Divorce Diaries: Season 1 Eps 6: Kauthar Bala’s Story

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Heartbreak is a terrible thing. I have read somewhere that only childbirth is more painful than heartbreak. It can take a whole life time to forget and heal over heartbreak. It is taking me an entire lifetime to recover. In secondary school I had a boyfriend called Eljoe. Eljoe was the coolest guy in school and I, as the most beautiful girl in school, had to date him. I know people call it puppy love but I knew it was love. My feelings for Eljoe were so deep I used to get physically sick if I didn’t see or hear from him. I was completely obsessed with him and he was the ruler of my world. I spent hours telling my best friend Safiya about him and how we would soon get married and have lots and lots of babies. Safiya agreed with me that Eljoe and I were the perfect match. When we got SS3 we applied to the same schools so we could be together in University. Just before we started our exams I caught Safiya and Eljoe kissing behind our chemistry lab. I was shattered and devastated. My heart was broken and I lost my mind.My friend Nafisa tried to be there for me but I was just inconsolable. I failed my Final exams and I failed JAMB too. Staying back one year while my mates went to University further depressed me. I could not find any solace at home because my parents were understandably disappointed in me so they shunned me. I was all alone in misery.It was at this time that Nafisa introduced me to her clique of friends. They were beautiful and classy and they all referred to each other as ‘babban yarinya’ or ‘big girl’. They were without a care in the world and they embraced me. They introduced me to ‘Syrup’ which they told me would ease all my pain and heartache. Nafisa said it would help me sleep better as I was not sleeping well.The first time I took syrup I hated the taste. But then after some minutes I started to feel light. I was floating in the sky and all my burdens seemed to have lifted off me. I felt so good. It was such a crazy wonderful feeling and immediately I wanted more. The moment I took the bottle to my lips, it seemed as if everything was alright in the world.That night I slept like a baby. I woke up refreshed and ready for more. I started with a few tablespoons of syrup, then a bottle a day, then two bottles and on and on as my hunger for the high seemed insatiable. I just could not get enough.The more I hung out with them, the better I felt about my situation in life. I could talk to these girls about my pain and disappointments. I started stealing from my parents to finance my addiction. I stole my father’s watches. I stole money from my mom’s handbag. I did not care. I could do anything to get the next bottle. I continued like this until my mother started noticing the change in my behaviour. I had lost weight. I kept to myself and did all I could to avoid my family.My parents eventually found out about my habit and they completely lost it. At first, my mother said it was a charm from her enemies that was at work. I was made to inhale and bathe with all types of concoctions to break it. But I did not change though it was fun to play along; at least now my parents were paying attention to me. The more I played along, the more malams they brought to the house and the more money they spent on freeing me from bondage.When they found out about my antics they were livid. I was not happy but at the same time I could not understand my parents’ anger. A family meeting was called and it was decided that I should be married off. My uncles all felt Marriage would calm me down. My consent was not required. My cousin Usman was chosen for me. He was my Uncle’s son. He had always had a soft spot for me since when we were kids. Even as a grown up, he sent me goron Sallah and Sallah gifts. Whenever I saw him, he would smile and tease me. All my cousins believed he had a crush on me though he had never said so himself. From what I gathered, He did not object at all, he even welcomed the idea. My uncles felt it was better for someone within the family to manage me and shameful habit. They also said they could not trust my choice, since I was always intoxicated.I was angry. I did not have a choice. My mother told me I should count myself lucky Usman even agreed to marry me. There was no wedding celebration. I was admonished to be humble and respect my husband. Deep down I knew I could not stop myself from taking syrup. Marriage or no marriage, I could not bring myself to stop getting high. I had only changed venue.I did not love my husband from the beginning. Everyone thought he was the best match for me; except me. Everyone thought he would calm me down. And he did try.Usman was kind and gentle. He spoke to me with respect and he never judged me. As time went on, I started to appreciate him. He was a very humorous man and he made me laugh till my ribs hurt. He even cooked on some days and that made me happy. Even my syrup friends agreed that he was a good man. I stopped getting high when he was around, which was mostly weekends. I programmed myself to only get high on weekdays between the hours of 9 and 12 in the morning so that by the time he came home in the evening, I would at least be manageable enough to function and converse with him. I stuck to this schedule for a while but it was not enough to satisfy my need. Eventually I started getting high till 4 or 5 in the evening. He would come home to no dinner. On the days I