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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Illustrations for CNB (Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore) - Essay 4

Basanth Sadasivan
Anglo-Chinese School (Primary)

Dear Mom,

I am writing this letter from my prison cell at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre. It has been two weeks since I last saw you briefly at the police station. I can still remember your swollen eyes with dark-ringed circles around them and those wrinkles etched deeply across your forehead. You were pleading with the policemen to let me go as I was being led away in handcuffs. It was so heart wrenching to see you in such a state and I am truly sorry for all the trouble I have caused. If some of the words in this letter are smudged, it is probably from the tears that stream down my cheeks as I am writing.

Anglo-Chinese School Basanth Sadasivan - illustration 1 colour

Now that I have had lots of time to reflect, I want to tell you how I ended up in the situation I am in now.

Anglo-Chinese School Basanth Sadasivan - illustration 2 colour

It all started two years ago when Dad suddenly died in that tragic car accident. I was only seventeen and I still remember arguing with him as he drove me to school that morning. When I got out of the car, I deliberately did not say goodbye because I wanted to show that I was angry with him for nagging at me about how I was underperforming in my studies. It was so early in the morning and I must admit that I was in a cranky mood myself. I got out and slammed the door in disgust—something that I gravely regret and am deeply ashamed of. I have wondered on numerous occasions whether he was so terribly upset with me at the time that his mind was preoccupied with these thoughts and whether that caused him to hit head-on against that tree. I cannot even explain to you the huge amount of guilt I have been carrying with me all this time. When you called me later that morning to let me know about the tragedy I was in a state of shock.

From that day onwards, I have been sad, full of guilt and extremely depressed, though I did not want to burden you with my problems. You had so many other things to think about at the time, with the immediate task of funeral arrangements and financial matters. Perhaps it was just plain cowardice playing up as an excuse for my act, Mom, because I could have still confided in you when everything was settled—after all, it has been two years since the accident. I really don’t know why instead I chose to confide in my so-called “best friend”, Joel, who I thought had all the answers to my problems. He was always there for me and would listen and advise me with his thoughts. You would remember having met Joel a couple of times at our house when he used to come around asking me out for a movie or just to hang around to have a chat.

Joel came from a dysfunctional home—his parents were divorced and he lived with his uncle in a two-room flat on Old Airport Road. His uncle converted the flat into a gambling den and all sorts of people used to be in his house all the time. Joel was my trusted confidant and gave me support through the darkest days of my life immediately after Dad’s death. As you know, we were in lots of financial difficulties at that time and it was Joel who helped me get a part-time job in the McDonald’s outlet at Far East Plaza where he was also working. As our shifts ended at the same time every night, Joel and I spent long hours together after work as we walked to the MRT station to board our respective trains.

Every month, on our pay day, Joel and I would go out and celebrate. We would paint the town red by patronising pubs and discotheques, having a whale of a time. As I was too young to consume alcohol, Joel would order it for me. He also taught me to smoke my first cigarette. Going out with Joel was a way for me to escape from all my worries. I was late in handing up my school assignments and flopped a couple of my tests. My grades were dropping fast and I would lock myself in my room all the time for fear that you might detect alcohol or nicotine in my breath.

Almost three months ago as we were on our way to a discotheque, Joel told me that I looked rather depressed. Before I could say anything, he took out a pill from the breast pocket of his shirt and offered it to me. On the pill was embossed the word “Adam”. Joel said that it would help to elevate my mood. He said that one of his uncle’s friends gave it to him and that from his experience it would bring instant happiness. Trusting my best friend, I consumed the tablet without realising that it was actually Ecstasy. That was the beginning of my descent into a dark and bottomless pit.

Ecstasy had an immediate effect on me. I felt self-confident and full of energy. I was dancing wildly and without any pause. There was a certain closeness with others and a desire to touch people around me. I actually felt “good”, but it was temporary and it completely betrayed what was to happen afterwards.

When I reached home that night, I was completely exhausted and started throwing up violently. My head hurt badly and I felt dizzy with nausea. For the next three days, I was in bed feeling confused and restless with hallucinations and bad dreams. Remember that letter I asked you to write to my form teacher to say that I was having a fever? That was the time I was suffering from the after-effects of Ecstasy.

I craved for more Ecstasy, for without it I felt cold and trembled continuously. There was an extreme sadness lingering in me. Joel told me that he would get me some, but it would cost about eight dollars a pill. I bit the bullet and paid him the money because I wanted to feel good—I didn’t care about the after-effects. I could not concentrate on my studies any more and I failed my midterm tests. I know you were mad at me when my class teacher called you up to complain about me, and I know that I promised to study harder. The truth is that I just could not as Ecstasy had taken over my life.

And then it all happened in a flash. One moment I was sitting in the pub with Joel, and the next moment the men in blue walked in and took us away. They were acting on a tip-off. We were brought to the police station for a urine test, which confirmed that we had both consumed Ecstasy. They forced us to strip and searched us thoroughly. Joel had three tablets of Ecstasy in his pocket at that time. I was charged with drug consumption, while Joel was charged with drug trafficking as well.

Mom, I hope you are being well taken care of at the Institute of Mental Health. I heard that you were transferred from the acute ward to the rehabilitation ward and that you were making progress with the counselling sessions. Please take all your medicines and recover quickly. I hope you will be discharged soon and can come and visit me. I heard that visitors are allowed to visit the inmates on Christmas Day. Let’s make this a special Christmas and the beginning of a new phase in our lives.

Mom, I am so sorry to have let you down. I really look forward to hugging you after my release from here.

Your loving son,
Mark

P.S. I have learnt my lesson—the price for taking drugs is too high to pay.

1 comment:

Basanth Sadasivan said...

Excellent compo written! You should have gotten 1st

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