This story is affectionately dedicated to Amanda’s charisma and relentless belief in hope once in her possession, with whom I spent numerous rewarding Facebook conversations.
Three years ago on a return journey from the city, hours before I took to the bus, I couldn’t help but notice an odd looking gentleman pacing about in the park. He seemed disturbed- on edge, not in the manner that would attract attention from the authorities but in a sense of need, or even urgency… a point of view I had grown familiar with over the years. My mother was and still is a cautious woman. When I was leaving for boarding school, she sat me down and told me things. Most of which didn’t make much sense at the time except for the one piece she always said to me, “do not attract any extra attention than that which your nose already brings you.” Knowing me you might find that funny. But trust me, the irony lies far beyond the obvious- my funny looking nose.
Now for a minute or two, I couldn’t help but wonder what could have been troubling the fellow. So I walked over to him in all manner of disregard for my mothers advice and introduced myself, asked if there was anything I could do to brighten his day. He swiftly responded with a no, as though he knew what I had to say before I even thought it. That was about the time I realised what a terrible idea it was to walk over there and impose on another mans privacy. Without word, I turned around and walked away in attempt to avoid a demonstrative argument that would have been totally justified on his part.
Over twenty minutes later, we both boarded the same west bound bus where I picked a seat close to a good looking lady like I always did and plugged in my earphones listening to nothing hoping the other party would try to initiate some sort of discussion. I knew that by being close to them, it would present an opportunity to rub shoulders at every hard turn of the journey… something I believe we should all look forward to on every bus trip.
Later on in the journey, the same fellow approached my seat-mate with an impish grin on his face and presented her with an offer so tempting that she couldn’t decline, then sat besides me in quiet and waited. Almost as though he was choosing his next words with the utmost precision. He then started talking; told a story about a friend of his who got duped in the same manner I approached him. He then hinted that he might have lied to me earlier when he said there wasn’t anything I could have offered to brighten his day. He insisted that I lend him an ear, that all he wanted was someone to talk to, someone to relate to his situation and even offered to reimburse my troubles. Now imagine my delight when it became quite clear that he was demonstrating a willingness to clear out the air with me- a complete stranger, he did not have to but he did anyway. I turned my head and said to him; “Sir, that sounded dangerously close to an apology” …and that I admired the effort, then smiled back at him assuring him not to worry about my cool. We then conversed and shared a couple of ideas in an equally rewarding manner.
I later learned that Timothy here had just lost a close relative and wasn’t ready to take over the family business all at the expense of his post graduate endeavours. Think about that, he was one of those rare things Tim, a relentless fighter who as I have shared with you never let an opportunity to put his empathy and altruism to the test pass him by… even in the most trying times, in light of such disheartening news. Honestly, I never understood the man, it was until recently when I watched a movie by Denzel Washington- The Great Debaters… when Lowe (not real name) said “I’ve never seen a wild thing feel sorry for it self” while stepping up to the challenge of quoting a line that blends in with the act of self pity.
The commonest mistake we all make when trying to cope with demanding times and heartaches is opting for the easy way out when trying to move on. From what I gather, in practice it entails forceful forgetting. Edgar Allan Poe once said; “if you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” …just so you know, I have every intention of siding with this 18th century celebrated novelist. Tim believed in this train of thought, he opted for talking about his troubles with a random stranger on a public bus to drowning himself in worry and pretending to forget. He took the hard path and emerged out triumphant while also securing himself a long life friendship with that same stranger- me.
So how this introduction relevant to what I’m about to tell you O’maya? I have no idea, I just woke up and felt like sharing with a complete stranger… hoping that I too for once would feel like normal people do. So here, I wrote a letter to God hoping to vent out what lately seems to be enslaving my progress. I therefore apologise before hand for the weird mix of emotion here after and beg that you bear with me in reading this story and try not to treat my words as reinforcements for that damaging intensity that fuels deep inside you that I for one find very attractive.
So here goes; dear God, if everything is possible, then I suppose what I am is totally justifiable- a load some of unresolved father issues, assaulted memories from my childhood and this besieged adulthood path I seem to have embarked on as though I have a second shot at living, to mention but a few. An accumulation of emotional remnants from either good or evil intentions but non the less expendable, or at the very least… irrelevant.
At just the age of -9 months, I watched my fatherly privileges get yanked out of my destiny. As a consequence, I’m speaking the truth back into existence with the hope that my great grand father doesn’t get lynched for contracting as much as a bacterial infection from being bred for in breeding.(slavery) The reason I feel bullish about getting out of bed every Sunday and although it’s hard to define it, lets just label me agnostic because all I ever wanted was my dreams to rescue me, to come true eventually. For all the other wishes to be granted too and so I wished, wished to end suffering, wished upon the brightest star because apparently dreams reflect clarity. Then I overheard my crush talking to my other crush about how apparently you help those who help themselves. Something I might have learnt in Sunday school if I wasn’t so busy either walking there or trying to fit in with the other rich kids. The irony being that mother and I were the other 2% of the honest, humble and seemingly innocent folks still left in the entire neighbourhood. I remember at the age of 15 walking into what now seems like a threesome(in light of new information). I called them “ekirebwomwe” translated into shooting star. The phrase in my language which traditionally meant a rare sighting, and believe me, the spectacle was precisely that. I mean, how often do you walk into a pair of twins every single afternoon sunbathing in the nude?
”I’m supposed to know that I was more than a man.” I kept telling myself… probably all that mattered in my family and I don’t mean that as a derogatory reference, listen; I met my father for the very first time when I couldn’t meet the library requirements right after getting admitted to the best high school in the whole district… among the top 5 in the entire nation. And that was even before my first elevation, a time when I still shied away from the fact that I was a genius… way before Nicki had a body. I’m sorry I meant to say before I cracked jokes like that, when to me, I was still a son to a Vet, when I stilled called my own mother ‘aunt’ for lack of a better word because she worked over 12 hours a day for a net worth equivalent of USD 2. Way below the poverty line considering she had to feed and school my older sister and I. She’s now my cousin, but still calls me brother because like I too, she’s all I have.
Oh an I met her earlier today when I was returning her laptop bag, held her one year fatherless son and looked deep into his spotless eyes reaching for his soul as I raised him up. My eyes dazzled from dejavu when I started feeling them gradually tear up to mount a falling drop of inexplicable sour liquid. A taste only I suddenly recalled on placing my lips on his gentle forehead. An assorted memory from my childhood locked away from when my uncles used to hold me. And so I yawned for that innocence yet to be lost in this cruel and hurtful earth.
In my senior year, that’s when I met her, not Amanda… but the reason for this hollowness in my heart. I remember trying to kiss her back as she said the most disheartening words anyone has ever told me; “I never wanted to do this.” right about the time I thought I had finally found someone to open up to and cry about with my broken self. I always wondered how things would have turned out if all that didn’t happen exactly the way it did. Say if my extended family had bothered to pick my calls and made it less obvious that the reason I got stuck doing the dishes with the maids even on my own birthday party was that I was beneath the cake, or if say people could just look at me and not just see the beautiful flower I’ve blossomed to but that I did so in despair.
And so I wonder; do people really have fun at parties or is that like an excuse to show off their fancy photo captions? If religion hadn’t monopolised hope, would I still be standing in the middle of the road waiting for a sign? Or like Amanda, I too would be having trouble living, wishing to fall asleep tonight and never wake up.