In the other room, a man – in his mid-sixties – was observing all that was happening through the screen of a television set. Apparently, the room where Imelda was kept had been fitted with hidden cameras, she was being monitored.
Dr. Richard entered the room accompanied by a nurse that had been standing outside Imelda’s door. He gave the old man Imelda’s notebook and allowed him a few minute to read through the content. The old man struggled to keep tears from rolling down his cheeks and before the doctor could give his analysis of the situation, the old man spoke his mind.
“She is my daughter and I know her more than anyone of you here.” He began
“I know you think that she is insane but I disagree. I know she is just having issues coming to terms with all that she has been through. She is in denial and it is perfectly normal considering all that she has suffered. My daughter is not mad!”
The doctor respectfully interrupted.
“Mr. Lawson, we don’t think you daughter is mad, however, we believe she might be suffering from a mental illness.
“What do you mean, she is not mad but she is Mental?”
“Doctor you don’t understand, Imelda is going through a lot, she is my first child and her life has been a constant struggle for approval. For some reason she always found it difficult to keep up with her peers because she was always distracted, unable to stay focused on one thing. While she was still struggling to pass the university matriculation examination, her siblings were getting close to their final year in the university.
She struggled with almost everything and looking back, it would appear as though I almost never gave her a chance to grow at her pace. I was constantly comparing her to her siblings, they won awards and medal from various academic and vocational activities. I was always measuring her achievements against those of her peers and wasn’t ever supportive of her”
He paused briefly and observed the quizzical stare that the doctor assaulted him with.
Not minding, he continued to speak.
“Sometimes, I feel like all she ever wanted was to be accepted by me, but I failed her”
The doctor relaxed into his seat allowing the old man to continue talking.
“Things didn’t get any better in the University, in fact, they got worse. Imelda spent nine years for a four-year course only to graduate with a third-class honor and a battered self-esteem.
She struggled with insecurity and had her share of depressions. By this time, it was obvious that whatever she was going through was beyond her, most likely spiritual. Her mummy and I took her to various churches and Prayer Mountains for deliverance and sometimes it seemed like her fortune was beginning to change but things remained the same.
I remember when her mother died, my wife of almost three decades, Imelda was inconsolable. I watched her go into an extreme state of depression, I had to be strong for the two of us. I saw that if she was going to get out of that state of depression, she needed my support. Night and day, I would make it a duty to remind her that everything was going to be okay.
When she got a job as an administrative staff in the hospital, I was very grateful to God. At least, that helped take her mind off the loss and after a while, she was moving on with her life.
She told me about a patient at her hospital that had been involved in an accident and brought to the hospital unconscious. She went against the hospital rule to register the man without a deposit and ensured that the man was treated even though nobody stood as a relative or friend. She could have lost her job for that, but she went ahead all the same.
The following day, the man regained consciousness, two years afterward he became my son-in-law.
Fortune was beginning to smile on her, she was happily married to a man that cherished her. Things were beginning to look up for her until four years after marriage when it became a serious concern that she didn’t have a child.
Imelda, as expected, was worried. Life was so unfair to her, it wasn’t until seven years into the marriage that the Almighty decided to bless her with the fruit of the womb and me with a grandson.
Two years after Alex came into the family, the cry of no other child was heard in the house and Imelda was approaching a stage in her life when she could no longer have children. I had already accepted that I would have only one grandchild from her but she continued to hope for more children and that made her depressed.
One red Tuesday afternoon, Imelda was going to the market and had Alex in the car with her. She was driving along Mobolaji road and didn’t notice a trailer coming through the intersection. The collision was ghastly and when the trailer eventually stopped, the lifeless body of Alex was pulled out from the wreckage. As if that was not enough, she woke up two days later to find her husband dead in bed with her.
So tell me, isn’t it enough reason to be depressed and live in denial.”
He paused and waited for a response from the doctor.
“Sir, I agree that she might be going through denial but I think we are dealing with much more than depression and denial here. She has conflicting information about herself and the circumstances that brought her to this place. She is convinced that she is telling the truth and that all that she is saying is a memory when in actual fact she is living in a fantasy.
She has created another personality for herself, in fact, multiply personalities. This is not uncommon with people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). We know that DID is sometimes triggered by difficult situations like the loss of a loved one and you said yourself that you started noticing the severity of the condition around when her mother died and also after the accident that took your grandson and her husband.”
“So you are saying that my daughter has a mental disorder”
The old man confirmed
“Well, the symptoms she is exhibiting is consistent with the condition, we would need to carry out further observations and tests to know for certain what we are dealing with.”
Is it treatable?
“Yes it is and we are going to do our best to make her well again.”
“But how do we explain the death of her husband?”
“Imelda is the only person that would be able to tell us how it happened but she has to get better first then we would be able to ask her what she remembers from the day that Eric died.”
They were both chose silence, then gradually their attention was drawn to the television monitor as they observed Imelda lying down peacefully on the bed. She was having a dream or perhaps reflecting on a memory.
It was two nights after Alex was killed in that car accident and she couldn’t sleep. She was haunted by the thought that she had killed her own child. If only she had left him at home with the nanny, if only she had seen the trailer and slowed down for it to pass, if only, but it was too late to change the past. Eric, on the other hand, was asleep and his snoring was beginning to irritate her.
She turned the other way but she could still hear him snore, in search of peace, she picked up a pillow. She climbed on top of Eric and held both his hands with her knee and then sat on him so he couldn’t move. She placed the pillow over his face then pressed hard.
His struggle was in vain, she pressed harder until she was convinced he wouldn’t snore again.
She removed the pillow and laid down beside him, she laid there and the only sound she could hear was the swish of the ceiling fan and the soft rhythmic tick-tock of the wall clock.