Just the words “He is in a bad state and needs help” from Jones are enough to bolt me into reality and make butterflies fluttering all over my tummy. I immediately stop the M-pesa transaction I was carrying out, I even forget that I was hungry. It reminds me of him, of his suicidal thoughts that he calls “not serious” but of which I know otherwise. It reminds me of his ADHD, OR ADD. Reminds me of his addictions to “stoning”, cigars and alcohol. I can feel his stale breath from the intake of nicotine, caffeine, resin and alcohol. It reeks. Jones is staring at me curiously. But all I can think of standing in the bookshop is about him, Deb. And instinctively know that somehow we have to act, and fast for that matter.
I want to think that maybe my love would have changed him. That somehow it would have liberated and unchained him. I remember the times I used to busy him all evening with talk to keep his habits in check. “But you stopped. You unloyal!” my mind comes raining accusations on me. “But you know what he wanted, you idiot” I retort back to my own thoughts. Nevertheless, I feel guilty, guilty that I was unable to save him, guilty that I failed to live up to the expectations of a true friend. But could I have really saved him from himself?
We haven’t talked in a while. I last heard his voice on Sunday night from a long way off. Even with the electromagnetic interference of a failing network connection from the highlands, he sounded very alive. He sounded happy, optimistic, re-energized; everything. One thing was clear though, he didn’t have the courage. “Did you get the courage to tell your dad about it?” I enquired. “Actually, no. But I feel so renewed. I will call him when I am back in the city and tell him about it. Then he won’t have an opportunity to lecture me much about it. HAHAHAHAHA…” He finished with his characteristic laughter, but deep in it I could decipher that he was afraid, very afraid.
I wanted to ask him the question that I always ask him when I want to get answers, “What is the worst that could happen if you did it?” But I just let him be for the moment. He assures me that he has mapped out a way that he is going to survive for the next one week. I am on sleep-over at my boyfriend’s so I don’t reply his messages. I sleep.
Today and yesterday he has been offline. Once in a while I see him on Google Hangouts and I am tempted to drop him an email. I guess he needs his space though. Not even Jones knows where he is putting up. His words last week come flying through my mind “I have just been hoping around.” Really pathetic situation!
I can’t keep this to my self any longer. The gang that he hangs out with is in my class. I occasionally catch them stealing accusatory glances at me as if to ask me, “Isn’t Deb your friend? Why aren’t you doing something to help him” And in my angry mind I blame them. I blame them because they are his biggest influencers, but they have their lives in control but he doesn’t has his. They know how to handle the pleasures of the “youth” plus school. In my mind, I retort back to them “There is nothing much you are doing about him but to help him sink deeper and deeper into drugs”
I wish they knew the reason I have to keep my distance. I am tired of giving people ideas to think about it.
“Judy, my jaw hurts so much. I feel as if it broken. I haven’t been able to eat well for the past few days. I wish I had taken your advice and not gone out that day” I remember the pain laden in those words, the pain in his heart, of regret, greater than the pain in his “broken” jaw.
Right now I am unable to reach him but I hope this message gets to him in time. Someone say this to him, “Judy, Jones and others care. Be strong enough to open up and also be strong enough to change. Remember, no one is going to save you from yourself. You have to be your own hero!” Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that wherever he is, there is no idea of a noose around his neck.
This post was originally published on the Storymoja Festival Blog.