PART ONE: THE PUSH It wasn’t meant to go this way. No, far from it, this wasn’t supposed to be how it all ends, after years of being almost inseparable from Tayo, like twins from the same womb, living the way couples did, and being the envy of everyone on the street. The memory of seeing him sprawled out on that floor with blood gushing from a slash on his torso, and a knife sticking out of his chest still hunted Nneka. At nights, she pierced the silence with her screams whenever she dared close her eyes to sleep, the horrible scene almost seemed to be on repeat every time, it all played back in the same sequence like she was reliving those moments over again. It all began when he returned from the psychiatrist, after a session he was forced to attend, Tayo had pleaded with his family, tried convincing them that he was fine, but they didn’t believe him because he had had a mental breakdown in the past. When he saw that his pleas were falling on deaf ears, he tried running from home but his siblings captured him and bundled him into the back of the sienna, he fought, kicked, punched and struggled but he was no match for the strength of all of them combined. He was bound like a ram being led to the slaughter into the asylum. He was administered some drugs to make him calm as he was too violent to control, he was evaluated by the psychiatrist, put in restraints and to be admitted for three months for monitoring. Nneka and most of his friends were restricted from seeing him during his time at the hospital, only family members were allowed access to him. There was no way to contact him as his mobile phone was taken from him. To be clear, Tayo was indeed perfectly fine, he had only made a snide remark that his family didn’t understand at the time but for the fact that it was all too similar to description of his hallucinations the last time he had a mental breakdown, they had insisted he see a doctor but Tayo already being tired of the countless visits to the psychiatry and knowing that he was perfectly fine refused seeing a shrink. An act that further convinced his parents that he was definitely having a breakdown. Three months passed and Tayo was allowed to go back home but the trauma of his stay and the effects of the psychoactive drugs he was forced to take at the hospital stayed with him. He acted normal on the surface for fear that he might be termed a lunatic and forced to go back to the psychiatry and maybe for a longer period this time. On the inside he was far from normal; the thoughts that his own family had doubted his sanity and forced him into a mental home without contact with friends for three months perpetually disturbed him. So this time around, he didn’t tell anyone about his hallucinations when they started. The hallucinations came worse now, aided by the effects of the drugs he was made to abuse during his stay at the mental home. He moved out of the family house and refused to tell them where he was headed. His family had guessed he was probably going to be staying with friends. So they asked about him but his friends all swore he hadn’t made contact with any of them. They had even gone to look for him at Nneka’s not minding that she was staying at her parents’ and it would have been impossible to accommodate her boyfriend, but he wasn’t there either. Tayo’s family couldn’t report to the police as he obviously wasn’t a missing person. He seldom picked up his phone when they called and only spoke for not more than three minutes every time. He vehemently refused to talk with his parents or elder siblings, preferring to only talk to Bunmi, his little sister instead. Whenever Bunmi asked about his whereabouts he always told her not to worry, that he was safe and at peace with himself. Little did they know he was a disaster waiting to happen. To be continued... © Chinecherem Stanley Onuigbo Please your support is needed.