Drugs drain delta away । Teezad Tabriz
The clock kept looking better by every slow minute as the plastic clock hand swept away in its own misery. Even though everyone forestalled for the end of the class, one of them looked out the window and smelt the rain in the breeze; he forged a smile. Clothed in a pitch black T-shirt, and to lap in the final touch a denim jacket torn and rugged; his hair, messy; his heart, messy.
While everyone oozed for the last thirty minutes to end, Zuhair was already falling behind on the circle; the ‘puff puff pass’ circle that he had to fly to as soon as the clock struck 5:30. The hours worth of pressure and frustration were about to be popped like that of a balloon with a needle right through his vein. It was only a break after a period of hard work according to Zuhair, so it was fine.
Going through the lakeside would decimate the least amount of time on Zuhair’s course to Lalmatia. He decided to not take any chances and go score a gram as backup. ‘Nannu Bhai’ was a regular participant in Zuhair’s call logs – they would pile up and it would seem that either Zuhair has no friends or Nannu Bhai is just his best mate. Nannu Bhai was a Bihari who was mobile around mohammadpur and Lalmatia. He was a drug dealer by profession and also a member of the society that paid his taxes; some of it at least.
A jackpot Nannu Bhai was and it came in threes – marijuana, heroin and of course yaba tablets. Except this whole other society had its own pseudonyms and semantics; a subcategory of a hierarchy of societies in an entirety of a nation. Zuhair and boys and girls like him called marijuana ‘pot’ (a very common jargon universally), ‘H’ for heroin and ‘Y’, ‘Baba’, ‘Stuff’ and many other such names for yaba tablets. The latter has proven to cost this shattered nation a lot.
Like a rotting peach in a basket full of peaches in the hot summer, Zuhair’s life has been so and so. The constant worry for good grades and merit-based scholarships had knocked him down to his knees. A family of six, with one provider and bits and pieces from here and there his family floated along with the waves. He did not have time to party for two years and a father to send him to Europe or America afterwards with bags of black and white money so he could graduate. It was all up to him, the burden of responsibility that is sometimes meaningless to carry.
Nannu Bhai sold in large quantities, but only responded to loyal customers when a couple of grams where asked for. He had three children, two girls and a boy. The oldest of them, Razia had was married off to a Bengali here in Dhaka and lived separately. Wasima, the second one, was preparing for her HSC examination later that year. Ayan, the youngest of them all and a rowdy one was only five when his father had started smuggling in drugs from Chattogram to sell them at double the price. It has been a family lost in touch of reality ever since.
Wearing a silk shirt red in colour and skinny jeans, the lone figure stood six feet tall and was smoking a cigarette. Zuhair knew by then it was the man of the hour, none other than Nannu Bhai himself.
“Having fun boy?” remarked Nannu Bhai as he flicked the cigarette butt into the lake. Out of every conversation starters, Nannu Bhai picked this one; he would expect you to be happy at all times just for the laughs.
“You know how it goes. Hook me up with two grams real quick.” Zuhair hurriedly thumped on his vocal cords as he opened his bag. It was a fine package wrapped in plain white paper, cylindrical in shape and glorious in value and it looked nice inside Zuhair’s bag with the copies and books; it looked balanced.
On occasions such as this one, Zuhair would waste no time and proceed smoothly and fast towards his ultimate temporary utopia. He took a rickshaw to complete the rest of his quest. The elevator was claustrophobic for an anxious Zuhair on a rush. He ran up the staircase to the rooftop and felt his fresh lungs suddenly seem not so fresh anymore. The phone-lit faces and the sound of mainstream pop and rnb told Zuhair where his boys were. They were sitting against the back wall with their feet hanging above eight stories high. Some crazy and cozy little gang they were; they loved the heights, they loved the highs because looking all the way down from up there sure felt good. They were famous for their lavishly damaging lifestyles, and they curated the art of the fall; they were the kings of the falls.
