Water

How do you describe the sound of rain? That mild muttering of sounds at the onset melding into a thundering rumble at its peak. How do you describe the peace which envelopes you when cocooned in a warm cozy blanket as it’s storming outside? Life-giving water fulfilling its role in a self-sufficient cycle, bringing with it the assurance that life goes on – that life is meant to go on.

Summer rain. Winter rain. Monsoons. Oceans and rivers. Waterfalls and pipe leaks.

Water

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How do you describe the emotion you feel when you encounter a large body of water? Its surface smooth and unbroken like rippling blue-green silk. It’s a thing of wonder, of admiration, of… comfort.

Looking at the sea, one can’t help but wonder,

“If the water buries me, will I be transformed?”

“If the water insulates me, will the pain stop?”

“If the water fills me, will I become unbreakable, as fluid as water?”

“Will I die?”

I stared at a great lake today. It was blue and clear, magnificent and modest, alive and deadly. And for the first time in a while, I felt real, terrifying, peace.

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Nomenclature

Names are peculiar things.

I’ve often wondered about the time and effort people invest when selecting a name, either for themselves or for someone else. I think of the heartbreak, the deadpan joke, the favorite childhood Saturday morning cartoon, the hours of painful labor, and all the experiences that may have in some way influenced the name selected for you. Then I imagine, in all the micro-moments that make up your life, how has a name, uttered by someone else, made an impact on you?

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To some people, names are an invariable part of their identity. They’re the anchor to which the bearers tether themselves in the turbulent sea that is life. These people consider their names to be the one feature that immortalizes them, and so they guard it as such.

To others, names are like accessories you put on and shed when convenient. They’re scantly important to the bearer and are used only for the benefit of the attendant audience. These people can go all their lives without caring what they call themselves and are content to simply just be.

I feel I fall in somewhere in the middle of the two kinds of people described above. Names are important to me, until they’re not. My given names are many and I love them all. They’re all very different names, from many very different languages, each seemingly qualitative of a particular personality, and yet, they’re all completely me. I cannot imagine a universe where I didn’t at some point or the other, bear the names I currently do. But, I bear no allegiance to any particular one. It’s easy for me to momentarily abandon a name and adopt another if not for any reason but my own amusement. It’s just… fun!

Names are nothing until they are given, uttered, and owned. I imagine a name has a certain ephemeral plasmic quality to it, until it is spoken and received, then it becomes a living breathing thing. Names are powerful in that they can make and break a person or a people. I believe this is because names are words that are constructed to hold a multitude of meaning. Names often come with a history, and even when they don’t, the life the bearer lives always ends up as a story built around the name. A name and the way it’s spoken, can convey so much, and at the same time, conceal.

Ah. The way a name is spoken…

Imagine, in desire:

To have your name whispered in a voice haggard with longing

To have your name wrapped in a groan at the height of ecstasy

To have your name mumbled in the dreamy aftermath of sex

Imagine, or remember, the effect on you.

Or, in conflict:

To have your name said plainly, with only a pinch of menace

To have your name screamed, staccato, in rage

To have your name said quietly, as though dipped in a bucket of remorse

Whatever the scenario, we’ve all experienced the satisfaction, the pain, or even the confusion, at not just our names being uttered at all, but by the way it is said, and by whom. Any meaning a name had in itself is only compounded when the name is uttered in a certain way.

A name is the first piece of the bridge we build between the people we meet and ourselves. And whether we realize it or not, a name isn’t just something we’re called, it’s something we live, even if just for a moment

The names we’re given and take as our own, whether for our whole lives or even for a fleeting moment, have made not just an impact on ourselves, but also on the people we live these names to. Sometimes, this impact is nothing more than a tiny dent, sometimes it’s something more.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, names are peculiar things.

#P&IC

***

For those who aren’t aware, I have a Medium blog I update once in a blue moon. ‘Nomenclature’ was written in June and posted on that blog, and I intend to put more posts like it on the Medium blog. If you love it, do follow me there as well.

As always, I wish you the two best things the world has to offer: peace and ice cream.

Is Christmas Here Yet?

It’s getting colder. The windows are starting to frost and Amazon wishlists are growing longer. It’s around that time of the year when a shot or two of whiskey (or tabasco, if that’s your thing), is added to mugs of coffee and hot chocolate. Christmas is coming, but for this girl, Christmas can’t come soon enough. Here’s a list of my favorite Christmas carols to keep you in good cheer until Christmas Day.

