I Told You

Some years ago, I said to T: I don't understand people who describe sunrises or sunsets in flowery words. It always seems contrived. Won't there be another tomorrow?

God saw my future, laughed, and said to himself, nkan to o mo lo ju eyi to mo lo.

The birds come down to play (or eat), flitting from plant to plant, slender branches bending from their weight as they bob heads, sinking beaks into flower briefly before moving to the next. That was my morning coffee view when I spent 4 days in Kigali last week. In day time, I'd sit outside and just stare at the parts of the city that looked like hills had climbed into heaven to nuzzle the skies. In the dark of night, city lights shone in the most ethereal manner, like how it would be if stars decided the ground were just as good a home as the sky.

Kigali. May, 2017.

Kigali. May, 2017.

I keep finding that I had, somehow, along with growing up, lost my sense of wonder and stopped dreaming. Now, I have become the sort of person who sits outside with tears running down her face because she's overwhelmed by the beauty of nature.

The last time I tried to kill myself, it wasn't like the major time when I swallowed a handful of pills and a bottle of coke and woke up in Psych in 2012. That time, in 2015, I just stopped inside. Like I had already quit living and was waiting for my body to follow. Ambien to sleep through night, then Seroquel for 18-hour sleep and grogginess while awake. And when those wouldn't work anymore, the drinking. From one glass to half a bottle to a bottle and still no sleep, still no forgetting.

On one of those nights when I was not sure I would make it till the morning, I played I Told You on repeat and cried. The song wasn't like this then. It was stripped, stark. His voice and maybe a guitar in what was sent as a voicenote originally. I begged a God I didn't believe in to take my life or give me light. It felt like those days were the darkest time. In retrospect, it was when things started to turn. When I started to seek again because T had introduced me to shereadstruth.com, when I started to ask God to give me something, anything. 

Every time I hear the song, I remember that time, but not with sadness or shame or any of the other things that marked my life for so long. I remember it with joy and gratefulness for grace and light that leads me further and further away from darkness. 

I am not sure when I first realised I was not living. I was waiting for my life to begin. Had tied up my dreams in ifs and whens dependent on other people and organisations I never even worked up the energy or courage to apply to.

It was B who first saw me last November. Weary from my life. Living one of the futures for the first time as a guest at the Ake Festival but so afraid of when the moment would end and I would go back to my real life that I was unable to enjoy anything. Unable to do more than watch petrified as each second brought return closer. 

"I believe you," she said. "Your finances believe you. God believes you. Your circumstances believe you. Yet you sound like you're still trying to convince yourself that you can." 

When I would write about the festival, I wrote: I need to return and take my life in both hands, then shake it like an old carpet so that the dust of the things I have dragged it into will fall off. I can no longer do this drag through days inching forward in Lagos traffic hoping I make it to my destination in time for it to still matter. 

God answers prayers.
Psalm 126

It was like a dream come true
when you freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion!

We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness.
We were left shouting for joy and singing your praise.

All the nations saw it and joined in, saying,
β€œThe Lord has done great miracles for them!”

Yes, he did mighty miracles and we are overjoyed!

Now, Lord, do it again! Restore us to our former glory!
May streams of your refreshing flow over us
until our dry hearts are drenched again.

Those who sow their tears as seeds
will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.

They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!
— Psalm 126