enter your email to know about new posts

Thursday, April 28, 2011

cigarettes: raindrops

It was raining again the kind of rain that pattered softly but not too softly. The drops told stories each of them but not too loudly, not too insistently, not too repeatedly. They were the kind of stories that you would hear if you weren't in too much of a hurry or weren't too lost in yourself but you have to be lost in yourself just a little to hear the stories of the rain because all you hear is what's already in you. But he was too far gone.

Too far inside to consider the catharsis that rain usually symbolized, too contemplative to consider the new beginnings that rain brought. Too preoccupied to even think about the smell that rain has when it mixes with tarmac, a smell he had loved much longer than he had loved most human beings. He was just glad that it was the kind of rain that you could keep a cigarette lit in. The trick of lighting it was to bend your head almost in supplication to the forces of nature arrayed before you and take a deep breath, a breath from your very soul.

She walked up to him and gave him that smile and he nearly forgot that it was raining, he nearly forgot that he was smoking, then the ashes reminded him of the silence and he steeled himself,
pleasantries were exchanged but they seemed hollow, she knew how fucked up he had been, unable to sleep or think, drinking with the aim of the dark blackout, and it pained him to say he was fine. But he did. For a while they talked about nothing. Using words however inconsequential to fill the abyss that now existed between them, using them like a ladder hoping that maybe when they had said enough words they could finally talk. And so they said words. Meaningless words, words about careers and friends that neither of them cared about right now. They said words with the hope of bringing smiles to each other's faces, they said words because they recognized that silence is sometimes too much to bear, they said words because they were here and it was expected. And they may have said words forever if the rain had let them but it became too insistent, too loud, it screamed at them and in a moment they were drenched and driven away.

“I read your letter,” she said and his heart froze.

He knew she had read it but the acknowledgement was something different. Those words had meant a lot to him. He could still remember the night he wrote it, he could remember the pain he had been trying to exorcise and how it had felt to send the letter. Like he had been holding his breath underwater for hours and just before he drowned someone reached in and brought him to the surface.

“Yeah?”

A talent for nonchalance what he meant to say was -i mean every word you saw in there my life has been hollow so far and I try to fill my soul with the smoke from these cigarettes and in the end I feel worse holding on to things I think can make me happy, knowing they won't but having no other way to hide my grief. And am not sure I can forgive that you don't feel the same way. But despite it all am willing to try-

“Some things are hard to talk about I can't tell you how glad I am you thought I was important enough to get over ... to get over all you would have to to write a letter like that. And maybe now its my turn to talk.” She took a deep breath the kind that people use to prepare themselves for the worst things in life, the kind of breath he could imagine a soldier in a long gone war taking before they amputated his leg with no anesthesia. If he had any idea how close he was to the truth he would have dropped the cigarette hanging limply in his hands.

“i am sorry.”

Those word were infused with so much emotion he could almost hear her breaking. Words are nothing but images, symbols of meanings that reach everyone in different ways. These reached him in ways that he hadn't expected. These reached inside him and took hold of parts he thought belonged to just him.

“i am so sorry” she emphasized and tears streaked down her cheeks or was it the remains of the rain that had been falling around them trying to put out a fire that it could not. She held his hands to look in his eyes and there he saw misgivings, misapprehensions and missed chances. In there he saw the words again. He saw them fight to form. And he felt touched. More than by all the works of literature he had ever read. More touched than all the declarations of love he had believed in his life. He looked in her eyes and he saw his wife, he saw his life.

Love welled up in him threatening to bury everything else that was him. He wanted to say it was OK. That the past was nothing but that. He wanted to say that he knew they had a lot to talk about and that it would all be painful, every real word they spoke would kill a part of him but this part lived. He could see this was the only part that mattered, the part that held him to her and her to him. He wanted to tell her that would give up cigarettes. He wanted to tell her that he would give up him.

Instead he waited old habits die hard, they are a part of us and his cigarette wasn't yet done. It had felt like a really long time to smoke one cigarette, maybe the rain had made it soggy, maybe it was that he he had lived a lifetime in those moments.

“i love you,” she said and he had an inkling. You don't love someone this long without recognizing sorrow and there was too much sorrow in those words. It was not the pain of regret and reconciliation it was the hurt of conviction and confirmation.

“I just love him more.”

