I Remember- A Short Story

I remember this story when I was going to work this morning. With everything going on I couldn’t help it.

There is so much going on in the world right now that if we are not careful, we might get sucked into the anxiety, panic and uncertainties around us.

As much as I want to keep writing about Coronavirus, it’s effects, updates and all. I thought it would be a relief to share other things like stories to help keep our minds off the serious issues.

It would make our stay at home a little fun

I first published this story on African Writer four years ago.

I was thinking about this social distancing, isolation, quarantine and remember how they have been a part of my life for eight years until recently.

Then I remember how it all began. So, I decided to share the story here too. If it is not here, this blog is not complete.

I Remember by Olufunke Kolapo
I hereby disclose that this blog might earn a small commission from the affiliate links pointing to an item on Amazon.com at no extra cost to you. 

So let me tell you the story of how it all began …

I remember her eyes. There was something eerie about them. I can almost see her now like I did four years ago.

She was dark and thin, but there was strength in those eyes, in their depth; the way she blinked and widened them… I still get goose bumps whenever I remember them.

She was feeble but her upper arms were strong; thin but steady like her icy eyes.

I was about to jump into the waiting cab when our eyes met. Mine held, even when hers dropped to straighten her floral skirt.

I hardly stare or take much notice of strangers but for some reason, I was glued to that spot.

I was frozen. Now, when I think of it, I still have no idea why I paused.

When she looked up, I looked away, embarrassed like a child caught peeping through a key hole.

Then I saw a young man, maybe her brother, judging from the same set of full upper lips and oversized nose; he looked worn out in dirty jeans and a faded t-shirt as he held her wheelchair.

I stepped back to give him room, just realising then that I was blocking the cab.

I couldn’t stop myself from watching their well mastered performance of moving her from the car to the chair.

How she folded and shrank her body into a ball, her hands hugging her chest to make it easier for him to lift her into the wheelchair.

I was enthralled.

Then our eyes met again. I turned and hurried on to get another cab even as the driver was calling me to come back.

As I was about to step onto the cab, I glanced back and our eyes met, again. Hers hardened and then widened, with contempt? I have no idea.

I wondered why at first, then I realised she must find it irritating. I wished then that I could show her my thoughts. Or maybe she was offended that I didn’t take the cab? I sighed and closed the door.

I tried not to look to my right as I rode to lecture, but I couldn’t stop my head from wandering to her.

I pictured her bathing, dressing, growing from girlhood to womanhood.

I wondered if she had a boyfriend. Will she have children, know the joy of motherhood? Then I saw another boy hopping on one leg and a wooden crutch.

I wondered what happened to him too; was he born that way, or in an accident? How does he survive each day knowing tomorrow would be the same?

What does he do when in danger? Who looks out for him? Who takes care of them all?

I had so many questions in my head as we drove on. How do one live on knowing you can hardly live or do anything by yourself without help from someone else.

I am an independent person. I love being able to do things on my own and by myself. Would I ever be able to live that way? Would I be able to go on knowing it would be like that everyday?

I didn’t have to wait for long to find out, as I didn’t return to my home or bed until four months later.

I spent those months in a surgical ward with a front row view watching “Behind the Scenes of an Amputee’s Life”.

Now, I know.

Because it is my life now. And I am still in it.

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Top 5 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block

Graham Greene called writer’s block a “Creative Blockage” one that prevented him from seeing the development of a story, or even at times, its start.

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is a state of total lack of creative sense. It is like utter emptiness or blackness in a writer’s mind.

Your well of creativity is completely dry, your head becomes a deep dark pitch of nothingness.

You can’t come up with any idea or even a title. You have all this nameless or faceless people running about on your mind. Buy you can’t do anything with them.

For me, sometimes I have an idea but I can’t come up with a start or a middle. And sometimes it is absence of everything.

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I have been suffering from writer’s block for a while now. It is frustrating, annoying and paralysing.

It’s as if I forgot how to use my limbs or that I ever had them. If you have ever experienced it before, you would understand.

