Today is Children’s Day and my friend Jibola decided to visit 19th Street with a befitting personal narrative. Happy Children’s Day everyone.
This is not a writer’s block…
It feels instead like Olumo Rock piled gently over Zuma Rock and placed in my path.
My earliest contact with writing was composition in primary school. The beginning of every term started with the “How I Spent My Holiday” essay. Where my classmates bit their biros and thought of what to add to pad their anorexic stories, I packed my middle page paper full of stories. This year was about Yankari, the other would be about how Barb got lost at the carnival in Cologne or the next would be about how Paris is really dirty and most folk just romanticize it.
A little part of me was sad when Primary School ended and I could share those stories no more. But hide them away I did; for no one’s pleasure but mine. I was keeping a diary and I didn’t even know it. Somehow, I forgot all about that. And moved on to other things like battling puberty and being a wallflower. It’s funny with hindsight comparing the skinny young lad and myself now. I was wide eyed and filled with dreams. My naivete could rival a virgin Adam and Eve at the time. I couldn’t keep a regular diary because I have the nosiest mother in the world. But I kept an exercise book that I always packed with my school books. In it I imagined myself in different places from Narnia to Planet B6-12. I wrote about my different exploits in these places. It was a form of escape from the life I didn’t particularly enjoy. Somehow, I would write the parts of my life I wanted to file away into my “escape stories”.
A fast forward to my discovery of Laide’s blog. She was funny as hell. And a part of me thought if she could do it, so could I. Not that I wanted a piece of her fame or anything of that, but it seemed I’d found a “diary place” where my mother could not find. So I opened a blogger account. What an escape it was. It became even less about how much of my stories I could share but all these people whose lives and stories I could share. It was a really “kumbaaya” time in my life. It’s amusing how in hindsight, back then was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I won’t go into how I started seeing someone special and my blog became our blog. Dear lord, that blog went down the mush-and-unicorns landscape in 2.5 seconds. I don’t rue those times, but damn I was cheesy as hell. But I digress.
Along the way I had these movies I used to play out in my head. It started as a kid in the hours of downtime between books or sitting in church waiting for the service to end. I’d close my eyes and watch these movies directed by me, and sometimes starring me. One day, I decided to put one of these movies to text.
The reaction to it floored me. I thought it was utter scraps (I still think so). My “blog-buddies” asked for more, and I did again till it became a four-part series (Notice how I never judge Nollywood and their multiple part series?). I shared more of these head-movies and the reactions were no less heartwarming. Life stepped in, and the blogging thing felt staid. I had everything I thought I needed — my big dreams and a woman who I shared love with. I stopped blogging, not because I wanted for stories to share but because I had someone to share with in-situ.
Then something happened. For certain reasons, myself and my girlfriend whom I shared this cheesy-as-hell blog with, had to amicably diverge directions. To say I was distraught would be a big underestimation. It was probably my first real experience with heartbreak. Lol. No I did not get suicidal but I soon lost interest in everything I had previously enjoyed. I tried everything (even playing musical beds). But there is something about sharing everything with someone that leaves you feeling half the person you once were. One day, I wrote. What started as an “I wish I didn’t miss you so much” spiel became two middle page foolscap sheets.
What was an escape became a form of catharsis. When I wrote, I felt a little less hurt, or angry or whatever the cocktail of emotions swirling in me were, at the time. So every time the urge to grieve hit me, which was very often, I just bled out on paper. Paper here is figurative because I hate writing with my hands. It really was the “Phoenix space“. Phoenix because I felt all I was and possessed had gone down in flames. Dramatic, yes? But in a way it is true. I’m no longer who I used to be. And so I wrote, and wrote till there was no pain to draw from anymore. I began living again. Too soon. After grieving comes regrouping and deciding who you are and what you want. Lol. I didn’t realize this at the time but dived straight in the deep end. Another story for another day. Even through this time I still wrote. But it began to dwindle out. I felt like a fighter jet running low on fuel. It wasn’t even from a lack of pain to spur me on. When it came to pain, I had a truck-load of that to work with because I’d worked myself into a well worn bind with my poor choices in my love life.
I just felt burnt out and staid. It felt like whatever wellspring the ink had spurted from was sealed. Even my head-movies came few and far between. I average about 40 discarded drafts every month. I did 46 this month alone. It hurts not because I miss the comments, compliments and the ability to tweak people’s moods and perceptions with mere words. It hurts because my one form of catharsis was stolen from me (who by, I don’t know). It hurts because reality is not exactly the best from entertainment and my escape hatch has been sealed.
At the moment, there’s a bomb ticking in my head. My time is divided into times my head isn’t ticking and when it is. Most nights, I sleep not knowing if I will wake up in the morning. I try not to say much so I don’t unnecessarily scare the people around me. “I’m fine, I’m cool, I’m dope” are default answers through a haze of pain and despair; because I hate being babied or bugged with a passion. In times like these, I want to find my fortress of solace, but when I return to this secret place, I find it empty. The words to express what I’m feeling and I want to say are devoid of the life, that strength of feeling and prose that I used to wield.
Maybe it will be gone forever, or maybe I’ll make a fortress of this Writer’s Zuma Rock. Time will tell.
I was once the boy-Me. On my journey to find my Man-self, I lost the boy. Now I am a few blocks from becoming the man the boy-me always wanted to be. But I miss the old me, the boy me who I fear was the real me.