The last time I saw Daniel Olusola, we shook hands and parted as eternal friends.
However, it was not always so.
May 13th, 07:48AM
“Good morning, Dr. Kingsley,” the nurse on the morning shift greeted me. I could never seem to remember their names, so I would surreptitiously glance at their name tags before replying, because I’d read somewhere that it spoke well of one if you called people by their names while having a conversation with them. A quick glance revealed her name to be Bolanle.
“Good morning, Bola. How are you doing?” came my generic reply. I turned to walk away when I saw a young man in a suit sitting on the lounge chair in the waiting room. My waiting room. I looked back at her.
“Bola, who is that young man?”
“Oh, sorry sir. He came in this morning and asked to see you. He wouldn’t say what for, just that he would speak to no one else but you. That’s why I kept calling you, but you weren’t picking up.” She looked nervous as she continued, “I tried to get him to wait in the general waiting room, but he insisted, saying he would create a scene if I tried to get him out, and I must say, doctor, he acts very strange.”
I tried to reassure her, “It’s okay, Bola. I’ll just see what he wants. At the most, he just wants some money.”
I hefted my bag, picked up the newspaper waiting for me by the door and walked into my waiting room.
I nodded to him. “Good morning. I hear you’ve been waiting for me? How may I help you?”
He looked up at me, smiled coldly, and looked back at his hands. When he spoke, I nearly didn’t hear him, “We need to speak with you, Dr. Kingsley. We heard you’re the best in what you do.”
We? Okay, this was strange, all right.
“Let’s go into my office, shall we?” I unlocked the door and motioned for him to enter first. He stopped to look at the sign on the door.
- KINGSLEY UWAEME
May 13th, 3:22PM
I looked down at the notepad on my table for the umpteenth time that day after Daniel had left. It had really been a very strange meeting. So strange, in fact, that I had to tell Bolanle to hold off anyone who wanted to see me or talk to me, and just tell them to book an appointment.
I flashed back on the meeting.
“I want to kill someone, doctor. No, let me rephrase that. I want to kill a number of people.” His opening statement had thrown me off-balance.
I took a few moments before I replied. “Why would you want to do that? I’m sure you realize that you wouldn’t get away with it.” His smile was frightening as he said softly, “Oh, is that because you’re going to turn me in?”
I said nothing, just stood as he started walking around the office. He looked at me again and asked, “As a matter of fact, how do you know I haven’t already killed the people?” I had no reply, and he knew it.
I went to my seat and motioned for him to sit in the chair across the table, for security purposes of course.
“If that is the case, then why did you come here? Why risk your freedom? No, I don’t believe you have done it.” Grasping his hands together, he said “You’re quite a smart man, Dr. Kingsley, and that is why I decided to come to you. I need to show you something.”
He stood up, took off his jacket, and proceeded to unbutton his shirt. “Oh, young man, what are you doing!? Please, I must ask that you stop at once and –”
I swallowed the rest when I saw his body. Muscular in the right proportion and looking fit, yet what caught my attention were the tattoos. His upper body was literally darkened with tattoos, and with him being fair skinned, that was saying something.
“I see I have your attention now, doctor. My name is Daniel Olusola, and I am addicted to pain. Now I want to die.”
That statement opened up a very long and disturbing conversation. Apparently, he had been neglected as a child, started going through depression as a teenager and was hearing voices. Soon enough, he also began to talk back to those voices and then, he became the voices (multiple personalities, I noted down). I began to see a manifestation of this when I started asking him questions. I asked him if he felt like those voices were his friends, and he underwent four changes to his demeanor, vocal intensity, speech pattern and behavior. Basically, he was living at least five different lives.
He fell in with a group of people while in school and got introduced to tattoos, or inking, as he liked to call it. According to him, getting a tattoo had been the ultimate sign of self-ownership, being the boss of him, as he put it. I noted the tensing of his statement and asked him why he used that.
He smiled at me and said, “Because, doctor, I have discovered that there is another greater form of self-ownership. A way to prove to people, and to myself, that no one else owns my life but me.”
He said nothing more and just sat there watching me, daring me to ask him what this new way was. I decided to take his bait. “Tell me, Daniel, what way is this?”
“I am going to take my own life.”
June 17th, 3:33PM
Six weeks had gone by and I still kept going back to that particular moment when I realized that I was going to take on Daniel’s case. He had made that pronouncement with such cold detachment that there was just no way I was going to pass the offer up, and besides, there was just something about him that spoke to me, looking at it now, it had been his eyes – his dead eyes.
I had decided to put Daniel on a writing regimen four days after our initial meeting following subsequent sessions with him. I noticed how he always came in with a pen and notepad and would always doodle while we spoke. I asked him about this, and he mentioned that writing always “keeps them asleep”.
His writing portrayed the state of his mind. He wrote down more things than he ever said to me, yet he always left his writings with me, despite my telling him to look through these writings to find out the subconscious triggers.
In the last six weeks, I had amassed a great deal of Daniel’s writing. Strangely, his writings had become frenzied, almost crazed. It had seemed like he was trying to exorcise himself – no, like he had been trying to get a weight off his shoulders that just did not want to leave him. I had tried to guide him as best as I could, but it seemed like Daniel recoiled as soon as I came beyond a barrier he subconsciously set up between us.
I felt the shiver go down my spine as I read a few lines out of one of his poems again for the umpteenth time,
“Again, I speak to the shadows in my mind
And again, they refuse to respond.
They only speak to me when they bring me my daily meal
Tears and pain are the dishes they serve.
My loving wardens in this dark prison
Now they have gone beyond being wardens, now they are friends.
They are me, and I have become lord and master of all I survey.
I resolved that I was going to tackle this issue with Daniel soon. His mind was fast becoming his prison and if did not do something about it soon, he would never make it out alive.
July 31st, 6:29PM
For all that I was a psychologist, I was a nervous wreck at the moment. Traffic was at a crawl and thirty minutes earlier, as I was preparing to go home and just have a calm weekend with my wife and kids, I had received a call from Daniel and all he had said was, “Thank you for your efforts these couple of weeks, Dr. Kingsley, but apparently I have to do this. Goodbye, doctor.” The line had gone dead.
Without thinking, I had locked my office, hurriedly said a goodbye to Bolanle who was on the evening shift, called my wife to tell her I would be home late and started driving towards Daniel’s place. It was a fifteen-minute drive to his place (I had been to his place during the course of the month for his sessions), and I had hoped to make it in twelve. Traffic, however, had other plans for me.
I kept trying to call him back, but he wouldn’t pick up. I started thinking furiously. He had been doing well these last three weeks. I was so sure that I had managed to drive away the notions of suicide. I flashed back to a conversation we had a few days back.
I had indirectly brought up the topic of suicide and he had just smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry, Dr. Kingsley, I won’t take my life. I’m only going to kill Samuel.” Samuel was the name of one of his multiple personalities. The others had faded away during our time together, but this last one was tenacious. I hadn’t understood what he meant by “killing Samuel”, but now I guess I did.
Finally, traffic eased up and I pulled up at his place. Without knocking, I barged into his living room, shouting his name at the top of my voice. I stopped short when I saw him with a young lady eating.
“Hello, Dr. Kingsley. Meet my girlfriend, Mariam. Mariam, this is my good friend, Dr. Kingsley.”
Pleasantries were exchanged hurriedly, but I only wanted to talk to Daniel. “Daniel, can I please see you in private?” I furiously asked. He must have caught the annoyance in my voice because he quickly excused himself and walked outside with me.
One the way out though, something caught my eye on a drawer by the door. I walked towards the drawer and saw a sweater on it, but what drew my attention was the black object, a gun, half-hidden underneath. It looked like the gun had been hurriedly placed there and the sweater meant to hide it. He had been meaning to kill himself all along, I realized, but something stopped him. I looked at him, and his quick glance backwards at the living room did not escape me. Something, or someone.
“She doesn’t know, does she? Mariam, I mean”, I asked him softly. He looked away and shook his head. I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Go and talk to her, my friend. If you love her enough to have stopped yourself when she got here, then go talk to her. Explain everything.”
I patted his shoulder and turned to leave.
“Dr. Kingsley?” I turned to him. He was holding the gun out. “Please get this thing far away from me.”
I smiled, walked to the drawer, picked up the gun and walked out.
August 13th, 3:13PM
I opened the door to see Daniel and Mariam, his fiancée, off along with my wife. We let the women go slightly ahead of us while we hung back, discussing in low voices.
As we got to their car, Daniel reached out to shake my hand and I noticed fair skin peeping out from underneath his cuffs. He saw where I was looking and smiled, “Yes, Dr. Kingsley. I decided to take back my life. I did, however, leave one of them.” He rolled up his right-hand sleeve and stretched out his hand, palm up, to show me a semicolon tattoo just on the inside of his wrist. “I have that to remind me that I chose not to end my life. My story is not over just yet.”
He rolled down his sleeves and reached out for a handshake. I ignored his outstretched hand and enveloped him in a hug instead.
“I’m so proud of you.”