OFF MY CHEST: Why my first experiment with drugs was also my last

Tuesday November 7 2017

I started to relax, and then I had a loud bang

I started to relax, and then I had a loud bang as someone closed their door somewhere and I began hyperventilating again. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

By THOMAS RAJULA
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This is the story of a young man’s first and last experiment with drugs as told to Thomas Rajula.

I was neither a troublesome child nor was I exactly a menacing teenager. Even my high school years were uneventful and I scored fairly good grades, enough to get me admission in a university.

It took sometime before I settled on what I wanted to pursue, having jumped from choice to choice.

When I finally decided to on what degree to pursue, I had to come to Nairobi to pursue it at an international university.

I was put up in an off-campus hostel near the institution. Being in an institution that had people from different nationalities and also different, county, socio-economic and educational systems, it was a very new experience to what I had been used to – and I had been to private schools in primary and high school.

After having been at the hostels for a few months, I had made a number of friends maybe because of my calm but open and friendly demeanour.

NOT EXACTLY GREEN

I wasn’t exactly green but I had chosen not to expose myself to certain situations I felt too extreme or that I wasn’t comfortable with.

Although I would drink, it hadn’t come to the point where I was drinking through the weekend or even two consecutive days. I wasn’t into smoking because I just didn’t feel the “headrush” that most people say they get out of puffing away. I also wasn’t into any drugs; not cannabis, not khat.

It was however inevitable that I would pick up something from being in this atmosphere of campus students who felt like the world was at their feet, egging each other on in being carefree and enjoying life. YOLO.

One night I was in my room and a few guys had come through to unwind after a long day of classes. I had a powerful home theatre that would blast music as we played video games. It was some sort of a man-cave although I didn’t have the biggest screen or drinks flowing since I wasn’t from a wealthy family.

SMALL BITE OF COOKIE

One of my friends came through with these milky white cookies.

“Have you ever tried weed cookies?” he asked.

“Yes, I’ve had them before,” I set myself up like a “big dog”.

“These are stronger than your normal weed cookies, though. It’s Angolan Gold, and you should only take a small bite,” he warned me.

Maybe it was the music blaring from the speakers or probably that there were five guys in the room at that time, and they were looking at me as the coolest person that they knew.

In an institution like the one we were in, getting noticed for being kind of like a “big deal” felt like a big deal to me then.

I didn’t have the most suave clothes, any kind of car leave alone the pimped out or expensive rides that others had, and

I also didn’t have a “slay queen” for a girlfriend.

This, right then those guys “looking up” to me was what I believed was my hail Mary at standing out. I took the cookie and gobbled it up whole.

“I know how to handle myself; I’ve eaten cookies bigger than that before,” I said to him.

I went back and sat down to watch the guys dual each other at the game. I don’t know at what point I passed out into sleep. I remember being woken up by a loud banging sound.

EVERYTHING WAS AMPLIFIED

All of a sudden I couldn’t help but hear everything in an amplified way. I could hear door locks opening in the other rooms, people laughing or talking outside the room.

I tried to focus on the contest going on the screen, but then I just burst out laughing. I couldn’t keep myself from laughing, everything just seemed hilarious.

At some point I would get breathless and looked away to keep from being amused, but just when I thought I had it under control and faced back in the directions of the people in the room I would start all over.

Then I started hyperventilating and I couldn’t help myself to get the breathing to regulate. A sudden wave of fear gripped me.

The other occupants became frantic and, with the direction of the friend who had offered me the cookies, they tried to get me to calm down.

“Relax. Just breathe easy, what you’re feeling is not real. You are having a trip,” he said to me.

I started to relax, and then I had a loud bang as someone closed their door somewhere and I began hyperventilating again.

This subsiding and recurrence would go on for what felt like an endless time.

I wished I could just shut my eyes and go to sleep and wake up after the effects had worn off, but I kept hearing loud noises every time I thought I was finally going off to sleep.

The hyperventilating eventually stopped and then a shiver swept through my body.

I couldn’t get warm no matter what I did; I had a sweater, leather jacket, blanket and duvet to cover myself up.

It didn’t help that I could hear my friends whisper that maybe I should be taken to hospital or I might die in the hostel. The other guy assured them I was fine. I started thinking about my family, the hopes they had in me when they sent me to this university to get the best education, I even saw myself being lowered in my grave and their distraught faces, maybe blaming themselves for sending me to the university.

I started crying and apologising to them. I don’t know if I was loud enough to be heard by the others. Before I knew it, I was waking up from sleep sometime in the night having passed the “trip”.

I never tried to experiment with drugs again, I am more than grateful that my stupidity didn’t cost my life or health.

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OFF MY CHEST is an online series that gives readers the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings about any topic under the sun. You can think of it as the letter you've always wanted to write. To share your story, please E-mail: lifeandstyle@ke.nationmedia.com