The Office

Beeld: Femke Koppe

The psychologist’s office smelled like rotten medicine
A sign that the minds of those in need of help never found it and were left stale from the lack of a remedy
The taste of time wasted was repugnant in the mouth
You could feel all the hours previous victims had wasted in that very same chair I sat

My disdain was never towards the psychologist, nor what they did or stood for
My disdain was aimed at the time and effort, what it meant and how it was used
For you see, weary minds can only handle so many ‘what if’ scenarios
Fragmented souls and shattered hearts can hardly take anymore ‘I’m sorry to hear that’ pity statements

To begin the session she asks how I am
How do I say less than I’m fine, how do I say more than I need help
How do I say I don’t need therapy, how do I say I need someone to talk to

I don’t require extra time to complete assignments, but I require extra time to get my life together
I wouldn’t like to defer my studies for a year, but I’d like to delay these unstable emotions till further notice when I feel the need to deal with them

She rambles on for another minute about how this meeting is mandatory
About how she’s helped hundreds of students like me and is aware of the crisis
The crisis?
My sense of gravity being ripped from the soles of my feet is being labelled as ‘the crisis’ by those who are glued to the floor

Tell me, if you dropped an egg from a window and saw it smash
If you watched it break, crack, separate and turn into mash
Would you in all honesty ask it if it was okay?
Would you in all honesty even expect a response as it lay there in the driveway?

I can’t remember what I said during the meeting
But I remember what happened after
As I leave the office and hear a girl on the phone speaking in a language that was music to my ears
A language that I could trace in the sand as I could the palm of my hand

When she hung up I felt a slight warmth in the air
The stench permeating from the office suddenly disappeared
We locked eyes and it was as though she told me “I’m here too, just like you”

Chinenye Oguejiofor is Tilburg University’s 2023 campus poet


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