A Tale of a Blistered Childhood

by - May 13, 2017

Chronicles of paulinus

I’m just back from a lecture where only the lecturer's eyes were sober: others struggled to raise their eyelids which were drooping in sleepiness. Tired and exhausted my mind darts between the past and present. Sliding open my raddled Techno Tab, a post I had left in the morning bore into me: one that creeps into forgotten or neglected memories. Melancholy scuppers around my nude mind. A painful thought floods my mind; strange, for someone whose mind is a storehouse of unwinding anecdote. I sink in my bed and my mind took the steering of thought.  

I have always been inured to otiose undertakings. I was always counted amongst the so-called good boys. Such servile flattery would mean an uncut chain of people to your desk: girls assuredly. As a good guy, I wasn’t expected to eat the bone on my neck, but I could have a lick. Later, during break time, I will be smothered in their company just to crack Maths problems; their plump-soothing hands resting on my shoulders - a graceful reward. Such company can boost even a dead brain to life. How intelligent I was then! I felt all the magic of youths and the joy of life glowing.  

But now, sitting in a frustrated apprehension, I wonder if I had really enjoyed my childhood. Angry blood burns in my heart. Such experience, before now, had given me an undiluted fulfilment. I was a good boy, or so my friends thought, but now such thought is soared; I’m thinking otherwise. My childhood wasn’t that awesome, I must confess. I suffered depression. I had difficulty pronouncing letters like - ‘ch’, ‘sh’, ‘s’ ‘c’, ‘f’ and ‘v’. When I tried, people would crawl in the pool of their laughter. A tinge of my anger would grow to a murderous instinct; I felt like strangling them. The depression was so severe that I had to live almost like a hermit. My social life was maimed. I became flat and sterile in speech, every means to talk was met with my slicing ire. 

But I remember my mother, the loveliest of all mothers; she was my confidant. I would always climb in her embrace when I feel frustrated and between sobs, I would say something that she understood alone. I’m not a typical mummy-boy but my Mum was always there, chiselling my tongue with every difficult word or letter. Unfortunately, I sashayed to near dumbness to gain relief from their nerve-racking mockery. Nothing caught my interested; not even my favourite TV show – Super Story. But in the midst of these , appeared normal before my teachers. In fact, I was used as a paradigm. My teacher would point her tiny long cane at me as she chided my classmates, “can’t you behave like Ifeanyi for once?” It ignited my pride and drilled me further in the bore of my isolation.

But I think God wasn’t in anyway oblivious of my predicaments. He was shaping my future on the dashboard of my life. I started visiting St Joseph’s bookshops where Madam Onwuzuruike always welcomed me with her banal response – Nnaa kedu ka imere. Poor as I was; I could only afford tiny pamphlets, the likes of ‘Your Bible Story Book’, ‘Pieta’ and ‘How to Say the Rosary’: not above #30 then. I would spent hours reading and reflecting on these pamphlets. I never went to sleep without finishing a full twenty decades of the rosary with other ejaculatory prayers I got from ‘Pieta’. I was  driven by the piety of the children of Fatima. Woe betide me if I call this very action naivety, I still cherish every fleck of it. I didn’t only read and pray, I was as practical as I was theoretical. Empathy started flooding my cold psyche. Streams of tepid emotions warmed my inner being. My heart started knitting with people again in a manner that scared me. My attention steered and fixed to the Catholic Church and her solemn liturgy. I would give anything just to attend Mass or Sunday moral instruction, which was always wrapped with Benediction. Oh, St Joseph Umuna! What a memory. It was the fulcrum of my childhood and spirituality.  

But behold that child now an emerging man; my memory hunting and accusing me. I open the Bible to relax my mind and Revelation 2 stares accusingly at me. I will read it; yes I have to. That painful word “I know your earlier beginning… go back to your earlier beginning.” I crouch on the weight of the word and my knees make way to the ground. My eyes are becoming cloudy. I have to hold my tears at bay but never, not when they steam and sting my eyes. I see faintly through my tears, the fading picture of Jesus skirted in the arms of Mary with the Schoenstatt inscription ‘Servus Maria Nunquam Peribit” (trans. Servants of Mary will never perish). I press my hands on my chest, my heart seem to be in sombre melancholy. I can only imagine my heart beating. Everything seems to be in slow motion. I feel my Jesus saying to me “Child your sins are forgiven. Are you willing to return? It is I who calls you; I, who am your Jesus forever’. My hand is freezing…can’t continue writing. 

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