Authors note: this piece is fiction and so are all the characters. The scenarios however are based on true recollections from sources who choose to remain anonymous.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God..and the Word was God”
~ Araba ~
I remember the festive air that bubbled within me and the bright smile I couldn’t hide. I remember the greetings and birthday wishes and the promises to be ‘ponded’ with Coke and chocolate cake. I remember my friends and colleagues at work wolfing down my cake and singing the birthday song with my boss chipping in with his horribly off-key voice. I barely did any work that day but it was all in good fun. It was a Friday and it made sense to start the weekend on a high note.
It’s been a week since that day and I’m standing on the Circle overhead bridge. It’s about 9pm and the activity on the bridge is slowly winding down. If one gets there earlier, one will see at least 10 young extremely fit men clad in football training gear jogging up and down the steps, doing sit ups or press up or any other form of exercise. I usually watch them with a mixture of awe and admiration – thank God I don’t need to do all that is my fervently whispered prayer.
By now my jogger friends have dwindled to one or two casually lying about; we exchange waves of greeting as I go and stand by the guard rails bordering the bridge and look down. I should be afraid for my designer leather bag slung on my right shoulder which contains my Apple Mac Notebook, purse, car keys and other assorted essentials for my day. It should bother me that I’m 1 meter 55 in my bare feet and am no real match for any intrepid pickpocket. But I’m not; after all, apart from the joggers are an assortment of beggars and mentally ill people that lurk around the bridge, who is there to be afraid of?
‘The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?’ The words escape unbidden from my lips and I smile wryly. Nice to know that those years teaching Sunday school have paid off, I think.
I lean forward onto the bridge, close my eyes and inhale deeply. The combined scents of rotting garbage, exhaust pipe fumes, urine and feces from the public toilet and the frying of koose from the koko seller waft up and flood my senses. And, under all that….a clear sweet breeze.
I smile slightly.
This is home, I think absently as I use my left leg to rub away a stray black polythene bag that has clung to my right calf.
Accra is my home.
I look down and watch the bright lights of vehicles from the infamous Circle interchange dubbed Circle Dubai by the erstwhile NDC government. Private vehicles, trotros, heavy trucks and okada riders; everyone straining to speed up and overtake each other to reach their destinations. Everyone hustling to get somewhere….people have places to go to, right Rabs? I think sardonically. Isn’t that the literal translation?
Everyone has someplace to be….except me, everyone has something to think about…someone to love…something to aspire to….
My earlier sense of contentment vanishes as quickly as it came and I feel a tide of anguish rising within me. It feels like a physical pain, like thin claws with long nails reaching into my heart and piercing me with subtle, ever-increasing pressure. Already leaning forward, I dip further to rest my head on my arms. I try to breathe deeply to calm my racing heart. I remind myself that if I don’t get a hold of myself it could bring on a panic attack and I would lose control and pitch forward over the rails and into the traffic.
What a horrible way to die.
Oh? That little voice says, is it really? I don’t like the hint of malicious inquiry in that tone but it doesn’t frighten me any longer. After all, this is a train of thought that has popped up in various forms for the better part of 2 decades of my life. I’d had the faint hope that it would cease when I turned 30 but I was mistaken.
I sigh deeply and raise my head and look at the traffic; the part of me that is still aware of my surroundings registers that the conversation between the joggers has dwindled and one or two are openly staring at me.
I no longer fight that sly little voice that rises within; that voice that sometimes sounds like my father in a fit of rage or my first boss when she manipulated me into compromising situations, or that sometimes sounds just like mine.
I used to think I was going crazy but over the years I have learnt to broker an uneasy truce with that voice. But now I’m tired. I no longer cry about it and pray and try and find a solution; I no longer hurt myself to distract that voice.
I’m so tired.
I no longer care.
God, I’m so tired………………..
I close my eyes and breathe deeply.
And think about jumping.
Welcome to Club30.
to be continued…