A Two Year Promise

By on September 17, 2018

It is September 17th, 2016. I am scrolling through Facebook and looking at joyful posts by successful people, affirmations of sentiment by couples fresh in love and deep quotes by self made motivational speakers. All this I do while on my bed, in the wee hours of the morning. There is news about a bombing in Chelsea, New York and the whole world is showing sympathy to the dwellers of the Big Apple. I drop a few comments on some Facebook statuses, LIKE a few baby pictures here and there and proceed to refresh my inbox just to make sure I am not missing messages from some damsel in distress looking for a bored lonely suitor.

Just when I am about to log out I go back to the Timeline one more time and then I notice a very quiet and lonely post by some guy – Let’s call him Jack.

“Life sucks. I can’t do this anymore!”

There is no interaction and even though the post is about 12 hours old, it quietly sits sandwiched between posts by Facebookers doing their best to prove to the world that they are happy. Out of curiosity I visit Jack’s profile and decide to camp there a little. One can’t just say “Life sucks. I can’t do this anymore!” with no back story. Something must be the matter and perhaps I can find out what it is and Google an inspirational quote to share. It is late in the night so it is likely that Jack just got denied some forbidden goods by his missus.

I find myself spending nearly six or seven minutes looking at an account of a guy who seems to have given up on this thing called life. Many of his recent posts are very sad and unattended to. The most recent “Life Sucks. I can’t do this anymore!” has one LIKE and it belongs to Jack. He’s not got too many pictures so it is hard to tell whether he is a family guy, a sad bloke who just got dumped or a guy struggling with the mid-life crisis. What is certain however is that the guy is not having a good time and his life is not in the greatest place.

So I decide to slide into Jack’s inbox to start up a conversation – just for the fun of it. I am not entirely sure why I am doing this but a part of me feels like if no one will respond to this guy’s stuff out in the open, at least someone should respond to it in private. Aside from that, the honest truth is I am really just bored and a quick hello to a stranger won’t take from or add anything to my already boring evening.

Several minutes into the inbox conversation it emerges that Jack is going through some horrible things. His wife has just left him and she has made off with a good chunk of his life’s savings including two of their gorgeous daugters. She has also opened a case against him in the courts of law – something about him failing to provide and therefore failing to be the man he is supposed to be. He is two months fresh in the unemployment world having lost his job after the Company he was working for decided to lay off some workers. His mum is terminally ill and his dad continues to blame Jack for the family troubles. Life is a real mess.

Jack goes ahead to reveal a bitter truth about his life. He has made a number of horrible life decisions like gambling away his savings, spending a lot of money in bars and sharing the rest of it with females willing to spread their legs. And for this he has been rewarded with poverty, a broken family and two persistent STDS. So he is not entirely innocent in all this. However, it seems like he is taking the last breaths of his final life, having wasted all his previous lives trying to get back up from the ground but failing each time.

Eventually, I agree to give Jack a call to take him for a drink or two – just to let him know the world is horrible for us all but together, we can find a way to wade through the waters. The plan is to listen to his troubles, share with him some of mine and perhaps laugh everything down with a few shots of some potent memory wiping drink.

Two days later, Jack and I are seated at a counter in one of the local bars in Kiwatule where I drink beer on credit because I am a regular and also because I generously tip the bar man when I am tipsy. On this particular day, I have just UGX 20,000 – just enough for two rounds of happy hour drinks. I order for our drinks and we begin talking.

During the conversation, it emerges that Jack is really going through one heck of a life. On the surface it genuinely looks like he is sad and lonely but after a lengthy conversation, it emerges that things are far worse than they look and the guy is actually considering suicide.

I have only ever talked to two people who considered suicide and neither of them saw it through so naturally I don’t think this is much of a threat but rather just extreme frustration. But Jack lays down his elaborate plan to end his life, carefully mentioning to me that he has already written three important letters. Two to his little daughters and one to his mum. According to him, those are the only three people who deserve some kind of explanation for why he is going to take his life.

Things begin to get real very quickly and I start to panic but I continue to speak with him thinking that perhaps it is the happy hour beer working its magic and encouraging him to open up. About three hours later, I promise Jack that I will check on him once every after two days for a week and thereafter once every week.  I also tell him that if he makes it through, I will share his story with the world because, first, I am a story teller but also because I know many people out there like Jack.

After agreeing, we part ways and I continue to keep my end of the bargain, checking on him every after a few days. Jack pleads with me not to tell his story to anyone until after two years because according to him, in two years, he will be sure whether or not he deserves to stay alive.

Two Years down the Road

This morning, September 17th 2018, I woke up to a Twitter DM from Jack.

At the time, in 2016, as a stranger just listening to another stranger’s life story, I didn’t imagine I would be of any help to Jack but I figured if he was ever going to end his life at least he deserved to have just one person hear him out. And while I might not have been the best placed person to advise him on this or the other, I just felt like listening to him would do a bit of good.

Today marks exactly two years since Jack and I had our first conversation.

Jack represents one of many people out there who are going through horrible situations but are not exactly in the best place to speak to anyone either because they don’t feel like it or no one is bothering to give them attention or hear them out. I know for a fact that many of my close friends go through a lot of sad and horrible experiences leading to depression but I also know that as long as I avail myself to listen to them, we can all help each other out. Depression is not suffered by people far away from us. It is suffered by our friends, partners, relatives, colleagues and even strangers we bump into online. And the people who help pull these people out of the pits of depression are not experts from other planets or super heroes wearing capes. Is it YOU the friends, cousins, girlfriends, husbands, workmates and other random people on the internet.

All you have to do is look closely and you will  see a depressed person.

There is a tendency for many people of our generation to bottle up our problems and pretend like everything is fine because that is what the world demands of us. God knows I do this a lot. Often times I try to be strong because weakness is not something I like to be seen to have. But I have since learnt that if you can not tell someone else your problems, at least be the person who helps another human with their problems.

What is the point of this blog post? Nothing ground  breaking really. I just wanted to tell you guys that two years ago today, I met a guy who was going through hell but needed just one human to remind him an important lesson about life – we all have problems – why not face them together? The truth is I didn’t do much for this guy. He had money problems but I didn’t give him any money. He had problems with his family but I never offered even a single solution. All I did was just sit there and listen to him and that was all he needed.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker