He rolled his eyes up, staring blankly at the ceiling, like deliberately wasting a few minutes just at the beginning of the session, perhaps for retrospect, eyes fixated on the young woman, his therapist.
Trying hard to be nice, she attempts to break the ice, with a rehearsed opening speech she had practiced while taking her morning shower in case her client was reticent. You see, the nature of my job is simple but not without its intricacies but be assured that I am trained and I would offer you professional help treating every matter with confidentiality although it’s a necessity in what I do I just want you to be free, she said without a pause. Also, you have 30 minutes for this session and, my dear, sorry, brother, no, Mr…” she opens a dog-eared file and brings out a white sheet she had scribbled his message. Where is your office, ma. Kindly help, I do not know how I deal with my depression. While spending a long minute reading the one-lined sentence, the sheet slips through her hands, and she lets out a noiseless profanity. Phew! I am a big slouch God help me, she says under her breath while stealing a glance at the mid-twenty man who had come into her makeshift office some minutes ago, unaware of her descriptive language.
Tea? She asks, hoping to save the day, and very willing to pour the liquid like she was not accepting a no.
Yes, please. A dose of milky liquid poured into an antique teacup. She smiled, and offered it with its saucer, placing it on the stool, beside his couch.
Slurring her phrases with a cautious effort, she begins. You don’t like how depression deals with you, and it has… He cut in. I deal with depression differently, no, my depression deals with me differently. For bounced job offers, I will wail ceaselessly on what I did that I shouldn’t or what I shouldn’t that was done. He paused. This, he continued, is the time I recall the possibilities of a cuss, a gaunt harridan woman spewed without a thought while I threw pebbles on a porcine who I had the schema of tearing the loins of its victims. How did I know? A petite old woman had a piggery of about ten, and one had chased my kid brother to sweat when he peeped at the nursing swine. While narrating the happenings of the day, mother had asked us to bless God because she knows someone whose loins were ripped apart by those short-tailed brutes. And this is a reason why I have developed an irresistible hatred for those animals. Sorry, he said like he had revealed or talked too much and like he was waiting for a scolding. Signs. And when none was coming, he continued.
Okay, although I braced myself with the psalmist amulets, after that woman’s thoughtless spillage, the thought of the cuss has never ceased to taunt my worrisome spirit as if it is responsible for my cyclical job searches. He paused, leaned over to take a slurp from the tea. Chasing love makes me depressed as a queer, which I have always hated to admit, yet it has never for one changed my affection towards bodies like mine. He continued after the content found their way to his throat.
At this stage, I recall all my hideous childhood fantasies most of which I will call voyeuristic now for a preteen. Perhaps a brief story about what I mean, he looked at his therapist who nodded in approval.
Okay, I remember that day when we sneaked away from home, lured by the church’s entertaining speakers of a happy-clappy revival. It was a film show, and the entire neighborhood’s children from every musky path, came out on the large granite motorable lane, formed a procession, and all followed suit. The song blared the air like the sameness of ‘Makosa”.
We danced and forgot when the hour struck 8 pm or thereabout. While in the heat of the Jesus saving film, a propeller for the alter call, a Christian belt description for “a call to be born again,” I observed two things, my voyeuristic eyes had imagined one of the weirdest of things ineffable for a pre-teen. A young man had followed another man presumed to be the church’s pastor behind a wooden door closed behind their podium. I snapped from my weird dreams, when a firm hand grabbed my ears and pulled me from both concurrent hypnoses. I looked up, and it was my mother. That night I was not spared the rod and such boyish adventure was flogged out, but the cane did not cure me of my fantasy as they have just become more mature and a little sanctified. But why does love fail me as an adult, why can’t I feel love or be drawn to a corner, in a room and enjoy the companionship of whom my soul bonds with? Why can’t I like Rotimi, our neighbor’s son who I know had done ineffable things with girls in the name of “Daddy and Mummy”?
Why do these childhood images reek my thoughts and my pursuit for love? A failed love at every attempt rips my soul, and the thought of growing into Giles, Elisa’s lonely neighbor are some demons that hover around my oval-shaped head and jeer at my effeminate heart – effeminate, a description by an ex-lover who will be infamously remembered for his gaslight, and who tried his best to make an abstruse heart, perhaps his preparatory for the final ghosting. Sometimes, I consider what I bring to a relationship table, smeared with enough childhood angry self and staunched explorations from overly protective parents who were at their best when producing an educative dingbat. I feel I slouch at everything and mostly feel incapacitated in a competitive world. A reason why I feel I have to abnegate my desire to be loved or love.
Do you feel better now? She asked in a monotone wrapped in pathos.
Hmmmmm… I feel better now, yes, revealing that part of me. But another thing that depresses me is the word “eccentric” and I hate the person who used it on me, he continued, and please do not consider me as one misanthropist without hearing a bit of my story.
