Psych Ward Diaries. 03.

I am seated on the short concrete demarcation surrounding the circular space with the table-tennis setup.

It is an average morning. Okay, maybe not so average. I think it’s leaning a little more towards the not-so-good kind of morning.

I just had a jog.

I feel better whenever I go for jogs around the lawn. I feel stimulated. It feels good.

I am getting fat.

I hate it.

All I do in this place is eat and sleep.

Eat and sleep.


and sleep.

I can feel my cheeks beginning to droop and form jowls on the sides of my face.

My jogs are even beginning to feel weird. My limbs feel blubbery.

Sometimes I look at the grass as I run. These days it moves so slowly- the grass.

The damp green blades stream by so slowly beneath my feet, as I huff through one belaboured stride after another.

These days I go like two laps around the lawn, and I get tired. Sometimes I’m barely able to do just one. One lap.

One lap.

It’s about two hundred and fifty metres around this lawn. And sometimes I’m scarcely able to complete just that.

There’s also not really much of a point- it’s not like jogging is going to make me lose any actual weight. I eat too much and move about too little.

They just keep bringing the food.




It just keeps coming.

And you’ve got to eat- you’ve got to. It’ll be a-whole-nother “There’s an issue with a patient” episode if you begin to refuse the food.

And so you just keep eating. This place makes eating feel like work.

Jesus what do you mean it’s time for lunch already. Is that another meal you guys are bringing, Christ.

Mister Dayo recently got pissed. I had never seen him pissed before.

He was angry at the girl who works in the kitchen.

The one who brings our food most of the time.

The one who makes really interesting noodles.

The one Andrew’s friend is always flirting with.

I was in the kitchen a few days ago.

It felt like an excursion.

Ah, pots!

Fire! Oh my God, look at the flames!

Sacks of food! Oh man!

Oh so this is what the table-tennis setup looks like from here, wow!

Hm I think you guys need a TV in here, what do you do all day apart from make food and chat?

Mister Dayo was pissed at the interesting-noodles girl.

Something about respect. And about how he would not be treated in a disrespectful manner, by someone years younger than his youngest child- something like that.

I had never seen Mister Dayo pissed before.

Usually he’s calm and chill- sometimes he’s even funny.

Like when The Rock got shot in I think the abdomen. In some movie with a giant albino gorilla.

The Rock was like “Don’t worry I’m fine. It missed my vital organs”.

Shot in the abdomen like that missed all your vital organs.

Mister Dayo with a sneer was like:

“Nitori pe itan ni gbogbo vital organ e wa abi?”

“Because all of his vital organs are in his thighs right?”

Hahaha. I found that funny. We generally found that funny.

But now, he’s beginning to get pissed.

Mister Dayo, he’s getting pissed now.

Everybody is frustrated.

I am very frustrated. I am extremely frustrated.

This place needs a treadmill. And water heaters for warm showers.

Everything is bad. Everything is very bad.

A security guy walks by.

He’s playing a song that sounds very interesting, but does not sound like anything I’ve ever heard before.

I call him over and ask for a look at his music.

He gives me his BlackBerry.

I haven’t held a smartphone in like a month. Probably more.

It feels strange holding one in my hand.

That is not the only thing that feels strange.

I am holding a BlackBerry.

The last time I saw a BlackBerry was probably like three or four years ago. BlackBerry was the rave then. The BBM pin was the coolest thing to have.

I’m surprised some people still use BlackBerries. I am surprised, I’m very surprised.

And now I’m holding this anachronistic device in my palm, and listening to a song from a different planet.

The outside world is a different planet right now. The outside world is a completely different planet.

Reekado Banks.

That’s the name of the lead singer.

I’ve never heard the name before- I don’t think so.

Reekado Banks.

I’m here in Nigeria after some years away, and these days I get startled by the strangest things.

Like the new One Hundred Naira Note.

I was laughing and jumping by the side of the road that day, trying to make sense of the strange purple-ish piece of paper the roadside seller handed me.

Wait, what is this? Hahaha what???

Why is it purple?? Is this a joke, what???

The roadside seller kept looking at me, completely unexcited- wondering what my problem was.

I didn’t bother much with her stare. I still took some time to laugh and jump about some more.

Wait the Hundred Naira note is blue now? Hahaha it looks so funny haha!!

When did this happen? When was this strange coloured piece of paper designated as actual legal tender, what? haha

I’ve been talking with Uchenna.

Uchenna is a new roommate.

He was checked in by his elder brother.

He has like one pyjamas that he wears like everyday. Like every motherfucking day.

The chief Psychiatrist was making fun of me a while back. Said I was always wearing the same AC Milan jersey.

You, you are always wearing this same jersey. All the time. Every time we have a session this is what you’re wearing.

I didn’t even have the psychological slack to take him seriously.

Oh really. I should be wearing a different outfit every day.


In a psychiatric hospital.

I should be changing my clothes multiple times a day.

Because I’m on the runway.

Because I’m here to model.

Because I’m at the London Expo, that’s why.

Or because I’m here to impress you. You this nonsense doctor guy that does not want to discharge me from this godforsaken place.

You better leave me alone you this guy. You better leave me alone. What I want to hear now is that I’ve been discharged. That I’m free to leave this immensely dispiriting environment. I do not have the time for any of this sartorial bullshit.

But of course I made some modifications after that.

These guys. Next thing you know the Psychiatrist is scribbling in his notebook:

He wears the same clothes all the time.

This is a symptom of blahblahblah syndrome. He now percieves himself to exist in a reality where the Electromagnetic spectrum is constantly in flux. He believes the frequency correspondence of the constituent colours in the visible light spectrum, is randomly shuffled as light travels from his clothes into the eyes of observers.

