(Apologies in advance for any errors or distortion in flow. These words will not be edited; such is the spirit of this piece.)
Typical day in this city that aims to sap the soul out of you. The ‘owners’ of the park call out their respective routes like they are reciting mantras, and the citizens stick to the corporate passenger cliché of suits and headsets. I step out in similar gear, but I still feel like an immigrant here, like a sheep in the big city. The lady who sits next to me in my office thinks that I had never heard of Jumia before I got here, and whenever she describes the sights and sounds of this city to me, there is always this “I’m sure you don’t have this in your place” tone in her voice. Her MTN-customer-service accent fails to mask the “h” factor attributed to people in these parts, but that’s a story for another day.
I look out of the bus window as a Toyota Matrix zooms past. I wonder when I’ll finally get behind the wheels of my own automobile, when talent and hardwork would finally pay off. Few weeks ago, a friend of mine called me up and narrated how he and his colleagues spent money worth my monthly salary on drinks in one night! I am happy for him, or at worst, positively jealous. Nevertheless, it’s a reminder of my place on the ladder; still a long way to go.
Intense traffic jams are the norm around here, and I soon get caught up in one. Punctuality and a waiting office query on the desk are in issue, but at least we will all get to our muster points of daily hustle, barring a major road mishap. I wish Life was that easy, yes, there are some who never make it, who never get past the poverty line. Of these I am scared; that I’ll end up being an also-ran, that God-given gifts and intellect will count for nothing in the end, that I’ll turn out to be just a number.
I think of my father, and how he has always been there for me in different ways, even now. I wonder if I’ll be that strong enough for my future kids, that patient enough, that loving and doting enough. I love children, but having a big heart has never been enough, and some nights I fear that I may not be a man my kids will be proud to call father. I am probably insecure, and needlessly too, but it’s a genuine source of worry nonetheless…..just like I worry about my art. There are days I feel that I am not good enough, afterall my talent is not exclusive. There are many other good writers out there, even better ones, and I shiver when I consider the fact that my pen may just get swallowed up in the pile. It’s not about the likes and comments and mentions, no, but I get scared that my time may be over before it has even begun.
The pressure on the windpipe from a knotted rope pales in comparison to the pressure faced from friends, from society, from family, from self, from Life. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t wired differently, that I was just an average John Doe. Intelligence is much stress as far as I am concerned, and when nothing major is happening around you, when you are faced with questions about your life’s trajectory every now and then, you can’t blame those who devise means to permanently shut their senses. I know, I should be grateful and shut up. Alright, i know what i’ll do; i’ll think of those who have bigger problems, or cook up tragic scenarios in my head, just to feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan harming myself, as a matter of fact i think that being suicidal is getting too cliche these days….but that doesn’t mean that sometimes when slicing onions in the kitchen, I don’t toy with the idea of substituting with my left wrist.
I peep at my Blackberry Messenger’s recent updates. Dora, a close friend of mine, is getting married over the weekend, and she uploads photos of herself in cozy poses with her husband-to-be. I am really happy for her, and I hope to grace the occasion, but I scoff at myself when I think of my love life. It seems like I am still struggling with the rudiments of commitment, like I am going through an emotional fixation of sorts.
I am probably selective, I know, but I don’t think I am out of line when I constantly crave for someone whose intellect turns me on, whom I can have engaging conversations with, who knows the difference between “been”, “bean” and “being”. There is the angle of expecting too much and setting so high a bar for the ladies to deflect my own inadequacies, who knows? Harriet says I am selfish, Lana says I am negligent and insensitive, Ajoke thinks that PHCN’s electricity supply is gold when compared to my emotional consistency. They are probably right….or maybe they just don’t understand that when I decided to shut them out, it was for the best, that it was for them, that it was because I loved them too much to have them caught up in the mental battles I fight from time to time. But then, why do I dance around the doors of their hearts when I know my head is a war zone? Oh well, I don’t know, maybe it’s because of my sick need to give love and then take it away.
A vehicle beside us stops abruptly. From the groans and complaints of working-class citizens doomed to reporting late for work, I find out that the fuel tank had been next to empty, but the driver had chosen to manage. Manage! That is what many relationships are about nowadays; holding on to a lost cause because of the fear of being alone, refusing to pull out the plug even when the socket is no longer functioning. My heart is too big (or small as the case may be) to keep torturing the ones I love with a false presence, so I choose to disappear because I can only fall short for so long, and in time they will hate me for giving them nothing more than half of my heart. I am no career bachelor, but how long can these lovely ladies keep trying to figure out the maze that is myself, a maze that even I haven’t completely put together.
Stay single? Nah. Life is crazy in itself, and moments of passionate company won’t hurt. I mean it whenever I say “I miss you (insert female name)” and “I want to wake up next to you”, but what I don’t know is what we will be doing between sunrise and bedtime. If you could spend a day in my head (I dont advise you to even if you’re able), you would know what I am talking about. I have an idea; lets draw up a pre-intimacy agreement setting out terms and conditions of the relationship, like pre-nuptials exist for marriages. Sorry, my head works like that.
Traffic doesn’t get any lighter. People begin to alight from the bus, electing to use their feet for the rest of the journey. I wish same could be applicable to Life, you know, just get off the train when stagnation sets in. There are days I just want the planets to exist as cities, so I can take a vacation to Mars or Uranus when the stress from Earth is too much to bear.
Sure enough, there is too much personal information here, but I want to purge, and purge I will. Then again, I do not know how not to be honest. I am piss poor at faking things…..which is why I get unresponsive now and then. I don’t know how to tell people about my serial nightmares and dark mental clouds when they ask me how my night went, or how to say “I am fine” when I am not. Besides, I feel that I shouldn’t bug them with my issues when they have theirs to sort out.
Maybe I am not yet ready for the world, maybe I am yet to come to terms with Life’s pace, but don’t blame me. I am only good at being young, I am so scared of getting older, and even though it’s only one-quarter (or two eighths, or three-twelfths) of the clock when I add things up on the calendar, I can’t help but yearn for a brief recess from Life’s sessions.