The Rustle of Silence

by Onyeike Chidinma

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning.

As Damaged As They Come

 Life took a weird turn as adulthood came knocking. The mirror was suddenly an enemy. Where I wanted to see a skin so spotless and beautiful, she revealed all the acne and  black spots hidden underneath, the ugly lines that drowned my self esteem to death. She was cruel and unrelenting, that mirror. Every scar, every inch of my imperfections, she laid bare unapologetically.

There were clothes that I wanted on hangers in the boutiques by the roadside. Clothes  I could afford, but at the same time couldn’t.

What will people say? She knows she has acne on her chest, why did she bother wearing that?  She should wear clothes to cover her skin, there is nothing beautiful about it. That’s  human beings for you. Nosy, Insensitive, and quite stupid. I don’t know why I cared so much, but I did. And quite frankly, I still do.

My ugliness was always hidden beneath layers of fabric. Barely putting skin on display. Avoiding trolls. However if there’s anything I’ve come to realise, it is that, I am as toxic as they come, to myself. What is it about this body people like? What’s so beautiful about it? I may never understand it.

I approached social media, in need of closure. Talk about jumping from a frying pan directly into fire. Almost everyone lives a fancy life on Instagram. The girls there are very pretty. They wear expensive wigs and jewellery.

 Quite the number have made their first one or two millions. I log into my account everyday, scrolling and scrolling. Refreshing my  page, at different time intervals. As much as I know most of it, is fake? I still hated myself for not being them. Blamed Life for my misfortunes. She kept me this way. Her and the thorns she called children.

There are self help accounts. Accounts that give me validation in ways I cannot give myself. Or maybe that’s my mind playing tricks. However, nothing’s changed. I’m still the girl that cuts through my  skin with a razor most nights, while a smile is plastered on my face. All that talk about self help, was all a lie. One I told myself, to feel less broken, less psycho.

My post got over a hundred  likes today. That must mean a lot, don’t you think? Compared to other times.  I should feel good, valued even, but I don’t. I feel pathethic. I am pathetic.

Oh! Ijeoma you’re so beautiful, any man would be lucky to have you. Ha! Michael would probably laugh till tears fell from his eyes, if he heard this.

 As a child it’s easier to smile genuinely when you’re called beautiful, Because somehow you know those compliments are true, and sincere. Nobody said it, to find out the colour of your underwear or because they wanted to be tagged as “your boyfriend “.

The same men who touched me inappropriately when I was a child? Those Men?  I probably tempted them by showing off my Scooby pants an flat chest.  After all, we women are responsible for the lack of self control in Men.

 The same reasons my eyes were filled with tears most nights I went to bed? Those Men? Or John, whose hands fondled with my body, when all that was in my system, was my good old friend, Alcohol. Any Man will be lucky to have me indeed. Who is ever lucky to be with an unfortunate being?  Nobody. Absolutely No one. I wouldn’t even wish myself as a partner for my enemy.

I had boarded a train headed south, one with quite the bumpy ride. The journey was a shade of light blue, bright as the skies, until we reached station 20. If someone had narrated how ugly station 20 was going to be, I would have begged the heavens to spare me the phase of puberty, but I suppose we have no control over that.

This time around, it was Prideful old Money who drove me to  insanity. It all started with a photo contest that had a child of hers as the earthly sacrifice. Never had I seen such a beauty. It didn’t matter that it’s mother had abandoned her, I needed that child for support, for company. She was going to be the perfect execution for a procrastinated business plan. She was going to save me.

But she came at a price. Everything that looked so good to be true did. Even essays won came at the cost of imagination and self revelation.

 Desperate to own this child, every loan application knew my name, yet they never called me by it. I was running out of time and certainly out of mind as well. None of it mattered, as long as I would own her at the end of the day.

You see, Insanity is a masterpiece. They are like little children crying with different tempos. Screaming, and vehemently refusing to be pleased. She knew my pycho buttons,and she did an exceptional job pushing them. Desperation was on heat, kicking me in the guts, needing to be appeased. They owned me. All of them, except myself.

I am as damaged as they come. The very nemesis of light and love. Pain knows my name, she’s the lover I would forever run back to. My very existence reeks of a misfortune so great, she’s stigmatized by my presence. But somehow I got out of bed today, to deliver this speech of my days of old.  I made it out alive for yet another day. To be grateful or angry, I do not know. But it feels good to feel the air caress my skin.

It’s been 20 years since I stabbed myself with needles containing antipsychotics. 20 years since I felt the breeze on my skin. There are no flowers or visitors here. After I embraced the dust, nobody really bothered. Felt like I never even lived. This was my life’s story. And now I live reincarnated to see it unfold in this 19 year old.

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