Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here, so you know what to expect. If you are not sure what Beneath the Smile is about, please check the preview out.
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.
Today’s story is re-told by @seuntomas
The ‘Beneath the Smile’ Project.
There’s something innately comical about an over aged fat kid, a 20-year-old SS1 ‘fatso’. He wasn’t funny in a ‘stand on stage’ kinda way, he was a joke himself, the class joke, no one knew much about him, just that he was fat and he was dumb, very dum. He was dirty, every time he walked by he gave you a bad feeling in your stomach, he took up way too much space in class and he slowed every one down. I am he. This is just one of my many episodes where I talk to myself and refer to myself in the third person, I happen to be piss drunk, and when I get like this sometimes, I talk to myself. Pardon my way of speaking I said to myself, as I threw up all over the pieces of mirror scattered on the floor, “if you looked like me you wouldn’t want a mirror” I said to myself as I slumped on the ground cutting my hand in one of the shards of glass, this was the hard part, feeling physical pain, this was the only dink in his otherwise impervious armour of numbness, now he felt nothing, nothing but a searing physical pain in his right hand “there you see I’m doing it again”
“Taiwo” I heard in the darkness , “Taiwo is that you?!!” .. I looked in the direction of the voice unable to focus properly, keeping my eyes open was hell but I recognised the voice, I recognised my little brothers voice, a voice stricken and coarse from hunger, he heard my fall and had come to see what was wrong, “Dele” I mustered … “Go to bed Dele… We have school tomorrow” .. Darkness … Finally… Sleep comes .. Solace… Redemption.
• • •
Today, the day after yesterday.
Today I am sober, so the pain is deep, my heart is heavy, my head hurts and my throat is tight but this teacher is oblivious to this, and so is the Neanderthal on my right, firing spit balls into my ear, “excuse me sir, Taiwo is smelling” said one of the other students much to the snickering of his colleagues, “ah ahn” the oaf of a teacher said “THUD” he slapped the back of my head, “you sef, you no dey baff” .. The other students giggled, I chuckled.. “You come dey smile” he said, disgust written all over his face as I smiled, bending my head, my hands up in a weak attempt to protect myself, this must be the devils science lab and I must be the guinea pig, a fat, ugly guinea pig, created solely to be mocked, scorned, insulted and assaulted, no one cared to hear, no one cared to listen, everyday was a struggle, every living moment felt like hell, surely death must be better than this, I adjusted myself back in my seat, still smiling, much to the disgust of everyo..”THUD!!” .. Pain … One enthusiast threw a book at me, that ginormous chemistry or was it physics book, blood trickled down my right eye, a tear down my left.. The bell rung, school was over. Another day in the life of a truly unfortunate person.
• • •
The room smelled like death. My mother lay on her dirty bed, struggling for air. Her hair was bald, she looked pale and had lost a tremendous amount of weight, she had blood cancer, I don’t remember the big name they called it, it starts with “L” . What were the odds of that? His mother? Everyday, life went by, you heard things, you saw things, you knew cancer existed but it seemed so far away, so far away, until your mother is diagnosed with cancer and you watch the life literally leave her, until then, cancer is just a concept, but when it knocks on your door and starts taking your mother’s life, it becomes real, your eyes become red naturally because you always want to cry, crying or not crying is easy, what’s hard is holding back mass tears, when your mother becomes a charity case because your idiot father died without leaving much behind, when at 20, your stuck in ss1 with two siblings to take care of. Sadness becomes real, happiness now is but a distant concept. the mind is a terrible thing, how our thoughts claw at us, myriad of thoughts rampaging through our heads, it’s the function of the brain to sort out and identify the most relevant for the moment, but when all you know is sadness…
• • •
Tomorrow, the day after today.
“Taiwo Akinwummi …” The teacher announced … “ZERO!!” The other students bellowed in unison .. This was how they let me know my score I didn’t deserve to be handed my script like every other student, I was a nobody, worthless, I was fat and ugly, normal treatment couldn’t be given to me, no, I had to be subject to ridicule, publicly. I bent my head smiling .. “E come dey smile” someone screamed from the corner as that book was hurled at me again.
• • •
Later that day, the day after the day formerly known as “today”
The room still smelt like death, but this time it also smelt like faeces, no one heard my mothers moans as she needed to relieve herself, no one heard, they’re not very loud but they carry that unmistakable, unnerving eerie tone of an almost dead person, no one actually cared, the church sponsored my mother’s charity case and so when they felt it necessary to continue payment of the hospital bill, then treatment continued, it had been a month since treatment stopped so no one cared, and so no one came, so she shat on herself, “TUEH!” I spat in the sink as I washed my hand, I took of my uniform and jacket and cleaned my mum up, imagine cleaning shit of your now mannequin like mother, as she moaned, groaned and made other incorrigible, un-understandable heart piercing sounds, all this while your siblings were behind you, not fully aware of the heart wrenching scene, but understanding the atmosphere and responding with silence and sad curious faces, I cleaned her up, removed the sheets and set off with my brothers.
The sun shone valiantly and everyone went about their business, we were still walking, my brothers and I, when dele struck his foot on a stone and yelped, I turned immediately seeking the source of his pain, it was his shoes, they were worn out and old so they had holes, dele struck his toe on a rock and was now bleeding, he sat flat on the floor in frustration, weeping silently completely ignoring the world expecting it to step aside for his sadness, like his cup of sadness was full and for now time had stopped to pay its respect to a truly “unfortunate” person .. As I looked at Dele my heart imploded, my perfectly fixed smile became heavy and slowly turned upside down, I fell on the floor too. Yomi, my other brother caught the bug too and followed suit, sitting there we caught the attention of a young woman, 27 at most, she must be new to town to not recognise us and our family, she looked at me with concern in her face and in that moment I received understanding about the concept people described as love, if I had a dollar for every time I had felt love I’d have a dollar ..
“Are you ok?” She asked, my walls had come down, my protector, my shield, my smile had failed me and I had become vulnerable, the screw holding back the bleeding of my heart had come off and I was bleeding profusely, my sadness was overwhelming and emotions as old as 16 years that had been tucked away had come barging in, my mouth was heavy and I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t find the words and so my heart leaked through my eyes .. “No” I finally mustered… “I’m not” .. She looked at Dele and Yomi then at me .. “Sorry” she said as If she suddenly realised who we were, she got up and walked away. we sat and wept, and wept, and wept.
8 HOURS LATER
As if something had snapped in me I suddenly got up and wiped my tears .. I lifted Dele and Yomi up and led them home, it was getting cold.
Exception: The Story Ends here. However, Seun thomas sent in this last fictional part.
2 HOURS LATER
Pain … Pain.. Physical pain .. Enormous pain, there was blood everywhere, I couldn’t be too precise as I didn’t have a mirror, I couldn’t really see what I was doing.
“What are you doing” I asked my self, you know .. I ask my self things. “I’m fixing things I tried to say through mind numbing pain, all I could do was gaggle blood, I swear to you everything I say to you is true, this is the height of what sadness can do to you, blood spilled everywhere, I was clumsy. The knife was stuck, I was making a smile, do you know how to that? .. I’ll tell you. You cut a smile in your face :), I had finished the left side, I was on the right, the knife had remnants of flesh in it so it became blunt, I was fixing things, the sadness was too much, it’s a good thing I wasn’t sad anymore, but I had to take precautions, never again should this happen, never again should I let out what’s under the façade, never should I let out what’s beneath the smile.
• • •
THANKS FOR READING.
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?
N.B. The project goes on with Friday’s ‘Her Story, IV’ by an Anonymous writer
You can still send in your own true stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
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