I am thoughtless. I am just blank. I’m not angry. I’m not happy. I’m not depressed. I don’t know what I am feeling. I don’t even know what I feel towards Mum, but I know it isn’t a good feeling. It is that kind of feeling you don’t clearly understand, but somehow causes you to end up making bad choices, as long as they help you feel better.
How could she? I thought they understood me? Should I blame it on ignorance? Maybe she really doesn’t know what she is doing? Maybe it’s my fault in the first place? If I hadn’t gone and bagged me some HIV, this wouldn’t have happened.
I simply turn around, away from her, and return to my room to lie down. Whatever I am feeling however didn’t let me be. I’m not at rest, but I can’t place my hand on anything to be the reason. Nothing seems to matter. I plug in my ear phones and start listening to music. I don’t know if that helps, because I am still feeling those things.
The look on my sister’s face is saying, “I’m so sorry, I really am. Would you let me help you feel better in any way I can?” She has done me no wrong though. She is just being herself. She can easily feel what someone else does, but she knows this is one of those times I don’t want to talk to anybody. So even if she wants to help, she can’t.
For some time, I stop speaking to anyone at home. If I am called on, I don’t answer. Mum is avoiding me, a very wise decision on her part anyway. I remember one of the questions that is eating me up. “If this could happen, what will be next?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but one thing is certain. I am not going to stick around to find out. I have to run away.
I replay that morning over and over in my head. I recount meeting Mum in the kitchen. I say welcome to her. She asks me about my sleep. I tell her it is my sister who woke me up. And then…
Mum: Ok. Oya, take.
I am not kidding when I say I froze. Elsa was already somewhere in my head singing “Let it go”. I stand there, staring at her outstretched hand. It turns out I am not the only one who was struck by the Immobility Spell. My sister, who is behind me, freezes too, staring at Mum as I am.
The woman is holding out to me a soap dish, a new towel, a new sponge, a plate, a cup and spoon.
I am still staring. I can’t speak. So my sister does.
Sister: Mummy, what’s this?
Mum: What do you mean by ‘what’s this’? Do you want him to pass it on to everybody in the house?
With this response, my sister shuts her mouth. I cannot tell if it is due to the fact that she has seen reasons with Mum’s action, or if she just can’t deal, or if she feels like her trying to help has made Mum say something worse and she doesn’t want any more baggage of that sort on her conscience.
I turn and walk away.
Mum calls out to me. I don’t respond. My sister does too. I don’t respond either. After lying in bed for awhile, listening to music, I finally put on shorts and throw on a tank top, grab my phone and leave the house. I take a walk, with no destination in mind, hoping for some distraction. I walk past a bar, where a match is showing. I go in and order for a bottle of Heineken. I sit down and watch the match. I’m not a drinker, and I don’t like football. My phone starts to buzz time and time again, as my sister calls me relentlessly. I do not pick her calls. I focus on the match. I don’t want to think of anything for now. I just want to push it aside.
Ola calls me too. Normally, he’s the only person I can talk to at times like this, but I just don’t want to talk about it, to talk about anything.
Ola is a new guy I met. He reached out to me actually. He’s been following my story on Kito Diaries, and decided to reach out. We started talking and connected strongly. We haven’t met face to face, but we are trying to work something out. And lately, he’s been my rock.
I don’t know what I am going to tell him if I pick his call, so I don’t. I order another bottle of Heineken. I am beginning to feel it. After a while, I order the third. I have always thought alcohol makes you forget, because this isn’t working; my mind is still not at rest. I pick up what is left of my almost-drunk self and leave the bar. I walk back home. I go straight to my bed.
When I wake up, it is 7:25PM. I remain in bed. I can hear the murmur of everyone’s voices from the sitting room. I don’t feel like being in their midst. I need to think. But strangely, I feel bereft of any thought. It is ironical. Earlier, I wanted not to think, and my mind buzzed with a million mentations. Now, it is drawing a blank.
I am going to run away. I just can’t wait to find out what is next in store for me.
My sister comes in to check on me.
Sister: Bobby, are you okay?
Me: I’m fine.
She stands there for a while, looking at me.
Sister: Did you drink?
I don’t answer her.
Me: I just told you I’m fine, didn’t I?
Sister: Ok. Your food is on the table.
Me: I’m not hungry.
Sister: I know you’re not happy, but remember the doctor told you not to skip meals. Think of your health.
I don’t say anything else to her. After a while, she leaves. After another while, Dad calls me. I go out to answer him.
Dad: Why aren’t you eating?
Me: I’m not hungry.
Dad: Did anything happen?
Dad: You just decided not to eat?
Me: I’m not just hungry.
I return to my room. I have made the decision to run away, but a lot of things are involved. Where will I run to? What will I eat? How will I cater to myself? I will need money, won’t I? I don’t have time to answer all these questions. I need to leave as soon as possible. I am not at peace at home anymore. I decide to go stay at Rowland’s place for a while. Perhaps, I can find my way from there. But that will be the first place they will look for me. I don’t even tell Ola about what I am planning, because I know he will try to stop me. I didn’t want to be stopped.
I have an admirer who has been asking me to come visit at Enugu. I figure this is the best time take him up on that offer. I check on him. He is pretty excited about me coming over. I start packing my bags with silent purpose. I don’t want anyone to ask me any questions. I am going to need money. I don’t have a job or any savings. I can’t ask anyone for money. I could ask my sister and she would give me, but I don’t want to entertain her questions.
I decide not to ask, but to take it.
My bags are now packed. It is just the money holding me back. I’m not a master thief, but I have seen a lot of Hollywood movies, and I know a successful thievery takes planning and timing. I know Dad and Mum go out to jog every early morning, and that seems like the perfect time to strike.
I sleep with one eye open, trying to stay alert for when my parents will leave for their morning run. Finally the moment is here. Adrenaline pumps into my system. My heart is beating fast. I keep checking to be sure they have left. When I am convinced they have, I walk into their bedroom. I can’t see clearly in the unlit room. Or perhaps, my partial blindness is because of the amount of adrenaline in my system. My hands are shaking. I just want to get this over with.
My plan is to filch some money, grab my bags and leave for the park at once. Before my parents are back from their run, and before others wake up, I’ll be gone. With my shaking hands, I unzip Dad’s purse. I can see a wad of cash in it. I look behind me, then back at the money in the purse. The thought that this money may not be his crosses my mind. I ponder for a while, suddenly unsure about this. But I need this. I really needed this.
Taking a deep breath and steeling my mind against any doubt, I dip my shaking fingers into the purse to grab whatever amount I can. And then…
Sister: Bobby! What are you doing?
Written by Bobby