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Sunday, 15 April 2018





Taiwo stared at the teacher, who wrote on the faded black board. It was baffling how the Mathematics teacher had ample hips for a man, the students especially the girls made mockery of his odd physique. The class was quiet except for the soft knocking sound the teacher made, while writing on the board attached to the wall—his dark trousers absorbed the tiny particles of chalk that floated on the air. Taiwo stared at his notebook and felt his heart lurched in woe. There was nothing the man taught him that would settle in his unyielding brain.

Deep within him a lot of bitterness brewed, spilling its tart nature within him. He was wasting his time; he knew it so did his parent, it was no longer a secret.
Taiwo did not realize at the time, he had a learning disability. His symptoms were provoking like a pile of dog’s pupu left at one’s doorstep. He lacked concentration; the inability to remember things he’d learnt, difficulty reading, writing and his inexcusable stuttering when he was nervous. Taiwo had a severe case of Dyscalculia, problems with understanding arithmetic concept. This qualified life as a b---h and he could not escape its wrath. He had been taken to temples, mosques, even churches to see his problem to an end. But nothing worked and his parent had begun to think their son’s situation was irredeemable.

Taiwo was consumed with his thoughts; he didn’t hear the teacher speak to him. Quickly he snapped out it—the frown on his teacher’s face was soul chilling; he shivered, wading off the frosty feeling.
“I have told you several times, you aren’t meant to be here. How can you sit here and waste your parents’ money? You good for nothing, you can’t learn anything. If I should break your head and put my books inside, you still cannot understand it. You need help,” he said in such annoyance, Taiwo resisted the urge to slam the table and give the ugly man a response he would never forget. The teacher’s eyes fermented a storm as it settled on Taiwo. “You have to be incredibly stupid to keep repeating the same class over and over, I wonder why they still keep you here. So what do you have to say for yourself?” he spat.

“I…I…I don’t know what to say” he stuttered looking away.
“That’s all you ever say; I asked you a simple question and you couldn’t provide an answer. I honestly know you can’t be great in future, all you ever do is seat in that chair and disgrace your family’s name” he slammed the table and turned away from him. The class murmured in agreement, Taiwo bowed his head and swallowed a sob that churned at his throat.
The class was empty and just as always Taiwo stayed back, he stared at the black board trying to understand something—anything. Why were the symbols so difficult to comprehend? Why did he have to look for ‘X’ when it was right there? What was the purpose of Maths, to drive him crazy and send him to an early grave? It made no sense to him.

He went out of the classroom and rested on the shaky railings. Taiwo stared down at the dusty unlevelled ground. What if he jumped off the rusty barricade and ended it, will his worthless life be missed? His parent will finally find peace after his demise; he wouldn’t have to shame them anymore. He could never amount to something, that was what a lot of people had told him and maybe they were right; just last week his aunt had mocked him. She believed he was possessed and encouraged his parent to take him to a temple in the village.
He shook his head, no more f-----g concocted drinks. How much can a person take?
Taiwo felt he shouldn’t have survived the accident that happened five years ago—it should have been Kehinde who survived; his better half. He was the brains of the family and worth the name given to a son. He was a person who bore a future of success and made other parents green with envy.

“I should have died”, he thought shaking his head in grief. They weren’t rich but his father saved up just to send him to school and how did he repay him? He did by failing. He had drunk potions that made him sick and taken fetid things, so he could be normal. Didn’t they understand that nothing could fix his broken mind?
There were times at night he tried studying, his reading skills as rusty as the railing his humid hands clutched. He would embrace his book and cry for hours before he dosed off. He couldn’t take it anymore! Taiwo held the shaky barricade as he settled his weight on it, standing high and trembling with fear; different thoughts slashed his mind. The air whistled at him, convincing him it was safe to travel with them but the unlevelled ground broke his resuscitating determination.
A quiet familiar voice cooked within him, commanding his attention. He believed it was the spirit of his dead brother; it was a tiny piece of him he had left. Taiwo didn’t want to jump—did not want to end his life on that dirty soil but he felt he had no choice. A small voice spoke “You are stronger than this, don’t let me down. Please don’t jump, don’t make my death all for nothing, there is hope!” Taiwo almost laughed at the statement, Hope! When would a miracle happen? He was tired of having faith. To hell with Hope, it got him nowhere.

The voice growled at him, it was so loud he was tempted to clamp his hands on his ears. Taiwo reluctantly gave up the attempt to take his life, carefully he stepped away. He was so consumed with wrath that he drove his fist in the cracked wall, he screamed in agony falling on his knees and weeping like a child.
“Why? Why” he sobbed “I am useless, t…take my life L…lord. Don’t let me suffer a…anymore” he covered his throbbing hand with his face, shame embraced him like a father did with a prodigal son. “I am t…twenty years old a… and I keep repeating t…he same old class. How can I b… become something of myself if I can’t even t…hink straight?”
“I failed y…you and everyone t…hat has ever cared a…bout me; I just want to be worthy”, he was on the filthy ground, dirt sticking to his dark skin as he took all the time he needed to calm his troubled spirits, and when he finally accomplished that; he dusted himself and headed home with dragging feet that whispered words of failure.
Taiwo waited in line as another contestant entered the room at the corner, his heart thumped pugnaciously against his rib-cage. Doubts nibbled at him, cutting him in tiny pieces. Maybe he should have listened to his father, he shouldn’t have quit school but he knew that path wasn’t for him. He could sing, that was the only thing he had. Taiwo knew how much it meant to his father to finish his education; he wished he could but it was beyond him. He didn’t understand why the elderly man kept persuading him to stick to school; could it be an ego thing? A show he was the first in their generation to finish school?
Taiwo was going to compete against a crowd of talent and for that he feared failure, just like always. He tapped his feet impatiently on the tiled floor; the air conditioner cooled his skin, against the minor burns caused by the sweltering sun outside.
Finally, it was his turn. He walked in with shaky feet, facing three judges; it was a spacious and colourful room. The judges were two males and a female—she had a gleaming red lip-gloss and brown curly hair. They all bore a nonchalant expression. He cleared his throat as they acknowledged his presence, he was asked his name not that they were interested but as a form of formality. After that, they stared at him doubting he could sway them with what he had to offer.

Taiwo froze, his throat parched from anxiety and his heart thudded like it was about to pop out of him. He opened his lips but nothing came out, the expression from the male judges reflected impatience.
“My friend, leave this place if you are not ready! Don’t waste our time,” one of the judges barked.
“Aha! That was too harsh now, look at how you scared him” she spoke to the angry judge “Taiwo!” she said in an American accent, flicking back a lock of hair that slept at the corner of her eye.
“How much do you want this?” she asked
“Very m…much” he stuttered
“Then sing!” she stared at him. Taiwo inhaled sharply, he had nothing to lose after all. He closed his eyes and felt a soft purr of excitement swell within him, a smile almost reached his lips. His twin was quiet and that comforted him.
Taiwo opened his lips, and melody only angels possessed vibrated through the air. He remembered Kehinde and the good times they had, those moments it felt safe with him by his side, for the first time in years he said his goodbye singing his favourite song. He felt light as his presence began to fade, he knew Kehinde was gone and relief washed over him, finally his twin could find peace and not stick around to see if he was okay; hope warmed his heart as he believed he would be fine. After singing, he opened his eyes and saw the astonishing expression on their faces. The female stood clapping her hands, he bowed smiling at them.
“That was amazing, it was worth the wait” the once angry judge spoke.
“The best vocal so far” the other man spoke, his voice slightly trembled.

THE END.

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