It is 6.30 in the morning when I rush to plug in my phone. I do not leave it to be as advised whenever one wishes to tap the highest amount of charge. Why? Because I want to place a morning call to the most non-morning person I know. I also know that despite himself, he will pick up and we’ll go on to have a lengthy conversation. For it has always been him, only him that knows how anxious calls make me, how much it takes for me to place one, and how highly likely I am to miss calls unless i call you just as often.
I call JB because my heart tells me to. Never mind the ocean of silence between us that stretches six months and beyond. Never mind that I don’t know his current whereabouts; if it’s home, in strange lands or in the wild in search of the deepest vaults of his philosophical soul. Nonetheless, I heed my heart, for it is a being on it’s own, with a wild habit of pulling at the fibres of my intuition, telling me when to anticipate loss or success, when to have my guard up, and the strangest of all, when to drown myself in my call anxiety.
I want to tell him how I can’t sleep in even with my joblessness. To tell him how life can be full of surprises, such as how I am having breakfast that’s been prepared by a man. A man I’ve known long enough to learn his intricate weavings; his conservative ways, his revulsion for the kitchen, his love for the fine things of life. A man living off his second lease on life after surviving the most life threatening disease. I want to say that maybe, just maybe, people can change, and an old dog can pick up one or two new tricks.
I want to tell him about the dreams I hold close to my heart. To tell him that even though my chosen degree didn’t have my heart, I earned love. That I regret the first opportunity I missed; that of working in one of the best companies in the industry. To tell him that some passions can weigh down one’s soul, haunt you as far as one goes, and cause you sleepless nights. That as you grow, you get to learn that words such as complicated, confused, or trying to figure it out are solid words, expressing genuine states of being.
I want to talk about secrets that come with age. Those that fill us up and threaten to rip us apart from the seams. I want to talk about this age where a little sickness is cause for major alarm because we fear for our untimely death. How on my recent visit to the hospital, I heard a nurse blithely say there have been three mortalities, and I was left wondering whether her choice of the word mortality was to protect herself or us from the truth about death. In that moment, I pictured those dead people, now reduced to nothing but bodies with tags around their ankles, whatever mark they left only but memories etched in other mortal bodies. Pointlessness.
I want to revisit the recent past, the kinder days. Days when I lived life on my terms. When I was dependent. When I could take time out and go in search of whatever brings me stillness of mind and resounding peace. Memory floats back like the backwash of water, and I think of the times when I’d get up and leave lectures midway because it made no sense to stay when everything had become a little too much to bear. Times when walls in every room seemed to be closing in on me, and every other presence was a grating nuisance to my own existence. Times when I felt hollowed out, or frozen inside out so that all I craved was miles of distance between me and every human. Times when I’d take long walks down darkened alleys, hoping for enlightenment, or clarity of thought amidst the silence of night. Those times I wished I was a little less complex.
I think of safe spaces, soft folds, the understanding that comes with unspoken words. I think of the people I’ve met and known. People who are a little too good, a little too full; people brimming of God. I think of innocence, of existing in skin that feels like home. How it feels to belong, to brandish scars that are only but badges of a frolicsome childhood.
And when he, JB, asks how we got here, we will talk about life, and fate and tragedies. Of how foreign we’ve grown to feel in our skins. Of days when the children in us wanted to be set free. Of days we’ve wanted so much to be reminded of the tenderness in humanity. We’ll speak of places that make our hearts race, faces that make us choke on truth, the things that soiled our purity, and our unwillingness to ever revisit the past. Why? Because it haunts us. It maims us. It rips open our wounds, and feeds the ashen earth with our warm blood. It reminds us that we have failed before, and threatens to take us back to the dust.
We’ll talk of how sometimes, words need time to form. Because only that can explain my silence. There was never an easy way to speak of it; of the way it felt to have unmoving arms pressed by my sides to keep me in place, with a strange body forcing its way through my numb body. There was never a way to tell the world how my skin crawls each time I feel the touch of another. There was never a way to explain the urge to strip down in the privacy of my room just so i can mourn my lost sanctity.
Lest we drown ourselves in pain, we will speak of the beauty of the things that hold us together when life seems to be slipping through our fingers; poetry, private anonymous crying forums, journaling, therapy, and conversations with friends.
About the writer:
Beverly Nasimiyu is a Kenyan writer passionate about non-fictional writing. She writes short stories on issues plaguing the African society on her blog, stumahway.com. She has previously contributed to Fuzu, an online business journal, and truebliss.co.ke. She writes under the name Giuliana Nasimiyu. Reach her through firstname.lastname@example.org.