10. Ave Maria

9. Little Drummer Boy

8. What Child Is This

7. Ding Dong Merrily On High

6. See Amid The Winter’s Snow

5. O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

4. The First Noel

3. O Holy Night

2. Carol of The Bells

  1. We Three Kings of Orient Are

 

#P&IC

What Do You Do With Pain

What do you do with pain?

Do you put it in a box and hide it away?

Do you embrace it like a long lost friend?

Do you fight it with all your might?

Do you look at it furtively from across the room?

Do you introduce yourself to it with a firm handshake?

Do you carry it around with you so it feeds you like some alien life force?

What exactly do you do with pain?

I’d like to know because I’ve got a lot of it and I don’t know what to do with it.

Toluene-scented Nostalgia

Sometimes you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, when it hits you. Bam! Nostalgia, heavy and full, hits you square in the gut, knocking the air out of your lungs, and you’re left in the middle of the street practically reeling in savage wistfulness. That ever happen to you? Well, tonight, it happened to me. I was walking down the street with my friend Tina, chatting about a new ice cream shoppe and other assorted national treasures, when we happened to walk by an old library. The library was conspicuous enough, with its marble Leos adorning the entrance, but it was the smell wafting through its doors, that sweet musty smell that so many have come to associate with well-loved books, that got me. Just like that, I thought back to my favorite books growing up. The first that came to mind was A Little Princess, the 1996 edition. princess      pr I think my impeccable acting skills, stem, in part, from reading this book. I doubt I was much older than 5 years old when I read it, and to say it made a lasting impression would be an understatement. In many ways, it remains my favorite. This is a story about a girl who finds pleasure in playing pretend. Being fully aware of all that’s going on in her life, whether good or bad, she finds a way to see the bright side of things, and pretends to be in a world where only the best version of herself is acceptable.

Of course, as I was reminiscing, my mind ran the film reel of all the Enid Blyton books I’d read, the Archie, Dennis the Menace comic books, the Aesop Stories, the Narnia books, the English classics and so on. (I never was a Harry Potter fan though). A few surprising recollections included Sugar Girl by Kola Onadipe. I loved this book! Picture Jael with a wrapper tied around her chest, walking all around the house, badgering her folks to get her another pet goat. (I’d had a pet goat when I was much younger but it ate most of my mum’s Ugu, so we eventually ate the damn goat). That literally was me at like 8 years old, and I’m proud to say I felt no shame then, and I feel no shame now. Sugar girl was a sweet girl, literally. She was kind and good and honest and everything I wanted to be – everything I am still trying to be.

The third (and last, for the sake of this post) really memorable book, was In His Steps. It’s a graphic novel about a priest in America in the 1920s and the scandalous lives of all the people in his parish. At least that’s most of what I remember. The main storyline (I think) revolved around the little and big ways some characters chose to be Christ-like, even finally giving up a life for another. ihs So yeah. Those are some of the books that crossed my mind tonight. I did a quick check on amazon to see if I could get them and was (pleasantly) surprised to find out these books fetch quite a pretty penny. Whether or not I eventually splurge on my childhood favorites, the moral of the story, kids, is that you should keep those books you love near and dear to your heart. Never forget them. Those stories you read and love at that young age, might have a lot to do with the kind of person you end up being. #P&IC

Tina

I met her four years ago. I found her tonight.

This is where she feels at home, at her pedal, with her strings constantly out of tune.

This is how she sees the world, as chaos fitted through a stave. Harmony.

This is how she laughs, sound and hard, at her flaws and yours.

This is how she climaxes, to the reverberations of the bass, in her groin.

This is how she fights, to the mad beat of her heart, without restraint.

This is how she cries, far too easily, at someone else’s hurt.

This is how she finds love, hoping that someone, somewhere, burns as she does.

This is how she lives, for no one but herself.

For you, Tina.

#P&IC

His Christmas Story

Today is dull, listless, as Tuesdays normally are. Above, there’s a light breeze rustling branches too high up to yield any fruit. Below, there’s a mild flurry of activity. People walking in twos and threes, crunching a merger of ice and salt crystals beneath their feet, unhurriedly. You don’t hurry at a funeral.