When I read some of the poems I wrote years back and some of my other works, I wondered if I actually wrote them. They are so strange because now I can’t write anything close.

So, what are the causes of Writer’s Block?

Any number of things could bring it on, this can be physical, mental or psychological.

It could arise from anxiety, depression, personal problem, trauma, solitude, judgement or criticism, hopelessness, solitude, overanalysing, stress or even a person.

Sometimes when you have written works or years of writing behind you, keeping up with your own standard becomes a burden that could bring on a block.

You kill your ideas before you begin or while at it because you decided they’re not good enough. Frustration sets in and you are blocked.

How Long Does It Last?

It can last anytime from hours to weeks, months, or years. And sometimes it depends on the writer or the actual cause of his creative blockage.

How Can You Overcome Writer’s Block?

Don’t Stop Writing: The mistake I made was I stopped writing. At first I wanted to write more by all means. I wanted to be able to write like I used to. When I couldn’t, I was frustrated. So, I stopped.

Writing is like a muscle that needs to be flexed. When muscles are not used your body interpreted that they are not important.

So, your body stops supporting them and giving them energy. They shrink. The same happens to a writer who stops writing.

Write anything that comes to your mind, anything you see, what you are feeling or maybe what someone beside you is going through. Just write, eventually a good idea will come up.

Get Personal: This is what I did and still doing. I get personal. I started writing about me. My creative blockage came as a result of PTSD- trauma, depression and, anxiety.

I have been writing about it all, my story, my scars, my life after the trauma. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And the in between too, there are lots of stories, experiences, healing, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, hope, hopelessness and more.

While at it, go out more, see people, socialise, go to parties, do things that you don’t do before. Breathe, walk, feel, be happy.

There are so many people who can learn from those things that made you, you and the ones that remoulded you. Write about them!

Write Reviews: Write reviews of books, novels, plays. You can do same for products, ones you have used or love. You can write them in form of recommendations or even critics.

Write About Your Passion: You can write about something you love or someone. And it could be something you used to love, show why you stopped loving them and how that makes you feel.

It could be a hobby too, travelling, hiking, painting; they could lead to the beginning of a great story.

Listen to Motivational Speech: This here is to listen to them, not read them. Do it outdoors if possible with your earpiece. Have a writing pad and pen with you.

This is because I’m positive you will definitely gain a lot. It will trigger something in your head and ideas will spill out.

It has happened to the best of all and they overcame it. You will surely do too. Don’t stop writing.

Have you ever experienced Writer’s Block Before? How did you overcome it?










	

Be Wary of the Sympathisers

I know sympathisers mean well, they commiserate and comfort in time of misfortune or grief. But at times, one needs to be wary of them.

I feel this way because sometimes sympathisers do more harm than good. And their counsels can be more discouraging than elevating.

It took me a long time to actually understand the depth of my situation, maybe several weeks after I lost my limb.

Life didn’t even allow me to mourn the loss of my limb, my freedom. It made sure I had more to worry about than the actual loss of the limb itself, but my visitors, sympathisers opened my eyes.

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Every day for me was the same, there was no difference, the only difference was my dressing day, it was alternative. That means more agony and tears on one day than the rest.


Apart from that, nothing was different, it was the same thing, the same view, the same faces, the same sound. It was the only world I knew then, the world outside was dead to us.

So when I was not thinking of my pain, I was thinking of the next attack, the next dressing or the heart rending screams of another patient.


The first time I actually took a good look at my left leg was one of those days when the pain was not so intense, and it was not my dressing day.

One of the cleaners bumped into my bed as she was cleaning. I screamed. She apologised, I looked at her, she was an elderly woman. She apologised again and I nodded.

“You are always so quiet,” she said. I said nothing, I just kept staring at her.
“I hope you are not getting depressed?” I shook my head.


“My dear, don’t be despair, the Lord who made you will not let you suffer. He will fulfil His purpose in your life, huh? Don’t think too much about your condition, it is not the end of the world.”

