Selena Ayobami Akanni, a name that echoed through the crowds like a symphony. On stage, the cheers and adoration were a mask, concealing the reality that lurked beneath her fame.
The spotlight may have embraced the 24-year-old, but it cast a shadow she couldn’t escape. The love from her audience was a distant echo compared to the love she craved, a love she lost long ago.
Amid the applause, she stood, her face adorned with a radiant smile, to appease the camera’s unyielding gaze. No one really knew the real Bami. The cheers faded gradually as she dropped the microphone on stage as her final act, with the smile on her face immediately fading away as she entered the dressing room to relive her costume. She was alone with her ‘so-called’ friends, away from lights and cameras. There was no need to fake being happy. She could now keep a straight face.
“Where is my phone?” she yelled angrily.
“Jeez It’s right here Selene, you need to relax, why are you getting paranoid?” Lilian, one of my two closest girlfriends, asked.
“Thank you, she said with shaky hands, I’m sorry I just….”
And that was typical Selene, after what seemed to be a beautiful performance, she was always paranoid, like someone with bipolar disorder. Perhaps she did have a psychological problem, but it wasn’t bipolar. It was depression.
The world only knew her as Selene, the acclaimed musician, but behind that façade was a dark secret she held close, hidden like the unseen side of the moon.
Amidst her journey, Selene’s closest friends had tried to pull her into the social whirlwind. They wanted to revel in her stardom, bask in the glory of her success, and perhaps, gain something extra from her earnings. But they never understood her weight and the scars etched deep into her soul.
Selene found solace in its quiet companionship every night, as the moon graced the sky with its luminous presence. It reminded her of the night she was born, cradled under the moonlight, a beacon of hope for her family. Yet, the moon silently observed the horrors she endured—the betrayal and darkness that eclipsed her innocence. Her friends could never fully grasp her connection to the moonlight. Coincidentally, it felt like she had her most extraordinary lyrical prowess when the moon was full.
Her father, a once proud and noble man, had served in the military, a true hero in her eyes. But his untimely demise had shattered their world. The burden of survival fell heavily on her young shoulders. General Akanni, her uncle, who should have been their saviour, became the tormentor. He exploited her vulnerability, tarnishing her childhood innocence and leaving scars no one could see. But nothing was as painful as knowing her mum had sacrificed her. She said;
“Bam Bam, it is for the greatest good of the family, he is the only hope we have and with his support, you can go to school and fulfil your dream, it’s a small price to pay for freedom.”
Oh, how she hated that name Bam Bam; she said it was a small price to pay, a small price!! My own mother… despised her for not protecting her as a hen protecting her chicks.
The moon had witnessed the violation, the cries for help that went unheard. It had been her steadfast companion in the darkest moments of her life, offering silent solace when the world turned a blind eye. But the moon had a dark side, it never said a word.
Music became her sanctuary, a medium to channel her pain and transform it into melodies that resonated with countless hearts. It was her voice, her lyrics, that told her story—the silent cries and the muted screams.
In one of her award-winning songs titled: ‘Adigun’ she Penned down the words;
“Through the rifts of sorrow, a resilient hymn,
A rising crescendo, a chance to swim,
In the river of resilience, I found my way,
A musical phoenix, born anew each day.
A-di-gun o, A-di-gun…..”
A song that had won the hearts of many was the expression of her pain, and people vibed and danced to it. Showing her love, she knew it wasn’t for her but for her talent.
Dr Dayo, her psychologist, became a confidant, a window to release her pent-up agony. Yet, the scars ran too deep, the wounds too raw. Her hidden truth weighed on her soul, pushing her to despair.
“She looked at Dr. Dayo and said, ‘I had another conversation with the moon.’
‘What did you talk about?’ he asked.
“You’ll have to find out in my next song,” she replied with a sad laugh.
‘Have you thought of killing yourself lately?”
“Yes, I’ve thought of a thousand ways to die. One, though, stands out.”
“And that is…’ The room became hushed, and she said, ‘ Maybe if I take enough of my antidepressants, I can finally be happy.”
“Is that what you truly want?”
“Your fans will miss you; you know.”
“My fans don’t know me… they think they love me, but they really don’t. They only care about what I can give them. They are a selfish bunch, just like my mother.”
“Dr. Dayo, I will be ending my session here today.”
“And I am ending my relationship with the moon.”
“The moon has a dark side I can’t contend with, so I’m cutting it off.”
“So, who would you turn to for solace?” he asked as I held the doorknob, taking my leave.
“Maybe the sand, perhaps the dust would understand.”
“‘Selene, see me tomorrow, no charges. I have something to show you,'” he said.
“Okay, doc,” she responded with a smile. But deep down, she knew there was no next time. She was done fighting, pretending and pleasing everybody.
“Now I can do something for myself.” She thought.
In a moment of heartbreaking decision, she let go to find solace in the earth and the dust. With its dark side and silent witness, the moon had served its purpose. Selene would turn to the dust, hoping for understanding and release.
She took her antidepressants and sat under the moonlight, emptying the entire pill bottle. “Now you can see me go, scratch that, happily go.”
***2 weeks later***
Dr. Dayo sits in his white-painted office, staring at where Selene used to sit when she came for her sessions. As he read through her lyrics, he blamed himself for not understanding. All her songs reflected her true self, and no one saw it.
“I should have known,” he said in deep agony.
For the world, she was the rising star, but for her, the actual journey was within—finding peace amidst the chaos. But now it was too late. Perhaps her story could save someone else.
She was always so happy on stage; now, she leaves a silent reminder that sometimes, the brightest lights cast the darkest shadows.