Walking Abyss: by Ademola Enoch

Photo credit: Cristian Newman

You are quietly drowning in an ocean of memories, death patiently lying in wait. Nothing kills more than the deliberate and wicked mental playbacks of one’s blind existence; a life void of light. And this is exactly what you need, or at least what you want.

You are looking for whom to fault as you have decided to take your own life. You think Lucifer because according to myth he is the bringer of all evil but you feel he has taken enough accusation for other people’s ill and aberration. You need something, or someone, more deserving; something people would shake their heads to, when they read your farewell epistle. You would end it with; this isn’t suicide, it is self-euthanasia.

But it is a difficult thing selecting a recipient for your blame. A lot of people have killed themselves because the standard of living was too high and the railings of the third mainland bridge offered them little resistance; because the gap between them and people on the island was unfairly wide, and so they couldn’t bear the imbalance; because they couldn’t find jobs after dragging their hope stricken souls through formal education; because prayers of the poor eventually become answers for the rich; and because one way or the other, death was a certain phenomenon.

You are not about to put yourself out of any of those miseries. You are removing yourself from a harsher misery – this is what you think. Because you are the blind-from-birth son of a senator of the Federal Republic, and you have been cast apart like a leper, living with an old nanny who is paid to take care of your needs. Your mother visits you once a month but not your senator father. “Your father seems to be busy these days,” she says on such visits. But you both know ‘these days’ is eternal. It is evident in her feeble attempts at comforting you. Her gentle tugs at your now growing beards reminding you that becoming a man will not get you any closer to paternal affection. Not when there are three other able bodied sons, two daughters, and other bastards tucked in certain cities. For you have been taken to see the best doctors in and out of the country but all had proved futile. It wasn’t long before your senator father thought you were an abomination sent by one of his political oppositions to suck his money and rend his aspirations. This is why you have been made to exist separately, since you were seven, out of shame and image protection.

You have everything money can buy, except sight, and the ties of family. Your dreams at night have become your closest chance at redemption, but they are nothing other than mere teases, uncertain caricatures even, of real life. Your nose and ears taking responsibility for vision, an imperfect substitute – for this is how you recognize people; whether it is the soft echoes of Nanny Alake’s words, or the peculiar pungent smell of spittle reeking from Keji, her thirteen year old retarded son.

Nanny Alake has been more of a mother to you but it won’t count today. She has gone to the market to buy supplies for your 18th birthday. “You become a man tomorrow,” she had told you before she left.

What better day to die than the eve of the day you become a man?

On days like this, you are left at home alone with Keji, and the almost stupid gateman, Alamu. You have decided Keji is going to help you in the self-euthanasia.

“Keji,” you call from the sofa.

“Yesh?” Keji has a problem with the S alphabet.

“You know where to find the bottle of Jik, right?”

“Yesh I do.”

“Please get it for me”

“Okay.” He leaves, not minding what a blind boy wants to do with a bottle of stain removal. That is why he is retarded, you say to yourself. But he doesn’t go straight to the toilet where it is. You can hear him disrupting utensils in the kitchen. What is the fool looking for in the kitchen?

“It is in the toilet,” you call from the sitting room.

“I know, I’d shoon get it.” He calls back.

You sit there, patiently waiting for death’s arrival, in a bottle. Keji soon returns and places a bottle, heavy with liquid, in your quivering hands. You ask him to lead you to your room and you bolt the door behind you. Though sightless, you are accustomed to your bedroom so you have no difficulty in finding a piece of paper and a pen.

You have finally decided not to fault anyone for what you are about to do; not the ones who brought you into this world without vision, not your father who has refused you, and not even you that is about to take your own life. You just cannot exist inside this dark abyss anymore, a lone subset of life itself. The best reason, you have discovered, is no reason at all.

Therefore, you only write, imagining it must be in the most rustic of handwritings:

Black, they say, is beautiful. But here, it is a tiresome playmate. Therefore, I cease to play.

You open the bottle and bring it to your mouth, anticipating the initial tastes of death, but to your uttermost surprise, instead of a tasteless leathery liquid, all you can feel is the sweet taste of your favourite orange drink – the orangeness sluicing the insides of your mouth, a brief reminder that when it wants to, life could be a sweet thing.

A vague figure quickly slips into your imagination – a human form with reptilian fangs. It is laughing hysterically, baring those long fangs at you. This must be death, you think, teasing you with its sting. Heaven, or hell maybe, isn’t prepared for you, refusing to be coerced into your premature migration. This abyss that you have come to know is a thing of devastating permanence. The darkness around you is gradually deepening into a familiar nothingness inside your soul, and from the whiteness of your sclera, your eyes remind you that though they see not, they are a reservoir of tears.

 


Ademola Enoch (@EnochWrites) is a graduate of Project Management. He is an alumnus of the Ake Fiction Workshop and his stories have featured on AfricanWriter and SynCityng. When the demons of literature let him be, he sings.

Related country: Nigeria

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