Posts Tagged With: mental health

 
 

The Note

dead roseEfosa. My bride. My riddle.

Her note lies on the palm of my hand. I read, and imagine her voice speaking from the grave.

The world hurts. So much pain.

It’s a myth – this belief that life gives you what you deserve. It’s not true. Life gives you even those things that you do not deserve – both the good and the ugly. My pain clings to me; I try to shake it off, but it’s heavy and relentless.

Yet you handle my pain, my distress, but you too are part of the myth. My myth. And I am the empty cloud that ushers you in.

Let go. Don’t stop. Wait a minute. It’s the pain.

Are you still there?

You call me mad? Well, the world has gone mad, and you and I, we’ve gone mad with it.

I shake my head.

We lost the baby whilst she slept in her crib; an expensive crib that we’d not hesitated to purchase even with a tight budget. We took it hard. Efosa recovered from the loss faster than I did. God will do it again, she’d said. Those days, I drowned myself in melancholy, enjoying its presence like a best friend. I loved that child. Even now, I cannot mention her name without crying. So I will not mention her name, because a man is supposed to be strong and not let these things shake him up. That’s what my father said to me. You are a man. You’ll get another child. A boy. Mark my words.

My bride got me through the dark cloud – with words of encouragement and all the love only a woman like her could have shown. We got pregnant again. It was a promise that wasn’t meant to be. But this time there was no time to get lost in another fog, because I was confronted by an adversary so vague, I had no name for it until it had shaken me to its core.

I got the sense that I was not, could not, understand my bride. She was always there, but never really there. Like a floating boat. One never sees the river. It’s always the boat. And that was Efosa. It started with this buoyant emotion, almost seemed like joy. But it was different. It was a chaotic cheerfulness like nothing I had ever seen or known. Infectious. And no matter how hard I tried to remember that no one could ever be this childishly happy, I always got lost in her huge smile whenever she called my name, her head brimming with ideas. My rational thoughts would fly out the window in those moments. It somehow calmed me down, and made me forget my own pain. Her philosophies – most were strange. But then they had always been strange. It was one of her quirks that I had loved so much I had asked her to marry me. But now, her behavior seemed odder; not bizarre. Just odd. As in, silly-odd. Like when she would speak conversational French to herself while making breakfast- and she doesn’t speak French. Or when she would put on an earpiece and sing at the top of her lungs. The earpiece was not connected to any playing device.

On the surface, I didn’t really care. She sang with passion and spoke French-that-was-not-French with eloquence. And who in their right minds could hate passion and eloquence, especially when it spilled from the lips of a woman whose mouth tasted so sweet if one could only get her to stop sing-speaking for one minute. In that one minute, her eyes would burn through me with the heat of unbridled energy. Like a child. Only if you looked closer, you’d see it held a hint of pain, and perhaps some anger directed at a life force bigger than either of us. I was lost in her. She was never lost in me, but I was lost in her. And every disappointment I harbored regarding life died when I held her in my arms.

And then, like the flip of the switch, the gloom – dark, tunneling, incomprehensible, visited and draped her like an ill-fitting cloak. It was so unexpected. Like an evil spirit. And it was unruly. Unpredictable. Unrestrainable. I remember the fits. The rage. Always aimed at some poor object lying innocently in its place, sometimes in the living room. Sometimes in the bedroom. Ever so inanimate. It always met its end whenever the flip switched far enough. Then came the hush-hush from well-meaning friends and neighbors, which turned bolder in time as they spewed words of counsel. In time, I agreed. In time, I stated “Perhaps we should see someone.”

“Look at me Dike,” she screamed when I broached it to her. “I am fine. I am not mad. Madness does not run in our family. Maybe in yours.”

One day, she listened. We had a name for this demon we battled. The well-meaning doctor wrote her a prescription. His diagnosis: Clinical depression. But no one warned us about the side effects- and God, were they awful. So we got another pill. “To manage her side effects” said Doc. That was just the beginning. So many pills. The final straw was learning that one of the medicines could be toxic to a fetus. My bride gave up. “No more” she screamed at me. She didn’t need them, she said. Believed the docs were out to make a buck.

She spiraled out of control afterwards. Her darkness broke my barrier of self preservation and mingled with the secret grief I hid in my heart. I was the man flailing in a mire of frustration.

Our last interaction wasn’t meant to have been a fight. I’d just wanted her to take her goddamned pills.

“Take your pills.” because you are a better person when you take your pills – gloomy, but at least docile. Because I love you, but I can’t handle the fit of rage, and the tears, and the gloominess that isolates you from me.

And she’d fought back, the remote control in one hand, aimed for my head.

I lost it. Months of frustration. I lost it. I flew at her. Held her neck. I’d just wanted her to stop screaming. But somehow…somehow…I did more. I snuffed the life in her. Yes. Killed her. With these bare hands. Killed her.

I realized what I did… hauled her into our truck. In the darkness of the night. Drove for a very long time. Wept as I drove. I buried her far, far away from here.