It was still raining outside, he could see every drop fall now. He could see the rain cry and now he could hear their stories, stories of pain and fury, of clouds turning to nothing and falling to their death with all their brothers a mass suicide pact that instead of being mourned was celebrated everywhere. He had just been so happy and now he was so sad, those moments were flabbergasted to be in each other's presence. A moment of complete love and hope and another of despair. A moment when he realized that what he thought was his guardian angel was actually the soul of his tortured demon. A moment when he felt like it all stopped, because in that moment it did.

Like the raindrops the butt of his cigarette fell to the ground perhaps giving him example.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

unmade beds

I didn't make my bed today, I just cast off the duvet and hopped over to the computer. Say what you may there is something beautiful in the chaos of an unmade bed, the sheet is all bunched up in lines that could mean anything, they run this way and that crissing and crossing, meeting and leaving each other yet again, they cut deep crevasses making mountains and valleys, an imprint of the dreams you may have had over the night, a psychic fingerprint that's different every night.

The duvet has just been carelessly thrown off,left in a heap waiting to be used or fixed, that may not be beautiful, probably a little sad, the thing that gave us warmth treated so carelessly and now just lying there with no hope. But there's the comfort of an unmade bed. Parents of teenagers feel it, children feel it sometimes when they don't see their parents for a whole night and they wake up the next day too late to find them home, all that's left is the bed. If its still sterile and cold that's how you feel caught in the midst of a fear that flashes for a second before you write it off with half-hearted lies and full-souled burying of the possibility of a truth you can't bear to imagine right then. But if it's unmade it's like they are there, there is something of them a real thing to hold on to,you know they came by and that makes anyone feel better. So I like unmade beds, homes by definition are disorderly and lived in.

I have never made my bed, a mixture of laziness and not seeing the point of making something that's just going to spoil as soon as I use it. I prefer to leave the duvet in a mound and when I feel like using it just slip into the warmth, sleep, wake up and repeat. People make all sorts of arguments about it, how it makes the room look, but I don't mind my room looking like that, and some people can't sleep in an unmade bed because of a latent OCD disorder but sleep finds me everywhere, it stalks me like a panther, hiding in the darkness of a night out or a matatu ride, waiting for me to let my guard down so it can claim me for itself, I don't have a problem with finding sleep. I could seep on a floor, so an unmade bed doesn't give much of a challenge to me.

Last Christmas we had an annual family gathering and I was lambasted about the fact. I was ganged up on by an assortment of aunts and uncles who believed that my insistence on not making my bed would be the reason for my eventual fall. They gave all kind of real world applications for making my bed. My aunt told me about this workmate of her's who wouldn't share a workspace with her, his immaturity she seemed to say stretched to the fact that he didn't make his be or another similarly immature dereliction of duties. I didn't understand that either, but she said it was about basic human decency that I was missing by not making my bed. After about 30 minutes of this I decided to make my bed, I hadn't seen their point by a long shot. But I felt that they were older probably wiser and maybe they knew what they were talking about. Mostly they seeded so passionate about it and I was just apathetic. Let them win because they really want to and either way my life blows on. I resolved to make my bed beginning on December 26th.

I still took the decidedly lazy way out, I would just drape the duvet over the edges of the bed, it would look neat and be easy to get into at night, no need to unfold anything. I was once told that it takes about 3 weeks for a habit to form so I knew I would put in 3 weeks of forcing myself to remember then it would just happen, muscle memory would kick in and make the bed for me.

And so things went for a while. I would dedicate the first few minutes of waking up to making my bed. But then I started losing out on things. I stopped reading in bed. And I love reading in bed. The alarm goes off and I don't want to get out so I just read a little till I have the energy to face the real world. But now I would get up, make the bed and watch TV or something, that's how it was.

And I just didn't like it. I was making my bed for 3 months straight every day and I still found it this tiresome bother. I had to remind myself and then resent the hell out of the act. It refused to become a habit. It didn't want to be remembered and so I forgot it all the time. Some days I would just cast off and leave and I didn't mind it. To top it off I couldn't find the holy grail I was promised. I didn't become a better person. I wasn't kinder, I wasn't more informed' I just was the same old me except I had this extra chore in the morning. A chore I didn't like and I was doing all the time. And a spread bed has no beauty to it. Just symmetry. Everything is so neat and the only beauty inherent there is that of appreciating a job well done or the anticipation of messing it up. There is too much order in that kind of thing for me.

