‘It was but a stone that I had thrown upon the man. It was my piece of mind to him for terrorizing lives in my community. I went home a ‘happy’ man, happy that I had participated in ridding life of evil. Yet, I was the evil one. I had killed a soul, I had shed blood and I felt guilty for it. I had become as a murderer’.
My trouble began on one Saturday evening as I was walking through the neighbourhood, returning home from seeing a friend, George, who had fallen a bit ill from his work. I went over to his home, said a prayer for him and left him with some joy on his countenance for I had also given him some amount of money, a clean five Cedi note to buy a few things for himself. As I returned home, my eyes caught a scene; a crowd had converged at a side of the road, the exact route I was to take before arriving home. Naturally, I felt curious; I neared it to look at what they had before them, hearing sounds like; ‘he is the one… yes that is he, the boy who was roaming here in the morning’. Finally, I found the reason. It was a man on the ground before them, a wounded man who had blood oozing from a side of his head. He was almost without clothes as he lay languishing in pain, crying silently before them, begging for leniency yet having no one to help him, to feel sorry for him. He was a thief as one person had told me, a robber as I heard from another. Therefore, he deserved to die. The stoning continued, from large stones to small stones. They would pelt him then stop intermittently to listen to his pleas, which were abruptly refuted. ‘It is a lie! He is one of them, I saw him with my own eyes!’ A woman had said; the chief witness I supposed for it was her words that everyone there obeyed, not those of the man on the floor. His were mere lies, easy to utter yet difficult to be proven as true. As I listened to them, I began to feel the ‘passion’ in the atmosphere, the desire to lift up a finger against this ‘evil’ man who lay helpless on the ground. It kept growing stronger any time I heard a comment being made about him. It drew me into picking a stone, not a large one though yet it was worth it, as I had felt at that time. If he was evil then he had to die in an evil way, by suffering just as his victims had suffered. I; being a member of the community, a young man of twenty four years who had once before encountered a bit of robbery could not have been less concerned about the case before him. He had to do something, unleash the fury that presently made his blood boil and he did it. I picked up one of the stray stones on my right hand and hauled it into his face topping it up with a remark, ‘you deserve it, God has punished you’, in Twi, my native tongue. At once, after I had thrown the stone, I felt ‘ok’, happy that I had participated in ridding the town of one evil thing. I left afterwards; smiling as I walked away from the near corpse of the young man whom I guessed might be in my age group. I had no regret within me for what I had done; I only felt contentment at my achievement. I arrived home to my little plush self-contained home, had some quick supper and retired to bed. It would have been such a wonderful evening, after all the movie I had watched, the entire breeze I had felt round me as I lay in my bed sleeping, the comfort of the mattress and the serenity of the place could have provided me with one heaven of a sleep. However, it was not so for me that night. I had a nightmare, a frightening nightmare, I sweated throughout my sleep, and I woke up several times to switch on the lamp beside the bed. I needed some light inside the room, to keep me company until the night fled away, until the morning came. The light stayed on through the night, it kept me company yet it was not enough to stop my heart from popping out of my chest. I did not sleep a wink that night. I simply could not, it was impossible. It was terrible as I felt like screaming at one point for help or rushing under my bed to hide from my fright. I even thought of going over to my friend’s place however, that too could not be possible for the hour was already late, at one o’clock, who was going to let me in at such an hour?
The following morning, I awoke without any one waking me up, I had not slept a wink, my head ached and my body felt a bit hot for me, I was beginning to feel sick. I needed some help with some drugs therefore; I went for them in a drawer at the kitchen where I stored all my drugs. I took a piece of aspirin into my palm, picked up a glass then filled it with some water from the tap at the sink. As I poured the glass into my mouth I suddenly let it down, it crashed at my feet, leaving the water on the floor, the pill instead in my mouth. I do not know what was wrong with me; my hands were all shaking as I began to drink from the glass. My mind interpreted it as blood to me, the water, thus I could not take it, and I let it down instead. After the incident, I became even more nervous, I began to shiver, and my hands shook involuntarily as I bent to pick broken glass before my feet. I picked up the larger slices first, throwing them into the bin there then afterwards, I collected the rest into a collector disposing them off likewise. I had thought that it was over, that all my fear was gone, yet, I was yet to know how much more could frighten me. I abandoned the drug intake then left the kitchen for the bath to clean the teeth. As I got nearer to the place, I heard the tap flowing, it was a clear sound in my ears, I felt alarmed and quickly rushed inside there to see what was going on. I opened the door and found the tap flowing but in drops, I turned it off. Suddenly, the room became quiet again. I returned to normalcy, feeling relieved by what I had just done. I had thought that was the end of it all yet, I was again deceiving myself. Consequently, as I brushed my teeth, looking into the mirror, I felt something behind me, standing close to me as though it were a heavy shadow. I turned, dropping the brush instantly into the sink. There was no one, and the moment I had turned, the presence was gone. Therefore, I returned to cleaning the teeth however so did it, it came back standing behind me. I screamed this time round and flew out of the room, speeding off like a hare to the outside, calling the names of those who lived next to me, ‘Sammy, Rocky, come quick!’ I cried in Twi to them as I waited before their gate, panting and shivering out of fear. The house was haunted, so I had thought. Nevertheless, I was wrong; for nothing except my mind was haunted. My conscience was eating me up. The stone I had thrown had become my murder weapon. My mind was filled with only dark memories, memories that I did not wish to keep and yet I could not lock my mind to them. The picture kept painting itself within me. I kept recalling the evening of my trouble, the stone I had thrown, the words I had spoken, everything I had seen on that evening, on the face of the poor beaten man. I was going mad; in fact, I had already gone bananas when my brother, my elder brother who was overseas quickly returned home to see me for he had heard of my plight that I had began acting as a man without his senses.
