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The project aims at looking beyond the smiles of the next person, to see what’s really beneath, what’s really going on? How people really need help and won’t bother saying anything about it but would rather cover it up with a façade of strength, with a smile.
It’s time to look beneath the smile and lend a helping hand. People are going through real things, these are their stories.
We hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.
First story, Beneath the Smile I by Anonymous Writer
Today, we have our second true story, re-told by @Its_kash
The ‘Beneath the Smile’ Project.
“Everything is never as it seems” – My favorite line from Owl city’s Fireflies.
You know what they say about the tears of a clown, putting up a good front, trying to fool the public but dying inside? Don’t let my glad expression, give you the wrong impression.
I hate my life.
Don’t be surprised, it’s not a harsh thing to say, pain is nothing new to me, I live with the reality that I was created to endure and suffer hardness.
I am Damilola Benson.
At the age of 5, I was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal defect, In simpler terms, I was born with a hole in my heart, well, for some funny reasons, doctors didn’t detect it early … so yeah, all my childhood memories revolve around me, checking in and out of hospitals due to sudden loss of breath and other health concerns.
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“Err… Damilola! How old are you now” – ‘13, sir’, I reluctantly answered … “Ah! You are a big girl o, come and give uncle a big hug”
That was Uncle Sola, Dad’s younger brother, as usual, he reeked of alcohol, I never really liked him, and he seemed really shifty…I had caught him stealing glances at me; in ways uncles shouldn’t look at nieces.
“Oya Dami, get uncle some food to eat, drop it on the stool beside the cupboard”, ‘But Uncle Sola,’ – I replied, ‘Mummy says no one should take food to their room and that everyone should eat at the dining table’
He began yelling at me, going on about how rude I am, so to avoid any trouble, I just took the food to his room, he locked the door behind me, flung me on the bed ripped off my clothes and had his way. I was in tears, extreme pain, totally helpless… again.
When my parents came home, I was black and blue with my clothes ripped in places. I cried and told my parents, my mum broke down in tears and began screaming at my dad and ran to my uncle’s room, but he was nowhere to be found. But that didn’t shock me as much as my father’s reaction. He said he had always known me to be a liar and a slut. He went on to say that he’s very sure nothing happened and that my “little play” was just a ploy to get his brother out of the house. He called me a harlot and a liar and labeled my mother a witch and proceeded to hit my mum and I. He had already made a habit of hitting us all, and had a steady chain of girlfriends.
At 16, the same year I got admission into the university, the man I called a father threw us out of his house and brought in one of his girlfriends. Mom had no money to get us another apartment and her elder brother, Uncle George took us in, he was our savior, very kind and loving, everything my supposed father was not. He paid my fees that year, about half a million and catered to our every need.
My matric day, I was with Mum and Tunji (my only brother) and uncle had promised to leave work and join us. By 2pm, there was no sign of him, thirty minutes later, mum received a call, she started screaming and crying, what we feared the most had happened, uncle was involved in an accident on his way to my school and died on the spot. I cried my eyes out; the shoulder, on which we leaned on was gone. I wished it was my dad instead. How could he go on a day like that, my Matric day?
Five weeks later, I was summoned home, my heart skipped a bit, my mind raced, is Mum alright? Tunji? I was so uncomfortable the whole journey home. No one was saying anything to me. Well, I got home to discover that Tunji, my only brother had been murdered by cultists who had raided their hostels. I was sure there was no God and if there is one, I hate him the same way he hates me, He had taken away every good thing that had ever come my way. For weeks, I was mentally unstable, almost got checked into a mental home, I wanted to end it all, but then, there was the fear of death and leaving mother all alone. Just as expected, dad didn’t show up for the burial. I heard he said “No way! I cannot be associated with cultists”.
At school, I most times find myself having lots of mood swings, some people have the idea that I crave attention, they say all I want is to be noticed. I wouldn’t share my problems, don’t blame me, I don’ trust anybody, I don’t even trust me”. My school is fond of organizing a lot of programs, I consider irrelevant but we have no choice but to attend, the halls get so choked up and stuffy, the air conditioners are just for show, the pungent stench of sweat in the air, I run out of breath and collapse.
I hear their mockery, I hear the voices … “she don dey manifest again” … “This one don start again” … “Attention seeker oshi” … before I fade into the darkness. Some still think it’s my way of craving attention.
I wish we could trade places, let’s see how long they will last.
So, this is me! I must survive; I have to find happiness, if it even exists for me at all. I turn to parties, alcohol and sex for the temporary excitement they offer. Judge me if you must, I can’t be bothered. Anything to numb these sour memories and feelings, I would do. I do not care.
I wear a mask of a smile, but beneath is a 21-year-old, who is just hanging onto the edge, bracing herself for the next storm to hit. I fight a war against the mirror every day, I can’t stand my reflection, I just want to be someone else, and my wounds are too deep to heal. I am too angry and hurt.
I hide beneath my smile.
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THANKS FOR READING.
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?
N.B. The project goes on with Monday’s Beneath the Smile, III by @bRinEstAkeS Fiction)
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