My name is Alex, and this might be the last message you will ever get from me. So, whatever device you are reading this on, make sure you are comfortable and not distracted. I took my life, yes I did. The demons in my head won. The knives in my kitchen have flirted with me, more than my lovers ever did. More than my boyfriend, Prince. Perhaps now, the world will be better without me in it.
You might be wondering why I took my life, why I did what I did. I was just like you. I was vibrant. I looked happy. I laughed at every joke. As a reporter, I had no financial crisis. I was that boy you will see, sitting on a park bench and laughing with his numerous friends. But behind that smile and laughter, there was a shadow weighing me down
Something changed. I lost something big! A part of me that can never be replaced. I lost my future, myself.
It began when my boyfriend, Prince, and I moved to one of the world’s gay-friendly cities, Johannesburg, South Africa. It was among our options since Nigeria was intolerant to my kind. But little did I know what was in store. A decision that is doomed to haunt me for the rest of my life. It is said that time heals all wound, but not this wound. It is so deep that nothing can heal it, not even love.
The engagement ring he gave me is still intact in my ring finger. I remember that night, how he knelt and popped the one hundred-million-dollar question, ‘Will you marry me?” I recall vividly how tears flowed down my check like a fountain. I remember kissing him and perceiving the sweet banana fragrance he wore. I could still feel his lips on mine as I write, how it tasted like diluted cheery gum. It is so fresh in my memory that it hurts.
These memories have transited to nothing but nightmares. They have turned to something monstrous that I could no longer sleep at night. Each time I close my eyes to sleep, the blood, the horror, the event that started my doom replay in an endless loop. The gunshot still resonates strongly in my mind to this day.
If I had known the implication of that VERY decision of moving to South Africa, I never would have imagined it. But as a helpless subject in the ugly hands of fate, I walked into my doom willingly, with both legs.
It was one beautiful Monday morning here in Johannesburg. A day that left a mark more than every other day in my life. Due to Prince’s busy schedule as a business consultant, and I as a reporter in SouthAfricaToday, we needed a place where home maintenance is minimal. Instead of a single-family home, a condo was the best fit.
It started with a loud boom sound that Monday morning. Like a car has exploded, or something. Prince ran out from the toilet almost immediately, held me as I stood stunned in the middle of the sitting room. With confusion written all over his face, he let go and grabbed the TV remote.
News about a xenophobic attack was on every channel as angry mobs can be seen, burning shops that are said to belong to Nigerians. I was too demoralized to speak as Prince held his head with both hands in panic. He immediately turned to me with eyes I have never seen, “Pack, we are living now!”
Without uttering a word, I ran to my closet and started packing a few clothes. I made sure that my anxiety meds were in my kit, with few water bottles and my passport. He bagged out from the bedroom with a bag in hand and shouted at me, “Baby we have to leave, now!”
I grabbed my bag and followed him to the door, only to find the hallway crowded with people as commotion fill the atmosphere. I saw a Nigerian woman with her two kids, running to the staircase and speaking something in Igbo, “Gbawa oso.” Which means to run.
Prince grabbed my wrist as we quickly made for the elevator. The system seems to be down, so we immediately made for the staircase. It was crowded as people panicked with their belongings firmly placed on their heads. I was still held firmly by Prince as I observe this sudden turn of event. Many occupants were jumping the stairs and throwing their bags away. I could hear kids, crying, and begging for this to be just a dream.
Then the worse began. About five hideous men from the exit point emerged with guns. Due to my little military knowledge, I was able to identify the firearms; 3 Scars, an SKS, and an M14. How these men were able to get hold of such deadly guns puzzled me. Just as my brains were trying to put the pieces together as a reporter, they began shooting erratically.
Prince pushed me to the floor immediately, as people started moving back hastily. I saw the Nigerian woman, in her pool of blood along the stairs. As if that was not a horror to watch, I witnessed as other occupants match on her as they sought for safety. The shooting was still ongoing, and every object was on the floor within seconds, both dead and living
Some were hit and yet, trying to crawl to safety only to be permanently silenced by another bullet. Some lay dead on the floor, with eyes wide open that depicts how swift death met them. That was a day I witnessed man’s inhumanity to man. Indeed, the heart of man is evil and cruel.
“Listen to me Alex,” Prince turned to me. For the first time, I could see fear in his eyes. His lips trembled as he spoke.
“We are going to make it alive, but you have to do as I say, you hear me?
“Yes,” I said, almost shaking with panic.
“We have to get back to the apartment, but we have to crawl to remain out of sight.”
I nodded my head in agreement. My hands were shaking, and I couldn’t reach for my meds. It was buried deep inside my bag. My heart was pounding intensely against my chest that I fear it might explode.
We made it back to the apartment, but it wasn’t a haven. More like a cage. Prince hugged me as we comfort each other, hoping for this horror to pass away. But it didn’t. We could hear screams and gunshots, and it was evident that these devil incarnate were going nowhere until every Nigerian has been killed.
“You will have to hide in the big cupboard” Prince murmured in that embrace.
“What about you, we have to hide together,” I said, breaking away from him. His expression was filled with determination. Like he was going to do something unheard of.
Prince, I am not leaving you; we have to hide together, please.”
I was almost crying. I was. My emotions that moment was over the chart, but he was indifferent.
” If I hid in that cupboard with you, they would find us, and they will kill us. I can negotiate with them. I can reason with them, but you have to hide first.”
There was a big bang on the next door as my heart skipped. I could hear screams and kicks. The woman next door was weeping, and I heard gunshots. Then there was silence. I needed no soothsayer that these devils have killed that poor woman.
Prince immediately dragged me to the only big cupboard in the room. As I plead for him to hide with me, he remained adamant.
“If they come in, you have to remain as quiet as possible. Don’t make a single sound. No matter what happens, promise me you won’t make a sound.” As he spoke, I grabbed his neck and kissed him, praying it won’t be our last.
“I promise,” I said, breaking off the kiss as someone started knocking on the door.
“Who is here, open this door!” A loud, husky voice commanded as my heart sank within me. Prince looked at me one last time, smiled and close the cupboard as tears run down my cheek.
I was shaking. From the door cracks, I could see Prince open the door as these men came in and shot him in the chest multiple times as he slumps. Without a word, without reason! I couldn’t make a noise, I froze, in that cupboard. I wanted to scream, but my lips were so heavy. My joints seem immovable! These angry devils didn’t bother checking the rest of the room as they made their way out.
It took me some minutes to crawl out from the cupboard and make it to the body of Prince. He was still gasping for air, as his chest rise and fall at every breath. I held his wound, but he has almost drowned in his blood. He has lost so much. I tried calling 911, but no one picked.
He moved his hand, and I held it. He wanted to say something, but he only gasped and gave up. My eyes were at war, pouring down its contents like never before. It was foggy like I was in a nightmare. But deep down, I knew this was real, and there was no waking up from this nightmare. That day was the darkest Monday in my life.
Here I am, in his grave. With a pill and a letter in hand – this very letter, you are reading. I couldn’t move on from the loss. I couldn’t! The demons in my head can bear me witness. The drugs, the knives in my kitchen. They are my witness. I am tired of being hunted by bittersweet memories. I am tired of living. The only place where solace can be found is inside this ground which I match on. Would I meet Prince in the great beyond? Is there an afterlife? Perhaps I will find out seconds after taking this pill. Please, don’t cry for me! The world is better without me in it.
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