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Adetutu Adedoyin – “Trapped”

‘Why won’t you help me? Why do you want them to think I am crazy? I am not crazy! Is this what you are going to do? Really? After giving your life, you would just leave me hanging?’

It’s been two weeks since I stomped out of Dr. Ladi’s office. I still have her handkerchief. It has been a week since I checked into St. Gregory’s Psychiatric Hospital. Three days now since I have been having the same dream; my body pale and cold under the water, knocked out and when I am about to wake, I hear that voice… ‘easy, A’ and it feels like I can breathe again. It was on a Wednesday afternoon, at 4:52 pm when I started off to her office. I had been mandated to see her since that day in school when I had seen my HOD’s car approach at full-speed and had refused to leave the road.

The door smelt of fresh paint and the drummers looked like they had just been carved on with the dancers who wore waist beads; the sculptor had an eye for details. A tiny red lipstick smudge stuck out at the left corner of the white wall. Someone dirty must have done that. ‘Maybe, it was someone who was being abused’. How does that have to do with anything, you compulsive overthinker?! Just know the damn door already. Behind the door, I heard Dr. L drag a chair across the floor.

‘Ready when you are, A’. 

I paced the corridor for a few seconds, then steadied my breathing before knocking faintly on the door. ‘sorry’. Why dah hell are you apologizing to the damn carvings? Open dah doorrrr! It was my third visit in three weeks, but it was always nerve-wracking each time I had to go into the room. The burst of conditioned air made my face feel stiff.  I nodded in return to her chirpy greeting. Dr. L was a middle-aged woman who had long brown hair with silver streaks at both edges. She had a petite stature that seemed to be suitable for her knee-length flowery gowns with belts to match. Her eyes were intense – they seemed to stare into my soul. I lumbered to the seat far off in the corner

‘No, you would be sitting opposite me today’. I cussed under my breath as I plodded to the teal green couch about eight meters away from hers. You don’t want the help you are here for. You are whining because of a chair?

‘I don’t like changes.’ She hummed as she scribbled in her note. I looked around the office while she got up to get me a glass of water. The walls were white with blue stripes running vertically and the curtains were cream-coloured with run-on lines of joint askew parallelograms. A chalk painting of two flamingos in the water near grasslands rested against the wall on a table in the right corner of the room. Her certificates were arranged in a quadrangle on the wall. I eased into the seat for the first time.  Do you think you can ever have so many certificates? I heaved a heavy sigh that made Dr. L look up at me from her note. I am all talk and no do. I don’t think I can. I don’t even know if I will live that long. I am just so useless. I will never be happy. I just want to rest.

‘A, are you here? I was asking about school’. 

‘Fine’ I felt like the left-over of the meat-pie I had for lunch was still stuck in my throat. I reached for the glass of water and spilled some on her white rug that I had smudged with little mud. ‘Thank God, you are not holding wine’. We both forced our laughter, I knew it. No, you just think everyone is fake because you think you are fake.

‘I am really sorry’. ‘It’s okay. I will air it out once we are done. So, tell me, what’s on your mind? It doesn’t have to make sense, just get it out’.

My fingers were still interlocked. She had noticed it too and shifted in her chair. I knew her discomfort rose from the fact that she regarded the gesture as distrust, but I just didn’t want to see how bent my fingers were. It made me want to break them so they could be straight. 

‘Ahem. So, sometimes I…I see myself in this little white dress al nd long back-to-school socks that reach my knees with this hairstyle they call police-cap and I am smiling, just happy to be looking at myself in the mirror. Content. Then, all of a sudden, I am grown and so self-loathing and filled with shame and thoughts of dying. You know, they say prayer fixes everything, but I think he stopped hearing me long ago. Or maybe I am the one just saying shitty prayers?’

 I reach for the glass again. I was not thirsty, but I needed to put something up so she wouldn’t see that the tears had formed in my eyes again. I didn’t like to cry in front of strangers. It made me feel like they thought I was a disturbed child. I mean, I think so myself at times too. I sniffed, rubbing my arms over my shoulders so she would think I was just cold. It worked

‘Should I turn off the Ac and leave the fan?’