The last straw is when I was used as an example to tell my cousin to make his bed. I was asked to extol the virtues of that thankless task. And I couldn’t, the words would get stuck in my untangled sheets and well spread duvet. They couldn’t find it in them to doom someone else to this life. So I told him not to, I told him it hadn't changed an iota of my life, I told him I wished I hadn't started and this was not the life I wanted for him, I told him I was an overly dramatic bastard(not in words but I think by then he could see that for himself.)

I couldn't face the hypocrisy. The next day I woke up and didn't make my bed. It took no time at all to get used to that habit. And now I don't make my bed again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

dreams

I read once bout how good it is to write in the morning because it was then that the writer still has the most access to his dream state,d reams are weird and inexplicable but they make generally interesting stories. It's like there's a part of your life that happens on autopilot.

I remember that once in a while i know I am dreaming but I always waste it. That's when you should fly away into the sky or have sex with whoever you want just by calling her to mind but the dreams I realise are dreams are generally so messed up that all I want to do is wake up. The only recurring dream I seem to have is that tomorrow is KCSE and I haven't read for the papers, I cleared high school way too long ago to keep being bothered by this dream, weird thing is I can't remember ever having it before high school was over.

Yesterday someone asked me who i thought all the strangers in dreams were. I had honestly never thought about it before right then, I figured that in real life there are strangers so in dreams there are too. But that doesn't makes sense since these are all creations of your mind why would your mind conjure up a stranger. That never happens when we are awake so there must be some kind of central repository, she said it's probably all the thousands of people who jostle us for space every day, I reacted the way I do to all new information, by brushing it off but it festered and now it makes sense. Sometimes I am struck by the sheer numbers of people walking around the world, just Nairobi gets to me. There seems to be an endless sea of people pushing back and forth passing through life and I wonder how all these people could possibly exist and I wonder where the hell they could all be going, maybe they're all going to my dreams to make sure that my mind or subconscious doesn't stay lonely on the condition that I visit their’s too.

I never wondered about strangers being in my dreams because I could never get over people I know being in them. Sometimes it's someone I don't think of ever except when am sleeping. Sometimes when I haven't seen someone in a long time they show up in my dream to remind me they exist. But I always forget. When I have a dream that someone I know is in and it's not a sex dream I always wonder whether I should tell her. Dreams as I may have mentioned are really weird. The symbolism is heavy in them and if you are going to believe Freud they are always sex dreams. I went to Zanzibar yesterday, but in a really weird way. I crossed a border and as soon as I was in Zanzibar the sun's light had a different quality like it was being filtered by all the Swahili. Speaking of sun and Swahili for a really long time I wanted to make a joke about the fact that the word jua means both know and sun but I never quite got it. And now when I think about it I probably went to Zanzibar cos someone was telling me about the similarity between cognac and konyagi. The point is I took someone along for the journey, not as a guest but she was there the whole time in my dream. And I couldn't remember her name so I kept asking her her name and she would point at a name tag, I have no idea why she had a name tag, but I would read the name tag and immediately know that was not her real name but there was nothing I could do about it, I couldn't remember her name no matter how I tried.

Most night pass in black though. I blink and wake up to pee and I blink and wake up cos my alarm is about to go off or cos it already has, that's my average night. It makes me think I don't dream most nights but maybe I just dream of darkness. Maybe my most recurring dream is "thoughts on the abyss” that darkness of mine seems infinite, and I can't believe I give over so much of my life to a state of nothingness, to a place with no escape, to a place where I can't even run from cos I have no idea I am in there. And I don't like the dark, I love slivers of light that steal some of its menace away like robin hood trading menace for mystery, but when they are not around I get irritated and scared. I don't like things being absolutely, completely black but it happens. And only happens when am asleep. I dream of this thing that I don't like, this thing I hate and I always remember that dream. That dream of darkness, I have had this nightmare nearly every night of my life and I will for the foreseeable future. So I don't like to seep.

I don't understand people who do. There's nothing for me there but darkness and dreams I don't understand or ever want to remember. Its like even those dreams I actually have are invaded by the darkness and given a tinge making them a life that I can't quite recognise. Maybe am just jealous of people who enjoy their dreams, I haven't had a flying dream in years, I quite think I would enjoy that but then I also think I wouldn't.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

mzinga

A few weeks ago I was sitting and drinking with a couple of my cousins. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, no-one had any monumental plans so just a chilled kind of day. Later in the afternoon our niece came over to wait to go home since her school is closer to our place than her's. She sat down beside us am thinking in the false hope of hearing wise words tumbling out of our mouths with every syllable. I once read this article about how children(us too when we were) think that adults are some kind of superhumans with all the knowledge of the world existing within them but the truth is we are just thrust into the world ill prepared to face it and forced to learn on the job.