For starters Zuhair and his boys would smoke the yaba off tinfoil or sometimes they would just crush them and snort them instead for a quicker kick. Afterwards, the usual was smoking pot and of course cigarettes at a faster rate. The red pill of Lucifer required one to bathe in cigarettes and drown in their nicotine. The marijuana helped them to stay calm as much as they could afford to. For later they would pop benzodiazepines otherwise known as ‘benzos’ – ‘Alprazolam’ mostly stealing the show, ‘Xanax’ being the popular trade name in the US. The days were spent in segments of forgotten stretches of reality and the nights were fast with the hearts and explosive with the lungs.
Being a drug addict came later, it was a thrill – the thrill to be happy; the rebel without a cause. And they were just one emblem of a slice of a society based on the youth and its drug abuse. Living fast and dying young became a trend under this nation’s noses and it was contagious. According to MANAS (Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse) 6,600,000 is the number of citizens that suffer from drug addiction. While the figure hits 7,000,000 according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). But what’s worth the attention is that 25% is the staggering amount of the drug addicts being minors, meaning youths under the age of 16 according to a study by MANAS. And we think we’re still in our golden days of liberation in the air and we breathe in freedom slower each time and sit in the comforts of our safe homes. It is the folktale of the greater Bengal, to snort in the powder of the news and politics and form theatrics out of it – just for the laughs. We all do it, and we’re far beyond denying it now. After almost fifty years since ‘71 we have reached numerous milestones as a nation and to live up to modernity and instead have remained conservative and closed up in our nutshells like the oppressed nation we were before the war. The hymns of freedom and cries of rebellion are far behind us and distant from our thoughts. We have lost our sense of identity, again. A tale of two cities; a tale of two parties you might call it as this country became the bone fetched from one side of the coin to the other. Infrastructure wise, many things changed but the rest remained the same. From hardly any road and transport safety to the road accidents; from the stock market conspiracy and the murder of Sagar and Runi to the murder of Biswajit Das in broad daylight; nothing much changed.
Our motherland of gold became a rotten peach and there has been no signs of a good fix ever since. The future of this generation is in dirty hands and it is dancing with the devil. Among the hierarchy of clouds, drugs and substance abuse are shadowed by bigger ones like politics and black money. This nation and its government pay little to no attention to the drug abuse among its youths and mental health. Where going to a psychologist is considered being clinically insane, there is hardly any availability and awareness of mental health. The government in response to the addiction rates took measures to crack down on the supply and distribution chain of illegal narcotics forming an anti-drug campaign. A war on drugs had then chiseled out having deployed the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) and other forces.
After two months, on the 8th of June the body count had hit 140 and about 18,000 people had been arrested. This caught unwanted attention globally but the government stood ground with it. What had happened between those two months many people will remember.
The country took a new form, wore a new jacket; there were men in uniforms everywhere in all the greens of this nation. On a duty to clean this country of its sins they came. According to the news many men had died, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police stated they were all shootouts. That is one way to put it, but thinking of it upside down it tells us another issue is present here. If the number of shootouts is that high, it reveals that the drug dealers and traffickers have weapons and many of them. And with all the crackdowns and raids, they would have had carried a weapon for their own safety at times. So should we only worry about the distribution of illegal narcotics? Or should we also worry about the potential gun control.
The biggest power to contain drug peddlers and addicts was relegated to the law enforcers, ignoring some other options to squander. It was declared and bracketed as a disease in the country as elsewhere in the world. History of the nations who successfully eradicated the drug was overlooked. Even the track record of the Muslim predecessors of the policymakers is failing to grasp the drug menace and alcohol withdrawal they tackled in old days. The Arabs were great fans of liquor and hooch; they used to socialize, drink and resorted to merrymaking. The source of the English word alcohol comes from the Arabic word al ghoul not from the current Arabic word al kuhool.
Drugs in this way is draining the deltaic land — Bangladesh — away. A small number of people is being spared from the first and second generations in cities and towns and bordering areas of the country.