“The cigarette smoking habit I picked up in class 5 progressed to marijuana and tablets in high school. Surprisingly, I did okay in school until I was in class 12. That’s when my marks got terribly low and I couldn’t get a college admission. My family sent me to a college in Thailand, privately. But just one semester in, I had an argument with the Dean and got expelled. With an incredible amount of arrogance, I didn’t even try to apologize and took the next flight home. I lied to my family, saying that I had visa issues. They didn’t buy it, of course, but insisted that if this hadn’t worked out they’d find me another opportunity to continue my education. Apa sent me to a college in Sikkim, India. There, I continued to take drugs. I was high most days and it was obvious that it was only a little while before they’d catch me and throw me out too. But this time, I had a friend who I loved like a brother. One Thruebab on a visit to a lhakhang with him, I threw up and he asked, “Did you take tablets?” I denied but he knew. He was once on drugs too. He locked me in my room and made sure I had no access to drugs. I felt terrible. I experienced heavy withdrawal symptoms and felt like I was going insane. On seeing my condition, he allowed me to drink a little alcohol to help. After a week, I felt better. I felt more in-charge of myself and found a will to stop. I never went back to drugs.

However, I still struggled at being a good student and had to change colleges once more without telling my family. I asked for money for fees and used them on other things. When I was home last year, my parents found out about the college change and the troubles I’d gotten in. I wish I’d been better. Apa’s dream is to see all his kids with a bachelor’s degree. And for this, he is willing to take a chance on me again. He has enrolled me into a new college- a fresh start. I’ve finished my first semester online and will go to Chandigarh for the remaining ones. I’ve messed up a whole lot. But the people who never stop taking chances on me have taught me that I need to do better. I’ve lost count of the chances I’ve gotten but this time, I promise I’ll do things like it’s my final chance.”

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