Sometimes, looking at the world move like a running stream, I wonder what the first trimester was like for me. When the news came that we had to travel back home due to the scary surge of the virus. With the daily deaths and rapid spread, I felt my fear rise each day.

Amidst all of the confusion, mixed emotions and quest for safety, I called my father, asked him to send me money, so I’d stay back in school. I feared boarding a bus back to warri, seeing as its chances of me contacting the virus was higher. Long story short, home was my next stop; nigerian parents and selective deafness.

Albeit, that from a pandemic, we learnt intentional communication. It became tradition, for friends, waking up to each other’s chirps and singing ourselves to sleep. A culture that kept death at bay. 

Realizing that COVID-19 had a Nigerian version and that this version had fraud in its DNA woke everybody up.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, we started asking questions, “What are we doing?”, “When all of this is over, what will we say we achieved?”

As much as I tried to convince myself that in the end, making it out alive was enough achievement, it still felt insufficient. Adequate but not sufficient, so the hustle began; staying safe and making money. 

Being an ambivert, it was hard to pick a struggle. Watching my brother make money that period didn’t help, while my heart bubbled with joy for the success he was achieving in his endeavors, I felt hollow. All he did was work with a laptop, teach kids on Google and run some codes, while I was there in the same house but with a shit load of empty pockets, working on books that may never get published. In that space of time, it dawned on me, that my mental health was at the receiving end of all the negativity and that I had to choose staying sane over staying safe and making money. The pressure from friends and the social media wasn’t helping, so I took time off. For a month, I stayed away from the internet, I was reading, writing, meditating and most importantly, I was healing. I learnt to be happy for my brother without necessarily feeling like a box of nonsense myself, and in my happy hour, life threw me her favorite line: good things don’t last forever.

In the twinkle of an eye, sadness paid us a visit. My father’s health deteriorated. This once, I feared we’d lose him. The only way I could express how I felt that time was through a poem:

There was a time when

mouths couldn’t talk

a time I lived, at the

mercy of uncertainty 

a time when love did all

the talking

I had seen her, love, from

my mother’s eyes, the

tears she fought to hide

and the strength she 

showed, for no one had

ever seen the hero fall.

There was a time when

mouths could not talk

and signs were the next

language

love taught us to adjust,

to learn new languages 

to compromise, love

taught us.

There was a time when

mouths couldn’t talk

for her opening would be

life’s closure

a time I existed

a time still fresh in my

memory

a time when all the

stories I had for papa

turned to tears and

aching head

a time I was afraid to

close my eyes 

‘cause no one knew what

darkness would bring 

for she was hardly a

carrier of good news.

A time I was free to do all

but breakdown 

for if I gave in to the ache

of my heart

black roses would sprout

without repentance 

and we all know black

has history. 

There was a time when

mouths couldn’t talk

a time I cried behind

closed doors

a time I died and

resurrection wasn’t an option.”

Seeing papa get well was all the miracle I needed for 2020. This time, I learned to see. To see the things I needed to see, things I had failed to see in my quest for an essence that was right before me, and if there is one thing I truly realized, it’s that a grateful heart indeed is a good medicine. 

Sometimes, all we really need to do is block out the noise, dead the pressure, appreciate the little things, sip a glass of juice and move.

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