Some Goodbyes Are For Ever

#np Lenny Kravitz – Believe In Me

As the young man undressed from his work clothes, his mind skirted around the idea of life’s many traverses. Each perceptible thought was a pin to his nice, big bubble of self-induced happiness. His brain, that is the muddle of musings that could still afford to float in his head, paced aimlessly around the dark. Feeling, touching, groping. As it sought to put some sense to the question: Why does it happen the way it does?

He couldn’t help but wonder whether he would ever have such an effect on someone he never spoke to. Somebody like the lady he just said goodbye to. Whose path has decided to take the now conventional route of Fare Thee Well.

He sat his bare self on a chair, and pulled on a navy blue, leather-bound book from his small stack of volumes. As he flipped through the scripts of written memoirs, he reflected on the meaning of goodbyes. The seconds seemed to overlap the minutes, even as the minutes dragged on endlessly. Finally, after staring at the book blindly for a while, he stumbled upon a fresh patch of paper. Crisp and clean, with not but a splodge on it. Its smooth surface seemed to beckon for a good working over. He picked up his pen, one infamously known to be blotchy, and scribbled the date at the top.

What follows is his account of the moments just gone. Moments that come through only once in a lifetime. Those that swing by and depart faster than they came. Leaving no room for your mind to capture each breathing second as it should. For such moments know their rarity, and play a most devious game of hide and seek. They know you will never experience them again, thus they seductively hide the happiness of the moment, and make sure you’re left seeking it long after the experience is over. With an ache in your heart, rather than the contented feeling of acceptance, you dedicatedly pursue that happiness. You search and search. Your beady eyes peer into the skies as you snatch at the air. Snatch with all your might, trying to get a hold of those happy smokes that ever so gently waft away. Yet when the skies turn black, and darkness falls, all you have clutched in your fist are words to help jot down the lessons you have just learnt. Just like our unclothed protagonist did.

31st May 2013.

She’s gone. Gone and never to be seen again. Perhaps she’s still stuck in traffic somewhere along the way. Perhaps she’s staring out of the window. Taking in all the sounds and colours of the densely populated town she now departs. A hoot here, an irate shout somewhere, the flashing lights of an ambulance, large neon signs rushing by – all bidding her adieu. I’m not sure she’ll see them again, or even whether she’ll miss them, but I know her memory of them will last.

It’s now roughly five months since I first saw her. Since I first ever met this beautiful lady from a land not so far. Slightly sawn-off, and full of years, she was one who rarely spoke. Each day, she would live life right as she did the previous one. And the next one too. Whether the sun shone, or the rains came calling, she always had the same steps to her walk, and the same look in her eyes. Eyes that shone with wisdom well beyond my entire life’s worth, yet eyes that made no undue requests for curtsies.

She knew but one word from the language of the Englishmen – ‘Hi’. And it was this word that she shared ever so often with me, for no day would go by without me running into her, or her into me. Sometimes, I would help her get her clothes from the clothing line. Other times, I’d help her carry this or that item to the house. What remained constant though, was that we never even once shared any stories, or small talk.

However frail she was, she spared countless moments each day to sit out and soak in the sun. She would mutter things to herself, as though she was talking to someone seated beside her. Such moments would have me at a loss as to why soliloquizing is such a common occurrence among the old. Why such moments have one lost in a daze that borders on a hypnotic trance? What kind of topics ricochet through the minds of people at such times? Do they ever remember the things they utter?…. I could go on for hours listing the queries my over-indulgent mind comes up with. But the long and short is that my very last thought ever has been, ‘Will I go through the same once my years are on their last bend? And who’ll be the one staring at me in wonder?’

It may be that all the moments I spent by my window, with a plastic cup in hand, sipping on foreign waters, might just have made me fond of the woman. Perhaps I just got overly used to the sight of her by my window. Or maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t by accident that it happened the way it did. You know, the way our paths met and diverted. The possibilities are there. Still, I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that this, this beautiful day right here, just might be the last time we will ever see each other again.

Our goodbyes were rather rushed. With a firm grip of the hand, and a compassionate utterance of our farewells, it was all over. The casual hi’s we shared, the blank stares that flickered between our disparate cultural beings, the solitary moments she spent outside my window, uttering words I will never get to understand – those moments are now all gone. All I have right now are memories. Memories that are all but pebbles. Some smooth, others round, many more misshapen. Nonetheless, I have the deserved duty of carrying these pebbles in my pocket for the rest of my days. For life gives you no chance of throwing away these pebbles. You’re with them to the very end.

