to my left, there is a pink tree.
Customary end of year thing; it’s a bit lengthy, so take your time.
every day; when i wake up and draw in my first conscious breath, it is as though god has abandoned me.
there are no joys. there is only sadness, darkness, and despair — a deep sad despairing night.
i have sat to write to you many times since the last note, but the lack of progress has stopped me in my tracks.
sometimes it is as though a hex has been placed on me—a curse of deep unfulfillment and resentment for self.
demi says i am young, and therefore should not worry. the things i want will come in due time. but i am hungry now, and cannot wait till tomorrow.
since the first day of the year, i have been fighting. i have fought house agents, i have fought landlords and ladies, i have fought the epileptic educational system, i battled ADHD, wrestled with self-doubt, and fought for my hand, my head, and my life.
there are no joys.
i never rest. i am haunted by horrors so real it feels foolish to ignore them. i am compelled to give my full attention to the problems. i focus and focus and stare till i can trace their malicious shapes in my sleep - till i can recognise them by their scents.
i am tired.
On mornings like this, I am reminded of the village and Mama. I see her clearly, and more importantly, wholly. Asides from the memory of her face, I hear her voice, and I see her frame: small, lithe, but with a presence that can fill a thousand rooms. Since she passed away in 2020, I have written and deleted several stories/pieces about her. They just haven’t felt right.
I am walking around a field. The cold harmattan air continuously kisses and caresses my legs, leaving dust with each embrace. To my left is a tree. Throughout the year, its leaves have alternated between green and pink. Right now, the leaves on top are pink and it is such a pretty sight.
Mama was so strong. At the end of her life, there was so much pain but she just kept pushing. It was incredible to witness. As I pause to take a picture of the tree, I remember her sense of humour (sarcastic, biting, but warm). Asides pretty big feet, that was the one thing I “inherited” from her. I have faced everything life has thrown at me with a joke, the same way she did.
Note: Well - maybe not the same way; she was determined to push through while I am very scared of confronting my feelings and problems. Tiny (yes, tiny) but important clarification.
The worst thing about life is how you’re expected to just keep going regardless of the circumstances. In the past month or two, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the hospital. In that space, I still had to study for my exams and work. As I spent hours waiting for a doctor to see me, or queuing to register for a hospital card, I felt acute loneliness. Being alone is a very physical pain. Or maybe that was just my hand hurting, I don’t know.
Someone is burning garbage nearby, and the smell of smoke combining with the harmattan air drags me back violently to mornings in the village where Aunty Uju would boil water over firewood for us to bathe. I would wake up to that smell and smile, just because. Over that smell, Mama would ask questions:
Have you had a bath? Yes. Have you eaten? Yes. Do you want more food? Yes, Mama.
I have never seen her so clearly in my mind’s eye as I do now. I wonder if this will ever happen again. I know that memory is a really tricky thing. Pictures will always exist so I can never forget how she looked. But that’s not all there is to remembering a person. How about her voice? The way she dozed off while watching the TV she insisted I put on? How small her hands felt in mine when I sat across her to gist? How she pushed me away every single time I offered to help her down the stairs?
I have a friend named Banke, aka Banks, aka Big Banks. I don’t think I ever let her know how important she is to me, probably because she doesn’t let me talk. But she’s so nice. She scared me a little at first because of how enthusiastic she was about our friendship when it began.
You see, lots of people become friends with me because I write. It’s very flattering, but ultimately exhausting because most of the time, all they end up doing is show me their writing and try to “pick my brain.” This year was especially horrible in that regard; but Big Banks was the exception, majorly because the enthusiasm she approached me with is how she approaches everything in life. She’s excited to cook, read, write, see her friends, to go to literary events and concerts. I live vicariously through her while I mourn the enthusiasm I once had.
So, when you read this Banke, know that I am rooting for you all the time.
Sera wrote about surrendering and it’s something I intend to practice more often. If you were wondering what my new year's resolution is, there you have it. Shout out to Sera.
I think I am a big fan of arranged marriages/relationships. Obviously, the couple being arranged need to consent, but on a purely theoretical level, the idea checks out. This is also a cry for help - my uncle says I need to get a girlfriend next year. HELP, pls.
You know how staring at someone’s face for too long makes them ugly? I can confirm that this doesn’t happen with people you’re attracted to. That, my friends, is why they say love is blind.
You can get over people with time though. That’s a true fact. Just give it time.
Two minutes is a very long time when you’re brushing your teeth. I guess that’s what people mean when they talk about the relativity of time. Two minutes is two minutes, but how long two minutes actually takes is dependent on the activity you’re doing. Two minutes- enough to brush your teeth and tongue but too little when it’s all left for your work deadline.
But enough about time, more on brushing. Up, then down, then sideways, then upside down, then on the tongue, and under the tongue, then tongue again- but this time, as far back as the bristles can go, to brush out the stink as your mother told you- then spit, rinse and spit again. Look in the mirror while you do it. Again, how you look is dependent on relativity. This time, it’s the relativity of height i.e the relationship between the architect’s choice for bathroom mirror height and the combination of feet and inches that God (technically your own architect), bestowed upon you.
If you aren’t particularly tall, you have to look up at the mirror while scrubbing away last night’s dinner. The angle of elevation makes it look as if you’re taking a picture with a selfie stick. You tiptoe a bit to see your bottom lip. Why? No idea, but it’s super important that you catch a glimpse of it before you spit the toothpaste out. If you’re taller than the mirror, you have to bend your neck a little or bend your knees so your teeth line up perfectly with the glass. Even at that, your whole face still isn’t in the picture, just your teeth. If you’re lucky, maybe you can see the furrowing of your brow as you go at it with the up, down, and sideways movements.
Sometimes, the mirror is just in the right place, positioned perfectly. You look straight ahead and there you are, white lather moving in tandem with the brush, small white splashes on the glass (you take a mental note to rinse them off, but you’ll forget, and that’s fine) and every detail of your face captured properly. No selfie stick, no bended knees. Just perfect.
This story says absolutely nothing except that angles are all about perspective. Sometimes, mirrors lie. Sometimes they show us what we want to see. No- they don’t lie. We just see what we can at that moment. Truth is shifting, liquid.
I am so grateful to everyone who reads, likes, claps, shares my stories etc. I love you all, and you are light in the darkness. Thank you.
I have one more semester of university left. God, I can’t wait to be done and contribute meaningfully to society by dyeing my hair and getting tattoos.
Have a merry Christmas, & a happy new year.