- The Storried Platform
In fact, growing up as a child, she severally heard her mum say angrily:
‘kill yourself if you want abeg let me rest’.
Harsh as it may sound it was no big deal and she couldn’t be said to be a bad mother. It was just something tough mothers like hers said when they were angry.
Right from when they were very young, her parents had instilled in their children the courage to fight. Fight for what belongs to you, fight for your right, fight for your friend, fight! fight! fight!. They were not ignorant of the injustice in the world and had understood that in this part especially, you needed to fight to get anything you wanted. Sometimes physically, but most times otherwise. Speaking up and escalating issues to the right authorities was a huge part of it. Mrs. Adeleye could not understand why her daughter would be speaking of suicide when there were so many other ways to tackle a problem.
Well, here she was 15 years later living on her own in Lagos, the busiest town in Nigeria. Contending with everyday issues and being faced with overwhelming challenges. In all honesty, she couldn’t say life has been completely unfair to her. After all, she had a job, a car, and accommodation but there was still so much more she could enjoy from it, so much more she deserved and so much more she had worked for. True as it may sound, she could not just bring herself to believe that she had to fight for everything. Why? Why must she fight for things she deserved, why must she fight after she had worked so hard and played by all the rules. Why? It was just not right.
As she pulled out of the office parking lot, she glanced at the letter beside her and felt the familiar rush of mixed feelings again. Anger, disappointment, sadness, and bitterness. For the third time in two years, she had been denied promotion at work. One she worked so hard for and definitely deserved. To make matters worse, Toke her office mate, office amebo and eye service champion had been promoted again… for the second time.
‘For doing what please?’ she spoke out aloud to herself with a sigh
‘Madam carry your motor comot for road jor, you dey sleep?’ The shout coupled with blaring of horns jolted her from her deep thoughts.
She did not realize that she had considerably slowed down her vehicle and was holding up the traffic as she approached the third mainland bridge. Jumping off the bridge was a common means of suicide in Lagos. In fact so common that people often joked about it by saying stuff like;
‘If you don’t like it, go and jump off third mainland bridge’. or
‘You can jump into the Lagos lagoon for all I care’
It was amazing the things Nigerians found amusing. That was one of the many things Kemi loved about being a Nigerian. The humour was contagious and she smiled for the first time since she left home for work that morning. No, she was not going to jump off the bridge and add to the statistics. Besides, those fishermen below may rescue her and she would be the joke of the century plus her lawyer friend, Tolu had once told her you could be jailed for murder if you unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide. She remembered laughing really hard that day.
Her days with Tolu were some of her happiest days on earth as an adult. He was her best friend and boyfriend. An invaluable combination. Tolu knew just what buttons to press to get her out of her sadness and depression. Sometimes, it irritated her that he did not take life more seriously but it also complimented her strong melancholic and pessimistic nature in addition to her perfectionist tendencies. She loved the way Tolu lived one day at a time, seeing the good in every negative situation and turning it into one big joke. He was a perfect Nigerian. Full of life and hope. She had always teased him that he would do better in the entertainment industry as a comedian than in Law.
Moving to Canada was one of his usual rash decisions. One she still believes, he did not think through and could hardly forgive him for.
‘Come with me’ he had pleaded that night ‘Please, Kemi I’m begging you’
With tears in her eyes, she had refused. How could she just pack up her life and move to a strange country with a man she was not married to? Although her heart said yes, her head said no. She could think of a million and one reasons why she could not take such an impulsive decision and not one good reason why she should except that she loved him. Was that really enough?
Three years and several relationship disappointments down the line, she was beginning to rethink her decision and that added to her depression. Tolu, on the other hand, had taken her advice and was doing well in the entertainment industry as a comedian and saxophonist, his long time passion and hobby. It was amazing how many Nigerians abroad were willing to pay good money for some home-made entertainment. Here she was at the same job, same position, same pay and the same daily routine with no challenges or adventures. What had being a chartered accountant in a reputable firm done for her? According to her friend Nancy ‘Who e epp?’.
Nancy was one of the few reasons why Kemi was still living. She only had to think of Nancy and she was grateful for her own type of troubles. Nancy worked in the same office with her as a receptionist. A first look at her revealed a beautiful… no, very beautiful young married lady with a brilliant smile and great attitude. It was no wonder she got the job two years ago and had retained it.
Everyone at the office loved her and nicknamed her the face of the company. She always had a kind word for everyone she met and did not hesitate to help when she could. It was one of such situations that brought them close as friends and then Kemi found out that Nancy had cancer. One whole week after that discovery, Kemi was in shock. It was the same Nancy who had encouraged her to snap out of it. What a person!
As Kemi drove into her compound, she glanced at the time, she hadn’t realized how much her thoughts had occupied her. Work was a long distance from home. One of the many things she would change when she finally got that promotion but today, it was well worth the time of reflection. Another day was coming to an end without the execution of her suicide plan.
‘Well, there is always tomorrow if things do not change’ she said to herself as she hurried out of the car to put on the generator.
By Liz Ajala
Kemi Adeleye had thought it over a million times. It was not the first time she had contemplated suicide. In fact, the previous times were for more flimsy reasons. Yes…