In primary school, I remember eating off my cuticle and this leading to a full-blown whitlow. For days I was in pain. It was the sort of pain that made a nine-year-old ask God why He didn’t answer prayers. It was the sort of pain that taught you that no matter how little you are, life still fucks you hard when it wants to, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I was young, but I asked for death. And God did not answer me. Some years later, I would suffer a similar fate at work.
It was a cold, rainy Saturday and I had just woken up. I suddenly had this tightening in my belly, and I couldn’t breathe. I was away from home, and there was no one I could call. I tried to handle the phone, but I couldn’t. The pain wouldn’t even let me think. I just wrapped myself in bed like a doughnut and cried in pain. My mother and brother would latee arrive, and I would be rushed home. I’d get better. The doctor (or nurse) would say it was an ulcer attack. It would never repeat itself, but it would etch something on my mind: dying can be a fucking painful process.
I hate being scared. I really hate it. If there’s anything that can make me so vulnerable in seconds, it is being scared. This is why when policeman starts shooting sporadically in Sango, Ibadan, I will push the driver like a child and order him to keep driving, and go faster. The process called dying scares me so bad I fantasize daily about dying in my sleep. I do not want to see my life flash before my eyes. I do not want to see that night I fell in love with a Russian student, in a dark room for the arts. I do not want to see the face of my baby brother when he hears that I struggled to breathe till I die. I do not want to see my life play in slow motion, with a sad soundtrack (too many movies, abi?) which would drown out the voice of onlookers and wailers. I do not want pity. I do not want to see my brother scream to me to breathe, to keep on breathing because the hospital is just a few minutes away when it isn’t. I do not want my friends to tell me to be strong. I do not want them to say, He is dying.
I came in noisily. I just want to leave as quiet as possible. Some few days back, I couldn’t feel my whole body. It felt like someone else owned them and I was simply a soul. Floating. Existing. Go to Jaja. Get help. But I refused. I slept in pain hoping the night will cart me away, and drop my fears in space till some astronaut finds them discoverable.
But here I am; strong, bored, suffering from a writer’s block, missing my girlfriend, and wishing I have more data. Just like it used to be. I guess things are back to fine once more.