“John”, James, my brother had called me on the day he had arrived home from abroad. I was in my room, cowering in a corner, my head bent over my thighs. It was dark in there yet, I was not afraid. My fear was rather of the outside world, I was scared to leave my newly found refuge. I could no longer face people for every countenance I saw was that of the ‘criminal’ on the ground before the crowd. I had become ‘self-centered’, I who was formerly sociable, participating in everything that society found as being lawful, such as the torturing of the man whose crime I could not prove yet whose innocence I had thrashed out of my thinking. ‘John, what is the matter with you?’ James had asked touching me with the hand. I had heard me all right; I knew his voice, which could never escape my mind. However, I could not respond to his question. I was afraid, even to tell of my fear because I did not wish to recall it any longer. It was not fully out of my mind, it was only lying dormant and any telling of it could bring it back to activation. My brother was troubled, he could not figure out the cause of my plight, he had only been told that I had gone insane yet he did not fathom the reason why that should be happening to me. I was his only sibling, my parents had divorced when I was a child, at the age of ten, and he was my stepbrother, born of my mother. Nevertheless, he had loved me, as though I was his own, having taken me to school, from the onset of my education up until the university. I was a recent graduate waiting for a job that I knew was going to be hard finding. James had however promised to help me secure one with his overseas agency and I was looking forward to this, he was looking forward too yet, not to the state of mine, therefore; he was disturbed. My situation continued yet not for the worse. I could eat, but that was always done at the corner of my room. I bathed occasionally when my mind seemed a bit normal, nonetheless, it was not that proper, the bathe. I barely used enough water; washing my face and arms only. I hardly stared into the mirror, I did not see myself for weeks however; that bothered me less. I was suffering; everyone could bore witness to my new form, even my friend George had once wept before me while asking me the reason for my situation. Finally, one day, my brother took a decision to take me to see a psychologist. He bathed, and adorned me afterwards, in a swish blue jeans trouser and a white shirt as well as canvas shoes for my feet. No one would have thought that I was a little unwell in the head. Then had I seen myself, I had looked into the mirror at the time James was combing my hair. I was in deed, a handsome young man as I had seen myself to be. Nevertheless, I was deeply sick. Sitting beside him at the front seat, tucked by the seat belt, I felt a bit relieved, perhaps, because of the breeze that flew in through the side window. I had not been out of home for a long time and this seemed like a release from hell as I felt the freshness of the outside world. All of a sudden, the fear of seeing the world outside was gone. My mind had begun to function as for normal beings, however; I was not quite sure if that ‘thing’ was gone too.
Doctor Felix Ampong, the psychologist who saw to my mental needs was a kind, gentle man. He asked of my name after I had arrived at his office and I replied meekly, ‘John Johnson’, I said looking blankly into his face. By then, I was feeling a bit ‘ok’ for I had earlier on conquered the fear of being outside. ‘You have a name nice, John Johnson’, he had remarked with a pleasant smile. ‘So, John, what would you like me to do for you?’ He had asked me in a soft, passionate tone, looking into my face. I blinked at him then brought out the hidden secret in my heart. I began recounting the events that had led to my fear, all after a short span of deliberate silence, I was gathering up my thoughts with that. He listened attentively to me, his eyes solidly fixed on my face. He looked serious for my situation was as usual. Getting to the latter part of my confession, I began to cry, I felt so sad of myself, I pitied myself for getting entangled in my situation. Why did I not go my way, why did I have to throw that stone? I wondered as I spoke to the man before me. Finally, the narration was over, it was now his turn to speak. He looked absorbed in thought as he stared into my face. I felt a little shy of him for I thought that I could guess his perceptions about me; that I was an evil man, having the capacity of killing a being, that I was barbaric and that I deserved to die for my act. Nevertheless, Doctor Ampong did not think so. He saw me as a troubled man who needed help quickly to get over the guilt that he was presently suffering from and that help, he was ready to give me. ‘John’, he had softly called my name. I looked up to him, lifting my bowed head and meekly replied, ‘Doctor’.
‘I have heard you all right. I know you are thinking that I dislike you now for what you have just told me, however; that is not the truth. The truth is that you need to forget about this yet; you cannot do so since you blame yourself for the death of the man. On the contrary, that is not helping you John, because you are dying slowly out of the guilt in your mind. You would continue to suffer unless you openly confess this to someone you trust, perhaps, your brother or a close friend of yours. Once you let them know how much you regret doing what you had done, the feeling will go away because they would forgive you for it. On the other hand, by keeping it to yourself, you would suffer until you go very insane. Therefore, which one of these options would you like to take, Mr. Johnson?’ The doctor had asked me sounding serious. ‘I want to be free; I do not want to bear this guilt any longer. However, I am sorry for what I did.’ I said softly to him looking into his face. ‘Good, therefore, the ball is not in your cot. I have completed with my part as a psychologist to help you make a good decision, it is now time for you to free your mind. Go home and tell your brother about it then you will be in deed free, that is a trusted assurance I am giving you.’ He said finally, ending it with a warm smile. I thanked him and afterwards left the office. Unknowingly to me, my brother had just arrived at the clinic to come check on me. We met each other in the corridor; as soon as he had seen me, he knew that I was well, that I was ok. We hugged afterwards and left for home in his car. When I got home, I told him everything; he listened and shed silent tears at my words. I did the same too yet it was worth it now for afterwards, was an ocean of peace in my mind. I was now free, I no longer felt the guilt nevertheless; I was wary not to ever get near a packed crowd unless it was rather around me, listening to my piece of story that could change its thinking on taking the law into its own hands.