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Author's note: I was down when writing this piece and started thinking about my life. I realised that I don't have to blame myself for everything that happened/happens in my life.
I relate to nothing more other than the screeching cry of a boy who is being hammered into a man, by his own father. It reminds me of who I am and the reality of my life: it’s promises, gifts of hate and the kind of challenges I have to face daily.
Euphoria is an alienated word because I have yet to experience it. My sanctuary is often in a dark room where a lot of my thoughts and prayers are collected. It is a place marked by bloodstains and the moist sensation on the floor reminds you of every useless tear that has ever fallen. This is a place where, even though it’s filled with a lot of violence, I can be myself and escape everyone who wants to hurt me. Their words of abuse echo in my head and, unlike standard echoes, they never fade. They linger on like an incomplete ballad, which is yet to be given a purpose. Their words are purposeful though. Each one reminds me of everything I am incapable of accomplishing. I blame myself daily for every single thing I cannot complete, but the unheard truth is that he kept me back. The man who was supposed to be protect me is the one who deserted me and scarred me with nothing but his weapons of destruction (his hands) for eternity! This... is the life of Keelyn.
One of my earliest childhood memories is the cry of an abused woman, surrounded by the family of villains she was married into. She seeked nothing but to love and be appreciated. As a bastard child, she learned to be independent from a very young age and her father’s early depature from her life contributed to this. All that she had in her life now was her mother who was never there most of the time because she had to work to make sure that her only daughter could have a bright future. As a child, she was isolated from the world because she had no understanding of what family was or meant. As bright as she was, she failed to make friends and she had to mature quickly. Her strength and wisdom gave her attributes that no other child could have- patience and tolerance. This was the girl who later became my mother- Maria. When she married her high school sweetheart- Tony, she thought that it would be the end of her misery and that this would be the start of something new. She would finally have a father, a character who had been missing for the last 25 years of her life but would surely make his prescence felt in the remainder of her life. Her “new” father did protect her as he was the only one who was trying to prevent the entire family from stoning her with their words and hands. With every fist that Tony managed to land onto her face, animosity towards him started brewing inside an unknown part of my body- my soul. As time progressed, I quickly became accustomed to abuse. It was nothing new anymore and... there was nothing wrong with it. This is the nature I grew up in. Every night I feared for my life, my sibling’s life and my mother’s life. I wouldn’t sleep when all of the other kids slept as I would wait for him to pounce and attack her. That is when I would run to give up my life for her. Let him scar me rather than abuse her. As he attacked, I would jump in front of her so that his fists landed on my face. There I was, a seven year old boy with bloodshot eyes trying to protect my mother.
Abuse wasn’t the only problem I faced as a child. My sexuality caused me to be extremely insecure about myself. I worried about what people would think, say and do when they found out. With the kind of relationship my father and I had, I worried about the things he would do to me once he found out. My dreams turned into nightmares and whatever was left of my happiness turned into sorrow. When you are a homosexual black teenager, it is viewed as a deplorable sin. You are destined for one place and one place only- HELL. Suicide was one of the best solutions to such problems and it did cross my mind countless times but I never had the courage to commit myself to doing it. I never told anyone about my problems because it would show weakness and I hated the thought of me being weak. I continued as if everything was normal. When I got a bloodshot eye or “black” eye, I got glasses to conceal the damage my father had done to my face. I hated being interrogated and thus I said nothing. High school came around and in no time rumours about my sexual orientation started flying around. It was pointless trying to hide it from everyone as conclusions had already been made, no matter how hard I tried to pretend to be Heterosexual. Love and relationships are exhausting and tough but the intensity is even greater in “gay” relationships. You have to be careful in everything you do. You cannot show affection in public nevermind in a private area like your home whereby your family will disown you instantly. I come from a Christian family where you have to abide by what the Bible says and nothing more. I was in constant conflict with myself before I came out to my mother although nothing in my life became better, everything started deteriorating and this is how it happened.
