“Pass the ball. I’m open!”
It’s always fun watching young kids play soccer. They have this look of determination in their eyes. In that moment they think they are superstars playing for their favorite clubs. They will dribble their way to the goal mouth and score. They will celebrate in all forms and manners and they will imagine a crowd going wild at their achievements.
This was me a few years back. I had dreams undiluted by reality and I had a plan. My plan was much like every other twelve year old, I wanted to get an education, get rich and make my mother proud. We would sit outside our houses me and my friends and we would talk about a future full of promise. But what did we know we were young and naïve – at least that’s what the older kids would tell us. They’d go out and buy sachets of clear spirits and drink. Some would buy cigarette sticks and they’d puff away without a care. Of course we did not say a thing they’d beat us – so we watched and swore never to be like them.
Looking back at our innocence I don’t know whether to feel sorry or laugh. It was one of those moments when life happened taking a course you thought it would never take. I mean, do any of you remember taking their first sip of alcohol? Bringing the brim of the bottle close to your mouth and feeling the sting of the concentrated ethanol hit your nostrils making you turn away slightly. What about the rush that went into buying the alcohol? How you’d all dress up to look older and would send the tallest to go in and buy the bottle? It was an experience on its on – you would let the bitter drink go down smoothly without a wince because you didn’t want to show the rest of your friends how childish you were. You did not know what to expect of drunkenness so when you lost all coordination you were sure you were done for – you knew your mother would beat the drunk out of you and the only spirit your life would be full of would be the holy-spirit once you went back to church. You lived for the holidays to at least have a story to tell about how you had one too many and managed to fool everyone at home. You’d shun the motivational speakers that would come to motivate you because they’d speak out against alcohol abuse. You also realized your dream, your plan, were going with the wind.
But somehow you managed to pull through and got into university. Half the motivation came from the teachers in practice. Especially that hot one, the one with light skin, big bosom and even bigger derrière. The one that would lean in on your desk when talking to you and let the perfumed breasts waft their tempting fragrance into your adolescent nostrils. She told you how in university you could have girls even better than her and that’s where you drew your inspiration from. Not the promise of a good future, no – who even does that? You went in it for the tail. The means justifies the end right? So you got there and your friends were not too far behind. The partying started – you didn’t hide because you were legal. That national I.D became your new best friend, okay second best friend because you always had a bottle of vodka in hand. At some point you get the random idea, which was not really random because a girl you were getting cozy too asked you to accompany her in the dark of night out into the balcony and she let out a cigarette from her boobs. You thought how lucky that cigarette must have been but you don’t smoke you never have and once again you felt that rush from back in the day crawl up your neck. She lights it up and it doesn’t smell like ordinary cigarettes it has a more pungent smell and an oily smoke. She offers you the cigarette but your look betrays you and she laughs. So she pulls on it and then comes close to your face. Her hands hold your cheeks and she draws you in for a kiss where she exhales the smoke into your mouth and soon your lungs. You’ve never experienced the feeling before. Soon you’re light headed and happy smiling for no reason. The two of you are lips locked swapping fumes and what happens that night is best left to the imagination. You’ve now graduated to weed as they call it. Its fun, it’s recreational and its non addictive. What better drug, right?
You don’t hesitate to share the experience with your friends. You’re now from passing the ball to passing the blunt. That is what you live for, that and orange juice with gin and/or vodka. Wiz Khalifa quickly becomes your idol and medicated is on constant replay. Your world goes slower than Airtel unliminet and you’re now in the cool kids club. Parties are not complete without rolls and rolls of cannabis and soon you discover that you can make edibles. You have so much fun waking up in the morning next to ladies whose names you don’t even remember and watch them walk butt naked as they look for their lingerie and short denim shorts. You briefly exchange numbers and light pecks to save the situation and you wake up in your jeans without a shirt on looking for last night’s alcohol. At some point you take a long look at your life and realize that you’re way off course. It’s time to get back on track.
So the parties stop and you delve into your books to save a G.P.A which is already on its dying kicks. You pull them out of their eminent nose dive and manage to get a decent score. Your parents are happy and your life is somewhat back on course as you scourge the dailies in search for a job. None is forth coming so now you bombard your relatives with e-mails attached with your poorly done CV’s and text messages asking for link-ups. Something or someone somewhere gives and you get your first job. You’re happy and back on course after a long detour. Then it hits you – you made all these changes and forgot about your friends so you hit them up, you start with the closest –he is fine and well on his way to getting a degree. You’re happy and check on all of them who are doing well until you land on one who still thinks the party is going on. It’s all fun, games and rebellion for him. The non-addictive drug he became dependent on but won’t admit it. Every time you meet he has a look in his eyes a look of despise. In his world you are the embodiment of everything he is against. He adopted a new lease on life, one where he believes in a religion that deems the drug as holy – not really a bad thing but it is destroying him. You no longer partake so now there is nothing in common between the two of you other than the awkward hellos. You wish you had a way to help him but you cannot help someone that does not want it.
That is your present and you’re disappointed. You want to remind him of the promises you made to succeed in life and get rich. You’re more afraid of advancing and leaving a man behind – you talked about how you’d all be at par. There’s nothing really much you can do as you hear his days are made of smoking up and sun basking building castles and hating on everything against his “ways”. Where you saw a bright future you see darkness although there’s some glimmering hope. His ways are full of hypocrisy to his beliefs but you don’t mention it lest you take away the only thing he has – what is a man if he doesn’t have anything to live for? You feel partly to blame but the feeling passes we all make our decisions and have to live with them. You get on with life and hope that in the next five years there won’t be too much disparity between the two of you. You know this is wishful thinking, his life is on a trajectory whose end is obvious – it needs to change everyone knows that’s the only way, everyone but him. In five years they will be somebody you used to know.