As long as there are Easters I will always love Marilyn.
To speak from my soul is to speak of everything that makes me me.
To speak of everything that makes me who I am is to kneel naked in front of you, showing all the ugliness that makes me beautiful.
To do this is to bind irreversibly,
As I was made with just enough to do this just once.
I yearn to do this,
My every cell was structured to be linked this way.
But not yet,
For there is a dignified betterness in choosing to remain closed.
That’s what I tell myself.
I woke up today,
And I am not sure why.
I got up from my bed this morning,
And I don’t know why.
I took off my clothes and wrapped my towel around me,
I ignored the tears that played on my cheeks,
And acted like every cell in my body was not screaming for me to get back in bed and hide under impenetrable layers of duvet.
I walked to the bathroom and showered with water too hot for me,
taking comfort in the feeling of something.
I got dressed and stood behind my door,
Preparing to leave my refuge and attempt to blend into a life I am not sure why I am a part of.
Stepping outside is the hardest part, once that is done the rest feels easier.
I slip into the robes of the people I am supposed to be and I play the parts.
It is easier to be all that and whatever else when I am outside assaulted by stares over flowing with expectation.
Till I get back to room 19 that is all mine and all me. I strip off the robes and let my bones melt to the ground, exhausted as I am every other day from playing roles I am not sure why I was casted for. I lie and wonder if it passes, if I ever get to know why, if this life will ever feel like mine. I marvel at the tears that flow from somewhere I believed was empty as I ask myself why tomorrow has to come.
There is this deep basin of longing in me, I wake up every day and find myself missing something or somebody from the past, or even worse missing something or someone I am yet to meet or experience. Some days, I cannot explain who or why or what, except that I miss and I miss and it never ends and I hurt.
It hurts differently when what I miss is me. How can I miss me when I am me? Did I leave?
I miss the me that I remember, especially on days when the person sprawled on my bed feels unfamiliar. I miss the me that liked people and flourished in crowds. I miss the life of the party me. I miss the bundle of cheer and unquenchable energy I used to be. I miss me the most on the many nights I find myself holed up in my room hiding from a life that refuses to stop turning and spinning. I miss me especially when I find myself hiding at the edges of crowds, locked up in my head.
I miss being a straight line. I miss being solid. I miss being fearless and cock sure of everything. I miss being a rap head and loving action movies. I don’t know who I am when I zigzag all over the place and change my mind as often as I blink. I feel unfamiliar when I get teary eyed for no reason and also when I curl up and bawl when I watch movies. The old me would never listen to Ed Sheeran or understand every note he felt on drunk. I feel like a version of me that disgusts me when I wake up every morning and bite my barely there nails, fidgeting over every fear that I fear.
I remember never hurting, now all I do is hurt, I remember barely feeling; now I feel like a feeling. I remember never needing to be held; now I cry for hours because I need a hug. I remember not caring, now I stay up for lifetimes wondering why people do not like me.
It is a different kind of lonely when even you seem to have left you. It is a different kind of despair when along with missing just about everything, you miss yourself too.
Is this perhaps what it means? To be lost?
A song written in notes of the tears I cried in all the empty faces and places I found in the search for you.
It is a prayer I pray when I have no other prayer to pray.
Words I whisper late at night when I rock myself to sleep.
I say them again in the morning just before I open the door of my refuge and step into the fast flowing river constantly threatening to wash me away.
After all has been said and done and I have been thrown and tossed,
After the onslaught of conflicting emotions hitting me all at once,
After the moments of intense confusion decorated with flashes of fleeting clarity,
After losing and finding and getting lost again,
All I ask dear Lord is that you hold my pieces together.
I remember trying to convince Marilyn that Jesus did not die for me; it was around the same period I wanted to die. I say die because there is not really a word to describe wanting to stop being alive without all the drama that dying brings, there is not a word to describe wanting to be erased and forgotten, sort of like you never existed. There is no word to describe wanting to fade gradually, then all at once. Explaining how I felt is difficult because when I reach into my bag of vocabulary I pull out words like sad and miserable and desolate, words that simply do not start to describe how it felt to stay awake all night and try to bribe the sun to not rise.
