SWALLOWED TEARS

I have tried every other thing and nothing seems to work so I wrote this in the middle of the night, an attempt at absolving my guilt. I have cried buckets but nothing can wake him up and I feel partly responsible for Sadiq’s death, but not in the way you think.
For the first five years, Sadiq and I were shadows of each other. He is my cousin although distant. We did everything together and enjoyed and we enjoyed playing pranks on other people. Sometime before we turned six (he was a few months older than me), his parents separated and he went into the custody of his mother. She took him to Australia, separating us and even though we could not send letters in the traditional way, we managed to keep in touch and usually spoke whenever our parents called each other. Sadiq was a brother to me even though we had different parents. He was an only child and I had two other siblings but I was closer to my kindred spirit.
The time difference made it difficult for us to keep in touch as we would have liked but then a miracle came I form of Facebook and we rekindled our relationship which surprisingly became stronger. He confided in me that he wanted to come back to Nigeria to restore his relationship with his father and it sounded good to me so I encouraged him. His mother had remarried and he did not get along with his step-father. Funny enough, we had graduated almost at the same time and he was also unemployed like me. His mother had no other children and she tried to make him warm up to his step-father by constantly throwing them together which he resented. That made things even more strained and it was one of the main reasons why he wanted to return, the tension was killing his zest for life.
The day he returned to Nigeria, I went to welcome him at the airport and drove him home in my father’s car. I had use of the boys’ quarters’ in the compound since my siblings were both married and I was free to do as I pleased (for the most part). He did not look depressed to me in fact; I’d say that he was happy to see me. We played catch up late into the night and we began mapping out strategies on how we would both look for jobs.
About two weeks after he came, he went to visit his father and when I asked him how it went, he did not say much. I gathered that his father had at least four wives and nothing more. He was unusually tight-lipped and I did not want to pry. I felt that if he wanted me to know or if he needed my advice he would share. Maybe I should have pressed him to tell me more because I suspect now that visiting his father led to this. We continued our job hunt and spent out free time challenging each other to video games. How I miss those days! But I did not see any signs of depression; maybe I should have looked harder.
The following month, I got a job as a call centre agent at a telecoms company and I hesitated to tell him. When I finally found the courage, he was happy for me and he even took me out saying that it would be my turn to take him out next when he got his own ‘better’ job. After another two months passed I suggested he start a business and he liked the idea but put together, we did not have the capital to start and he adamantly refused to ask his parents. Again I suggested he try something else (he wanted to run a sit-out/bar) and he eventually decided on a viewing/gaming centre. He saw his father every once in a while and despite my job we still spoke very well since I worked a shift so we had time together.
We bought games, gaming pads and some T.Vs but what we were saving up for was a big screen projector. I felt bad for him in a way because he did not have the kind of relationship I had with my own parents and despite his Masters’ degree abroad in Accountancy, he still ended up back here to start a viewing centre. I thought he was in good spirits most of the time since we had a goal we were working towards despite the setbacks. My job did not stop us from doing the things we used to although sometimes, I had to beg off but we went out with friends as usual, as a threesome (with my girlfriend).
Maybe if he had a girlfriend she would have seen the warning signs that I did not see. Exactly ten months after he returned I gathered that Sadiq had come back from visiting his father. I was on night duty that day. I came home exhausted feeling so sleepy and I wondered why all the lights in the house were off. Sadiq usually kept a light on for me especially because we both have a fear of the dark even though he does not like to admit it. The house was stuffy and I did not even think of the hunger gnawing my stomach, sleep was taking over. I walked into the parlour to turn on the fan and open the windows when I saw Sadiq. My kindred spirit, my brother and shadow was hanging from the fan.
The only thing I remember was that I tried mouth to mouth respiration after cutting him down from the ceiling. He was very cold by then and I knew he was dead but I still tried. I could not just do nothing! Perhaps God would visit with a miracle. I don’t know what happened afterwards except that I found my family gathered around me and Sadiq’s body. They said I was admitted at the hospital for two full weeks without saying a word. All I know is that if I don’t talk about this now, I might burst.
Sadiq did not even stand a chance and I am angry with him for not talking to me. I blame myself too for not noticing he was depressed, I blame his parents for being the root cause, I blame everything! I cannot concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes and all my fancy degrees seem meaningless now. I am not a writer so forgive my errors, I am not trying to seek attention, I only wonder if I am not slipping into ‘crazy’. Please respect my wish for anonymity.
                          ANONYMOUS

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