A decision to go to Kota Bharu yesterday: Quite a few things happened … `normal’ for many people perhaps, but which have made enough impact on me to warrant a post. If anything, they were yet further demonstrations of “How God Works”; if we care enough to look out for and see them as such.
Among other things, I met with another blogger – Arep, a young Finance Ministry officer based in Tawau, Sabah; and just back from two months in Belfast, UK. Yes, many readers here might not know Arep and his This is me personal blog. However, he has his `fans’ and his own blogosphere circle. Tonight, he won’t be in Kelantan anymore for he will be leaving for Tawau via KL. Like prolific and promising The Gossip Lounge/Ted is Fabulously Single writer `Ted Baker’, who is also 20 years younger than I am, Arep too is a very important person to me and this blog…
As some people are already well aware of, I’m the type that likes staying at home and do introverted types of things – the Internet, reading, listening to music, writing, thinking… This isn’t really “bad” I’d say – unless if one goes overboard and totally secludes himself … like the character in Pink Floyd’s double-album of The Wall, as an extreme example. And I’m well aware of becoming one, for I “was almost like that” once; right until Aug 2005 when I was detained and forced to be with others.
But yesterday (Sunday 28 Dec), `something’ inside me told me to go to Kota Bharu; regardless of what happens. Actually, I needed to go there to personally pick up a package that someone had sent a few weeks ago. It was supposed to be “express delivery”, since it was sent through a well-known courier company. Unfortunately, that’s now how things work in Kelantan.
CAPTION: Click on the `bricks’ for Wikipedia’s entry on the “music album”. The `scream’ on the right is about “the film”. Here, Boomtown Rats singer and “We Are The World” kingpin Bob Geldorf had played the character “Pink”. BTW should anyone find the VCD or DVD of this film, PLEASE inform me at cendana287ATgmaiDOTcom, okay? – I’ll bank in what the disc is selling for, plus the postage for Pos Malaysia to deliver it to my house. Thanks in advance.
I’m not going to mention the company, because the sender has forgiven the tardy service. But just a bit of advice for you folks here: If you’re sending to Kelantan – and especially if the receiver lives outside the centre of towns – make sure it’s through Pos Malaysia only.
This isn’t the first time that these courier companies have let me down. It’s ironic that David R – my American friend living in Seoul, Korea – could have his letters and packages delivered to me within a week over the past 10 years. When Pos Malaysia then takes over the delivery from the very fast and efficient Korea Post, there have not been any problems.
I’ve had all the things sent by him from Seoul reaching me without any fuss; either to here in rural Kelantan, the centre of Kuantan in Jalan Gambut (but of course) or “deep beyond an oil-palm estate and bordering a jungle that is Pusat Serenti Gambang”. Once, I had a letter sent by ordinary air-mail reaching me in four days! Only once did I not received something from him – and it was due to him not knowing that I was in Pengkalan Chepa Prison at that time (BTW David R follows this blog regularly – he prefers to email any comments direct to me).
Back to this package: For various reasons, I had to cancel my previous plans and intentions to go to Kota Bharu – something would somehow prevent me from doing so. And yesterday might have been yet another cancellation, for there were two valid that would have stopped most people (and me too, definitely)from undertaking that 17-mile trip – heavy rain AND fever.
However, something inside told me to go, regardless; come what may… And am I glad I did so!
I had already planned to go from the previous day. I knew there was a book and a CD inside the package. Even though the sender didn’t say so, I also knew they “were very important and relevant to my life” – of things that the sender obviously felt would help me… I had also interpreted the fact that “so many obstacles” had appeared from Day One, that `had conspired’ to prevent me from getting the package, as this: “Whatever things that we only gain with a lot of difficulty, tend to be very precious; as opposed to things presented on a silver platter”. It’s also a lesson in mind power, and “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. So, regardless of the heavy rain, and regardless of the sudden fever that resulted in a headache, nausea and my body aching and shivering, I made the decision to go…
What a tough journey it was; from the start at 2.40PM until the end when I reached home at 8.10PM; especially when there were traffic jams. But reach KB I did. And then it was a long walk in the rain from the bus-station to the area near the Muhammadi Mosque/White House Restaurant. But nothing can stop a person when he’s determined – at 4.45PM, the package and its precious contents were finally in my hands…
I had planned to take the 5.30PM or the last 6.15PM KB-Pasir Mas-Tanah Merah inter-district bus that will stop right in front of my house (RM4.20 fare). But I had to buy an electric kettle first – something I had intended to get for months (but couldn’t/didn’t). At present, I’d boil water at my wife’s house nearby; usually twice a day.
