The Irony of Life By Adamu Tilde
The irony may starts with the picking of the title. The battle may be fought not on the best suited caption but on the recurring themes that are boiling in my head. First, I thought of ‘The Strangeness of Foreign gods’, no, awful is what came to my mind. Then, ‘Stranded in Wilderness’ is just another tasteless one. ‘A View from Foreign Land’ may as well be adjudged best for trashcan. This is the irony that life has been in the past few days, may be months. Battling with food is as strenuous as with drinks. Fighting conflicting thoughts is as worse as ignoring calls and messages. Nothing seems to be working. Reading is boring. Writing is tiresome. Thinking is shrinking. Laughing is burden. Smiling is akin to hiding hot tears. Heart is longing; craving for something that it doesn’t know neither understands nor how to get it.
It appears, to a distant observer, nay, it might even be to a casual inhabitant, the uniqueness and sumptuous likeness and fondness of the World that is alien to one being. It is natural, that man often craves for something he lacks. He longed for something out of his reach. He appreciates, sometimes loves, many things that he appeared not to get hold of. Consistently, man detests his current status. He, often, looks down on his belongings. He, with a tongue full of resentment, criticize and complain of his house, car, place of work, position, wife, siblings, relatives- thinking that, all is not well with his domain and what encircle him. He thinks he deserves more. This cannot be him. He will often make analogy with his friend or neighbour’s status. He dislikes his environment. He detests his country. Nothing is working within him and his surroundings. Everything is awful. But such is life and as such it will continue to be. It is a matter of choice: either to appreciate and be grateful or to nag and endure your miserliness.
Sometimes it begins with strangeness that defies explanation. A feeling of tiresome that was not product of strenuous work. A heaviness that was different to that of a pregnant woman. All of a sudden, the things that was once the source of joy and laughter become unbearable. Friendship is boring. Talking is nauseating. Studying is heavy. Facebook is irritating. Notifications were hanged. Messages not replied. Twitter is disgusting. Popular handle that once I can’t resist reading them become odd. One minute into a post, I am tired. Everything is not working. Yet, I cannot come to term with what is really wrong with me. I don’t want talk to anybody neither do I want to chat. A roommate that was once a source of laughter, courtesy of his twisted tongue—that Vietnamese tongue that abhors the use lips while talking—irritates most. The more he talks, the more the resentment. The more he inquires, the more the urge to bury myself in my blanket.
This may sounds strange. Yeah, it is really strange. In fact, strangeness is the only word that I can think of. I don’t know what I want yet I don’t know what I lack. Could it be sickness, I can’t tell. My system is working perfectly. No headache, no stomach pain and no itching in any part of my body. Nothing is wrong with me, at least, ‘anatomically and physiologically’ speaking. There is no basis for calling any of my friends for consultation. May be psychologically—perhaps, a psychological trauma. But I haven’t lost a love one neither I am finding any difficulty in my study nor experiencing any lacking in my basic needs. Then, what the hell is this feeling? Feeling of emptiness, hollowness vacuum-ness and restlessness. A strange feeling that defies definition.
But then, how do I arrive at this psychological dizziness? The more questions I raised the less answer I provide. The more I philosophize the feeling the more complicated it become. The less I assumed not to be distracted, the more I craved for something that I didn’t miss. Neither am I sure whether I want it.
