He snubbed her.
Zara couldn’t believe what had just happened. It shook her to her bones. “Did he just ignore me”.She repeated to herself over and over again long after he had passed.
As she went about her work for the day, she’ll suddenly pause to relieve the moment when she had been ignored. She tried to come up with an excuse for his rude act but when couldn’t come up with one.
“Zara are you okay? What nonsense is this? Why haven’t you yet distributed the letter yet? Ehn?” The angry voice of her boss penetrated her mind. “Instead of you doing your work you are busy staring at nothing. Are you getting paid to look into the air?.”
“I am-m sorry ma” She stammered
“Sorry for yourself! You’re always with your phone, you are always sluggish. Why must you always come up with excuses?” She paused as if expecting a response but Zara knew better than to respond. “I give you 30 minute and nothing more to finish that work. “.
“Yes ma” Zara replied in a small voice. She didn’t want to say anything to upset her boss anymore especially with the way the veins on the side of her neck pushed forcefully against her skin.
Zara bent her head in shame as she went about doing her work. It took a lot of effort for her to stop the tears from falling.
“What’s wrong with you? you’ve just been doing anyhow today. I have asked what’s wrong with you, but you’ve refused to say a word”. Zara went about her work ignoring Bimpe, her colleague and seat partner.
“You won’t talk right? you’re acting as if you can’t hear me”.
“Bimpe what is it? do you want to scold me like Mrs Banjo just did? is it compulsory to answer you? please I have a deadline to meet”. She snapped angrily.
“Zara? me?” Bimpe asked in surprised. “I don’t blame you Zara, I blame myself for caring enough about you to ask about your welfare. I am very sorry for …”
“Bimpe please don’t be like this”. She interrupted. “I am the one sorry for, for….” She stammered and then paused.Zara tried to tell Bimpe what she was sorry for it was difficult to bring the words out.
“What am I exactly sorry for?” She asked herself. She licked her lips as she struggled some more to bring the words out. She was sorry for a lot of things and shouting at Bimpe was the least of the things to be remorseful for.
“Zara if it’s this hard for you to apologise then don’t bother, you might as well not be sorry”.She watched Bimpe walk away angrily.
“Oh God! can today get any worse? ” She cried.
And it did get worse. But she embraced it wholeheartedly as reward for her sin ,for she had not only had allowed a married man run his hand over her body, she had passionately returned his kisses. Even worse, she did not mind doing it again.
Maybe I didn’t kiss him well enough? Maybe he didn’t enjoy kissing me? Maybe …
Anxiety had hit her like a ton of bricks and then thrown her carelessly into an unfamiliar, isolated hole . For several weeks Ibimina had been unable to stop herself from thinking of herself as a failure. She hated the fact that she couldn’t help her daughter neither could she stop the virus of guilt that ate at her.
Ibimina stared at Tayo, her husband with bland eyes. He had to come again to visit her at the hospital but she couldn’t bring herself to feel anything. She heard him speak but she couldn’t bring herself to respond either. She simply did not have energy but for herself…She needed all her strength to get out of the depression that was weighing her down.
She wanted to accept Tami the way she was and was already in the transition process but the isolation from family and friends was unbearing and then the negative vibes she got whenever she went out with Tami was a constant reminder that there was something wrong with her child . Ibimina knew her financial status was not strong enough to accommodate Tami’s behaviour and she couldn’t afford to look for a Job because no one was willing to babysit Tami.
This was one of the many thoughts that had dragged her into depression. for Ibimina could not comprehend why God would give her problematic child despite the fact that she had served him all her single life and obeyed him by keeping her body for her husband until she got married.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Tami. She’s as valuable as every child. I get the part where you feel she broke your heart”. Dr.Alex said
“Exactly how I feel! Alex, like she broke my heart” Tayo interrupted, as he jumped off his seat.” You need to have seen Tami when she was younger. She was so full of life and completely normal but all of a sudden! Pfffft! she became abnormal…”
“Tayo she’s still normal stop calling her abnormal”. Dr.Alex scolded, a disapproving frown on his face
“Okay I am sorry for using that word. But you get what I mean don’t you?” Tayo replied with frustration.
“I get you Tayo. Stop being hard on Tami and stop miserable with yourself. I repeat there’s nothing wrong with her . You just need to understand her neurological difference”
“What does that even mean?” Tayo scoffed.
He had come to the hospital to see Ibimina when he met Alex, an old school mate and also a doctor in the same hospital. Dr.Alex had asked after Tami but instead of giving the cursory response he had broken down and started talking. He couldn’t tell if it was as a result of Ibimina’s depression and standoffish attitude as she looked at him with unseeing eyes or the pressure to restrain himself from actually making love to a woman he had just met. A woman who seemed like the only one his daughter loved . This morning when he dropped Tami at school, she had looked so naive and innocent as she sat behind the large desk at the reception and that’s when he really felt the blow of guilt hit him for taking advantage of her .
He faced Dr.Alex. He was about the only one that understood how Tami’s confusing state of mind affected him. He decided to pay attention to what he was saying.
“Guy, see it this way. No human can be the same despite the fact that we are of the same specie. People think differently, act different, behave differently…”
“I get the point, go straight to the conclusion”
“Guy relax. What I am trying to say is, you should see Tami’s case as neurological difference and as normal as any human variation. Once you start to see it this way, you’ll begin to love her for who she is and not what you expect her to be. It will be easy for you to address her unique needs and behaviour”
Tayo nodded. If only Dr.Alex knew how deep he had gone in mending in his heart from the disappointment he felt every time Tami behaved differently. “Alex I am grateful. You make sense die!”
“No qualms. In most developed countries there are Neurodiverse committee’s that can help you understand Tami effortlessly, cause you’ll get to hear the experience of other parents. By the way, do you know why your wife is stuck with with depression?”
“Well….” Tayo hesitated. He had expected a change of topic
“Maybe it’s because she worries too much. She probably nagged herself into depression”. He responded at last.
“Tayo don’t be mean. How can you say that about your wife?Is everything okay?”
“See you . Guy it is because you’re not married, you can’t understand”
“Tayo this is not about being married or not. Your wife is suffering from depression simply because she lacked support”
“Lack support? That’s not possible. I work my ass off to pay for all the bills, Ibimina doesn’t work, she doesn’t do anything, she doesn’t contribute a dime! The only thing I stopped doing was to drive them to the hospital and she’s been mad about that for forever”. He panted heavily. “What more does she want from me?”
“I am not talking about financial support here. I mean support in dealing with Tami. Tragedy set in because there was no support for her emotionally hence depression and anxiety.
Tayo couldn’t say anything. He knew he had a hand in Ibimina’s depression but he didn’t want to think too much about it. He was already under enough pressure to face the truth so he pretended to listen to Alex meanwhile his mind was conjuring and relieving the image of Zara as she responded to his touch and how much he had enjoyed it doing it.