[Continued from DEAR DIARY… (Part II)]
Once the two words had escaped my mouth, I knew I’d be sorry. Have some faith in yourself, Mira! Four years of practice should do some good!
Geoff took me to a small, in fact a very small bar sort of a place. It was small as well as crowded. There was smoke, loud music, chatter and the smell of alcohol. It took some time to find his friends and during this time, my doubts took the better of me. Its been four years since I last saw him! I don’t know what kind of company he keeps or what kind of a man he has become! Will I repent having ‘dinner’ with him and his friends? Something did not feel right about the place but it was too late to turn down the offer.
He finally found his friends. I walked, with him, towards them who were settled in a private corner of the bar. As soon as they saw us, they arose from a cloud of smoke to embrace their companion and the new company. Trust him, and most importantly, TRUST YOURSELF! Geoffrey introduced me to his friends.
“Guys, this is Mira – my only friend during my time in rehab.”
I smiled and said, “He is exaggerating! He was the known charmer, you know? Always surrounded by the girls.”
He blushed, denied and they laughed, and I with them.
Time passed on smoothly, but not without a few awkward glances which his friends exchanged with me. Their eyes moved from me to Geoff and then they’d look at each other, not amused. It made me suspicious, but I didn’t know how to react. I chose to remain silent while they chatted.
Suddenly, one of them, whom they called Sean, got up, looked at me and went away but not before tapping on Geoff’s shoulder. Geoff, understanding the gesture, got up and followed him to the Men’s room. I sat there looking expectantly at the hidden door, waiting for Geoff, because frankly, I was feeling very awkward and self-conscious with his friends. But unfortunately, they took their time and emerged after a good 20 minutes. What were they doing??!
They walked across the room and joined us. Geoff looked beaten. I looked at him, asking him if everything was fine. He smiled a dejected smile as if saying, ‘you’re not going to like this,’ and I knew exactly what he meant. My heart started pumping at a faster rate. I looked at Sean who produced a syringe, out of nowhere. He looked at me with a newly generated emotion – anger… and something else that his eyes held, but not his face. Then, he smirked at his friends and at me. They laughed in excitement and I wanted to run away from that place. I knew that if I stayed a minute longer, I’d succumb. But Geoff held my hand. I protested,
“Can you not do this in my presence? Its hard for me, y’know.”
“Oh c’mon Mira! Don’t be a spoilsport!” said Sean.
“Yeah! Its celebration time! Celebrate with us!” said John, another member of the group who looked at the little bottle of Coke so hungrily that I thought he’ll inject the whole of it.
“I-I…uh…” I stammered.
I looked at Geoff, pleading. He didn’t look at me and I thought to myself, what am I to do?!
“I-I think I should get going.” I managed and got up.
Sean held my hand, looked at me and said, “You’ll feel good. You know you will. Rid yourself of the troubles even if the escape is for a short period of time. Now, sit down, trust yourself this once and have a go at it.”
Those words did the trick. I was falling for it, I was being pulled towards it. Of course I can do it! I’ll do it this once and will never touch them again. I can do that much. I can manage! I was becoming over-confident. But the temptation to do drugs was overwhelming and it overshadowed all my inhibitions; all my doubts.
“Okay. Let us celebrate.” I said slowly. “Lets celebrate!“, and the excitement had set in. “But I won’t use that syringe. Do you have another one?” I inquired. I had heard of people who acquired AIDS and hepatitis because of using the same needle and I wasn’t going to be the fool who learns by trial and error.
“No.”, said Sean.
“But we do have some powder.” John chimed in.
“Thats perfect!” I said happily.
Sean gave a smug smile.
Suddenly all my restraints were lost and I couldn’t help myself but remember those times when doing drugs gave me the momentary and intense feeling of power and energy; that colorful dreamland where all was calm and relaxed. Then, Abraham, the third friend in our group of five, passed me a small package of white crystalline powder. All five of us congratulated each other followed by a clinking of glasses full of alcohol and a loud, “Cheers!” We drank alcohol and started on the drugs. The boys injected the coke and gave out low moans of satisfaction while I sat in a cloud of haze, smoking my cigarette and inhaling pinches of the powder through my nose. As soon as the substance reached my brain, I could feel the rush of blood, that feeling of power and control. I started feeling hot. I was enjoying the sensation, the rush of adrenaline. I puffed my cigarette and enjoyed the feeling a little more before inhaling my second shot. Another cigarette. More alcohol. More pleasure. All five of us were completely lost. It was contentment. Sean was right – it was our own little way of escaping.
Suddenly, the noise in that little place grew louder and louder and it made my head ache. I could hear shrieks. I looked around but my vision had blurred and I was fast losing control. People were running out and about while we were lost in our own little paradise which was fast turning into hell.
Somebody, grabbed me by the hand. It was Geoffrey. Or wasn’t. I was dragged by someone to somewhere. I was protesting, scratching, shouting. I was unaware of what was happening. Then I felt a gush of light on my face which forced me to close my eyes. More noise. More flashes of lights. People were addressing me, asking questions, I think. I tried to clear my head and once I had my senses with me, I saw a flood of people around me, pushing me, asking questions, shoving microphones and mobiles and recorders under my nose. I was pushed inside a big car, or was it a van, which made a horrible loud sound, like a siren, making my headache worse. I was shouting, pushing people away from me. I was slipping under, the voices dulling, as if playing in slow motion. That was when I lay on the cold hard seat of the car, closed my eyes and shut myself from that horribly loud scene.
The next morning, I found myself in a small dark room. It was cold and it smelled of urine. I hugged myself to feel warm when I realized I was no longer wearing my dress. It was some kind of a dirty, smelly and baggy uniform. I called out. No answer. I got up, moved out of the darkness and discovered the bars of my prison cell. I felt numb. I sagged on the ground with a dull thud and tried to remember what really had happened last night. I figured that I was caught consuming drugs and that I was being incarcerated for it. I didn’t know what to do. I was completely blank. Going to a prison for the intake of drugs had never seemed a possibility for me. I had never thought of it. But here I was.
A prison guard came to my cell and took me to an office. I saw my luggage there, open – its contents all over the floor. Then I saw my passport, my visa, my credit cards, mobile and my diary on the center table. I stood there, looking around. Surprisingly, I wasn’t feeling any anger or any feeling of enmity. I felt like I had seen this coming. Just then, a senior looking officer entered the room, looked at me and then at my belongings on his table. He looked at the guard who had brought me in and asked something in a language I couldn’t understand. It was the local language, I thought. The officer then studied me and asked me if I knew what trouble I had put myself into. I simply stood there, looking at him. I knew it wasn’t a question.
He told me that cases that involved drugs went a long way and sometimes the accused grew old in the same prison cell. He asked if I’d like to call someone. I said I’d call my parents. He nodded.
I went over to the phone, started dialing my mother’s number but then changed my mind; I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to control her emotions. I talked with my dad who consoled me and promised me to do everything that he could. I was then taken back to my cell but before that I asked if I could take my diary with me. The officer said I could, but I wasn’t given any instrument to write with. They were afraid I’d use it as a weapon.
I walked back to my cell, sat down on the floor and opened my diary to an entry dated June 09, 1990. It was the day I arrived in Goa. It seemed as if months had passed since then. However, that day was clearly etched in my memory. I was tired from the journey…