The last time I wrote a story listening to Enya’s Flora Secret, I cut my left index finger and allowed the gushing blood tell a story of how I was once told to always keep my mouth shout even if pain was ripping me through. I didn’t understand the idea behind leaving myself in a dark room and let out a loud scream in search of myself and my shadow and my gut and my emotions until I heard demons screamed for help for their neighbours. I looked at the broken windows always in the night. I allowed myself to listen to the tick-tock of the clock after the stories told by Flora. I understood what it means to be a lonely boy, caged. I understood that the glory of the sky is blue but in the aura season of what we become trying to infuse the amount of energy we have into what we strive to get, the more we try, the more mean we are to getting burn into freedom. And, the thought of the truth hurts us into believing that we are living. Boys like me burn too quickly.

My door has laid down rules: one, I must not walk pass it with tears. Two, I must not allow my feet get quaky while passing through and, three, I must not let my lips smile nor let my mouth speak vanity else, it will punish me; that was what mother said. I don’t want to remember being a boy again. I don’t want to remember my childhood anymore. I don’t want to remember having to walk in all the streets in Aba hawking what I can’t remember their names. I don’t want to remember being molested by a boy my age. I don’t want to remember painting someone like me in the evening of my father’s death.

I painted him in the glory of the sky in that house on the other side of the street. I allowed him to wait for his burning mother to scream aloud. I allowed him to look at his sister get raped. I allowed him swallow hard the sad song in his throat. I allowed him masturbate, and make love to himself. I allowed him see his fate as it gradually fades into darkness. I allowed him to search for his shadow in the dark. I was never taught how to sing a good song so, I allowed him to remember only the dirge written in a country yard. He only sang “Faded” by Alan Walker and Whiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” I guided him to the path of the song he must listen to because songs define us more than food. I painted a monster like me; I painted a walking ghost like me and allowed him to roam the street of nothingness.

When you allow yourself recite Jo Nketiah’s poem and listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat, remember to name the streets in your body like the streets in your town. It was when I began to hold my names to the burning grasses that I remembered there is someone called God. Someone that has a name better than ours. But Africanism taught me how to hold my mouth into different places and make clothes for my naked soul. Boys like us burn angrily.

You see, I won’t go back to that song again; I won’t cut myself again with scissors or blade. Every darkness counts, every loneliness is numbered, every demon counts my middle words like they count the stars. I won’t burn again but be the fire. I won’t say those things I can’t remember as a boy learning his first word. Patriarchy told us that boys don’t let out their weaknesses, the society in her folds of understanding declared boys as heroes whose eyes must not shade tears no matter the circumstances.

I won’t tell you how I survived pain and depression. I won’t tell you how I survived locking myself inside my dark room. I won’t tell you how many demons I communed with and you how they became voyagers in my body. You will get mad at me for allowing them in but sin tastes differently, yes, some sins taste like coffee and some, like menses’ blood. Some, they feel like a finger in a woman’s vagina; warm and calculative and stimulating. I won’t tell you how I survived heartbreaks and how it feels to stand aloof like a boy and look the sun in the face until it shies away. I am a boy birthed in sadness, groomed in sadness and liv(ed)ing in sadness. A lost boy waiting for someone to find him.

I don’t know what happiness tastes like. No, maybe you will tell me when next we meet. I won’t teach you how to make love to yourself. Not now that the angels are home from their pilgrimage. Until I find out how to love myself again, you won’t know that boys are flames of fire in search of freedom.

Tell mother that standing on a long distant road between her and my fate is the easiest way to learn the act of endurance. I’m not afraid to die but I won’t die now until I’m a hundred and twenty. Tell her that if tomorrow finds her in the kitchen and I was not there to make her feel like a mother that I tried to come home but failed myself. She should know which way to follow. She should know which way to paint more of the rainbows than the others. After this, I will honestly let my kind follow these paths perfectly. Boys like me are rare to come by. Boys like me are full of agony but the world say we must not cry out even if we are dying because we are boys and not girls.

A friend said it is not good to watch horror films alone in the dark. So each time I want to watch this horror movie in my dark room, I invite my sister, my little sister to watch with me. I’ll make her sit down opposite the television perched on the wall of my room. I’ll open the red and black curtains and lock up everywhere that light could penetrate. Once the film starts, I’ll stuff her mouth with clothes and let her do the screaming for me. I usually leave the terror and fear in her eyes not in mine. This is how I remain sane for some minutes until I return to myself. Mother still hasn’t found out about this and her calm spirit followed us almost every day. The day she wanted to see what happened to her daughter, I hid my little sister in the wardrobe before she came in. I told her that she had gone to the toilet. I lied to her even when Father Mbanu told us during Sunday school that all liars shall burn in hellfire. She could not wait for her daughter because she knew my little sister spends time in the toilet. I was happy that she left in seconds and never came back. The drama ended after that day…

These days, I’m always on the lookout for miracles. In case you see any, my door is always open to welcome you. The truth of the matter is, I don’t really understand how all these started but I know the ashes that seek for freedom are not far from the bodies of men like those that got burnt searching for what genocide mean.

We’re boys. We’re here.

Unfortunately, it’s just two episodes of “Disjointed Boys.” We hope you have enjoyed reading this and the first episode.

John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, author, cinematographer and filmmaker. He was born and brought up in Aba and later moved to Lagos where he had his tertiary education. His works have appeared on allpoetry, Voicesnet, Poetrysoup, Poemhunter, Africanwriter, TuckMagazine, Gaze, Naijastories, Praxismagazine, Nairaland, black boy reviews and forthcoming in BrittlePaper. His writings have featured in many anthologies both home and abroad. He has five books published to his credit which includes Good Mama, Hard Times, Letter from Home, For Boys of Tomorrow.

Find him here: Instagram, @OfficialJohnVincent; Twitter, @Chizoba_Vincent

Lake Adedamola is a poet, writer, and editor with Nantygreens, who's worked with several other literary blogs including Brittle Paper. He has, since 2018, served in various capacities on the Lagos International Poetry Festival, LIPFest, team.

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