There are also a few good reasons for this arrangement – my turning up there means “I’m not dead”, among other things… However, it’s quite an inconvenience; especially when I feel like having a Maggi Curry instant noodles at 3AM but not having any hot water. Or a hot-water bath, which is quite nice during this season… So, 6.15PM bus then.
I was quite aware of that area as I walked back – the area behind the former Bank Negara Kota Bharu branch. There was the first floor shoplot unit where I used to work from the last quarter of 1996 to early 1997. It was a period when I was heavily addicted to morphine, and also taking it by IV. Occasionally, my regular pusher from Morak, Tumpat (near to Kbguy: It’s me.. just me ‘N’ us area of Wakaf Baru) would come and deliver morphine or heroin; if the purchase is at least “one lork” (plastic tube of perhaps 2 inches long, diameter of a candle and, for some unknown reason, tends to come with a yellow cap).
A `light’ user who has the discipline could, theoretically, be supplied for one month at least on the basis of “one dose” daily (In reality, that’s not how things work out; light, medium or heavy – you can’t control usage, period). With me then, at the most it would last five days.
From 1993, this high-purity morphine used to be RM60 in Golok, Thailand; RM80 just across the river in Rantau Panjang; RM120 in Pasir Mas; RM130 in Kota Bharu; RM200 Besut; RM300 Kuala Trengganu and Kuantan (maybe). In 1995, it went to RM80, then RM90 in Golok. Then, towards 1996, it became RM150. Occasionally, there would be “putus” (disruption) in supply, and prices went to a ridiculous RM1,500 in Golok for a few days! Many users would suffer withdrawal (which is a good thing actually – if they keep at it and not consume again at the first chance). It’s unfortunate that Malaysia was too conservative and hardlined then – not allowing methadone, buprenorphine (subuxone/subutex) that would have allowed addicts to come off heroin/morphine or/and stay off.
Theoretically, gram-for-gram, heroin should be more potent. However, the stuff in KL (reddish/pink or brown) and the “kuning karat” (rusty) of Johor Baru were of low purity; unlike the legendary “pok teh” (whitish) `Kelantan’ morphine. Weight for weight, the Kelantan stuff was at least three times stronger than the west coast’s heroin – just take my word for it. So was the pain of the withdrawal…
[As an aside, I heard from a few people a couple of months ago, who were also on supervision, that the current price in Golok was RM600. Adjust it accordingly to the places mentioned] Have to stop talking about morphine here – Frankly speaking, talks and thoughts of it create “desire” and “longing”. And that is how people slip, lapse and relapse – when thinking and remembering “how great it felt”. And conveniently forgetting “the many hardships”, of course…
Back to the “Kota Bharu Odyssey”: I stopped at a coffeeshop near Hotel Temenggong first – a place where I usually had breakfast then. It was also my first visit since 1999. I was very hungry, but the sad memories of heavy addiction in 1996/97, and the troubles that had caused, killed my appetite. I could only manage two karipap with the Nescafe “O”, and a cigarette – RM2.40 (RM1.60 in my village). But the precious “Holy Grail” was already in my hands – now it’s time to brave the driving rain, find the best deal for that intended electric kettle and go home.
At 5.08PM, my cheap Nokia 1208 handset (presented by my elder sister last March) vibrated, with the “Reed” tone. My first thoughts were “Sherry and Nazmi” who – with their three children whom I regard with no less affection and connection than as my own nieces and nephews – were on their way back to Kuantan from KL. Or maybe it was a friend from Gambang. Or the package’s sender. Or the senior editorial consultant. Or Mohd Zawi. Or my father… The screen said, “Arep Tawau“.
Now I was aware that he’s back from the UK, and that he was busy with his sister’s wedding. It was a courtesy call (very nice, thoughtful and respectful of him) before he leaves for Tawau again. He was surprised that I was in Kota Bharu too! Arep, whose house is in Melor, on the outskirts of KB leading to Pasir Puteh, was at Tesco; near the Kelantan River and Sultan Yahya Petra bridge.
It was raining heavily, time was short (remember the 6.15PM last bus) and I had not bought the kettle yet. But deep inside me, I wanted to see him! I had very good reasons for this, which will contribute towards my peace of mind…
[PART 2 `LATER’]