My eyes stings, if I don’t stop moving I’ll unleash a flood. In other news, I don’t bloody care, but I shut them up tight and let my chest expand with deep breaths. This thing happening to me, well, describing it is beyond words.
See that my heels refuse to touch the floor as I choose instead to bounce on the balls of my feet; a ballerina pirouetting across the room. My limbs I can’t control, they fly unmolested. I suspect that my hips are gyrating every which way or rebelling and doing the exact opposite. I spin around until everything blurs. And without preamble a scream escapes from my parted lips. It rings like bells; sweet like dark chocolate; bright as a summer day. I stop spinning and place a hand on my racing heart, my lips still refuse to take their proper form but remain stretched from ear to ear.
I look up to the ceiling until my vision settles. The whole room is thrumming, the walls vibrate to the music; colors burst out in a riot even as the air shimmers.
I don’t always feel this way. Sometimes my heart races for a different reason. I’ll find myself curled up as a foetus in the womb, the cold would rise from my bones and a roar of turbulent waves will fill my ears.
I turn up the music louder and the alte highlife sounds have me moving like a penguin; my voice strains to hit all the right notes without success and I make a mess of the lyrics. I try out zanku and throw in dabs for good measure. I’m a terrible dancer.
The other day I was with my friends; we said and did tons of fun, important stuff that I can’t fully recall. However, I can confess that there were no dragons in my tummy, no crippling doubt about being loved and accepted, no fear for what the next moment will bring; only a heart swollen with appreciation because I belong; I was wanted for simply existing.
There was another time at work when we were focused on our individual tasks; only I noticed a lull in the usual office din – phones ringing, voices trying to drown out each other, keyboards going tap-tap, slurping of drinks or feets running in every direction. A sigh of contentment escaped my lips. As I looked around, I felt my skin tingling as if the universe itself was watching and participating in the stillness. I couldn’t bear to ruin the mood by calling the attention of the others to it. So I sat there, feasting on the view that I would in later years regurgitate time and time again.
Those are the days that I look forward to. When I’m alive and fully present; not stuck in my head challenging every decision that I take or missing out on things because I’m too scared to try.
I walk into the kitchen still bobbing like a bottle in a pond. Where’s the knife? I search for a little while and eventually I find it at the bottom of the dirty pile of dishes stacked in the sink. Ewww!!!! I wash it clean. It is new and super sharp. The intro of Fireboy DML’s – Gbas Gbos rents the air and I nearly drop the knife on my foot out of excitement. That was not how I had planned for this to end.
I place the knife carefully on the counter and reach for the pen and paper I’d brought into the kitchen earlier in the day. I gather my thoughts and begin to write. I make sure to keep my writing bold and legible.
I straighten up and set the paper aside. As I start to reach for the knife, the kettle whistles, right on cue. Humming, I move over to the stove to turn it off. In a moment I sip my steaming cup of tea with i generous amount of lemon juice and go for the knife again. I can’t put it off or I’ll lose my nerve. I’ve not come this far to turn back. I know I’ll be gone and wouldn’t have to face the consequences of my action by the time anybody gets back.
This life shoves a variety of flavours at you at every turn. Not everyone of them agreeable. Dead is a man that misses out on it. I’m not dead, yet. I grab the knife on one hand and stretch out my other hand all the while thinking if I should make a small cut or a big cut. Just as I reach further the door bell rings. No! No!
“Uju! Uju! I’m home. Where are you this woman?” I hear my sister call from the hallway. I am so close. So close. “Uju o! Babe how far? Didn’t you hear me calling your name? You couldn’t with all this racket going on.” I turn around as Amaka moves into the kitchen in that easy way of hers, like she is floating. She turns off the music. I feel trapped now. I still can’t believe I didn’t do it.
Amaka eyes me suspiciously as my silence stretches on. I try to hide the knife but the movement catches her eyes. “What are you doing with a knife, Uju?” “Nothing” I quickly retort. She eyes me some more, “You weren’t trying to…” She trails off. A nervous laugh bubbles out of my mouth as she looks behind me and gasps. I realise that she could see clearly the note I left on the counter. Too late. “It’s not what you think” I say as I drop the knife and edge towards the door.
The hurt in her eyes pins me just as I’m inside the door, a step away from sweet escape.
“Uju why?” She asks as she picks up the paper. I cringe when she proceeds to read it aloud, “Dear Amaka, I hope you’ll find a place in your heart to forgive me. Love, Uju.” She crumples up the paper and throws it at me. “Where did you think you’d have ended up if you had done it. I can’t believe this!! You know how much I worked and yet you didn’t think twice before trying to do it again.” I see red spots appear on her beautiful cheeks. She must wish to throw the knife at me instead.
“I’m sorry” I wring my fingers. “The cake is for everybody!” she yells, “How e take dey do you ehn! You alone ate all the cake the last time and now, you can’t even wait for tomorrow when the rest of the family arrives before gobbling this one up?” I pout and start to grumble, “Amaka it’s all your fault for making the cake so good.”
I run out of the kitchen laughing hard as Amaka launches herself at me intent on wrecking havoc on my person. “I’ll kill you….” I spend the rest of the day with warmth in my chest, food in my tum tum – after Amaka stopped trying to kill me – and light in my eyes. I can only live one day at a time and I’ve found to treasure days like this – the happy days.
I put the music back on and this time Amaka joins me to groove. She’s worse than I am at dancing. I tell her this and earn myself a slap.