The alarm clock rings. Not once, or twice, or thrice for that matter, but six times! Even then, I put it out and go back for a few minutes. The warmth and its sedative nature prolong my stay. I don’t want to wake up! Be that as it may, the clock ticks on and waits for no man. Heavy feet, restless soul, bad experiences thus far persist and clutter occupies my headspace. Clouding my judgement. This is so fuckin’ precarious! How did I get here?

Everything makes me feel out of depth. Oh, at least I’ve got my earpieces to listen to some favourite music and escape a little in this taxi bus. When reality hits, it hits. It stings. It’s bittersweet. A certain part of you it annihilates. Ahhh! This is the last thing I need: squabbles about who hasn’t paid their fare! Some people just aren’t fair!

Beautiful music peacefully pierces my ears. This mini bus gliding at speed — trees being left behind as my head nestles against the window; automobile in good condition, the peaceful engine sounds give off some much needed tranquility. My eyes dart around, looking at fellow passengers’ faces; Ian Maclaren’s quote has just come to make sense, ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle‘. The woman next to me is fixated on her mobile phone, stroking the screen in quick succession; people behind me chat away about how horrible their bosses are; the college or varsity students in front of me wax lyrical and reminisce about this past weekend’s debauchery. And though faintly, I overhear the driver having a good time laughing about this and that, and later, with the gentleman occupying the seat behind him, they exchange morbid stories of their previous fatal car accidents. In their conversation, they wonder how they survived them. The guy behind the driver is a great storyteller, painting vivid pictures in my mind — even though I’m eavesdropping — as he talks.

Awesome! At least the world’s catastrophes are not all-encompassing. I can escape my misery and hide inside this chatter and if there’s heavy traffic after going past Johannesburg’s South Gate — as is usually the case on Monday mornings — my time here will get prolonged, to my satisfaction.

Now inching toward the golden city of Johnnesburg. Sauer Street. Main Street. Bree Street. Rissik Street. I’m nearing a hell hole, externally designed like a normal place — often appearing peaceful and joyous.

Meal intervals are my refuge. I get to think. Read. Reflect. And think more, instead of eating. This can’t be good for my health … mental and otherwise.

There’s something about going through difficulties. Tumultuous times that’ve prevailed in my young life have strengthened my resolve to never cast judgement without adequately understanding another person’s situation. That woman in the street giving her body away for some money to wicked men might not be doing it because she’s a wayward person who lacks discipline and morals. The gentleman whose stench, upon finding its way up my nostrils, give me a pounding headache, who calls the city pavements home, might not be there because he’s useless and a lazy bastard who doesn’t want to work. The drunkard who’s always murmuring sad and often, unrelated stories and people’s names might not be doing so because he’s useless in some way and deserves the sadness that’s swallowing him whole.

Just as there’s always an interesting and heartwarming story about an individual’s success, there often is an equally dramatic and heartwrenching story behind an individual’s fall from grace.

There’s more than meets the eye in many situations in life. I’ve come to realise the power of empathy and being gentler and benevolent to other people. In a couple of months, I have come to appreciate a stable mental health status. Have you ever asked yourself what drives some people over the edge of sanity? Why do some normal-looking people start talking to themselves and do a myriad other weird things, and just, lose the plot!

My guess is, the brain can only take so much pressure. Imagine what happens to you when you’re sitting alone for days on end. You get bored out of your mind — to borrow the idiom. Now times that by any number of your choice from 20 upwards. It must be excruciating. I suspect it’s one of the reasons ex-convicts always tell youngsters never to commit crime. Sitting in a four-walled room every single day for many years presents troubles for the mind and its sanity. As far as mental health goes, feelings of helplessness, inferiority, insurmountable pressure, amongst others, can tick a man over to a point of no return. Perhaps I can draw parallels to actor/comedian, Robin Williams’ sudden and unexpected demise — reportedly brought on by the depression from which he was suffering.

I don’t want to wake up! Be that as it may, the clock ticks on and waits for no man. Heavy feet, restless soul, bad experiences thus far persist and clutter occupies my headspace. Clouding my judgement. This is so fuckin’ precarious! How did I get here?

I am at crossroads! About to make a decision that will end my mysery and usher in a new bright path for me. Or, just perhaps, accelerate my misfortune and inch closer the demise of my dreams and passion for living.