As he always did, Jim took off from the steps on the porch in a small jog and quickly crawled under the hedge that formed a natural demarcation between his and Alfred’s house. The ‘tunnel’ itself was well camouflaged by the duo using dry leaves from the other trees in Jim’s compound. While the tunnel itself was not tricky and he had done it hundreds of times before, the trick was in getting to the other side without making alerting either of the households at the dead of the night. If not anything else, these clandestine visits to Alfred’s house were making him more athletic.
He was all of 17 yrs old and it had been around six months ago that he had discovered that his friendship with Alfred, his 19 yr old Anglo Indian neighbor would take him to places he thought existed only in his mind. After all, a cocktail of drugs such as ecstasy and LSD injected through the veins elevated you and transported you to different worlds, didn’t it. And by now, he had developed a decent enough resistance to them that the midnight crawls were getting easier by the day. What had begun as ‘just fun’ to break the norms had ended up with Jim relying more and more on Alfred and his concoctions.
What had started off with supposedly harmless ‘snorting’ of coke had in the course of time developed into an almost full blown addiction for Jim. He had now reached a stage where he needed substances to help him sleep for six-eight hours continuously. Initially his dropping grades made his parents suspect that he was spending too much time with his friends playing his favorite console games such as ‘Gods of War’ and ‘Halo’. Little did they suspect that their favorite eldest son was entangled in something as serious as substance-abuse.
But Jim’s English Literature teacher from college was a little smarter and could see the signs of early addiction. Ajay Rathore himself had done his fair share of drugs and liquor as a youngster before the lure of literature, books and poetry had been too strong and an understanding and sympathetic elder sister had managed to put him into rehab and pull him out of the habit.
Rathore therefore detected early signs in his star student Jim when his interest in studies gradually waned, and not just in his subject but all subjects. He also noticed that the boy’s energy levels had considerably dropped and from being a cheerful, active and popular student in college, Jim had somehow withdrawn into himself. And more than once, he had also caught the boy smoking weed in the small gully behind the college canteen.
Therefore, when he brought these points to the notice of Jim’s parents, and voiced his suspicions to them, their initial reaction was that of disbelief. It was only when Rathore narrated his history of substance abuse, his tryst with rehab and therefore his ability to spot some common mannerisms and behavioral traits of addicts did they even give credence to his doubts. Even then, they were not fully convinced about Jim being a victim of drugs.
What finally convinced them was when Jim’s father actually caught him red-handed coming through the ‘tunnel’ between the houses one night when he happened to be taking a late night stroll because he couldn’t sleep. That, coupled with the rolled up joints that Jim had in his hands that night convinced them that their son had a substance abuse issue.
Not wanting to unnecessarily publicize the issue and blow it out of proportions, Jim’s parents immediately called up Ajay Rathore’s mobile number which he had shared with them just in case they needed it. They wanted his advice as to what needed to be done to have Jim get rid of his problem and back on track again, while being completely discreet about it. Rathore told them that he would work with a friend of his who ran a drug rehab center and that he would have Jim enroll in the same, if not full-time, at least to undergo a basic rehab course where the toxins would be flushed out of his system, where he would attend counselling sessions and he would be forced to remain ‘clean’ for a while.
For starters Rathore also promised the parents that he would talk to the college authorities and have them excuse Jim for dropping a year while retaining his place as a student in the college. Rathore had taught Jim for three years now and was aware that if this kid got over this problem, then he was bright and talented enough to make a fresh start all over again.
The next day in the morning when Ajay Rathore with Jim in tow walked into the gates of The Tulips De-addiction and Rehabilitation Center in Kanakapura just outside Bangalore and down its main corridor, he was stuck by a sense of deja vu.
After all this was how and where his journey to rediscovering himself and his love for literature and the written word had begun 15 yrs ago. The only difference was that this time around he was playing the role that his elder sister had played all those years ago, the role of a Samaritan hoping to redeem a lost soul.
This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts: 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.
Today’s prompt was “Have you ever felt déjà vu, the sensation that you’ve already had the experience that you are already having?” and I have taken the liberty of weaving a fictional tale around this prompt.