Quite a few things on my mind right now besides writing this post and satisfy Tehsin; who, among others, are understandably annoyed with my leaving things hanging (again) with the last post.
There’s also the matter of the South Korean ship; Bob Geldof’s daughter, Peaches; and the detention of actress Azean Irdawaty’s son. The last two involved drugs, which have a connection with this blog.
CAPTION: After two weeks in detention for the possession case, Benjy was charged in court. After his mother posted bail, he was rearrested. Pix from The Malay Mail
And the Korean matter – yes, I’m concerned with the developments there…because of the presence of someone who is very important to me and my family. I can only hope that it doesn’t get out of hand.
But let’s leave the present for the time being and continue with what the previous post was about.
The last time I saw Abdulrahim Abdul Rahman was at 1.30 PM on Monday 18 December 2006, as a spanking-new AADK Kia Pregio took us from the Pusat Khidmat AADK Kuantan at Jalan Gambut to the Terminal Makmur a short distance away.
It was a very special day for me and nine others. That was the much talked about, speculated and awaited – the day of the Bebas. The AADK wasn’t going to just give us our watikah and let us loose, no – they insisted on holding a ceremony… We, the group of selected inmates from the centres in Pahang, who had spent our last three months undergoing a special programme. And Rahim; he was a Pembimbing Rakan Sebaya (PRS – Peer Group Guide) – an elite group of people with a very crucial role in drug rehabilitation.
Now, it’s a fact that no matter how honest and sincere an anti-drugs or rehabilitation officer is, there’s a limit as to his ability to reach the recovering addict. There are certain aspects of addiction that `outsiders’ could never fully realise and understand. Only someone “who had been there”, who had seen it and who had felt the corrosive effects of addiction on himself and his life, could have the same level of empathy with the addicts.
I had first known Rahim 10 months before that; when I was a red-shirted, Phase One Botak (Baldie..Newbie) at the end of November 2005. He was there with another PRS, Abang Man, and they were representing PENDAMAI.
By the way, in pusat culture, including and especially at Gambang, the botaks are the lowest in the pecking order and the food chain – sometimes literally (if there’s not enough of something, the botaks have to `voluntarily’ sacrifice their share). They also `volunteer’ for the toughest, dirtiest, most dreary work. Everyone starts as a botak.
CAPTION: The antithesis of the botak – the white-shirted, Phase 4 & Pre-Release Abang (Big Brother – Senior). Not everyone will be one – (i) those who had run away. (ii) obtained an early release due to “humanitarian reasons” (HIV, chronic illness, mental – real or imagined) (iii) those with pending criminal cases – they went to court..and never came back
Their visit and talk left a big impression on me. Here were people who had gone through the same things as we had. But there’s a big difference – they were respectable members of society while we were inmates of an institution. The one variable that had decided our lot in life at that time was… they no longer took drugs; they worked on their rehabilitation.
They gave me hope and courage to imagine and work for a better future. I was determined to follow what they had mentioned and not to “follow the crowd”. This included “to see our stay, court-ordered that it was, as an opportunity to create better things”. And also “not to engage in nonsense”.
That’s one of the main reasons why I did not take a single drop of home-brewed samsu (there were LOTS of opportunities for this, especially when I became a Pengawas in June 2006); or drugs or whatever substances. It wasn’t easy at times where I’d resent “missing out on a lot of fun”.
But it was these denials and keeping to the straight path – they build your inner strength and give real happiness. I was a slow learner of this fundamental principle of Life, as amplified in the School of Tots blog: “Life is About Choices”. “I choose to not drink.. I choose to pray… I choose not to allow anger consume me and influence my decision…” And I saw my self and my life improving as a result.
I was looking for the chance to get into contact with Rahim, Abang Man and the Pendamai people. Through pamphlets lying around in the hostel, I learned that its office was at the PKAADK. In August, there came word that the PKAADK would hold a three-month programme for qualified pusat inmates.
I didn’t really want to leave Gambang. Things were quite comfortable and time flew by quite fast in an environment like that. However, there were advantages in going to PKAADK – firstly, I would no longer be shouldering the responsibility of handling the Cendana hostel, and especially the inmates’ welfare. I had held a few posts during my non-addiction days, including in a political party, but being the prefect of Cendana is the one that I am proudest of.
I also would not have to put up with a certain type of melancholy that was becoming more frequent – separating from people I’ve shared so many happy memories with. The 15th and 30th of each month were the days when inmates are released, and I remember the sadness of the past few… 15 June – 056/05 `Az’, the charismatic 42-year-old prefect from Setapak, KL I took over from. His boisterous laughter was a part of the hostel – often, we would hear it from a distance when returning from the mosque.
And now it was quiet – I’d pass by his bed, remember him, and immediately become melancholic. This went on for days. I was going to suffer around six more release dates before my number comes up.
The third reason was no less important – I must get out of my comfort zone and prepare myself for the future. That means moving to Kuantan. The three months spent here were filled with various activities.
Rahim had handled a lot of them – his presence was the most important factor in my deciding to stay there. And we learned about “rehabilitation”… about what to expect when we re-enter society. The sharing of experiences was very important – he had been clean since around 1994, and had rebuilt his life bit by bit. It wasn’t smooth sailing all the way since, for he had to face various problems. But the most important thing is that, no matter how bad the situation appeared, “we never have to use drugs again”.
That day finally came – of completing the circle that had started at 9.00 AM on Thursday 11 August 2005 — a one-hour trip to get a RM10 tube of morphine “to help cope with self-hatred from a meaningless life tangled with hopeless situations”. Instead, it took 16 months and one week… and without the morphine.
And it wasn’t the same sad, defeated and humiliated person who was sent to Gambang in handcuffs in a police van on 8 November 2005. The person who boarded the 3PM TransNasional Kuantan-Kota Bharu bus: it was someone who, despite some anxiety concerning marital matters, was bubbling with hope, who had the courage to look at and acknowledge his mistakes, and who had the desire to make amends.
Just for today my thoughts will be on my recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
Just for today I will have faith in someone in NA who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.
Just for today I will have a program. I will try to follow it to the best of my ability.
Just for today through NA I will try to get a better perspective on my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid, my thoughts will be on my new associations, people who are not using and who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear.