Hi everyone, my name is Dennis and I’m an addict. My drug is darkness. I am addicted to darkness. It all started on my first day at Kindergarten, I was the darkest kid in my class.
Then I discovered there was nothing I could do about my darkness, I decided to own it and wear it as a costume. I filled my room with posters of the dark knight from Gotham and he became the only saviour I believed in. But it was not long until the darkness absorbed me.
As a little kid, I would sit alone in the dead silence of darkness in the living room like a ghost. I would practice silence to an absolute level and when mother or any of my siblings came in and turned on the lights, they would jump in fright when a figure appeared from nowhere. I enjoyed their fright. I enjoyed watching the horror written across their faces. It was like a drug and at the same time, I sunk deeper and deeper.
The strange thing is that I hated being dark. This one time in Standard One the teacher decided to put us in a line, from Gladys the lightest in the class to me, the last one and the darkest of all of them. I hated that I was last. I hated the distance my skin colour had put between me and Gladys. I liked her but there were about thirty lighter kids that she would consider before she got to me. They said the arrangement was to help the photographer set up the exposure and lighting of his camera when taking our photos. My skin colour must have absorbed every ounce of light because he had to make very many trials until he finally announced in jubilation that people could at least see my teeth.
Then the darkness started manifesting itself in the things I did. It was on a Sunday morning. We were brushing our teeth outside. It had been raining and a ditch on our yard had been filled with rainwater. My sister slid and fell into the dirty pool. I watched her swallow the dirty water screaming trying to stay afloat. She would disappear beneath the water then come up again and muffle up a word and some air before she sunk back in. I hated her for being light while I was dark. I was not ready to help her. Mother had heard the scream. She sprang into action and saved her daughter. When she narrated the story to father, she said that Dennis was in shock and could not even move or scream for help. I hated that she gave excuses for my darkness.
Then a while later, as I was trying to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, the kettle slipped from my fingers and landed on the floor. The hot water splashed into my sneakers and my feet cooked. I lay there gasping for breath and watched my dark skin peel from my feet. As if it was not evident enough that I was too dark, the scars made a wild distinction of parts on my legs and I had to say goodbye to sandals and shorts. I hated it, I hated my feet, I hated my dark skin and I hated hot chocolate.
I used to have friends. I do not anymore but I really do not care. It is the darkness that chased them away. I made them feel inadequate because they had less money than I did. I openly derided and ridiculed their joblessness, small jobs and businesses and their lack of ambition. I shamed them in front of their other friends and girls they liked about how I had helped them with my money when they had none and watched shame on their faces. It felt good. It even felt better when they stopped being my friends and in my head, I thought, I was too good for them. Good riddance.
The darkness. It is everywhere.
The other day I asked my wife about the money in our bank. About how some of it was missing, courtesy of her expenditure and she responded insolently like I was her child for her to disrespect. I lifted my fist and plunged it with a lot of force on her stomach and she fell back squirming in pain and horror. It felt good that she feared me now. It felt good to see pain and horror drawn across her face like an abstract painting. I was not to blame, it is the darkness that resides within me. It demands to be felt. It is very impulsive.
Then my sister’s cat. She called him Betsy, such a chic name for a male cat. Oh Betsy, poor Betsy. Betsy loved sleeping on the bonnet of the car after it had been running for a while. He would curve up on top real nice and enjoy the warmth from the engine. It was father’s car. When I learnt how to drive, I ran over Betsy and he died. I did not even feel sorry for him. He was there cuddled up when I turned the key and the engine sprung to life but he did not move. I turned the wiper stick and water sprayed on sleeping Betsy. He woke in horror, confused and disoriented. He jumped to the ground and I placed the entire weight of my foot on the acceleration peddle. I heard him scream as the weight of the car squeezed the life out of him. Mother demanded I bury dead Betsy but I dropped him in a pit latrine instead. My sister cried for days.
I think my darkness is a reaction. There was this girl I once asked out for a lunch date and she kindly texted back that I was too dark-skinned compared to the guys she preferred to date. That day I googled chemicals I could ingest to make my melanin disappear. When I was done swimming through warnings by doctors and other experienced or inexperienced professionals, I found several but they were all too costly and unavailable locally. I could not run away. I am an inmate serving time for a crime I did not commit.
In due course, I got tired of Batman, the dark knight of Gotham. His role was too pretentious. You cannot have a dark, doomed life but continuously put yourself at risk to keep other people safe or happy. The villains were not better in any way either, being bad does not necessarily have to a reason. Darkness does not need to be explained. Even the real ones disappointed as well, Idi Amin murdered the physically impaired because mouths to feed were becoming too many. Hitler murdered other races because he believed in the superiority and purity of his race. Being bad does not have to be explained. If any reason should be given, it should be because it feels good to be evil, to do evil. It just feels good to advocate and champion for darkness.
Mother and father and a few other elderly parents had to go get my wife back from her parents’ house for the umpteenth time. They still cannot believe I am capable of the things she says I do to her. Honestly, I think parents just want to think the best of their children because having brought me up they know very well of the darkness that resides within me. She is pregnant. Her parents think that marriage is work. That she has to be resilient and enduring for our marriage to work. I think they just want to get rid of her and it is no surprise they are so quick to send her back to the devil. She is one of the good ones, she has tried to repel the darkness countless times but failed miserably. If I could advise her, I would tell her to embrace it instead. Wear the darkness like a fine cloak. That way it will not be evil done to her but evil we do to each other. I think in my own wicked way, I love her.
I would be disappointed if my son becomes a dark skin. His mother has such a beautiful light skin that shines in oneness with the golden rays of the setting sun. I don’t think anything as dark as me could come from her.
My sister does not like her daughter close to me anymore. On a Christmas Eve, we sat down to watch Home Alone and her daughter heard the word ‘burglar’ but did not understand what it meant.
“Uncle, what does the word burglar mean?” She asked.
I found it annoying that she interrupted the movie with a lot of questions so I snapped at her to use her mother’s dictionary. She looked disappointed. I later heard her grandmother whisper to her in the kitchen to go to her whenever she had questions instead of asking me. Poor pretty little girl, she has her mother’s light, soft and beautiful skin. She is at the same age her mother was when I watched her drown in the dirty water. She will cause a lot of trouble with the boys when she is old enough. I hope when she is all grown she will remember the first word she ever looked up on the dictionary.
When I die, I will go to hell. It is clear to me as it is to everyone else. Dark skinned people go to hell to live out their days with the dark angel who disobeyed God. The truest darkness is not the absence of light, it is the conviction that the light may never return. My darkness has been deep, and those around have paid a huge price for it.
Then lately, I have been having these light visions in my sleep. They all start with my son pulling his way out of his mother’s belly. He wraps his little fingers around my finger as he squints through the light. At this moment, darkness seems to disappear. He looks up at me and I look down at him and my heart breaks, the way beautiful things break, slowly at first then swiftly like the winding of a rushing river. He shines brightly onto my face and at that instant, I am no longer a campaigner for darkness.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri