There are a dozen things that scare me, but not limited to dogs, Mombasa cats (because they cry like babies), empty spaces, front seats in cars and parties. But today, let me talk about the three that matter most.
Settling comes in as many forms as you can think of. Settling in school, at work, at home, with friends, in marriage. There is a whole negative vibe that accompanies settling, which really scares me. Like settling in schools, means there is no way I am getting out of there unless my period expires. That there is no way I am going to go against the rules because I signed up for all of it by settling; like not being able to jump over the wall, even just for the thrill of it, unless there has been an attack and that is my only way to freedom.
I am way scared of settling even in marriage. Because it, in one way, puts an end to my search of greater enthusiasm from different people. It limits my circle of engagements and my love for silent night outs. It forces me to let go of some of the things I hold dear, and compromise on others to create a calm environment. It makes me conscious of my decisions and choices, because the consequences now revolve around other people also. It makes me question my fantasies; those I believe are so weird, and can only be achieved in solitude. And it scares me so much because it robs me of my solitude, because as much I dread it, I will have to share my space with someone else. And I will have to sneak around just to have some time to myself.
I am scared of it even more because it comes with a load of responsibilities, I am not sure I can handle, in the way I am expected to. And that in itself is scary enough.
I am scared of settling in friendships, no matter how long they have survived. I am scared that I will wake up one day and they will not be there. That they will grow to love different things, different people and different places. That they will make decisions that won’t involve me, and that will shatter my heart into pieces. I am scared of settling into friendships because we are humans. We are different. We act differently. Some listen more than they speak. Others speak more than they listen. And one day, just maybe, we will get tired of all that, pack our bags and leave.
I am scared of friendships because sometimes, you never know who is being real and who is faking it. And even more scared because I may have a hard time coping with the real ones.
I am scared of settling in houses. Or homes in general. Because in the end, you finally have to move out for one reason or another, leaving all your memories in that forte that held you for so long. Leaving behind the blurred writings on the wall, the old calendars, the muffled sounds of your midnight cries. You leave behind all that you never thought would ever let go of.
Because in the end, life goes on.
Anything that requires a winner and a loser scares the shit out of me. Be it a friendly game in the field, a race, a test or even a simple game of scrabble, I am never at peace.
The last time I ran in a race was back in 2002. I came second. I have never gotten past the humiliation that came with that. You see, I was used to taking the first position back in class ever since I started school. No one had ever managed to take that away from me. And it seemingly didn’t augur well with my mates. So, when I came second in that race, they found something to hold against me.
I was young, yes, but it really took a toll on me. I remember telling my mum I didn’t want to be first position any more, and she laughed out saying some things were meant to be that way.
I think I am scared of competitions because people tend to ‘classify’ you according to how you perform. I am scared of losing and not being able to defend myself. And accepting that it is normal. I am scared of winning all the time because people eventually start questioning your credibility.
I schooled in a high school where you were not shit if you did not perform well. I was lucky I didn’t have to struggle much to get to the top, but every time my friends were called these ugly names simply because their grades were way low, my heart broke a little more. I remember there was a time in form two I managed the first position, and a friend of mine asked me how it felt like to be at the top.
Honestly, apart from the fact that my father gave me too much money that visiting day, it felt like shit. Because every now and then a teacher would walk into class and say, ‘you were position one, you should crack that one in less than a second’. Another time during my final year in high school, those times when Mathematics was taking a toll on me. Those days when I struggled to get a 50%, my mathematics teacher simply walked into class and said ‘Eunniah, your marks do not match your index number’.
Just like that, he gave up on me.
I did not know index numbers were somehow supposed to match our scores. I don’t remember how that felt. Maybe it was the turning point I needed. But I sure remember the look on the same teacher’s face when I bumped into him in the streets and told him I was an Engineer.
I think today is not a good time to talk about those campus days when I was extraordinarily brilliant in some units, some students started saying I was getting favoured because I was a lady.
It stinks! This whole idea of competition is really not my thing.
Some time in September 2014, I received one of those calls I have never gotten over. The caller ID on my screen read ‘Nancy’, which was weird because this one never calls. We just text and text until our fingers ache, then we stop and continue some other time.
Me: Haiya. This must be serious. Why are you calling?
Nancy: Listen up. Do you remember Joyce?
Me: Of course, yes. The one who used to sit next to me at the office?
Nancy: Yes. That one.
Me: I remember her. What is up?
Nancy: She passed on this morning at the hospital.
I don’t remember what else Nancy said during that phone call, but I was immediately shattered. We had shared an office with Joyce for the longest time just before I resigned, and she was the most down to earth person I had known. She rarely talked, but when she did, it made even much more sense. She had a silent laugh, those ones that come out as grunts, and last only a few seconds. She was lovely. And full of positivity.
The day I tendered my resignation letter, she held my hand and said that was such a brave decision I had made, and wished me luck wherever I was headed to.
Earlier in the day, she had complained of chest pains and went to this hospital together with her three-weeks-old baby. As she sat in the waiting area, she kept telling the nurses she was in so much pain and had difficulty in breathing, but none of them listened to her, telling her to wait for her turn.
Her breathing then turned into heaves, accompanied by an absurd snore. Still, no one came to her help. She stopped breathing. It went silent. The baby in her arms fell to the ground as Joyce became limp. Only then did the nurses rush to her aid.
But it was too late. Joyce had died, leaving her baby crying at her feet.
Even then, the doctors said ‘we tried our best’. And just like that, I never got to see Joyce ever again.
Since that day, I get scared every time I face an overcrowded waiting room at a hospital. I try to avoid them as much as I can, not forgetting it is at one of these hospitals where I was misdiagnosed and ended up unconscious for eight hours (In case you missed that story, click Day 10: A Fruit I Dislike and Why).
That is it for today. There lies a brighter tomorrow.