(Editor’s note: our member was hospitalized for alcoholism and has been sober for almost a year. Today he bravely faces the uncertainties of refugee life with no immediate solution to his many afflictions. Returning to his homeland is out of the question, foras his life is still threatened. His daunting struggle continues.)
It’s 2AM, I look around me and realize everyone’s going to sleep and here I am with no place to go. I search my pockets and count the amount of money I’m remained with “120 bucks, not bad”, I mutter to myself. I debate whether to get a room and get a good sleep but then what about tomorrow? Or rather today daytime – what will I spend on food and drinks. I carefully stand and try to see if I am really drunk or just in the mood. I discover that I need some rest and time is moving fast. I rush to the shop where I get my usual whiskey and buy some ten dollar whiskey takeaway. At least this will keep me going for the time being. I double check my cigarettes and lighter-everything is in check. I slowly make my way around the back staircase of building X. I know my way to where I have stacked my carton boxes, at least I will have a few hours of sleep before daytime. As I make my way to the fifth floor I pass a couple of youngsters smoking some hashish. I know the guys, since we all have similar situations, homeless, jobless and no plans for the immediate future. After greetings one of them gladly passes the “joint” and I smoke it in a hurry peering at every entry and exit as if the police may appear at any moment.
After a few puffs, I give it back and head to my destination. I reach the fifth floor and gather my cartons which are carefully concealed on the left side outside the small window. I place them beneath the upper staircase, here there’s enough space and dark where no one bothers to check apart from cleaning time at ten in the morning. I secure my valuables in my shorts, light a cigarette and lay down for a nice rest. After a few minutes I put out the cigarette butt, turn over and close my eyes. Suddenly I open my eyes, I look out of the window, its still dark, I check the time – its a quarter to six, I have slept for almost three and a half hours not bad feeling fresh, I return the boxes to their places and head out the building, I remove the whiskey and take a big gulp, I light a cigarette and head towards McDonald’s restaurant. Here I look like a regular foreign customers but the only time I visit this place is when I want to use the rest room. I wash my face, fresher up and promise myself I will take a shower later in the day. I walk slowly towards the 711 store, here I am bound to meet fellow drunkards who are always my Saviour. After a few greetings and jokes they toss me a beer……and for me the day has just began.
We drink and make fun of the ones who look more drunk than the other. Its already nine in the morning and people are busy going to work or some other activities. Well some of them have nothing to do but just wander around. I mix some whiskey with the beer and this makes it stranger, I like it this way. This time only a few people are remaining as the rest have retired. I take my drink slowly as I know I have almost two hours to kill before the whiskey shop opens. I can feel the rise of hunger in my stomach but I brush the thoughts of food aside and try to focus what today will hold. I remove a small paper from my wallet and see what I’m supposed to do. I discover my UN appointment in two week overdue, dam I need to make another one. I see that I need to sign at MTK immigration next week, and I also have to look for a house seriously otherwise I can’t keep going like this for long. I promise myself I will call friends later for any update. It’s eleven, and I have finished my last sip of drink. I move from the 711 and head towards the backside of building X. Here I’m safe from looking eyes from all corners, I find the whiskey shop open and as it looks I’m not the first customer as other alcoholics have already vibrated or jump started their system as they would call it. I buy some whiskey and drown it in a few seconds. I order the second one and sit on the slaps connected to the shop. People move in and out of the building busy either with trolleys or trying to look for potential customers for anything ranging from drugs to cars. I joke with the idea of selling drugs then it dawns to me that if I ever get caught, my life will be done, I brush it off immediately and focus on better things.
Its past noon, the sun is shining brightly and here I am, a cup of whiskey and not a care in the world. I know I have an hour to my lunch which is at the church at one p.m. Here is where all the drug addicts and alcoholics gather to pretend they are praising God while in the meantime waiting for the free lunch. I drink my whiskey slowly and borrow the newspaper from the nearby shop to know what is going on locally and internationally. At least I can have new topics to discuss in the evening with fellow friends over a drink. After reading the paper I prepare myself for the church service or rather free lunch on the 4th floor building X. After praising and singing hymns, I finally get my lunch at eat it in a hurry. Since I don’t know when my next meal may come from. When its over I hurry back to the whiskey shop lest have I missed any drama, well all books fine so I continue having more drinks with my belly filled up nothing can stop me now. A few guys who know me pass by and usual they chip in a few coins or notes for keepsake or emergency as I cal it. On a lucky day I could gather around eighty to one hundred and fifty dollars and today is one of those lucky days. I look at my watch, its four p.m. and my body is feeling kinda weak. This is the time for a perfect nap. I buy a ten dollar whiskey and head towards Kowloon park. Here I know I can relax in the smoking area with no disturbance. As I reach, I head towards the end on the smoking area and relax under the tree. I know the shade can help cover me from the sun. I light a cigarette and take my position under the tree. After a few minutes I throw away the cigarette and close my eyes for my afternoon nap. At least its a bit comfortable lying on the grass and using my shoe as a pillow, here I am safe.
I feel the breeze blowing across my face and I know its already night time. I sit up and look at the time, its nine p.m., not bad at least four and a half hours of sleep. I remove the whiskey from my pocket and have a large gulp….now I can open my eyes and relax, another day is almost over. I make my way to the toilet, and on top of the big cistern is where I hide my face towel and soap. I enter in one of the shower cubicles and take a nice cold bath, thank God its summer otherwise I would be freezing. After its all over I make my way towards the backside alley, my base – where I get my cheap whiskey. People have already multiplied and everyone’s having fun. I buy another drink and continue gossiping as I have the latest updates. Others light up cigarettes of course with some hashish in it, but the police aren’t taking their usual rounds so who cares. After my drink I suddenly feel hungry. I go the cheapest restaurant where for ten dollars I can get chapatti and some mixed stew. I eat to my fill and this time it already eleven thirty so I go towards the 711, I know this the right time and place to get fellow alcoholics or hopeless characters like me. I get a few guys and we start chatting about the latest updates and who did what and who did not. I grab my self a beer which I all starter for I surely know after this I will get more from guys, slowly and slowly we talk, laugh and make fun
of women and the people around us. True to their words these guys will always buy beer, rain or shine. I continue drinking and hustling for coins from a few guys and at least I know I have something for tomorrow and you never know when opportunity rises. After conversations about issues that concern us and others that don’t or at least have no relevance, I look at my watch at its already half past one in the morning. I excuse myself as am feeling a little tipsy. I make my way to the back alley and here I drown my last tots of whiskey and of course by the takeaway. As usual the routine is already in my head, I head for the staircase to my humble place where I can rest for a couple of hours. I pass the smokers and have a few puffs of the ‘joint’, then I retire to the fifth floor and arrange my sleeping place as usual. Now that people have gone to rest I can also rest and be fresh later. I lay down and think of what I should do to make my life better….., tomorrow I must change by behavior – I will change my clothes, shave and get a new house, I puff my cigarette slowly and look at the time its already two a.m. in the morning. I smile at my silly promises…..for as far as I know myself, tomorrow or rather today will be the same as yesterday and the day before unless the almighty lord looks down at me and a miracle happens……..