He gazed at me as if I was his biggest monkey-wrench. His tummy seemed to be covered by a handkerchief since his torn shirt only covered segments of his body. (Woe and grief dawned on me) It wasn’t the intensity of the tear nor the dirt on his clothes but the sight- the sight of his ribs. They seemed to have been systematically arranged on his body like rows of planted trees. Were they to be plucked, they would produce a perfect tune that would make an award winning album entitled ‘Meatless Guitar’. His face showed defeat. Not defeat from a bully or a test; defeat from hunger, poverty, pain and frustration. How could this boy, Jack, who I called my son look like a hobo? I had once imagined of having a kid who looked like a model, so how could my dream have come to this- from a baby model to a ‘shirtless’ baby? Deep within me was the answer. The same answer that made my name go from ‘Elegant Rose’ to ‘Dosed Rose’
What was the story behind the answer?
In campus, Friday night is ‘THE NIGHT’. The night that everything comes to life (even zombies). I had been invited to ‘The Party of The Year’ by one of my friends. See, this party wasn’t special despite the name but a part of me greatly felt that this was THE Friday, not any Friday; My Friday. The party was in Westlands at my friend’s house and as we all know, Westie is the place where you’ll find ‘real’ parties. Honestly, this party was lit; codeine crazy lit, molly lit and most of all blasé lit. It wasn’t the drugs or the music that fascinated me. It was one guy. A guy who kept staring at me every now and then. Sometimes I’d stare back and he’d end up smiling. At first it seemed like a game of look at me as I look at you but eventually I realized I was gaining an interest in him. The cheeky smile that kept appearing on his handsome face made me feel like walking up to him just to say hi, but my ego couldn’t let me. At exactly 2 A.M he walked up to me and said, “Hi, am Michael. Wanna dance?” There and then, the beginning of my story was unraveled.
Michael seemed like the best thing that ever happened to me. His love for life and his attitude that was accompanied by the slogan ‘You Only Live Once’ seemed to be what mostly attracted me to him. Our relationship was great but with one problem; he was a druggie and I wasn’t. Thing about relationships is that they change people. Either someone changes for you or you change for someone. In this case the latter happened; I changed for him. One puff. Two puffs. Three puffs. Four puffs. Five puffs. Day by day I seemed to be becoming a prowess (that is what I thought). My change seemed to have made him fall more in love with me and that’s how we became a power couple. The couple that smoked together and filled social media with these pictures and videos with the captions #this is how we do; #weed is life; #chimney baes; #lit. Indeed, we were the couple that made many say, “Relationship Goals.”
Things were great till strange things started happening. I started becoming paranoid, psychotic and slight noises began to make me panic. I opted to tell Michael but all he said was, “It’s nothing serious. Am sure it will pass. You can crash at my place to feel better.” Being with him would help but when I got back to my place, the panic and paranoia never stopped. Then IT happened.
I got pregnant. It hadn’t hit me that I had become reckless. That every time Michael and I got high we banged raw. Yes, raw. I decided to tell him hoping that he would help me come to a conclusion on what to do. The discussion turned to an argument that ended with, “That kid can’t be mine. I’ve been banging Lisa longer than you and she has never gotten pregnant. So why you?” There it was. A confession that he had been banging his so called best friend. A part of me wanted to tell him, “Maybe she’s barren. Maybe she got a vasectomy. Maybe she uses contraceptives.” But I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. With that confession, my expectant-self walked out of Michael’s life saying I could actually do it myself. Could I actually do it? What was this ‘it’ that I could actually do? Giving birth and raising my kid or aborting?
Days of trying to make a decision turned to months. Days of saying I’ll quit Mary Jane turned to months of puffing more and more of it. 9 months down the line and baby Jack was born. Confused. I decided to go home because my savings account was now bankrupt and my pockets were emptier than an empty hall. The disappointment on my parents’ faces could make a pauper rich if it could be turned to money. The Maina’s home turned to Maina’s house for it was no longer filled with laughter. It was filled with frustration and baby cries. I tried staying clean, tried ignoring the urge to just have two puffs. Not three, just two. The temptation got the best of me. I started sneaking out for the sake of two mere puffs. It only took two months for my parents to realize that I was addicted. Addicted to destruction and frustration. Indeed, addicted to marijuana! They got troubled-troubled to the point of saying rehab and prayers by the pastor is what could save me. In my high state, I pictured a pastor’s hands on my head shouting, “Mapepo ya bhangi ishindwe. Itoke na ikwende kabisa.” The thought of that made me laugh but the thought of rehab made me shiver. So one morning I woke up, packed my things, took my baby and ran. Ran back to Nairobi hoping I’d find peace. War is all I found.
My baby was growing fast. He needed food, clothes, toys and an education. So I did my best and became a waitress. Not in a hotel if that’s what you’re thinking. In a bar that was close to what I now called home but what many would call ‘kibanda’. The tips were okay. They could help me pay my rent and my baby’s upkeep. Most of all, I could manage to buy a stash of weed once in a while. For the kush made life seem like a clear bush. The addiction began to get the best of me. The craving to escape reality grew more intense. I began making impaired judgements like failing to go to work regularly so as to create time to get high. Eventually, I lost my job. Frustration kicked in. I became hopeless; a hopeless prostitute. Life then became a cycle summarized by ‘more weed, less stress; less weed, more stress.
“Mom, the teacher said you need to pay school fees or I will be sent home,” said Jack.
His voice brought me back to reality. A tear dropped from my eye as I realized that I had let my son down. He was now 5 with a missing tooth. Was it time for me to reform? Should I go home and tell them to pay the rehab fee for me? I lift my head to look at him and slowly mutter, ‘I’ll get you the money and I’ll change to the point that someday we’ll live in one of those big mansions and you’ll have your own room with batman stickers.” Am not sure he understands or if the mention of batman is what makes him happy but his eyes seem to have some hope. Slowly. He sits beside me and holds my hand. He has hope. I may have gotten knocked up by some handsome face who introduced me to sweet drugs then left me in tattered rags and addicted to drugs. But I now have a handsome son who has hope that tomorrow the sunrise will be the beginning of my change and for us it’ll be a new age.