For what it’s worth, I will miss the dear old lady. The wisdom her moments by my window imparted on my troubled soul seem surreal. For in those endless stares, when I thought through the reasons behind soliloquizing, I realized one important thing. Life, this box of chocolates everyone talks about, really is a box of chocolates. One we bite through each day. Some bites are sweet, others drive your teeth into nuts whose taste you may not entirely be fond of. Yet as you have and always will finish that bar of chocolate, life’s precious moments will one day run out too.

The days of endless cheer and wild energy, the laughter that had you clutching at your belly, even the bright sun-shining days we now have – they will all come to pass. Only to become fleeting memories of a time that once was. Through the will of the Almighty, we will all get to a point in life where all we can do are pick through the pebbles in our pockets. With your vision slightly impaired, you’ll feel and touch on each pebble, trying to remind your soul of the happiness that each smooth pebble once held. Trying even harder to forget the bitterness held by each rough, and oddly-shaped pebble. For when that time comes, those with pocketfuls of pebbles will be the envy of us all. With the most pebbles to sort through, they will be the ones with more things to talk about, more stories to tell, and more reason to be content at the way their lives turned out. However bitter or sweet their memories will be, their days will be filled with one memory or another about their youthful days on earth. Not once will they lack a reminiscent thought running through their minds. Meanwhile, those who spared no time to live life and absorb it in its entirety, might just be the old and bitter sort. Always complaining about how their grandchildren play too much, or make too much noise. For the thought that they didn’t allow themselves such craziness when they had the time, will always be a stab at a lifelong wound.

Today, I’m reminded to enjoy each breathing moment as it comes. To accept life’s bounties as they come, even though all of us have different paths to tread. To embrace the different pains and joys we all go through, for this just gives spice to the different stories we will live to tell. To be committed to all my friendships with unbiased affection. To give the happiness in my heart to those that love me. To share as much love with all those around me, and spare no hate for those against me. To pass on a kind word to every person I meet and talk to. To let the world know of the joys of a smile, and the beauty of kindness. To relish the silent, or noisy, moments spent with all the people I meet on this journey of life. From they that share each of their travelling days with me, to those that walk alongside me for a mile, and take the next turn at the left. Heading off on a different direction. One with totally different people to meet, and different experiences to chat about. And if language is a barrier, they will at least walk silently, and hum quiet songs, besides these different people they meet. Occasionally waving at them, showing them the pebbles they’ve accumulated, and sharing mere ‘Hello’s’ or ‘Hi’s’, just like my neighbour used to.

The gears of fate have no regard when plucking you from your shared paths, only to lead you down a totally different street. And as has been said many times before, each moment you share with somebody might be the last time you see them. So strive to live a life that’s free. Fight all forms of conventional living each step of the way. Let your mind whisper melodies of love. Let your heart sing songs of joy. Let your soul be drenched in wild, sweaty passion. Allow the big white moon to serenade your darkness with light. Skip along to the beat of life. Wave your hands high to the sound of music. Jive and jig to the hums of the birds. Spread your heart out like birds do their wings. Hug your friends ever so tightly, and don’t you even dare allow true friends to leave your life. Let every experience be a moment lived in slow-motion, and every memory like an individual stain on white canvas. If you love somebody, go ahead and tell them. Better give them the flowers while they can still smell them. Let your love be genuine, and your feelings honest. Tell each person that’s worth a second, and third, hug goodbye each time you part, and give that hug like you mean it. Share laughter like its your last breath. And say goodbye like its the last time, for some goodbyes really, and truly are for ever.

As I write the last of my thoughts, and prepare to finally look away from this now scrap-filled piece of paper, I sign off with words learnt from a certain film screened back in the day: “You can be mad as mad dog at the way things went, you can swear and curse the fates…but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.” You have to say goodbye.

(Dedicated to that dear, old, Ethiopian lady that once was a neighbour, but is now miles away, never to return. Just another person I once met in this life. I’ll never forgive you for how hard you laughed as I struggled through the extra peppery meal your grand-daughter once shared; I’ll always cherish that kind smile you gave me before you boarded your taxi to the airport; I’ll always remember your polite greetings. And since you might never read this, I further dedicate this to everyone who’s ever parted ways with somebody who impacted your life without even meaning it.)

#np Vanessa Carlton – Ordinary Day

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Sweaty Introductions

#np ‘Nothing’ by Total Silence

Ladies and gentlemen, for the next bare-naked narration of a man trudging through his day smothered by a sheet of sweat, we politely ask that you stay calm, and allow the mad scientist behind this boiling pot of letters and periods to continue concocting his imaginary self-portrait.

