Standing about 12.4 metres above the ground on the brick parapet of my school building, I watched with disinterest the things happening below. Horns were blaring, sirens wailing, tyres screeching and drivers raining curses on one another, oblivious of the frustrated figure of a young man many floors above.
In the distance I could see the sun hurrying to its place of rest as it bade humankind farewell for the day. The orange scenery left behind in the sky would make a beautiful wallpaper for those alive to use it.
The wind caressed my skin as it blew gently towards the direction of the sunset, maybe it was passing the message that many good things do come to an end after all. Many good things – Me.
At this time, Dayo my roommate would have seen the handwritten letter I placed on the table, stuffed in a brown envelope and laden with tears. I could imagine him going through the letter in utter shock and disbelief and then running with all his might in order to stop me since my phone had been switched off, but it would have been too late for him.
Life had always been beautiful to me. It was fun watching birds sing in harmony and listening to the incessant chirps of crickets as I walk through open fields on a sunny day smelling the fragrances of colourful flowers. Nature piqued my interest in drawing and from a tender age I wanted to be an artist.
The long vacation during August however were my worst moments. It was a custom for the entire Awojobi family to spend at least a week at Grandpa’s place. My dad along with his two older brothers, their wives and all the children travel all the way to Ikenne during this time each year.
Grandpa, an elitarian, always had mouth-watering gifts for any kid who had the highest score in Mathematics and he would often pass big chunks of meat to that one at every meal, to the envy of other kids excluding me of course. Mathematics was never my forte, so needless to say I had never received any such gift much to the chagrin of mom and dad.
I could visualize their utter disappointment in me whenever grandpa praised other kids and sarcastically make jokes on dad about me, but I never cared, all I ever wanted to do was to draw and paint.
“But grandpa, why don’t you give gifts for other subjects like Fine Art and English” I had inquired.
“No, little one, Fine Art is a lazy subject and English can be mastered without much stress, but Mathematics reveal the real genius” he replied.
I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, I felt that every child should be encouraged to focus on his strengths – what he is good at instead of asking all animals to climb a tree.
“You’re becoming a disgrace to me Lade” father thundered. “I have been made a laughing stock in front of my dad and brother because of you. Henceforth, I don’t want to see you drawing or painting anymore in this house…”
“But dad… ”
“Shut up! Never interrupt while I’m still speaking. As long as you are an Awojobi, it is either you become an engineer like your grandpa or a medical doctor just like me. Not in my household would I have an artist as a son.”
“Lade, I believe you can do it. Just try your best and make us proud” was all mother could say.
I felt torn, heartbroken and useless at the same time.
On father’s insistence, I became a science student against my burning desire for the arts. I did fairly well in Geography and tried a bit in Mathematics but had so many F’s in Physics, Chemistry and Further Mathematics , yet father was undeterred.
He had me sit at home during my WASSCE on the days of Physics and Further Mathematics but to my surprise I had B2 in both subjects despite not sitting for them. I knew it was dad’s doings which I loathed.
Studying Mechanical Engineering just to please my parents were excruciating. Most nights I stayed awake trying to read but could not, I doused on pills and cried myself to sleep – I was gradually plunging into depression.
“Lade, you must become an Engineer no matter what” dad would often say, “Make sure you don’t disappoint us.”
Mom and dad never cared about my feelings and dreams, all they cared about was their reputation and ego which hurt me like the stab of a two-edged sword.
My carry-overs had become as numerous as the sands of the Sahara and the future looked bleak. I had become so depressed without a will to fight nor to live and so I decided to end it all.
“Dear Mom and Dad, kindly know that I love you so much and have always wanted to spend many happy years with you, but sadly it wouldn’t be. I would have loved to freely pursue my dreams but it is unfortunate that I couldn’t and had been battling depression due to your decision about my life, that is why I have decided to end it all today, on the highest point of the school’s building. Do know that I love you now and forever.
Your loving son,
It was time to bid the world goodbye. I took a deep breath, letting the air rush through my lungs in wrath and fury. A. s I had anticipated, I heard a voice shouting at me to stop. It was Dayo as he and other students hurried up the staircase, but they arrived too late as I let go and fell of the ledge…
“He was fortunate Ma’am,” I heard faintly. “He landed on the back of a truck carrying hay, he needs to be taken to the theatre for surgery” the voice concluded as I was rolled away.
Maybe I didn’t die afterall.
Humble Ogbonna, a Diction and Phonetics Instructor with a passion for writing sent in this entry from firstname.lastname@example.org