My uncle and I were watching the news once and we saw people observing an awareness walk on mental well-being. One cardboard caught my interest; written on it was “Depression kills.” I spoke almost immediately, “What is killing them sef? Why would you be thinking too much?”. The look in my uncle’s eyes was fierce, I can remember vividly. “Do you know what depression is actually about?”, he asked me. I had a possible answer but I wasn’t willing to risk getting him angrier. So I kept looking as though I do not know. “Let me tell you this story, brother, perhaps you’ll understand what these people mean.”
“You must be a fool”, the teacher has said it already before she realized her statement was inappropriate. The class has already resolved into a severe laughing session too. So, little could be done. But one after the other, reality started to dawn on each and everyone in the class. “What is wrong with Timi? He shouldn’t be like this”, some girls murmured. And there he was, with his head hung in thoughts rather than shame. And his gaze fixed at a half-dead cockroach. He wondered how it must feel being devoured even when it still moves. He thought that, that was exactly his predicament. Timi was never this way. He was more or less the star of the class. Not only was he very smart, he had a great sense of humor. Maybe it was out this shock that the teacher misspoke when he responded that the area of circle is length * breadth. Actually, he was suffering from a great torture of the brain and mind: depression.
“Why?!”, the principal immediately checked through his window to see if the boy right at his door didn’t hear him scream. “Why didn’t you inform the school authority about this?”, he asked in a much lower voice. “I am really sorry, sir”. Oluwatimilehin pleaded with me to keep it from the school”, his aunt explained. “Ma, you shouldn’t have done this. This boy is really suffering from the impacts of the happenings.” The principal looked at the boy again with a heavy weight in his heart. Timi lost his father 3 weeks ago. Not too long after, his mother’s micro-retail shop was robbed. Out of the grief of all these, his mother got severely ill and he had to move in with his aunt.
With a bright smile, the principal walked out of the door stretching his arm towards Timi; “How about a cup of coffee and some hotdogs?”, he asked. Not like he wanted to go in the first place, but in his quest for excuses, he asked, “What about class, sir? “What you need right now are definitely not lectures. Let’s head off.” This was the first time a student was seen walking with the principal. All eyes were fixed on him. But his face couldn’t just leave the ground. “Sit Timi, allow me get something we can eat”, the principal said as they got to the restaurant. Nobody knew the principal to be this kind and accessible.
“Oluwatimilehin, do you know the meaning of your name?”, they both knew it was rhetorical though. “God is my pillar and supporter, that’s the meaning”, Timi nodded in approval. And this time, his head was up. “Your aunt told me everything. And I must say, she did the right thing. But why? With your number of friends, and no one knew about this?” “Sir, I…I am s…sorry”, he replied in a sobbing voice. “I hardly make it to pay tuition fees. I try all I can to still stay happy and cover it from the world. I have just one set of uniform and I trek over 20km everyday to make sure it is ironed and neat for school. My mother makes some money from her micro-retail shop and my father who was a mechanic struggled endlessly to see me smile every time. Now all of that is gone!”, he concluded weeping profusely. “Easy my boy, easy”, the principal replied. “I believe you like Basic Technology, Timi. Consider a screwdriver, why do you think it has all those gallops and channels?”
“To aid people grip it well and use it effectively, I think”
“Impressive! That’s exactly how life is, son. I am really sorry for all that you’ve gone through. But I must tell you, like a father, life is tough son. Troubles would come and may cause havoc and great sadness. But most times, what kills after problems is depression. And this happens when you don’t share your problems; definitely not to everyone, but at least one or two people who’d help bear and ease the pain. Imagine what would happen to your mom if you die from depression. The Guidance and Counseling Unit is always available, son. We are one big family here, so allow us help you go through this”, the principal concluded. “Thank you very much sir”, Timi replied gasping from crying.
“The bursary department will organize a scholarship competition once I get approval from the Board of trustees. If you do well, like usual, you’ll be on a full scholarship till you graduate.” “Since you really loved what your father did, I have this friend at Mercedes-Benz, I’ll refer you for their internship program. And if you really impress them, your university education may be funded by them too. How’s that?”
“So henceforth, when you see people sensitizing on depression and any other mental course, always try to join the course and not condemn it”, my uncle said sternly.
“Yes sir. But what happened to Timi sir?”, I asked curiously. “Ask your dad of your uncle’s middle name, then you’ll know”, my uncle said. “But first, get me my ID card and my car key on the shelf.” This was when I recalled that my uncle’s ID card had the Mercedes-Benz logo.