Far back in my early teens, I had faced a clash that questioned my existence and in the 90s and early 2000s majority of the raised children and parents are brutes whose mouths are not void of every condescending derogatory. And it was at this coeval that I heard the word “eccentric” and it became a disdain. I remember when the pleonastic girl uttered the word “eccentric” about something I had done, jeering covering her mouth with the cover of her open exercise leaves. Now, grown, she looked ingénue. But the hurt, the mockery. Oh, though I brace myself with a lot of “Carpe Diem” and “be like the duck” mantras which are safe houses that give seldom rhapsodies, I still feel eccentric even now. He paused and examined the organdie material of the brownish pillow. Oh, I’m eccentric. I’m not normal. Am I?
But eccentric could be used in the positive, she said. Like your strange ways of doing things always marvels people, she added.
No, never, she meant it in a bad way, he roared. The room instantly became quiet and despite forces and incursion of alphabets on her vocals, her cord had become dry, paving no way for syllabic utterances.
She tried avoiding eye contact to maintain a professional balance, feigning dauntless at the weight of the confidentiality while she broke a piece of the silence with a wry smile and a stertorous sip of tea. Her moment with the teacup was her temporal reprieve for retrospection.
Worried about her thirteenth failed attempt to secure a job, Maria, a bachelorette, had put up a post on her Twitter account, @Healing Heart, after days of manoeuvring the best call to action bio for tweeps who might need a professional therapist.
She had suffered a lot in her brief earthly sojourn, from her failure at getting a job to foot her piled-up bills, to finding escapism from her failed relationships. Maria had tried all she could, from early morning rehearsals of eloquent pitches to interview answer preparations, only to bluff in front of the panellists and the interviewers. She would recite affirming words to herself, believing her struggles were a result of an undeveloped part in her hypothalamus – a possibility for her woes. Maria had also sought help about a year ago from a therapist whom she had interned with for six-months for a pittance. And because she was not retained, an event she described as “being used and dumped,” Maria braced herself to at least utilize her psychology degree, coupled with her internship experience to start her consultancy firm, Healing Hearts. She praised herself for the thoughtful decision, but soon was launched into another six-month depression in search of clients after word of mouth failed and nearby orphanages shamed her pitch to work as their in-house therapist, even for a token.
Those events were factors that spurred her to consider self-employment. Her tweet stayed lone like a rejected piece for days, even her retweet after two weeks with the comment “We are therapeutically affordable”, were ignored. Days became weeks, and weeks became months until a tweep with the name Timi, retweeted with a plea, “Ma, please open your DM”. Excitedly, she did, and an appointment was scheduled without premeditation for the next day. That evening she danced her heels off, giggled while washing the dishes, giggled while mopping the square room that will tomorrow become her makeshift office. She had cut some fine white spotless pieces of paper where she had typed her name and initials. Ms. Maria J. Funsho. “Maria, you must look professional”, she said giggling until she choked in her throat.
“Okay, what’s next?” she asked both the excited and repulsed inner voices.
“You should serve some tea and give the therapist’s opening format.”
“Tea? A depressed soul wouldn’t want your tea, you dingbat!” the repulsive one sneered.
“Don’t mind her, what does it know?”
“At least I know she’s going to screw up, doodle.”
“Quiet, you two” She saved her head from further voicing and giggled some more.
“Oh… I will wear my red gown, and makeup, but, I’ve never worn both.”
“Pshh, that’s too loud, besides this isn’t a date, Maria,” one wryly said.
“I will wear a black dress and add a brooch,” she said.
That night was the longest of all nights. She constantly checked her phone for the time, and inaudibly rehearsed the request. God, let this work, she said before being hit with a heavy snore. She woke up grinning. Excitedly, she vogued in sync to the carpe diem musicals from her portable radio in the left-wing of her small cubicle room, where she had written her call-to-action bio. I can do it, work from home, and make it, she inhaled. I really can do this. She hackneyed those words that morning. She felt emboldened.
Exactly some minutes past 8 am, she had developed sweaty palms when her supposedly first client had not shown up. She paced, stopped, paced, and let out a painful scream as she stubbed her left toe. She heard a knock and composed herself despite the incursion to welcome a mid-twenty man dressed in a blue vest, and a denim jacket resting on his wide shoulders. She managed to smile, simultaneously offering a handshake, and pointing towards a grey couch she had strategically positioned by the window frame for the breeze, and a naturistic view.
All had “professionally” gone well until she became empathetic with a story that resonated with her, mostly the one on love, but her decision was to stay latent.
Hello? He brought her attention back.
She snapped back to reality and broke the silence with what she instantly realised was improper, unseemly, and altogether ruining both her client’s day and hers.
Did you know God can help us? she boisterously said with a smile.
She gawked and felt absurd for uttering the name “god” or professing god to help her first client, who had messaged her. Maybe this isn’t my métier, to heal hearts.
God helps me too, she said, exclaiming audibly.
I really do not know. I had talked to him, with him, and I felt I needed more. Someone physical to talk to. But many thanks for the tea, he said. He rose, smiled, pulled on his denim jacket, and cleared out, leaving her door ajar.