I was the only male learner who made it into Harrybrooke High School from my primary school so I didn’t have friends. All of them went to Symphony High and so I had to make new ones quickly before I landed in a mortuary and the cause of death would be “isolation”. One of my closest friends, Gabriella, kept me companied though. She seemed to understand me at all times and would stick up for me when rumours about who I was started flying around. I hated the fact that she was protecting a liar and someone who wasn’t true to who they were but Gabby had a few secrets of her own. She had a distorted view of life just as I had but... her’s was severe. She was also in constant conflict with herself and had anxiety but once she was diagnosed, the damage had already been done. We all don’t know where it started but I bet her break-up with the girl she would give up her life for made it worse and yes she was a lesbian. They were perfect, kind of like Romeo and Juliet but... the gay kind and Gabby loved her to bits. They had the kind of relationship that made heterosexual people jealous. Gabby and her girlfriend were meant for each other. They complemented each other in every way possible and their insecurities and flaws turned into their strengths. That is the first time when I realised what love meant. The stories she would tell me about their first kiss and how she made her heart melt enforced the idea that gay is okay in mind. I, too, wished I could have such an amazing relationship so I came out to a few of my friends. Some didn’t take it as well as others (including Gabby), which made me wait a little before addressing the news again. While I was trying to grow as a person, their perfect relationship started to crumble. Crumble isn’t even the appropriate word when explaining this. It exploded into supernova and died out overnight. I watched as Gabby reached a self-destructive stage, looking hopeless and exhausted. She started wearing her tracksuit top daily even in the blazing heat of the African sun. None of us knew what was happening but Gabriella was a self-harm cutter. Her girlfriend shattered her into pieces, pieces that would break even more when picked up and then combined. I was clueless and didn’t understand what was up and that’s when our second year in high school ended. We were all trying to search for meaning in everything that was happening in our lives but no one would reply.
Over the holidays, all that was on my mind was finding someone to love and... there was a guy who was constantly on my mind ever since I laid eyes on him. His name Raphael and he was very artistic in every way (great actor, dancer, singer, etc.). I fell inlove with him during our first year in high school. Problem was I thought he was heterosexual but I couldn’t help it but fantasize about him daily and wonder if he noticed me. We were very close friends, we shared everything (even personal things about his relationship with his girlfriend). Nothing killed me more than when he would brag about her and I would wish that he was bragging about me. We used to quarrel a lot though and it was for silly things. Deep down, I knew I only argued with him because I loved him and the feeling wouldn’t be reciprocated no matter how many times I wished upon a star. The love I felt for him exceeded the definition of love itself. It’s not love at first site but similar to it. You have this strong attraction to this person and you know you would do anything for them. Anything they say and do, no matter how stupid and foolish, makes your heart melt. The person is like your direct opposite but at the same time your equivalent and whenever you’re with them, everythings perfect. You can practically hear the birds chirping in the background and see the stars dancing around you. That’s when you know you love the person. He was the one...
Back at home, things between my parents were getting better now. They no longer argued as much as they did and there wasn’t any physical violence between them but I still couldn’t find a way to forgive him. Whenever I would reach such a stage he would simply remind him that I’m not his, I’m not his son. Well atleast that’s what he told me and such words echoed in my mind like a lullaby a mother would sing to her child before they would get nightmares. I can’t stand to look at him and whenever I do, everything he has ever done to me rushes back into my mind. Of the three sons he has, he chose to hurt and scar me without a valid reason. He has no remorse what-so-ever for what he did. We have no personal relationship. All that I know of him is that he is my father and not my dad. He might not remember what he’s done to me but I will...
During my third year in high school, I managed to come out to almost everyone and even Gabby was fine with it although we still didn’t know what was going through her mind. When she finally told me that she was a cutter, I was confused. Her life was perfect. She was intelligent and bright, I couldn’t think of anything that would push her to the limit of hurting herself just to feel the pleasure that she claimed that she did. Some of the cuts on her arm had faded but they were still distinct. Some were even fresh. The cuts on her arms were just another translation of how deep her soul had been cut. She was self-destructive now but we still didn’t know what was wrong. As a friend, I also felt hopeless because I was faced with a new situation and I didn’t know what to do. I would hope that she seeked help before it was too late but, one night before our examinations began, Gabby ended her life. She left without a goodbye or a final hug. I was lost throughout that year as someone who encouraged me to be myself, was no longer there to hold my hand or offer me guidance. The last time I saw her or anything that belonged to her, was when her coffin rushed down to the core of her grave. Knowing that her lifeless body was in that wooden box that would carry her to the pits of her grave meant that I had failed her as a friend. Her face, voice and the memories made would just be part of a figment of my imagination. She was gone and would no longer return...
