Disclaimer: This article touches on the sensitive topic of self-harm and suicide. It might be a trigger for some.
When speculation has done its worst, two and two still make four.
Here I am. On top of the balcony on the third floor of the building I live in. This time, I am not making barbeque for my students, nor am I attending one. I am here neither to celebrate a birthday nor enjoy the breeze I cherish. In my hand is a rope with one end tied tightly to the rails. I made it sturdy so that it breaks not when I finally make the decision. The other end is tied in circular motions with the circumference just enough for my head. I reach for the rails and climb on them. I can see the ground. It is a bit far and hazy but still, I can see it. That’s my abode after the next ninety seconds.
I try the rope on and it fits perfectly. The knot seems to slide and tighten as it should. Perfect, I confess to myself. I look around the building and no one seems to be home. Once again, nice. At least there won’t be anyone close to pull me up and back to my misery. I take a last look around the compound, all green. Everything is green and seems to permit me to proceed. Everything except my conscience…
I start reminiscing what my mother would do after getting word of my self-murder. What she would be thinking as I lay there lifeless. The moment she would caress the scars on my neck. Scars that tell a lot about the struggles that have brought me here. The worst experience for a mother is burying their child, and here I am. She would wail and call my name. Her voice would echo to my world but I wouldn’t utter a word to acknowledge, however much I would try. She would kick stuff around in anger and frustration with no one to calm her down. She would go through my possessions sorting them out. At the corner of the small briefcase I keep in my room she would find an album with all my pictures. She and I during my birth, me on my first day of school. She would keep on flipping through the pictures. Me after high school, me during graduation, she would stop here and cry all the bitter tears out. Me and my fiancé, me, me…
My mind briskly shifted to my fiancé, the love of my life. A shy pale young girl. Just the way I like. I can’t tell how much it’ll hurt her to see that I am dead. More so, that I took my own life. Her dreams would be shattered. She would break down in tears every time she would think about me, us. Dream husband, average in height, dark and compatible, dream house, dream car, all gone. She would hate to have ever met me. She would wish to strangle me a second time for giving up that easy. She would cerebrate about what drove me to take that action. “Was I not good for him? Did I pressurize him too much? Did someone tell him something awful about me? Something he couldn’t live with?” She would, she would… She would never come to a single conclusion. My reasons are complex, a buildup of years of everything compounded with emerging issues, squarely placed on my shoulders. No matter how much I tried to shake them off, they still found a way back. Back on my shoulders.
Amid all the chaos and misunderstanding surrounding my death would be my clan. Relatives, close and far. Some who knew me as a boy, helped me bury my father and then vanished. Now they would be back, to help me bury me. “He was young then, and he is still,” they would say. “He was his father’s copy in everything but looks. Warm and kind. Smiling at anything and everything.” Then some would mock me even when I am lying on my last bed on earth, harmless. “He thought learning was everything. He was brilliant yes, a doctor in the making, but God punished him and made him a teacher instead. Even God knows a poor family should remain poor and as such would not allow him to be a doctor.”
“All that knowledge will be drained in the ground,” another one would point out. They would dig my grave deep. So deep that I should never come to haunt them. They would spit on my grave to chase away any spirit that might remain on the surface. Another old frail lady would curse with her lamentations,
“Like father like son
Just before success, they hide from the sun.
They hope to achieve something, when they can achieve none,
It would never happen, not in this clan.”
I have confidants who are practicing Muslims. Some well versed with religious knowledge. I wouldn’t approach any one of them with all the emotional baggage I had. Yes, I was scared to open up. Not because I don’t trust them, no. What if they tell me the same story? Most would ask me to rely on God. To pray regularly. To check my prayer. I would be told to recite the Quran. Some would even go as far as telling me I am not a good Muslim. Does the strength of faith equal emotional strength? Is religion all that can heal hearts broken by decades of underlying pressure? Opening up to a certified psychologist was somehow an option. But then how would I scream my dilemma to a person pursuing their career. For all I know they are just but strangers. It helps to talk, yes, but to whom?
Oww, my friends. What of my friends? What would they think? My death would hurt them, a lot. At least for a time. They would remember all the good times we had together, the events we did together. The football we played together. The discussions we had. They would sit and reminisce. “He was such a pure soul, I saw him angry only once,” one would say. “I never saw him angry at all,” another would reiterate. “He would charm us with his smile. He was social, an extrovert, bold yet apologetic in his words. How good a teacher he would have become? Such a shame he died like that.
What about the students I have taught. What would they think of their deceased teacher? Setting an example education-wise yet breaking the rule of motivation and patience. They would remember the hugs, the sweets, the picnics, the barbeques we did together. The struggles of the time. The transition when they developed into adolescent boys and girls. It was difficult but I was there, with them. They would cry and then cry on my shoulder. My death would push them into being emotionally insensitive. They will have to stop being girls and grow up fast. They will have to stop playing in school and just learn. Learn without being educated. Learn without the fun. Betrayal they would call it. What they wouldn’t know is that I was weakest in resolve at my strongest moment. I was extremely sad when I laughed heartily with them. I would be thinking a lot, depressed, when I seemed crazy with smiles and jokes. That every moment they felt perfect was opposite on my side of the coin.
The letter. I wrote a letter. A goodbye letter. A copy to my mother. One to my brother and another to my beloved sister. The only sister I have known in a quarter of a century of my life on earth. Telling them of how I enjoyed my life with them. How they have been my foundation. How it pained me to see them suffer so I did my best to make their life better. A letter explaining how everything went by so slow yet so fast. How there was pain and pleasure in our lives. Explaining to them how best they would be without me. Why they shouldn’t cry over me. Why, why…
All those thoughts do not dissuade me from committing suicide. No. They are just sheer memories. People will forgive as they tend to and forget. I am scared though. Scared of myself. Scared of my destination. What will I tell my Lord when he gave me day and night as timings? To work and rest when I feel I can’t go on any longer. How can I face Him when He recited to me that He hates me not nor has he abandoned me? Why should I not be patient when my end is better than my beginning? When He promised to give me and satisfy me.
I am terrified of myself even more at this moment. Why would I take my life when He found me an orphan and took care of me when I was insecure and on thin ice? No clothes, no food. Why would I go astray when He guided me already? Now that I am a Muslim, why? I had no wealth and he blessed me with an education and a job.
At this point, a cold sweat oozes from my neck and trickles down my chest. I start to tremble as I see how far I had dragged myself. I question my conscience as I climb down from the rails to safety. My body is socked in both tears and sweat. I couldn’t amass the courage to leave my siblings at the mercy of the society, orphaned again. I cannot be heartless to deny them God’s provision through me. As I walk towards my room, as I wipe away the tears. I resolve to live a lie of happiness again. I pat my heart and tell it that I should rather celebrate these blessings.
P.S. If you feel overwhelmed or too stressed up, please do reach out to someone you love or an adult you look up to or even better, seek professional help from a counselor/therapist. For those in Mombasa, you can contact ‘taalluful Quloob, a counselling centre at Mewa second floor. Their contact: 0707 242 652. Stay safe and blessed!