Monday 31 October 2005 – a day before Deepavali and three days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri: this was easily the worst day of my life. It was the day when Life fully mangled, crushed and spat me out. It was a day of bitter disappointment, hopelessness and total despair; of feeling that God had abandoned me.
After three months at the harsh and abusive prison of Pengkalan Chepa, it turned out that my incarceration was far from over as I had fervently prayed for, each and every day, for no less than five times a day during that holy month of Ramadan. Unlike the four others who were with me on that day, I had also made the effort to fast the whole of that month. And, unlike them who were already planning to shoot up drugs again should they be released “just for the heck of it”, I had no such thoughts. I honestly and sincerely felt I had done “all the right things”, the best that I could. I only wanted to be released; to go home and see my children. Was that too much to ask from God??
But yet, while all the others were granted supervision and immediately released, I was issued the order to undergo compulsory treatment and rehabilitation for two years at a Pusat Serenti! I was shocked by `the injustice’ of it all: How could this be?! How could God have granted the others their immediate freedom while I – `the most deserving’ – have to undergo more of this ordeal?!
“The reason, fool, is because He Wants to give you more than the pathetic crumbs that you had asked for – A LOT MORE!”
That was one of my misconceptions then, which came about through ignorance and stubbornness: I had inadvertently led myself to ask from God what I specifically wanted instead of what God Knows is best for me. And the things that I had asked for at that time were indeed crumbs: “To be granted supervision” by the magistrate, and `freedom’… being able to walk out from the court’s lockup, to go home and being able to smoke freely whenever I wanted to; to have enough to eat and drink, to have some privacy and to read. These are the simple-minded and unambitious wishes and desires of those who find themselves in lockups and prisons. And what then?
I have often wondered how things would have turned out for me had I actually gotten what I had specifically wished for – being released on 31 Oct 2005 instead of being sent to that glorious place of Pusat Serenti Gambang. There would have been elation, relief and excitement, that’s for sure. And I saw it on the faces of the other `lucky four’. But these would have been for an extremely short time. At least for me. In reality, there was practically nothing left for me then and this much-vaunted and desired `freedom’ was limited to just all those desires mentioned above.
My life, situation and circumstances then – they were pathetic, dreary and dreadful. On 31 October 2005, all I had at that time was all of RM1 (would have been enough to pay the 70 sen bus fare `home’). From having relatively good and secure jobs and with some status in society, I was unemployed, shunned and scorned. Although I had a wife, the marriage had essentially crumbled some years before and all that remained was anger, resentment and bitterness. I was also estranged and cut off from my elderly parents and sisters. I was all alone; abandoned, unwanted… But worst of all was the feeling inside – the self-loathing and hatred of having failed my children; of them suffering through no fault of theirs. This was something that had deeply tormented me.
What would have that `freedom’ led to? “I will slowly and patiently claw my way up again, make amends for all the wrongs that I had done and create a better future…” That’s the hope and dream of every addict including me. Often, it’s a short-lived fantasy, as had happened to me and so many others. How could it be otherwise when all or most of the factors and ingredients were the same? And especially when one isn’t much different from that of previously, as I also was (or wasn’t)? Faced with these, the previously determined addict – in facing the various obstacles, the unchanged environment, and negative situations which include unsupportive families and toxic members of society – would inevitably be frustrated and discouraged. “To hell with it all!”, and the vicious cycle starts all over again.
Only God, as always, can change this. AND MORE. With me, it was in Allah Mercifully Granting me a whole lot more than what I had asked for: the freedom that He Gave came in the outwardly form of `incarceration.’ It was during that journey while handcuffed in a police van, and the generative stay at Gambang that had started and brought it all. Everything had started from there…
And Allah had also granted to me “the gift of people” – of those who had come into my life and given me so much in various ways. At Gambang, I managed to reconcile with my parents, and then my sisters. This one is critical; the blessings and support of your parents especially. Then there was David, whose contributions and support when I was at Gambang and after have been enormous (I can write a few posts specifically on him alone – and I do wish to. However, I have to respect his request for privacy) …
…The various people who appeared at crucial moments, like Rahim Pendamai who had given a talk at Gambang during my very early days there, which encouraged and gave me hope that “Perhaps, there might be some future for me…” — ArahMan7: can we dismiss as `coincidence’ that I should find his blog on the very same day I started mine; and whose own often similar accounts and experiences have heartened and encouraged me as Rahim Pendamai did? … Rocky Bru: whose post about this blog during its infancy, besides encouraging me further, had also resulted in me getting to know many of the readers here.
Sheila Rahman: People who work/had worked in the media will definitely know her. Sheila gave me the chance to write again, and with it came the confidence (and some useful money) that I could make a real living out of writing. No less important, she was not just someone whom I worked with but who had also given me the hope and courage to start again with my children. Elviza: The popular, multi-lingual writer and columnist – her encouragement and help were priceless. And her visit during Raya Aidilfitri at my previous wife’s house in Pasir Mas plus gifts – she elevated my stature among the people there. (Some might be confused with all of this, but please just bear with it).
And Sherry Nor Jannah: the person who had started it all for me, directly and indirectly, in so many important things; and her wonderful husband, Nazmi for his trust and support. Although I have mentioned it a number of times previously, I simply can’t say enough about them. It was through their help, encouragement and guidance that I made that critical move; of finding the desire and confidence to re-enter society and to try claw my way back again. Many of my colleagues at Gambang had gone down the road again, going back to the vicious cycle and undergoing that dreary existence yet again – did they have people like Sherry and Nazmi to guide and encourage them?…How Allah had Blessed me!
And the person who took me to another level – in fact to levels I had not ever been before… not even “during my prime”. God Bless the day of 1 April 2010 when Dr Aniza Zain Ahmed was curious enough to investigate one weirdo whose comments at Rocky’s Bru had intrigued her (and whose pen-name also coincides with one of her products) … my best friend who is now my wife and the best step-mother anyone could ever hope for. But don’t take my word for it – ask my children:-)
Actually, it is because of her that this post came about. After so many months of this blog being dormant, I simply have to write today, jumbled as the contents are. I have been busy with quite a number of things during this period but today I’m faced with something that was once the norm – loneliness. I had sent Aniza to KLIA for her flight to London yesterday morning, and it didn’t take long – that feeling came even before I had reached the Sepang toll booth. It was so odd going out to a restaurant near her house in Kota Damansara; this being alone. A lot of things came to my mind, and I simply have to write something to try and get my bearings again.
I had thought I “was okay with being alone, for I had been so for YEARS.” I was wrong. Yes, maybe I was used to it once. But that was before I came to Batang Kali on 25 May 2010… “Before Aniza”. How massive this wonderful woman has been for me and my children! And to my friends too (Sherry, Elviza and Faten have met her).
All these jumbled thoughts in my mind the whole day! But they are connected and intertwined – that day of Monday 31 October 2005 and Monday 16 January 2012. Five years have passed but so many things have changed – for the better. The people, things, situations, circumstances… Ya Allah: Syukur for giving someone who was crushed and defeated what he has right now.
[My wife and her sister arrived safely at Heathrow at around midnight Malaysian time to join another sister there – one reason why I was staying up. Hoping they will have a good time there for they deserve everything that is good in life. And I’m not saying this just because she’s my wife and they are my sisters-in-law. It’s just that… they have been great to me. Syukur for yet another blessing from Allah.]