Hello peeps, my name is Anthony Eigbe and I am a recovering twenty-sixteener.
My teen years was filled with actively browsing through a catalogue of pornography. In one of my daily forays I saw a scene from a homemade film that haunts me till today. More often than I want, this scene pops up in my mind every now and then; clear and crisp just as the first day I saw it. I’ve always asked myself, why does this vile picture play through my mind? Is it a sign? Is my mind too graphic for my own good? Upon reading some featured posts on IsysDrain’s blog an epiphany happened… I realized this clip actually foretold in the most vivid term what was to be of my 2016.
This scene was by no means pleasant, in fact it was of a woman bent over somewhere in the 3rd world. She was hog-tied and gagged with a duck-tape in a place that looked more like an abandoned dungeon except there no bars in sight. A sinister-looking guy was behind her thrusting deeply, sneering at the hand-held camera to reassure viewers he was having the time of his (low)life. His victim had a different countenance about her, she was eerily calm, she neither made a sound nor the face of pain even while the torture she was going through was glaring. If this was rape (that I know it is) this woman took it graciously. She only looked as though a mental clock was counting down in her head, patiently waiting for the abuser to wear out.
Sensing no resistance or the semblance of a stifled scream, the abuser got infuriated, pulled back a bit, slapped her across the face, re-adjusted his waist and re-entered her with sheer force. This time, the abused tried to scream (stifled), tried to run (stifled), tried to claw (stifled again) it was a lost cause. Now as a teenager addicted to porn, I already understood the fact that anger can never make the length of the man’s penis change in size, so the pain she suddenly felt was as a result of the fact that the abuser had decided to go in through another, albeit more painful hole.
Now to 2016. You see that part where the woman was taking the D resigned to her fate? That was the first half of my 2016. The other part where she took matters into her bound hands, clawing, gnashing her teeth (I could tell she was) and trying to scramble from pain? That just about sums up the other half.
THE FIRST HALF
Call me an insensitive bastard but I’ve always believed that if the conditions are right, rape still delivers the primal pleasure sex was created to achieve, the fact that it is done under duress is what serves a heavy dose of negativity into the whole process, effectively creating a bittersweet experience. Screw the recession, I currently work a job that pays well (well means good enough before you start dusting your guns) but I just never seem to have money besides the last week and first week of every month. And here’s the thing, I don’t spend on women, I barely go clubbing. Admittedly, I occasionally splurge on some “unnecessaries” but every now and then something “important” just always pops up. If it is not school fees for my professional courses then it’s something to do with my folks back at home. If it’s not that then it’s friends who need favours.
Speaking of friends who need favours, would you believe that one time, a friend of mine called me at 8pm telling me he casually strolled into a bar looking to get himself a few drinks but somehow saw old friends at the bar and got so drunk he didn’t know when he told everyone to have drinks on him. The only problem was he only had money for two bottles. There I was like a true Guinness commercial character, jumping bikes, passing alleys, rushing to this dingy bar to pay close to 30k for a friend who bought drinks for people I don’t even know. *Sighs* After all, what are friends for right?
Besides some occasional random acts of stupidity, there are also more concrete things that take away my money, what just angers me is the manner in which it happens. Sometimes I think God has permanently hired somebody whose sole job is to create an unbreakable schedule, month after month, of what my expenditure would be, only problem is, he never usually allots the money to the real owner.
So why was the first half of the year bittersweet? Happiness!
In all, even without money, I stayed happy and deep down I actually felt it was money well spent. It was money paid to build bonds, money paid to develop myself, money paid to have a nice roof over my head, money paid to keep the family happy yada yada yada.
THE SECOND HALF
While rape can leave victims with serious physical repercussions, scientists have concluded that the mental effects of rape can sometimes outlast the physical. Rape victims have been known to sporadically or holistically (oyinbo ti po ju kilode Tony!!!) suffer psychological trauma, PTSD, sleep disorders, eating disorders etc. this list even intrudes into the social sphere often causing distrust, dissociative identity disorder, unfounded guilt, loneliness amongst others.
Brethren, I have news for you. When life rapes you, the symptoms are very similar; your ideology can change, religion can mean nothing to you. Guilt can be eviscerated. Morals foregone.
It’s like being born again; not of baptism, not of incarnation, not of conception, but a complete mental rebirth that directs your actions going forward.
The second half of 2016 started with the loss of my mum.
Her death kick-started my journey into the land of religious skepticism. Here was a woman who dedicated her life to serving Christ so much so, looking back, I think it bordered on fanaticism. At the height of her fervent quest to serve Christ, she pressured my Dad into selling our one and only house in Lagos (a large bungalow with no less than 5 apartments) at a hugely undervalued price (9million I think). Then pressured him again to pay a tithe from the sum generated; a transaction which cannot even be termed a business gain because 1) the house has to be replaced and 2) it was sold at a huge loss.
Then she pressured my dad (yes again) to build a house at the Redemption Camp because in her eyes, that was God’s own land on earth.