Jethro is sitting on the corner of a stone path in a troubled solitude, away from the curious glances and polite whispers of his guests.

***

They say when you are with someone you love, you have no bearing on time. Minutes, hours, seconds – they mean nothing to you. When I was with her, it wasn’t as they say. I felt time. I felt every second burrow its heels into my soul and take a little more from me. I felt the years I was with her, 24 in all, pat me on the back giving in even greater measure their gifts of wisdom and patience. When I was with her, my senses were attuned to the whistle of the breeze, to the touch of the moonlight, to the smell of the summer drizzle. My world collapsed into a vacuum whenever she spoke my name, leaving only my heartbeat and her voice – together an intoxicating rhythm – drugging me. When she laughed, it was as though the universe had never known evil and there was only joy. When I loved her, my life was a panic of contradictions that made perfect sense. I was hers, in the most complete sense of the word. I was hers, and she was mine. I loved Ava.

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She loved to write. Ava was that type of girl who was fascinated with typefaces and handwriting. She loved to begin her “f” in the cursive style, with a tight curve moving anti-clockwise from its origin, reaching the crest and then making a sure sudden descent. But instead of continuing the curve, again in the anti-clockwise direction, drawing it to its origin as one would normally do, Ava thought it rebellious to leave it south, straight, unfinished. She was that type of girl. She would write to me, tucking notes of flirty anticipation into the breast-pocket of my shirt before I left for work. She would write to all she knew, notes of encouragement, memos of dissatisfaction, and letters of gratitude. She wrote a letter to me on the night I first made love to her, 23 years ago on Christmas day, telling me how much she loved me and our unborn child. I loved her. I married her.

Then I lost her. She left our home one Friday morning a month ago, determined to snag some overpriced bounty at Black Friday-type discounts for the coming Christmas holiday. I imagine she was complimenting the shop owner as she would typically do, when the commotion began. I lost Ava, first to a thief’s bullet then to a maniac’s grenade. They said it happened all at once, that she felt no pain. What they failed to say was that my life, too, was now suddenly lost all at once, without warning or alarm but with pain. They found Ava with her back torn away from her body, her wedding ring pushed to the first knuckle of her charred ring finger. Her legs were wide apart and slightly charred, but her face was curiously bare – without blemish or crease – as if to say, here was an honest woman, loved and free and true.

I lost her.

We lost her.

I don’t realize I’m crying until I feel the scrunched paper in my fists, wet. I straighten out the letter, regard it for the eighth time that day and for the umpteenth time in 23 years, and watch the words written by my wife bleed into the grain of the paper.

I love you.

“Hey Jethro.” My friend and bestman, Tomiwa, calls from the house, “Coming in soon? Ana’s looking for you.”

Now, there’s Ana. Beautiful, kind Ana. She’s every bit her mother’ daughter – the perfect Christmas gift. How I will continue care for her, how I will show her that the world is both a kind and cruel place, I don’t know. She’s old enough to see the world, old enough to love another the way her mother loved me, but still, she’s now without a mother. I think she’s indoors, entertaining our guests despite her own grief, accepting condolences while holding out a plate of cookies. Ana, putting on a brave face, is definitely her mother’s child. Dare I say, Ana’s a reincarnation and my saving grace.

Thank you Ava. Merry Christmas.

Love, death, and birth. Life, while it lasts, goes on. I’ll remember that.

“Sure, I’m coming in.” I call back to Tomiwa. I groan as I rise, months of pain already settling into my bones. I’ll be strong for my daughter, I’ll live for her. “I’m coming, Ana,” I say to no one in particular. “I’m coming.”

***

Today is dull but somewhat hopeful, as Tuesdays usually are. Above, Ava smiles down at the last two living parts of her. Below, Jethro and Ana, hearts nearly suffocating with grief, breathe a little easier despite it all. They’ll love each other through the pain. They’ll be okay, this Christmas day.

Author’s Note: This year, many of us have been more aware of death, violence, and madness than any time before. We know the people who die are more than statistics. The others they leave behind, the people who love them, die a little too. This Christmas, please reach out a little, and do what you can to lessen that pain. It might be a visit, a donation, a facebook/twitter msg, or a prayer, but let’s not forget them. Let’s not.

#PeaceAndIC