Story by Mohammad Aquib Anis
Mohammad Aquib Anis
Hello Everyone! My name is Zaid and i am an addict. You heard it right, an addict, a cannabis addict. I tried every trick in the book to overcome it. Will power, taking oath under my parent’s name, my siblings name, even my one sided crush’s name, but nothing stopped me from smoking weed.
I was in my third year of engineering when I started smoking weed and soon I became an addict. Because of the addiction, I was always short on money. Sometimes I faked my accident, sometimes my friend’s accident and even my friend’s mother illness to extract money from my father. Things were going smooth until I graduated. Then, one fine day my father issued a decree, “You have only three months’ time, find a job for yourself, I can’t feed you anymore and till then don’t set foot in the house.”
My father was a man of his words. I went broke. Because of my addiction, no one was willing to credit me money. So, I sold my phone and lied to my parents that it was stolen. That money was also gone in seconds. My conscience was telling me to leave the addiction and find a job but my mind was not listening to it. I was residing in my college hostel, illegally, as I had nowhere else to go. I went to a lot of psychiatrist, went to the mosque, talked to a “Maulana” and even joined a “jammat” but nothing helped me.
“No matter what happens, I have to find a job within a week”, I said to myself while waiting at the bus stand on a sunny afternoon. I took a pledge in the morning that at least for a day neither I will smoke weed nor cigarettes. The oath was tumbling. I was having severe headache and my body was shaking. There was no one at the bus stand other than a girl who was sitting by my side completely immersed in the book which she was reading.
Suddenly, her phone was ringing. She took it out from her purse. Oh dear! My eyes lit up. She had an iPhone. That’s almost 30,000 rupees right in front of me. I got an idea. What if I snatch her mobile phone and run away? I will sell it to Aslam, my friend at the flea market. No! Zaid, you are not a thief! Don’t stoop so low. You are from a well to do, educated family. You will get a job. Have some patience. But I will get minimum of 30,000 thousand rupees for it. Imagine the amount of weed I can buy with that money. A conflict took place between my conscience and my mind and soon the latter overpowered the former. But she looks like a strong girl, she will surely retaliate. Look at her arms; what do her parents feed her? Then I looked at my physique. I was anorexic. But she’s a girl and I am a man. I am much stronger than her. If I snatch the phone and runs at almost 50 km/hr., I will reach my hostel in 10 minutes. Will I be able to run at that speed? Shit! I should have eaten something in the morning. I don’t think I will be able to run for even a minute. That’s why it is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What if I punch the girl and then snatch the phone? Then I won’t have to run. Then I looked at my fist. God! My fist is like my mother’s, soft and harmless. Nothing will happen to her from my punch. If she punches me then I will surely faint. Suppose I try to snatch her phone and she has some kind of pepper spray in her bag. God! I don’t want to lose my eyes. To hell with these women safety campaigns.
The next moment I realized that I was sprinting like a cheetah. I have never run like that in my life. A small mob was chasing me while hurling abuses. I kept sprinting. I never knew I could run like this. I should participate in a marathon, I thought. Finally, after running for nearly twenty minutes, I broke down at a park. I looked behind and there was no one. Boom! At a stroke, I fell on the ground like a piece of paper. I was lying with the scorching sun rays directly into my eyes. Can someone please fetch me some water? I murmured. As long as I could see, there was no one. I am dying of thirst here! Please! Help me! I tried to shout but the sound wasn’t coming out of my mouth. There wasn’t an ounce of energy left in my body. Soon, I went unconscious.
Hey! Wake up. I felt as if someone kicked me.
What has happened? Who are you? Where do you live? Slowly, I opened my eyes and saw a girl standing in between me and the sun. Why are you lying over here? Don’t you have a home? I ignored her questions.
W…a…t…e…r? I whispered. What? I can’t hear you, she said…
W….a…t…e…r! P…l…e…a…s…e! I said.
Oh! You want water. She took out a bottle from her sack. She said something which i ignored and drank the whole.
Hey! You emptied the bottle, she shouted.
I am s…o…r…r…y, I murmured. Will your “sorry” fill my bottle? No, I said and lowered my head. What happened to you? Why are you lying over here? She repeated. I didn’t say anything. It’s all right if you don’t want to answer me. I too need some rest; I have been walking since morning. She said while dropping her sack and sat in front of me. Her sack was bigger than her. What’s your name? Zaid, I said. What does it mean? I suppose it means “growth”, I said and laughed. Mine is Rani and it means “Queen”. That’s a good name, I remarked. It has to be a good one since my mother chose it. She said and started sobbing. I was perplexed. Did I say anything wrong to you? Why are you crying? She didn’t say anything and continued sobbing. I had no clue what happened. Even though I gained consciousness still I didn’t had ample energy to stand up and walk. I was forced to sit there and hear her. After a few minutes of melancholia, she spoke.