[[ACTION]]

SCENE 1:

(Our protagonist, a guy in his twenties, clad in a grey track trouser and faded black hoodie, paces by a tree-lined side-walk, carrying a water-bottle blazoned with the Manchester United logo in his left hand. With earphones on, he walks along in wonky fashion, bobbing his head ever so gently, ever so rhythmically, as he listens to whatever it is that he listens to. Approaching a road intersection, he slowly grinds to a halt. He looks to the ground as if in search of something, or maybe to steady his step on the kerb, we’re not sure which. The camera zooms in to focus on his face.)

[[Fade to black. Credits.]]

(Scene opens with the guy looking dead into the camera. Eyes focused, gaze narrowed. A sheepish grin escapes from the confines of his face. He opens his arms wide, as words finally show relieved signs of being spewed out of his tooth-filled cavity.)

#20_SYOG:
Guys, I’m back at the gym. (smiles)

(Checks for oncoming traffic then crosses as soon as road is clear. With earphones still on, he continues…)

I told you guys, nothing on earth is as focussed as a man with a purpose, didn’t I? (Wrinkles face) Wait…did I tell you guys or was it the other guys I talked to yesterday? Because I sure see some faces that are as ugly as the ones I saw yesterday, some even uglier. (Aside: Like a bright new dawn comes each day, so do people get uglier in bright new ways.) Anyway, listen up guys…I’m tired of false pretences, I’m fed up of small talk and have no time for empty chatter or things that don’t concern me. And yes, I did intend on using the word ‘guy(s)’ excessively today, because I have no time for play-names like ‘peepz’ or ‘fam’. If you have a problem with that…

(Quietly lifts a very long middle finger and shows it to the camera. Camera continues to focus on 20-something year old guy, ie. #20_SYOG, as he narrates his story.)

Now, I recently came to learn that my temperament variation is part Melancholic and part Phlegmatic – MelPhleg that is. I’ll hereby assume that most of you dear viewers (read: guys), if not all, are well versed with what temperaments are. However, for those who need an introduction to the course: temperament, as far as the Reader’s Digest Oxford Dictionary is concerned, can be described as:

noun/ a person’s distinct nature and character, especially as determined by physical constitution and permanently affecting behaviour.

So before I go any further, allow me, dames and gents, to dash to the house so that I may read to you an excerpt I lifted off Tim Lahaye’s book, whose title I hope you’ll Google for yourself.

(Gets off to a light jog. Camera shifts view. The image of #20_SYOG trails off as he jogs to who-knows-where.)

SCENE 2:

(Scene opens with #20_SYOG, now dressed in red boxers only, with traces of sweat still clinging dearly onto his upper body, flipping through the pages of a book. Finally locating the page he is looking for…)

“These gifted introverts (MelPhleg personalities that is) combine the analytical perfectionism of the melancholy with the organized efficiency of the phlegmatic. They are usually good-natured humanitarians who prefer a quiet, solitary environment for study and research to the endless rounds of activities sought by the more extroverted temperaments (~he forgot to mention music, they tend to listen to loads of it~). (…) Mr. Melancholy has by far the richest and most sensitive nature of all the temperaments. (…)He particularly excels in the fine arts, with a vast appreciation for life’s cultural values. He is emotionally responsive, but unlike the sanguine is motivated to reflective thinking through his emotions. (…)Martin Melancholy has strong perfectionist tendencies. (…)The analytical ability of the melancholy, combined with his perfectionist tendencies, make him a hound for detail. Whenever a project is suggested, he can analyze it in a few moments and pick out every potential problem. He can always be depended upon to finish his job in the prescribed amount of time, or to carry his end of the load. He rarely seeks the limelight (~so true~), but prefers to do the behind-the scenes task. He often chooses a very sacrificial vocation for life, for he has an unusual desire to give himself to the betterment of his fellow man.”

What does this excerpt have to do with me? Well, everything.

