Goodbye Mum

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Dear mama,

“It’s with a heavy heart that I write you this note, knowing the amount of pain it is going to cause you. Mum, I want you to know that I love you dearly and will always love you. If I am given the opportunity to live again, I will still choose you as my mum and our family will still be my place of birth.

But unfortunately, I know that there is not going to be any such opportunity. Mum, I didn’t want to do this, but I was compelled by circumstances beyond my control to take the plunge.

I tried my best to pull through, but my best was not good enough. I battled alone for about thirteen months now until my strength failed me. You and dad could not decipher what I was going through and maybe I should not blame you for that. My one and only brother came very close to understanding what I was passing through but it was too much for his young mind to comprehend. Mum, I know that you and dad loved me and did everything you could to prove that to me but I was not feeling loved.

You provided for me more than I even wanted, took me to places that most of my mates have not even heard of, yet despite all these my heart was longing for love. I needed someone who would love me for who I was. I needed someone who could reach to the depth of my soul and fill the vacuum there. The material provisions you spoiled me with could not do that. And I was alone all the while, despite the fact that we laughed together and had gist as a family.

Then came the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Your brother, Uncle Tony who came to live with us, made me to believe that he knew exactly what my soul was longing for – companionship. He chose to stay with me when you and dad were too busy to notice my loneliness. He tried to keep me company when I needed someone to talk to but had only gadgets and teddy bears as my company. I was fooled to trust him and he hacked into my foolishness. And he did it perfectly and deeply.

Mum, your brother raped me and used me as a sex toy for three whole years. I expected you or dad to notice but none of you did. When he left our house last year I was shattered because I had grown to fill the void of your presence with his dirty deeds. I couldn’t complain because I was afraid to lose him, but when he eventually left for Canada the magnitude of the emptiness in me became too heavy for me to bear.

I struggled to forget those experiences but I could not. My grades dropped in school and you and dad quickly made arrangements for a home lesson teacher. Mum, that singular act instead of helping me fueled what is about to happen to me a few minutes from now. The home lesson teacher you brought so much reminded me of Uncle Tony and, on several occasions, I felt like grabbing him and making him fill the gap that Tony’s absence created in me.

Mum, I had to do this because I was lonely. Did you ever imagine what I was doing in my room all the time I stayed there alone? Couldn’t you for once have gone out of your way to just spend some time with me so that we could talk? There are many things I would have liked to tell you but I don’t want to add to your pain so let those other torments be buried with this undignified body of mine.

Please make sure that my brother David doesn’t get to the point where I am now. Also, tell your friends and colleagues who have children to find out what is happening with their beloved kids before it gets too late. Many of the things parents do in the name of showing love are not what we the younger ones need. I will be long gone before you get to read this note. But one cheering thing is that David is still there with you. Transfer the love you had for me to him.

My bank details and the passwords to my phones and laptops are all in the piece of paper I dropped in the drawer of your dressing table. I miss you and it pains me to empty the contents of this bottle in my hand into my mouth but I am constrained to do it all the same. Tell dad and David that I love them. Tell our pastor that I will miss his sermons and long prayers. Tell my friends not to envy me.

Goodbye mum.”

That was a suicide note a 15-year old girl dropped for her mother before taking her life a few days ago. And I read it over and over again trying to make sense of it. Trying to imagine the pain that was in her at the time she wrote it. I summoned my own demons and deep-seated pain that has over the years made me cry alone in the house for hours. I remembered all those times my heart was so torn apart that I started entertaining thoughts of ending it once and for all. I remembered all those times I lost faith in humanity and I was on the brink of death. My whole life hanging on the balance of a very disturbed and unstable mind. I remembered them way too clearly not to be shocked or surprised why someone would consider taking their own life.

I have been in bad spots over the years. Spots where I almost threw in the towel. I have almost taken my own life at some point but luckily for me, I have always had people who look up to me, people who expect so much from me that I did not have the balls to disappoint them. I still don’t. And in my darkest of moments, at the very back of my mind I knew I had all other choices (desolation included) open to me but one. Death by suicide was not an option for me. It still isn’t. That would cause so much pain to the people I love and I wouldn’t want to be remembered as the guy who took his own life by his own younger brothers. To cause so much pain to my loved ones would hurt me even in death. And so, in more than one occasion I chose to live not for me but for my mother and brothers and sisters and for friends who have since become family.

I do not know whether to call it bravery or cowardice. Is the person who takes their own life brave or a coward? Who is brave and who is the coward between the one who chooses to live and the one who succeeds in ending their own life?

This suicide note threw my mind into hades. Got me thinking deeply about something that is considered taboo. Something we are not supposed to be caught thinking about. Suicide. Not that I want to commit but the point of it all and the arguments and justifications abound.

To start with, suicide is a form of murder – premeditated murder – that is why you get jailed if caught attempting to take your own life. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes getting used to. And you need the means, the opportunity, and the motive. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind. Thus, the messy nature of most suicides. Rarely do they go by unnoticed.

It is not seen as insane when a fighter or soldier, under an attack that will inevitably lead to his death, chooses to take his own life first. In fact, this act has been encouraged for centuries, and is accepted even now (among the Samurai) as an honorable reason to do the deed. How then is it any different when you are under attack by your own mind?

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing although this thought does cross one’s mind. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise building.

Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows as we witnessed the other day. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of the two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling. That is why I write this today because I feel that by having contemplated suicide at some points in my life, I have a contribution to the discussion.

Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong. Perhaps we need to revisit our way of thinking about suicide.

People will pontificate that “Suicide is selfishness.” Career churchmen and pastors go a step further and call in a cowardly assault on the living. Oafs will argue this specious line for varying reasons: to evade fingers of blame, to impress one’s audience with one’s mental fiber, to vent anger, or just because one lacks the necessary suffering to sympathize. Cowardice has nothing to do with it – suicide takes considerable courage. The Japanese have the right idea. What’s selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends, and enemies a bit of soul-searching. Don’t get me wrong, I am not campaigning for suicide.

So, parents, do you find yourself being “too” busy and tired to be in the present moment with your children? Are you more invested in your job and house duties than spending time with your kids? Let your child know they are loved for who they are, and that you are always there to support them.

For the past few months, social media has been filled with many suicide stories and many more may still come. Be a supportive parent, husband, wife, friend, brother and sister and actively listen without judgment seeking to understand people’s concerns and challenges.

Being a supportive parent means having your child’s best interests at heart but also being present, involved and helpful. Treat your child fairly and develop a trusting relationship. I am not a parent yet but I know that is what I would have wanted my parents to do. At least in my dark times. Always acknowledge your child’s achievements and supporting them through mistakes and challenges. Parents, ALWAYS be there for your children in the way that we would have wanted our parents to be there for us. Let no other child take their own life because you were too busy hustling to pay their school fee. Share this with your friends. It might just save a life.

Yours truly,


The Professor.

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A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak and no man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.

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