Now you can chalk all these seemingly unwise decisions down to foolhardiness and say even the bible teaches prudence and wisdom but in her defence, I would say the bible is also rife with similar stories of acts that confounds conventional wisdom. An example would be that of the poor widow who literally gave up all she had to live on… The widows might they call it.
Some months after moving to camp, I noticed she would usually visit Lagos for other church programmes. Think about that for a minute, she actually left Redemption Camp where they undertake several church programmes for Lagos to attend other sessions organized by other churches! Mum was savage like that. With church, she always seemed to be on the quest for something that was never lost, she was never satisfied, always probing for Christ. I mean she had a husband that was equally a Christian, two graduate kids in gainful employment, wasn’t that the Nigerian dream?
If my dad didn’t drive her to these church programmes, pardon the pun, heaven would come down that day. After returning from one of these church programmes, my dad called my brother and I to inform us she suffered a stroke At first the stroke was only partial affecting the left side of her body so for the first few months she could still walk, occasionally talk, eat by herself and do some of the other things you’d expect of an adult. Not restrained, she kept on attending church.
As time went by though, these attributes began to disappear one after the other. Perhaps the most painful thing she lost was her memory. You see, any time a walked into the room and my mum saw me, her face would light up, she would crack a sly smile. We had a way of communicating; I would ask her a few questions then provide possible answers to those question I just asked, she only needed to nod in the affirmative at which was the right answer. During her last days, I could tell she didn’t even recognize who I was anymore. Her face never lit up again when she saw me, no smiles and definitely no question and answer series. How won’t you recognize your most cherished child? Tony, the last born of the house. Mummy’s pet. Arghhhhhhhh!
Stroke is a crazy ailment fellas. At its most potent stage, this sickness resets the life cycle of an adult without reducing the actual body size of the human being. An adult with stroke can display a range of behaviour consistent with an infant. You have to bathe them, feed them, sing to them, gently stroke their head (my mum really liked this), wear diapers etc.
Before she died, suffice to say we exhausted a plethora of treatments available. First there was the spiritual warfare, using pastors, prayers, fasting and other tools approved by the book. Then there was the medical battle, jumping from one hospital to the other, trying different medications, therapies. Heck she even spent a week at the famed ST. Nicholas hospital for good measure. The situation never improved.
At this point, it is very important I make clear that this article is not a personal attack on the Christian faith, only a personal journal summarizing my emotional descent into the second half of 2016. Focus people!
Alongside the death of my mum, I still had to cope with that guy (Mr. Providence) who always allotted my salary to other things. This time, he duly allotted it to grave stones and funeral arrangements. I really couldn’t blame him.
Between the period of her burial and November, I also fully came to grasp with what I will call the nature of good and evil. There’s the belief that an eternal fight between good and evil goes on ad infinitum; for every child Bill Gates saves from malaria, there are a thousand others killed by Assad’s regime in Syria. For every person saved by the CNN freedom project, there are a thousand others sold back into slavery by ISIS and several other mischievous networks from Tanzania down to the Asian lands of Thailand.
Evil has existed since the beginning of time, but this year, I could say I lived vicariously through the pain of grieving mothers in war torn countries, prisoners in Nigeria who has no hope once they are out, football lovers who lost their favourite team in a plane crash. I didn’t leave this country but my mum’s passing sort of created a transcendental passage through which I felt this pain in a very relatable way.
The election of Donald Trump was the final straw, it told me above everything else that a man who embraces racism, xenophobia, demagoguery, misogyny and a host of other morally inept values actually spoke the mind of millions. More recently, political scientists have attributed his rise to the forefront of global politics to a recent upturn in populism and nationalism sweeping through Europe and a few developed nations. But we have seen populism and nationalism and it doesn’t have to be filled with hatred and insecurity. The late Anthony Enahoro pushed for a more serene brand of nationalism and it gained us independence. Facts only, evil anally raped good this year.
Truth be told, I constantly shuttle between agnosticism and paganism. Sometimes I admire pantheism, I’m reluctant about Wicca but I’ve just stopped short on the doorstep of atheism because the universe we live in is too intelligent to have been self-created.
To confuse me some more, 2016 kept something in store for me on December 21st, my birthday to be precise. I won’t go into the details but it was the most terrible birthday ever for me. The events that took place even lasted two whole days and as I sat in a sun-beaten, broken down car somewhere in the gritty streets of Apongbon (a long way from home), I felt refreshed, a sudden calm came over me, a breeze of renewal. 2016 was over for me at that moment. It was a year where I recorded few successes but the negatives contrived to overshadow any sort of progress made.
2017 seems to be looking up already *Knocks on wood*
On the 31st of January when the year officially ends, maybe I will appear in church after a mighty long time of being absent (or absconding) and tell God that in 2017, I want to be the one who’s got life bent over and hogtied. I know how to sneer… I still have the picture in my head right now.