Live Through This - Nikhil Lagh
All my life, darkness was the only light. Living never had much meaning to me and everyday I anticipate a cataclysm that would bring an end to the world and humanity. No child is born like this, trust me I wasn't. I was eleven when it all began.
My father was long gone and my mother owned a provision store that was quite far from our house so she'd always return late at night. Most times when my sister and I returned from school, we were made to stay at a neighbor's place before my mother returned. They had two daughters and I was of the same age with Layo, the younger one. Her elder sister being way older than us had Layo and my sister run an errand while she insisted I stayed behind to do the dishes with her.
Midway into the dishes, she went into her room and called me. I rinsed the soap off my hands and went in. She lay unclad on her bed and ordered me to touch her in her core places. I did not realize how stunned I was until she yanked me by my ears to the bed and soon, I found my little hands bending to her wish. I remember feeling very nauseated, yet I could not tell it to anybody because to my childlike mind it didn't seem like what it was; child abuse.
This went on for several months and ended only when she got admitted into an higher institution and had to leave home. My joy knew no bounds, I had found freedom or so I thought until I found myself feeling torn and incomplete. This feeling was soon replaced with a longing for a classmate of mine, Victoria who was known for passing such 'vibes'. Towards the end of junior school, I summoned courage to approach her and we became partners.
The next year, we moved and I had to change schools. It felt like I was living in hell already. I was cursing Layo's sister and missing Victoria at the same time. I was a boarder at my new school and I found comfort in solitude; the beautiful new girl was a certified loner. I hated it when school went on break because it seemed to like my only escape. I felt filthy whenever I was in church or knelt to pray and soon I began to question the existence of a supreme being and lapsed into depression on many levels.
After secondary school, the long wait upon resumption into OAU were the worst days of my life. I had several fits of anger and with my younger sister in boarding school, my mother was always at the receiving end. When we eventually resumed, I started failing from day one. I never made sense of classes or my notes. I was disgusted at the mess I had become. I had lost my joy of living and slowly, all the beautiful dreams I had of touring Venice and Kuala Lumpur faded away.
I thought I had seen the worst but it came on a night in second semester when there was a bloody battle in my head. I checked my results and I had just been gifted with two F's. I was having severe cramps too. In that moment, everything stopped to matter. I dragged myself from my room to sit on the roof of the college of health sciences as I always did whenever the tumult in my mind seemed to overwhelm me and after minutes of blankness, I composed a text message to my mother; an equivalent of a suicide note.
As I stood close to the edge of the roof, I wished the stillness in the night would not call my name. I wished I would not care about the people that cared. I wished I would not be reminded of the many things I had yet to do. For a moment, the thought of failing a million people occurred to me, but still I braced myself and asked for forgiveness (quite comical, considering the fact that I loathed a God theory). Apparently, the demons of my thoughts had won though I wanted to be discovered, to be stopped but most importantly, I wanted to be free.
Three seconds to my leap into oblivion, my phone rang. It was the ringtone I specially assigned to the group 'family' on my device and when I looked at the screen where I lay it, turned out my sister was calling with the phone she smuggled into her hostel and you would not believe. She just called to say she missed me and couldn't wait to see me come December. As the call ended, I shrieked madly. All my senses were flooded in unbelievable pain, I couldn't believe how close I came to taking my life.
I cried until I was weak on my knees pleading to nobody in particular. I had wanted freedom from my flesh yet somehow I knew that beyond this death lay a life that would be sadder than ever. I prayed hoping that somebody, anybody was listening and in that moment, on my knees, I knew I had found not just one, but several reasons to go on living. In the warmth of my sister's voice, I had found peace and many other things I was blind to all my life and most importantly, I found my liberation.
(Nikhil Lagh is a student of Political Science at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife and a member of the OAU Peeps Team)