Vote Ginika Entry 5 Baba Isheri Has Gone Deaf

Vote Ginika

I was going through the phone Bolaji got me and that was when I saw it. I saw the headline first, it reads thus: “I am surrounded by family yet I feel so alone.” I just knew I had to read it but it was saying something foreign at the same time familiar. The author called his predicament ‘depression’. I had the same symptoms but I’m an African, an African man to be exact. We don’t suffer depression. I am not mad. Madness does not run in my family.

It’s been months since it started. At first, I just wanted to be left alone. I would walk round the village whistling nonchalantly and not caring what I looked like. I had been wearing the same dansiki and Sokoto for the past three days, Bimpe, my wife of 8 years has tried talking me out of the clothes but I refused. I know she feels ignored, I feel it in her long stares and her heavy silence. She believes I don’t love her anymore but that is so far from the truth. I wish I could tell her but she would never understand. Depression is suffered only by the whiteman. My wife would label me mad. I saw her grand-aunt leaving the house just the other day. She must have told her about my new behavior.

My life is perfect on the outside, I’ve got a successful cocoa farm, a doting wife and four beautiful children – 2 girls and 2 boys. Life can’t get any better but they are wrong, you see, and I don’t want to bother anyone with my seemingly irrelevant problems. The only person I told about my depressed state- my very good friend Akande told me to go home and return when I have real problems. Ever since, I have not been able to open up to anyone about being sad for no reason. I don’t even know how to explain this heavy feeling in my chest to my wife. I whistle to drown out the voices in my head. I don’t understand myself anymore, I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. To avoid everyone and everything around me, I escape to my farm, Nowadays, I spend more time on the farm than in my home. The peace and tranquility I crave can only be found there on the farm. At home, I am forced to listen to Bimpe’s incessant chatter and the children’s noisy games.

Uncle Larry- my uncle came to the farm to see me this morning, he said Bimpe complained to him about my lack of affection but he hushed her saying: “If your husband can provide you with food, a roof over your head, clothes for you and your children, then what else do you want? Some women I know, do not have husbands, others who have, don’t have children. Some others have habitual philanderers as mates. Here you are, complaining about what I cannot comprehend. Please go home and take care of your family.” He concluded. “Uncle, she’s right.” I replied. “I am no longer a happy man, nothing gives me joy, neither my wife nor my children, not even my farm, and I feel like a shell. I used to enjoy listening to my wife every evening, sharing tales with the children but not anymore. I do not have the patience to talk with my family. I am depressed, Uncle, I have been for a while.” “What madness is this?” he bellowed! “We do not have history of a mad person in our family, Isheri, what have you done??? What are you not telling me?”

In my head, I knew I shouldn’t have told him. I had made a mistake pouring out my anguish to him. I didn’t even know when he left the farm, he did not say his usually extravagant goodbyes. He had only succeeded in making me feel worse about my plight. Now, four people- my wife, her grand-aunt, my friend, and now my uncle think I have some loose screw in my head. I wish I could better explain this problem but even I don’t understand this. How can a man who evidently has it all suddenly find himself unhappy? This defies all logic and makes absolutely no sense.

That evening, I was sitting outside the house brooding in silence when Bimpe came to me. She brought a seat along with her so I knew she wasn’t leaving soon. “Olowoori mi”, she started “Uncle Larry said you have gone mad, is this true?” I was tempted to shout at her and send her into the house but I realized that if my wife doesn’t understand me, who else will? We have always been open about everything, I might as well open up to her. “Adebimpe mi, I am depressed and I have been for a while. I did not tell you because I didn’t want you to think me mad.” “God forbid, my husband, you are not mad. I know what depression is. Mother suffered from it until her death. Thank you for taking me into your confidence.” Immediately, I felt like a boulder had been lifted off my chest. All along, all I needed was simply someone who would objectively listen to me. I was glad I told her about it. And I knew, together, we would get through this. “Thank you Adebimpe for listening. That was all I needed.” “We would get through this together.” She replied.

That night, we laid together in bed, cuddled in each other’s arms. I listened to her wholeheartedly as she related everything that had been happening in her life for the past days to me while Bobby Benson’s Taxi driver played in the background. I slept like a new groom- content and happy for the first time in a long time that night. Who ever said Africans never got depressed? To think I believed I was going insane. O ma se o.


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