“Don’t dwell on your inability to walk again or think when something happens and your mates are running, you might not be able to run, just concentrate on getting well. “


My face burned when the hot slap landed on my right cheeks. My eyes were burning with unshed tears. They were there but I couldnt make them drop. The rest of her words were lost to me.


There was a loud ringing in my head and strong odour of petrol mixed with engine oil filled my nostrils. My heart started constricting.


And then the tears started coming, I couldn’t stop them. There was everything i had not allowed myself to imagine laid bare before me.

For the first time I wept for something else other than agony. I wept for all I had lost, for all I would never have. I wept for my lost limb.

She just summarised what my life outside this walls would be like. It was the first time I thought of the world out there, my life after South West 1.


I wept for the injustice of it all, my life was not supposed to be like this. I had done everything right, worked hard, studied hard. I had been patient, satisfied with what I have.

It was unbearable. I was quiet all through the day, and I would cry when alone. and for the first time, I wanted to be alone, without my family, but even that was not possible.


When they finally left, I wept for the future I would never have, for all that had been torn from me.

And right there, in the middle of the night, my eyes boring hole into my only view, the tall white ceiling, I refused to allow the present to be my end.

I decided to make it my new beginning. I decided to forget about all my past dreams, life, and make new ones.

But first, I decided to stop heeding to all sermons, pity, sympathisers, well wishers and their counsels.
I stopped paying attention to their suggestions I decided to heal my own way.

I stopped paying attention to all tales of woes, of suffering of people who died in accident, of those who had it worse than I did, or who had it better.

I shut them all out. I told my family to stop letting in people who came wearing sorrowful faces, those who spurn tales of suffering. They were making me sad and miserable, they were not helping me.

And that was when my healing began.


Though they meant well, but sometimes their words and countenance does more harm than good. Their expressions, the pity, sometimes only bring despair.

If I could lessen someone's woe, it would comfort my soul.

I remember when I first got to the ward and some friends came to visit me. I just opened my eyes and saw them. I looked at their faces, so sad, some had tears in their eyes.

And I just started crying. I had no idea why I just felt the need to cry. I felt I looked so pitiful, that all was over for me. I felt my family must be lying to me that I was worse than they said.

As soon as they left I asked my elder sister for a mirror. I wanted to see my face. My face was unscathed, and so was my head.

So I learnt to select my visitors I know those who made me feel hopeful and I was always looking forward to their visits.

I eliminated the pity party and those who felt it was not a big deal even though they were standing on their two legs.

I am not sure if to praise the cleaner or not because her actions finally made me stronger. However, they still haunt me and make me doubt when I’m alone.

Healing does not work well with doubts. It needs confidence, courage and strength which they would take away from you if you let them.

The ones you need are those who make you smile through your pain and make you hopeful even when there is no reason to be.

Those who weep with you in the pain, and remind you to smile to get more strength to cry again.

Those who walk with you and beside you through it all, who tell you your problem is big but you can rise above it.

They are the ones who remind you your determination could surpass your illness, challenges, trials and whatever situation you might find yourself.

Things Just Happen

Is there some reasons why some things good or bad happen to us? If you are good, good stuffs come to you and if you are bad, you get the bad?

It would be great if it does happen that way wouldn’t it? At least when horrible things befall you, everybody would know you are reaping what you sowed.

I believe things don’t always happen for a reason, they just happen. Looking for explanations as to why they do make situations worse, hard to move on and let go. The easiest would be to accept they just happen randomly.

I have come to realise that, believing in the fact that there are reasons behind everything that happens to us give us hope and make them bearable especially in case of unfortunate incidence.

But what happens when you don’t get answers..?

I spent a lot of time trying to understand why I had to go through some tough times. Why it had to be me. I did everything right, or tried to. I was certain there was reason, a purpose, some explanations.

So, I waited for answers, reasons…

There were no answers, no explanations. Finally, I started telling myself I probably just don’t deserve good things. And this is the worst stage anyone could get to. I started doubting myself, judging my choices, my decisions.

