Her Story, VI by @ThisHandleTho

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 true story was sent in by one of our readers @ThisHandleTho

This is her story.

Please Read.

The ‘Beneath the Smile’ Project.

behind the smile

Hi. 😀

Let’s try that again. Hi. 🙂

Nope. I don’t feel that way.

This is how I feel – Hi. 😐

That’s that. I’m done pretending. I’m done pretending my world is la vie en rose, or that my life is so awesome. Look at me. Look at my face. I’m not smiling. My face stands out in the crowd, revealing the emotions some of us have chosen to hide, beneath a smile.

It was not supposed to be like this, really. Nothing is ever supposed to be like it is, with me. But this one is just… the bloody height.
She bathed me, and left me to dress myself up for school. There I was, finishing up, wearing my socks, when I heard a loud bang. In a matter of minutes, my light-skinned mother was burnt and blackened, on the sofa, surrounded by my father and the neighbours. They rushed her out, while I stood transfixed. It was a blur, but not really. I knew it was real, but chose to see it as a movie. My Mummy..
That same day, I went to school, after arguing and crying that I’d rather spend the day with my Mother. My father had insisted, and that was how I spent the day playing and laughing about, like my little heart wasn’t bleeding for my soul mate. That was also how I spent many days after that. Dad took me over to his boss’s home, to be with his children, other children my age, so ‘I wouldn’t miss my mother so much’. Like that was even possible!

They played with me cautiously, treating me with the utmost sympathy. Something that irked me to my soul. So I became a clown, showing bravado in the face of despair, smiling into the face of dread and internal hopelessness. I lived for the days I went to the hospital, kissing mother ever so gently, holding her hand, never leaving her side, scornfully commanding the nurses who seemed to address her in rude way.

Me, a girl of seven. I was strong. Never crying in front of her, even when she wept, wept at my emotional strength.
Suddenly, I couldn’t see her anymore. My father said, she had been worried about the way her burnt looks might traumatise me, because of the way I touched her ever so gently. I tried to explain that It was because I didn’t want to hurt her. She was my mother! Why would she irritate me? My father stood his ground; I could not see her again, till she was out of the hospital.

I’ve never been one to throw tantrums, but it showed in my eyes. I was lost, heartbroken. I kept wondering how she was feeling, how the nurses would be treating her, what they were feeding her. I must have lost my mind. But I smiled. I was still the clown, because I cracked jokes out of my pain, and the boss’s children still loved to be around me.

He came to the house, and carried me on his leg. I hadn’t seen him in two days, so I had prepared my childlike mind for the worst. As he patted my head, and I cleaned his tear filled eyes, I asked “Has my mother gone to heaven?”. He nodded, put me down, and left.
I didn’t cry for long. And when I went to shop for the burial clothes, I made sure the boss’s wife had no say in my choices. Black socks, gloves and a hat. Just like in the movies. Mother would have been proud.

I hated that I was deprived of seeing her before she died. I didn’t get any last words. People get last words. Words to live by. I have no idea what she must have been thinking before she.. I didn’t get any..

She was a Literature Teacher. She left countless books behind..and that was all I had of her. So I started devouring, just to see her notes, get a glimpse of her thoughts, from Buchi Emecheta, to Shakespeare..Mother would have been proud. It’s really not the same without her. It’s been about thirteen years, and I’m still not used to it. But I’m trying. Working on, and not even coming close to being the literary goddess that she was, imagining what she would have said to me in certain situations, if she were alive and trying to live my life to make her proud.

Well, that’s it. Every reminder triggers a memory of her, and every memory produces a pang. Every pang I feel results in a grimace. This grimace is my smile. So beneath the smile, I’m not really smiling.

Haven’t you ever seen a grimace?

• • •


N.B. The project goes on with Wednesday’s ’His Story, III’ by @GrizzyGrey

You can still send in your own true stories to obafuntay@gmail.com

You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column to follow the project, if you are viewing with your mobile, just scroll to the end of this page to subscribe)

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