It all started with the biting of my nails. I couldn’t get to the core of the nail; sometimes,. Sometimes my fingers would bleed unknowingly because I bit too deep, too many times. One bad habit led to another until I realized that biting my nails was not that bad after all.
I remember my neighbor’s eight year old daughter, Diamone, falling off a moving motorbike she had just gotten on. I ran to help the child up. She was lucky not to have been sitting fully on the bikemotorbike when it took off. After she was settled and no longer crying, I began checking her for any broken bones. It was then that I spotted specs of blood all over her blouse.
“Oh My God, she is bleeding somewhere; there! There is blood on her shirt,” I heard the driver of the motorcycle shouting.
Frantically I searched the child for any possible scrapes or bruises, but there weren’t any;. I couldn’t see where the blood was coming from. That left everyone standing in the crowd very confused. Bystanders began checking the ground where she had fallen, and still there was no clue where the blood came from.
That was until I looked at my hands, my fingers. Each of my fingers was infected with puss and blood from the warts that had already burst. When the motorcyclist looked at my hands, he asked me what was wrong. He thought it was a medical condition.
The biting of my nails was just a bad habit.
Many months after my fingers began to look deformed due to my cannibalistic behavior my life took a down turn when I realized that I was not making enough money to survive. I was working as a professional, but my job could only cover school fees and some medical expenses. But my family and I were unable to gain weight – that meant we were not eating enough.
I fell into depression, tried reaching out to my relatives, but they all had the same story as if they were reading sentences from the same book.
“The country is hard, right now and I am not making much at work and there is a recession,” I was told over and over again.
However, they said they would keep me in prayer. I tried to pray for myself instead and told them not to bother. God would listen to me because He knew my problem more than they did.
I prayed and fasted and went to church religiously for a good six months. I stopped biting my nails and began twisting strands of my hair until I began noticing that bald spots were gradually appearing on my head. And then I met Square.
Square was a carpenter in my community who came to help me fix a hole in my leaking roof. I noticed that he always smelled of smoke and had this creepy way of looking at me. He went from fixing a leak to becoming someone I could pour my heart out to. That was until the day he asked me to walk him to a secret location where he could go and “smoke.”
Like a sleepwalker, I followed him. Not because I was curious, but I wanted to be free and okay about life just as he appeared to be. In a room filled with men and women who looked like society had easily pushed them off the face of the earth and this was the only place left for them to be, I saw some of the dirtiest, ugliest human beings I had ever seen. Drugs had consumed their time, interests and everything that could have helped get them a decent place to live.
“This is my jue here oh, my old ma. She just came to sit with me small,” I was introduced by Square.
They all seemed fine with the fact that I was clean, not interested in their taking drugs and timid at their stares. Somewhere during the hour I sat there, I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned to look at who was trying to get my attention, a wrapped up tube-like cigarette was pushed into my lips. I took a drag, inhaled as if I had been waiting for that moment.
As months went by, so did my mind, my ability to work or even look after my family. I had stopped taking calls from concerned relatives who began hearing rumors that I was losing a lot of weight and looking very bad. I was inside a world that loved me, that soothed my thoughts and helped me accept what I could not change.
My fingernails had become worse, though I had stopped biting them. The sores that were once there were now replaced with these odd looking colored warts and dry skin. My hands resembled rotten uncooked cow meat. My hair was no longer there, but the patches that remained had now become an image
my children hated to see. I had become a total mess, but didn’t care; no one knew how much pain was inside of me, that I needed these drugs to keep me numb and isolated.
I remained a drug addict for a complete five years. I had lost every pigment of my skin, body, shine, attractiveness and healthy look. I was mistaken for an AIDS patient rather than a drug addict.
I didn’t care until one day I forgot about the food on the fire.
It all started when I vaguely heard my children crying in the other room. I didn’t bother to check. Why? Because I had stopped caring about their cries for attention long ago. But I smelt smoke, a different type from the smell of my eyebrows burning whenever I took a hit, or the ‘Thai’ burning in its rolled up paper. This smoke smelled like rubber burning, but I was powerless to move. I sat there for what felt like ages until I felt some guys who all got high with me pulling me off my bench and dragging me into the fresh air. I was outside!
In front of me stood a blaze of fire, it had engulfed the entire house. I could hear voices saying “there is their mother,” and another voice saying, “Chea, she looks bad. What is happening to her?” There were so many voices.
It was then that I realized that I needed help and that is why I am sharing my story today.