When I was writing my bones

ABEOKUTA

I’m sitting on the cold floor of a hotel room in a strange town, crying. I’ve finally figured out why I came here. It wasn’t for solitude, as I had convinced myself and told my sisters when I left Lagos; it was because I was running from the loneliness. Except that it is here too, digging its claws into me so deep at the moment that there’s nothing I can do but cry. I had a good day – a great one, in fact. But the loneliness was waiting for me in my hotel room. It was lying in my bed and sitting on the chair, staring back at me from the mirror.

I look up. I’m disappointed that there is no ceiling fan. I wonder if I’d really do it if there was one – if I’d hang myself. I’m not sure. I wipe my eyes with the edge of the white hotel duvet. It leaves a black streak of mascara and I do it again.

Why do I have to love him so much that nothing else feels good when there’s a rift? Am I crying because I’m hurt? Am I hurt or I think I should be hurt? It feels like I have a closet of emotions: drawers stuffed full with sadness, grief and devastation, hangers draped with anger, madness and rage. It feels like in situations I decide: this is what it ought to be, and take that on. But ought to be is not necessarily is. I’m confused. No, I’m not confused. I’m tired. Why won’t I die? In my sleep or something? Please. Please, just let it all be over. Please.

I’m not sure what pushed me to come to this place but since my head fixed on it days ago, I knew I had no choice. Maybe it was because Osi told me about coming here months ago and I felt nudged to, I felt like I’d find something here. Then there is also my age-long need to go to the old and find some old. I’m still not sure what I’m looking for or what I’ll find in this place of houses carved into and built upon rocks.

I’d come here hoping to find roots, but even after talking to the aged rock priestesses at Olumo Rock afterwards and wandering around the city, I was left with the sense that something was missing.

OGBA

Open a blank sheet and fill it with directions for an exorcism. How does one battle ghosts? All I can feel is the cold draft as they flit through body and tease my soul. And the silence they leave in their wake. Your ghosts have come into bed with us. I don’t know how to perform exorcisms. I don’t know how to perform lobotomies. Or memory drains for that matter. I hate them. There, I said it. I hate that they still have the liberty to flit through. I hate that you’ve left the gates of Hades open. I hate them and I hate that I hate them wow gold.

I will say what I want here. A blank sheet is mine to defile as I will. Do the strokes hurt the sheet? Am I your blank sheet? I wonder about this, sometimes. I am tired of ghost hunting. I should just let them have my soul too. They’re wailing, waiting for me to be one of them. Close the gates of Hades. Please.

IBADAN

I need help. I need help but I don’t know how to mould that thought into a question. Words betrayed me before the betrayal. I don’t know how to ride this tide. How to empty myself of memories and make a clean slate. I need fiction. I need help and new words.

The blank sheet shouldn’t be about this. Or maybe it should be. I can’t wrap ghosts in sheets… they’ll drift through. I need help. I won’t face it but I do. I need solid… gold. Through fire and solid. This is silver… easily scratched, easily manipulated. We are silver. Second place. Silver is not good enough for me.

I fear. I fear that I can no longer write. Cannot match the memory of Re-memory. I fear that I will be like a number of people. Mediocre. That fear keeps me from being at all. From trying. Iku to n pa ojugba eni… but should I live as though dead? Should I live at all? All of this info coming my way real-time, earphones plugged. Keeping from seeing. From hearing. If I don’t feed, I don’t shit. If I don’t see, I don’t think. Don’t write. Don’t create.

I am tired of being.

HEADSPACE

Sometimes, I think emotions have to be induced. It’s why I like coffee – for anxiety and strung nerves. To induce writing.

Intimidation recurs. I’m not sure how to deal with this thing. I see people, less. But doing. I see people, more. But doing. I’m waiting to be tipped one way. Not sure what I’m waiting for or whom.

I play the music without hearing. So I go back and play it again. And again. Without hearing.

Sometimes I’m cocky as fuck and know I’m good. Other times I question my very essence and know I don’t belong, don’t deserve the things I’ve got.

UNILAG COFFEE SHOP

I have come here for solitude but things are not as they used to be. The Law Lounge was crowded so I came here to wait till I can see the Dean of my former faculty. It’s not as it used to be. There are about seven boys who have pulled chairs to form a large table next to me.

“You get any F?”

“Any? I get one E, 6F.”

They all laugh. Trade stories.

“I get one C. I no know how come.”

I wonder how come, how come they are like this, laughing about shit that isn’t funny. This place used to be quiet, or at least not so crowded. I used to come here with him, the first one. We used to come here. For toast and juice. He. Coffee and toast. I.

He and I are not as we used to be too. We haven’t been for years. I do not miss that. I miss how this place used to be.

ANAMBRA

A sent mail: This is me saying maybe I love you too much. Maybe I’m obsessed with you, which you don’t need. That’s why I can’t take these things, but that’s also why I know you can’t take my reactions. I don’t have the mental stability necessary to be with you while these people are in your life in some way or the other. I tried to grow out of it, heaven knows, but this is me and this is who I am. I want my man and don’t want questionable people in his life for any reason. I don’t want to wonder why you keep her in your life, or listen to my head remind me that you fucked her. And her. And her. And lied about it all. What I’m trying to say in this long, stupid note that will probably make me seem even more foolish and unstable than I already appear to you, is that I love you but I don’t have the mental stability to take things as they are. I love you but I don’t want to hold you back with things like this that seem petty to you. I love you but I don’t know how to get past these things or ignore them and not wonder about them. Forget about me.

CALABAR

Someone asks if I’m fine. My head is on my knees. Eyes shut tight. It could be in prayer. Or rest. Or something else. I nod ‘yes’ and shut my eyes tighter. I want them to take their noise and go away. Soon they do and I let the tears fall. I’m tired. I’ve been putting the fatigue on hold for 2 weeks but now it washes over me.

I hear their approaching footsteps and chatter and I wipe the tears, sniff and use my hands to fan air into my eyes. By the time the feet arrive, I have a smile waiting. It doesn’t get to my eyes but it is a smile.

 

 

To read the entire story, download The Solitude Issue

 

 

 

  • Pearl Osibu

    I absolutely love this. Why is it under fiction though? Unless it is. Oh well.

  • Mohamed Yunus Rafiq

    There is a kind of poetry shading in these sentances that is a just delighful not because the author is happy, melancholy dripss from its diction, but because of its attention to range of human emotions. Let me say it in Kiswahili, napenda sana na nimeguswa sana!

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