It is a windy evening and you are sitting behind your computer, staring blankly at the open Microsoft application, the white interface beckons to you. You know this, because you can hear her light husky voice telling you to share your emotions to the world – purge, she says.
It is at that moment the light goes off, rains and electricity are not best friends in Nigeria, and you know this, obviously. You say you want to stretch your feet, walk around a little, but the blank screen mocks you now,calling you a coward who has always been afraid to let the world in that cold dark tunnel that is your soul, it’s bright white light now dimmed, and you hear her telling you…
…. don’t waste your pain.
It is at that moment you know what to do. A sudden surge of energy rushes into you, and you pull out your desk chair and bring the computer to life. You are alone in the building and for the next hundred kilometers, but your mind has left to a place not so far away in the past.
In a few minutes,the clock will strike midnight and when it does-your birthday. You have been waiting for this day, for many reasons – you’re turning 18 and you’re having a party. You never had a party. Daddy didn’t believe in throwing parties for his girls, he doesn’t even know the date, but you manage anyway, because where you come from, a girl is no one,you know daddy loves you by paying your fees, so even when he drops his snide remarks that you have suceeded in being a disgrace to the family, you can only nod in agreement because that in fact, is what you believe you are. It doesn’t matter, since daddy loves you by paying your fees and providing your needs, you don’t need self esteem. It didn’t epp anybody after all.
You decided that when you turned 18,you’d finally be happy. You see, happiness was a luxury you never got the pleasure of, despite all the money. You know this, that is why you told yourself that happiness is a choice you would take only when you turn 18,and you watch the clock slowly tick-tock, it’s just two minutes left.
You turn your head in the darkness and catch your boyfriend’s eye, it’s dark because Nepa really doesn’t like bringing light. You know he’s counting together with you, he knows what turning 18 means to you, and you wonder how you got so lucky. He is a fine boy and you’re not, not even close, you wonder again what the attraction was – for you, it’s because he’s tall, you’re short and you don’t need a short person like yourself, so you are grateful for his height. He’s a fine boy, you know you’ve said it already but you just keep reminding yourself. For a minute you get tempted to ask him why he came after you-but you stop yourself, because you really don’t care. You’ve never had a boyfriend on your birthday, so this one is a blessing.
Midnight comes and the texts starts coming in, he’s lying right beside you, not close to his phone, but his text comes just right in. You wonder why, but again, you don’t care, you’ve never had a boyfriend text you on your birthday. He wishes you long health and all that good stuff, asking you to never leave him and once again affirming that his love would stand the test of time. You believe him, but if only you knew what the next 24 hours would bring, you would have aborted mission and cancelled your party even, but you lay there basking in the joy of the calls and messages pouring in at that midnight hour, you feel loved, but somewhere many miles away from you, fate opened a door you wishes had been left shut.
Your party just started and it’s already going awry. The generator refuses to come on and Nepa still will not bring the light. You wonder if the fates are telling you to cancel and just go home, but you look at your boyfriend and the effort he’s putting into getting everything running and you decide to carry on. Your friends are getting tired, night has fallen and you are late behind schedule, but you reassure them and as if the heavens heard you, the light comes on.
Your party is about rounding up and you’re not feeling it, nobody’s really participating, and you know it’s just the food that’s kept them there that long. You walk up to someone holding a bottle of vodka and ask for a shot, he warns you that alcohol is strictly for boys at the party, joking that your head cannot carry it, but you insist,its your party after all. He obliges you, and your mind tells you to dilute the alcohol but your first act as an adult and first time drinker is to refuse,and down it in one shot.
A few minutes have passed and you feel alright. You wonder why people make a fuss about alcohol. They say it turns the head, but you know this is not true because you feel just fine. You tell yourself your head was strong enough after all.
The dance floor is calling to you. You can’t dance and you know it, but at that moment you’re flying. Everyone is looking in your direction, but you don’t care, you keep going. You know the Dj is playing some old songs but you like it anyway, and just keep going.
Soon, everyone notices you’re not alright. You’ve started talking incoherently and shouting, you feel yourself somewhere inside, but you can’t control what your body’s doing. You just slapped your friend and you are trying to control it , but it feels like you’re locked in a cage and someone else has taken over. You can hear yourself screaming for help, but no one else hears it, they begin to leave the party one after the other.
You try to tell them you are sorry for ruining their night and getting drunk, but your legs are weak, you can’t move. Your boyfriend tells your friends to go without you, promising to take care of you. You rattle the cage holding you but no one can hear you-the real you. They just know you’re drunk and incoherent and saying things that shouldn’t be said outside. They are afraid now and they want to stay, but they can’t, your hostel has a curfew. When they leave, you feel empty and alone, a feeling that is not new to you. You begin to cry – and talk, and talk.
