So, I stayed away from any serious relationships. The kind were there would be pain and so much hurt at separation. In time, the pattern became worrisome for even myself. I’d lock myself away in my room for days, hardly ever coming out. My mom and sister were a huge part of my world, and I loved them, but I kept well away. Not even them could get me to come out of my well-built shell. I felt safer there. I couldn’t allow myself to hurt anyone or be hurt by anyone.
I almost became a stranger in my own house.
I still remember that time when I almost killed my sister. I think I was seventeen and it was one of those days when I was in a rotten mood.
She was supposed to have my lunch ready, but has it happened she prepared some meal I was not interested in. So, I asked her to prepare something else.
“Haba! It took me hours to prepare this one now,” she grumbled. Her hands on her hips, her eyes flashing angrily. I could see she was in a mood for a fight herself. “Just eat this one. Next time I’ll ask before I prepare the meal.”
I stared at her for a few minutes, my mind totally eclipsed by the feeling of anger that was welling up from within. It was inexplicable. Totally unexpected.
“I don’t want to eat eba. Prepare amala,” after delivering my demand for a second time, I turned and started returning to my room when I heard her grumble something.
“I cannot prepare amala o. It is no different from eba. If you want amala, come and prepare it yourself.”
I can’t even explain how I got to her that fast, all I knew was I had her hand jammed into the bowl of eba before she had finished saying what she was saying. It was hot and she was screaming, but I didn’t let go until she fainted.
It was only then that my fear again gripped me, jerking me awake from the almost trance-like rage I had gone into.
Luckily, I was able to revive her. I apologized and begged and cajoled her not tell mom. But, she did. It would have been hard enough to conceal the lumps that appeared on her right hand two days after anyway.
That evening, my mom listened quietly as my sister recounted her ordeal at my hands; looking at her blank stare and the fact she never interrupted her I guessed she was also scared of what I could do next. She hadn’t even spoken to me after my sister had finished relaying everything that happened. She had just gotten up from the settee and headed for her room. Later on, while passing through on my way to the toilet to pee I heard her crying and praying.
She was praying because of me; for me!
I went back to my room and cried. Painful, wracking sobs all night. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. So, I wasn’t really surprised when she told me the next day I was going with her somewhere.
The words I heard come out of the doctor’s mouth that day scared the living daylight out of me- “classic case of schizophrenia”, “perhaps it is BPD”, “paranoia” , “manic depression”, “bipolar depressive”, it went on and on as I sat there and they discussed. I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible.
Eventually, the doctor stopped talking to my mom and looked at me strangely. He kept looking at me for almost fifteen minutes. I kept shifting around in my seat, avoiding his gaze in hope he will look elsewhere. But, every time I looked back he was still staring at me. It became very uncomfortable and awkward to sit there and have him look at me like that. Like I was some dangerous animal fit only for a cage or the zoo.
Finally, he removed his glasses. Instead of placing them back on the bridge of his nose, he placed them on the big, open book on his table.
“Madam, where is your husband?” suddenly, I could feel the air rush out of the room. “You see, I think this boy needs a father figure. A symbol of authority in his life. A role model he could look up to and confide in. Someone who can keep him on the straight and narrow….”
“No!!! Stop it!” I screamed. Not aware how come or why I had to say it. I just knew I had to get away from him. Far away. I stood up and rushed out of the room.
Since that day, I made it a rule to keep my levels of involvement with people minimal. I wasn’t shy with people or anything. I just drew very strict boundaries. Never allowing people past what I consider as my safe zone.
I had friends, male and female. We had fun times which I try every time to define. That way, I can put everything in perspective and keep my friends away from the danger zone.
Somehow, I even managed to have girlfriends. And that was funny , considering how harsh I was with all of them.
I kept it very simple with my female friends – “we are only together for the sex. Nothing more nothing else.”
Whenever anyone of them start to nurture any designs to a place of permanence in my life, I unceremoniously send her packing. I didn’t give excuses, I never aplogized and I never went back to date an ex.
It worked perfectly well through the whole of my teenage years. And things improved with my family. I tried very hard to be as sociable as I could be with them. I still withdrew to my room when I felt too wooly-headed to be bothered with talk. I also became very engrossed with TV, music and games. It was a welcome escape into fantasy from the real world. A world where I was fatherless, helpless and angry at everyone who ever mentioned the fact that I once had a father.
I did try. I escaped many years without much incidence. That was until I entered the University and met the one woman who changed everything.
Now everything has changed. It started to change from the day I went to school at University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB); and all unravelled when when Siju walked into my life.