….. I’m dying.
Come die in my arms.
I’d rather live in your arms.
I’ll bury you in my heart.
I’ll bury you inside myself.
Bury yourself inside me first. And never come out.
I will, so deep…..
Writing is like great sex.
Seducing the words across the mind, conjuring them up from the deepest of one’s folds, letting yourself be seen naked and furtive and ready and willing, minute after exciting minute, with everything else relegated, the hush and the roaring, the pull-push of pain and pleasure, until the brilliant explosion, the climax: a haunting work, told and retold, a poem from the muses’ lips. You lay exhausted; your mind, your body, your spirit milked of every drop of… everything. Yet, in all this, paradoxically, re-energized, raring to go again and again. And again.
I like hands, not as a fetish, but as a wonder of bio-engineering and because of the interesting shapes and sizes they come with. Each set of hands is different yet the same. And with these differences, come varying penmanship (handwriting, to those not paying attention). By that measure, I also enjoy looking at handwriting. Mine has often been described as a chicken scrawl, all the way from primary school, so I am rather fascinated by handwriting and the particular uniqueness of each hand.
When high school rolled about and I joined the second form, I changed mine to impress my history teacher. Not that she would have noticed, a thought that was ever-present in my mind even as I traced those letters meticulously. Funny, I dropped history altogether but the handwriting stuck, although it has evolved, but still slightly slanting to the left. So hands…
We use them to move about the world as we learn how to walk and grasp, to communicate as we gesticulate and use sign language, to show love and affection, to protect, and, often, to display and carry out violence. Yet, I find some hands more fascinating than others. Soft hands. Not softness as in texture but this kind of softness: that even if they are somewhat misshapen and rough, or have the crushing handshake, that they would never harm you. Even in the sometimes extreme displays of their strength, the power to hurt and to break, that those hands will not hurt you or break you.
It is that friendly guy who delivers potatoes to our house. Wa Caro, he told us to call him, every one calls him. Dude never shows up on time, though. Big meaty hands, ever soiled and earthy, that make me imagine he digs those potatoes up by hand. He always smells of petrichor and has a warm gap-toothed smile. We just had to keep his business. They are hands that know pain, that of dreaming and working towards a dream. They have a story. I imagine his tell me, “I may be kidogo dirty and late, and it may feel like I am griding your bones with my hello, but I always hook you up.” His hands display humility, hard work and an honesty I find endearing. He often tells us of his desire to own a lorry, a Mitsubishi Canter, to better sell potatoes with.
It is that woman with dainty hands, shortish fingers yet beautifully tapered and mostly well-manicured. Sometimes, in deep thought or frustration, she chews the cuticle off, sometimes pulling out too much and giving herself a scab. Sometimes, as she goes about her day, she will cut them on a piece of glass in a carton she was organizing. Sometimes a nail or three and the nail polish are chipped and she does not notice because she has better things to do with those hands: file a report, balance the books, chase after a tender, feed the baby, spank the baby, cook and clean, text message her friends, update that CV, finish that assignment. In that case, they may not be as soft as we think, nor should they be. It is Mama Boi, that woman that makes one of the meanest omena I have ever sampled. She of beating her son when he sneaked out of school until the neighbours came calling. “Anachezaje na masomo na mimi ninachomeka hapa juu yake?! Hata kama ninauza chakula pia nilienda shule!”
Yet, in the eternal quest to build better lives, the callouses become the softness. Softness: these hands have picked up and thrown aside, these hands have been cut by picking up the pieces of my life and by putting them back together, these hands have built and they have destroyed. These hands. Every pair tells a story, the same way every face does. I look at hands. I try to guess at the stories behind them. We all share that peculiar softness, the one that comes from working towards a dream and falling, scrambling to get back on your feet, bruising those same hands you pick yourself up with and build with all over again.
In my mind I call her “kasupuu” or “kamrembo”, belle femme, ma belle femme. Never to her face, always in my mind. To her face it is “kairetu”, jeune femme. To her face it is *inserting her name here* or my love, my dear, m’lady. I tell her she is beautiful or she is pretty, when I am trying to look like I am not trying to show her how much I like her, and I mean it. I get the feeling she already knows how attractive she is but she never seems to believe it when it is coming from someone else. I often find myself staring at her twitter and WhatsApp avatars. Am I obsessed? A little. I believe I am not the first to express these sentiments nor am I ashamed about it. She is beautiful.
Thus asked my youngest sister. How to answer that, is the bigger question. Existential fear, that I’m searching for meaning, trying to make sense of the world, and it feels like I will never find the answers? That sometimes it appears as though I am the supporting cast in my life’s movie (always on the outside looking in), on the periphery of the action, the action that does not seem to be happening? That I have… so many hungers? That my downloads are taking too long? So, as a smart arse I reply, “Everything is wrong.” She crumples her face in puzzlement, not seeing the irony in that statement. I laugh. Youth, what beautiful blissful ignorance.
When I was an intern at a certain consultancy firm about two years ago, I got my first exposure to a real-world project and its workings. And with it, came a project manager, of course. Howard Williams. I liked him. I liked his no-nonsense hands-on approach and his dry English sense of humour. I was especially moved by his unending belief that we could all do much better, and it showed in my work, his drive and persistence to constantly improve rubbed off. One of the demonstrations for the project went awry: the response was dismal and the participants were as nonchalant as they come. We all felt bad about it. Any one who has done everything to make something work knows how biting this particular disappointment is. He was going to renew his visa, Howard was, and visit his Mum. He mentioned fondly how much he had missed having fish and chips with her . That was the last any one saw of him. I think about him and the whole incident occasionally and I get the distinct feeling he blamed himself for the outcome that day and this was his way of coping (by literally running). I have been tempted once or twice to track down him down and email him just to say hello, and to tell him, “Hey, guv, shit happens. Think nothing of it.” So, yeah, shit happens, even to the best of us. Think nothing of it.
He lay on her. His ready.
“You ready?” He asked her with a heavy sigh. A sigh that indicated how he wanted it. Not her. How he wanted to cum; not pay attention to her details. She mumbled. It wasn’t a yes, it wasn’t a no. But it seemed like a yes to him. So he entered her. And she felt the pain of his foreignness and more so the pain of how she hadn’t yet trusted him. He tore. More of her than into her. She cried. More on the inside than the out. She wanted to scream but instead when he looked at her before he closed his eyes, all she could do was give a short brief smile and look away.
It was done. She sat on his bed trying to recollect what she had done. What she had agreed to. He walked to the bathroom to flush what needed to get flushed. He peed. She stifled a cry. She’d cry later in the privacy of her room after ensuring, three times, that her door was locked and getting a pillow that would make sure that her scream would not be heard. The scream that came as a shock to her. She was expecting a river of tears. But that’s what her heart dished out to her as she asked herself, “Where’s the satisfaction that I was promised?”