what happens tomorrow when the voices take over and your sanity slips from the fragile grip of your mind’s hands
what happens when the past comes hunting you looking to draw blood from you and break you down
what happens in the dark when you’re mentally fighting for your freedom from hands that have held you down every night for the past 6 years
what happens when no one is there to help you through it
you know what they say – fight or flight
flee or stay
are you strong enough to face off the reenactment of your worst nightmares?
We are not the same people
we haven’t lived the same lives
I am water gentle yet firm
timing my every move, my every tide
I seek completion and control
I am kind but deadly
I envelope and yet I release
you are the wind
oblivious yet profound
you seek something
you’re the traveler
the one who searches
you’ve been to so many places at a time and yet one
you breathe life
I steal life
you are wind
I am water
we have lived different lives
we are not the same people.
I swore to myself today I’d write about you
The thing is I kept wanting to but always found reasons not to
But today I promised myself I’d try
There is something the mind does
It has such powerful evasive tendencies
It redirects, avoids and misdirects
If it wants to
But I was tired of the evasion and the excuses
So I picked up my pen today and declared that I’d write about you
There is something haunting about us, what we had
Sometimes I sit down and wander how could something so seemingly beautiful end up so ugly, so washed up and so unwanted
Life has many quirks, I understand
But I don’t understand the innate peculiarities of them all
But I said to myself that I won’t let the pain of reopening old wounds stop me from doing this
So I made up my mind I’d write about you
The heart is quite cowardly you see
Once bitten, twice shy they say
But the heart once bitten will forever be shy
It becomes scared, fearful, cautious
Sometimes it doesn’t even try,
using apathy as an excuse
But its fear you see
I guess I’m not strong enough
And the wounds haven’t quite healed yet for the bandages to be ripped off
But this is me trying
This is me writing about writing about you
I guess I won’t keep the promise I made
When I swore to myself that today I’d write about you.
You look at the seams of your hands
Red, weak, tired of holding on
You’ve stretched too thin
Held on too strong
You invested your being into hanging on
But you see the thing about holding on too long is
You lose function in other parts
As time goes on you begin to wonder the viability of it all
If its worth all your time
Your arms begin to ache, to falter and your grip loosens
Silent tears stream down your eyes as you slowly unhook it
One finger at a time
Feeling the release of tension from your strained fingers
And you realise as you let go with your hands eventually your heart will follow
With slow uneven steps eventually you’ll learn to unclutch.
Urenwa loved her solitude. As a child, I remember my parents and relatives trying to engage her in careless banter but she never seemed interested; she experienced life from within. I felt bad sometimes when people came and got a bad impression of her because they didn’t understand her difference and her need for lonely silence. I never understood my sister either but I accepted her because there was something subtle and simple with the way she expressed herself. The older we grew, the more quiet she became. She read a lot of books both the usual and unusual but I know she enjoyed fiction more. She loved putting her imagination to use; maybe she was developing the world in her mind. Sometimes I’d watch her lift her head from the pages of a book and stare out our lone bedroom window with a smile on her lips, I longed to know what she saw in those moments that made her beam. I longed to experience my sister’s other worldliness with her but it wasn’t possible. I was different from her, people came and enjoyed my presence. My friends would sometimes ask if my sister had problems socializing or if she was born “different” – they meant the offensive kind of different – unlike me.
I was in my final year of secondary school while Urenwa was in her second year in the University when I noticed something different about her. She never liked socializing so she opted not to stay in the hostel unlike her coursemates, so she came home everyday before 7. This was the norm until I noticed she began coming home after 7 and she always had a smile when she entered. I usually gave my sister her space but curiosity took the better of me so I asked her one night after my nightly shower. She was reading a book titled “A prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving and I was applying Nixoderm on my face. She spoke slowly, her words drawing out like syrup with reverence on her face. She said his name was Dare, that he had such smooth dark skin and his raspy voice was perfection. She spoke about how the first time she stared into his eyes she felt at peace, and for the first time she longed to share her solitude with someone. I saw her glow daily when she got home until one night she came home with tears in her eyes. This time when my curiosity took the better of me she didn’t speak about his voice or his warmth; she spoke about the other girl. The one he unapologetically left her for.
I watched my sister wither and dry up more each day. She no longer loved her solitude. Some nights I’d wake up and find her hugging her knees and mumbling some words. I guess she couldn’t stand the thoughts in her head anymore, I’m sure she no longer dreamt in technicolor. Her lonely silence only brought thoughts of inadequacy to my sister’s once beautiful mind. She was never the same. I guess the fabric that made up her existence was fragile and her solitude was what maintained it. She was admitted in the psych ward the day I came home and found her sprawled on the floor laughing hysterically with tears streaming down her face; I’d never heard her laugh so loud before.
I rarely ever talk about my sister these days that the few times I do people get surprised about the fact that I have a sister. I show them her picture; one of those times when she was staring out the window with a smile on her face and the light was just right. Then they ask me what she was like, I don’t tell them about the books she used to read and what beautiful imagination I’m sure she had. Neither do I tell them about the dark skinned boy who stole my sister’s solitude and with it her sanity. I tell just tell them that my sister loved her solitude.
You knew you weren’t the one he wanted but the constant pull in your heart whenever he said your name or smiled at you assured you that it didn’t matter. Even when you asked for your relationship to be made official and he said he wasn’t sure you convinced him that it was the right thing. You fooled yourself long enough before you noticed that he tosses and turns in his sleep and the name he utters isn’t yours but hers, that every time he looks at you you can feel his silent yearning for her. You knew deep down this was the manifestation of something long coming but you still believed he could be yours. So you checked her Facebook pictures, you wore her kinds of dresses – those long formless boubous that certified her “Africanness”, you bought those whitening creams to enhance your complexion and lighten the blemishes, you cut your long flowing locks to their natural roots because she had natural hair and called herself names like “uncompromised Nigerian” and “unbridled feminist”. You assured yourself he would love you now and his lips will utter your name when he is deep in the embrace of sleep. You looked at your image in the mirror one night after your shower; stark naked and realised you didn’t recognise the person that stood before you. You had shaved peculiar bits of yourself to become someone else, another image, another soul but you didn’t succeed at that. You were lost in a body that no longer looked like yours; you were a lost soul without a home. But what broke your heart into a million and one pieces was you standing in front of him one night, looking into his eyes and realising he didn’t notice you, he still clung to the meaning of her, she was still his number one choice and her name will always linger on his lips. So you packed your bags and gathered the pieces of your broken heart, hurt piercing your fingers over and over again and you left with a heaviness in your soul because you had no idea how to find yourself again.
Its been awhile I’ve paid any attention to this space and I feel bad for that. I know there really isn’t anything to excuse such bad behaviour but please school and life just took up all of my time. And I sort of lost my writing zeal but things have been put into perspective now and I’m back with hopefully better and more tasteful write-ups.
I’ll be starting a new series called 7 days of free writing which is more of a writing exercise for myself to overcome the effects of writer’s block. Basically, its me posting write-ups I wrote during my free time or one of those times when inspiration chokes me and I’m on a lyrical high. Lol, I’m so poetic (allow me). So I’ll post one everyday for the next 7 days. They’ll range from short stories to not-so-short stories to prose (I really love prose), with varying topics. I really hope you guys enjoy them and I’d reallyyyyyy love to hear your thoughts on each and every one of them. Watch this spaceeee!