Growing up, I was a psychologically battered boy. I was shouted down by my peers who always made me the butt of their jokes. But did I mind? All I wanted was for them to accept me into their fold. Which they did because they were enjoying what my company afforded them. And cultural practices didn’t make the home any better. Your opinions were as good as non-existent when adults were involved. You must keep mute. The result was that I was jittery and scared of public life.

This followed me to my early teenage years. In school, I was very poor academically and this affected my relationships with classmates and teachers. Particularly, disturbing are the roles played by the teachers. Most of them openly cast aspersions on me and called me unprintable names. To put the situation succinctly, my self-esteem was tattered and pulled down to a low ebb.

As a young adult, I started fighting against every force that tried to hold me back. And expectedly, I was doing it the wrong way. I picked offenses hurriedly since I was expecting everyone I met to be a potential bully. I didn’t have cordial relationship with my family members, even my dad. With my childhood experience, I thought attack was the best form of defence, so I turned into a sort of a monster.  

But about sixteen years ago, I had an experience that would permanently change my orientation about the world around me. The experience positively touched my life and since then it has not remained the same.

It was the year 2003, my father had been hospitalised and I was called upon to tend him, being the freer one and one of those living in the same city as him. I was to eventually stay in the hospital with him for almost two months. It was during this stay that I was transformed into a socially fit person.

On the fateful day, the hospital environment had a sudden change. It seemed like an impending war had just been announced and everybody was scurrying around trying to get to safety. I later got to know that some accident victims in very serious conditions had just been brought in. So the emergency unit was in a frenzy.

Well, after a torrid session, most of the accident victims were stabilised and brought into the regular wards.

Then I saw what would do the magic.

It was one of these patients that captivatedly caught my attention. This guy was burnt from head to toe. He had bandages all over him save for his eyes and mouth. The sight was more than gory. The sight hit me like a sledge hammer. It was like getting an electric shock through my brain.

As if a curtain was raised off my faculties, I started thinking. I wonder how he managed to use the toilet, how he managed to drink or eat … how he would survive without others.

Particularly, I wonder what cosmetic science or technology could restore him. To say the least, he needed the best possible hair transplant procedures and skin donation and grafting to ever again live something close to real living.

But all he had was his family and friends rallying around him, doing everything he needed for him. And it was enough for him. He could hardly raise a finger himself.

This incident made me see that I have always had it wrong. I definitely need others, and at some vulnerable moments, like every other person, I even need them dearly. I realised the futility and temporal nature of life. And above all the necessity of letting go of every bad memory, so as to enjoy the present.  

If you don’t let go of bad memories, you won’t allow yourself to enjoy the people in your life.