With whatever medium is presented in front of you, you would write. You would let the world know the weight and conflict you carry inside of you. You would write three paragraphs and give up. You would stop writing at some point because your eyes are welled up and your hands are weak from punching hard at the keyboard, because you can no longer fight the voice that says you have nothing to write about. The voice that knows you more than you know yourself. You have nothing to write about! “Why do you bother?” “What are you writing?” “Does that sentence make sense to you?” “Do you think those lines are deep enough?” “What’s new about what you are saying?” “Why do you even try so hard?” “OMG, they would laugh at you when they read this!” “You have nothing to say,” “You have nothing to give!” “You have nothing inside of you!” The taunting does not stop. “I can write,” you will repeat to your ugly reflection in the mirror as you try to catch your breath. Your eyes are bloodshot from grave crying and your body brags of fine outlines of hips, collarbones, cheekbones, wrists and rib bones. You are a disgusting sight. “I am light,” you will whisper. Ekene did a good job in making you believe that repeating these words would help you stay strong and determined. “I did it for 21 days and I became consistent and now, I’m a badass graphics designer,” he had said. However, he did not tell you his parents called him every night to reassure him. He did not tell you that his monthly allowance never suffered. He told you he had moved out of his parents’ house to get serious, you did the same. He told you he had ghosted on friends, you did the same. He told you he had quit church, you did same. He told you he had lost his belief in God, you did same. He told you he took walks, you tried to do same. He described his dark days to you like they were patterned. You listened because it sounded like all you have read in the past. You thought those stories were exaggerated but since Ekene experienced it, they all became true and reasonable. You waited and when your mother continued to complain about your behaviour, you blew up. Dad is not a nice man and you were prepared. “Highest, they’ll ask you to leave the house,” Ekene told you. You were prepared. Dad ordered you to move into your Aunt’s house but you read the signs. He was indirectly sending you out. So you left and found a small room in Ife where you would have your own patterned dark days and finally make it, a badass writer. “You have nothing inside of you!” There’s something rude about this voice. It does not respect your mood. It does not give you a break. It’s always there, watching you, mocking you, haunting you. It never leaves you alone, not even when you fall asleep. So you’ve come to dread sleep. Sometimes, you would sleep face down because your chest became too heavy from the pounding within. But nothing works. Nothing eases the pain and Ekene was no longer there, you loathe him now. He pushed you this far. He made you believe the dark days would be over if you broke yourself free of the shackles that held you down. “Maybe you really can’t write, just give up,” he said to you the last time he phoned. You made sure it was the last time because you blocked his numbers and unfollowed him on social media. You can write. You know you have the power to create delectable stories and breath-taking lines of poetry. “You can do anything,” your mother had told you in the past. On the last day in your small room, you would tell your round-faced landlady that your mother spoke fluent Yoruba and she would tell you that your smile was beautiful. You would blush because you did not realize you had been smiling. You would say “odábo” and she would gently tap your small shoulders. You would write down her bank account details and you would realize it’s been a long while since anyone complimented your handwriting. You learnt to write cursive in primary 5 with the insistence of your mother. In SS1, you began to write one scene pieces on plain papers which you stacked together in your final year. The work had given you state-wide recognition. Upon your admission into the University of Ibadan, you were already popular thanks to that compilation. You even started posting clips of the work on Instagram and you got massive following. You would feel hot bitter tears slicing your face as more pleasant memories pour in. You would wonder at what point things had turned sour. You would search the memories and see nothing. You would break down in the tightly packed 18-seater bus you boarded to Lagos. An equally skinny lady beside you would put a hand across your shoulder and press you hard into her thin body. You would stop crying and realize she was hurting you instead of comforting you. It would make you laugh and wipe your tears. At your parent’s house, you would lose the strength to cry when you see how malnourished your parents look. Your strict father, now partially paralyzed by stroke, would hug you and say, “nno.” You can write, and you would write, of patterned darkness and the clichéd success stories and your fair share of foolishness. You would get interviewed and you would adopt your mother’s words as mantra, “you can do anything.”
BIO: Merit C. Nwachukwu is a writer and blogger from Imo State, Nigeria. She studies English and Literary Studies in the University of Nigeria. She has works published in The Muse, a literary journal in Nsukka.