Chukwukwe Eugenia Adaku
That morning, Chiwendu was so cold
Ache gripped around my throat and for a moment I doubted my ability to speak. When you lie too much, you don’t let a single useless word slip from your mouth. I inhaled and the smell of fear intoxicated me. I slowly tried to utter a word and I heard a voice that wasn’t mine. Still, it was better than not having a voice at all.
I showered with warm water with attempts to wash my secrets away. I fancied how some droplets clung to my skin even after I wiped my body dry. It’s like the evidence of a crime threatening the perpetrator. It was a way of telling me that they existed. That I can’t just walk into the fire without having any part of me burned. I was burning. But everyone was freezing to notice that. I disguised myself in a gray jacket. It was the easiest way for me to fool anyone that I have my life figured out. I would be exempted from judgemental glares and objectifying whistles. I was covered up. I could pass as someone who knows which way she was going. Nobody would dare to question my steps. This gave me a sense of pride. My manipulative self was beaming, victorious of getting away from a non- existent entity that did not let her sleep the entire night.
I blended into the busy streets. I wrapped myself with fumes excreted by jeepneys and tricycles. I walked and walked and the sun was nowhere to be found. The voices of the barkers shouted their respective destinations again and again. The children of the streets chased passengers while begging for money. I sat there trying to find a way to escape this loudness. I never got the answer. It is always a relief to finally sit inside an empty coffee shop. When the chairs are still where they are supposed to be and the tables are still not burdened with laptops, books and problems of the ones using them. You can usually find me beside the wall because I like leaning my head against it and pretending that I am with someone I can rely on.
I am lonely. It is a no-brainer to figure this out. You will notice it by the way I walk so swift while effortlessly not bumping into anything or anyone. I don’t make eye-contact with the barrister. Once, I asked a security guard to look over my things since I needed to use the comfort room. He was warm about it. He agreed with a smile. But I took my cellphone and bag with me. I don’t trust people. Mostly because I don’t trust myself. I go to cinemas alone. I occupy the director’s seat. I take selfies of me using my front camera with a flash. People look at me as if I am crazy. But does having no one beside you makes you crazy? Aren’t we all born alone? Well, some people were born with their siblings. But they have their own bodies. We have our own minds. We have the ability to survive on our own. So why do we always look at people as if they aren’t normal when they are by themselves?
Why do I always feel like anyone would notice how self-conscious I am with being alone whenever I stay in one place too long? Why do I care whether they notice or not? It’s such a petty thing. Getting worked up with questions that I would never get to answer. Yet my mind still races every time. I don’t think it will get anywhere. Like this is not going anywhere. But even if the direction is uncertain, this is still a better place than the previous one. At least now, I have the strength to walk. I can see the world in a vision that isn’t blurred by my tears. I am functioning well. And even if there are hints of internal errors from time to time, they can easily be repaired. I am contented.
I think I have reached the point when I have accepted that no one else will come and save me from all of this. So I have to drag myself every single day. Until dragging turns to walking and walking turns to running. I will eventually get there.