When Emmanuel stepped out of the hospital for the first time in eight months, a huge feeling of relief flushed through him. He breathed the wet air into his lungs. It was raining, but he found the air fresh and soothing. He enjoyed the fact that he was able to breathe again and he felt very much alive and full of energy.
When the Doctor announced to him that he could go home that day, he was so overjoyed that he jumped up and gave the doctor a long passionate hug. He loathed the hospital and everything about it, and he had been confined to the hospital bed for eight full months, and today, he was glad to be leaving it, not inside a coffin but on his two legs. He still found it a miracle that he survived.
He opened the umbrella his mother had given him before going to get the car and walked down the little steps to the car that had just parked and opened for him to get in. He threw the umbrella onto the back seat.
He didn’t say a word to his mother who was driving as he put on the seat belt and the car started slowly out of the compound, and out into the street as it gathered speed, he turned back just in time to catch a last glimpse of the giant remedial house that had housed him for eight months. Despised it, though he might, he was eternally grateful to it for not rejecting him while his ailment lasted. He sighed and rested his read on the glass, watching the movement of the rain water as they hit the glass mercilessly and ran down the panel in quick succession. He sighed again.
Growing up, Emmanuel felt the whole world on the opposite side of him. He always felt oddly disconnected from his environment.
He was naturally too quiet, even for a growing child and he dedicated his time to artistry. He loved drawing and painting. Consequently, he was highly sensitive. Too sensitive for comfort.
He thought of going back home. It didn’t please him at all. He always felt left out and was on his own most times.
Sometimes, he would even wonder if he was really a member of the household. He felt invisible, no one noticed his pains or his joys, or if they did, they never said anything to him. His school was no different. Yes, he had people he talked to at school and people he talked to ten times more than the others he just talked to, but he felt he never had any real friends among them. He felt he was unwanted and people talked to him because they had to or because they wanted something.
The air in the car was damp and warm. It dampened his spirit but it didn’t warm his heart. He felt his heartbeat quicken at the thought of going home. Back at the hospital, he didn’t have to bother about them. His health and life had been his major concern. And when he was tired of feeling sorry for himself or when the pressure was just too much on him, he would escape into a perfect world he created in his mind for himself, in which lived his twin brother, his mom and his three sisters, with a handful of friends. All imaginary.
The car turned the driveway into their compound and his heart fell miserably, a voice in him yelled at him chiding him, that he should not have returned, that he should have escaped to somewhere else, and that he would not be welcomed at home and he would be ignored far worse than before. After all, they had lived well without you for eight months, the voiced screamed. He tried to shake it off by paying no attention to it…