Anyway my niece is 12 years old and in class 7 one year away from doing the most important exam of her young life. I have a problem with that definition of KCPE there is too much gravitas attached to a paper that doesn't really determine much except where you go to high school, and because of this paper my niece at 12 has to go to school on Saturday. Taking away the few years of sublime joy that human beings have. Her bag was huge. Packed into it were textbooks of all the subjects she studies in school. Every single one. Then there were the exercise books that she has to carry every day since the timetables are made with the sole aim of messing up shoulder blades. I have a pretty heavy laptop, scratch that there is nothing pretty about it. It is a machine. I like to think about it as a land rover defender. Metal everywhere, a weight to lug around, a second thought accompanies every time I leave the house with it when the flash disk is almost just as useful companion. On the days I have to carry it I put it in my bag and pull the bag over my shoulder and before i have taken one step out of the house my shoulders begins to ache. I tire like I have diabetes, stopping for a drink wherever I can. I tried to lift my niece's bag and shit I felt like such a whiner, a little girl carries more weight than I do to school everyday.

Being tipsy none of our conversations were tumbling with wisdom the only tumblers there were filled with ice to cool down the alcohol. The ghost that reminisces soon came to sit among us and we asked her for a Swahili textbook. For anyone who doesn't know(anyone who didn't learn in Kenya) yes Swahili is this huge force for nationalism, some say the glue that holds our nation together by allowing all our various tribes a medium of communication. It is the language of the youth but in a form that is evolving with every spoken word, this form of Swahili is called sheng and it is nearly an organic life form drawing its life force from thousands of experiences, nside jokes and songs, it changes so rapidly I gave up any thoughts I entertained about understanding all of it. I can get by but just barely. This is not the Swahili taught in schools.

The Swahili taught in schools is a horror of rules and words that no-one ever uses. A grammatical structure that divides all words into about ten groupings which all have their own subrules, plurals and interactions. It is without a doubt the hardest subject I have ever had to do. Some people think that people from my tribe have a genetic predilection to favour English over Swahili and I know I am perpetuating the stereotype by using the word predilection.

For kicks we picked up this Swahili book to give each other quizzes on it. Being right in the middle of the Arab revolutions we went straight to the page about weapons. This probably had less to do with the Arab revolutions than it did this was one of the only pages with pictures in it. They would draw a weapon and ask you to match it with it's name below. We went through this laughing at our ignorance till we found a gem. Right there on the page was the word “mzinga” this is a word that has signified pleasure on the cheap for most of my post high school life. A mzinga is a 750ml bottle of liquor It's what you get when you are broke and when you are not. It's what you get when you are sober, when you are going to a party, when you have a few hours to kill. A mzinga is usually only used to describe cheap liquor and it is the main reason punch at parties isn't mixed in front of the female guests preferring the kitchen or a room full of mystery where it leaves fully formed. A mzinga is what we had hidden as soon as our niece came into sight.

We were understandably excited about learning its real definition. We called her down and asked her to point out the answer to that question for us. Turns out it is a canon. Cool metaphor for something that has knocked down so many walls. But she knew that we couldn't be that happy over the finding of a canon, she knew that it probably meant something else in our minds but she had no idea what, which is why she said:

“i can never understand your middle aged talk.”

What? I have never felt so old.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

and so i started this blog part 2

I read this and for some reason it got me thinking about Horcruxes,

I loved Harry Potter, it was an amazing series of books that explored a thousand little things, betrayal, the nature of evil, friendship, the power of love and hope and it had all this magic, loads and loads of magic. I grew up reading Harry Potter, I was one of those kids who actually waited for the next book to come out and the characters were all my age, we grew up together, but that's not what this is about, its about horcruxes.

These were little pieces of a soul that a wizard could leave somewhere in the world that would make him  forever immortal. His physical body could die but since he had these horcruxes he really wouldn't.

And I'm scared of death, I used to think about it way too much. I thought I had it figured out that the only reason human beings are scared of anything is because they are scared of death. Maybe not everyone but me especially. I saw the end of everything as a death in itself, the end of university was the death of childishness, and I was so scared of what would come after, I was scared of responsibility of actually having to do something that I would be paid for. A friend of mine once asked me if I had a skill that I thought someone would pay me money for and I wasn't sure. I have read for years and years, and maybe am really good at that but in the real world noone is actually paid to cramm useless bytes of information down their brain so that's out. Then I figured out I was actually scared of the unknown. And that's what death is right? The unknown.

