I am in conversation with Rob and Tom.
We are in Manu’s living quarters. Manu, the very dark and muscular Cape Verdean. Manu with the very irascible bulldog that seems to just hate me for some reason. Manu with the young son. Manu the thief.
A Slovenian tattoo artist is a temporary resident at Manu’s quarters. He found himself stranded after being robbed by some island locals. According to him, one of them jumped out from nowhere and snatched one of his devices. While he was trying to lay a hand on that one, some others came along and snatched his bag and the rest of his possessions. His camera, mobile phone, all gone. Now he’s stranded here, bereft of all of his things, strapped for cash and not quite sure what to do next. He says he has a friend in Stuttgart who he’ll reach out to, to help with some money so he can leave the island. I hope things work out fine.
Manu has been stealing the very few things left of the tattoo artist’s possessions. Perfumes, etc. I wonder why you would still steal from someone in that position. While he’s sharing your living quarters as he tries to come up with a plan to move forward. I don’t know- I guess all of those perfumes and stuff, are a very very big deal to Manu the muscular Cape Verdean thief.
I am in conversation with Tom and Rob.
We are talking about cocaine.
I met them both on this day where I provided some unsolicited help with an open bottle of wine they left at a defunct bar in front of the building in which I live.
I had downed a considerable amount of the wine when two guys came to accost me. I was very hungry that day.
We began to talk. They had both spent some time in the USA. I never actually asked, but I suspected they were deported on drug-related charges- that was just what I felt.
Rob is a cocaine addict.
I’m asking questions, and he’s giving an exposition on what life as a cocaine addict is like.
Don’t ever take it man, it’ll ruin your life. You’ll never be able to do anything sensible with money. Whatever money you get will be spent on it. You’ll always be thinking of how to get money, just because you need another hit.
But it makes me feel very energetic though. Whenever I take it, I’m hyper. I can clean the entire house in minutes. It gives me a lot of energy.
At some point, someone asks me if I’d like to try some. Some cocaine.
I take some time to think about it. Rob has just made me very aware of the severely pernicious consequence of cocaine use, but at the same time I am also cognizant of the fact that such a deleterious outcome is a function of probability- and that it’s not entirely certain that my life will become irrevocable ruined, just because I tried it once.
I’m thinking about what to do.
The prospect seems exciting. Taking cocaine for the first time on some random island off of the coast of West Africa with some guys I recently met. I’m weighing that against the possible life-decimating consequences.
While I make up my mind, Tom says he’s not going to let me do it.
Tom is like Rob’s big brother. He takes care of him.
I mean, Rob is his own guy with his own place, and with this sexually attractive but somewhat repressed Cape Verdean woman living there with him- and whose exact function in his life I can only imagine, given that I never see them outside together.
Tom takes care of Rob with regard to life direction and life decisions. Rob can get very irrational- partly as a personality thing, and maybe also as a consequence of his drug addiction. Tom seems to be relatively sober. He has this daughter he’s always going to pick up from school and stuff. He seems to provide Rob with some sort of general life guidance.
I actually like hanging out with them- the dynamic between the two of them is interesting- Rob always being funny and loud and energetic and whimsical, and Tom always trying to be the more reasonable half of their duo.
At some point Rob wants to go get some cocaine. Says he wants me to come with. I think he feels the dealer will think more highly of him if I come along with him. I’m not quite sure why.
Him and his friends seem to find me very well-spoken and intelligent and educated, but I’m not really sure how to feel about all of that. I’m not very happy with the current state of my life, and I’ve realized that being happy with your life is more important than being described/complimented as being intelligent or well-spoken.
Rob first takes me to his place for a shower. I haven’t taken a bath in days. Maybe weeks. I’ve been paying very little attention to my physical appearance/impression because I’ve been entirely overwhelmed with life problems.
In my head I’ve been like:
My life is in complete and utter disarray. My future is drenched in panic-inducing uncertainty. I don’t care about looking presentable for the next twenty four hours, just to look unkempt again and be in need of another cleaning/grooming session. I’d rather just look very rough and maybe a little insane, while I focus on fixing the real and fundamental problems in my life.
We are at the apartment of the cocaine dealer. He’s from Nigeria. For some reason all of the cocaine dealers I know on the island, are from Nigeria. I am yet to come to an understanding of the factors underpinning that correlation.
We are in discussion with the dealer. He finds it hard to believe that I deliberately decided to put a pause to college studies in the USA.
I am not surprised. Pretty much everyone from Nigeria who once lived in North America but now lives here, did not choose to make that change. It was forced on them. By like deportation or an expiration of status or something of the sort. And so they usually find my story completely impossible to believe. At this point, my F1 US visa is actually even still valid. Haha.
The dealer says he used to live in Canada. Says he had a Canadian girlfriend. Says he tried very hard to impregnate her, so he could get some sort of a residence permit in Canada.
I’m not too surprised. These guys are usually like that. I don’t quite understand this obsessive hunger people have for North American citizenships. Honestly I don’t get it. Above all, I don’t get the debasement they put themselves through all in a bid to acquire those citizenships/residence permits.
A prevalent dream of a number of African-origin guys on this island, is to become romantically involved with female European tourists so they can relocate to Europe with them. I mean, I’m not really one to judge, but you should see the women some of them get involved with. People who could be their mothers. Or at least their mothers’ younger sister.
Back to cocaine.
Rob has made the purchase. The dealer is done expressing suspecting disbelief at my story. Now we are heading out of his apartment.
We are at a club. It’s a cool club. I’m having fun. Dancing and enjoying myself. Rob isn’t dancing. He’s more interested in spending some money he recently got, and being praised for his generosity.
I don’t quite understand his behavior. It seems like he’s experiencing some sort of deep-seated inadequacy, and somehow derives some temporary reprieve for that whenever the people around hail him and chant his name for spending another few euros on drinks for them.
I don’t know why keeps doing that. If he doesn’t know what to do with money, he should designate me as being responsible for making the most judicious use of his money. I really need some money, and I have some very important things to use money for. He’s just throwing everything away on people who’ll most likely begin to make fun of him the moment he leaves the club.
We’ve left the club.
I’m heading back to the studio apartment where I stay. I’m walking by the white bakery I like to buy bread and baguettes from. Their stuff tastes very nice.
There’s this baker-cum attendant they have there: Light skinned Cape Verdean woman. Usually she’s nice. Recently she has been getting more unfriendly though. Without reason.
Sometimes it almost feels like she’s angry at me about something. But she cannot possibly be angry at me at anything, because she doesn’t even know me. Her pregnancy has been getting progressively heavier though. I wonder if her change in disposition has something to do with that.
I wonder if there’s any scientific treatise on the irrationality of pregnant women. I wonder what all of those staunch feminist women will have to say about that.
As I walk past the white building of the bakery, I find myself suddenly hit by the apathetic pangs of heartbreak.
Immediately my mood turns sour and I begin to berate myself bitterly, in pain.
In my personal experience, heartbreak is weird. With the passage of time, you begin to feel like you’re past the severely disorienting trauma of being separated from someone you love. Sometimes you have an almost-complete good day. Everything is fine and everything is alright. And then all of a sudden you’re hit by this fiendish sonuvabitch of an emotional hurricane and you find yourself right back where you started.
I head back to my living space, talking and swearing at myself and at my absent partner and at life and then I swear some more at no one in particular- angry and bitter and indignant.
Image: At a nightclub in Nigeria.
Some names have been changed.