“O, that a man might know the end of this day’s business, ere it come! But it sufficeth that the day will end and then the end is known.” (Julius Caesar; Shakespeare)
Timi was a nice kid. As nice as they come. A beautiful boy and a humble spirit, he was. And under a hail of police bullets that life was taken away from us. Humanity, in one sadistic pull on the trigger of a Government Issue assault riffle, lost one who the goodness of time would have revealed as a prince of men.
Now we sit on The Stone Zone, sipping on Napshizzle and Coke from used ketchup cans. A dark silence hovers ponderously over us as everyone beseeches their God (whatever they make her/ him/ it to be) to preserve Timi’s soul in eternal bliss.
In times like these, our hearts also reach out to the souls of all those other kids that we have lost along the way. Some were victims and some were villains but when they fell, our hearts cried out. Every bullet hole on their youthful frames was like a gushing wound in our hearts. Every knife wound like a shredder through our own guts.
With their compromised immunity, mottled lunges and flambéed livers, they left us.
Maybe they went off to a better plane…
And now… Timi… Timi is gone from this plane.
Personally, I do not care much for heaven, but if it does exist, then I wouldn’t see what it is worth if Timi cannot reach it. That there is a better place is of no consequence to me. All that matters is that when my life’s work is done, the least common denominator of my moral worth- or whatever parameters they use to send some to hell and others to heaven- takes me to Timi’s eternal domicile.
I know that in eulogizing our dear and not so dear departed we are given to using rosy superlatives. In fact, where there exist no real virtues in some of our dead that we can exaggerate at their funeral we employ our creativity to attribute to them some modicum of nobility. All this even though their journey through life was a vexation to humankind and society has taken a collective sigh of relief at their passing on. It must be a habit moulded out of our deep seated fear of death and, consequently, an assumed reverence for the dead. That could explain why we sit here and have nice thoughts about Timi but indeed it doesn’t.
Dead or living, Timi was a gentle person. That is about all.
We had great moments, Timi and I. He was the only soul on The Stone Zone who genuinely shared my passion for books. The only kid I knew that had read Plato’s The Republic and Machiavelli’s The Prince, and an odd thing that was when we had peers who believed that Machiavelli was a prophecy by Tupac Shakur.
When Timi and I first met, we had our different tastes in books. I swore by the English classics: Dickens, Edgar Poe,
But there was one thing, Shakespeare, in that I found a kindred spirit. His favourite play was Julius Caesar and in an uncanny way, I find Anthony’s eulogy to Brutus so apt as though it was written for Timi: “His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a man!””
But not all my thoughts right now are about Timi. I worry about those of us that are left. What are our chances of seeing the new dawn? Are we doomed to sit here forever and have society ridicule us and the neighbourhood brand us criminals? Is there in some government arsenal bullets with our names on them eagerly awaiting some trigger happy cop or other to bear them?
As I look upon these kids’ faces, I am convinced that they are all thinking, nay, worrying about their tomorrows. When the chips are down, you must allow us one moment, each for himself, when we must see Timi as just another kid with a bullet through his head and the only thing that matters is just not to be the next. Not even a jobless youth sipping on Napshizzle in the ‘hood.
So what will tomorrow bring? Well, nothing really but if any of these kids wake up, then you will surely find them here. Find them here still waiting for the government to create 500,000 new jobs.
Talking of jobs, you might think that they do not look. In all honesty they do. Earnestly. Sometimes I feel as though they look too hard while the successful ones just look ‘smart’. That thinking sort of makes sense because an acquaintance once told me that the jobs are out there; the trouble is in finding someone to give them to you. That would explain how some guy from the other side, who retired in my primary school days, suddenly has a new job and a government limousine.
The good book says that ‘the race is not to the swift, nor battle to the wise, but time and chance come to all.’ (Eccl. 9:11) That may be true but not in my book. Well at least not in my short lived experience. If it were true; then convince me what time and chance came to Timi.
What is it worth to get to the starting point and then sprain your ankle? All those hours spent practising for the race, for Timi had a Diploma, painfully squandered and wasted. All that is what makes me view The Stone Zone as a metaphor for the real world that we all live in where as someone else would say,’ the cost of living has persistently gone up and the chance of living has come down.”
Everyday parents spending down to their last goat just to see their children through school and every other day young adults are dying. What is to console that aging parent whose entire material wealth was invested in his/ her child’s future and that child now merely a clod of mud?
The Christian God they tell me puts as all here for a purpose; but whose purpose does it serve when a twenty year old graduate is mortally wounded by thugs? Personally, I do not care much to die so that my family and friends may learn how to deal with tragedy. If I die today, let it not be said that I lived my life to the fullest because I have plans for the next fifty years and they do not include death.
A sunny day it is today. A beautiful day. I pour some liquor on a spot next to where I am sitting. Right where Timi was sitting exactly twenty four hours ago; the spot where he sat and regaled us with merry tales.
If I was to wind back the hands of time, to exactly this moment yesterday, he would have been sitting on this very stone his eyes forever dancing, his beautiful hands in a frantic dance for emphasis. His mouth… his lips- those lips that always made me blush in flitting thoughts of my closeted sexuality- would be smiling as he told us what he would do if he won a Mercedes Benz worth six million.
My last image of him is and will always be one moment yesterday. He looked at me and said: “That Benzo,I’d flog it. I shika lavash,kwanza I throw you a crate- frotho.. bila ati rock-o, naps, nini nini…!” I remember thinking: how nice it was that he of all people would think of me first.
To have known that he always liked me and let me know it counts as a legacy. And I am happy he died knowing I liked him. Maybe it would have offended him to know I liked him in other ways but I feel his spirit hovering over my shoulder and I know he is reading this.
Rest in peace little brother. And in the words of Brutus: “…whether we shall meet again I know not. Therefore our everlasting farewell take:- For ever and for ever, farewell (Timi). If we do meet again, why we shall smile; if not, why then, this parting was well made.”