But real death is so much worse. I hate hearing stories about someone who died, like that campus student who died recently. I keep thinking about all the things he will never do. And when I talk to people about it, I say with such emotion “that's the end of his life” and when people don't get how important that is I don't get that, how do they not see how monumental that is. This guy will never walk, fight, think or love again. His mind is a blank, his soul nothing more than a concept we leaned about via theology. For all the talk about a soul, an eternal piece of us that lives on there might be nothing there. And that scares me. The blankness of an eternity. And I'm reading this book Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. And one of the characters says."We always imagine eternity as something beyond our conception, something vast, vast! But why must it be vast? Instead of all that, what if it's one little room, like a bath house in the country, black and grimy and spiders in every corner, and that's all eternity is? I sometimes fancy it like that." and I don't know which one is worse the glory of a never ending servitude,or black and grime and spiders.

Death is horrible but when I think about it I think about how much I love life and I want to live and not be gone, I want to leave little pieces of my soul everywhere so that even if I am not they still are. There should be a mark on a sidewalk somewhere a sign that I lived and died. When I didn't think about death I never thought about life and thinking all that made me write this:

“we are all awash in a sea of contradictions and complexities, tossing and turning in an ocean that threatens to drown even the most rigid among us, bending us to our wills that are not always our wills, changing us, shifting us, making us something we're not but at the same time all we are.”

But my phone had died when I thought that up and I was so scared I would forget it so I looked for a notepad everywhere and I wrote it down and I felt alive. And maybe that's why I write. When I started this blog I wrote about all the reasons I had started it. And it was a list of events, of things that had happened to me. Interesting things, scary things, things that changed the way I think and relate with others. Things I loved to write about. But my life is not the most eventful chapter in the vast expanse of human history, surely there are lives far more deserving of a biweekly capture in words.

But now I don't think I write just because things happen to me. I talked to this girl once, she had read some of the blog, and she told me that she felt like she knew me better than before she read it. Guess that's true. There is nothing in the personal information that points to me as a human being but sometimes, I think that this blog, these posts are hocruxes of my own. Little windows into the things that make me me. There's a lot of personal experience and even when I write fictional pieces they aren't taken out of thin air. Strange thing is those fictional pieces have the most impact on me. I love them.

And sometimes I ramble about all the things am scared of. And life is scary. Happiness has been sold to us nearly forever. If you're not happy you haven't achieved anything in life. All your money, your sacrifice, your beauty, your brains count for nought if measured up against your lack of fulfillment. And that's the message the world sells us over and over again. This hopelessly idealistic world view, but the world is confused, maybe after a while we just realise the confusion ourselves. I don't know if it's the dark bend of art nowadays or personal experience, or conversations but I come to believe as time goes by that not many people are happy with their lot. Wives cheat on their husbands and husbands beat their wives and human beings are locked in this state of mortal combat with life itself, except life always wins and we always die.

But I write this and I look back and think that even a hundred years from now if anyone was curious about what kind of man I was, what experiences I had, what drove me towards them or away from them. What made me tick. They could just open this up and see. And so I leave these little horcruxes everywhere.

A part of me writes because I am scared to die, to have lived and done all this and die with all of it still intact not changing anyone, noone to learn from it, just me and my coffin. But a part of me writes because I love life. With an overabundance. I see nearly everything as interesting now and I like that, I talk to people and really listen. Really listen. I shut out the rest of the world because lifetimes can be lived in moments like that. Then I sit down and talk with myself. I look at this computer screen and on the good days the words come pouring out. This was one of the good days. They dance all over the screen changing it, my blank canvas that I paint with broad strokes of my soul sometimes general and about nothing in particular but I still remember the phone call and when she said she knows me better and it seems the stokes aren't too broad or can't be. Maybe the whole of me is contained in no matter how inconsequential a piece it is. Like the DNA we can find in a strand of hair that can recreate a human being,

I like to think that at least.

I remember being told that a blogger wakes and sleeps to the stats page on the blog, how many hits today, yesterday, where from, how come? How many comments, who felt touched by what you wrote and why? That's mostly true because I love the comments, I like to know that someone read and wrote, it makes me feel like writing more. I like to think that someone recognised a bit of themselves in these ramblings or thoughts or maybe they didn't but it made them feel like looking closer, just a little closer.