I lost faith in myself, in prayers, everything I stood for.

Sometimes, bad or good things just happen.

For the sake of one’s sanity, it is better to accept that things just happen and we have to believe so and not expect to find any rational reassons as to why we have to go through them or why we have to be the one in that kind of situation.

You can ask yourself if not you then who, your brother or sister, your mother or child, your husband or wife. Who would you like to pick?

We are in a world where we can’t have the good without the bad. We can’t have one without the other.

We just have to learn to take the good with the bad. Be grateful for the good and be strong for the bad when it comes.

How To Break Free From Our Past

We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.

Rick Warren

 

For some of us, it is not easy to free ourselves from our past. We remain chained to it for as long as we live, until we break free or pretend to be free. Most times, we pretend to be.

So, truly we are product of our past, it remolds us to a new or strange person even we can’t recognise, accept or embrace. I am yet to see a person who goes through a traumatic experience and remain the same.

I used to be a very private person, shy, daring, and bold. My friends were my books, my novels, I had a very beautiful world where I lived mostly with the characters in my novels and the ones in my head.

But after my accident, especially after the corrective surgery on my pelvis, I became a different person. I could read for hours and never get tired, now I can barely read a book for an hour before dropping it for something else.

Then there is always this feeling of detachment, like some part of you is somewhere else or like you don’t have all that makes you whole in one place.

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” John Banville

John Banville is so right about the above. I know because I can relate. The past feels like you have another being inside of you. And each breath he takes reminds you of what you went through. Each pump of his heart makes it difficult to let go.

You can’t break free, it keeps you glued to that one fateful day or days in your past. You live everyday with the memory of your torment playing ever slowly in front of you. Although the incidence happened so fast you thought you saw nothing, later you see everything in your mind over and over again till it’s the only thing you can see.

Some days, you wake up and feel normal, ready to face the day, ready to move on, try new adventures and break free from that which imprisons you. Then like a punch it hits you in the nose and you are face in the mud back to where you were.

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” Cormac McCarthy

Other days, it wouldn’t be the memory hunting, taunting you. It will be the souvenirs you got from the past. They have this funny habit of reminding you of your darkest days at your happiest or best times. At that time when you feel you have risen above them, they rise higher and  shove you back in the water, leaving you, choking, gasping for breath.

No matter how far or fast you run, it always catches up with you. It lies in wait for you in your most vulnerable moment in the present, entraps and holds you down.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” Gautama Buddha,

 

No one can save us. Not the quotes or the counsels or our books on moving on. We are the only one who can save ourselves. We must look within and outside to find the best and easiest way to break free from our past.

If I had A Time Machine

If I had a time machine, what would I do with it?

Where would I go?

I would most definitely visit the year 2012 or maybe 2011 because that was where and when things started falling apart. It was when I first fell. But if I want to be exact or accurate then I would visit one particular day in 2012 and change things as much as I could or maybe just one thing.

I told myself so many times that I wouldn’t want to change anything about my past or my life.

I made this promise because whenever I think deeply about my life I have no idea who I would be without my pain, my challenges, and the trauma that put me where I am now. No matter what angle I visualised, I always come up with the same conclusion, nowhere, no one.

So what changed my view about time travelling?

The answer is simple, I had another life changing experience. I had a baby. For him, I would go back in time and change things if I could. If I had a time machine I would travel back to that day, April 11, 2012 and see what I could change to make sure I didn’t experience that turnaround.

I still can’t figure out what part of the day brought me here or maybe I have to change the whole day. Or maybe all I needed was just one or two events because I have come to realise that when you have someone you love so much than life itself then you will do everything for them to make them happy and comfortable.

Life as an unbalanced mother is never balance.

There is always the fear of falling, slipping, tripping and even injuring your baby when this happens. Or what happens to your baby if something should happen to you. The worst is the fear of not being able to catch your baby if he falls or watch him slip or trip because you can’t get to him on time to save him or help him.

