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Thursday, June 9, 2011

walking

You know how lazy lack of supervision can make you? I do. Now I do. Without a doubt. The sweetest conversations are the ones stolen from moments promised to hard work. I went to school, to the library to read for this my final papers as a university student. Then I didn't. I saw someone I wanted to talk to so I did. Then I went to photocopy some notes and the guy there said I should come back in twenty minutes. I was so glad at this excuse not to visit the big bad library. The store of information that I will just say intimidates me, maybe that's why we don't get along. I feel like its mocking my tiny brain with its huge vast stores and the extra knowledge that if I gave it all the years of my life I still wouldn’t best it.

When I left school I promised to come back the next day and read a whole extra hour than I had planned to, I promised not to be distracted by the people that lay everywhere, mines in such an intricate trap that if I close my ears I would still find an interesting conversation. I promised to come back the next day and make a set of promises I couldn’t hope to keep. But it's OK I think. Am not too lazy, it's just sometimes i don't feel like working and I find that the last things are the easiest to phone in. I almost never have this problem, or maybe I do but I bury the light in so much night that I can't see it unless am right in the middle of it.

So I left school and walked some of the way home. I was wearing these alladin shoes, well not exactly. It was those shoes that taper upwards at the end like a shovel . And its so dusty along the way home,. plus its so hot all the time. the sun shines and shines. It beats down convincing the man from Aesop fables to take off his coat and show the wind what persuasion is about. When this happens I hope that the dust will be thrown up in such quantities it obscures the sun but that's not how eclipses work so my path home is a line drawn under the shades of trees and billboards. A walk of avoidance and not of purpose. I can feel a little trickle of sweat begging to make its way from infancy to the fullness of its potential tracing its way down my face and I whip out my handkerchief like an ancient Egyptian Mubarrak and wash it over my face and continue on the way. The dust is bad for the shoes because they can't help but shovel. with every step I take it's like a spade is stuck in the earth and throwing the sand behind me to land on these shoes that were shining so bright in the morning. It’s like they are a gravedigger and he needs to make graves 6 millimetres deep with every step he takes. So now my once black as tar shoes are brown as sand.

But am also walking faster and faster. This is because am on the stretch of road between museum hill and chiromo. I have had bad experiences with this road. the kind that have changed the way I feel about Nairobi and the safety that urban life here represents. It is on this stretch of road that I was once brutally mugged. Strung up like a kite by four to five men, men turned from the life of the legitimate like I wished I could turn away from the sun. I was beaten and robbed and am not sure what was worse just that I remember that day and I remember that place so when sunset finds me waking down that road my steps speed up to match my heartbeat. A little injection of adrenaline and muscle memory.

The faster I walk the more devilishly the little gravedigger works, now he's on a deadline, its the middle of the night and he can't allow himself to be caught digging graves at the witching hour. Because he's a gravedigger with superstitions. Only those people who spend their lives in the sun and in health and life can live without superstition but he know better my little gravedigger does. he has been at work for far too long fixing places for Lilliputians to put their lilies. He has seen the things death can do and stared into eyes without hope, heard voices filled with nothing but despair, felt grief as if it was a wind threatening to tear away his sanity. And he know that these things do not lightly lie away. He knows of the energy of thoughts and the power of feelings and he knows that if he is caught here at that hour it will leave him torn and tattered. So my little gravedigger digs more recklessly with every step, he throws the sand back further and further placing stain not just on shoes but on trouser too.

But the sun continues to go down anyway. I can't walk fast enough and for a moment I am worried I will be caught here by the dark. I know that the dark that finds me here is the kind that's not scared to be the first at parties,its not the dark that makes decisions but it doesn't matter. The wimps of that kingdom have me cowed. Especially here. My sight is darkened by the memories of what happened and there is menace in every shadow. the shadows keep getting longer and the menace keeps being more pronounced until that's all I can hear. Filling my eardrums and beating a beat that spikes and falls. I can see all the people making this route along with me but it doesn't seem to matter. Not right then. I think I can be plucked like a chick by a hawk and taken away to this little place where bad things happen. Or have bad things happen in this huge place where nobody stops to give you a thought or even a breath. And so I walk faster.

I really should stop walking down this road, even when nothing happens I feel like it should or could and the adrenaline makes me feel like it did. Then I come to the end of the road and its over just like that. I get into a matatu and wait for it to leave. The only concern I now have is how much this guy will charge me. Will he be fair or make me break a note, these kind of situations I like much more.