And so I started this blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pretence

A few weeks I had this conversation about pretending, what brought it about was this walk I went for with a group of my friends, guys and girls. As we were walking the girls saw someone they used to know from high school but they kept walking on. It was one of the coldest things I had ever seen. They seemed like they had no idea who the other person was, the carbon dioxide in the air turned into dry ice and I knew the solution for global warming is simply putting girls who were once in high school together in the same room.

We were shocked, the men at least, this cold emotionless, pragmatic species were shocked, we refused at first to believe that this people actually knew each other then it hit us that girls don't pretend.

“if I didn't used to talk to her in high school why should I talk to her now?”

really? This is a valid viewpoint among the female society. When I see someone I knew from high school I will say hi. There are people I didn't talk to for all four years I was in a class with 80 people in all and I still didn' talk to them. The space between us was where conversation came to die, a laboured, painful yet awkwardly quiet death. But I see those guys now and I say hi. I stop to have a conversation and I know exactly how the conversation will go.

“sema.”
“sema it's been a while.”
“yeah, yeah 't has”

at this point conversation remembers to die and shows the first signs of death, desperate to resuscitate it because I have known this guy for so long I go to the standard small talk reserved for old high school friends. The kind of conversation that signals we should both look for a way out of standing there staring at each other.

“so what do you do nowadays?”
“jobo, jobo”
“eh, where?”(this is asked knowing you don't care the slightest it's just what's done)
-insert answer here, no-one ever remembers it anyway unless it's a shocking development(if someone was working for the Kenya Lightning and Power Company I would definitely remember)- this answer is followed up by a cursory “you, still at law school?”
“yeah I finish this sem so am almost done.”
“cool, cool(this is also done so nonchalantly you would think it was a Russian spy talking to you)”
“weh, I have to run”

End of conversation. That's it. That is a conversation I will have ten in the next 3 months with slight variations to speak in swa sometimes and ask about mutual friends. This is a burden men carry all the time, everywhere. And women just choose to cast it off.

They pass by each other without even a head nod. And I had to find out why.

Apparently women think there is something wrong with pretending, they act like it's some kind of plague when it is not. Lies are the oil that moves the world fullstop(i wrote it down for emphasis-the fullstop-)

If you have a moral aversion to it then don't do it. We stain our souls enough as it is but if you don't think it is a moral wrong (and I don't) then there is no problem with it. It makes people happy and the refrain to this was
“it's not my job to make people happy”

no it is not your job. But can there really be anything wrong with making people happy. I would do that for free, it makes me glad to know that someone's sense of self worth has been affirmed by an act I found meaningless and cost me five minutes of my time. That's not even saintly, it's lazy and it works. Do it for karma, do it so that someone does it to you one day. You may be walking around and all you need is a smile to make the day bearable and that scintilla of pretence, that isle of a lie will be all you need to make your day better.


Happiness is something that should be spread around like a lather if you can. It makes my life better for all involved. A smile raises the average rate of happiness in the world, so raise it. So I am asking you to pretend for someone today. Pretend you are happy to see them, pretend you care about their day, pretend that smile is for them. There really is nothing wrong with it.


I don't think that pretending makes you a worse person unless you are pretending about something that matters. If it will hurt someone to know that you pretended then don't. let them find out you were pretending. But this is such a small thing, a tiny inconsequential thing. If I found out that someone was pretending they cared about how my life is turning out when all the words we spoke to each other before this point could fit in a blog post I wouldn't be bothered. I wouldn't be angry. I would probably have been pretending too and my life will go on the same trajectory. When we meet again we'll pretend just as badly. Each seeing through the other's pretence and feeling their own, knowing the other person is thinking about the same thing. It's a moment of such awareness, it's like your environment is you in that moment. Forget about the moment even being deep because that's probably bullshit but it's simple. And it's not cold and cut like surgery, it's whole and organic. It's not beautiful by a long shot, its awkward and feels unnatural but it is really simple and one of these days it may actually mean something to someone. And even if it never does if someone I know passed me as coldly as girls do to each other that would mean something to me. I would write the person off as a bitch and truthfully even if you are who really wants to be thought of as a bitch?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

drink.

Some drink to remember....

She was way past her prime, a worn out relic of a world that maybe never existed. Her beauty had faded, her face was wrinkled and jaunty, carrying all the pain of the world. Her inner beauty had been sold a long time ago, it's always the purchase before the soul and that had gone too as time went by. There was nothing and no-one in her life but the girl in the mirror and she hated her as much as any of the dozens of men who crossed her path.

