I find it difficult to take photographs. What image or images would capture what I perceive and translate that to the world?
I travelled recently and when I tell people where I was, I am asked for photos. I have very few, mostly of myself at some ridiculous pose, drunk and carefree, and of sunrises and sunsets. These do not come near what I experienced.
Even words fail me. A close aunt asked me how the place was and I found it hard to describe.
This lack of detail and some would say imagination, make me seem taciturn and aloof when it is a paralysis brought on by a desire to pass on what I felt and what I saw in as good a way as possible.
I fail at overcoming the doubt. Nothing short of the perfect explanation, captured by words or light, will do for me.
Where my relationships are concerned, I never made a conscious decision to become one thing or another. It seemed to just happen as I stood at the conveyor belt of people I used and who used me, and in the shared darkness in which we hid and sought warmth. Each heartbreak and disappointment, theirs and mine, ours, each tragic occurrence, was impetus for the next one. By the time the waves of agony reached epic heights, by the time the lies and empty promises rolled off my tongue so smoothly that what was left of my heart did not miss a beat, I had no conscience left.
I picked up half a kilo of fish fillet on my back from Guka’s funeral and finally made a fish curry. Courtesy of a Shalimar pre-prepared spice pack, it was delicious, albeit a bit overcooked, and went well with coconut rice.
There was no weight lifted off my chest, there was no salvation from my own twisting mind. The only sensations were my hunger sated and a slight heartburn because I tend to go overboard when spicing food.
This was supposed to be a momentous occasion, the final wave goodbye to the hurt I have been nursing, a celebration culminating in the preparation and consumption of something that could never be shared.
We attach meaning to otherwise meaningless things. I know this better now because of how disappointed I was. A stupid expectation was crushed by the sublime uncaring nature of reality. It was just fish.
Movement creates movement. Anyone who has stared down the blank page and the blinking cursor knows this. Anyone who has attempted to make a change, within and without, understands this. Dragging your heavy comfortable self – the one scared of being proven wrong and instead deludes itself it could be genius should it so wish – is hard.
Inaction, when coddled even for a moment, burrows itself into your marrow. You are left enslaved to a fickle muse, waiting for a flash of magic to propel you to artistic heights. But, there is no muse, there is no magic. Show up every day and do the work. It adds up. There is no monster but you.
You are both Sisyphus and rock. You can crest the hump. More accurately, you can keep cresting the humps. It never ends. You can only go when you go. None of this is new. But, in the fight with the fat unmoving beast that is me, it may as well be. That is why I am here, to constantly remind myself of all of this.
This morning I walk into the building I work in and the first thing I see is the notice board with the locations of different offices. Until today I have never paid it much attention. It looks bare, a bareness amplified by the remaining tiles of the businesses which have not shuttered or moved out.
It is a jarring sight, a stark reminder of how quickly dreams can be dashed. Like a person, old, infirm and burdened by withered prospects, the eeriness of the hollowed out building is haunting and scary. I imagine the notice board reflects back at us a version of ourselves we seldom envision: ourselves as frail and dying, beaten down and disappointed, hopeless, cynical, wildly dissonant from the ideal selves we had had in mind.
I walk on and into our office, hesitating for a spell at the door to marvel at the imposing signage on the outer façade. Insisting on itself and ostensibly important, with its block letters in bright yellow, it betrays an unshakeable belief in what we do. How long until we are also just a collection of good intentions, hopes not come to fruition, and dust?
A few nights ago I had a craving for hot sweet black coffee. I French-pressed a pot and as I waited, savoured the smell wafting from the kitchen. It was a quarter to ten.
I have a small house. Every odour permeates and sticks, making itself a home. I only noticed this because I have not been in it for any reasonable period of time in the last two months.
What hit me when I returned were not the smells I am used to – my shower gel, blankets baking in the sun from an open window that could do with a laundering, a dirty sweater smouldering in the cupboard. My me smell.
It smelled and felt foreign. I had a friend staying over during that time. It, then, became his house. I imagine brewing coffee at that hour was a way to reclaim my space.