For in the few words Tim Lahaye used to described MelPhleg personalities, I felt like I was being dissected atop of a biology class table. I felt four scientific imbeciles, so focussed on learning about inner matter, pinning me down to the wooden platform thingies on which specimens are laid during practical classes. I saw their lab coats, as white as our dear Caucasian brothers and sisters from Northern Europe, swooshing through the air as they moved around the table in gleeful delight. Clapping their hands as they skip to imaginary tunes and sounds, perhaps the sound of metal objects clanking around inside their heads. Shiny, sharp, metal instruments lie around me. All placed in an orderly manner, all breathing heavily as they drool for a taste of my flesh. My body lies in state, even though my only viewers are these gloved imbeciles in white coats. As the head of the group finally comes to stare me down before my final exit, with eyes red-lit by the fire growing at the bottom of his curiosity, I give my last lifeless plea as I try, one last time, to save my skin from their grime filled claws.

Nothing I say looks to dissuade him, not even the offer to give him my sister’s phone number. For the fire in his eyes seems to consume the white even faster, replacing it with a red that reeks of wild and uncontrolled violence. I look at the two men and two women around me, very ready to help me see kingdom-come, and realize that these imbeciles aren’t real. That I really am not meant to be on this table. That all these psychotic thoughts are really just figments of my wacky imagination. But the water in which I drown only inches higher by the minute. I feel my ears filling up with water as the first incision is made right in the middle of my chest. More incisions and slices follow.

Slowly, surely, the thoughts in me start scrambling for caves in which they can hide, dark alleys in which they can escape to, so as not to be lost to the world I now depart. My tearing flesh makes noises I wish I could forget, even though I will definitely not have a recollection of this entire process. The transition to who-knows-where is slow yet sure. Memories of my past are my last cognitive moments on that table, with an image of the new me being the last image that flashes through my mind.

From kind-of living life, to embracing the fullness of my new life. From a world of conformity, to a world of fighting the flow and fleeing from the norm. This is the new me. I no longer care about non-essentialities in my life. I have grown to become more assertive in my search for success, and more ruthless in my disregard for hate, jealousy and envy. I never used to give a #F, now I totally don’t give a #F what anyone has to say about me, my lifestyle, or my life. I am who I am, and the best me is all I can be. If you have a problem with that…

(Quietly lifts a very long middle finger and shows it to the camera. Camera continues to focus on 20-something year old guy, ie. #20_SYOG, as he wraps up his story.)

In my gym session today, one where sweat was my only true companion in the fight for muscle definition, I feel I become a little wiser. As I saw newbies try to outdo each other in lifting heavy weights, laughing at those not strong enough to keep up with the seasoned gym members, I realized that most people project their insecurities in other people. That men are slaves to their egos, and women slaves to their vanity. That conformity is a plague, a cancer. One whose inevitable blow-up is guaranteed, with or without identification of the symptoms. You either live, or you don’t. You either seek, or you won’t find. You either embrace all that comes your way, good and bad, or live your life in eternal disappointment at how things didn’t go your way.

For me and my sweat, we will weather whatever storm that is headed our way. Happiness is what I now seek. No love for materialism will blind me from that goal. From today I look at this wonderful world through the eyes of a child. No dreams will fade into oblivion, and no hopes will be shattered. I want to be the kind of guy that you don’t forget, the one you think about as you gaze at the starry sky on camping trips.

So for all you viewers tuned in to today’s show, please take a listen to Twista’s ‘Wetter’. Learn a few things about how to give it to your man/woman right. How not to stop till she wets up the sheets, and he gives out in a fit of explosions.

Step your sex-game up, and peace out peepz…Oh, sorry. Peace out guys.

(#20_SYOG picks up towel and turns away from the camera. Beads of sweat are still visible on his back, and scene ends as he enters bathroom. Sounds of a running shower are heard.)

[[Fade to black.]]

Soft Lips and Creamy Pasta

#np Louis Armstrong – What a wonderful world

Quiet. Absolute quiet, with a light touch of never-ending tranquility. Water drips from the tap, slowly, surely. Repeatedly stroking the voiceless chords of the room in neat strums of acoustic breaches of the peace that has enveloped me tonight. Yes, yet another night of me and my keyboard. No women-loving, code-named, crime-lords with me tonight, or mercenaries from Dublin. Just me and the dripping-tap that is ever so calmly letting off drops of night-long disturbance. That and the raspy sound of Mr. Armstrong baring his soul out at how red roses really are.

A distant tune weaves itself into my already harmonious atmosphere. From the sound of it, it seems that one of my neighbours has decided to say goodnight to the world through those gospel cd’s sold along Moi Avenue. You know, the ones that every non-alcoholic woman above the age of 40 listens to, or those whose videos are shot in the middle of a roundabout, in front of a fountain that met its thirst-induced death ages ago. The hums and hymns continue pouring in, causing the hate for those loud city stalls, and their ever moody patrons, to scurry their way to the surface of my emotions. A hate that burns ever so brightly underneath my hairless chest. One that has one too many a time brought me to the brink of tearing down the blaring speakers from which the noises of downtown Nairobi emanate from. (Watch this space people. Soon, I just might give you guys an action-packed account of a bachelor gone berserk on the noisy streets of downtown Nairobi.)

