(May the sun shine on these sides, someday. But if it doesn’t may we learn to live with the dew. Still, may we remember, with a smile on our faces, how the sun felt)
My dreams last night were filled with empty rooms, rivers of blood, children lost in empty spaces. I woke up three different times, but every time I went back to sleep, I couldn’t get the images out of my head. I tried to read, but my eyes were too heavy, and soon enough, the heaviness carved its path, trickled in bits, and settled at the centre of my heart and soul.
It has been slightly more than a year since you left, and it is dawning on me just now that memories of you are still fresh in my mind. That wherever I go, there will always be pieces of you in the people I meet, the things I see, and the dreams that show up in my sleep.
Last night, sitting up in bed and thinking of the dream with an empty house reminds me of the darkness that surrounded me five years ago. I was at a bad place, mentally, and the world was spinning a little bit too fast for my liking. I was wallowing in pain, and looking for peace at the all the wrong places.
Thinking of the dream took me to five years ago; you balancing my mattress on your head, and a suitcase with my clothes on your left hand. Your right hand held your phone against your right ear, as you wondered why the tuk-tuk guy was taking too long to show up.
You, single-handedly, ferried my belongings to my new house. No, my new room. It was big, the room, mostly because I had nothing else to fill up the hollowness. Just like the void at the pit of my stomach. My mattress occupied just 4*6 inches on the right corner of the floor, while the suitcase covered the small space left at the left corner. That was it. That was all I could call mine at the time.
It was hard, and even harder to hide the weight of it all, threatening to break my spine.
Everything was taking a toll on me, and I struggled to keep my smile firm and hold back the tears. But then again, I remember you asking, ‘Are you sure this is what you want?’, and I left the room in pretence of a phone call, just so you wouldn’t see my tears.
It has been five years since we stood in that empty room, you afraid to leave me behind, myself, hoping the solitude would do justice to the darkness that was threatening to swallow me up. Five years since you looked me in the eye and asked whether I thought running away from my troubles was a way of solving them.
And when I couldn’t hide my anguish and tears anymore, all you said was, “I hope you get out of this hole soon. And trust me, that bastard will come looking for you one day. And no, you will be way out of their league by the time that happens.”
It has been five years since I let the emptiness of that room merge with the emptiness in my soul, and drowned in the misery it had to offer.
I woke up at 8.15 a.m., today, earlier than usual. Me who sleeps until 11 a.m., and hunger is the only thing that manages to get me out of bed. Me who ignores all calls that come in before 9 a.m., unless of course we know each other that way. Why? Because something kept tugging at my spirit. Something kept pushing me out of bed.
I woke up to usual notifications from my social media accounts. What was absurd was LinkedIn trying to tell me Person X viewed my profile yesterday. You should have seen how my face dropped in shock, wondering why X would view my profile. Maybe, just maybe, it explains their recent text a couple of days ago: I saw you in the papers and thought I would say hi. You are doing an amazing job.
I scrolled my contact list in search of your name, because I desperately needed to tell you what is happening.
But it has been slightly more than a year since I thumbed across your Facebook timeline, hoping to see your humour posts, and wishing all the RIPs were just a sick game. It has been slightly more than a year since your voice at the other end of the phone call told me, “But si you have big brains. Almost half of our class wouldn’t have graduated if not for you. I do not even understand why someone is making you work like a donkey and paying you peanuts. Get out of there!”
It has been slightly more than a year since you said, “Bana wewe ukimake it na ukose kunionekania aki ntakuroga.”
It has been slightly more than a year since we laughed, and laughed, and laughed even more at your political ambitions. At your insistence to use shortcuts to get your way to the top. And your mantra of “I was not built for all these procedures. I am doing what I can to live comfortably. I do not identify with struggle.”
It has been slightly more than a year since your blood oozed and quenched earth’s thirst. Slightly more than a year since your life was cut short, within seconds. Slightly more than a year since that coffin was lowered to the grave, with a promise to hold your memories closest to our hearts.
I have woken up desperately wanting to tell you that these things worked out. That I am living life as it is meant to be; unapologetically, loud, and happy. That I have refused to understand the language of suffering, and anything that tries to imply that I am strong. That I am living the soft life, just as it should be. That finally, things worked out. That sometimes, I open the door to my house and I cannot believe I am the one living here. With all these things. All this space. All this freedom. All this peace of mind that is conducive for my thriving.
I have woken up desperately wanting to tell you that sometimes, the things people say to and about us in the form of prayer, are the only things that keep us going. That sometimes, things work themselves out. That other times, when asleep, strangers knock on your door and leave behind blessings.
I have woken up to reflect on that darkness five years ago, and realized it was never my doing. I did not deserve it. But it is this thing called life; you are constantly in a fight with someone, or something, or ideas. Sometimes you win, other times you lose. But that thing called life has to go on.
It has been slightly more than a year since you left us, but your mantra still lives within my heart and soul. Just like you, I deserve all the nice things life has to offer. It is my time, and I am not going to be here forever.
In my heart, George, you live. Always.
Forever, and always.
(If you haven’t read about George before, click here)