Then you hear his voice, it’s a man and he’s shouting, you’re still inside but he’s shouting through you and you wonder how you can hear all these and see what is happening. When all these is over and you tell Uncle Ben what happens, he looks at you with derision and tell you that’s what you get for drinking, but you know it’s not. He’s your uncle and you can’t argue.
The man is still talking and saying alot of deep stuff the people around should not hear. People are coming around, the noise attracts them, and they begin to pray, they suspect it’s something spiritual. Your body doesn’t feel any pain, you don’t feel at all, you’re in the room watching, but they can’t see you. You see yourself on the floor in oversized sweats and joggers, writhing in pain, you see yourself and hear the man speaking through you, but you don’t understand how you are outside your body watching everything.
There is panic, the people around are beginning to get afraid, you are now hitting them and punching and revealing their secrets, but you are not in your body and you wonder you know all what you’re saying. Your boyfriend is afraid, he’s calling your roomate and you hear people crying in the background, you are somewhere in the room watching them. They are calling your priest but his lines are unreachable, you hear yourself laughing,mocking them, and laughing… And laughing.. . And laughing…
You wake up many hours later, and you can’t move, your bones feel broken. Slowly, you begin to recollect what happened the night before. Reality dawns on you. You try to stand but your legs have a mind of their own. Your boyfriend is still asleep, his arms draped lazily around you. You wonder why he isn’t far from you after what happened the night before. You convince yourself somewhere inside that he is one of the good guys,but the twinge you feel in your heart tells you that you lied to yourself and you know how it will end. You remember what he told you, that he was different and he would stand the test of time, you believe him, and succumbed to the sheer stupidity of a boy’s musings while trying to woo a girl. You doze off to a tired slumber.
When you wake up, he tells you what happened, and that you almost jumped the top floor of a story building, but you can’t remember. You wonder if he knows this is not your first unsuccessful suicide attempt. He reassures you that your priest is on top of the matter and that he knows you think he’ll run away, but he won’t. He assures you that he is different from the rest, promising that his love is unwavering. In your naive teenage mind, you believe him, because you know you would do same for him.
Days turn into weeks and your priest was able to handle your matter, it was a spiritual case after all. You ask him if you’re fine now, and if anyone should be afraid of you, and he assures you that anyone who becomes afraid of you is immature and nothing is wrong with you anymore, go in peace.
Your mind jolts back to the present time. The rain has stopped and it’s pitch black outside, you lost track of time, and you wonder how long you’ve been writing. You close the system and decide to take a walk to clear your head, your mind has opened a wound and you’re dealing with the scars. Walking through the hallway leading to the staircase, you reminisce on the past events.
Your boyfriend did not stay. First, it started with the distance, he suddenly became always busy, then the texts stopped, the calls too. You understand, you always knew he would leave, but he bounces back, telling you he was just afraid but now he’s fine, and you continue the relationship, but things never was the same again.
He starts talking to his ex, and inviting girls over. You know this because you are team snoop, your ex had played a fast one on you in the past, and you only got out with your dignity because you snooped. You confront him and he tells you it’s what you get for snooping. You don’t understand why he changed all of a sudden. You ask, but he denies it had anything to do with your birthday.
Later you find out, it did in fact have everything to do with it. He thinks you’re a witch, he tells his mother and she agrees and warns him to run away before you initiate her precious son. He talks to your friend who tells him that infact there would be a problem if the two of you end up together and supports his decision to quit. You are disappointed but you can’t help the Nigerian ignorance. You know nothing is wrong with you, because the voices have stopped, the nightmares and your bipolar went with it. You know you can’t convince the people around to see you as normal, their fear of evil spirits won’t let them. Time and time over , you mull over their words…
“Hmm…i hope you’re praying oo..”
“Bhet you know what happened to you was not a small thing oo. ..”
“Ah, you think you’re fine? Don’t worry, when you want to conceive, it will come back and torment you? Your husband will be poor. . Ah, nsogbu dikwa! Better soak your chaplet in water now oo…”
You want to pull out their hair and scream in their faces, but you know that’s the sign they’re waiting for to prove you’re not okay and you’re acting on influence of spirits, so you keep your cool. It keeps you up at night, and you cry, but no one knows this. No one would ever know this. Your friends tell you, you deserve better, and a man that will stand the test of time, whose love doesn’t shake. They giggle when they say you don’t need a mommy’s boy, who’s always afraid.
You wonder if you’ll ever be happy again. You turn back from the staircase and head back to your room, the Boulevard of your broken dreams. You know then, that your broken heart will never be fixed. At least, not today.