Madness is not some wild land to which those afflicted are forever banished, but it is a bewildering place to visit and to return from;
Sometimes, in a matter of hours.
In my mind’s eye i could see the echoes of my laughter bouncing off the walls; like big ugly ants escaping the slap of my bathroom slippers. It reminded me somehow of Father.
Sweet gentle father. Caring loving father.
I could feel the edges of my mouth forming into a smirk even as I thought of him.
My father was a reasonable man who behaved like a mad man only when his blood was inflamed with liquor. Which was all the time.
The only time I remember him being sober was at his mother’s funeral.
He would hold my brother by his ears and slam his head unto the kitchen table for eating his leftover meal. And when I screamed out in horror for him to stop he would slap me hard back and forth like he was conducting an orchestra, till I was silent and numb with pain, and then return to slamming my brother’s head onto the kitchen table like it was a part time job.
So I learnt how to be defensive and strong from home.
How not to cry and how to colour my feelings mute. And I mastered it like a god-given talent.
And then I met him.
He dashed for my seat at the train station when I moved over to help a fallen kid up. He refused to leave the seat and grudgingly told me not to expect him to be a gentleman because he wasn’t one; for he’d been standing for 39 minutes, he needed to pin his ass down and rest his tired legs. I was surprised and amused at the same time. We argued for half the train ride as everybody looked on at us amused. I ended up sitting on his bony left thigh, and was quite happy when he got off the train with a slight limp. The transition from strangers to friends to lovers is an art we perfected.
When I say he had me, I mean he had me with his blood pumping through my veins, with me falling asleep in his arms, saying, go ahead, save me. He undid the knots that held me bondage to my father’s madness and loosened the nerves that tightened up at my inability to protect my brother. He had me with a paper ring, to never let me go till Hades breathed fire.
When I say he had me, I mean he had me in that bizarre place where I’d pause my breath for him if I were asked to, he had me in that dreamlike state where I forget I had brains, just a heart and body parts. He had me through two abortions – panic, foetus, pain and emptiness.
He had me through the pain of finding my little brother hanging in his room, and wishing so hard my father would take his place I had wanted to fit the noose around his damn neck all by myself.
When I say he had me, he had me.
You know how sometimes the truth unfolds before your eyes, but you never quite get it? You can see it, but it doesn’t sink in right away. The truth had not cleared through all the circuits yet.
It took me 3 months to finally accept that she was with child.
A “she” that I never knew of, a she, 5 months pregnant with his child. His child.
For days I walked around in a daze. Stunned, as if someone had punched my bowels out.
The pain. The pain.
The pain killed me. He cried. I cried.
I cried some more. We cried together. He loved me still. I believed him. But he had to let me go. He hated himself for causing me so much pain, he’d rather detach himself than ruin me. At least that’s what he said.
I begged him. I dragged my knees in the earth and wept till I couldn’t recognize my own self. I’d rather die than have him leave me.
The kind of pathetic love that made you want to hold on to an embrace even as they carved unwanted truth in your spine. I still wanted to hold on. I had no clue what the next step would be, but I was in no condition to let go
But he let me go. He pushed me away.
It took three months for me to want to live again. Three months to not hurt myself just so I could channel the pain from my chest to my skin. Three months to try and live with questions etched in the skin of my memory. Three months that felt like three years.
I was going to let go. We were going to let go.
I asked him for help. My father had been tossing his belt again. My face was bruised, could he help me to the clinic?
He came over in all his magnificent splendour, wearing his heart on his sleeve like he still had one.
My face was bruised. I had been making a symphony of beats with it against the bathroom wall.
He rushed over to me and held me in his arms. I could feel an eerie bubble of laughter rising within me, laughter for all the things we couldn’t be. But I stifled it.
He asked me to put some clothes on. I had laid the bed and put on his favourite lace panties. I wanted us to climax in style. I stared at him. I stared hard at him. And all the words I wanted to say got stuck at the back of my throat.
I walked to the bathroom and closed the door, staring at the bottle of lidocaine on the sink.
2 years ago my father almost sawed his hand off in a fit of rage. He’d put himself under just to escape the pain. How and where he got that jug of anaesthesia from, I didn’t want to know. It didn’t matter.
What mattered was the long sleep we were about to have.
That was all that mattered…