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Excerpts from Alba's Diary Excerpts from Alba's Diary
by Abigail George
2012-02-29 07:52:36
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Some people are doomed to follow the path of least resistance. It’s in their blood. It feels like stone. It tastes like wine does. It doesn’t matter if you’re not happy, not attached, single, miserable, frustrated in the workplace, all that matters is that you’re sane. And that the blood coursing through your veins is made up of a pure, vital thread with no spell of madness there. There was many times when I felt broken, down on my luck, as if I didn’t have an ego, a sense of worth, near madness, which is a width of a thread away from suicide. It was a journey into hell and torment. My younger years were turbulent times. It’s near unspeakable what I went through to get here. That passage of time is forever cemented in the fabric of my consciousness. I think that literally the first time I ever felt any sense of healing was when I felt a deep sense of spirituality and when I began to meditate. It helped. I often wonder if I will have children. All women have a nurturing spirit.

 I don’t think that having a mental illness is the most perfect environment to raise a child in. My father also has bipolar but there were instances when there were strains of the illness that were similar to each of us and other times not. I have left it all in God’s hands. I don’t go to church so other Christians would probably say that how can I believe in God if I don’t go to church but I have made it my priority now to think that it is none of my business what people think of me. I am the virginal suicide. Once I was as pure as dew when I remember the times when I was a child, those days when I was most free and innocent and pure. I grew red when I blushed and an olive brown when I returned to my normal colour and then when I grew up a blue, beautiful woman took her place. There were days when I felt as if I was stashed quite literally in a casket not a bed or a bedroom. With my teeth like pearls, lips that say eat, I’m hungry, famished can no longer be ignored. I have hungry eyes. I can get drunk on hamburgers. I can thirst for chips.

 Once I came upon wild girls and stooges in books I was mesmerized and could relate to them. Their rebellious natures were never obscure to me. I thought to myself who would grant my wishes now. Books and the art of a higher sense of learning have aged me magnificently. I’m in my thirties but I feel as though I’m closer to seventy. I always think of Shakespeare when I become depressed. I search for specks of meaning in his plays, the characters and for a light to cast out, ship out figures of truth, not dust and that earthy sensation to boil in my blood. He’s a wonderful ghost of a writer. He makes grieving over the loss seem poetic. I have blood on my hands like a Lady Macbeth, a ghost-in-waiting, walking gently, cutting through a dark house, blinded by madness or thunderous depression. The depression’s god watches the surreal and blurred, slightly out of focus me ‘me’ pass by furniture and appliances with slow desire. We gather together meeting their shadows. I am not so fragile after all. The depression is only a cover up.

 Thoughts raced through my head. They were my drugs. I was making notes on serviettes, receipts, keeping lists and hoarding them. I made as if I had a contract with them. Every single word had a story to tell. I told myself that everyone who is alive must read Khalil Gibran. They must go for the search of their own personal truth in the Sufi poet Rumi. I cradled Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die in my hands. I watched Jodie Foster’s Little Man Tate until my eyes were glassy. Most of the time I held the book or books, the ‘it’ with its powerful mojo against my heart as if there would be a physical, jarring connection there instead of where I usually felt it, in my heart. Veronika and I had things in common. In her I found a secret confidante. I spied on her and in return I imagined that she spied on me. It laced my broken down heart with the gift that there was a well of infinite hope there in outer space for me.

 While I drank tea and ate peanut butter from the jar, I listened to Schubert and Tchaikovsky, paged through Athol Fugard’s plays wondering if I could ever write just one brilliantbrillaintbrilliant tour de force and outstanding, bring the house down on opening night play in my lifetime. I timed myself, counted the laps in the pool I swam, ate French toast and so cooking became the less invasive therapy I never had. And because I never had anything better to do or because I was bored I went into my father’s study and delved into his collection of books. I rifled through this veritable collection starting first with his textbooks before pounding on his unpublished manuscripts, Depression: The Sickness of Our Time and My Bipolar Experience. He had also written a series of booklets on stress. He wrote on its development (it’s all in the mind the pain of the mind). Its dynamic and interaction and how it affected educationalists, learners, their parents and tragedy of people living with Aids in Africa.

 If people only knew about life and coping skills they could be given the tools to single-handedly transform what they thought and felt. He also wrote about teenagers who lived on the edge with thoughts of suicide racing through their heads. Young people who felt that they weren’t good enough for the world they lived in. I could so relate to that. There were books, thick tomes on psychology, education, physics and chemistry from his university days. I discovered that in those days he was dying to belong just as much as I was right now. I always use to think that being a teacher was everything he knew. Teaching wasn’t just a part of his life that it was his whole life. I read his diary that he kept at London University but there wasn’t very much I could glean from it. He was lonely and depressed. He couldn’t understand the London way of life. He felt isolated and torn between reality and depression. He thought the English students were racist. They sat by themselves in the canteen, and in groups in library, they huddled together.

 There was no connection between the world he had come from and the world, the society he was now thrust into. The Continent had a lot of things going for it in terms of culture maybe but the inherent feeling of being accepting of others just was not there. He was homesick. His only friend was Jones. On the days when they didn’t have classes they would go to Dillon’s and scrutinize the books that were banned in South Africa, eat a steak and kidney pie in a tea shop and drink tea with the blue collared workers of England. This is what my own father had told me when he reminisced. But why am I bringing this up. Didn’t I want to go to England once? Once, didn’t I want things, material things? I wanted to study creative writing at Columbia University in New York and work in a restaurant where I could flip burgers, work in a restaurant that sold chilli, french fries, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, bolognaise, fattening pastas, fried chicken with hot sauce, meatballs, and home-made pie served with ice-cream.

 There were black and white photographs taken of the two of them, Adam and Jones facing the unknown, the world they had escaped into together standing together in Trafalgar Square feeding pigeons. It gave me a dazzling feeling inside to see the two of them standing like that together. The world they found themselves in was dazzling to me. I wanted to be a part of it, that despairing loneliness, paired off with another stranger the same gender struggling with the issues of identity, cultural identity. I wanted to lose myself in the British Museum and history but this morning I only got as far as pulling a comb through my hair. I only got as far as watching reruns of Mission Impossible this morning and China Beach. It’s become intrinsic to my survival. I must make notes. I must make grocery lists of words. Otherwise I will go mad, bleep, off my head, bleep, nutty as a fruitcake, bleep. In retrospect when I glimpse, just glimpse into the past it seems as if I did everything wrong to get here.

 Now when I look back it seems as if there was a detailed plan hidden in everything I did. When it comes to issues of faith and spirituality they are always crypticcrypticcryptic. From my coma, my near-death experiences and living on the streets, they say you see light at the end of the tunnel or experience some kind of feeling of God-consciousness. From my insomnia, to running away, to living at the Salvation Army, finding myself at a shelter for abused women and abandoned children, helping out at organizations called Movement 76 in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and Women of the Sun in Braamfontein bringing the arts to a wider community. From being homeless and a volunteer, perhaps it was just God, a god or higher self, higher power aligning this infinite universe in jest. Perhaps this god knew that I was crying out to be born again. Telling me that pain is merely a temporary shortcut to reaching that sacred contract between the soul and eternity and that when we dream, that raw energy has a deep intelligence and understanding of its own.

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