tried to cook the dinner would be burnt but he never complained. He would just buy take away on his way home from work. All this time he had never caught me using drugs though he knew I was.Until one day. I had gotten so high that I lost track of time. I had been cooking and Usman came home to a house that was about to catch fire. My house was filled with acrid smoke and I did not even notice. When he met me downing bottles of syrup I was deeply ashamed. He said nothing and proceeded to clean up the house. I watched him open windows and mop everywhere as if he had been asked to do so.When he was done I started yelling at him and throwing things at him. I wanted him to react! Why would he not react? I jumped at him, my eyes red and wild. I shook him violently and to my surprise he wrapped his arms around me and forced me to hug him. He put me down and that is when I saw tears on his face. I did not want to see his tears. I slapped him and told him to get out of my face. That whole night none of us got any sleep because I was just hollering and breaking things around the house. I was angry. I was angry at myself for being such a failure. I was angry at my parents for being so distant. I hated my husband for putting up with me. I called him all sorts of names. I insulted his parents. I did everything that a wife should never do to her husband.At the bottom of my rage, was shame. I was ashamed of myself.The next day, Usman cleaned up the house. By the time I came to my senses, the house did not look like it had a drug addict in it. He did not go to work as he spent the day taking care of me. I had cut and injured myself during my meltdown. He did not say a word about anything. We did not speak of that night again. I kept telling myself I had to stop getting high. I would have long talks with myself in front of the mirror, I would bargain with myself, I would beg myself to stop, I would threaten myself but nothing seemed to work. Our marriage became a vicious cycle of me relapsing, then fighting him, then him begging me to quit, then I promise I will stop and I relapse again. Every time I relapsed, Usman was there to beg me. He never fought me back or threatened me. He always begged me. Sometimes he would kneel down while crying and plead with me to stop taking syrup. I knew I had to stop but I just couldn’t.One time I made up my mind I would stop this thing once and for all. I went out and bought a new Sim and a new phone because I wanted to cut off from the rest of my syrup friends. I told myself I would start a new life and for two weeks I was sober. During those two weeks I really came to appreciate the wonderful man that Usman was. His support and care made my throwing up and tremors feel worthwhile. He was so happy in those two weeks I resolved I would be clean forever. Those two weeks were the happiest days of my married life.After two weeks, I was at my worst edge. I couldn’t focus. I needed syrup like I needed oxygen. It was at night when I sneaked out. I figured I could dash to my dealer on Katuru Road and just buy 2 bottles and swallow them before my husband would notice anything. I made it to Katuru road and got 5 bottles but wallahi I only took three. Once my system had settled, I decided it was time to rush back home. Though I was still high, I drove frantically. As I got to a junction I wanted to take a right turn and the next thing I heard was a loud crashing sound.I woke up in the hospital with two broken legs and 2 broken ribs. I learnt from my mother that I killed two men when I drove the car into their compound. In my mind I thought I was at a Junction but in reality I crashed into someone’s bedroom and killed him and his friend.I wanted to die. What had I done?My mother told me that I would have to fast to expatiate for the deaths. My father was trying to placate the families of the deceased so the police would not arrest me. I was in hospital for a long time but Usman came to visit me only once. My mother said he was angry and heartbroken. She also said he did not want to be married to me anymore. He divorced me. I was hurt but I understood his pain. He had been patient with me. He had tolerated me and comforted me from the bottom of his heart but I did not deserve it. I broke his trust and I took his love for granted. A man can only take so much, as everyone has their limits.After months without syrup, I am back struggling. I have lost everything because of this syrup. I am still hopeful that Usman’s anger will soon subside and he will be ready to take me back for I have changed. I know he loves me and he is just angry. If he could just give me a chance to show him the real me I know everything will be okay. Sometimes when the pain gets to a point that I feel like I can no longer endure, I want to gulp down a bottle, but I stop myself and tell myself that I should feel the pain. It is the only way through it. If you are abusing drugs, please try and get help. I know it is not easy but you just have to try. Drugs will just waste your life and ruin you. I have so many health problems because of this syrup. And I have no reputation because everyone knows me as a drug addict. No one trusts me, not even my own parents. The moment something is missing at home, everybody starts suspecting me. It is terrible. I want to tell parents that being distant from your children will only make them more attached to bad friends. Do not live in denial.Thank you for reading my story.

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