Posted in SHORT STORIES: Hurting Hearts and Haunted Heads | Kayode & Tola Olla

Short Fiction: QUESTIONS — or, Even When The Healing Doesn’t Come

The search came for Jamie at last.

The desperate personal search for a permanent solution to what her therapist had called an incurable sickness she could only learn to live with.

And she’d being living with it since she was a kid.

She was now a twenty year old student of the University of Ilorin. Obviously, she’d learned to live.

But that wasn’t what Jamie wanted from life. She wanted to be free.

The quest to be free started when she heard a woman tell her in a prayer meeting on campus, that she was cured.

She decided to hang onto the prophetic message and stop her meds. She’d always been a devoted Christian and a believer in the power of God.

Jamie hanged onto the words she heard and stopped her meds. Time gradually rolled into weeks and months that she’d been all right without the drugs.

It was like the eventual breakthrough, finally. It was the first time she stopped taking the meds since she started using them as a little girl. If she ever skipped her meds at all, it’d always been for a day or two in a long while.

Now that she’d stopped taking them, there were no relapse symptoms troubling her for months. So much she’d lost count of days after counting up to a hundred since she’d stopped popping pills.

But only until now that the shadows started creeping in gradually and overwhelmed her, with more emotionally straining symptoms.

And so much poor Jamie felt… well, sorely betrayed by God.

Or, so it seemed.

And then, a crisis finally did set in. And it was the dark, distressing years again.

Jamie struggled hard; she wasn’t going to go back to the meds. She struggled for weeks and weeks on end.

But the the Slough of Despond were calling again.

Like ghosts from the gloomy bottom of the graves.

It was about five months already since she’d stopped popping pills.

She searched about her condition on Google all night on her Blackberry phone. She kept stumbling across symptoms used in reference to stopping the orthodox medications.

She read through blog posts on the topic until she was tired of reading.

This was going to be her breakthrough long craved for, perhaps.

But the struggle, the headlong struggle, couldn’t just be put up again, she admitted sadly.

“Perhaps, it had to end here,” cried a sad, sad soul.

Perhaps it had to end. Right here.

And it did end that month—the fight; it did come to an end. Jamie went back to pills, despondently.

But the after-effect never ended yet. No, not that day, or that month, or that year.

Those were very long years—and slow years, of recovery.

Recovery it was—both of sickness. And hurt.

Hurt, yes. Deep-down in her subconscious mind, she felt like God had betrayed her, had hurt her.

She repressed the questions trying to well up in her chest each time.

It was for so long.

When the thoughts would come haunting her, with warm tears coursing down her sunken cheeks, she’d brush up her eyes with her hand.

Almost as a reflex, too, she’d blank out her mind with a firm closure of her eyes and a brisk thrust of her head.

She was really feeling resentful towards God. She felt it deep down within her heart’s core.

But she didn’t know it.

A whole lot of things had gone wrong in your nervous coordination already. She’d got a sort of nervous breakdown already.

Sometime, a way too visible and uncontrollable twitching of the lips when she was embarrassed.

Or, a much too pronounced and yet uncontrollable stumble when she ran into someone she was just thinking about.

Or maybe, too, a well too profuse sweating when she was nervous, and unnecessarily so.

And yet again, a tactile movement or sensation in her palm, when she held a hand. And, so physical was the tacyile sensation that the person she held would feel her palm on theirs seeming to tease it.

The sensation would come when she feared it could occur just then and embarrass her. It always happened no sooner than she entertained that apprehension in her mind.

It seemed her hurting mind was toying with her body now. And it was a darn needless embarrassing game it was playing!

She’d thought along that line in an height of frustration.

Jamie reasoned: for a man who felt the tactile movement whenever he shook hands with her, he might think Jamie was flirting with him and was trying to drop a naughty hint.

Oh, that misconception—it sure was hurting enough to consider!

For a woman woman who felt the tactile sensation from Jamie’s palm whenever they shook hands, she might feel Jamie was lesbian and was simply making advances.

Oh goodness, she could hardly take in the deep hurt of the misconception—being the Christian young woman she was.

And to consider that a faith-based attempt quest led her to all those. Oh no, the hurt felt much like the hurt of a girl’s rape by a trusted friend.

She felt for the first time the way a growing young woman may feel about a haunting past of a sexual abuse.

Wanting to blank her mind of haunting thoughts. Shutting her eyes closed and intentionally emptying the mind plate in that moment.

She felt that way. She felt just so. She felt cheated by God and bore deep resentment toward him.

But, ironically, she didn’t know this. She didn’t know.

Until… well, until that rainy evening Chinedu asked, “Have you gone back to your drugs?”

♠♠♠

Jamie walked along the sidewalk by the main road to her hall of residence on the University of Ilorin campus.

She couldn’t hear Chinedu call her from behind him.

She didn’t have an earpiece plugged into her ears. But the times were those when overwhelming questions kept arising in her lone soul.

She only walked down the sidewalk, having more than enough ache in her troubled mind.

Chinedu was close up to her when at last Jamie heard her name called from behind.

“Jamie…!” She could recognize the voice. It was Chinedu’s.

She stopped in her pace and turned back. “What’s up, Chinedu?” she greeted; her face wan.

“Oh, I’m cool,” he replied, shaking her warmly. “How are you, Jamie? How is your health? Have you gone back to your drugs at all?” Three questions rolled in all at once.

The questions—they sounded to her like questions; not pleasantries. And they drummed in her ears, in her head.

Chinedu was Jamie’s close male friend on campus. He was the only one on campus who knew about her illness and who she already told about her erstwhile “healing”.

But Jamie hadn’t told him about her return to medication, as yet.

