Buying Cocaine with Rob.

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.

Of Summer Rendezvous and Stolen Wine.

Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I’m not quite sure what he’s doing. I think he’s just taking in the view. Or maybe he’s having a phone call- I’m not quite sure.

I am in the kitchen section of the college HQ. There is a stash of wine bottles by my right.

I never really used to pay attention to the wine. In my head, it was in the same category with the like shoulder-high rack of wine bottles in one of the meeting rooms. The one with a table and an iMac and bookshelves and sofas.

I had that room to myself on a recent afternoon. Reclining in the extremely comfortable chair, reading about a newly-popular deep learning library called Keras on the iMac screen. Thinking about neural networks and activation functions and feeling like some grey-haired Stanford professor.

In my head, the assortment of wine bottles to my left were not for consumption by mere mortals like myself. The wine was arranged there for a different species- one I had never encountered before.

In my head, the bottles by my left were not wine, they were art. To be protected from contact with my inquisitive epidermis, lest those invaluable vessels dripping with rich history, instantly crumble into regrettable dust upon contact with my lowly Homo Sapien skin.

But the bottles of wine in the kitchen- the bottles of wine here by my right? These ones are different.

Like a few weeks ago I walked into the HQ kitchen and saw a half-full bottle. I paused mid-stride to make sense of what I was seeing.

Wait, this wine is for drinking? This wine is to be drunk? By human beings?

Ohhhhhh.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Okay. Okay. Okay I get it now. I get it now.

I think there had been some sort of a celebration at the HQ a number of hours before. Hence the wine.


Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I intend to transport one of the wine bottles into my backpack.

I do not know if that is stealing. I know chocolates and general snacks are accessible to all, but I just don’t know about the wine.

I don’t know if it’s expensive wine. To be honest I have no idea how to identify expensive wine, either by the bottle or by the taste. I think confirmation bias could make otherwise unremarkable wine taste expensive. To like me the uninitiated, it definitely would. It probably would have much less of an effect on expert tasters and stuff though.

I wonder if Mister Wang on the balcony can hear my thoughts.

I wonder if he has already perceived my intentions. He gave me a brief glance a few seconds ago.

I don’t know. He seems to be very engrossed in whatever he is doing.

I don’t know. Or maybe he is just being disingenuous.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

In my head I am coming up with explanations for my actions. I am advocating my innocence to the skeptical college-faculty superego in my brain. I can see myself in front of a disciplinary council, drawing on ethical frameworks and logical arguments to exonerate my very pitiable self from impending doom and desolation.

The school administration has been expelling people in recent times. I wonder if I could get expelled for stealing wine from the HQ. I don’t know.

But wait, I don’t even know if this is stealing. The wine is definitely accessible to general staff. I think. For students? I don’t know. For a student sneaking a bottle into his bag to drink back at the dorms with his girlfriend? I have no idea.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

My head keeps dancing about in a web of ethical conundrums as I head out to Market Street and begin to skateboard down to Powell.


A Kenyan classmate just helped me with a wine-opener. She says something about having some sort of share in the wine.

I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about. There’s only room for two this night.

I head down the stairs. About ninety percent of the class is home for summer break- and so the building in Nob Hill which functions as our dorms, is largely empty. The girlfriend and I have been making use of a number of different rooms in the building, in addition to our assigned rooms for the summer.

I call one the “flute room”, because during the session one of the occupants used to play the flute.

It was somewhat ticklish for me being in that room with the girlfriend, and thinking about the relatively innocent conversations I had had right there, with the occupants of the room a number of months before.

Hm, if only these people knew what we’re doing in their room now. What we’re doing with their beds.

Today it’s a different room. This one has a view of California street. Like my room.

I’m heading downstairs, wine-opener in hand.

The stolen wine should set a very stimulating mood for the night.

This night should be a very interesting one.


It’s a number of days later.

I am having a conversation with a resident assistant- a classmate from Malaysia. She is telling me about a strange discovery she made while locking up one of the rooms in the building for the summer.

The room was supposed to have already been cleared out, and so she was surprised to find an unempty bottle of wine in the wardrobe. Along with a blanket. And a number of other things which had very tenuous strings to their consequently ambiguous owners.

Hm. I wonder where the wine came from. I wonder how it got there. I wonder how it got opened, and I wonder what activities the beings who drank from the bottle intended to engage in.

Hm. I wonder.

This life is a mystery.


Image: Drinking (unjustifiably?) expensive wine at Shiro- an interesting Pan Asian restaurant in Lagos Nigeria.