A few months ago, I was in terrible shape. Not too terrible to get myself killed, but terrible, nevertheless.
And surprisingly, no one had a clue to how bad I felt. Yeah. Surprise. Surprise.
Before I say anything, reasons for the ill-feeling, then, first.
I had become an Uncle for the first time. My sister had a baby girl, and everybody but me, was able to see her. Their voices, so excited, so happy, couldn't contemplate all that went through my mind. I was happy, but not as happy as I wanted to be. I wanted to see her. To hold her. But I couldn't. I had School to study for. Sit through. Work at.
The birth was important to all of us. By conceiving, my sister had proved everybody in the vicinity wrong who thought there was something wrong with her.
I was asked to vacate the place I was living at for the past three years.
People say that it takes you a year to get used to a place. Three years then: I felt almost at home.
The motive behind the sudden eviction notice lay with the fact that the family I lived with (and still am) had lied to their local council. Under their agreement with the council, the house was a family home, to be occupied by members of the family, only. And recently, given the uproar that Baby P's abuse had created in the media, they had taken a keen interest to visit houses with children to inspect cases of violence.
The family has a disabled daughter. And as a result, she has personal access to members of the council that deal with disabilities. She wanted a room. For herself. Which she wasn't getting. So she went and told on her parents.
Net result: council visits. They could have taken the child away and sued the parents for negligence. The worse that could happen.
My landlord is a lazy man. So obviously he delivered the message at the eleventh hour. The night before the visit, that is.
I refused to leave. I said I have paid my rent for the month and would only leave at the end, provided they find a suitable accommodation for me. I realised that they couldn't just throw me out, as keeping me on their side would best suit their interests, especially since I knew the whole deal. Well, now I did anyway.
I couldn't obviously just disappear with my three years' worth of things. So, I was told to hide.
It started off as one day.
It ended three months later.
I had to wake up at five in the morning to rush out before their surprise visits happened (if it happened), only to come back at hours past six (after office hours).
In the cold, miserable weather. My stuff hidden away in different corners of the house.
I asked them to move me, but they hadn't found a place for me, yet. When they did, they were to let me know...
My internet stopped working. The only means with which I could have seen traces of the baby. Stayed in touch with the only people who wanted to talk me, even if it was for a few minutes everyday.
I had just graduated from university. All friends had parted ways, and we hardly saw each other after that. Everyone went on to live their busy lives.
And too top it all, I still had to get on with life and my postgraduate degree...
It's funny how people always ask you to stay in touch, and never bother replying to that one message you sent them with the very intention in mind.
It's funny how people ask you to be punctual with your (for example) payments, and then still have guts to tell you to hide so that they don't get caught. Because, remember, they did you a favour.
It's funny how everybody takes you for granted...
That you were the last thing on their minds.
I learnt a very valuable lesson at the time. Something I hadn't learnt all these years at school and university. Something I hadn't learnt from rows with friends, or lone trips to and from places.
And what was it?
Family is the most important part of your life. The only people, despite all odds, who participate in different shades of your life. It was a feeling no friend or anybody else could fill in for ever.
No one else really cares that they were missed by you. They see that as a sign of your weakness. Of your dependency on them.
Just like they don't really care you feel like crap on the inside.
They don't until you tell them. Until you face them.
I realised that day, I have so much respect for everyone else that I have none left for myself.
And I realised, it was time to make some changes to my life.
The distinction has been made very clear, now.
I am today what I wasn't yesterday.
And I owe it to you. All of you.