A Story by Khadija M Aliyu

This is a short story about coping with loss, grief, mental health and addiction.


My father used to tell me stories of his youth, and they are from his religious life to his academic life. But the most interesting of all his stories was the story of how he became a coffee addict. He wasn't addicted to coffee until he got a scholarship into the University of Wisconsin Stout, USA and even then, his addiction serves a purpose; studying late or waking up for the night prayers. 

It happened one evening when my father had to study for a test and he planned his task beforehand since life in the United States as an international student wasn’t easy. So by 8:00pm, he’s already asleep. My dad made one unintentional mistake. He took a coffee by the name of THUNDER at around 5:00pm and just like he saw the sunset, that’s how he saw the sunrise the next day. His eyes didn’t even droop to sleep. He had no choice but to lie awake, staring at the ceiling until the dawn prayer. 

I never tire of hearing the story whenever he tells it because his laughter at the memory always brightens the moment. When he knew I wanted to be a full time writer, he encouraged me to take coffee as a companion beverage. 

          "It opens the mind," he used to say. And it was true because I created a whole world with races to compete with Tolkien's elves. Months before his death, my father would buy for both of us Nestlé Nescafe because the whole family refused to take up his advice on coffee. My mum was afraid of it because of her high blood pressure, my sisters don’t really care and my brothers are occupied with football and online games. Now that he’s late, I find myself going over many of the stories he told me of his life, mostly of his days in school and work. His old pictures give me that dark academia vibe. 

Bottling up grief is terrible and that’s what I did. It drains you and when it surges, it’s the pain, frustration, anger and tears that crushes you and you have to hide yourself so the family won’t see you breaking. My father might have made an unintentional mistake of drinking that coffee because he wanted to study for a test but my mistake was huge and intent. I became addicted to coffee so I wouldn’t sleep to meet the nightmares my PTSD would bring. I kept shrinking in my own shadows and the quietness of my room. Anxiety continued to build up until it became a constant friend. When the panic comes, I sleep to cast off the worries, or lashed out at myself and as it continued, I got scared to dream again. 

Outside, time continued to fly.

Days of anxiety passed to become months of burnouts and tears, but there’s a little strength in the beating of my heart. I woke up one day and I drank my coffee. Not to escape sleep but to write. My mind opened and my soul poured out. At night, I slept and embraced the nightmares. Every day, I made myself dream of the impossible, hiding in worlds only I can see. Every day, I tell myself the world is a road, and I am a wanderer in search of its mysteries. Every day, I think of my father’s stories of how he stood strong against every odds. They strengthened and gave me hope and I refused to let myself disappoint myself. 

Tell me, reader, do you ever look into the night and still see the dawn? Stare at the sunset and still see the sunrise? It took me a while to realise that the things that bring us down are actually the stepping stones to our accent. We are all travellers in this world. All we have to do is to make a beautiful journey, even with the little we have. Surround yourself with flowers not thorns. Your mental health matters when you acknowledge it matters.

I am still addicted to coffee but in a healthy way.

© 2023 Khadija M Aliyu

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Added on March 10, 2023
Last Updated on March 10, 2023
Tags: Mentalhealth, coffee, addiction, grief, hope


Khadija M Aliyu
Khadija M Aliyu

United Kingdom

A writer of strange and wild stories haunting her mind. A soulrocker addicted to her solitude. A sufferer of wanderlust. more..