“Why is she calling Diego? I thought you said this was our time?” Isabella asked for the umpteenth time this week.
I put my phone on silent, placed it on the night stand and turned back to her.
Her body was calling out to me, and even though there was a pit in my stomach after seeing that call and we only had ten minutes left of my lunch break, it was paramount that I left her on a good note.
Now, don’t give me that look! I loved Marisol with all my heart, and we had built something so strong together. But Isabella, adios mio, she was my first drug.
Marisol and I had gotten clean once we found out she was pregnant. I had gotten my act together for her even changed everything about myself just to ensure that she and Sofia were happy. But even then, there was still Isabella.
The problem with being a junkie is that you fall from one addition to another and Isabella was that for me, an addiction that catered to my deepest, darkest desires. She was my first drug. Marisol was my recovery.
“Cariña, you know I must.”
I pulled her towards me and as I kissed her sweet lips and held her beautiful body to mine, I promised myself that this would be the last time that I would ever use again.
I exited her apartment and turned towards the direction of the diner when my phone rang again.
This time it was work.
“Diego, for fucks sake where have you been! We’ve been trying to reach you.” Janet the receptionist said rather earnestly.
“Eh, relax mama, you got me now. Where’s the fire?”
“Diego……I don’t know…..you… you need to get to the Chestlive hospital quick, its ……..its Marisol and Sofia they…”
Before she could finish her sentence, I hang up, turned around and began to run towards the direction of the hospital when I felt it again. The pit in my stomach that felt like the world was about to end forever.
Often, we are faced with this question at some point in our lives. More so as an adult then when we are kids. What do you believe?
When I was younger I believed in the catholic way of being. I prayed, I confessed my sins much to my entertainment. As a child knowing I could maybe do something naughty and say a couple of hail Mary’s always made me feel better for being bad. But away from that I was the catholic girl.
Later on in life I became intrigued by philosophy, the mind, the different religions present on earth and boy did my mind swirl.
I dabbled in it all and I made sure to try as much as I could, to my mother’s horror, in an effort to find that missing link to what I felt at the time was what I needed to feel complete. A belief so steadfast in its roots it couldn’t be shook.
You know, like that saved friend that has seen angels and what not. I wanted that.
Other times when I was naive and wishful I believed in the government, and when I was free I believed in the silence of the earth.
What is to believe?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as:
1 a :to have a firm or wholehearted religious conviction or persuasion :to regard the existence of God as a fact Do you believe? —usually used with in believe in the Scriptures
b :to accept something as true, genuine, or real ideals we believe in believes in ghosts
2 :to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something believe in exercise
3 :to hold an opinion :think I believe so
With that in mind I ask:
- If I am to say I do not believe in religion or rather I have no religious conviction does that make me less of a spiritual entity then that person who is in a religion?
- If I am to say that I chose not to take anything as truth or genuine or ideal because in a world that has existed for so long one can never truly have such understanding, is it right of me to say that I would be deemed as not normal in terms of what is deemed as normal human make up?
- If I choose to hold no opinions what does that say about me as a whole?
I in my own limited and flawed understanding coupled with the little number of years I have taken breath on this earth can say, that if I am to place some form of belief in something, I believe in being.
In a sense I believe in the individual’s right to believe in what they believe to be right to them without the need to stamp it as truth for the whole of mankind to follow. That is what I believe in. No matter if you are religious or not, no matter if you eat cornflakes or sip tea, no matter if you are organic or dig into some bbq wings that just don’t quit. That is what I believe in.
One’s freedom to be, what do you believe in?
It took only twenty-four hours for my life to change.
As the needle went through my veins and I took my first hit ever since that day in May, I realized right there and then that that was it. That was the day Marisol, Sofia and I seized to exist.
My day had started out the way it always did.
I left before dawn for my dish washing job down at the local diner while Marisol, my girlfriend, and Sofia our five-year-old daughter, laid in bed deep in sleep.
Every morning as I ran out our one bedroom apartment, I’d find a brown bag with my baby’s cooking and my angels drawings waiting for me for when I got hungry and missed my family, and today was no exception.
No matter how many times I’d tell her, “Marisol, mi amour, don’t worry about it. I’ll eat at work with the boys.”
She would always respond by making it a point to remind me who was the boss, “Now you listen here Diego, no man of mine is ever gonna eat another woman’s cooking you hear me!”
We would laugh and later I would remind her who was the king of the castle.
She was my Queen.
She was my everything.
The bus ride to work was always busy.
Sometimes it would be filled with the occasional prostitutes heading home from a hard night at work, other times the usual drunks staggering to their pads. But every now and then I’d see Johnny passed out at back like we used to be back down at the tracks.
As I said it was a normal day.
“Yes, Nalia Oletwa killed her father, the Chief of Otongwe, Babu Ntolela Oletwa.”
The court room went silent as all eyes jolted from Nalia to me.
Being an outsider, I hated having to testify against the Chiefs daughter but I had an obligation to do so as the head of criminal psychology in the country as well as this county.
It was my duty, not only to the Chief but to my government, to make sure that this draw back didn’t affect our treaty with the county.
On one side I had the pressure from the higher ups to close this case fast but when a young woman’s life lays in wait I couldn’t sit and watch her die all to save on time.
If you had told me a year ago I would be in this position I would have said you need to get checked.
To my closest friends, I had it all. The leading job in my department, the perfect husband and the best kids in the world.
I did have it all but when the government gave me my new assignment in the far east, I had no choice but to say my goodbyes and head over to a little village that had just finally agreed for our government to educate their local police department in criminal psychology.
