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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Illustrations for CNB (Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore) - Essay 13

Debbie Michelle Ng
Canossa Convent Primary, Pr 5 Charity

Standing at the side of the stage, waiting to receive my hard-earned scholarship, I felt like a totally different person. I was no longer a slave to my drug addiction. I can still remember the day when I had my first taste of heroin…

I was going through a difficult time in my life. My parents were constantly fighting and I was worried that divorce was imminent. My grades started falling from A’s to D’s. Most of my test papers had remarks like “Needs to work harder” or “Does not put in effort” scribbled across them. I felt depressed, miserable and dejected. I did not know what to do. My life was turning upside down and I just didn’t know what to do.

The holidays were nearing, but I felt no joy. Many people had started to notice my unhappiness. Some tried to talk to me but I brushed them off. Others simply avoided me like the plague. However, one morning during recess I felt a nudge and a whisper in my ear, “Meet me after school at the video arcade. I have something that will help you forget your troubles.” I quickly turned around, to see my schoolmate Jerome disappear around the corner. “Hey!” I called out, but he had already gone. My curiosity gnawed at me, like how a hungry dog would gnaw at a bone. What could he have that could help me solve my problems, I wondered.

The morning seemed to pass by in a blur. Before I knew it, the bell had rung to signal the end of yet another school day. I walked to the video arcade, just behind my school. Jerome was already there, waiting for me. He signalled for me to go to the back of the video arcade. Silently, like a pair of sly rats, we slunk to the dingy back room of the arcade. He produced from his pocket a small transparent sachet filled with a white powder.

Canossa Convent Primary Debbie Michelle Ng - illustrattion1 colour

“This”, he whispered in a low voice, “is the answer to all your problems.” I eyed the powder suspiciously. “What’s that?” I asked him. “Just call it Hero Powder”, he said. “You mean heroin?” I asked. He just stared nonchalantly at me and said, “Call it whatever you want. It’ll make you feel better.” I reached out, not realising that I was about to be sucked into a black hole of addiction. That first sniff of heroin would not be my last. The ecstasy hit me almost immediately. I felt high, as if I were floating on a cloud, and as if all my troubles had just floated away like a puff of smoke.

As days went by, I found myself craving for more and more. The heroin did not come cheaply, though. In no time at all, my savings account was practically depleted. I saved all my pocket money just to pay for the drug. It was never enough. Jerome became my best friend. After all, only he understood what I was going through. Or at least I thought he did. Other friends whom I used to hang out with drifted away. I had changed, and yet I did not even realise it. I was growing thinner and my face had taken on a gaunt look. My hair, once sleek and shining, was now dull and some days even matted. My eyes were often bloodshot, as if from an urgent lack of sleep. Most days I ended up sleeping in class because without my heroin fix I just could not remain awake and focus.

Then one day, as I was halfway through my heroin fix, I suddenly felt dizzy. My mouth felt dry and parched. My tongue started swelling. I felt the world spinning and suddenly it was pitch black.

When I regained consciousness, I found myself strapped to a hospital bed. My parents were beside my bed, their eyes swollen with tears. All I could say was “I’m sorry Mum and Dad.” My parents then told me that I had fainted and had almost slipped into a coma because of drug overdose. I was shocked. I never knew drugs could be so dangerous! I also found out that once I had recovered, I would have to go to a drug rehabilitation centre.

It was a horrible experience there. I was put into a room, and no matter how much I cried out or screamed, I was not allowed to take even a sniff of heroin. I begged to no avail. The withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I found myself vomiting repeatedly and breaking out in cold sweat. It seemed like endless suffering. Like a tunnel with no sign of light at the end of it. However, as days went by, things did get better. I remember the day when I made it through one whole night without vomiting. That morning, I felt so much better. It was as if I felt a new lease of life surging through me.

A few months later, I was released from the drug rehabilitation centre. My parents were proud of me. I promised to work hard and never to go near drugs again.

As the memories flooded, I was suddenly woken from my reverie by applause. It was my turn to go up on the stage to receive my scholarship. My heart swelled with pride and joy, as I looked into the audience to see my parents’ beaming faces.

Canossa Convent Primary Debbie Michelle Ng - illustrattion2 colour

Indeed, drugs had once ruled my life. But now I realise that I am the master of my own destiny. I am my own hero!

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