The Winning Story in Prose Category by Chibueze Christopher Unachukwu
(Austica Memorial Secondary School, Nanka, Anambra State)
Courageous, cute, humble, kind. That's how people who think they know me too well describe and define me, but they've got the whole definition a bit wrong. The definition isn't bad but it isn't actually true. They define me based on what they've seen or heard and not what they've observed closely about me. These peeps don't care to know my weakness. They don't care to know what's bitten me down and they don't really wish to find out what the image behind me actually looks like.
Yes!! I clap, jubilate, jump, shout and celebrate my friends when they are being awarded with something but within me am really jealous. I've got this bad habit of praying that my friends don't excel when they want to do something, so since I can't quit that habit, am bent on covering it up by acting like I care, when I really don't and then supporting and praising them while I take them back within me.
The courageous, brave me they see during the day isn't the one they are going to testify seeing at night. I'm actually surprised that am afraid of the dark. Funny though but that's the truth, the real bitter truth indeed. What am I scared of? I have no idea. I feel am being hunted at night. Whenever I close my eyes, I see a strange figure pointing its finger towards me. Whenever the light goes off, I see things, shadows coming towards me, shadows dancing and when the lights are back on. I realize it's just my imagination joking with me.
Am scared that my soul is being hunted! By who? The kid I murdered years ago. Years back, I pushed my neighbor down the stairs and he kicked the bucket. It was an accident, but the fact that I’m a killer, the fact that I became a murderer at 3, the fact that I killed my friend, the fact that I’m a murderer remains and I’m really scared of who I am. Remembering my ugly past makes me wish I never came into existence, but I believe that God has a purpose for bringing me into this world.
My past seems to be hindering my happiness on earth, remembering I’m a murderer weakens me so I try not to remember that incident, sometimes I completely forget my past and act the way normal kids are meant to act. I don't dare look at the mirror. I don't even think I can remember the last time I consciously looked into the mirror. Why don't you take a selfie with us? That's what my peers would always ask and my reply is always unnatural, 'I am scared of myself'. Imagine, being scared of yourself. Silly right?I've got this scar underneath my left eye which I never wish to see again and that is why I never want to look into the mirror, looking into the mirror would make me see it. Seeing it makes me remember myself being hit by a girl as my old self was trying to grab her blessed sacrament. I was locked up and a priest was called to pray for me, till today I still cannot believe that I fought an elderly priest and injured him.
It isn't only the scar on my face that am scared of seeing, am scared of the other parts of my body, I got this huge scar on my left hand from fighting with broken bottles, I would fight, hit and attempt to kill any kid that looks down on me. Kids? Not just kids, I also fought with adults, adults who didn't respect my privacy, adults who thought advising me would help. Back then I derived lots of joy from watching kids older than myself fear me, respect me and run whenever I arrived, it's kinda funny remembering those. I wasn't afraid of anybody back then, I would hear people advising my parents to take me to a spiritualist or a priest and the next day I would overhear my dad speaking over the phone saying that the same person who came to his house yesterday to advise him is sick or dead, my parents became scared of me, of their son but I didn't care, why should I?
Some said and believed that I was possessed, my family members included. Hearing people say that got me real pissed off, I was taken to many churches but all remained the same, I continued being mischievous till I had this weird dream.I am too scared to write what I saw. I cannot describe it, but I do remember waking up feeling weak. I could notice that something strong left my body. I went to school that day not being my wild self, I was walking down the school hallway and a junior student stepped on my toe, he knelt down almost immediately and apologized, the other students were looking at us with their mouths wild open. I looked at the boy and replied 'hey, you don't have to kneel, it's no big deal'. I noticed the surprised looks on the other students faces, I had no idea why they put on that look. Later on, I understood why they looked surprised back then, I would have beaten the holy heavens out of the boy that stepped on my toe, I would have got angry and tried killing him as usual but I wasn't offended. I was also surprised that I let him go scot-free. I smiled when I realized that I was now a changed person. I began regretting my past deeds. Nobody believed I was changed. I wanted to make friends but it seemed to be impossible. I noticed that each time I came around to join my peers play, they would all quit playing, give silly excuses and leave. It hurt pretty well that everybody hated me. It hurt me that nobody wanted to talk, play or come close to me and then my parents decided that we packed out and start living our lives like normal families do.
The image behind me has been killed and conquered by my changed personality but some part of it still remains in me. I cannot thank the God I serve enough for helping me out. I know he helped me fight, defeat and conquer my past. I thought it was impossible for someone like me to change like that but that was because I forgot this; “nothing in this world is impossible even the word itself says I'm possible”. If I were given a knife to stab anyone, I will not hesitate to stab the memories of the ‘IMAGE BEHIND ME'.