Kemi sat there, saying nothing. Her hands went up at intervals, ruffling her hair, trying to soothe the raging emotions within. She thought about everything. Her childhood, her campus days. Her work. She couldn’t tell when exactly she had begun feeling extremely dissatisfied with life. But it must have been way back.
“As you already know, I’m Kemi Ogundipe, only daughter of the renowned Professors Ogundipe and Ogundipe, both of whom are Senior Advocates of Nigeria…” Kemi ruffled her hair again, and gave a nervous laugh. “I’m your perfect millionaire’s daughter.” She crossed and uncrossed her legs. There was tension in the room. It threatened to rob her of her self-confidence. She frowned. It felt like this session was a violation of her privacy. She tried to control her racing heart. She was an Amazon. A career woman who had won several cases without battling an eyelid. She who could stand before senior advocates and deliver her convictions without flinching, now felt so vulnerable? She couldn’t understand it.
Kemi closed her eyes and tried to gather her thoughts. The hum of the air conditioning system offered her some respite. Smells carried to her nostrils. Perfumes? She smiled as she recognized Mangodo’s male cologne. It smelled like wet tobacco. She shivered, as her pores gave way to the chill of the room. Ivy’s perfume wrestled with Mangodo’s and won, wafting into her nostrils. She felt like choking. She could never understand why a lady would choose to wear such offensive perfumes. For a moment, she completely forgot she was supposed to be talking about herself.
Sophie Mmarete was a patient woman. She had learned that patience was perhaps the most important virtue the psychiatrist had to muster. She didn’t intend to push Kemi at all. But she had seen situations where patients got so comfortable with therapy sessions, they simply slept off. “Kemi?” Sophie kept her voice gentle, nudging.
“Oh.” Kemi opened her eyes. “Sorry. I was carried away.”
“That’s perfectly normal dear. Do you wish to continue?” Sophie asked.
Kemi looked over at Mangodo. He was smiling at her. She returned the smile and let her gaze move towards Ivy. Ivy had a lost look about her. She seemed oblivious to all else. Kemi cleared her throat. “People talk about how bad things happened to them and all that. How they got sexually abused, and how one of their parents died, or how they passed through so much hardship. I don’t fit into all that. It’s a wonder that I was diagnosed of depression.”
“Why is it a wonder?” Sophie pressed further. “Would you say you had a very normal childhood?”
“Well, yes.” Kemi shrugged. “Much more normal than most kids I know. I was never sexually abused. My nanny was the kindest woman I knew. I had all the things money could buy. Toys I never even opened. I had loads of friends in school; people who wanted to be around me. I grew up pampered. Perhaps over pampered.”
“But still you felt something was missing?”
“I wouldn’t quite say I felt something was missing.” Kemi took a deep breath. “I knew something was lacking. I had everything. Why wasn’t I a happy child?”
“No ma’am, I wasn’t. My teachers kept saying I kept too much to myself. It was written in my school reports most times. They said I needed to be more socially focused. Whatever that meant.”
“But you just said you had many friends.” Sophie needed to be certain about little details.
“More like people who felt they were my friend. Now that I think about it, there was never a time I went out of my way to make a friend. I simply picked a few from those who kept pressing round me. Others were still friends, but none was that close to me. I knew I was always in my own world.”
“So you kinda pushed people away?”
“Well, because they didn’t mean anything to me. They weren’t the ones I wanted. They weren’t the ones I needed.”
“Who did you need then?”
“My parents, dammit!” Kemi screamed.
Sophie was used to outbursts. But the swiftness with which Kemi had crossed the threshold from super calm to hysterical made her flinch just a little bit.
Mangodo jumped up from his seat, bemused. Seeing there wasn’t much of a reason to stay standing, he sat down again.
The scream must have refocused something inside Ivy’s psyche. She now seemed to be paying attention to her environment for the first time since she had had her session the previous day.
“Phew! Easy dear. Kemi, are you angry at your parents for some reason?” Sophie was careful not to aggravate the situation.
Kemi didn’t say anything. Then she shook her head in the negative. “No I’m not angry at them. I am disappointed in them. Utterly disappointed.”
“But you said they gave you everything you wanted.”
“Everything except themselves. They were never home. They never listened to me even when I tried to communicate how much I needed them to be around. Other parents took their kids out. They went to fun places. They spent time together. But I grew up an orphan. I had parents I seldom saw. Parents I didn’t know. There was always a court case to handle. Meetings, meetings and meetings. People brought assignments that parents helped them do to school. But all I had was a nanny, and stupid toys I didn’t care about. Why did they give birth to me if they didn’t want me? Tell me. Who does that? Huh? Who?”
“Maybe they were unusually busy?” Sophie said in their defense.
“Too busy to raise their only child? Nah. They were selfish. They still are. And you know the most annoying thing? I ended up just like them. I have a job I hate, even though I do it with professional accuracy. I never wanted law. I hated law. But I became a Barrister just to prove to them I’m good enough; to show them I could beat them in their own game. I have a life I hate, and I don’t have friends that truly care about me. I never cared about anyone either, till very recently.” Kemi’s gaze instinctively searched Mangodo’s face. The look in them reassured her. “I always felt like I was in some kind of social competition with other kids. I was continually reminded of how I needed to be smarter than the kids of the other SANs who were friends of my parents. I was told how I needed to be strong, to read my books. Why did I always have to be in a competition? There were times I wished I could just fail, to get back at my parents, but no! The ego in me wouldn’t let me fail. I had a reputation to maintain.”
“It says in your medical records that you took to some hard substances?” Sophie wanted to redirect Kemi’s thoughts away from the anger.
“That began the day I first had sex.”
Mangodo shifted in his seat.
“It was inside the Church compound, after mass one Sunday. I had gone to the restroom to ease myself…”
“You do not have to mention the details Kemi.” Sophie interrupted.
“Isn’t this a therapy?”
“It is, but…”
“No buts ma’am. I ran into Tom. He was the son of one of our neighbours.”
“Did he molest you?”
Kemi laughed out loud. “No ma’am. Tom was a sweet innocent boy. I was the one who molested him. When I was done with Tom, he ran out of the restroom without so much as a backward glance.”
“How old were you at the time, and how is this related to drugs, Kemi?”
“I was fifteen. See, I was a very lonely person. I had no friends, no siblings, no nothing. But I was far from innocent. I had begun looking at pornography and using sex toys. Which was why poor Tom felt overwhelmed. Later that day I bought pills and overdosed on them. No one found out. Woke up from the effects myself and took myself to the hospital the next day. Did you hear that? I was fifteen when I first took myself to see a doctor for abusing drugs. My parents were away as always. I guess this was it for me. I had nearly died in my room and my parents didn’t even know about it. But trust me. I had made sure not to go to the family doctor…” Kemi got off the seat and stretched. “Do I have to keep talking?”
“If you feel like it?”
Ivy’s phone rang noisily, startling everyone.
“I’m taking that as my cue”, Kemi said. She was dying to hear what Mangodo would say about himself. Now that she had started talking, she knew this wasn’t such a bad idea. Deep down, she dared hope she’ll get better.
Mangodo moved over to the central chair. He didn’t mind talking to the pretty psychiatrist. “Can I begin?”
“Yes. But Professor Nero would be handling your session.
“No way,” Mangodo said, jumping off the chair. Anyone but Professor Nero.
The way Laura and Sophie were laughing made him know Sophie was kidding. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it one bit.
To be continued…
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019.