Is there a particular moment we begin spiraling down the bottom? I used to wonder if life snapped in clean halves bending at the exact moment when we departed from who we could justify into something strange and inexcusable.
The question of when everything started to fall apart hunts me, sleepless nights spent weighing each memory with significance like a weary detective obsessing over a timeline. Trying to discover the exact moment the house in Shomolu started to collapse, how long had it been? Were the foundations trembling the day papa talked about his new wife? The day we discovered Eka, the help next door was pregnant?
Mama said she felt when it happened, the Sunday the walls of the apartment caved in. The things we left behind, my dark doll with the green shoes, the dress with pink flowers, the chance of goodbyes we didn’t have. My parents never let me visit the ruin.
Maybe it was the day thick strands of hair fell on the marble floor of my room. I stood staring in the mirror, gripping the scissors a little too tight. It started with what was maybe an inch, a little trim, and then a couple of inches till there was barely anything left. Staring in the mirror, then at the comb, at hair on the floor, it’s been 7 years since her last haircut and 7 hours since a steam. The scissors had always been lying there rarely ever used.
Sometimes I hoped just as people faded away, memories of them would leave too, but they keep hovering, mists of confusion, making you hold on to nothing, leaving you struggling to move on. Time had a way of transforming Jade from that geeky timid child in nursery school whom she shared her cakes with to six feet with lean muscles who she day dreamt of sharing more than her cakes with. If love was laughing at his jokes and looking to him for agreement in a delicate and unspoken way. If love was holding hands in public places and kissing in school corridors. If love was moaning his name while grabbing a fist full of his thick black afro hair while he kissed her breasts. If love was wriggling in pleasure with her dress rolled up and shifted aside while he touched her warm skin. If love was a confused girl giving into a new strange graveness, a weak imitation of what she imagined love making to be and the moment being just as wonderful because of the strong weakening feeling she had for him. Then love was what destroyed her, like her mother, she felt it happen, the growing distance, his muffled one word responses, the deafening silence till she saw him holding her and whispering intimately in her ears. It had been two months since then, he didn't even say goodbye, and she lived everyday in a new pain, holding onto her pillow and crying and begging herself to forget him. Somehow her life had evolved around him that her life before him seemed like a blur of events. She looked at herself or what seemed to be the version of her that existed, gripping the bottle of Tylenol she had kept hidden under her clothes for the past 5 days. She swallowed the first red five pills first, she had read online that a mere overdose could damage the liver and lead to death. She poured out a handful this time, not bothering to count how many and swallowed them. Waves of nausea hit her, somehow she felt a certain peace, she didn't feel her pain as she lid into unconsciousness.
There are events that demand a certain ritual, a rite where you lose yourself to your pain, where you float like the lifeless leaves that have been dried up in the heat of the sun.