Where do all the tears shed go? If one could capture them, maybe they could water parched souls and give back life. Or, they could heal hearts burdened by sadness and loss and restore minds ravaged by worry. If they could but restore hope and conscience.
If only they could rejuvenate skins dry from standing too long in the sun praying to deaf gods and slake the thirsts of those who have been talking into the wind, talking to a self that does not listen.
In their billions, maybe they could even quench the whole earth and drown us all in a warm wet comfort. If they could bring back what has been lost and those who have been lost, it would be worth the sodden eyes and reddened faces. Maybe then tears would have value and grief meaning. Otherwise, it is all for nothing.
Also read as “Joke of the Day”, to say nothing of using irony and self-deprecation in a world they are overused.
Writing is hard and not often satisfying. It is time I admitted it to myself. I wonder about people who say they love writing, that they have to write.
I have not written properly in months and I am just fine. Aside from the fact I no longer write for catharsis – I am in a place where I can handle my feelings and thoughts without romanticising them – I feel words are becoming empty, especially since they are more easily shareable and accessible now than they have ever been.
One could argue there is a dearth of good writing and that is why all writers should keep at it. I offer to differ. There is enough great writing out there and we would not be the lesser were fewer writers to practise their craft and share their creations. Some platitude about “just keep writing” would be appropriate here, but come on, you don’t believe that, do you?
I do not love writing or enjoy it the way I do, say, cartoons. I just write, sporadically and often ineffectually. I cannot say why I do this. I have not gotten around to deconstructing this part of myself. This used to bother me, but I cannot seem to care any more. My emotions, thoughts, and life’s happenings are no longer fodder. Why should they be? My experiences are not special or any more valid than another person’s.
At the root of writing, I believe, is the belief what you are saying is meaningful, at the core an entitlement and unabashed arrogance at your own importance.
What makes you worth listening to more than a mewling street preacher? Do you really have to add your voice to the cacophony?
Speak your truth. Share. Don’t censor yourself. Meh.
Additional reading: What makes bad writing bad? – Toby Litt
We talked about everything.
Her Mum (the cancer came back, she went to India for an operation, she is better now,) her rabbits and how they became dinner (she thought she might try keeping a pet but they pissed and shat everywhere), her cat ran away (cats are weird, that one was weirder), what she plans to do with her life (go back to school outside the country) and travel (hers and mine and how we both were in Dar Es Salaam recently), how the book she returned seemed interesting (but she could not bring herself to read it), how she does not get this whole feminism thing any more, how she stopped exercising after losing the weight she wanted (she intimates she has probably gained it back. I don’t mention I was doing a half-marathon that I didn’t run due to a logistical snafu).
My parents are fine. My sisters are doing well. One is sitting her national exams later in the year. I finally moved into my own house. I’ll go back to school in two years. I’m trying to read a book a week and also read more books by women authors and people of colour. I’m not sure about this being woke stuff. I want to travel inside and out of Kenya. I never started running or going to the gym like I had promised myself I would, although, as you recall, I used to walk a lot before I moved out of my cousin’s house.
I tell her this hour spent like old friends was nice and we should do this again. Yes.
We talked about nothing.
Embraced by a cool morning, we walked a winding road together and apart, afraid to touch the contours of the nuanced silence encapsulating us. Each lull in the conversation was a shift towards a sweet death, away from memories of pain.
The lack of words was louder than the pop mariachi music coming from the café’s speakers. Is this when we speak about how I hurt her and how she hurt me back in return? A razor slice to my face in retaliation to a scythe to her heart? Now do I attempt to explain why I’m apologizing and tell her what amends I plan to make? I don’t know how to take back the pain, so why am I doing this, why am I here?
Is this when I say out loud what I wrote in the emails and tell her how sorry I am for the lies and the cheating? Is time for the smiles and forced banter to fall away and leave us exposed as still hurting? Is this when the cordiality falls through our fingers?
Is this where we expose ourselves to each other as the silly petty humans we are beneath her white chiffon dress and black stockings and my white tee shirt and black jeans, where we get naked, shivering with the memories of our myriad of shared and perpetuated injustices?
No. We sit more quietly, turning inward into ourselves, and talk about how cold it is, with the unsaid being how icy we were and are to each other.
A shy morning light, the stirrings of her tummy, and the heaviness in her bladder drag her from a deep dreamless sleep. The late February sun is high and her bedroom is hot. She sits up slowly, feeling like there are cobwebs on her face are not falling fast enough.
She pats her stomach and curses herself for having eaten too much the previous night. Supper at her mother’s house is a bad idea. She has never been able to stop herself from having second and third helpings. If she is not cooking she will eat. Well, if she is cooking, she will also eat.
She promises herself she will be more disciplined next time. Lead me not into temptation although I already know the way there. The air in her room is noxious from her generous farts. Unconsciously accustomed to the smell, she steps out of bed, gingerly placing her feet on the cold floor. Relishing the sensation, she sits for a while savouring the coolness, wishing she could embrace the floor and cool her naked bosom.
Her heaving and fecund body lends her spaces the flavour of a warm pulsing living mass. Everything she touches comes alive and bright. She rises slowly and walks to the toilet, taking small wincing steps, scared she will explode if she rushes and bumps into one of the bare walls. She leaves the door open. She curses herself as she sits down to pee, curses her body for torturing her.
As she empties herself, she picks up the book on the cistern. Ghana Must Go. How apt. She smiles to herself at her lazy joke. She has been struggling to read it and in the silence of the morning the words swim before her eyes. Her thoughts drift again, in and out of a half-dream, a half-wakefulness.
A short noisy violence follows and relief floods over and through her. She can make out onions and pepper in the smell of her shit. She reiterates her promise to herself. Even as she says this, she cannot help but be aware her curves have become more accentuated.
She thinks of food. She thinks of food often and it worries her. Were he in her mind, her father would laugh at her and say a woman should think about womanly things, like God and children. She remembers the nights she used to starve herself. She thinks of sex a lot too, remembering how she tried to read the Bible to placate the pulsing in her young loins.
Her arse is cold. She has been in her mind for too long. It is time to get out of it and get off the toilet. She stands up a bit shakily after wiping herself absent-mindedly with a hurriedly plucked length of tissue, and flushes hard twice. She sprays two quick bursts of strawberry air freshener into the air above the cistern. The book, abandoned, lies on the floor at the base of the toilet. She cannot recall dropping it.
She steps out and turns towards her sink, seeing in the mirror how big her breasts have grown. She turns on the tap and lathers the green antiseptic soap fast, washes her hands fast, rinses her hands fast, all the while focused on the blur of fingers and fingers. She looks at herself again. Her braids need to be renewed. She can do this as she swings by the place she gets samosas from, the one near the hair salon she goes to.