There were days of hyperactivity, when I was out at the crack of dawn with an endless list of things to be done. I fluttered from one point to another, never staying anywhere long enough to complete a single task. Those days were crazy and frenzied and packed with enough activities to make me feel like I belonged here. Then there were days when my brain never woke up. I mean my eyes were open and I was looking at you and walking with you but my brain was really asleep. I felt heavy and thick and foggy and my eyes had a thick film of cobwebs on them and the world just would not stop moving so fast. The harder I tried to keep up, the farther I lagged behind and on some days there was nothing I could do to stay awake. The end of every day was tiredness, I was always tired. Tired, tired all the time. Tired. Except again, tired is not the right word to describe how it felt to wake up every day knowing you will drown all over again.
I remember the goodbyes I did not know where goodbyes at that time. Giving my sister that dress she always wanted. Allowing my best friend have that skirt. Extra cooking and cleaning for my mom. Laundry for my dad. Little things, here and there. My way of wanting to make up for a life of perceived worthlessness, last attempt to force some meaning into it.
You know how they all make it seem like when you decide to stay alive everything gets better? Like you suddenly start seeing colours and rainbows and it is all beautiful again? Nobody ever tells you that nothing really changes, you still wake up every morning feeling like wet tissue paper. You are alive but you don’t really know why.
And that blows.
Your fingers splayed around my neck, applying just enough pressure to keep me dancing at the junction of pleasure and panic. Your lips hot against mine, giving just as hard and as fast as they take. My legs wrapped around you, holding on as tightly as I can to feeling something while I wonder at how completely you drive away the emptiness.
My name escaping from your lips, reminding me that I own one. We move and I feel like I can do it, like I can do anything. We move in sync and then I make it faster just before I make us go slower as tears mixed with moans decorate my pillow.
How alive I feel when the vacuum between my legs is occupied is a special kind of high on its own. And I want it to last forever. But I know it will not. You will be gone soon and the emptiness will return as though it never left. Then I will walk around empty, looking for an eraser big enough to erase even the thought of my existence.
Worrying about whether or not to turn this exhausted me more than writing it did. Remember how my mother stopped you by your car on the first day of school? She told you to put an eye on me because I had done badly the previous year. I fell in love with you when you told her that no child does badly in school but school does badly to some of them. You said that and smiled at me and I already knew I was going to have a good school year. About a month after that, my mother waited for you by your car again. She wanted to know how I was doing in school. You told her that I understood all the work given to me but I understood them in a different way. You gave me that smile again.
It was my desire to interpret the theme of this essay the same way everybody else did. They all have stories about the death of somebody dear to them or the death of a pet or the loss of a favorite book but when I think of loss, this is all that comes to my heart. I hope I understood this assignment in a not different way. Thank you for being patient with me. I apologize for the mini essay before the main essay.
Finding you was surreal, up until the moment I felt the click I never realized I had been walking about with a gaping hole.
The click; the sound my world made as it found and settled into its place in the universe. We met like two rivers meet at a confluence and we became one. Flowing, different but not different. Me starting where you end, a seamless continuation.
There were days when you flowed hot above my coldness. There were other days when my ice cold spirit extinguished your fire. We touched each other in places, changing, healing, loving and accepting. I was a foreigner to myself before I knew you, but you took me on this enlightening and heart breaking journey into myself and you changed that. You loved and you protected the beautiful parts. You loved and you protected the bad parts.
I have never been perfect, or even close to it. I forever drag around my pain like a load genetically engineered to be mine forever. I see too much, I say too little, the oversized hair pores that decorate my skin come with extra portions of pain receptors and some days, even breathing hurts. I felt wrong in so many ways; real and imagined and I was that square that tried to fit in a circle. Then I found you and I was alright with being this way.
Then this thing happened that I cannot explain because nothing really happened. I could feel us moving away from me and I was glued to the ground.
Except that is a lie, I was not glued.
I ran and chased after the most relevant thing that had ever been mine since the day I came into being. But we were not a ‘thing’, there was a life to us and what we had pulsated and throbbed, it bled.
I follow you around class with my eyes, and I try to catch your laugh when it hits my heart. My eyes fill up when you place your lips close to her ears and share gossip from our plate with this stranger that should have been me. There is no anger, no feeling of betrayal, and no hate. Just confusion, a lot of it on some days. Some days , I want to break this glass of memory that forces us to be polite and trade small talk. On other days, I am grateful for so little.
There was a second click, this time it was the sound made as a friendship that meant the world to me fell apart. Losing you feels like a fracture of a place I cannot isolate, a fracture of everywhere and nowhere.
We may never be as we were before but I know I will always love you. And I will always have you, like background music, there but distant. That comforts me some times, and other times? It is just dry chicken bone without the meat and tasty marrow.
