Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Men Do Not Tally

By ‘Joba Ojelabi

I read poetry; good and bad, and I also make attempts to write some; good and bad. Earlier this year, in the middle of all the shouts that came with the Depression talk, I wrote a poem. My poem was merely an attempt to have fun with the word itself; mentally. Paradoxically, inserting a space into the right place in the word breaks it into two words; men tally. In my poem, which might of course come off as mediocre in some circles, I tried to reestablish a point already established by mother nature herself- I tried to state again that as much as we were one species, we are not equal!

Mercy was a 100L student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife. Sometime last week, she killed herself and there have been many postulated reasons why. In acceptance of the truth, no one would ever truly know. Some of her friends and acquaintances have come to state that she had signs of depression and would go on to kill herself for failing one of her courses. This has been the major argument and even from this, several smaller arguments have begun to emerge: Some saying that she was too young to handle the pressures of a University, some of the opinion that the incident was an indication of the failure of the Counselling unit of the school and a number of other diverse thoughts on the issue somehow seem to make it worthy of conversation.

The first major separation I would have from my mother (at least that I consciously remember) happened when I was a little over Nine years of age. I remember at the time, I spoke at lot to myself; way more than I spoke to anyone else around. And on some nights when my eyes needed cleansing, I would somewhere under the wrapper she gave me to protect myself from mosquitoes and cold find the tears to properly express myself. Despite all of this, there was still the pressure to pass my examinations in flying colours from home. Somehow in the middle of all of this, I would learn quite a number of things- most basic of them all being the fact that in the reality of it; “I am alone in this world”. I think this lesson would eventually go on to influence some of the ideals of my adult self. So I believe that as much as age does have a strong influence in determining the mental capacity of a person, sometimes it is not enough assess that capacity. The average age that one is expected to enter the university is Sixteen years but this is not to say that there are not older people who are foolish or younger people who are wise enough to handle the pressures of independence that comes with the University life and so for me, I do not think Mercy’s age should hold too much ground in the discussion of her suicide. After all, too many people have made wiser choices at that age and even older people have committed suicides for more diminutive reasons.

Of course, the argument that the Counselling unit of my dear University would be more effective if she were closer to the students stands valid for me. Counsellor’s offices could be present within respective faculties. Personally, I’m not sure which I’d choose between killing myself and walking down to the Division of Student Affairs to see a counsellor, perhaps there just might not be a difference between both options. Somehow, I have tried to not talk about Depression too much in this course of the editorial. I mean, the entire WHO is talking about Depression this year, not forgetting the thousands of NGOs and other organizations that are also engaging the same topic. For me, I feel before we begin to point fingers or chastise anybody, we recognize at the very foundation that mentally, men do not tally…
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