I loved my mother a lot. She was a hardworking and ambitious woman. She worked as a labourer for a construction company and never wanted me to follow her path; instead she wanted me to attend school. “School is only for rich people who we aren’t”, my father would say and snatch her money as soon as he get to know that she had received her daily wage and bought alcohol from it. He was a drunkard. When my mother got pregnant with her second child, he forced me to pick up rags and hand over each and every penny I earned to him. She knew it was impossible for her to send me to school till my father was around. So, she decided to run away with me. We planned everything. At night when my father would get unconscious after drinking, we would sneak out of the house. But often things don’t go as planned.
Why? What happened? I asked.
Someone rat us out. Who? I don’t know, she said. That night, we handed over the money to him but he didn’t go to the alcohol shop, instead, he told my mother that he is thinking of finding a job for himself, earning money and sending me to school. He was disturbed by the remarks his friends made at him. Everyone thinks of me as a black sheep, he cried. “You should die from shame for buying alcohol off your wife and children’s money”, Ramesh, my friend told me yesterday. I can’t tell you how hurt I am. We have an additional member entering into our family in a few months. I pray to god that the new born baby is a girl; he continued.
I saw terror in my mother’s face. She knew that he was lying and someone has rat us out. My father never loved me. Why did you give birth to this useless creature? She is so weak. She is incapable of doing anything. First of all she finds it really hard to earn a single penny; and then we ought to spend huge amount of money for her dowry. He even tried to sell me once to a city boy.
His theatrics didn’t stop there. I will cook food tonight! He said and snatched the utensils from my mother. While he was busy cooking, my mother pulled me aside and told me to run away from the house, alone. I hugged her and started crying. “I won’t go anywhere without you”, I said. I made the biggest mistake of my life by marrying such a vile creature. You are only sunshine in my dim life. She said and made me swear on her name that I won’t return. I won’t leave without you, I cried. You have suffered enough in your life. After much persuasion, I agreed but on a condition. Next morning, my mother would come at the railway station where I would be waiting for her. We would together board any train and would start a new life in a new city.
Did your mother come? I asked. No, she cried.
I went to the railway station every morning but she wasn’t there. I thought that maybe my mother was waiting for the perfect moment to escape. This continued for a week. I was getting depressed. Did she forget about me? I thought. One day, the railway police caught me. They handed me over to my father who told me that my mother had died on the night I escaped. I knew he had killed her but there was no evidence to prove it. I tried telling the police about it but nobody listened to me. Who in this world cares for the death of a daily wage worker? My father remarried within a month after my mother’s death. Bring me money every day or I will sell you to anyone, he often threatened me. You are a “fresh flesh” and I would get any desired amount for you. Don’t ever make me angry or even think of running away from the house. So, I make sure to give at least some money to him every day in return of him providing me food and shelter.
I should go now, she said and stood up. It’s getting late and since you have drunk every drop of water in the bottle, I will have to walk all the way to the river gain to fill. I felt ashamed on hearing it. I started searching my pocket for money but there wasn’t any. Please let me fill the bottle for you, I said and tried to take the bottle from her. No! She shouted. I don’t want any help from you. “When I saw you lying on the field like that, I was reminded of my father”. I thought you too were a drunkard. She said and walked away. There was an eerie of silence. I realized that the cell phone in my hand was constantly ringing.
What happened to the phone? An elderly lady said. I returned it to the girl. She did nothing like handing you over to the cops or slapping you? No. she did not. But I do remember the look on her face when I went to her house to return it. “You snatched my phone, ran like Forrest Gump and now you have come to return it, seriously!” Is something wrong with you? I think she said something like this. Everyone chuckled. Today is your last day at this rehabilitation centre, now you will be a free soul, remarked Dr. Suman. I hope the therapy was beneficial for you. Everyone! Please can we have a round of applause for Zaid for overcoming his addiction? Everyone stood up and clapped. I could hear some whistles too. Only clapping, Dr.Suman said and laughed. What will you do after getting out of here? The elderly lady asked. I think he will try and look for a job, a young boy said. I think he will join an NGO and help other people overcome addiction, a middle aged man said. I knew what I will do after getting out,
I will look for Rani.