Five or five and a half, five or five and a half?
It riddled my mind through my drive to school. I thought about it as if the world depended on it to attain world peace. Even though I was on the second row from the lecturer, Dr James, I heard him only faintly but very clearly I heard myself thinking. It was sickening how indecisive and unsure I was. I would feel a physical headache, curls in my stomach and an urge to hurl. At this point, his mouth only moved, I couldn’t hear the words. I was deep in my thoughts and it told on me as a junkie who needed his fix. I knew what I wanted to do, more like what I had to do. Go back home and feed my inner monster. ‘Just this once, I promise’ – desperately seeking self-consolation. It called out to me and clouded my thoughts. But I couldn’t just waltz out of class; we were barely 10 minutes into the lecture. So I did what any self respecting junkie would do at a time like this – find an alternative till my fix was available.
I got a slight sense of relief each time I scribbled on my note book or rather; my ‘scribble pad’ considering it contained more scribbles than actual notes. Scribbling was good, in a temporary-fix sort of way. Sure it took my mind elsewhere but it commanded its own level of distraction. Scribbling made me zone out. I would suddenly be in my own world, writing things that had completely everything to do with what I was thinking (my addiction) and had pushed me to scribble in the first place. Who was I kidding? It only took my mind off my physical discomposure, but as far as my thoughts went, it fuelled them even more, making me more expectant. I scribbled the same thing over and over again, “Five or five and a half inches?”
I already started shaking, I looked at my watch; we were thirty minutes into the lecture. I was literally exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. People around me could tell there was something wrong but they would think either fatigue or hunger. Only close friends knew about my sickness. That’s what they called It- sickness. But I wouldn’t call it that, maybe an addiction, just not sickness. It had me looking at the door, imagining I walked out and drove home. I looked at the door again and then at my watch, then Dr James’ face and back at the door. Once I managed to let the thought form in my head, it was almost certainly going to happen. My best chance to leave was when he wasn’t looking. I was tired of the former trick, the one where I stood up, coughed and walked out of the classroom. It attracted too much attention. So this time I waited till Dr James was facing the board and then I quickly left. He had said earlier, “An obsession isn’t bad till it affects your normal functions”. In my mind, I’d ask “Like leaving class every time?” Honestly, I hated the whole routine. It made me feel like a crazy person, I simply could not take it anymore. This was going to be my very last; my last drag, my last sniff, my last gulp, my last draw. The only problem was this wasn’t the last time I made these promises.
I had seen this before. Me, driving back home almost an hour since I left, me speeding over speed bumps, me at my most desperate of states. Surely, I had seen this before. I had made this same turn home and passed these same shops at this same time and for this same reason. Yes! I had lost control to this addiction or sickness. I thought of what it did to me and I grew sad. This was the best time to address the situation as I turned 21 two days back. I was going to handle this like an adult. The reason why I sought this high was my quest for satisfaction or was it the desire to always win? At any given time, I wanted to be the best. So if there was anything wrong, no matter how unsubstantial, I would fix it and if I couldn’t, I would obsess over it till I found a way to fix it. Now it was clear to me that I only found more issues I was unsatisfied about and therefore I had to obsess about, and then fix. I had to be perfect, I had to feel perfect. Most times I would disregard what was obviously the better option in an attempt to get the best answer. But most times, I made an even bigger mess that needed an even bigger fix or sometimes, couldn’t even be fixed. And that made me depressed.
As I pulled over, I made a conscious decision to get help. “Yes, it was taking over me”; I had that at the back of my mind. But all I wanted now was my fix. Finally, I was home. Time for the big decision: So five or five and a half inches? How much did I need or rather how much was just perfect? How much was going to finally put me at ease and make these thoughts go away? I moved stuff around till I found it, even before I took off my shoes. I found the perfect measurement, five inches between the bed frame and the television stand was perfect not five and a half, just five.
And so I moved my bed closer to the TV stand. Whew! It was done now. There was nothing else to think about. So I lay down on my bed with the biggest smile-of-relief. It felt good until I opened my eyes and saw something I had never seen before, a hole in my ceiling. Like seriously!?!. Normally, nobody would notice but as long as I saw it, I had to fix it but before I started to obsess over the hole I recalled that thought from the back of my mind. Indecisively, (yes, I hesitated) I looked through my card holder, this time, determined to punch in the numbers. Every dial-tone quickened my heart and tripled the panic I experienced from turning myself in.
Somebody answered. “Hello, hello” she said twice.
Stuttering, I said “Hi, I – I – I’m Ifeanyi and I he- help”
Written by Ifeanyi