There are so many things running through my head right now. I feel a pain in my chest as I pay for fuel at the new price of N145 per litre. I remember that a few days ago, I left the same petrol station at 00:30, with a near empty tank after having queued for over 5 hours. Today it takes only a few minutes to get my tank full. I drive out thinking of the fact that the prices of everything have gone up and the only thing that stays down, annoyingly so, is my salary. I begin to bitch and gripe about my never increasing salary as against ever increasing prices and then I remember that the Nigeria Police Force received over 800, 000 applications for 10, 000 vacancies. I remember that any time we complain about poor salaries, management reminds us that there are a thousand people out there who can do our jobs a hundred times better than us for less than what we are paid.
I get home and it’s dark. I fix my meal with the dim light from the rechargeable lamp that has been charged only for a few minutes even though it has been plugged in for over 48 hours. The darkness reminds me of my loneliness. It was dark yesterday too but I had company; a friend from out of town was travelling with his girlfriend and they missed their flight so they spent the night at my place. It was the first time I was meeting his girlfriend and I envied them the moment I saw them together. They didn’t shove their relationship in my face but I could see that what they have is good. I still feel envious as I eat alone, reminded of the much better meal that she had insisted on cooking despite my half-hearted protests.
I hate the fact that I’m happy for my friend and jealous of him at the same time. I am angry at myself because five years ago, I let a good thing slip away from me and now she’s married to another man but I can’t seem to find the strength to move on. I get depressed when I remember that what she once felt for me was so strong and I was too blind. Now she feels only pity for me as she has moved on to better things. She still typifies the ‘perfect girl’ for me, not because I haven’t met other outstanding women, but simply because everything seems to always look good with hindsight. When I imagine what could have been, I leave out the quarrels, insecurities and harsh realities of life that would have made the relationship just like any other. I keep the picture perfect in my mind’s eye. Such fixation with the past is making history repeat itself with other possible girlfriends.
It’s almost 10pm and I remember that I have to be out of the house by 5am the next morning to go and face another challenging day at work. Work has become tedious all of a sudden because reality has called to question, the ideals that led me to turn down a better paying job in favour of a job that would let me live my passion and bring satisfaction and happiness. I ask myself more frequently whether it was worth it, especially these days when I can’t seem to afford anything and my friends drive cars that would take a year of not touching my salary at all to be able to afford buying. How satisfied and happy am I right now? I still enjoy the core aspect of my work, though I feel like I could trade that for a little more financial comfort. A foreign trip is being planned at work and I may or may not be part of that trip. I have contemplated walking away from everything without a backward glance once I touch down Schiphol but deep within, I know that I would still come back because my passion has such a strong hold on me.
With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to live in this country. Every day the hardship increases with no respite in sight. We sacrifice our dreams, hopes and desires on the altar of survival. Many people have stuck with their jobs simply for the money. There is always something else they would rather do but all those things don’t put food on the table. In a country where the unwritten code is doctor, lawyer, engineer or infidel, it would be deemed madness to say you want to pack a bag and travel the country or wake up in the morning to write poems which you will share in the evening with a gathering of friends. Each family in Nigeria is blessed with that one person that will quickly point out to you that you can’t feed a wife and children with poems or experiences; that Aliko did not become Dangote by being a historian or a museum curator. Your parents will ask God where they went wrong and beseech him to cure you of this madness and bestow it upon their enemies! When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of survival?
I haven’t called my mother in a while now though I think of her often. She’s going through some challenges that money can solve but I have not the money. I know she would love to hear my voice and just talk, pour out her heart to me which she used to do until I gave her the impression that she was disturbing me, especially when we discussed the absence of a woman in my life. It worries her. It worries me too. She has decided to give me some space. I really should pick my phone and call right now but it’s late and I may disturb her sleep, not that she would mind. I have only N34 on my phone though, so I will postpone the call yet again.
The battery of my laptop is fast running out and I have to hurry to finish whatever this is that I’m writing. If I don’t finish it today, it will become one of many things that procrastination did not allow me to finish. As I think of a conclusion more thoughts pour into my head. I think of church and how it has mutated to a profitable venture rather than a house of solace that it used to be. I think of the last girl I almost had sex with but didn’t because I was able to stop thinking with my penis before it became too late; the girl has a huge crush on me, I was only lusting, there was no condom…
I think of how my one room apartment will fit into the living room of a very close friend with space to spare. I think of all the things I used to believe in that I’m indifferent to now. I try to count the number of generators I can hear but I can’t because their different sounds have become one sound; a noisy chorus that will last all night even if power is restored. I think of the bottle of red wine that has been in my fridge for five months now because I don’t want to take alcohol again though I still take Smirnoff whenever I go to watch a game at La’Mango. It just doesn’t feel right ordering a soft drink in a bar. I think of the wrinkled shirt I will wear to work tomorrow if power is not restored. I think about the girl I sat next to in church on Sunday who seems to like me. I think of my friend and his girlfriend with a little less jealousy. I think about all the people that will read this and how many of them can relate and what percentage will view me as a disturbed and deeply troubled fellow. More thoughts keep pouring in but I will stop writing now lest I expose more of my soul than I already have.
Image via Single Black Man