I remember the first day I got here like it was yesterday. The chief was a bit too friendly, his staff even more so but what caught my attention was his daughter.
She was quiet, withdrawn but when spoken too she was rough when her eyes pleaded not to mention the way she looked at me.
I couldn’t tell if it was jealousy or envy but with much beauty and coming from an affluent family I disregarded it as nothing.
Like many aboriginal people family closeness was normal and I understood the need for the chief to keep her close but many of my colleagues found this peculiar and the more I was around them the more uncomfortable I got.
“Being the lead criminal psychologist in the country and having interviewed the suspect, please explain to us how you reached these conclusions.”
The night I got the phone call never in my wildest dreams did I think the case would be that of the Chief with his own daughter as the main suspect.
“Having examined the evidence and spoken to the suspect I came to the firm conclusion that while the suspect did kill the chief, my assessment also showed that she is innocent of the crime.”
The courtroom came alive , some confused, others angered that I, an outsider, brought such allegations to the forefront of what was a peaceful community and the majority disissing me because the Chief had favored me and made sure not to hide this from anybody.
When I first saw her I didn’t believe she did it. She was cold, sure, but she didn’t have the disposition to commit such a heinous crime.
She barely talked when I sat down on the opposite side of the table and hardly batted an eye when I called her name. But I knew she was different almost childlike. So I observed her mannerisms and after a while put a paper and some coloring pens in front of her and what happened next astounded me.
“Nalia suffers from what we like to call ‘multiple personality disorder’. A disease of the mind that manifests itself after a traumatic incident in one’s life. Using a few sound techniques I was able to draw out each persona when I needed to.”
To speak of such things shocked the locals who most often the not believed that those who suffered from mental problems were possessed by demons. My broaching the subject only made this case that more difficult.
“Having interviewed the suspect I found that she had three alter personas that I know of to date. Leana, a five-year-old girl that represents her younger self, Biko a father like figure that protected her and Liana and Nalia the person who you see before us now.”
Having been around the Chief and his daughter a lot over the past year spotting the personas didn’t take me much time. It always surprises me the different characteristic they all have and how the smallest thing such a shuffling can link them together.
Liana was a shy, friendly girl who still had her innocence with her. But even so she was plagued by the darkness that existed around her and lived in an imaginary world in her head.
Liana was Nalia before the abuse started and from what I gathered it began when her mother and father passed away and she was handed over to the chief who was the fathers only living relative. But who would have thought…..
“Dr. Smith, I asked if you could explain what you meant when you said she did and did not do it.”
Firstly, the person who killed the Chief is her male alter, Biko. But to say he killed him would be a lie. It was self-defense without a shadow of doubt.
Biko represents the protector that Nalia lost when her parents passed away. Having spoken with him I deduced that his actions were justifiable.”
“While it saddens me to say this, the chief was sexually abusing Nalia. From the age of five when he took her in as his child, I learned from Biko that soon after, the abuse began and the disassociation took place.
At that point Nalia became a woman and she took to protect her innocence by creating an illusion of escape through the mind of Liana and when the torment became too much, Biko would take over and that is when the violent outbursts occurred.
I didn’t quite understand it at first but now it all makes sense.
For years, this child has been crying out to us all to help her. For years, she has suffered in silence, disillusioned by a community she doesn’t know and a man and new life that she had to call home and not once did we stop to ask her how she was doing.
We blindly followed the complaints of a chief who was trying to cover his tracks and labeled her a troublesome brat.
So yes, she killed him but in light of this, does she deserve to be punished for something that she could not control?
Isn’t her voice just as important as the dead man we all respected because h was Chief?”
Interview with: Biko
Age: Between 20-25 years of age
Interviewer: Rachel Smith (Lead Psychologist)
Curiosity killed the cat and those who pry will get the cut.
What did you do with Nalia’s father?
I despise fathers you know.
They always leave and those who stay are demons indeed.
Well do you know that the father you despise is the Chief of Otongle county?
What is a chief but a greedy old man in power trying to control those who have none?
What is a chief of a county when his time has come undone?
What did you do with him Biko?
Did you kill the chief?
Answer me Goddamnit!
Someone should wash that filthy mouth of yours out with soap.
No wonder the chief liked your kind.
You would be wise to choose your words carefully when you address me, white woman. This is not your country, even though the chief let you in it. This is….
(Click, Click, Click)
Interview with: Nalia
Age: 16 years old
Interviewer: Rachel Smith (Lead Psychologist)
Nalia, I need you to tell me if Biko is the one you run away from?
♫ At night when the winds pray
And the children are asleep in bed♫
Goddamit we don’t have this ti……
♫The devil oh he plays
Plays the string of my death♫
We don’t have this time Nalia.
♫oh at night at night when the devil awakes
I lose my sanity and he wins the chase♫
I have to…..
Is he the one who killed your father?
So he is dead.
You don’t seem shocked?
Curiosity killed the cat and those who pry will get the cut.
“So, he slipped my little dress off and I instantly knew….”
That was Maddy, my best friend. She was currently letting me in on her new conquest from the previous night, as my attention slowly shifted from the gorgeous dark-skinned beauty that was she, to the tall enigmatic man who stood next to the host of the event this evening.
He drew me in like my favorite red wine that lingered on my lips. He did not move, he did not smile in my direction. He simply spoke to the host but never left my soul.
“Dani! For heavens sake are you listening to me?”
I tore my eyes away from him and continued listening to Maddy.