It’s an unusually hot day in the overrated and entirely misunderstood town of Mtwapa. Am lying on my bed. In the tiny unit I have been living for the last quarter year. Tears labor from my eyes, and onto the pillow upon which my head lies. I don’t know why am sobbing but I can’t stop. Music blasts from the speakers attached to my laptop. Somehow I can’t hear a thing.
Am hanging on the precipice.
My mind urges me to cross over to the other shore. For a while I agree with it. I can picture my face in a coffin. Black in color. Dressed in an ugly ill-fitting black suit with a red tie on a white shirt. I struggle to look dapper. But am very dead. So I can’t. I hate it.
Mother is silent. Shaking her head and wondering how it got to this. Tears roll down her face. She doesn’t bother wiping them. Aunty Risper is by her side. So is Jael and Pam and Jess. They all sob quietly. I want feel sorry for them. But am still dead. So I can’t. My sisters can’t control their grief. They have taken turns fainting since they got the news two weeks ago. The elder one had to be hospitalized for a day. The last born is speechless. My father is just quiet, looking all confused and what-not, sitting a tent away from my mother. Rachael (my baby Mama) is in big ass stunnaz. Possibly hiding her grief – or whatever it is she is feeling. My son stares at the coffin blankly. He knows am dead but doesn’t quite comprehend what that means.
My maternal grandmother is inconsolable. She grasps at the coffin with rage and grief. And shakes the dead in me. Her bad leg hurts but she can’t feel the pain. Her glasses broke when my coffin was being set down onto that thin and miserable table in front of my paternal grandmother’s house. She murmurs something inaudible in the direction of my lifeless face. I strain but can’t hear her. Because am dead. The compound is animated. Many of the mourners don’t even know who I am. I can make out a few faces that pass by the coffin and stare down at me. Some from Egerton, others from Kanga School. Many from Homa Bay or St. Peter’s School. Villagers try to scan my neck which is hidden in that starchy shirt. The news done reached them.
“He was found dead in his house in Mumbasa (read it with a deep Luo accent)”
Suicide to them means self-induced hanging. So they try to confirm if there is a noose-mark on my neck. I don’t care. Because am still very dead. And because I don’t really know many of them.
Then the lights go off. And my music stops, bringing me back to the present. The fan that was whirring above my bed struggles to a stop. Heat fills the room. I can feel some tears. Depression occupies much of the room. I try to lift my head but it’s too heavy. My mouth is dry. And tastes like cotton. The pesticides I bought yesterday still lie there next to the bedside mat. Gawking at me. Daring me to do it. I try to stretch my arm but it’s sore. My neighbor calls out my name. I ignore him. He tries to peep through the window; I can see him, he can’t see me. I try to calm my breathing. He gives up and struts away. Am relieved. Am very high from yesterday’s dose of weed laced with chloroform, and cheap liquor. My liver is burning. Am hungry. But I try to convince myself that food isn’t important where am headed. The afterlife.
My heart is pumping faster than I ever imagined possible. I can taste blood in my mouth. It’s hot but I feel cold. I can see myself fading away. The walls in the tiny room are closing in on me. I want to ask myself how it came to this but I can’t. I feel like am stuck at the bottom of a deep well. My whole body hurts. From the little psychology I know, I can already self-diagnose. Severe depression with attendant suicidal thoughts. I just want the pain to end. I look at the pesticides again. They are so inviting. I know they would snuff the pain right out of my body. And wring the air out of my lungs. I have already taken the third dose of my painkillers. They are only to be taken once. Am three times over the limit. Nothing happens to me. The pharmacists must have been wrong.
On the kitchen counter lies the piece of paper on which I scribbled my emergency contacts. Mother, my cousin, and my elder sister. It is held by a thin strip of masking tape. The bottle of Captain Morgan I had been drinking the previous night still stands by the bed. A few rolls of blunt still populate my bedside trolley. I think of lighting up one roll to calm my nerves but that thought gets lost in my head because am already higher than a kite. Plus I don’t have the strength to look for my lighter or the matchbox.
This is the first time that alcohol and weed have failed to suppress the feelings of suicide and the deep emptiness in me. I can feel my soul sinking further into the dark abyss. I want to get out of it but I can’t. I sob some more into that pillow. I am turning twenty seven today. My plan had been to end it before today. I could not bring myself to do it. I had decided to do it by today because I would be checking out on the exact day of the month that I checked in. I thought the painkillers would have helped. But I was wrong. Fear grips my head and heart. My liver or kidneys or pancreas is boiling up.
My phone rings. I ignore it. I want to silence it but my hands won’t move. My mouth is still dry and my hands hurt really bad. I didn’t go to the gym yesterday because I thought I was checking out of this world. The phone rings itself into silence. I can’t see the caller because the phone is lying on its screen just like am lying on my stomach. Seconds drag into each other. The wall clock my grandma gave me ticks above my head. A few minutes pass by then the phone rings again. I know that ringtone. “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. It’s assigned to only two people in my contact list, Mum and her mother (my grandma). Somehow I find the strength to pick it up and answer the call. She realizes there is something wrong. She manages to convince to hang on. And sends me something via M-Pesa. She promises to book a flight from Kisumu to Mombasa to come see me. I talk her out of it. A while later my sister calls, and mumbles a prayer for me over the phone. She also promises to take a bus that same evening from Nairobi. I also talk her out of it.
Their calls give me some strength.
I get up.
Take a warm bath. And pack a few clothes into my duffel bag.
I go out to look for food.
My eyes are swollen. I can feel them. The afternoon sun hurts them. As night falls, I head to the city, and book a bus ride out of the damn place. Because I’d rather I go see Mama and Grandma and Linda than have them travel to “Mumbasa”.
So I manage to put off the sojourn to the other side.