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J and A are the ones that got away 12/08/2013


Hello people! It’s a brand new week and I (might be the only one but) am glad the weekend is over and Monday is here to usher in new things. As some of you know, we started a new column last week! Serena’s diary is non-fiction and is an actual diary of a young medical student in a Nigerian university. We hope that some way, some how, our readers  will see a little bit of themselves in Serena ad maybe empathise with the next medical student they get to meet. Read, enjoy and share!


Dear diary,

I am crying. I have not cried since March (and that is a big deal). The last time I cried was when I failed my pathology and pharmacology examination and I thought my world had folded up. I cried non-stop for like two whole weeks and then I stopped. I told my mother my tears had finished. It felt that way. Since then there has been this sort of numbness, sort of like I was in a bottle and seeing the world through that bottle. Everything that happened echoed dully through my bottle. Everything that was thrown at me hit my bottle with a thud, but not me. So I was aware but unaffected; safe in my bottle.

But guess what? The bottle broke.

J and A are leaving.

On many levels, I still cannot talk about the first six months of this year. It felt like someone came into my house and broke everything, defecated on every corner and defaced my white walls with mud. I was in that tunnel everybody talks about and J and A were the light at the end of it. I had gotten to my end then they came and showed me another path. I do not think I ever told them this. Or maybe I did. I tell them a lot that they saved my life and they laugh and tell me I exaggerate a lot. But they did.

They were my ex’s friends, they ought to have gone with him in the ‘divorce’. They are both doctors and about six years my senior. They think I am a kid and I do not know life. I think they are old school and they ought to loosen up more and yet the friendship thrived.

It is this country I hate. If Nigeria were a little better, J and A would stay. If the system worked or even showed a little proof that it existed, so many people would not have to go to different corners of the earth searching for greener pastures.

I am happy that they got to get out. I am happy that they found better and were not afraid to take it. I am so proud of them. Leaving the comfort of home and the basic and fringe benefits that comes with being a doctor in these parts to a strange (and cold) land. I am happy.

And sad too. I barely have friends left around me. Why can’t these two stay? Who is going to do all they do for me for me? Who is going to sit while I explain who Miley is and why her twerking is such a big deal? Who is going to wait for me to get to the very end of my explanation and then say “wait what is twerking?”. Who is going to take me seriously?

Did I mention I am jealous? I feel like they have escaped the jungle and left me in it. They got away. I want to get away. I want to be a stranger in another man’s land. Maybe my grass is green enough but how would I know if I do not see the grass in the other yard?

It is more than just wanting to see the other side. It is more than that. I am positive that this country would squeeze out any juice of greatness I have left in me. It will fold me and keep me in this box and convince me that the box is there for my own good.

I see my future here, I finish school in less than two years, and then there is internship and youth service. What next? Husband’s house. Anything else is out of the ordinary. My mother is already telling me I must know who I am going to marry before I get to final year. Marriage, kids, then I get fat and answer to everybody else’s needs but mine.

I want more.

Makes me sick to my stomach when I am asked what area of medicine I want to specialize in. I say orthopedics surgery or heamoatoncology.  Then I hear shit like ‘Surgery? Don’t you want to marry? You want to leave your kids for house girl to train? We don’t really have heamatoncology units in Nigeria o. I think there is one in Ibadan but they are just starting, why don’t you choose something more attainable and woman friendly? Like family medicine or community health’

There is more. There has to be more. There has to be. I have excess material and I do not want my country to slim fit me to its size because I know I am bigger than this box I have been put in.

But what of if I am not? What if that future is mine? I feel out of place here what makes me think I will not feel out of place there? This might be all I will ever be. I might spread my wings to fly and then discover that I  just a centipede. No wings.

Safe journey J and A (or A and J as A would point out) I love you both. I miss you and I feel like something has left me. I pray America is good to you. I can feel your dreams unfolding. Thank you for being my light.



P.s : why are tears so salty?  Is it God or nature’s way of reminding us that no matter how bad things get, life will always be tasty?


Photo credits: webmd

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