‘Oh no. I shall continue. All these years, I had written of pain and great injustice done to me and the consequences, and one day, I just realized I was tired of the same old narrative being told in different ways. I didn’t know what to write and of recent, I opened a blog where I send out daily love notes to people who probably feel my optimism is shit. Maybe I am a hypocrite, you know? Maybe he’s fed up with me. All these things I don’t get and cannot ask because other people like me are too busy being self-righteous judgemental people.’

The tears betrayed me and down they rolled carelessly like Jack and Jill, crashing as a confluence at my chin. The box of tissue was still on her table, so she offered me her handkerchief instead. It had her initial on it. L.K with a little lily by the side. It smelt like vanilla. 

‘I just feel lost and alone. Sometimes, it feels like he’s just up there watching me fail. I don’t even know if what I am studying now would have any importance…’ as I poured out my heart to her, I noticed she had wrinkles at the side of her eyes, probably from squinting too much. She had this almost permanent smile plastered to her face, as though she had done it so much it had stuck. 

‘I just don’t like my life. I suck and no one can truly love me. I mean look at me. I am fat and ugly and just feel like shit. I feel very confused and I try to pray and stay positive, but I just feel like an extremely unhappy, ever-suspicious person. Like I would never be good enough. You know, they say true Christians never feel depressed? The joy of the Lord is supposed to fill your heart, but here I am feeling like the void God got rid of now resides in my heart. I basically think I am demented.’

She checked the clock with the side of her eye. I looked at it too. Ten minutes to six.  It was almost one hour since I arrived. She was going to shut me up courteously soon. I knew it. I paid her good money, but not enough for her to wait to listen to me yap about myself for an extra hour.

‘I should go. I have said enough.’

Do you think you are a Christian? You don’t have love! Not even for yourself. You cry on your birthdays because you think you are shit. It takes you time to forgive! You are not like those people, A. Don’t kid yourself. I removed my sweater and shoved it in my back and slung it over my shoulder in a way that the content spilled out. I looked up at her. Her deep brown eyes boring into mine. Her face etched with concern. 

‘You are just doing your job. Not like you really care. No one gets it. Not even me! Why won’t he help me? Why won’t he love me like the rest?’ The door shut with a bang behind me and at that moment, I saw it; my spirit leaves my body outside the building immediately I jump right in front of a busy. Easy, A. We will figure this thing out. ‘No, we are not! You keep yapping at me half of the time about how I am full of shit. I don’t want to listen anymore. I just want to rest. That’s all’

‘I do all these things. Go out of my way to try to be a good person, observe all the rules. Yet, no one ever stays. Even I, don’t want to stay. I just want to rest forever’

 I stared at my fingers. ‘I am so flawed. How are these hands supposed to make beautiful things?’ Sometimes, beautiful things are beautiful because they are made by flawed people. You have written the most heartfelt words I have ever read… with these same fingers, A. 

The other day, patient B had caught me sleepwalking. It was the first time that was happening. Patient D was with her. She said I had stood at the edge of the staircase and I was screaming at someone at the bottom of the stairs

‘Why won’t you help me? Why do you want them to think I am crazy? I am not crazy! Is this what you are going to do? Really? After giving your life, you would just leave me hanging?’

As Patient B tried to pull me away from the edge, she said I flung her with such a force that when her back hit the wall, her spinal cord could be heard dislocating. I had simply tumbled after her and sustained this cut on my forehead and here I am, in this court, pleading my case.

Why don’t you just learn their names? Then they will become more than faces to me. I don’t want more memories stuck in my head.

“Your honour, do I sound crazy to you too? Everyone else seems to think I am”

I remember screaming so loud the judge was petrified. I hated being called crazy. I wasn’t crazy. I just wanted rest and these voices in my head won’t let me. I just want to sleep forever. I just want peace, is that too much to ask?


Photo by Akshar Dave on Unsplash

1 Comment

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The Anonymous Cherifreply
May 28, 2020 at 1:51 pm

This is such a riveting read, colorful in its imagination, and poignant in its elaborations. The reality within is so vividly relatable so as for it to be a keeper. Well done, well done. And , welldone.

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