Ordinarily, one may think of exploring books— sweet and curative as books always are, so is their blurring ability and incomprehensiveness with this feeling. First, I tried soft copies, to no avail. Then hard copies, ‘same story’. May be, it is with the substance. I tried fiction but I was bored of its artificialness. I tried Philosophy, but I cried of its difficulty in arriving at a convincing conclusion. Even the celebrated ‘Don’t Be Sad’—a book that I cannot sleep without rummaging through its content, yet, it can’t provide the needed therapy. Everything requires effort. To consider eating, showering, talking brings to me a great and listless fatigue. Could this be the strange ‘illness’ that I often read with Western elites—Depression? I don’t want to believe myself. Hell, no way! A black, Fulani, Nigerian and African man suffering depression—an ‘illness’ that dull, curl and ruffle oneself—this cannot be the true diagnosis. Impossible! I am normally full of mischievous humour, full of passion, whether in joy or in rage, capable of an active, crackling energy, quick to respond and rebuke, but with this strangeness, I do not even remember what it means to feel. My mind is in mute. I am normally the nurturer, worrying about everyone I love, but suddenly I am detached. It frightens me, this sense of slipping out of my normal self. It cannot be an illness. It feels like a metaphysical failure, which I cannot explain but for which I am still responsible.
I am strong. Everyone who knows me thinks so. So why can’t I just brush that feeling aside? I can’t. And it is this, the “cantness”, the starkness of my inability to control it, that clarifies for me my own condition. I look at myself in the mirror and finally, I accept the name of a condition that has been familiar to me in the past few days. Depression. Depression is not sadness. It is powerlessness. It is helplessness. It is both to suffer and to be unable to console yourself.
The hollowness and emptiness of this feeling is perplexing. It defies logic. How can I convincingly explain this strange feeling that accompanied affluence? It supposes to be otherwise. So it suppose albeit so it is not. Statistically and empirically, this ‘illness’ works hand-in-hand with affluence. It may strikes the reader in an unusual surprise but that’s the reality of it.
The third eye may often looks at things in an unusual and fascinating amusement (forgive my rhetoric). It is quite confusing that why on earth should a person—equipped with all the latest gadgets (iPhone 6, iPad, Apple Laptop) suffer Depression? To the third eye, what is it that one is complaining of, after all, that he has a secured environment- he is not afraid of bomb-blast neither of a stray-bullet nor of kidnapping? To the third eye, one who has a comfortable apartment with stable and steady power and water supply, free and uninterrupted internet service; healthy and hygienic food—stored and preserved in a cooler…then, what on earth will make such person feels depressed? The simplicity at which the third eye may lay his questions is quite astonishing. It is really fascinating. However, simple as the questions may appear, difficult are they while answering.
Perhaps, human needs do not stop at just the material possession of life. There are more to life than house, car and computer gadgets. Juicy and mind-captivating as all the afore-mentioned ‘niceties’ may sounds, they carried their own burden–which must be paid not in cash, which may be very easy, but in kind.
Beyond the surface, this feeling -depression, which, by its name, makes me feel like vomiting, and, in reality, makes me sick- couldn’t be all-wrong if it was attributed to an inherent needs of humanity- Love. Love, unlike the depiction of Bollywood, a love that transcends the nuances of verbal exchange of –I love you. Love that surpassed give-and-take. The feeling of wholesomeness and completeness. The crave for attention, care and concern. The thirsts for someone that one can talk to—someone that will listens to you and consoles you. The need for shoulder that one can lean onto- to cry until satisfied. This is the feeling and this is what I sensed I lack and this is the source of my plight. And, by design, there is no-room for me to have this feeling that I am missing—feeling of belonging. The constructive communal living that I am used to- where you have neighbours that you can say hi to, friends that you will laugh with, siblings that you can play with, ‘Majalisa’ that you can gossip with playmate, ‘Shayi joint’ that you will ease your tension- are all non-existent in this ‘foreign land’. The environment is so-organized and too-serious—which, for an innocent and unsuspecting mind like me—is too artificial. I don’t know my next room neighbor. Everybody is minding his business. This secluded and individualistic living is too-good to be natural. I don’t know it neither do I care for its goodness. It is this lack of inclusive, caring and communal living that is source of my psychological trauma.
The inconsequential things that we ignore- siblings, neighbours, friends, relatives, noisy environment, open-market, ‘suya joint’, ‘majalisa’, – may at the long-run, be the source of happiness and joy that we assumed can be found in affluence or ‘foreign land’.