“Close your eyes. Make a wish. It could come true. There’s just one thing, you are going to have to take a deep breath and dive in. The odds are great, you may not make it, but if you do, you’ll be so much richer for it.”
Welcome to my internal monologue.
Every month as reams and reams of notes, printed on crisp paper exchange hands in the UAE – won not by sleight of hand or hard work, but by sheer will power and luck – I am granted dreams. Reverie filled with opportunity and desires. There’s an almost addiction-betraying twitch of the fingers as I gingerly key in lottery-selling websites. And then it begins: that tiny fledgling of an idea gains wings – how would I allocate the resources when I win: donate to charity, gift friends and family, take holidays, save for financial security? Since it’s a long journey from time of purchase to actual cash-back, there is time to dream and plan and act smug. There are condescending furtive plans and bouts of crippling anxiety.
There’s also a little annoyance each time someone else has the same idea. After all, to buy a raffle with a six digit number gives you only a one in a million chance at winning, so the more people try to gain ground the more your chances of losing out. [The fact that so many are willing to split the fare of a voucher seems wonderful at first, until you realise, this means they want a share of the pie too. And so is the trepidation worth the company?]
There’s enough angst here for a destructive mind to be trapped behind a veil of misery for months. To suffer a crisis of identity, of morality - and yet. It’s an indulgence, it’s an addiction.
Yes, my name is Karishma and I am addicted to lotteries.
After years and years of being a repeat offender, I should have known better. I should have walked away. Yet, again, on February 3 I snapped up three tickets to a popular raffle and with them, a month-full of dreams, punctuated by glossy eyes and a nervous habit of looking at text messages hoping for some good news.
When an hour before midnight, the clock stuck a repeat symphony and I logged in to see the name of the winner, when the person whose face greeted me was not my own, when hopes lay jagged edged and broken on a dusty floor, I knew it was over. Cured, I cried, turning away from the numbers I hoped would change my life.
I have considered the star charts and superstitions, stooped to prodding family members to pray, and wishing upon stars whole and falling – and if nothing has worked, I can only call it a drought in the well of luck and stay away. Surly, I congratulate the winner of the Dh 12 million. I am cured, I cry.
And then morning comes. And again, a click sells me another month of dreams.