My first puff


Never, in my small imagination have I ever thought that just inhaling some small puffs of Cannabis sativa could turn forthwith my entire thought and imagination with a peculiar sensation.
It was a breezy evening, just the second day of Koriteh, I was sent by my brother to collect his money from one of his customers. He explained the location of the area and even the colour of the compound.
When I got there, I knocked at the gate because it was locked. I heard a heavy voice inside saying ‘Yes!! Who is it?’ I said, ‘It’s me’. He paused for a while and said, ‘You who?’

I was gradually getting irritated with his security cross-examination. Then I spoke to him in a serious voice, ‘I am Sulayman, my brother sent me to Omar to collect his money… Let me come’. Before I finished, the tall metallic door was opened. The guy inside peeped at me first and said, ‘Ndo ke’. I said ‘yea’. He pointed at the back of the house and said, ‘Omar is there’. As I walked to the back of the room, I was asking why the tight local security protocols. ‘In fact, even if he is the Minister for Heaven and Earth, who cares?’ I mused to myself in frustration.
When I reached the back of the house, I saw a group of men sitting around by the door. Their eyes were red. They were holding marijuana or Cannabis sativa also known as Joino, Indian hemp, Weed, Jamba, Nyaamo, Nyak, Tabaa, Ganja etc.

This Cannabis sativa has different names even in one language. In Spain, it is known as Mariguana, Italians called it Erba, in Portugal they call it as Machonha; the Germans and French decided to call it Marihuana, in Nigeria it’s the famous Ebow.


I introduced myself and requested to see Omar. One of the old guys with long knotted Rasta hair told me, ‘Sit down and wait for him’ while he stylishly puffed out thick smoke from his Joino. When he puffed, he made a hiss sound from his mouth while simultaneously twisting one of his long dreadlocks with his other hand.
I was breathless.

The area resembled a kitchenette, clouded with marijuana smoke. As I sat and waited, each time their puff got into my nose, I felt myself feeling some strange queasy sensation. I pretended as if all was well, without knowing that I had a chicken brain and before I knew what was happening, everything started looking funny in my eyes. I found myself laughing at everything they were saying, funny or not. Suddenly, I heard a strange voice in the air saying, ‘Saul take off your shirt, it’s hot!’ I said to myself, ‘Bilai, it’s hot’. I dutifully took off my shirt and spectacle and began to fan myself. Then I shouted and started complaining about Omar wasting my time. At that moment, I didn’t know that I was already High. When the tall giant Omar finally came out with his eyes red like the fires of hell, and said, ‘Okay, they sent you to me right?’ I angrily shouted at him and said, ‘No they didn’t send me to you, they sent me to your anus! That was the beginning of the evening drama.

Only ten minutes earlier, I was a lost stranger, listening to their Rastafarian powwow.
Well their conversation was so disconnected and scanty. I heard the first guy saying, ‘Boy I heard that that serial rapist was caught’. I was expecting some logical response, but I was confused when he started talking about a different thing altogether, ‘So all those youths were all deported from Libya right, oh too bad!’ My confusion only grew more when the third guy eerily stroke his dark locks and chirped in, ‘Bilai, father, Zion’s pack is too small now for D150. Look at this! It’s all dust that he sold to us boy!’ I just kept looking at them in wonderment.
They were five in number sitting on a wooden bench. Directly opposite one of the guy, were the brewing utensils for the famous Chinese green tea, attaya. The way he stylistically brewed the green tea, made me wonder whether he was a former brewer at Banjul Breweries.

The other guy sat just near the black radio speaker that was gently emitting Jamaican reggae music; he kept swinging his head and legs as he rolled the long bundle of the Ganja, which might rival even the giant spliffs that Bob Marley himself parades sometimes. He humming along the song from the black radio.
When I swore at Omar, he opened his mouth and eyes at me and said, ‘Boy are you mad?’ he rushed at me but his boys held his hand. Then one of the guys said, ‘Boy leave this boy, can’t you see he is already high?’ and I turned at him and shouted, ‘who is high? Let me tell you, is your father who is high!’ What this guy did to me would never be forgotten in a hurry…


The author is a student at the University of The Gambia School of Engineering and Architecture.