On the balcony with Efe, in the rain, at the end of our discussion on the purpose of life and the reason behind our existence, after muddling for hours but only finding ourselves at an impasse. We have had those moments surface when doubt was the number one companion, forcibly delaying progress. While my fears had a stronghold on me, Efe had lived my fears, becoming an embodiment of it. I stared at my dear friend who had abandoned the ideologies instilled in us from birth, applauding his bravery but judging his mental state of mind. His silence gave me room to question myself further and process his stream of thought. The smile on his face showed a burdened free man and I wanted to be free too, with my subconscious soaring the skies like an eagle; brave & confident. Earlier, Efe’s words had an impact on me; I was hungry for more and every groveling second left me with a stronger appetite. Intensely I stared at him, foolishly hoping he would break his silence but it was over and I knew it.
C’est la vie, I recalled him say.
“Have you ever stared at the dark sky and wondered why you breathe?” He had asked hours ago.
On hearing his question, I stared at the stars in the heavens and the more I stared, the more my fears gripped me. They were beautiful like diamonds in the sky so I reached for them. Disappointed but not surprised, my hand was empty.
“Why are we alive?” He rephrased his previous question. “This existence is forced; birthed out of nowhere, forced to endure unnecessary trials while being confined by rules and regulations that are being broken by those with power.”
Being busy with our lives, we hadn’t reached out to each other in weeks. I was doing my thing, he was doing his, but I wish I had been there for him. Work was a pain in the butt, I was having relationship problems, and as well as some financial issues. At any moment, the pressure could have snapped me.
His words had saddened me and his shoulders had fallen from all the burden it carried till the final moment. My regret was too late. In a way, I related to his words and could somehow understand his pain without being in his shoes.
To Efe’s question, I wanted to reply, “To praise and worship God,” but at that moment, that reason wasn’t enough anymore. It just didn’t feel enough even though I believe he is the genuine reason we breathe. Theoretically, there was no other reason more logical than the man in the sky. Practically, did the man in the sky ever exist?
Efe sighed, stressing his distress further.
“Disadvantaged from birth, in a world whose system favors the minority, pitting the majority against each other in a dog race that rewards the victor with battle scars. It doesn’t make sense anymore,” Efe continued. “And that’s why I stopped believing. You know, after a while, you get tired, you just give up. You wonder why nothing is changing. Your cries, your pleas, the late night screams and hunger for self-mutilation. Nothing! That’s why I stopped believing in a man who claims to know my heart but chooses to play games and be selfish. A man who claims to love me but would rather have me beg to fuel his ego. It makes no fucking sense man. How dare he claim to love us when the world is in agony! Would you let your child suffer? The thought of such a God is asinine. He doesn’t exist but if he did, he just doesn’t care anymore and neither do I.
Chills ran down my spine at that instant. I almost shed a tear. Where was I when my best friend was going through the motions? I should have been there, I should have!
“You honestly don’t mean that,” I replied him.
Efe stayed calm throughout his rant. He didn’t seem angry but he was harboring pain that had nurtured and encompassed his now black heart. He didn’t care about the repercussions of his words, God or not, he just wanted to be free. I had learnt that the only unforgiveable sin was putting God on blast and I was certain Efe was aware of that, but he had abandoned his ways and embraced a new life: a life without the possibility of God. Could I too? The fear of the unknown had a firm grip on my existence. Why do we breathe? If there is no God, all would be for nothing.
A roaring thunder sounded as we spoke afterwards; the stars were losing their shine and it was like a sign that the man in the sky was angry with him, maybe myself included and yes, I was scared. I was fucking scared to shits.
“God is a narcissist?”
Efe gently nodded his head in response.
“He is. The system is only as flawed as those who created it. If human beings are flawed, what’s the problem with God?”
What’s the problem with God?
“What the fuck, Efe?” I screamed. “Take that back!”
He was still calm as ever, not even moving a muscle when the heavens thundered, but I was trembling with fear. Fuck! His words bore heavy consequences that could land me into trouble too; that was my real fear. Selfish, if you might say, but God’s wrath isn’t a fucking walk in the park.
“Take that back, man!” I cried. “Apologize, please!”
I wish you could see the look on his face too. Oh, my dear friend Efe! Truly, what went wrong? It later dawned on me that he never presented what his problem was. I watched my friend rant for hours without asking what went wrong. I was only focused on the present and not the train of tragic events that started it all. Efe looked a shell of his usual self and for him, taking his own life to escape reality was the best solution for him, and I had a burden to carry for the rest of mine.
“Did you once ever beg or even remind your dad to pay your school fees, cloth and feed you?” He had replied.
I shook my head sideways slowly, eager to see what he was driving at.
“Then why do I need to beg “God” to provide me with my basic needs when he chose to make me exist,” He casually replied.
Why do we breathe?
It was only then his question made more sense. Do we exist to fuel an ego? Truly God was a man, because men have very delicate egos that constantly need to be boosted, constantly being stroked like the penis of a serial masturbator. No, yes, no, yes. What’s the real reason?
“You don’t have to say a thing,” He continued. “That was the same way I felt when I realized all these things but it’s too late for me. I am fed up. I don’t have the strength to fight anymore.”
“What are you saying, Efe?”
Efe looked at me with joy in his eyes. “Fear not, brother. Don’t hate me please. I can feel it kicking in.”
The heavens thundered again and it began to drizzle.
“Feel what, Efe? “ I screamed at him. “Are you mad? What’s all this nonsense you are spewing?”
“Despite all I have said, you’d think they were welcoming me home,” He continued, looking at the sky.
“Efe,” I cried. “What are you talking about? Where are you going?”
I was angry because he wasn’t making any sense yet he was smiling, regardless of my confusion.
“This was the easy way out,” He assured me. “I don’t care if I am labeled a coward, bro. Suicide requires much more strength and conviction that you can imagine. I only wish we had this talk before today and if I am wrong, and there is a God, I will see you on the other side. If not, this is the end.”
He smiled again.
“Efe, what the fuck have you done?” I cried at the top of my voice. “Don’t do this to me. No, please, don’t, Efe.”
“I love you, man.”
Those were the last words I heard from Efe. Gone with the wind, as the heavens poured down on us, there was a broad smile on his face. Only if I had taken a second out of my day to ask him, “You good, bro?” maybe he’d still be with me. Just maybe. ‘Only if’ was all I muttered, hurting myself wishing I could have saved him. He said suicide requires strength, but it also completely shatters those left behind.
As the heavens continued crying with me, I prayed for my dear friend Efe. A moment after, a pill box of Ambien fell out of his breast pocket.