Jamie snapped an answer back in her friend’s face, that she’d gone back to popping pills.

And then, she walked on—as though she was angry with someone.

Chinedu drew her back by the hand, steadied her and asked her what’d happened.

The way Jamie responded made him suspect his sweet friend was really bitter, somehow.

“I don’t just want to talk about it,” she said; “that I’m back to square one, back to popping pills. As simple as that!”

It was a cutting tone the voice came out with. And then, Jamie started to babble some more about how everything happened.

The voice was laden with hurt, long suppressed hurt… and sipping out raw.

Chinedu called her aside to the bus stop where they talked some more. It was close to thirty minutes they talked.

And a light rain was beginning to fall.

Jamie told him about how she believed she was healed and stopped her medications.

Told him about how it worked for her but only for a period of time.

She told him about how she held on for so long when the symptoms came back and she had a crisis.

And, of course, about how she held on for so long until she couldn’t any longer.

About how she was sicker than she was before she stopped the pills, too.

And about how new and strange symptoms came on top everything.

She told him about the most painful of those hurting symptoms, the tactile sensation in her palm when she held a hand.

And Chinedu couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.

Chinedu asked her to hold his hand; that he wanted to feel it. She told him it wasn’t necessary to prove it to him by that.

And then, she blurted one of the things she hated now, was for a Christian to walk up to her and tell her she hadn’t put up enough faith to get a miracle.

Or for someone to walk up to her and say she hadn’t held on long enough to make the miracle permanent.

She blurted out she might leave a literal wound on the person’s body in a fit of annoyance.

It was to Chinedu’s utter amazement.

No, she was that hurting.

It was the height of soul hurt now—and oh no, she blurted out.

“I don’t even want to be healed—ever again! And let God keep the healing to Him! I won’t need to ask it from Him ever again—I promise Him! Let him just keep it to Him!”

Chinedu had been there before—that feeling, that hurt and resentment against God Himself.

He said, “Sweetheart, you’re really hurt and it looks like you’re very bitter against God. Like you’re very angry with Him.”

It was Jamie’s turn to be amazed. She’d never thought so. That she was bitter against God.

She loved God, she reasoned. And, jealously, in fact.

But really, it had never occurred to her she was angry—or vengeful, or something.

But just as Chinedu said it, it just kind of suddenly made sense. Like, this was for real.

So, she said, “You think so?”

“Yes,” Chinedu replied.

Jamie started to reflect on everything including her own words.

Chinedu told her how she needed to find a quiet time and pour out that hurt as raw as it was.

To tell God honestly, and frankly, how everything had hurt her so real bad. And how upset she was.

Chinedu told her he’d been very there before, and pretty recently. He said they were as a result of hard circumstances.

“We all have questions,” he said; “but it’s perhaps really not all we’ll have perfect answers to on this side here.

“Some reasons and purposes will not be understandable till we cross over to see God. Some others will be clearer here but at a later time when the storm is all passed and the sun begins to come up.

“Trust me; in hindsight, everything would look just the master plan we needed—however painful it was.

“Just like a baby boy’s circumcision which his mother would allow for a greater sexual health goal exclusively for him.

“And even though it makes her cringe all over to see her lovely bundle wince in excruciating pain!

“Pain exists to make joy worth it; darkness to make light worth it; death to make life worth it, and evil to make good all worth it.

“Life will be an unimaginably sickening stench of ungrateful robots with a rotten feeling of entitlement, if there are no choices and if good was only forced on every one of us.

“Nothing like that exists—not in fiction, not in life either!”

Jamie felt a lot relieved by the talk. Like it was the therapy from emotional hurt that she’d been wishing for unconsciously.

She would later in time enter some lines of discovery into her diary.

In retrospect, I can see that this really hurting experience gradually turned me – a once sanctimonious, judgmental person, into a more approachable and understanding person on other people’s matters of emotional hurt.

For a long time I felt how it is to feel so deeply hurt beyond what you can place in words. And now I understand people who are hurting more and reached out to them with more love.

I find fulfillment and true purpose in doing this. So many people than I can ever number have found hope in the face of utter despair through my encouraging words.

I’ve never thought living life could be this worthwhile. I’m thankful for finding myself!

Recently my therapist confirmed I’m incredibly healing up, and with “a jet incredible speed.” That’s how he put it.

The man couldn’t hide his amazement. He said I must have prayed. I didn’t know what to answer because, frankly, I never prayed before I got the prophetic word initially. It was God’s boundless mercy and love that reached out to me then.

And it wasn’t my prayers that got me where I am right now, too. Through a path that lets me find myself at that. It’s just an undeserved mercy and love I got!

I’ve found the diamonds in the rough, really. This is the beautiful essence I found in my experience.

So now, Jamie promised Chinedu she would find time later to do what he’d advised her.

The rains were ceased, now. It had washed off her sadness.

Jamie extended her hand. “Thanks, really,” she said.

Chinedu shook her hand. “Oh not at all,” he smiled; “what are friends for, by the way?”

And just then, Jamie felt her palm give the tactile sensation. He saw Chinedu gave her a polite nod, smiled and then squeezed her hand warmly.

Jamie just sort of looked away a little, and shyly mumbled, “That…”

Next, she kind of freed her hand, feeling a little too awkward and embarrassed to stay any much longer.

Author:

I am K. Olla. An ambassador of Christ. A husband to a beauty. A lecturer when I wake. A novelist when I dream.

2 thoughts on “Short Fiction: QUESTIONS — or, Even When The Healing Doesn’t Come

  1. Great piece. I enjoyed every part of the story especially this part: ‘Pain exists to make joy worth it…’ May inspiration keeps flowing. Thanks for this precious gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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