Revelations (When Death Whispers)
Tonight I am extra violent towards myself. I am the same person I was the day I hung from a bandage on my bedroom door. I am hungry for an escape, I am intoxicated and crying for reasons unexplainable. I am sitting beside my bed with yet another bottle of wine, crying. I am texting my close friends telling them how much of a mess I am, how drunk I am, how desperate I am for an escape. But I didn’t mention how tight my grip was onto the knife, I didn’t mention how many times I cut myself today or this week alone, I didn’t mention how I would readily take death if it came knocking at my door. So here I am one cut after another, constantly attempting to cut in the same place over and over again. I am frantically crying like the day I heard about my grandmother’s death, my eyes hurt, my wrist hurts, my heart hurts and the void, it hurts too. My brother is not home tonight and tonight is the night in which I need his presence. So I call him to come home after fighting myself from cutting deep enough to die. I give myself 20 minutes, if the twenty minutes passes and I am still alone, I can cut deeper and rest forever. Fortunately or unfortunately the door opens and his face is dressed in shock and fear. I have never seen my brother this scared before. For a moment he freezes at the door and takes time to analyse the situation before he asks me what is going on.
“What’s wrong? What are you doing?!”
He comes to sit next to me and I break down as I respond:
“I can’t do it anymore, I am tired Mike. I can’t do it anymore!”
He hugs me tightly as tears fall from his eyes and his body shivers, he is scared, more scared than I am. It dawns me that suicide really doesn’t just affect the victim but the people close to them.
“I love you, I love you so much! Why would you want to leave me like this? I love you so much! I can’t lose you.”
There is a shake in his voice, an uncontrollable shake; his words come out with so much difficulty.
“I am tired! I’ve been trying to end my life but I am also afraid. I can’t do tourism management anymore! I can’t stay here anymore and I can’t go home anymore, all these places are too much for me, home is falling apart, Johannesburg is killing me inside and tourism management is hellish. I want out!”
For a moment we both sit in silence, his arms around me, both him and I with tears simultaneously rolling down our cheeks. For some reason I feel lighter, I cannot believe that all I needed to lighten the weight was to tell my brother what was going on inside me. He gently holds my right hand and looks at my wrist and cannot believe what he is seeing. He cannot believe that all this time he couldn’t see the actual mess I was, that I kept quiet too long and he could have probably been too late to find out that I was so much of a mess.
“What do you want? Tell me what you need to get better and I will do it for you, talk to me.”
I’m looking around for something to wipe my tears and blow my nose. I feel like my brother is more broken than I am, I allowed my state to affect another person, and he could be traumatized for all I know. But I respond to his question.
“Mom told me about a clinic this side, they deal with depression and I think I need to go check myself in and go to Cape Town, leave Johannesburg and its dirt, be far from all the things that frustrate me. I want to leave Mike, I just can’t survive here anymore.”
It dawns on me that if I remain this shattered I will cause unnecessary hurt to the family. I tell him that I can’t continue with the course anymore but I am stuck in it because of the bursary. I tell him how Johannesburg has scarred me and how I have been broken from a young age. I tell him I want to go far away, far from home and Johannesburg. My speech is broken, my voice rough and my throat is aching like the way my heart bleeds. My brother, my keeper, looks at me in the eyes and tells me he will help me through, he tells me to visit the clinic and see where I go from there and asks if I will be okay sleeping for the night. I say yes and stretch my arms out to him, in my hand is my once beloved and bloody knife with which I have formed a great bond.
“Please keep it away for me, keep it far from me”
My face is dressed in shame as I hand the knife over to him, my eyes barely opened, unable to open as wide as usual. My brother takes the knife as he wipes his eyes. He tells me he loves me and tells me to get ready for bed as he opens the sheets for my drained and intoxicated body to lie in. I close my eyes as he turns off the light to go sleep in the other room. The night is silent yet loud, my thoughts are taunting me, I am ashamed that my brother has seen me at my worst, his face of too much terror keeps coming across my mind and I remember how I begged him not to tell my parents as they would come to fetch me and take me back to the home I no longer feel at home in. I keep replaying all the talks I have had with my father about me wanting to leave Johannesburg and keep wishing I had asked him questions that really explain my desperation to leave, questions like:
Have you heard all the screaming that happens in these streets? What about the men and their hisses?
The way they grab us ladies for sick reasons, have you seen them?
The many knives I’ve seen in the street poking at passersby and sometimes at me? Have you heard the people crying during xenophobic attacks?
What about the streets, have you seen them? How rough they are?
Have you seen how angry the men are? How they look into our eyes with threats of many terrors unspoken?
All these questions I wish to ask my father, to open up and tell him how I feel but like the way I grew up, secretive and shy I never asked him and doubt that I ever will. As the clock runs with the wind I dose off and go to a place where life is without baggage.