But in the dead, my bride knows no rest. She haunts me now. Her disappearance: front page news. Three days… she has been missing. I have been called in for questioning. What? Two…three times? They say foul play isn’t suspected on my part. But I know all too well how that opinion can change in an instant. I too do watch movies. See, the police have found a note. A note which I now hold in my hand. I’m not sure when she wrote this note, but they say it’s a riddle they hope I can solve.

I shake my head again as a dry laugh now escapes me.

Efosa. My bride. My riddle.

Categories: My Stories | Tags: , , ,

A Beautiful Mind – a short story

Did you see me yesterday? Did you at least hear about me? I was the girl dancing in the village square. Yes; the naked girl dancing in the village square.  I don’t know how it started, but one moment, I was so sad that I thought that I’d take my own life. Just when the sadness became too much to bear, I suddenly felt happy. Too happy.  I tore my clothes, ran to the square, and began to dance. I danced so well, even though there were no beating drums; even though no tune from the harmonica played.  The children, they laughed at me as they passed by. The adults shook their heads, some in pity; others with disgust.  But I didn’t care. Some young men, they were so mean, they threw earth at me and laughed as they did so. But I paid them no mind. I danced and sweated.  I danced and danced and danced.  Oh, how I danced.

My parents, they found me in the village square. They’d been looking for me, they said. But I don’t think they looked that well because if they did, they would have found me…right there in the center of the village. I was tired from all my dancing and I sat on a rock. Mama cried when she saw me. Papa, he had no words. His lips thinned and I knew he was angry.  Ashamed, perhaps. I don’t know why he was angry. I don’t know why he was ashamed. I didn’t care either. All that mattered was that I’d danced in the village square.

They took me back to our house and washed me with soap and water. My parents clothed me and mama said, “You are not to leave the house again.”

“But why, Mama?” I asked.

Mama shook her head and said, “You’re sick, child. It’s best you stay inside the house and get better.”

I touched my forehead. It wasn’t hot. I shook my arms and my legs. They could move.

“I don’t’ feel sick Mama,” I said.

Mama shook her head. “Your sickness is a strange one, my daughter. It’s best you stay in the house from now on so you can get better.  Are you thirsty?”

“Yes.”

Mama walked away and I sat down on my mat, wondering about what she’d said. That was when I saw him: the yellow man with the yellow hat, holding a yellow stick.

I should have been afraid, for I’d never seen him before. But he smiled at me and I smiled back, and I knew there was nothing to be frightened of.

“You are the girl that danced in the village square.”

It wasn’t a question, but still, I nodded. “They say I have a strange sickness. My father won’t talk to me, and my mother doesn’t want me going outside to play again.”

The man in the yellow hat, he looked sad, just like my mother had been. “It’s not a sickness,” he said.

“It’s not?” I said.

“To ordinary people, it’s a sickness, but to people like me, it’s not.”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“The gods have your mind, my daughter,” he replied.  “And from now on, you will see things that ordinary eyes cannot see, and hear things ordinary ears cannot hear. In ancient times, the forefathers would have made you a priestess, serving only the gods of our land.”

Mama walked in with a cup of water. She walked past the man with the yellow hat.

“What?” Mama said, as she gave me the water to drink.

“Don’t you see him?” I asked, downing the water.

“Who?”

I pointed to the man. “This man. This man standing here.”

“Which man?”

I pointed again, but Mama, she just shook her head and looked at me, her eyes full of questions.

“There’s nobody there,” she finally said.  Her voice was very quiet.

The yellow man winked at me. “I told you. You can now see things that nobody can see and hear things that nobody can hear.”

“Are you a ghost?” I asked.

“I’m not a ghost,” Mama answered.  “I’m here. I’m your mother.”

“I wasn’t talking to you mama,” I said. “I’m talking to the yellow man in the yellow hat.”

The yellow man gave me a sympathetic smile. I don’t know who he pitied…me or mama. He walked out the door.

“Mama,” I looked up to my mother’s face. “I’m not sick.”

Mama raised an eyebrow. “You are not?”

“The yellow man says I have a mind that belongs to the gods. I see things you cannot see and I hear things you cannot hear. “

Mama stared at me for a moment, collected the cup from my hand, and walked to the door. “It’s called madness, my daughter; a very strange kind of sickness.”

Then, she left me to myself and bolted the door after her.

Note to the Reader: I’m on a much needed vacation until Monday, the 30th (sob, sob) and I just finished watching one of my favorite movies – A Beautiful Mind -starring Russell Crowe. If you haven’t watched this movie, you should.  For everyone who has watched the movie, it is a known fact that our perspective on health, more so mental health, is influenced by our cultural beliefs.  In many cultures, say mine, for example, people with mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, are generally grouped under one heading – madness.  Some people, if not most, may even say these conditions are caused by demon possession.  Well, demonization or not, I found myself writing the short story you’ve just read above. Titled A Beautiful Mind, just like that other poignant movie, I hope you enjoyed reading.

Image culled from flikr.com

Categories: My Stories | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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