. I woke up in hospital,” he said and hurdled himself with his knees to his chest and arms all around them for support. He wept.
“I could have killed someone. And this is when I realized that I needed help,” he said.
He spent the next two and a half years, in and out of rehabilitation centers.
“I am better now. The rift in my family still exists. Sometimes I feel like they don’t expect me to result into much. Perhaps it’s because I am now HIV positive, a consequence I will have to live with for making poor decisions,” he said as we concluded the interview.
Carol was coerced into alcohol at the age of ten by their house help. When her father chose promiscuity over her mother, the constant feuds at home pushed her into a drinking habit. In 2006, she confessed her addiction to her mother.
“You are too young to have a drinking problem,” her mother retorted.
This dismissal made her believe that her drinking problem was a fallacy until it evidently wasn’t. In 2007, she beat up her class prefect to a pulp while at a prominent girls secondary school in Vokoli, Western Kenya.
“She had falsely accused me of making noise. I hit her against her desk until she bled from her nose. I tore all her books and threw them in the pit latrine,” she narrated.
This was Carol’s cue to reform. She confessed to her teacher with whom they made the decision to enroll her in Nairobi Place, a rehabilitation center in Karen. This was in 2008.
Anna was introduced to laced marijuana by her boyfriend. When she realized that the drug made her resilient to the sadness synonymous with being at home, she made it her comfort zone. Five months into smoking, she became violent and withdrawn. She would not return home for days or even weeks which worried her parents who took her to a psychiatrist. Here, not much was established so they took her a hospital for blood sampling. It was discovered that she had taints of bhang. She became defensive and even more rebellious.
“One week after getting into a fist fight with my mother and kicking her to the floor, my parents proposed a reconciliatory talk over lunch. The lunch venue turned out to be Bustani Rehabilitation Centre in Lavington. I don’t even know for how long I was admitted there,” she said.
Every day, somewhere…someone we know or even we ourselves are a Dan, Anna or a Carol. Times can be hard, I understand. But there is a way is see it all. In athletics, policy makers call the shots on where athletes should stand and when they should begin the race. The athletes decide their pace and how to finish the race. Every challenge we go through, every enemy standing along the way waiting to kick us off balance, is nothing more than the policy makers. They may decide our beginnings but it is up to us to influence our end.
So when you wake up tomorrow, will you pick up the pen or the gun?