I got a phone call and the caller ID read Halima. I heaved a sigh of relief because I knew what she wanted and I was down for that.
“Wagwan, b,” I answered.
We talked for a while and before I hung up, I said, “See you in an hour.” It was exactly the distraction I needed at that moment. I had spent hours staring at the blank word document on my laptop with anger, trying to arrange my thoughts and piece together a story but my ideas were not forthcoming. It was toying with my confidence. Repeatedly, I had been erasing every single sentence I typed. I was losing it. Drowning my rage in alcohol was an idea that been floating around my head but I had nothing to drink.
An hour after and I was ready, waiting for Halima’s text, still staring at my laptop. Why can’t I write, I thought to myself. I felt more than anger. I felt… I felt… there were no words in my vocabulary to express myself. If my laptop could speak, it would have called me a moron. If you had seen me, you would have seen a donkey. A writer’s block was a better predicament, this felt worse. It felt like… it felt like… urgh, never had I yearned for a drink so bad.
Halima’s text came in at the right time. I ran down the stairs and was out of the house in a hurry. I fist bumped her boyfriend and her once I entered the car.
“Bullet?” I asked.
She laughed. “I thought you quit.”
Indeed, I had quit but I needn’t be sober anymore.
“Aren’t we trying to get active?” I replied her. “At least let’s get something to drink.”
They agreed and the driver drove to Adiba Supermarket with my guidance. Truth be told, It was more than just my inability to write. The problem was related to the conversation I had with a friend few weeks before on our way back from church. It was a reality trigger; a kick start; proof I wasn’t who I thought I was – a writer.
We all dropped when we got to Adiba and went straight to the fridge. I stared at all the different brands with indecision.
“What are you guys getting?” I asked them.
“Hot, maybe?” Halima replied.
Her boyfriend was quiet, typical Seun. Both of them were completely different people. She was always ready to turn down for anything and he was just happy being around her. He so much loved her and I could tell. You could see it in his eyes whenever he stole a glance at her. It was always there, you could feel it.
We returned to the car with our drinks and a can of black bullet in hand. As we drove off, my eyes watched my city like it was the first time. Unfortunately, It was a reminder of the conversation with my friend.
“You see why I asked? I don’t see you as a writer,” He concluded as he dropped me off.
It hurt but don’t get him wrong, he was saying the truth. His points were valid. He was making so much sense.
“How often do you write?” He had asked.
Unsure of what to answer, I began to babble.
“Once in a while,” I finally replied. “Whenever the idea in my head has developed properly.”
He was quiet for a mini second. I thought that was the end.
“You good, bro?” Seun asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. “You’ve been unusually quiet.”
“Yeah, I’m good,” I replied. ”
The most obvious lie. Listen carefully and you could hear the distress in my voice.
I hurriedly finished the drink in my hand and opened the second one.
“Ah an,” Halima exclaims. “Take it easy oh!”
I wish I could. Slowly, I was becoming an alcoholic; too dependent on alcohol and it was obvious. Everyone was pointing it out. No matter how hard I tried to deny, the truth was the truth. My problems peaked when I was sat down because of my drinking. Living with relatives who were fed up with my antics. Getting drunk at a 50th, passed out on the living room couch, found smeared in vomit on my bed.
“Get your shit together,” I was warned.
I swore to change but whenever liquor touched my lips, I went into a frenzy like a starved vampire.
I took a sip out of my second can and replied Halima, “We trying to get active.”
We arrived at our destination and the first person I saw was the girl I liked. She was eating and drinking with a face full of joy. I said hello to her with a hug and to everyone else on the table. There were a couple of new faces but I was unbothered to begin any introduction.
“See Temi oh,” Bukky announced, turning everyone’s attention to me. “Didn’t you say you quit bullet?”
Everyone laughed. Louis and John nudged me in the back with the latter repeatedly teasing me about being an alcoholic.
“I have never seen you sober,” John teased on. “You’re always drunk.”
“I thought so too,” I replied Bukky with a fake smile.
Everyone was chatty, ordering drinks and making next plans, my eyes were on her – the girl I liked. She noticed and began a conversation. We talked for a bit and she asked when my next story was coming out. She was a big fan of my writings. I loved that she loved them and for me, that was an extra incentive.
“Soon,” I lied, remembering the blank word document on my laptop. “I’ve got something in works.”
“Really?” Her enthusiasm was boldly written on her face. “What’s it about?”
In order not to ruin it for her, I said I wasn’t going to tell and that ended the conversation. That brief spell at the end of the conversation allowed me journey through my thoughts, again.
You see why I asked? I don’t see you as a writer.
“I see,” He broke his silence. “As a writer you should be writing every day, if you are as passionate about it as you have said.”
He gave me a detailed routine of a friend of his who had just put out a movie. I admit I was jealous; I admit I wasn’t giving it my all. I had a dream, a goal and if I kept moving at the pace I was, I was going to have a life filled with regrets.
“You should be reading all the time,” He continued. “With a 9-5 that could be exhausting, but you have to push. There is no time for rest right now. You have to push till you get to that point where you don’t have to call people to read anything you put out. You should have people on your neck asking for more. ‘Temi, when’s your next story?’ ‘ Oh, Temi, that was amazing. When is the next piece out?’ Do you get me?”
I nodded my head slowly.
“If I know anybody in need of catering services, the first person that comes to mind is Feyi and that’s what I want with you. There is some writing to be done and I refer you immediately and not just because of your ability to write or that you are my friend but your quality too.”
“I am not going to the clubhouse,” Bukky shouted, shaking his head “Nope, nope.”
My second can of bullet was about to finish and I was filled with regret for not getting a third can, even a fourth. Being sober on a night out was never fun for me except I was behind the wheel, plus I wanted to be drunk. I needed to feel alive. I joined in on the pleas to get Bukky to the ‘clubhouse,’ as he so fondly called it. He had sworn off clubbing but managed to find himself there a couple of times. The club routine could be tiring at times so I understood why he had gotten fed up with it.
I stared at her again.. Her name was Oma. She was beautiful and “so fucking sexy,” as a friend of mine so rightly put it. You might be wondering why I never told her how I felt. I had wanted to, always, but as usual, there was something holding me back. That cloud of uncertainty that hung-over my head, raining on my parade at the slightest glimmer of hope. It was unlike me. I had become scared to truly love; scared to allow myself think I could find happiness. Solitude had been my company for thousands of days and though there was peace, there was no comfort.
My mood changed and I lost the interest to go anywhere but home. I wanted to be in bed over thinking, making a mountain out of my mole-hill insecurities whilst motivating myself to prove everyone wrong. That looked a better plan than burning calories on the dance floor. Quietly, I called an uber whom arrived right on time just as we began to depart. I snuck into my uber without saying a word to anybody. Again, I stared at my city like it was my first time.
You have to push till you get to that point where you don’t have to call people to read anything you put out. You should have people on your neck asking for more. I knew why he had said that. Literally every time I had put out a post, I would have to convince people to read with words of assurances like, “It’s good, I promise.” To be frank, I don’t know the worth of my stories. A piece is only as good as the reader sees it.
My phone didn’t ring meaning my absence hadn’t been noticed. That was good for me. Returning home in my uber, sober, I had one demon to face.