And so she drank.

She would enter a pub and ask for the cheapest dirtiest liquor available, it always gets the job done faster anyway,the irony of this would have struck anyone else, she of all the high class drinks reduced to this. But she could afford a wry smile of acknowledgemnet even less than she could afford one of the drinks she used to gulp. Irony is lost on the miserable ans when the world was this ugly why smile?

Life had always been ugly but now she was too and so she drank.

The liquor coursed through her veins and broke through her blocks, a mental cure for amnesia and within a blink of an eye she was a dame again, the doll of the town, the girl to be seen with. She had been one of those rare beauties, the kind that everyone agreed on, even her. She would walk into a room and thought would stop. All her life she had been told she was beautiful so it wasn't her fault she knew. She knew beauty was power and that's why all those boys gave her sweets when she was younger and that's why all these men gave her drinks right now. She had the kind of dazzling smile that demands an automatic response . Life was a bowl of happiness and she liked to be happy.

And so she drank.

She remembered only the good things though, she failed to remember the curse of beauty, of a lopsided beauty. One that only shown out with no counterpart inside to let it in at night so that together they could pass the lonely nights. The nights she didn't spend alone were so much worse for her even then she had nobody and life was a wisp, traces untouched. She wondered why no-one wanted anything more from her. She never stopped to consider it may have been because she never demanded anything of herself. The curse of a lopsided beauty was that the loneliness could become acidic. And she tried to neutralize the acid by giving in to her base desires. But it didn't work. The funny thing about loneliness is you can feel it everywhere. It stalks you when you are alone with your thoughts, finds you when you are hiding in a crowd of people and even peeps at you when you are in bed with a lover. There really is no escape but that which comes from within however her beauty had no counterpart. Maybe that's why she started drinking, but she didn't think about those things.

Still she drank.

To hear her talk she was the happiest of all of god's humans, jumping from one party to the next, from one city to the next, from one man to the next. To hear her talk the fires of envy would be stoked but only if you could force yourself to believe her. She seemed totally at odds with what she was saying. There was nothing there. She liked to drink because it helped her remember and then it helped her forget. She would drink until the dark came to claim her and then she would drift away into memories of nothing. The saddest part is that without her outer beauty her inner one may have been given the chance to flourish. And if it had when she smiled, when she truly smiled she would have been seen for the beauty she was but drink had drowned her inner beauty. It was adrift in a sea of gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, brandy. If you peered inside her eyes now all you would see was blackness. That's all she wanted to see when she went to sleep.

And so she drank, to remember.

Some drink to forget....

The rain pattered outside he had always liked listening to the rain. Little drops of hope and life falling, from the sky it had always made him feel so alive, but he was way past hope. It was nearly closing time and he wasn't drunk enough yet, he could hope for another beer but that wouldn't get him anywhere. So he asked for a bottle of the cheapest , dirtiest liquor available. He held his hope in his hand and threw it down his throat and hope found a way burning past throats and into stomach harming his liver a little more. It was worth it though hope felt good.

And so he drank.

Nardine Gordimer would have said that he drunk in order to deaden the pain of his intelligence, to kill the memory of his potential. He had been going places, a man with a dream and with people who believed in it. Too bad those places were now the bar he thought wryly. He hadn't lost his sense of irony though humour, irony's necessary counterpart was dead in a past he tried not to consider. He had always known he was smart, an undeniable fact. His teachers told him so, his parents told him so, his grades told him so and he knew. He knew he was destined for greatness. That the path lined up for him was one of gold. He knew that he had let this path rot and turn to nought, but he didn't like to think about that.

And so he drank.

He would take a shot to wipe away the memory of his mother disappointed in her only hope, her golden boy who was now nothing but a disappointment. He knew that she loved him still and perhaps this is what pained him the most her love. It meant that she was hurting when she turned him away. He could still remember the tear she tried so valiantly to hold back as she showed him the door. The crack in her voice as she told him that love has its limits. He knew she was lying, love didn't have limits and that was th only way she had the courage to turn him away, flesh of her flesh, mind of her mind as she used to say. He smiled wryly as he thought of that. A wry smile was the only one available to him now. He felt no joy, he could barely remember it but he could remember the pain in his mother's eyes.

And so he drank.

