by Urvat IL Wuska
How can I forget that ominous night that brought darkness into our extended family. Covering his trembling body with a blanket, his mother and sisters wailing: Ye kya kourtham, Ye kyaho kourtham (what had you done to yourself what had you done?)
Fatima did not know if her word would reach the ears of her son. His sisters, Haniya and Noor, were muttering to Hamza’s desperate calls to respond to them. He did finally. “Let me go please …leave me,” Hamza uttered in a sluggish voice.
Spending every night with the hope that someday the light of the dusk will end up the darkness of our lives, I didn’t know that it was just the beginning of our miseries. Hamza had started the journey of his destruction. He was into drug addiction.
I tried so hard to find out what drug he is consuming but could not find any clue. I had no idea that it would be something that is sold at hardware stores. It shocked me that it was a synthetic adhesive rubber.
Hamza started to come home late at night and usually avoided taking calls while taking drugs as he doesn’t want us to know that he is still taking drugs. Day by day his addiction to inhaling the drug increased. Sometimes when he loses his consciousness and whenever he takes my calls in that state he used to repeat my words in a slurred way and laughs loudly.
Hamza was good at studies from the beginning and teachers used to praise him always for his achievements. He used to take part in religious gatherings and functions in the masjid. Who can imagine that such a religious boy is going to be remembered as an addict?
Apart from the humiliation he brought to the family, he had no idea that he is a victim of substance abuse. When he would come home late at night he used to lock himself again in the room. He was becoming more aggressive day by day. When he became fully addicted to inhaling this poison he sometimes used to beat us so that we could leave him alone.
I cried many times in front of him and begged him to show some mercy on himself but it all was in vain. Many times he tried to leave this drug but the addiction was not easy to control.
In the beginning, he used to go to deserted places with his friend but after things got unveiled, he started to buy this solvent from the hardware stores near-by and inhale it in his home. The impact was devastating.
Hamza’s studies got affected first. He was much interested in doing business so he took commerce stream. Despite hardships, we managed to deposit his annual tuition fees. But when he bunked classes, we decided to send him to a shop so that he could pass his time there. He still managed to fulfil his urge of taking drugs. After a year passed he dropped out. When he said he cannot manage study and work at the same time, he preferred his life over his studies. We had no second option.
We always avoided inviting guests, as we did not want that anybody should know about it. Anybody would detect it, if he got in.
It has a strong smell that its odour spreads to the whole house. I remember it was Eid ul Azha and guests were coming but he was in a state of intoxication and how we managed to hide him from the guests.
One day I went to some hardware stores and told them to not sell this product to the young boys and teens. But surprisingly I came to know that they are already aware that teens are abusing this product. Taking the opportunity of their addiction they even sell the solution at higher rates.
One day in a state of intoxication Hamza told me that somebody is walking towards him. He was so scared that he uttered the name of someplace. I took it as a clue. This helped me trace the shop where fro he was getting his doses. So I told his mother about it.
One day he went for playing cricket with his friends. When I called him he told me that he will be back in some minutes. But his mother was unsure.
So we decided to go to that place. While I was walking towards that place with Fatimah everyone was gazing at us. We somehow managed to reach there. When we finally reached there I saw Hamza with a plastic bag in his hand with some brown substance in it. Fatimah slapped him. We took him away from the place.
While we were taking him home, he would continuously tell us: “I will never do it again … I can’t leave it all at once. I need to take it first only then I will quit “.
Hamza gave us two – wither he will consume the substance ta home or he will run away from home. Fatimah told him that she can’t give him poison like this.
But when we reached home he ran away and came home after buying the solution.
Hamza’s sister, Noor was unaware of what’s happening around her. She would routinely beats herself. I tried to take away the solution from him but he pushed me away.
When he was about to lock up himself in the room, I decided not to leave him alone. I had read somewhere that if someone takes this drug in a closed place the person can die suddenly due to sudden sniffing syndrome. I assured him that I will not stop him inhaling the drug but would stay with him in his room.
In the room, he took a plastic bag from his jacket and opened the tin and poured the solution on it. Then he blows air in and then inhaled it.
I never felt more helpless than I felt at that moment. He was killing himself before me and I had no options.
Hashim, his father, was conscious of everything happening in his home yet he didn’t even try once to stop him. As a father, he always failed to fulfil his responsibilities. He would go to some other room and avoid handling the whole situation. Sometimes when I tried to speak to him about Hashim, he would instead pick a fight with his wife. He would squarely hold his wife responsible for his son’s upbringing.
Fatimah decided to send Hamza to his cousin’s shop. For some time things got better as Hamza got busy with work. We thought that storm has come to an end. But it was a very tough period for him as his veins were now used to get this chemical. His body was demanding this drug. “Beh Gasav pagal be Gasav pagal,“(I will become mad don’t do this to me) he would routinely say.
He thought that we were becoming harsh on him. He would be friendly with the person who could get him the solution. He started to fight with us every night. All this continued for few months after which he convinced his cousin to allow him to stay home on Sundays. Then, Hashim gave up his job, saying why he requires to earn at the first place.
One day when I went to visit them. I found Hamza alone in the house. I was knocking the door for a long time but nobody responded. After sometime Hamza opened the door and I found him alone in the house. He went directly into the kitchen and began to find plastic bags. I tried to stop him but he slapped me and pushed me away. I was looking for Fatimah and Noor when they came back they consoled me. That day they said they will taking him to the rehabilitation centre.
We had two problems – the centre was seeking a good amount, which was out of our reach, and Hamza was unwilling. As we insisted, he ran away home. This is how our last hope was shattered. He returned home with the same routine. From sniffing for an hour, he started doing it all day and night. Then he used to scream while having a hallucination. He started fighting on small things.
Then a miracle took place. One day he realised that he is the only earning hand in his home. He realised that he has lost his health, friends, relatives and money. It was the day when he chooses life over death. He decided to live for his mother.
(Names have been changed on request to protect their identity).