If not for GOD, I would have been dead – ex drug abuser

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AT this time three years ago, 23 year old Lewis Mumba’s mother’s heart would have been broken into a million pieces. Her emotional cries would have led her neighbours to equally shed tears as they shared in her grief. One could see the pain in her eyes that have now turned blood red from weeping over her only male child.

Unlike the father who threw a party to celebrate his son’s return in the story of the prodigal son, his return home after spending nights out brought relief and agony and a constant worry of a new package of sorrow he is going to gift the family with next.

This is a story of Lewis Mumba, an ex drug abuser. His father died when he was only a year old leaving his mother and grandmother with the responsibility of raising him.

Through her business of selling tomatoes and vegetables, Lewis’ mother, Loveness Mumba, managed to send him to Anglican school in garden compound, where he did his grade 1 to grade 3.

Loveness later decided that Lewis needed a change of schools, hence, she moved him to Muleya Secondary School in Thornpark, where he continued his education up to the 9th grade.

It was during this period that life began showing him the ugly side of it’s face.

Being the only male child in a family of 6, Lewis was forced to grow up at a very young age.

In trying to make efforts of relieving the financial burden off his mother’s shoulder, he found himself absconding some classes and rather looked for piece works in industries so that he could scavenge some money.

But as the famous saying goes “one can not serve two masters at the same time” and true to these words, Lewis failed to write his final grade 9 examinations. This left him with one choice, to turn to the streets and look for greener pastures.

As events would have it, Lewis entangled himself with the wrong breed of individuals and like a butterfly trapped in a spider’s web, it would nearly be impossible for him to break free.

The year is now 2018 and Lewis is surrounded by a new circle of friends which society deems as “bad seed.” Eventually he too was considered a bad seed as he was introduced to the life of drugs and thuggery.

“I only used to smoke normal cigarettes and marijuana but after some time, I also started taking codeine because almost every one in the circle was doing it.” He said.

He added: “others also used to take Volo but I used to refuse. The first time I smoked was when my friend tricked me saying it was marijuana. It was late at night…and I thought of checking up on my friends. One of the guys just handed me the blunt and without knowing the content, I smoked it and immediately I vomited.”

With the traits of addiction now coming into play after getting used to the drugs, Lewis was a confirmed “bad seed” or slowly turning to the popularized term “junkie”.

His mind was focused on servicing the desires for drugs and dire consequences followed when he ignored its call.

His lips would tremble like a person speaking in unknown tongues and his hands would uncontrollably shiver as if his body’s heat generation mechanism is at optimal function in the cold season.

Such situations forced him to start selling anything he could put his hands on – his clothes, gaming console, popcorn machine, his mother’s wrappers among many others.

When there was nothing to steal and sell at home, his black smoke stained lips, scruffy and unkempt looking appearance was put to good use – Lewis and his team would intimidate unsuspecting members of the community and demand valuables from them.

After finding no peace at home from his mother’s constant complaints and lamentations over his behaviour, he resorted to sleeping out at his friend’s places for uncountable nights.

But time came when the drug abuse became too much and without a proper diet, his physical strength became to fail him. It started becoming a challenge to find and do his usual simple jobs and consequently it was official, Lewis was broke.

Noticing his slowly growing financial impotence, his friends eventually kicked him out to the streets but due to his dedication to survival, he made himself known as a self proclaimed community garbage collector.

After 4 years of being in such a lifestyle, Lewis finally had a moment of introspection and he made a decision that would change the course of his destiny.

“Because I didn’t have money to buy drugs and many of my friends refused to give me some, no matter how much I was in lack… they just watched me.”

“We used to contribute k5 to buy especially Volo but since I didn’t have money, I started skipping some days without smoking and unknowingly that is how my reformative process started.” Lewis told Kalemba.

Lewis made it his personal decision to quit drugs and alcohol and found his way back home to his family.

It has been now 2 years since Lewis Mumba smoked or used any drugs, and his on his way of finding a decent job.

Despite currently not being employed anywhere, He is desperately in need of help to find employment and willing to do any legal piece of work.

Lewis’ childhood dream of becoming a mechanic one day still exists, “I will not stop until I make my mother proud of me”.

By Elesani Phiri

Kalemba March 7, 2024

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