There was one day my baby was sqautting in the doorway, on the threshold, his hand was on the pavement I could see the door coming, closing, but I couldn’t get to him on time to save him. Three of his fingers were badly bruised. there was this look on his face that stayed with me for a while like he knew I didn’t get to him on time.

So if I had a time machine I would stay in bed all day that day, I wouldn’t go out and I’d still have my leg. My pelvis would be intact and there would be no persistent waist pain torturing me all day

Then I would be able to hold my baby, rock him and take him on a walk.

There would be no need to live in endless fear of not being able to protect him. If I had a time capsule I would stop that truck from hitting me.

The only problem is even if I had it I wouldn’t know what part of that day to change. Maybe my fate was even sealed a long time before it came to fulfilment.

Why You Need to Write

When I started my blog on WordPress free blog in 2012, I just wanted to write. I needed to express myself and I wanted a way to do that, so blogging unlocked that door for me.

Then I realised that was not all. I needed a way to say all I had to say without necessarily getting a response. I just wanted to express myself without judgement, counsel, sermon, pity or sympathy.

I wanted to be free.

I had just gone through a life and body changing experience, something no one could ever be prepared for. My life just had a mysterious turnaround, so many dreams yet to become a reality. I have not yet lived, then I stopped living. I was in shock.

There were so many people ready to help me pick and sort through the pieces left by the ravaging storm. There were lots of suggestions about how to move on. I heard a lot of real life experiences to learn from, comforting words from the Bible, motivational words from those who had gone through same, almost same and those who were closed to people with similar problems.

They had no idea, not really

But none of them could penetrate. They couldn’t give me what I needed, because even I didn’t know what i needed. There was none of them who had actually gone through what i had been through. They knew someone who knew someone who had been through similar situation. I looked at them and concluded they could never understand.

And every time i tried to explain or let them in to what i was really feeling they preach more, they suggest more when all I needed was just to express, so I started a blog.

I started a blog to express all I was feeling

I wrote about my fears, my pain, my loneliness, my hopelessness and hope. there were no comments, no sermon, no judgement and no urges to move on and leave the past in the past

I was free.

Writing set me free, it gave me the freedom to express myself without holding back. i was able to vent, rant, scream and cry without shame.

and then it healed me

Droplets

IMG-20150217-WA003

I would melt into you
if only I could
reach far enough
to touch you
pull you into me
trace every contours of your skin
memorise every oulines of your form
and together we would melt
like droplets in the river
you into me
I into you
till we know not
where you end
or I begin
I reached
I pulled
and touched….
all I kissed
was a gush of air

AVOWAL

IMG-20150101-WA012
I bow in awe of You
King of kings
Who was
Is
And will always be
From generation to generation
To the end of time
Your mercy endures
Your love found me
Out of the depth of the stream
My soul sought Your face
Your words- Your desire
In those waiting on Your mercy
I employed in my cry for help
Your strong arms
Delivered my soul
Your wings of protection
Shielded me from tempest
Your mighty voice
Calmed the raging storm
And satisfied my soul
With immeasurable peace
You stripped me of my sack cloth
And clothed me with joy
You are true and just
Merciful and gracious
I bow in awe of You
Ancient of days
You are who they say You are
You are the Lord

Nothing Left

Awesome
Nothing left in my heart
Save the pounding
That I cannot drown
In the deep of the night
Nothing left on my lips
Save the humming of the whips
As they collide with my skin
Singing of their stings
Nothing left to remember
Save the stench of the others
Clinging to your skin
As you whirl by
Nothing left in my heart
Save the promise of forever
Victim of still birth
Smothered by treachery
Nothing left on my mind
Save the forgotten songs
Of the ties that bind
Awaiting next ill-fated pair
Nothing left of our love
Save the closed void
Where you once lived
Scarred by voidness
Nothing left of our passion
Save the hollow ache
Of unfulfilled longing
Fading with time
Nothing left in my heart
Save the stillness of the flutters
And the echoes
Of your departing feet
(Thanks to K. O J for the picture)