A deep darkness plagues my heart
Blacker than the Plague
A darkness I cannot comprehend
Have I brought this on myself?
My thoughts wander through this darkness
The darkness tears at my heart
Rips through my mind
Nothing is as bleak as my thoughts
I’ve damned myself
I’ve cursed my own mind
Yes, I brought this on myself
I let my thoughts wander too far
Far off the plain of sanity
My soul begs redemption
But now, I will smile
Like the brightest light shines in this darkness called a mind
And I will break down in hiding
Away from prying eyes
Sad men don’t cry in places where people can see
It is the same as last year
I’m sure it has always been like this
Even before we got here
We will get what we want
But the wait will seem almost endless
I talk to my legs
And together we go on a short journey
I have never taken this path before
But I have always wanted to see what was here
I journey through nature
Nature almost untouched
I realise man truly does have a destructive touch
Then everything starts coming back
I remember the rustling of leaves
I remember the singing of birds
I remember the little chats of students
I remember the food
I remember everybody warming up to me
I remember the gifts I was could not take
But I also remember the pain I felt
I remember having a stiff neck
I was happy to stay away from school
I remember learning a girl’s secret
A secret lie she had always told us
A white lie
I walk back
I do not complete my journey
I do not see the end of this path
I go back to uncertainty
I will come back tomorrow
Maybe then I will the end of this path
And I will see everything from the past in the present
“As I stood in that security house, trying to shelter myself from the heavy rain and watching with excitement as the rain flowed in torrents through the gutter, my mind travelled back to a time when the flood would have been a source of amusement, a game to play.”
Rain is relief, supposedly, and with how hot the first few months of this year were, the rains that have come is indeed relief. It is also a signal of other things in a country like ours. It’s a welcome to floods and more power cuts. We have come to realise that rain is inversely proportional to power supply.
As a child, rain met “stay dry” or “damn the consequences and get wet”. The “get dry” part was borne out of fear of strong reprimand from parents and elder siblings. The kind of fear instilled with canes, koboko and painful projectiles. On days like that, we would stay indoors, meek as a lamb but with a severe restlessness to go and get soaked. We would watch other children, in other compounds, playing about in the rain wishing we were them.
The days on which we decided the consequences be damned, when we were not being watched by the keen eyes of any parent, we were more free than birds. We strectched our wings so wide because we knew there was nobody around to clip them. We got high off play, running about in the compound almost naked except from our pants occasionally, trying to make paper boats float on rain water and shouting very loudly like the untamed children that we were.
There was something revitalising about the rain( I still think there is), especially when we played football. When we had played football to the point of exhaustion and it started raining, rain always “magically” renewed our energy. And as if possessed by a strange spirit, we would return to the “pitch” in the rain, playing with our new found strength. But it wasn’t only football that caught our fancy.
There was a particular game we also loved playing- making things race/flow with rain water that collected in the gutter of our compound. We would use broomsticks, flip-flops, small stones, sticks, leaves or anything the rain water was powerful enough to lift. Each child would choose something to represent him and we would flood-race against one another. Each person would monitor his “representation” down the “race course” to avoid being cheated.
And thunder! Thunders always scared us, especially the loud ones, the kind that sounds like setting off a tonne of TNT nearby. We would immediately run to “safety” whenever we saw a lightning because we knew it would would thunder after. But was thunder the real danger? I think we had it all confused. I remember a taboo about not resting one’s back on the wall whenever it rained/thundered. Whether you were in the rain getting drenched or inside dry, the thunder always got to us, it made us cringe in fear.
It was exciting letting the rain beat our small bodies, letting the cold seep into our bones, running around, shouting out of what I would call pure joy.
“It was time for night prep but it had rained and the generator had refused to come on. So, we huddled on my bed, about five of us, torches on, cover clothes shielding us from the view of others. We talked and played games, each one of us probably hoping that electricity would never be restored and that the generator would never work.”
Everybody, at a particular point in their lives, must have failed at something they set out to accomplish. It could be academics, business, politics, marriage etc. Most people also know how destabilizing failure can be and how badly it can affect the psyche of a person.
I’ve had my own share of failure, so I know what it feels like when a person fails or think they’ve failed at something.
Growing up, I was never really able to comprehend failure except in times when I lost a fight. Whenever I lost a fight and got beat up, it always felt like I should disappear from the face of the earth so nobody would see me like a beat down dog. If you’ve been in a fight before and you lost, you would know how difficult it can be to get up, hold your head up and look people in the face after getting a beating. It is even made worse with taunting and mockery from people who witnessed the fight.
