I laughed to myself and talked to my new found, long lost friend Charles. Charles and I were best of friends in primary school but we lost touch ever since then. He has really changed, now he is jovial and mischievous! Oh the things he tells me. Just now he was telling me how he was arranging with some of his friends to plan a tour for me across the globe to perform my new song. The funny thing is that I am no artist! In fact, I am tone deaf. I know he was just pulling my legs. Sometimes he would be running a commentary on my action in a sing song manner and would make me reel with laughter. But I get worried sometimes, because he wouldn’t allow me to concentrate on tasks. Not that it matters anyways, I don’t really enjoy doing anything anymore, Charles keeps me company all day.
I noticed people staring at me and I wonder why. I asked Charles why people were staring but he seemed to be pre-occupied because I could hear him muttering to some people, who I wasn’t familiar with. The sun was high overhead and I was getting hot and sweaty, and my throat was feeling a little dry. I began to wonder when we will get to where we were going. I was getting uncomfortable, lately, Charles has started becoming distracted a lot, and there are times like now when I hear him muttering to other people.
To tell the truth, I was becoming jealous. He was now finding my company monotonous or boring, whereas I was totally enjoying his. The most annoying thing is that I couldn’t hear a word of what they were saying, so that I’ m completely cut off from their discussion. Now I am beginning to think they might be discussing me amongst themselves. The thought sent a roiling in my insides; I couldn’t imagine Charles betraying me that way.
Just then, I heard them laughing and for the first time, I heard a whiff of what they were laughing about. One of the other unknown had made a comment about the size of my head and to my surprise, Charles was laughing too. Another one was making another comment but I didn’t want to listen, I put my hands to my ears and turned back and was running back home.
I heard Charles voice protesting that we weren’t there yet, and that there was something interesting he wanted to show me but, I couldn’t bear the sound of his voice and I ran faster.
Back home, I hid my head under the pillow and wept. I felt humiliated and embarrassed and above all betrayed. My emotions were in a jam; a mixture of sadness and disappointment and anger. How could Charles? He knew that I had always felt that my head was too big and it was him that had made me come to terms with my looks saying that I was perfect the way that I am. How could he now turn around and join the stranger- though friends of his- to mock me, and on such a sore subject. Yes, Charles had really changed. Obviously, he is now one that could use a friend’s weakness to taunt him. I felt really disappointed in him.
I stayed in bed all day and all night not wanting to talk to anybody, the light in my bedroom was switched off- it was a dark day. I was not interested in eating or drinking or even standing up from where I laid down. My sleep was poor that night and I kept waking up intermittently, only to fall back into a fitful sleep. I kept having this recurring dream where my head was the size of a giant melon and Charles and his friends were rolling on the floor laughing at me.
I woke up the next day feeling tired and not any better. Then Charles was around, speaking to me softly and gently. At the sound of his voice, the memories came flooding and with it a white hot anger. I shouted at him to get away from me and in anger threw the pillow against the wall which caught the wall clock on the far side of the room. The wall clock came crashing down to the floor and the glass shattered. This further fueled my anger.
For a while Charles was silent, but not for long. This time it wasn’t soft or gentle, it was loud and dripping with malice. He said mean things to me; he mocked me and said a lot of demeaning things. I tried to ignore him but it was almost impossible. It was like his presence was everywhere in the room and I was beginning to get claustrophobic in the room. I had to get out of the room, I thought to myself.
With the thought, I jumped to my feet and ran out of the room. I passed my mother on the way to the door and she looked at me strangely, a mixture of fear and worry in her eyes. But there was something else, something I couldn’t place. I suddenly became self conscious and Charles voice came barging into my thought, he was saying I had a very large head. Maybe she was staring at my really large head. Was it mockery or disgust that I saw in her eyes? How can a mother join others in mocking her own child? I was livid. I suddenly felt a strong urge to hit her, and I was on the verge of doing that when I caught myself. How could I ever think of hitting my mother? My mother!
All of a sudden, I was filled with shame. I was ashamed at myself for ever thinking of hitting my own mother. And for the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to hate someone. I hated Charles in that moment. I realized that her mouth was moving and that she must be saying something. I only caught the last word “horrible’’. Even my mother thought I was horrible. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I rushed out of the house not having a particular destination in mind. It didn’t occur to me that I had not showered nor changed my cloth. What did it matter anyways? It wouldn’t change the fact that I was ‘’horrible’’.
As I walked along the streets, I discovered that everybody was looking at me and they huddled in groups making fun of me. Even the young children playing on the roadside were snickering and giggling casting sideway glances at me.
I couldn’t bear it anymore, and I began to shout at the top of my voice.
‘’This is me. This is me. What are you staring at? Am I not human like you?’’ and then the need to prove my humanity became overpowering and I began to remove my cloth till I was stark naked
‘’Now you can stare all you want’’ I shouted
Then the voice came again, low but with such force ‘’you are mad. Just look at yourself’’
At the same time, I heard her voice; it came as a shrill cry, filled with so much pain and agony
‘’Somebody help me! My son has gone mad’’
I looked back and saw my mother half naked on the floor weeping…..