CHAPTER 15 (cont)

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
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“Change happens a little at a time – Hasina

When I walk into the house. Yusuf is waiting for me in the lounge.

“ok” he says. “my parents are coming in an hour to drop the kids back. That’s just enough time for me to explain” he says cautiously , trying to gauge my reaction. I walk over and sit down next to him. I no longer feel threatened at the thought of this conversation. The last 24 hours have been like no other and I am ready for anything. I look at him confidently, “right I know most of it now, but you have to just fill in the blanks”, I say. I spot a flicker of surprise in his eyes. He isn’t the only one surprised.This is not my usual manner. The confidence is growing like a seed in me and I start to become aware of myself changing, slowing, steadily.

Slowly he began to explain. “At the housewarming party I was speaking to Suhayl, like you asked me to..” he shot a ‘you see’ look at me, “… and I noticed he was very edgy and kept scratching at his arm. He also kept putting eye drops in his eyes and complaining about hayfever-“

“But he doesn’t have hayfever” I snapped , cutting him off. “I know” said Yusuf. “That is when I suspected. So I told him there and then that if I ever found out that he was involved in drugs, I would be very disappointed. I think he was relieved that I suspected and told me that he has done it a few times. I could see that it was hard for him to admit to me, so I didn’t push for any more information even though we both knew that he was lying about just experimenting. The look on his face…” Yusuf stopped and sighed. “I didn’t realize until that moment how ashamed he was, and that look-“ he looked me straight in the eyes with a pained look on his face, “..I saw myself in his eyes Hasina- and that scared me.” I had seen Yusuf this way only once before seven years ago. The emotion was real and thick in the room.

“I told him that if he ever found himself in a situation that he couldn’t handle it anymore – he should call me – no questions asked”. He held up his hand, just as I was about to say something. He knew what I was thinking… “I wanted to tell you,I did, but he made me promise that I wouldn’t say anything to you”, he put his face in his hands, contemplating his decision that day.

I can see why Suhayl would open up to Yusuf and no one else. After all, who would know better what he was going through? If Yusuf had told me then, I probably would have had a meltdown and lashed out at Suhayl, making him feel ashamed about tainting my mother’s memory. That would have only destroyed our family further.

Yusuf continued with new vigour. “He really opened up to me, Hasina. He said that he took me as a brother and had great respect for me. For ME?” his last statement was forcefull. “I did some very stupid things when I was young, and I nearly paid dearly for it,” he said. We both knew what he was referring to. I always wondered if he believed that I would have left him all those years ago.

“Having his respect, inspite of all of that…” his voice trailed off.  “I knew I had to help him. I kept touching on the subject of rehab and finally he broke. He said he knew he needed help and he thought that I was the only one who could understand. Hasina you have to believe that I wanted to tell you then,but I had to get him to trust me. He wanted my help and the only thing I had to do was keep his secret for a while.” Yusuf paused. He looked at me earnestly and said, “I have been there, Hasina. I knew I could help him. I made him promise that he would call me the next time he felt like he needed my help and he did – that night.” The words hung like grey clouds over us in the air, for a moment he said nothing.

“I…I lied to you and I am sorry. I had to go to Westpark that night because he called me. His friends brought him there and he did a few lines but he didn’t know how to stop. When I got there he was ok, but just needed a ride back home. We talked for hours about his life and the drugs. Even about how you would feel if you found out, how your mother would feel. I thought I got through to him.”

“”But he did it again” I said, feeling all the peices of the puzzle fall into place in my head.

“Yes. Yesterday” Yusuf seemed disappointed. I got a text from him and I called him when my parents were here, he seemed so out of it, it scared me. I called Waseem immediately from the study to meet me there, I had a feeling things had gone too far. I was so worried. I left so quickly I forgot my cellphone here as well. Waseem was already there by the time I got to westpark. Suhayl was in bad shape, and well you know the rest”.

I nodded. “Ok”. I looked him straight in the eye. I did trust him and I do believe everything he told me. But, there is just one more thing…

“I believe you Yusuf,” I said, he looked relieved. “But.” I began, “ there is one thing that you haven’t explained,” he looked confused, “The other day before I took the kids to school they came to make salaam. You were still in bed” I looked at him hoping he remembers, “er…ya” he said remembering but uncertain what I was getting at. I continued, “you got up and went to the bathroom after, and I picked up your jacket from the floor and found a plastic bag with ….coke inside” I said my voice rising and forceful.

His expression dropped. Whether it was my forceful demeanour or genuine surprise that I found his secret, I was not sure. There was no denying it. The look on his face was not surprise, it was …guilt. My heart sank losing all hope for his redemption. It confirmed what I was thinking. “You brought that home! into my house! where my children live!” I shouted.

He looked clearly defeated. “I’m sorry Hasina, but I had to buy that when I went to Westpark, they wouldn’t let me in otherwise. I put it in my pocket and er..forgot about it” he tried to explain.

“When I got back that morning I searched the entire house looking for it, like a madwoman” I said hysterically. “Guess what I found?” I asked and by the look on his face I knew he knew what I was going to say. “How could you?! Yusuf. After everything.” He said nothing. The emotion of the entire day before and today boiled up inside me. my eyes burned with the tears that I was fighting back. NO, I said to myself,  I WILL NOT CRY.  Yusuf’s silence confirmed what I was dreading. I looked up at him and he seemed …confused. The look made me angry.

“Are you going to sit there and pretend that you didn’t do it?” I asked. “I found the empty packet in the bathroom, Empty” I repeated between sobs.

He slid of the couch and kneeled in front of me.

“I am not going to say I wasn’t tempted” he began as a whisper. “it would have been so easy” he said now as if talking to himself. “I took it, yes, I had to. But-“ he hesitated,  “I hadn’t forgotten about it, I knew it was there. Like a hot coal burning a hole through my pocket.”

He spoke calmly , as is giving a speech, “I think I will always be a recovering addict The temptation is always there. I do think about it – the high.” I was shocked into silence. Perhaps I never bothered to learn about addiction and just thought it could be removed like a wart or a tumour. He never said anything like this to me before. He looked me I the eye again earnestly,  “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a line. I was tempted to, and that was enough.” He bowed his head and shook it, “When the kids came in that morning, and hugged and kissed me while I was in bed” he closed his eyes as if remembering. “I knew that, that kind of love was the only drug I needed. I took the coke and emptied into the basin before I got in the shower. I never did it. Hasina”

I looked down at him. His eyes were wide and earnest. This was the truth, I knew it. I could feel it.

“Did you get some more yesterday” I asked, just to make sure. I was surprised at the way my brain was thinking.

He nodded, “I emptied it as soon as I got home last night” he said.

 “You believe me right?” he asked.

I looked at him for a long time. I studied his face. The face I have known for years. How could I not believe him? It all does make sense and everything he did for Suhayl. “Yes” I said finally.

He smiled at me and sat back up on the couch. “You are too good for me, Hasina” he said with that smile that I can never resist, and he leaned in and kissed me.

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