Now that failure means more than losing a fight to me, it still gives me the same feeling, maybe even worse. Whenever I fail at something, especially tests and exams, I get very unhappy. At times like that, I always just want everything to just end, like something should take me away or take everyone around me away, so that it will just be me and my failure and nobody will ever know I failed. I always want to be on my own, away from everything else. For me, failure comes with a kind of pain that is so excruciating I always feel like crying but I can’t even shed a tear. It is a kind of psychological pain that feels like an emptiness, a hole, a void and only success can take the pain away and fill the void. It gets even more painful when you fail at what people close to you have excelled at.
Failure also has a crippling effect on a person’s psyche. It kills a person’s morale and the will to continue a task, take for example failing( or thinking you’ve failed) a paper during exams. Failing in one paper could bring the whole exam to an end for some people as a result of damaged confidence/psyche. It can also find its way into other activities, as an aftereffect, and a person could get incapacitated and disoriented. One can start losing focus. You want the feeling to go away but it just stays there, almost unshakable.
Failing also makes people want to go into “hiding”. You will try to hide the evidence of your failure. You get so conscious of the failure that you want to hide it from people. I think this happens more when we fall short of the expectation some people have had of us. You tell people that you’re okay but you hurt silently. I remember hiding my report cards in two different occasions when I failed in school. It was a foolish thing to do but I didn’t want my parents to know I failed. I wanted to hide the the proof that I fell short of their expectations. The decision to hide the cards was also borne out of fear of being rebuked. People even go as far as forgery to hide failure.
As damaging as failure can be in the first instance, it can be even more damaging when it is not properly handled. One failure can spark off a series of other failures.
I’ve also discovered that mustering a little strength and giving yourself a will will help you bounce back after failing or after an initial setback. Never linger too long on failure, it is bad for confidence.
One of the things I do with my free time is reading. I’m not talking school books now, I’m talking novels, short stories, book summaries etc. So when I’m not watching a movie, sleeping, preparing for a test or an exam or just lazing about, I might be reading a book.
Reading helps to fill a certain kind of void and emptiness I feel sometimes.
If you are a reader of books like me, I have suggestions on books you can/should read on your free time.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Most people that have seen the movie would probably feel there is no need reading the book but as someone that has read the book, I think the movie didn’t do justice to the book. The movie didn’t portray a lot of things and one is the funny Ugwu. If you want to feel what I felt reading the book, then you should grab a copy.
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
This book tells the story of three friends, how they begin to fall apart when one on them becomes Head of State. But while they struggle to stay friends and loyal to one another, something bigger that would jeopardize their lives and the people they love is about to happen.
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
The debut novel of this author and a good one. Yejide and Akin are a young childless couple coping with increasing pressure for a child from their families. Did their love survive the test of childlessness? Did they succumb to the pressure? What was their way out? When does family turn to foe? Why did love turn to hatred? You will find the answers to these questions in the book. The book also talks about sickle cell disease.
Akata Witch( or What Sunny Saw In The Flames) by Nnedi Okoroafor
Nnedi is perhaps the best sci-fi/fantasy writer from Nigeria. She also writes for MARVEL. One of her books, Who Fears Death is being developed into a TV show under HBO.
If you love fantasy, Akata Witch is a book to read and Nnedi is the author to read. Akata Witch tells the adventure of Sunny and her friends as they discover their abilities and fight against evil. The book is the first of two books in the series, the second book is Akata Warrior.
I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Nwaubani Adaobi Tricia
Adaobi Tricia writes about how a tough life leads a university graduate into the world of advance fee fraud. The book takes you into the world of 419 when it was first booming in Nigeria, the struggle to do what is right by one’s family and how everything changes when money enters the picture.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
A polygamous life is not what Bolanle always wanted but it is what she settles for after a life-changing incident. But in Baba Segi’s household, there is a big secret waiting to be unravelled. What secrets are Baba Segi’s wives hiding? Get a copy of this book and experience the joy, problems, conspiracies and secrets of Baba Segi’s family.
Measuring Time by Helon Habila
Twins Mamo and LaMamo are on a quest/dream for glory and fame. Only one of them will pursue the dreams of the two of them while the other waits back. But did he find fame?
On The Bank Of The River by Ifeoluwapo Adeniyi
I had to beg my sister to allow me finish this book before she returned it. The book was my companion in a time of boredom.
It tells the story of a past life and the present one. Get a copy and read Enitan’a story.
The Palmwine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
If you love weird and queer, then this is the book to read. It takes you on the adventure of a man trying to bring his palmwine tapper back from the land of the dead. The book is written in very funny English but you will have a good laugh.
Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon
One of the two books by Sidney Sheldon that I read in secondary school.
A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R Martin
My list wouldn’t be complete without the book the best TV show in the world is adapted from. I have read four out of the five released books in the series.
Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen
My most recent read and the first book I bought with my money😊. You can get the book on OkadaBooks. You should definitely read this book.
EXTRA: Read 48 Laws of Power. If not for the laws, read it for the sweet history