Moving on though, I’ve always felt – and always will feel – that the best way to truly assess a woman’s nature, and the entire essence of her femininity, is by watching how she eats her spaghetti. Not in the comfort of your home, or under the cover of those eternally dirty sheets, but in a posh restaurant, or café. One that serves something more than just a main course. Where you pay for more than just the meal, since the ambience comes with its own price. A diner where none of the noise from the young girl – Bieber, or Nicki Minaj and her silicone friends, will ever be allowed to ricochet through the chandelier-lit, glass adorned room.

Now I may have gone ahead of myself and painted a picture that many-a-working Kenyans might not quite afford, or be well acquainted with, one or the other. But I feel that the time has come to put my fellow brothers wise. I feel as though we men, are most times blinded by all the whim-whams offered by our dearly treasured women, that we forget to have a look at what lies underneath all that curvy, or not-so-curvy, goodness. That most men would go out on a whim to impress a lady who is far from being a true woman, just because she shows more than enough skin, or her ‘bozzom’ has your undivided attention.

Allow me to explain further:

Take One: Leona Lewis.

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A British musician who seems well-bred and raised right. Her looks? They sure rank WAY beyond your average looker. Her voice…my-oh-my, and I mean MY-OH-MY!!! To me, she represents the last generation of women with enough ‘umph’ in their swing to make smart men do really stupid things. I feel as though she might just be among the few ladies of whom most women will openly, comfortably, and undeniably agree – is beautiful.

Take two: Nicki Minaj.

Born somewhere in the Caribbean islands, raised in ‘silicone’ valley, and the current Queen of Siliconia. Do I need to explain her further? I think not. We all know what she is made of. A few more silicone shots and she just might join Lil’ Kim pictured below in Silicone Hell.

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Now picture a scenario where each of the two is eating a bowl of spaghetti, rather yet – pasta (sounds more enticing, don’t you agree?). Imagine a meal of pasta sourced somewhere in the hills of Italy. One with a name more exotic than the language itself. Bright yellow in colour, and sprinkled over with dashes of fresh green parsley. Slices of fried mushrooms and baked ham poking out. Each strand of pasta oozing with creamy Parmesan cheese. All of these colours and tastes, teasing to the senses as they may be, effortlessly melting in your mouth. Ladies and gentlemen, picture some Tagliarini Primavera, would you. And after that, picture how Leona Lewis would eat it. Take some steps further down the dark undiscovered alleys of your imagination and imagine how Nicki would eat the same.

Men, do you now agree with me? Ladies, am I right or wrong in saying that a meal of spaghetti can help reveal the true workings of the inner woman? The one underneath all the make-up and silicone. The one who only comes out in the dark of night, when no more pretence and innocent giggles are needed. Or when she is home alone, with an old white wife-beater on, watching the Real Housewives of somewhere, waiting for a call from her man. Who she will go on to give a colourful picture of how sexy she is dressed, and how bored she is without him. (choke)

I’ll leave you to our devices and allow you to form your verdict, as I stick to mine. But if you are on the masculine end of this readership spectrum, be a sport and try this out for yourself. Order spaghetti for your soon-to-be woman, catch or plaything – whichever she may be. It works. I can guarantee that. If you are, however, on the feminine end of the few that wander onto this page, and fall into the ‘Nicki’ category, how about I give you some tips on where to buy some face for your make-up.

For the few of you who do fall into the ‘Leona’ category, will you please marry me? I mean, I hate to admit it but I love a woman who loves herself enough to go out on some of her days, if not all, without make-up. One whose eyes, nose and lips, especially the lips, make me stare at her for eternity. Make me want to turn into Parmesan cheese. To be sprinkled all over the Tagliarini Primavera I order for you, just so you can eat me up and eat me whole as I sail the grey waters of your personality in my quest to find out how worthwhile the endless stares and night-long fantasies really are. And to prove that the woman in you will help me forget that beauty, such as that of Leona Lewis or Kelly Rowland, even exists. However you take my intentions in buying you this meal of pasta, dear lady in red, I’d really love to see you eat, and hopefully, get to enjoy you further later tonight.

#np D’Angelo – Send It On