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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Illustrations for CNB (Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore) - Essay 5

Chay Jia Min Elaine
Princess Elizabeth Primary School, P6G

“Why am I always rubbish at everything?” I grumbled dispiritedly as I left the school hall. A big, red “F” was hastily scrawled at the top of my mathematics examination paper. Everywhere I glanced, there were always throngs of happy and delighted fellow schoolmates, laughing in merriment at their marks. My spirits sank even lower as I saw my arch enemy, James, punch the air in delight. I scowled darkly at him. “Stupid moron. Teacher’s pet”, I mumbled unhappily.

I sighed as I meandered around the neighbourhood, unwilling to go home to a nagging mother. The sun sank below the horizon, leaving a ruby-red glow. I banged into a wall and swore loudly, “I hate this world!” I shouted savagely, aiming a kick at a nearby rubbish bin .

Princess Elizabeth Primary School Chay Jia Min Elaine - illustration 1 colour

“Hey, watch it kid!” a rough voice shouted at me. I jumped about a foot in the air, staring wildly around.

A teenager of about fifteen pushed the rubbish bin aside and stood up. He was considerably taller than me, though it might be because of his handsomely spiked hair. He grinned roguishly at me. “Alex”, he said a little drunkenly, offering his hand to me. Under normal circumstances, I would have run for it, but, feeling a little reckless, I gripped his hand tightly and shook it.

“That’s right, kid”, he smiled. “Feeling down, upset?” he asked. I nodded and before I knew it, I poured out all my hardships and troubles to an unknown stranger. To my utmost indignation, he chuckled. “What’s so funny?” I asked defensively. He shook his head and pressed a small packet into my hands. “Trust me, it will help you”, Alex said convincingly. I glanced down at the little packet and almost dropped it. “Uh, Alex?” I asked uncertainly. “Is it drugs?” After a few minutes I realised that I had been mumbling to myself. Alex had disappeared.

“Where have you been, Ryan?” my mother’s angry cry greeted me as I pushed open the door. I mumbled something indistinct and glared at my ever-perfect younger sister reading a book. I went up to my room and slammed the door. Mere seconds later, my mother followed suit. To make matters worse, she fished out my examination paper and yelled at me till I thought my ear drums would never be the same again. After screaming herself hoarse, my mother left the room in floods of tears.

I glared at her retreating back. “Honestly, does she really think I want those marks?” I muttered angrily, venting my feelings on a chair. Wallowing in self-pity, I tore the packet of drugs open and popped a white pill into my mouth. All at once, I began to experience many different emotions. The present was turning into a dream; I was soaring to greater heights …

Ever since that first fateful pill, I began to spend my pocket money and savings lavishly on drugs from Alex. I made weekly trips to that little alley to satisfy my urge for drugs. My mind was slowly becoming fuzzy and mundane. I paid the barest minimum of attention to my teacher, Mrs. Lee, and on that fateful day, one of her words penetrated my foggy mind: “Examination”. It passed in a swirling white haze and all I could remember was leaving that examination hall and climbing the railings outside.

“Ryan!” Mrs. Lee yelled. “What do you think you are doing?” I paused in the act of jumping and turned vaguely. I saw James tugging violently at my legs. Next thing that I could remember, I was lying in the sick bay, staring at the stern face of a drug rehabilitation officer. I moaned subconsciously. “Ryan”, Mrs. Lee said, “you have to go to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre.” No doubt she had made the call.

The next few weeks passed in terrible torture for me. I might have died for all I knew. I was screaming for Alex, for drugs. I screeched and kicked in the agony of not having them. I did not want to live anymore. I vomited and moaned uncontrollably. I writhed like a snake; my insides were on fire.


It was a clear and windy day. Puffy magnolia-white clouds drifted across the azure blue sky. The great iron gates of the Drug Rehabilitation Centre opened and I stepped out. I took in great gulps of fresh air. It definitely felt good to be out of there. I was a completely changed person, with an entirely new attitude towards life. I heard a strangled cry. “Ryan!”

My sister came hurtling out of nowhere and flung her arms around me. She buried her face in my shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably.

Princess Elizabeth Primary School Chay Jia Min Elaine - illustration 2 colour

It was then that I realised what family ties meant. I felt so sorry for my family, and never more ashamed of myself. “Don’t cry”, I muttered awkwardly, patting her on her back.

There and then, from the moment I stepped out of the Centre, I resolved to take on an active role in anti-drugs campaigns. Now, I am known throughout my neighbourhood as an anti-drug ambassador. Best of all, when I next received my examination paper, there as an “A*” at the top.

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