During the lockdown, I transformed into a creature only found in the pages of dog-eared, coffee stained and urine colored books.
I was a mix between a sloth and an online motivational speaker; waking up after 12 hours of sleep too tired to engage the remaining 12 hours. Yet, I was a consistent online presence motivating others with words that failed to lift me up and like all creatures found in books, by some stroke of luck, predominantly bad luck but retrospectively good, a text message jolted me to reality.
The phone vibrated and whistled softly, telling an unsuspecting heart of mine that I was thought of by an entity other than MTN. I raised the phone with a soft expectation, a preset fondness for whoever it was that remembered me. The sender’s details stood out and caused butterflies to rush into my junk filled belly, “Barry”. My eagerness skipped going to the messaging app and went straight for the pop up notification and there it was staring at me,
Barry: “I am grateful for your friendship and your consistent care for me. You’re a wonderful person but I am not interested anymore”
I swear I heard a heart monitor beep dead or at least I think I did. My heart died and in the deadness of the moment, I took one last look at the text and deleted it. Then moved to WhatsApp; the green Icon that was the opium of the 21st century and with the same distant involvement, I scrolled to his status to maybe find the answer to my “Why?”
I found nothing but three selfies with him and a lady he had introduced as his coworker. I drew no conclusions but with surgical precision, moved to the delete all chats. I returned to the status to confirm that the deed has been done. Satisfied with my deleting service, I smiled at the empty space but as all things from books, a single status update popped, it was that of a former class mate and there it was, a beacon of something I could not yet call hope, WEx Global was celebrating their anniversary with a writing competition.
I stumbled into focus on a strange rebound through writing. As with all rebounds, you do not aim for the sky, you only want a work just good enough to be shortlisted to salvage your esteem and remind you that you are not the problem.
As time progressed, each day morphed from writing as a distraction to writing to heal esteem, each paragraph becoming a yardstick of personal progress. One day, by the fifth paragraph, facing the white screen of possibilities and typing away pain, I was stopped by a question, “Were you happy?”
I had never considered my personal happiness. The reality broke me. In my constant search for what the world tagged, “Relationship Goals” and other goals that were not even mine, I forgot who I was, I forgot the things that made me happy because I choose to pursue what the internet had glorified and advertised regardless of how I felt or what I wanted. I ended the paragraph with a full stop and an answer, “No”.
This bittersweet reality pushed me into a muffled joyful shout as for the first time in weeks I felt a release and jumped into a thirty minutes sweaty dance in a too small orange shorts and a too big navy blue T-shirt. Barry whether he knew it or not had saved me from myself and I felt so free that I could literally smell the petrichor from a large forest of lush greens surrounded by lakes and exotic animals, maybe it was my imagination but this was what freedom felt like.
I pushed through the last paragraph with renewed vigor. This was not a work to end at a shortlist, no. Winning this competition meant winning my fears. I did a quick edit to the mail addressed to the editor WEx global and hit the ‘send’ button.
My phone vibrated and a messaged popped up.
Barry: “I miss you”
I gave a deep sigh and deleted the message.
Three weeks later after a long day on Dec 1st I got home to a call,
Voice: Hello, Miss Mirya. I am calling from WEx. You have been shortlisted amongst the Top 20 and we had tried to reach you via whatsApp to no avail. We would need you to send an elaborate bio of yourself to accompany the publishing of your shortlisted work.
It was not scam. I checked my mail to confirm, they had sent the shortlist days before. I had taken time off social media to recalculate my priorities and missed it. I immediately dropped my bag on the table and began to write out my bio. As each word touched paper in an elaborate style and my life and achievements unfurled before me, I saw all I had done and all I was and for the first time, I stopped typing. I smiled from the deepest parts of me and gave myself a pat on the back. I did not need to win this competition to establish my stake or my worth, I was worthy in and of myself by simple reason of my existence.
Dec 3rd came in all its glory and I barely noticed. I was so busy I could not check my mail the entire day. By morning of the next day I got a text,
Barry: Congratulations on your win.
What win? I pondered in desperate confusion.
I quickly checked my mail and there it was! I was not amongst the Top 3. I was the 1st of the Top 3! I had learnt so much and grown so much by just putting pen to paper. I looked one more time at Barry’s text and saw that I was in tears.
This was my homoeostasis so I let myself cry. To feel what I felt, to be human and to feel pain. To experience the joys of winning and the power in freedom, to build my esteem and above all, find myself. I took one more look at Barry’s text and replied,
Me: Thank you.
Aged 23, Mirya Sabo is a graduate of Law from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Born in Kaduna and raised by various circumstances, she took courses on Social Justice and Gender Equality at Purple Academy, conscious leadership and Personal transformation at Koinonia SOM and is also a volunteer at The Winning Mindset with Elisha Mamman.
She is also a member of FIDA nigeria, Bayelsa Chapter and and has accrued a certificate on Psycological First Aid from John Hopkins University. She is an activist working with amnesty International and strongly believes that Human Rights accrue even to the least regarded of society and undertook, “An Appraisal of the Rights of Almajiri under the Nigerian Law” as her final year project.
She was part of the “National consultation on positive masculinities and Femininities with Adolescent and Young people on faith Communities” on 22-26th May 2018, where there was one on one discussions with youths on how they could better understand their rights as regards their sexes.
She was also a part of the Thursday in Black campaign that geared towards a world free of rape and violence. During Major holidays she works with a team of people who visit the less privileged and provide succor.
A writer and an author she is fascinated by History, Culture and New discoveries and spends her holidays in Musuems, Art Galleries or in travel.
She still finds ways to encourage the less privileged around her world and write as often as she can.