Consequently he thinks the perceived colours of his AC Milan jersey are constantly changing, and so no one will ever know that he is wearing the same shirt every day.

He is delusional. He suffers from a chronic case of optical delusion.

His dosage of anti-psychotics should be doubled. His stay here should be extended by four months.

Psychiatrist says you should wear new clothes, you wear new clothes. I’m not in the mood for any extra-time.

That was about my own clothes.

But now, seeing Uchenna wearing the same pyjamas every day is beginning to get on my own nerves.

The pyjamas aren’t dirty- he keeps them clean somehow, I don’t know how.

But seeing him wearing the exact same thing everyday is actually annoying.

Maybe this was what the Psychiatrist guy was feeling.

There are no mirrors here. I’m not really looking at my own clothes, and so my physical appearance doesn’t bother me. But other people’s clothes do.


It’s strange.

Uchenna spent some time in jail.

We were talking about it a few nights ago.

He spent a number of years I think. Maybe two. Or a little more.

There was some sort of a dispute. Some guy reported them to the Police.

His description of the involved events didn’t feel very clear to me.

I myself could not discern if he was innocent or guilty.

He ended up being put in custody- he and some other guy. Some alleged accomplice.

They spent years in jail, awaiting trial.

Awaiting trial. Two years awaiting trial.

Two years. And he said his case was not unusual at all. People spent even more years in that situation.

The Nigerian justice system is just strange.

Nigeria generally is just preposterous.

Uchenna just walked over.

There’s a way he walks, favouring one leg. I don’t know why he walks that way, but it’s kinda cool- kinda.

I think he’s up for some table tennis.

I myself am up.

I stand to my feet and head towards the table.

We each pick up a bat.

Let’s get the blood pumping this morning.

Image: Sampling some dope noodles in Surulere, Lagos.

Psych Ward Diaries. 00.

They just brought in a guy.

He is sedated. Arms hanging limply by his side as the nurses carry him along the corridor. He has very interesting-looking half-sleeve tattoos on both arms.

I am excited. I am very very excited. I cannot wait for him to wake up. I am really looking forward to chatting about his tattoos.

This Emeka guy is extremely annoying. He has been shouting since morning, banging on the door and calling out to Mister Austin at the very top of his voice.

No wonder he’s in solitary confinement. That’s what it is, isn’t it? I think so. I mean, it doesn’t look anything as dreary and gaolish and bleak and soul-crushing as I would have expected. It just looks like a locked room with an ornate metal door in a building with bright yellow walls. The environment doesn’t have the air of anything resembling solitary confinement. Emeka’s incessant shouting and banging on the door, are what give it away.

Not like I’m expected to understand his situation. I’m not the one in a locked room.

Mister Austin seems like a cool guy. He just completed his PhD at a foreign-affiliated Open University. He studied Theology. We’ve been talking about his Doctoral thesis. I’ve been learning stuff from him.


I had never heard that word before.

He says he plans to set up a Theology school. Says this Nursing gig is just to get by while things fall in place. With the PhD out of the way, he feels confident about clearing any third-party doubts on academic proficiency or experience.

I think he’s a cool guy.

His chin has some bumps on it. Shaving bumps. I don’t like those bumps. But pretty much everyone I know- every black guy I know personally, has these facial hair bumps. I hate them. I never want to have them. I haven’t begun to grow any serious facial hair yet- hopefully it’s possible to figure out a way to circumvent this dermal catastrophe.

There’s this guy though, this actor. This funny Hollywood actor. He has a full beard, yet his face is completely smooth when he shaves. I don’t know, hopefully I’ll get to meet him sometime and ask for some secret shaving tips.

I’ve been playing table tennis all day. There’s nothing else to do in this place. Just table tennis. But it’s fun though. It’s fun. I’m gradually getting better at it. Rotimi is very good. Rotimi the tall, light-skinned nurse. I don’t think I’ll ever win a game against him. I have no idea how Kelechi does it. I have absolutely no idea.

Ah oh yeah there are the medical journals in the library/art room place. That’s something to do, apart from playing table tennis.

What’s the name of the journals again, “The BMJ” or something like that. I’ve been reading those. Medicine is actually not so bad. Some of the research papers in the journals are actually really interesting. Interesting papers, and then in each journal a doctor gets featured in an interview. Getting to read about doctors in the UK and their lives is pretty fun too.

At some point I ran out of medical journals to read. I told the psychologist during a session.

The psychologist is a nonsense guy, I don’t like him. He overestimates his understanding of my situation, my life and my decisions. Trust Nigerian people to feel like Overlords over what is not so much of a big deal.

Trying to “correct” me and tell me “the right thing to do”.

Nonsense. I think he’s too pushy. The psychologists I visited in the US mostly just listened. Although to be honest I kinda wondered why sitting down in a chair and just listening should be a full-time job.

Like hey I should be capable of this too, it shouldn’t be so complicated.

The psychologist was surprised I had been reading the journals in the first place. He said they weren’t for me- weren’t for patients. Said they were for the doctors in the facility to read.

Oh. Ohhhh.

When it gets dark, the nurses call everyone in and they lock the main door. So no one leaves the building, evidently.

Like we’re in daycare.

Oh God.

Then I have to sit down in the common room and watch TV.

Oh wait. Waaaiiittttt. I think the tattoo guy is up. I think the tattoo guy is upppp!!

He just walked into the common room. I’m not even in the mood to let him properly recover from the sedative and make adequate sense of his surroundings.

I excitedly head over for a chat.

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