The sun is a bastard today. 35 degrees easy. I’ve seen higher degrees in Lagos, but 35 degrees in Lagos isn’t 35 degrees in Abeokuta. And it doesn’t help matters that I’m in a cramped car driving along a narrow, dusty road and I’m crushed beside a fat, sweaty human being.
The last exam for the session held this morning and it was, as all exams go, not bad. While my departmental mates were hunched over the computers, clicking frantically, I solved my questions with as much indifference as I could possibly be allowed. After all, it didn’t matter what I would get. When the exam ended and my mates hugged, kissed, took selfies and phone numbers, I simply slithered through the crowd of happy humans, threw on my hoodie and jumped into the nearest cab leaving campus.
Regret only crossed my mind once, when I caught Toyin staring at me from amidst the crowd. Even though we’d broken up two months ago, I could still read her look with ease. Why are you not with us? Where could you be going? Why did you let me leave? I want to see you now. I want to see you now? Why would she want to see me now of all days? I’m sorry, Toyin, I loved you then, I still love you now but maybe some other time.
My destination approaches. “FUNIS wa,” I mumble into the sweaty forearm of my fellow passenger. The driver pulls over and I pull the door handle. Nothing happens.
“Și láàti ìta,” the driver smiles apologetically.
Typical. I stick my arm out the window and grope the car door for the handle and pull. The fare is 50 naira. I pay and the driver gives me a cursory glance before driving off in a cloud of dust. It’s almost as if he knows what today is. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” I say to myself as I cross the road to begin the trudge up the rocky, dusty, winding, uphill terrain towards Iya Sobo for my portion of bread and beans. She greets me in her usual way, replacing my name with ‘Customer’ and serves me my usual portions.
I notice she adds a few extra portions to my food and call her attention to it. She waves me off and gives me the plate, the smile never leaving her face. The bill is 250 naira, my usual. I pull out ten 1000 naira notes and drop them in her shell-shocked hands.
“Please accept this as a token of my appreciation for all you did for me since I first came here, May you continue to find favour in the eyes of people.” I say all this in Yoruba. She remains catatonic and doesn’t move from behind her pot even after I restart my trudge up the rocky, dusty, winding, uphill terrain towards my home. 2
“Sir, we just want to make sure you’re sure of what you’re doing first.” Why on earth would you close your account with us? Is there someone else? Is she hot? Do you love her? The bank officer didn’t ask those questions but I still caught the vibe. Angry girlfriend questioning if I had another woman in my life. And in a sense, the questions were accurate. After all, I was pretty much severing all ties with Guaranteed Trust Bank, a bank I’d held an account with since the age of 3. “Yes, I’m sure.” I smiled demurely and tried to suppress the thought that I was breaking up with Toyin again.
“Sir, if you’re traveling indefinitely, we have some foreign interests—” “I’m alright, never mind. Thank you.” “Then in that case,” he reached out to shake my hand. I grasped it. “We thank you for your time with us and wish you success in the future.” After finalizing the details, I received my final account balance in cash. Thirty thousand naira. I already knew what would be done with it.
My room is empty, bereft of all clothes, mattress and furnishings except a chair. I’ve distributed them all among my friends. My laptop, phone and twenty thousand naira are all that I have with me, just as planned. The laptop will go to Damilare, its sale should help pay for his project. The twenty thousand goes to Peter. He has a concert in two weeks and will need the cash. I’ve been to one of his concerts before, it’s money well invested. The phone will go to Toyin. She deserves a keepsake of mine after all we’ve been through. It holds all I hold dear in life, she’ll know what to do with it. It’s the 30th of November 2017.
I’ve planned this day for months now, crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s. To the world, it’s just another day. To me, it’s D-Day. At 17.00, I will draw two red lines across my wrists and swing from the noose on the ceiling fan hook which I prepared conveniently the day before. Yesterday, at 17.00, I posted a status update to my Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram. “Tomorrow, I’m going on a journey. I don’t know if I’ll return. I’ll miss you all.” My dms were filled with people saying stuff like ‘we’ll miss you too! Keep in touch.’ Only Toyin said nothing. 3 Status updates last for 24 hours. It’s 1pm, I swing in 4 hours.
This hasn’t gone to plan at all. I was supposed to watch my favorite movie for the last time but instead I’ve been replaying memories in my head. I’ve been trying to find a justifiable motive for what I’m going to do but even now, I don’t know yet. Different things keep coming up, Toyin, school, family, friends. The thing is, Forrest Gump was wrong. Life isn’t a box of chocolates at all. It’s a cess bucket that gets poured over your head when you least expect it. I never learned that lesson until it was too late. You can’t ever expect too much of people, you’ll lose out in the end. And if people expect too much from you, it’s even worse. I kept making people happy, saving lives, and it was killing me. I’ve thought of what to write as a proper note. The stuff’s been bugging me for over a month now. Nothing’s come to mind.
I called my family. I timed it so everyone was at home. Ibidun would be home for the holidays, Mum and Dad would be home as well. We spent 30 minutes crying and laughing. I told them how much I loved and missed them. They expect to see me home next week hale and hearty. I’m so sorry, Mum, Dad. I love you guys so so much. Ibidun, you too. Even though we always fought over the stupid things. I’ll miss you all.
I type out a simple message on WhatsApp. “Goodbye.” I forward it to everyone on my contact list.
I finally know why I’m doing this. I’m tired. Of everything. Some people think one needs to go through pain to be depressed but it doesn’t work that way. Neither did I go around looking to be depressed. I didn’t ‘catch’ depression, it caught me. And I can’t let go of it no matter how hard I try. 4 I still don’t have a proper note yet. This writing will have to do.
Five minutes left. My mind is calm for once. My favorite song is playing. The stage is set for my grand exit. There’s nothing that can possibly stop me now. I pick up my phone one last time.
You have one missed call from Toyin.
Strange… I never noticed when she called. It’s too late to call back anyway.
Three minutes are left. I prop the chair beneath the noose and move to the kitchen. The plan is to slit my wrists into the sink, step up to the noose, kick away the chair and swing.
Two minutes are left. There’s no one to blame for this. No one at all. You all did your best for me, you all were the best I could ask for.
My phone rings just as the clock strikes one minute to 5. It’s Toyin. Tears swell in my eyes as I fight a battle within me to ignore her call. After all, it’s almost time. The ringing soon stops and I fight a losing battle with my tears.
The clock strikes five. It’s time. I pull out the knife I have chosen for this moment. It’s sharp enough that it will slash my radial and ulnar arteries without too much strain on the mind. Just one cut and it will all be over. I place the blade against my right wrist. I’m calm in these final moments, free even.
The phone rings again and my nerves nearly shatter from the strain. It’s Toyin again. Every cell in my body is begging for that red release, every inch of my soul banging and beating, begging to be set free. I pick the call instead.
“Hey, Seni. I was scared I was too late.” Her mellifluous voice fills the room. I’d almost forgotten how I used to enjoy hearing her speak, just listening to ‘that sexy voice’ as I called it. I’m too distracted to ask what she means by ‘too late’.
“I looked for you in school but you’d already gone.” I remember. Your eyes asked me to stay but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
There’s something I need to say, Seni.”
I listen to what she has to say, then I hang up. The tears that threatened to fall three minutes ago now fall in full force. I collapse to the floor and weep aloud. I weep for a very long time.