That evening unfolded at a well known hang out, a bar actually, a small location bringing different souls, personalities and spirits together, actually it was a-whole-world-in-a-teacup kinda situation. I sat in a corner, sipping my icy cocktail, dripping cool vapors from my plastic cup, darting glances here and there, taking mental notes of everything happening around me.
Behold A man, richly bearded, with his hair streaked with gray lines displaying a false sense maturity for his face bore no marks of old age, but he is a newly married man for I saw his left hand lifting his cigar to his half smiling lips, enabling his gold wedding band to gleam in the dimly lit bar. His companion, a man of equal status taps his shoulder to bring him back on their previous subject of interest which is a hooker who sat carelessly on the other side of the bar gyrating slightly to the music blasting from the stereo on the DJ's podium.
I wondered what this man's wife might have done to this man, pushing him to find solace in alcohol, cigarettes and strange feminine company away from home, his face laid bare a lot of emotions ranging from confusion, anger, regret and pain as his brows drew together in a scowl, his forehead crumpled with worry. His well wishing feel-good-jolly-fellow of a friend walked up to the young petite young lass who was sipping her Martini slowly and gyrating slightly, whispered into her ears and elicited giggles from the girl who also laughed coquettishly as she stood up, straightened her low cut skirt and followed the man who led her to his grumpy newly married friend.
I watched the trio discuss amidst the din of the crowdy bar, due to youthful vigorous energy bubbling around, my focus did shift once in a while as I sat still, sipping my drink slowly, watching people troop in to get drinks, get chicken meals and edible fixer uppers. Young boys who fancy older chicks can be seen with saggy trousers and fake gold chains and pierced ears who strive to appear cool, standing with their red cups and puffing cigarette smokes in the air.
My eyes went back to the trio again, this time the girl with a satisfied smile on her heavily made up face, lept to her previous sitting position and said a few words to another girl who I did not notice before because sat in the farthest and darkest side of the bar. As her friend left her to disappear into the night with her male companions, her steps springy, the other lass looked around forlornly, sipping her drink as if it was 'agbo' herbal medicine. I peered a little closer on the girl, adjusted my focal lens due to the darkness and I caught sight of a fair skinned lass, tall framed, bony and beautiful at the same time. Her skin shone in the dark like neon lights, her nose aquiline, she could almost pass as oyibo girl as her light Hazel eyes glittered and enhanced with extensions she fixed on her eyelids. Drumming her hawk-like perfectly manicured fingers on her table, she fights an inner battle; her eyelids batting rapidly, beady perspirations on her forehead and glazed eyes, yes right there! Those eyes were beautiful and they mirrored the war within. Something was amiss. She turned down male advances towards her, stood up and walked outside in jumpy spastic steps, her cool arms brushed past me because I sat near the door. The bony lass found a seat outside under the street lights, an extension of the bar sipping her unending unpleasant drink, cross legged intentionally displaying her long shapely legs. Her eyes can be seen clearer now, and that was when reality hit me like a lightening bolt. The angelic beauty in the dark became a wreck in the light.
I stared long and hard at this lass and then her gaze caught mine, I saw through her, examined her facial outline, down to her seeming aquiline nose and I saw it was broken with a little plaster on top to keep it together, her lips were swollen, not from physical abuse I daresay, but they had an unearthly color, dark beet red, slightly blackish.
Her soulful eyes were suspended inside huge bags underneath with unhealthy dark circles under both of them like someone who barely sleeps at night.
She dropped her drink on a stool in front her and dug her fingers into her purse, frantically searching for something she really needed to take. Her eyes lit up as she found the desired item, a cigarette, she borrowed a lighter from a bar attendant and lit up her cigar and dragged on it deeply, then threw her head back and exhaled huge balls of smoke upwards, almost immediately she became calm, thus enslaved to substance abuse as clearly written in her dull eyes. I became really sad. I knew this young woman is going through a lot at this period in time.
I understood one thing at once about that hangout location; it was a place of temporal Nirvana for lost souls who need to be freed, caged by their own insecurities, hardships, emotional crisis, abuse and many tragedies.
Actually, we are all in different struggles, that sad newly wedded man who sought solace in a strange woman's arms away from home did wrong, but his emotional struggles are there. That torn young woman who is actually a hooker, though wrong as her profession was, fights battles daily. Many will make it their daily business to judge suchlike ones, I ve had such tendencies too, but I learned one thing for sure, as a friend of mine once said, "Struggle your own struggle, don't struggle another person's struggle, because if you do, you will end up struggling another person's struggle on top your own struggle and it means you ain't struggling your struggle".
Uchendu Ifeyinwa Jemimah ©2019
#struggles #mentalhealthawareness #lifestyle #writing
Awkward is the New Normal
Being awkward is the new Normal. A short creative work that tweaks on the concept of swimming against the tide and how to make the most of being different.
Most times we tend to shy away from the words "Weird, Awkward, Different". Nobody likes to be singled out. Man by nature is a social animal, we thrive hugely on companionship, relationships, communication, interactions, name it! We simply cannot function well without mixing with others. Hence, anything that would single us out like a polka dot on a white sheet, we avoid with dexterity.
We often hear the phrase, 'No man is an island', this solidifies our basal instinct on desiring connection with fellow humans. Mental health relies heavily on interaction to enhance human wellbeing. My experience in life has proven this to be true. As a new Mom, Surviving postpartum was possible due to human interaction, companionship and care. Once I became isolated, postpartum depression also known as Baby blues, kicked in with full force.
Another instinct of man includes conformity, sense of belonging. It is like second nature to humans to function well in a group where similar objectives are upheld and benefits are enjoyed. We all like being accepted. We do not function well in hostility, we embrace hospitality without second thoughts. Bandwagon syndrome is just a normal phenomenon and when you see yourself gearing towards such, don't beat yourself up, it's perfectly human!
Due to diverse factors such as ethnicity, genetic mutation, environmental factors and what have you, humans vary in physiology, psychology, identity and a whole bunch of things that makes everyone different. At times people are different, not by Choice but nature chose them.
We have Albinos, midgets, the deaf, the dumb, the physically challenged, people with special needs. These people always face challenges of being easily singled out wherever they are and thus feel awkward. It is very important to know that they are normal humans but in a different spectrum and treat them as normal humans. They love everything a normal human loves and they value respect too. Even if they feel awkward, show love, they will thrive seamlessly and live productive lives.
Other humans who boldly choose to be queer or weird in their own way own it up and they thrive through the challenges of their own choices.
Some people are actually different in the way they think and reason. Imaginations and mental imagery are powerful elements that vary from person to person. Some think in abstract terms, while others are surrealists per say. There is beauty in variety in fact.
In all, Be you. Do you. If you are weird, you are special, unique and you are just you. Explore yourself and find strength in what makes you different or weird. No human has the same fingerprint. We are all unique. So be awkward, be you.
© Jemimah Uchendu 2022 #lifestyle #specialneeds #different #special