The mousiness of this man was not the most irritating thing about him; that he tried to compensate for that mousiness by being constantly over exerting and all the time in the faces of everybody is what got to me. He was like this tiny otherwise nondescript bird that made up for its ordinariness with a very large beak and so it constantly pecked at any and everything. He peeked because that was the only way he could get the attention and the reverence he was sure he deserved, he pecked without stopping at anybody and anything he felt was in the way of him getting that attention and reverence, and he did not stop until he had pecked everything away. It could probably be persistence birthed from years and years of being passed over because he looked like he had nothing to offer, it was nonetheless disgusting.
He is an intelligent man, one of the smartest doctors to walk the corridors of this hospital. He had his god complex folded and tucked neatly in the breast pockets of the cream suits he was disposed to wearing. I wonder how many of those suits decorated his wardrobe, he wore one every day of the week but Friday. You could hear his voice the minute you entered any ward he was in; it was the sort of voice you never ever forget. It was big and it carried, the type of voice many preachers will sin to have. His eyes are the most precious things, I have often dreamt of having them in a box just for myself. They carried all the power the tiny man wished to have, they projected his displeasure or pleasure or whatever else he felt at whatever moment so overwhelmingly. I have often wondered how they would look when he looked with love at somebody he was in love with. Those very eyes looked at me now and I could see in them the determination to teach me a lesson.
I have worked as a house officer in this hospital for 9 months, and it is the same thing in every unit I pass through. The older doctors take one look at me and see something that leads them to conclude I lack an essential ingredient necessary in the soup of doctors and they are determined to teach me lessons until I acquire that ingredient. I wish I knew what exactly it was they wanted or how I looked or acted different from the rest doctors.
“But sir, the line you are asking me to set is the one you told the registrar to leave for you to do. The child is obese and is currently in shock, his veins are collapsed, I do not have the expertise to do that without causing the child unnecessary distress”
I could hear the thud my words made as they feel on the hard concrete ground. This man had somehow looked into my soul and located the tender and breathing spot in just one week. He knew me and he was determined to break me.
“Who do you think you are? You walk round this hospital like your father’s name lines the corridors, there is this superiority and unaffectedness ingrained in your yellow skin. Who do you think you are? You think you are better than the rest of us? Too good to be touched by the things we see? You are going to set that line, except you want to be reported as disobeying a direct order from your consultant. Call me when you have tried and failed”
My “okay sir” is muffled and I rush out of his office, denying him the pleasure of seeing my tears. I walk briskly to bed10 where the plumpest and yellowest 9month old baby lay. She was also very ill and beautiful. Her mother had cried enough tears to fill 20 large buckets. My eyes are on the baby as I gather the things I need to set a line, I start apologizing to her in my head, lying to her that it will just be a prick and it would not hurt.
It was one prick too many. The baby had cried so much and now she just hiccupped like I had chooked away all her energy and she could cry no more. The mother still had energy to cry, her wails and pleas were like nails in my heart. Each time I pierced skin I was sure I had entered a vein, then I saw the cannula devoid of blood. All the veins had gone to sleep. My determination to prove myself was bigger than the part of me that wanted to go back to his office and beg him to come and set the line because I could not. My pride was bigger than the sound of my heart breaking with each needle prick.
“Madam, your crying is distracting me, I will do this better and faster without it”
I lift the baby and drag myself up as I said this, ignoring her protests I walk to the house officers call room. The silence and calm embraces me as I enter, the room feels like it is ready to watch me to what I have to do to harden the parts of me years and years of medical school had been unable to touch. I start to talk to the baby, I tell her my name and I beg her to ignore my tears. I explain that I am just doing what I have to do to save her life. I tell her that it is just hair and she should forgive me for shaving a part of it off. I promise her that her black and beautiful curly hair will grow again just like she will. I shave her hair as I talk, looking closely at the angry vessels being revealed, some of them pulsating welcomingly and I can swear her big baby eyes are asking me why.
I lift her up again, this time she has a needle in her head and her eyes are closed in light sleep. I see him just as I open the door.
“You know the fluids to give her. Calculate the right dose using her weight and start infusion immediately”
I nod, lacking the strength to mutter a yes sir. I can see that he is pleased and maybe a little bit surprised. He starts to walk away, but he stops and looks back at me.
“You look like a doctor now. There is something dead in your eyes. Welcome to the profession. Welcome”