As a child, I spent a lot of time drawing lines in the sand to keep people out, hoping no one would be daring enough to cross it. Now, as an adult my life consists of drawing mental lines and hoping not to NOT cross them. If I was anybody else, I probably would have succeeded, but being born with a mind as curious as mine, NEEDING to know is a price I will forever have to pay.
And when I got a call from her, I knew this was going to be one of those times. A ghost from my past, she was the wildest thing I ever met.
“Hello stranger, long time.” She said in a feathery whisper. The call had come from a withheld number and the first thing I did was check the calendar. It was not April 1st, so I knew it was not a prank call. “Hello you, been a while, no?” I asked playing for time and a giveaway. “It all depends on how you view time.” The same feathery whisper. I remember thinking how good the caller was, not giving anything away. But I was not going to ‘say uncle’ without a fight. “Yea time, that most fluid of all concepts. So what have you been up to?” I asked, hoping for a clue as to who this caller was. “Well, this and that.” Again the same whisper. Then she asked, “Do you have any idea who’s talking?” “Am I supposed to know this caller?” I threw back.
“I would hope so, considering…” and she let the words hang there. Only this time the rolling ‘r’ set something off in my head and I was doing a mental ‘nuance’ match. You could almost hear my brain whirring and then ‘ping’. “You! Where have you been in all this time?”
“Schooling would be my guess,” came her reply. “I had to stop work to concentrate on school.”
Talk about a ghost from my past! (Read ‘call me’).
She said she was in Abuja and was wondering when I would be visiting the capital so we could play catch up. Coincidentally, I was due in Abuja in three days. I told her, and she said she would give me a call.
Three days later, I was in Abuja and she kept track of my movement till I got to the hotel, then she made her way over.
From the moment she walked through the door I knew something was off. She was still the same looker:well groomed, just the right amount of courage visible and she smelled of hyacinths. But her eyes were too bright, and her movement too quirky it was a bit unsettling. Okay, more than a bit unsettling.
After the hugs and pecks, she just parked herself on the sofa and proceeded to unpack her bag. As the contents were laid on the table my eyes widened and my heart almost stopped cold. There was a pack of cigarettes, a wrap of marijuana, a white chalklike lump in aluminum foil, a glass tube that looked like a test tube but open at both ends with a tiny opening on top and wire gauze stuffed into it, and a lighter. I had read too many books to not know I was looking at a crack pipe, meaning the white lump was crack heroin! In my mind, I saw the cops busting into my room at that instant and taking me away for ‘possessing’.
I could have asked her to leave then, I should have, but I just sat there and watched wanting to know where this was all leading.
Her phone rang and she held a quick conversation with someone on the other end. After she hung up, she reached for my wallet lying on the table and took out a thousand naira ‘for the cabbie waiting downstairs.’ When she returned, she broke off a piece of crack, put it into her pipe and offered me. Now, I have read how addictive heroin was and though I was curious, it wasn’t enough to cross that mental line. I declined. She lit it, inhaled and then stuck a stick of cigarette in her mouth and set fire to that too. She took two drags on it and then blew a stream of smoke in my direction. All of this while talking quite animatedly.
She repeated the process two more times before rolling a joint. As soon as she was done praising herself for rolling such a fine joint, I pointed her in the direction of the toilet. I mean, my uniform was in the room, and I didn’t want to go to work the next day smelling like a forest fire.
Mercifully there was no fire alarm to set off in the toilet, and I sat with her through that joint to make sure she didn’t set anything on fire. After the joint, which she offered me and I again declined, we went back to the room where she prepared another pipe for herself. “Isn’t that a bit much?” I asked. “I am not an addict,” came back her reply. “Besides addiction is a frame of mind, and I can control my crack intake. It doesn’t control me!” This time she asked me to try a blow back – where she would smoke and then blow it back into my mouth. Forget all that talk about second hand smoke killing you; I couldn’t pass this opportunity to ‘harmlessly do drugs’ up. At least, I said to myself, it’s not like I’m putting the pipe to my lips. We did the blow back, but I was too ‘chicken’ to let the smoke past my throat and into my lungs.
I think it was the combination of work, a long day, the marijuana smoke and the heroin, but when I woke up at 5:30am, I had an acrid taste in my mouth, the beginnings of a monster headache and my wallet was five thousand naira lighter. I laughed so hard I set off the headache. To think that all I got out of this was the vague memory of really soft lips kissing me, and the sure knowledge that I could never do drugs.
As an adult my life consists of drawing mental lines and hoping to NOT cross them. But being born with a mind as curious as mine, NEEDING to know is a price I will forever have to pay.