By Yolanda A. Ng’oma
The pressure was getting to him, he felt caged, restricted. There was so much to do and time flew by like a gusting wind. There were too many things he was trying to do at once, taking piano lessons, school assignments, the school newspaper, school president duties,...the list was endless. The routine was the same every day. He would wake up, go for his morning jog, take a shower, have breakfast and then proceed to tackle the gruelling events of the day.
He spent all his time doing all that was expected of him and yet he felt no satisfaction. He knew that what he was doing was for his own good, it was part of building his portfolio for the future, but at times it all felt so pointless. There were times he looked at his peers and wondered whether he would be happier if he lived their lives.
Sure people looked up to him; they came to him for advice, for help, for comfort and at times for some sort of wisdom. He didn’t mind helping them or listening to their problems but being the pillar, the strong structure that people leaned and depended on had its drawbacks. Being there for everybody else meant that there was nobody there for him. Nobody he could talk to, no one who could say ‘It’s okay’ when things around him seemed to fall apart. No one to laugh with and yes at times cry with. It was all so lonely and vacant.
He wanted to talk to his mother about it but he couldn’t. She never listened. He wasn’t ungrateful to his mother and all she had done for him. That was not it. Being a single mother, he had seen how she had struggled to bring him up and he knew how much she had sacrificed. In the past there were times she had worked hours on end to ensure that there was enough food on the table and decent clothes on their backs. What bothered him was that he couldn’t tell her that he was frustrated, that he was tired, that it all got a little too much sometimes. He couldn’t tell her because he felt that would be a slap in her face after everything she had done for him...everything she had done for them.
‘How do you tell someone who does all they can for you that all the things they are trying to give you are slowly eating you up inside?’
Sometimes he just wanted to relax, go and watch a movie like other people his age, maybe date a girl, make a few mistakes, basically...be a teenager. But instead he felt years older, he felt disconnected, he didn’t have any friends, he didn’t have anyone he could relate to.
‘Was this how it was always going to be?’ he found himself asking.
He was weary of all this, tired of thinking about all this each and every day, tired hanging by a thread, feeling like with every second that went by, he lost an ounce of his sanity.
“Malcolm, any suggestions?” he heard his teacher say, jerking him back from his cocoon of thought.
He gave his teacher a confused look as he tried to decipher what was going on.
He had drifted off gain, something that seemed to happen all too often these days. One moment he was in class and the next he was embedded in the intricate complexities of his wondering thoughts. Thoughts that gave him refuge and haunted him at the same time. Thoughts that yielded a constant battle in his mind that he could neither win nor conquer. A battle that had him walking a thin line between reality and idealism.
“Any suggestions on the theory?” the teacher rephrased his question for clarity.
“None sir” he responded, well aware of the strange looks he was getting from his classmates.
“That is unusual; Are you sure?” the teacher pressed on.
“I am sure” Malcolm said as his hands gripped the edge of the desk. He felt hot and boxed in, he couldn’t move, and the room seemed to get smaller and smaller as the air around him became a little harder to breathe. Everyone was looking at him alarmingly but he didn’t care. He needed to let it all out, needed to release this aggravation, this rage, all these issues boiling up on the inside of him. He felt himself snap and at that moment he closed his eyes, opened his mouth and let it all out.
He had no idea how long he was screaming for or what he was saying. All he knew was that it felt good. He felt liberated, as if for those brief moments the world did not matter. His grades did not matter, his loneliness did not matter, his insecurities did not matter, nothing mattered, nothing at all and if it did, his scream said it all.