After the funeral I realised that this was the year when I would find the courage to address a lot of the issues in my life and my feelings towards Raphael. One night, when we were on vacation, he enquired who were my lovey-dovey status messages addressed to. I didn’t tell him right away but he kept on pushing and I knew if I didn’t tell him there and then, I wouldn’t get another chance. Then three words silently made their way through out my mouth as I said it’s you Raphael. There was a moment of silence before he told me he felt the same way. We were up all night discussing it and we slept at 2 in the morning forgetting that we had a lot of activities to complete that day. We agreed that we wouldn’t date but that became harder as time progressed. I loved him too much and I worried that he’d find someone else. He promised that I he’d never hurt me or break my heart and that I was his forever. That’s when we decided to go out on our first date, my first date at the mall with a guy. Well he was a little late but when he arrived, he apologised and made me believe that everything was fine. We roamed around before going to the theatre to catch a chick-flick. We sat infront, in a private spot, as no one dared to sit there. We fooled around by playing with each others hands and then, finally, he held my hand. I got a funny feeling or sensation everywhere in my body. I was experiencing “butterflies” for the first time. He whispered into my ear that I should stop shaking and be still as he was there with me, everything was alright. I couldn’t help it but rest my head on his shoulders and cuddle with him. That moment in the theatre was perfect. We sat there talking about things in our lives, relationships and family issues. He understood every word I said, almost as if he experienced it along with me. After the movie ended, we got up and went to the food court to eat (we were still hand-in-hand). As closeted gay teenagers, we tried to act as friendly as possible but when he didn’t let go of my hand, I knew he was serious about us and we had our first dinner together. We couldn’t stop looking into each others eyes or let go of each others hands. It felt like we had been isolated from the anti-gay world and went into another dimension where everything was fine. I forgot about my dad as all that was on my mind was fantasies concerning Raphael and I, that’s what mattered at the time. At school, we even started hanging out together at break time. Sharing things and just talking. Our relationship had reached it’s climax. I knew I would die for him at any given moment and protect him from everyone who would dare to hurt him. Whenever he was feeling lonely, I made sure my voice was the last one he heard as I used up my airtime on him. He was my pillar of strength. He encouraged me to come out to my mother and assured me that everything will be fine when she didn’t take the news well. He stayed up with me that night and comforted. He promised he’d never leave my side and I believed him.
When my mom started accepting me, I told her about him. She wasn’t very happy about it but, for some odd reason, she grew fond of him. She supported us like he was her son. She had finally reached that stage when she was was comfortable seeing me settling down with him and that’s all I wanted. When he held my hand everything was perfect and the feeling of his lips on mine was beyond my wildest expectations. We were on our third date when I kissed him. His legs were on my lap and my arms were around him. He was busy fondling with my fingers and the sound of the lake behind us made completed the picture-perfect moment. I went in gently, it was my first so I didn’t want to ruin it. He kissed me back with the same arousing passion. I didn’t want to let go of him. He held my hands while we were kissing, made me feel secure and at peace. After the kiss, he whispered I love you and I couldn’t help but re-iterate what he said. I thought we were meant for each other and that nothing would tear us apart but... he had other plans. One night, I experienced one of the most hurtful phonecalls in my life. He called to tell me he’d realised that he could only love me as a friend. He told me he hated every kiss that we shared and that he had mistakened the love he felt for me for something that it wasn’t. Now I was the one who was shattered into even smaller and brittle pieces. He failed to explain what happened so that I could understand but simply ended things like I meant nothing to him. All the warnings that I got from people replayed in my mind. One day we were perfect, then the next he’s telling me he doesn’t love me as much as I thought he did. I begged him to be mine but he ended the call by saying we can never be an item. What he and i had felt like it was a figment of my imagination and I knew I had lost the best thing I have ever had. He promised he’d love me and never hurt me, yet two months after we started going out he ended things without a reason. I cried myself to sleep reminscing about all of the things we shared. I didn’t want to let go yet and I still haven’t forgotten about it. I fantasise about him coming back to me and realising that he made a mistake but that will never happen. He put me through hell and knowing that it means nothing to him kills me. I know that if he’d come back running to me i wouldn’t hesitate to take him back.
There were a lot of parallel moments between the relationship Gabby and her girlfriend had and the relationship Raphael and I had. Gabby and I loved them to the core and would do absolutely anything for them but to them, this was just another relationship. All that they wanted was to drain the love you had for them knowing that you would be incapable of loving anyone else as much as you loved them. I am standing at cross-roads right now. My life has taken the same path as Gabby’s life had taken. One of these days, I will cease to exist and I... I will be a part of all of their imaginations. I have scars all over my arms and my eyes are still as bloodshot as they were in the past. I have no soul as all of it has been scarred. I was conceived out of rage, my life has always been framed by abuse, words of violence and scars. Hope, just as euphoria, has become an alienated word. The screeching cry of a boy who once loved, protected and suffered will be silenced.