By Marymartin Okoabu:
I feel like I’m in a tight corner with no air coming in, and I feel close to hyperventilating. But this time, it’s not the wall closing in on me but my thoughts, it’s not the lack of air suffocating me but the voices in my head. They push- strongly and angrily with the hands they had developed, gnawing and tearing with no pity at my insides. And I see myself gradually drowning, slowly and painfully in the sea of my mistakes.
Papa’s voice is the loudest, they boom at every corner of my head- a thick hoarse voice that had always scared us as children. “You are a disappointment to this family, I regret having a daughter.”
Mama’s silence, and piercing gaze that looks deep into my soul, seeing every stained spot. The silence spoke loudly of disappointment, I have failed them terribly.
And then my siblings’ indifference. I don’t know which hurts more- Papa’s tongue-lashing, Mama’s unsaid words or my siblings’ cold shoulders, with the whispers I hear through the walls. But all intertwined into a myriad of thoughts and voices, and they are pushing me deeply into a dark corner where no one exist.
I hold my head tightly as I roll on the bed, sweat glistening over my dark skin, even as the fan rotates slowly. The loud and steady hum it makes feels like demons humming a spell in my head. I want it to stop so badly and so I take my pillow and press it tightly over my head, covering my ears. But it only forms an echo so deep that I feel defeaned. My heart beating so fast adds to the noise in my head. I close my eyes and try not to listen to the voices and against my will, my thoughts takes me to how it all started.
If one could turn the hands of the clock and will the days to follow suit, then I would pick the wall clock in the sitting room, the one everyone had forgotten about as everyone now has a phone, the one papa had said was older than my mother; and turn quickly the minute and hour’s hand and take it back to the Saturday three months ago. Then I wouldn’t have gone to Ekene’s house, or even if I had gone, I wouldn’t have taken the drink he had offered me. The drink that had made me sleep so deeply, only to wake later to find myself naked in his bed, with my pride taken and a note lying beside me.
Or I could ferociously turn the hands of the clock to one year back, to when I had met Ekene. Then I wouldn’t have smiled at him when he had spoken to me at Mass. We were not supposed to talk at Mass, so I had smiled instead. Papa from his seat beside the altar would see me and think I was smiling in understanding to what Fr. Paul was preaching, I had thought. But oh, how foolish and shallow those thoughts were. That had marked the beginning of my teenage churchy romance. Or I shouldn’t have looked too deeply into his eyes when he had spoken to me afterwards, for it seems it were those eyes that had captured me and lured me by its shiny dark brown innocence. Or maybe I had looked too deeply and not searched. If I had, then I would have seen the deceit lying comfortably behind those shiny dark brown balls of innocence.
Or maybe one year was too far, maybe that day had already been predestined, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from falling for him if I had tried. But then I could have stopped myself from trusting him completely and never visit his house as mother had always warned me, “never visit a man alone in his house,” she would say. “They could turn from an angel to a monster within the twinkle of an eye.” But no, I had not stopped myself, instead I had allowed myself to be carried away by teenage fantasies and done things unheard of a catechist daughter and technically against my upbringing. I had started visiting a man alone in his house.
When the vomiting started, I tried to hide it as much as I could. I tried to behave normal, like my whole life had not been turned upside down, like I had not just committed the worst crime against my father and against God. I could only go few days before my mother found out. She had looked alarmed as she questioned me in a hushed tone, maybe trying to prevent my father from knowing. When I could not provide a quick answer, she had dragged me to my room and asked me to get dressed. We had gotten to the hospital and a test carried out. When the result came out, my mother had given a loud cry and since then had refused to say anything to me. When my father found out, he had given me a slap that had twisted my neck. Since then no one had questioned me on how it happened and I guessed that was what hurt more.
I do not feel the tears rush through my eyes until it soaked the blue sheet lying beneath me. I can’t identify which is tears and which is sweat. I sit up and try to clear my head of the voices swirling inside. But it only seemed to become louder. Another thing gradually rise within me and I identify it as hatred. I hate myself so badly for my gullibility and I hate Ekene, and I also hate my family for not asking what really happened. I identify self pity sitting at a corner of my heart staring at me with pity, hahahaha of course it is pity. How will I face society? How can I be pregnant at sixteen?
I hold my head tightly again and try to scream inwardly to the voices within me. I want this to stop, I really need to escape from all this. I stand up from the bed and I sway slightly. When the dizziness passed, I look round my room. First I need to stop the rotating fan. I go to the switch and put it off. I let my eyes roam the room and it settled on the bedsheet. I walk towards the bed like another being is in control of me. I take the bedsheet and twist, I twist and twist till it is tight. My bedsheet is light so the twist is not heavy. I take a side stool and go to stand under the fan that is already still. I make a noose and put over my neck, then I tie the other end to the fan. I take a deep breath before releasing my hand. Then I let the stool fall with twisting my body.
I feel proud for what I am doing, for I feel peace await me as I escape from my own body.