Why hast thou
Held talent above my head
And let me see it. O my God? – Peter Potter
A story was told to me by an off-centered individual called Perusa Menanie. And yes, I asked if that is her real name. To which she replied first with silence, followed by an icy glare and what seemed like sixty painful knocks to the head, but was actually the echo of my instantly loud wrist watch counting down the minute in which I was to be pinned beneath her gaze. After which for my trouble and discomfort, I was rewarded with the most generous smile.
“Yes of course, it is my real name”
She said as she took a step forward and closed the gap between us. Then she whispered, “Now listen silently and do not interrupt this tale, as it holds the key to your good fortune in life. You must run when I am done and tell as many people as you can; your fortune will be multiplied according to their numbers.”
It was a whisper that caused me to immediately hold my breath so not even the sound of breathing would to interrupt her. I was scared.
Perusa certain of my commitment, took two steps backwards and dramatically rose to the tip of her toes like a ballerina. Or more like a Phoenix rising out of ashes and did a mini twirl.
“You see this gorgeous body wasn’t always this gorgeous… It was more super, enthralling and spectacular.”
All I saw was what looked like a stick figure dressed in rags but I wasn’t about to argue. I nodded appropriately, cast a head to toe admiring glance and would have added a wolfish whistle if not for my promise of silence.
She looked around and then plopped down on the hard ground as though it was a soft cushion. I winced at the thought of the pain that must be reverberating through her but she instead folded her legs in pleasure as her eyes invited me to join her on the floor. A glazed look comes upon her eyes the moment I sit down, like the type you see in movies when a flash back is about to happen.
Perusa’s story begins with:
“I was born on a magnificent 19th July. It was magnificent because my father said, the sun personally came out to shine and smile for me as it had been absent for days.Even though my mother always argued that it was a normal occurrence of the rainy season, but my father would not be dissuaded. My mother was just jealous of the role I came to play as the only woman in my father’s life… I think”, She said willing me to agree.
I could only shrug my shoulders.
She continued by telling me about her life growing up which was also magnificent. An era that lasted until the confusion on what to do with her life set in at the beginning of her university studies. Medicine her main course of study bored her to death but kept her father extremely happy; so she kept at it.
“Sometimes I would stay awake all night and wonder, asking myself all the relevant questions my secondary school’s Guidance and Counselor officer didn’t bother with when I was filling my JAMB forms. I always got no answers from within myself but from without, I got the smelly farts from cousin who came to visit and shared my room,” she said wistfully.
But this was all to change when James asked her out on a date. James, a total babe and fellow misfit in the Department of Medicine. She thought, in him was to be found an understanding soul mate but with time saw in his actions the truth that came with her friends warnings. James only wanted to use and dump her as proof that he was indeed one of the boys.
She finished her story by saying, “In the end, and in a sense, I was the one who used him and dumped him. First of all, I got the most expensive free meal at the university’s prized spot where only the bold with heavy pockets enter. It was called ‘The Rest Room’, which in hindsight, if I had paused to consider its name, I would have never eaten there. But like most university students, I lived and did little thinking; after all, what’s in a name?”
At that point I thought to myself, what’s in a name indeed!
“Secondly, for the first time during my University stay, I realized that the social center was also used as an open air theater. As I ate my expensive but not so appetizing meal, a group of students appeared out of no where and start practicing for a play. Their lack of self-consciousness and they way they embraced their new identities arrested me. James said something about how he had been admiring me for a while, I heard that and then I heard nothing else. Two hours passed like two minutes, and James was long gone, at what point I didn’t know and could care less. I knew I had finally found my place in life.”
The glazed look lifted from her eyes and I knew the story had come to an end. Perusa looked directly at me and said her final words.
“That is the secret to unlocking your fortune in life, Find the place where you belong. You have heard it all, now go and share it with as many people as you can find.”
With that, she got up and walked away with a flourish, her tattered gown sweeping behind her like a stately queen walking towards her throne amidst loyal subjects.
When I was sure she was out of sight, I walked to the nurses’ station and asked the nurse on duty who she was,
“That’s our newest patient, Gloria Idongesit. She was found wandering about the National Theater. Apparently she goes there often, screaming at everyone and saying she is the best actress in the world and should be cast in their plays. This is actually the best place for her to be, with the drama that goes on in here, she will have her fill of roles,” the nurse ended with a laugh.
I walked away from the nurse with a revelation.
The last couple of weeks my life had been filled with sadness and discontent. I felt lost, hated my job but did not know what else to do with my life. Once again, I complained to my best friend who finally snapped and yelled,
“Visit the psychiatric hospital and I bet you will stop feeling lost. Because then you will really know what it means to be lost.”
Now my eyes have cleared and I can see clearly. I realize that all I need to do is to keep searching for my place till I find it. My present position might actually be right on course to where I am meant to be. I just need to keep seeking and not lose my mind in the process. Seems easy right? Well, one step at a time.
That day, as I walked towards the exit, I saw her standing in front of a window. She was staring at her features and rearranging them as though transforming into a character. I summoned all my courage, walked up to her and said…
“Welcome home Perusa Menanie! You may seem lost to the world but you have found a home… let’s hope it is temporary.”
Featured image via Flickr. Tom Green, The Loony Bin, town street, Armley.