Mama and pa thought they were doing me a favor when they sent me out into the sea. They told me not to be scared of the water, that the water was my friend if only I went with its flow.
That was just mama though. She was the one who spoke kindly about the whole situation. Pa was particularly brutal with his words.
‘Chibundu!’ he would yell and pull me towards himself with my ears, ‘I don’t understand this rubbish behavior you’re displaying in my house. I am tired of you coming back home with one bruise somewhere, one crying somewhere, or misplacing your notebook. The books that I bought with my money. Oh-ho! Or do you think when I sneeze, it’s money that comes out? You think that’s why people say :bless you’? ‘
Pa had a way of giving the weirdest analogies, and they made his scolding not seem so bad.
But he did scold me a lot. You see, I was what you would call a spineless human, when I was a child. I was shy. I was chronically introverted. I would have tears in my eyes if I had to look into someone else’s eyes for more than 10 seconds. I was too kind to be normal. I would give out my lunch EVERYDAY to someone who didn’t have any, or someone who finished theirs early. And I wouldn’t even be able to speak to such a person. I’d stealthy scan the class, find such a person, drop the food on their table and race out of class.
My teachers complained and my parents would always nod their heads because it was not different from anything I was displaying at home.
One day, Mama and Pa called me into their room and said, ‘We have decided to help you. We are sending you to your uncle’ s house in the City. He will take care of you. And you will talk to many people there. We will miss you. (‘How’s that important?’, Pa had said). Just know that it’s for the best. If you keep staying here, your emotions and brain will not develop. You won’t be smart. Just do whatever they ask you to do there. You hear? ‘
So it was, that I was pushed into the sea of humans in a bid to make me more like everybody else. My stay in the city; in uncle Innocent’s house, was the beginning of the end of my childhood innocence.
Please, Google ‘Ways a young boy can be abused‘, then scour the Internet for every possible result; present the compiled list to me, and I promise I’ll add about 10 more ways to your list, based on experience.
I suffered such abuse that you could never think would come to the mind of another human being.
99% of my stay there felt like I really was in the sea. Like I was drowning. Like I was guzzling salt water and chocking. Like I could barely see a safe shore in sight. But all through all these, I obeyed mama and pa and went with the flow of the water. I never struggled. I think when I think of everything I went through, this is the part that hurts me the most; that I didn’t struggle, that I didn’t fight.
I only returned back home last year, 14 years later. Yes, Mama rushed out to see me (Pa is dead). I held her gaze unlike before, I let her carry some of my bags unlike I would have done when I was a child, I told her to turn around, then clapped my hands and said she was looking ‘takeaway’, I even helped her kill a snake we saw later that evening – without blinking.
But as I did that, I felt nothing. Just like I’ve felt in the past 12 years. Absolutely nothing. I felt no love for my mama. I felt no hatred for the snake. I felt no guilt in letting my old mama carry some of my luggage. And I didn’t really think she was looking takeaway.
I left this village as a young man, in whose belly underdeveloped but concentrated emotions, thoughts and ideologies, swam. But when I got pushed into the sea, the waters diluted, and over diluted the content of my heart.
As I lay in bed last night, I felt like I feel every night; like I’m motionless in the bottom of a deep deep sea. I’m emotionless in this sea of people. I am not me ‘me’ anymore. I am the diluted me.