Chapter one of my new project
What is wrong with me?
"It's 6am in the morning and I'm awake. Awake doing what? I don't have classes to attend early this morning, I don't intend to pray, I have absolutely no plans to do anything that requires an early wake. Maybe that's the problem; I have nothing going for me. Maybe I don't feel normal because my entire life is a bottomless pit of despair and unpredictables engraved in a meshwork of lack of identity either with myself or with the outside world. I'm an outcast. A human outcast in a human race of a human world, plummeting to oblivion, aching for Armageddon: an end to all things. Maybe that's not it, maybe I'm just too proud to be happy. I'm too self-absorbed to consider myself as worth anything to anyone. Why be happy in a world full of hate, anguish and worry? I'm too intelligent to be happy, because happiness is a choice too easy to make. After all, easy comfort isn't comforting according to John Green. Maybe I'm depressed. A sad, unaccomplished life can do that to you. A bastard child from a broken home with thwarted dreams can do no better than wallow in his own misfortunes. Depression is a biological event where your brain refuses to make the excitatory fluid to get you elated for no reason. Maybe that's my problem; I'm sick. My entire predicament can be explained by one medical terminology or a chemical reaction gone wrong in my head. I am the unwelcome product of an unlikely union between a probable cause and an unpredictable event. I am a rare genetic mutation; the next step in human evolution. I am considered abnormal simply because I am misunderstood. I am cast away not because I am a monster, but because of something far more terrifying. I am not like the rest of them; I am special. That's it! "Special" is wrong with me. I am afflicted by my own uniqueness."
"Victor! What are you mumbling to yourself?" Chanted my mother from almost a world away.
"Nothing." I replied, falling back to my unintended existence.
"How was your night? Did you sleep well?"
"I tried to."
"That's good enough for me." Mother said with a touch of despair.
The common misconception of my mum by outsiders is touching. To them, she's a single mother struggling to balance her life between her jobs as a matron at the local public health center and taking her of her teenage son (who doesn't need taking care of, by the way). To everyone else, she's a Christian mother and a virtuous woman who makes ends meet and who the favor and flavor of God is smothered upon from above; she's an object of jealousy. But if you ask me, public opinion is never completely right. Not even half-right. To know a mother, ask her child. And if you asked me, I'd say they got the Christian mother part right and as for the rest, hopelessly wrong. My mother doesn't struggle to balance her life between work and me; they pretty much balance themselves. I go to school when she goes to work, and I close from school when she closes from work. Her ends do not meet; she has over one million naira in debt, owing everyone from banks, cooperative societies, and contributions to private individuals. She isn't an object of jealousy; she's a local champion; A large fish in a small river. God's favor and flavor (whatever that is) is not a concept I can claim to understand, but from where I stand, she's a single mother, who works hard but not too hard to keep up with life as it goes. She seeks God to fill the void of her broken heart from my father leaving us several years ago. Mommy is an ordinary person: she feels pain when she's hurt, she shouts at the top of her voice when she's angry and she gets jealous of people who are better than her. But she's my mom and I love her too much to care.
"Have you said your prayers this morning?" Mother asked.
"Yes." I lied. Prayer didn't work for me. Some people felt telling God what to do made them have more control over their lives. I didn't. I left God to do His own thing, while I did mine. I didn't talk to Him, he didn't talk to me and that was just how we liked it.
"Why are you even up this early? This isn't your usual rising time; you're of the day too early. Anything the matter? Any cosmogony?" Mother asked trying to sound trivial.
"Nothing's wrong, sometimes I just get up earlier than usual that's all. I'll get back to sleep soon and wake up at my usual rising time." I replied, trying to sound trivial for myself. I didn't like to tell Mommy what was going on in my head. Especially not after she used words like "cosmogony"; it proved she wasn't ready to listen. The truth is, something bothered me. It had been bothering me for about two weeks now: My forthcoming Post-UTME results.
