There’s something about the way she writes… read “Stained by Voices”, a short sentimental story about depression, mental illness and suicide…all in one by Adetutu.
“Mental illness is like fighting a war where the enemy’s strategy is to convince you that the war isn’t actually happening” – unknown.
She was known as the one who hide because she shielded away from many people and avoided serious conversations. She kept to herself and dwelled in the valley of thoughts. At least that’s what they said about her, but I was a curious little boy and wouldn’t stay away like my parents had warned. There was something eerie about my neighbor. I often watched from the tiny hole, big enough for my two eyes to have a fill, I made in the wall that kept her away from me . I heard her sing once, her voice was like heaven mixed with a little bit of hell. I saw her one evening in a silky cream gown transparent enough to show that she was nude. Her back had long swollen red lines that formed an ‘X’. She had tiny cuts at the back of her legs and her long red hair had lost its sheen. She turned her face and I saw half of it burned by fire? She looked in my direction and I ducked to avoid being seen. I lost my balance and stepped on a dry twig that made her look around frantically, shouting
“Who is there? Who is there? Show yourself!!”
She raised the scissors in front of her and swung it. Her gown was stained with blood and her hands were thin and long, her face was pale and there were bags under her eyes. Her cheek bones were so visible that it seemed like they were struggling to break free from the thin layer of flesh that covered them.
Some nights I heard her scream as though she was arguing with two other people
“Don’t you dare tell me such. There is no one like God. Don’t you dare”
Her voice became soft, accompanied by soft sobs, she said;
“No! I will not cut myself anymore. It hurts. Don’t make me. Please”
She would throw stuff and tell. I would sneak out of bed to watch and sometimes stop halfway when my parents’ door opens. The lights in her apartment were never switched on, there was something about the darkness she loved, I assumed. The only source of light one would ever see was from a small stereo near the small window adjacent my own window. She never left her compound. She sobbed loudly every night which sometimes turned into hysteric screeches.
“I am not pretty. I am not wanted. No one loves me. I am better alone.”
She would often yell which were usually followed by shattering sounds of glasses.
One Saturday morning, I made up my mind to go over to her house with some cookies I had baked with the maid when my parents aren’t around. I walked slowly towards her gate, trying to convince myself that I was doing the right thing. I knocked lightly on it and it flew open. Her lawn was green and fresh, her front porch was dusty and filled with cob.webs. Some parts of the wall were broken, like a deserted haunted house. I opened the door and there were glasses everywhere. Broken plates and photographs turned upside down, some broken. The writings on the wall distracted me, I couldn’t make out the words. I stepped on a framed picture and i bent to pick it up. It was a picture of some girl whose face had been scratched off. I heard her scream from one of the rooms for what was going to be the last time. I dropped the picture and checked through all the rooms which were equally rough. I ran around like a hero in some action movie, I had to save her. It didn’t matter that I was just ten. I found her on a kitchen floor, pale and lifeless. I turned to run away and grabbed the note I saw on the counter. I continued running even as the urine drenched my socks and found its way into my shoes. I curled up in a corner in my room till my parents arrived, but I never showed them the note. Later during the evening news, her picture was displayed regarding the event from earlier on. She had grey eyes with freckled cheeks, a smile that showed a little bit of heaven and that red hair that looked so much like strawberry. It turned out she had a family that loved her and she had run away. She was being rejected by a lot of people and she wouldn’t take it anymore. I opened up the note I squeezed and threw under my bed and it read
“I am Amara. I am 24. No one wanted me, even my parents.
They called me ugly. The voices said they would make me beautiful.
They lied, they made me cut myself and it hurts. It is too late now, I had better finish what they started. I knew you would come little boy. I knew you would. “
I can never forget what it felt like when I heard her sing. I still see her in my dreams.
© Adedoyin Adetutu