• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

Baby Steps

Is it commitment that is the problem? Do I not know my own mind?

But baby steps, baby steps. I will relearn my mind.

It’s funny you know. I don’t remember clearly when I first started to lose touch, to forget the feel of my mind’s fabric. My plans dissolved like salt in water.

I want to use the toilet. I want to take a nap. I want to be a writer. I want to work out more. I want to be a powerhouse. I could have been a painter, a consultant, a journalist. I want to operate on a high level. I have to tidy up my room. My wardrobe needs to be reorganised. I need to get a job. I need to move out. I need to save. I need new friends. I want to eat.

No rhyme, no order, little reason. The map I followed washed away in the rain. I was lost, drifting in the fog. It was like being in a familiar city. You know where everything is but try as you might, you cannot move forward because you don’t know where you are, trapped in the fog.

Soon enough, you start to lose your place. After that you end up alone, no one in sight, no one within reach, other bodies are faceless ghouls, spirits, they look at you with mild curiosity, some stop and listen to you, but they cannot understand. You’re an alien speaking an alien language. Isolated like that, tortured like that, you start to lose your form. You scatter in the wind like dust.

I’m reaching back through trauma and time, finding the bits of me floating in the breeze, connecting memory with emotion. The people around me are regaining their faces. Over there is mother, my mother, not shrew, love is her face and love is her way. Over there, that’s father, my father, not executioner or jailer or tormentor, love is his face, love is his way. And there? That’s brother. And just behind him, sister. They’ve been waiting. Waiting for me to join them. They’re reaching out. I see that now.

I take a step forward, I try to join them, but I have not yet recovered all my pieces. They’re still out there floating in the wind and the bits that have joined together are not fully bonded, I break under my own weight. I return to the wind as Mother, father, brother, and sister look on.

“When will he return.” It is father that despairs first.

“He will return.” It is mother that stands firm.

Who knows how long has passed? How long they have waited? I do not know. I cannot remember.

I’m rising again. Gathering myself from the wind.

Over there is auntie, she’s behind mother, her voice no longer fills me with dread, the criticism has lost its edge. Next to her is uncle, and cousin, and friend. Have they always been there? Why couldn’t I see them?

I start to move. I want to run. To reach out for them. I have missed them.

I stop myself.

I have learned.

I gather enough of myself for the first step. I wait till I am strong. I only need that one baby step. The rest of me will come. I take the step. I wait for the fall, to shatter, to breakdown. It doesn’t come.

We look at each other. We see each other. We smile.

Happy Days,


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