He should have been kinder, more accommodating, not everyone was born with his genetic gift but he had no time for those who weren't. As a result he spent a lot of time in his head, arrogance pouring out of every pore. He didn't know it but he was dreadfully lonely and alone. There was a despair within him that he couldn't understand. He wanted to fill it with ambition but that's not how loneliness works. If you leave it alone it grows like a cancer. Desperate not to be lonely itself it fills in the blanks with more of it until you begin to take notice. But when he began to take notice he had no idea how to make it go away. He felt cold after sex, perhaps even worse because he would place such hope in it and it's ability to correct only to find out he was the same afterward a lonely shell lost on a beach in a faraway ocean.

And so he drank.

He drank to kill how he felt. He drank because he was alone and didn't want to feel that fact, he drank because all of life's great disappointments bared down on him. A train that could not be stopped. A train of thoughts that started and ended with his inadequacies. He drank because he thought too much and the liquor whirling around his brain circuits made them soggy and that was good, to be soggy. If he drank enough he would see the black he so desperately wanted to see. he could blink away the world and not think for a while.

And so he drank, to forget.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

the sound of silence

A while back as I was walking in town I saw a most interesting thing happen right in front of me. There was this group of people in their early 20's, 2 guys one girl and they were talking to each other. That in itself is pretty unremarkable but they were signing all they said which led me to think they were deaf because not one sound escaped their lips, the conversation had all the peaks and valleys of a normal conversation but the lack of sound made it oh so beautiful. I began following them(we were walking in the same direction anyway) and I just watched them talk. The strangest thing is town was really noisy at that time, that probably had no bearing on their conversation but it did on me. The sounds around me, the people talking, the cars hooting, the touts screaming, my foot on the pavement, everything else faded in when I watched them talk. It got really quiet for me, I could still hear the sounds but as if from a distance like I was not really there. And for a couple of minutes we walked like that me in a near trance state and them oblivious to everything that was not the movement of each other's hands. I was entranced by the way they drew their words literally pulling them out of thin air and using their hands to construct meaning. I was touched by the sight, how something so ordinary to them, just a walk and talk could seem so special



later I saw some fish in an aquarium, I was at the UN compound and they have this aquarium near the conference halls, a really swanky get-up. Its at the floor level or a little below itand it runs the whole perimetre of the floor. The water is clear, this being the world headquarters of UNEP this is to be expected. The effect of this is that you can see the little fish in there moving around, head bobbing and floating in the water. I had never noticed how graceful fish are before right then. They look stuck in the middle of the air, it helped that the water wasn't murky cos the fish seemed to almost fly. I couldn't see how they moved or even make sense of it once they did. The word slither is completely onomatopoeic in its description for whatever it is that fish do. They seem o find the wholes in the atoms of water and work their way through it. Not so much moving through water as making the water move through them. And that whole scene also struck me by how quiet it all was. The fish made not a peep, their movements if translated to music would have been that quietest of music the kind you would hear at a very tasteful funeral service, not intruding on the mourners while at the same time setting the right type of mood. And I just stood and watched feeling more at peace with every moment that passed.

Later that week we had gone o a club in town to celebrate, it's not exactly a club because the ambience seems to ask you to sit and talk rather than dance and shout. The kind of place you could have a conversation over drinks not punctuated by pleas for pardon. it's a place called level 4 on the fourth floor of chester house which means it is blessed with a view of the city at night. At one point I walked to the edge of the building so I could look out over the city. Nairobi at night is beautiful. I love the orange glow of the street lights which seems to reach only halfway down the length of the post before diffusing into scattered specks of light. I like the way the streets look at that time empty and peaceful . I love the pull of the competing beauties, the stars sparkling and shining light years away and the human equivalent of lost lights meant to keep us safe and to prove their determination never blinking.. I could see this lady walking so through jeevanjee gardens, it was probably one of the homeless people who hang around there, but in every direction around her there was nothing. I felt like a hawk watching as she made her journey at that time of the night to wherever. At that moment I remember thinking how could this place be unsafe. There was not a fleck of danger in any direction, there probably was, a hidden menace waiting in the shadows to jump out at anyone foolish enough not to see it And again I was struck by the silence. There was a light breeze blowing. The kind of breeze you feel only at night. The kind that makes that sound in between your ears like you have stuck your head in a shell. For a while that's all I could hear, more accurately it was the first line of noise between me and the world. All other sounds had to be filtered through this whistle of air that currently existed. And I couldn't figure out what made me feel so peaceful about the night, whether it was the quiet and the dark or that wind that I never felt any other time that wind that seemed to find it's way through every cavern of my ears as if time itself were whispering to me. Maybe that was it, the sound of silence.