About three months back, I took my UTME exams. The UTME exams were the way the Nigerian Educational Ministry, through the help of the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board, decided who among the current fleet of high school leavers were worthy of furthering their education in the country's' plethora of Universities. Or who would have to settle for the less favorable Polytechnics and least favorable Colleges of Education. I'd gotten passed that stage, and my overall score of 237 leapfrogged the cut-off mark for most Universities of 190 or 200. Just two weeks ago, I made my way to the University of Benin, my institution of choice, to sit for my Post-UTME exams; they weren't easy. My friend, Festus, who sat through it with me had been memorizing textbooks all through the holidays for that particular exam even though he had scored a whooping 283 in his UTMEs had been calling me on the telephone, day after day, resounding in my nonchalant ears how important our results are for our future as medical doctors...that was if the university awarded us the opportunity to study that.
Festus is an ordinary person. He worries about the results of an exam. He hopes and dreams of what his future as a medical doctor would be like. He even does very mundane things, like get angry, boast of his shallow accomplishments and profess love. He admits to liking Homo sapiens of the opposite sex, otherwise known as women and goes after them, to satisfy his desire for love and companionship. The most annoying part of how ordinary Festus is, is that he wants you to be ordinary too. But not me, I'm special. Festus has been my really good friend for a very long time; as long as I can remember. He was someone I just grew up to know was always around, kind of like a brother. Festus and I had decided, much like all of the other high school graduating science students, that we were going to study Medicine in the university and become medical doctors. My decision to study medicine was my first choice made out of a shallow human tendency; fear.
In Nigeria, young secondary school students are taught something very demeaning: that if we didn't either become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer, we would never amount to anything in life. I would have been relieved if only it were not true. Nigerians believe that money is the way to be satisfied with your life, and the way to get money is to get a good job that pays well, and the way to do that was to either be a medical doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Every other profession payed badly and yielded a life of poverty and regret. That was widespread notion. And I had come to understand that if many people believe something, it was most likely untrue and unresearched.
My revered silence was severed with the ring of my telephone, and as I rolled over to pick it up, I saw that the time was now 9 am and it was Festus who was calling.
"Hello, dude. What's up?" He greeted
"I'm awake and routined. How are you doing?"
"I'm doing great! I just heard some great news; UNIBEN's Post-UTME results are out. We should get a scratch card and go check ours right away." Festus said brimming with enthusiasm.
"Hmmm...that sounds good. I'll get the scratch card and I'll be at your place this evening so we could go check our results together."
"Good. Let's do that then. I'll be waiting for you at first bank by 4 pm."
"Great. See you then.
The call ended.
"Who was that?" Mother asked.
"It was Festus, he said that P-UTME results are out and we should go check ours together this evening."
"That's exciting news!"
"Or debilitating, depending on the outcome."
"Don't worry, I know you'll pass. I prayed about it and God said you would."
"That's reassuring." I implied with a trace of sarcasm and lack of faith.
"Well, I'm about to take off to the health center now. Do take care."
"Oh! One last thing, I'm going to need one thousand naira for the entire process."
"I don't have that on me right now. Tell Festus to lend you the money, and that you'll give it back soon."
Another debt, mounted on a heap.
"Alright then, Goodbye. Have a nice day."
"Stay blessed. May the Lord bless and protect you. Your going out and your coming in is blessed, you're highly favored today. Evil eyes watching you would go blind and evil hands stretched at you would wither and dry up, in Jesus name. Amen" My mother prayed.
"Amen" I answered.
As I watched mother leave the compound, I sank into my head again. I wondered what the future held for me, I wondered what my results would be. I wondered how my mother kept digging her way into more debt; I wondered how she heard God telling her I would pass my PUTME. I wondered about her prayer and the touch of rage and violence it carried towards our purported spiritual enemies. I wondered if the world was really as big as conceived or if we were just being deceived. There must have been a mistake somewhere; someone must have confused the term 'world' with the phrase 'sphere of contact'; our very own world which we related with. Perhaps THE world is geographically large, but OUR world is intellectually small. I smiled and silently hoped to increase the expanse of my world.