Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LETTER TO THE GREAT AND THE DEAD

Dear Timi,

Here I am little brother. Incoherent I might be, but damn well I am right here. Right here where you and I spent long hours dreaming. Here where I watch one tear after the other dribble down my face and mix with the earth. Drib! Drib! My tears go, just like your blood did, for hours- from dusk to high noon- the day they stole you from us. Plucked you, that was a glorious blossom in the rocky garden that is my life, out.

It has been such a long time since. Far too many places I have been to, in the meantime, way too many things I have seen. None of them could make my memories of you any less fond. I might not spend hours starring vacantly at your grave. (Hell, they probably sold your cheap grave in Langata to someone else.) But in my mind, as a gentle thought, you have repose and every fair word that stumbles out of my pen I dedicate as an epitaph to you.

Then sometimes, when the road feels a tad bit to rough, I take a pause and shed a tear. And another… and another. Sit and watch the tears, like your blood, mingle with the earth. This earth that we always seemed fated to walk on but never own a piece of.

The pain gets much deeper whenever I return to this place. Not just the old neighbourhood but the Stone Zone, specifically. This place where we spent our days sitting and talking, pretty much watching the world pass us by, for lack of either gainful employment or leisure.

Sometimes, in mid-conversation, our imaginations would get the best of us. Then we would imagine ourselves as the greatest Kenyan writers of our degeneration and rush over to Mutua’s kiosk, take biros and foolscaps on credit and then spend five, six, seven… ten hours writing. At times we stood as we wrote, other times we knelt and then there was the times when we asked any one o the other boys to bend over so that we could use their backs as our desks.

Such anger as flew out of our pens no words, phrases, similes or metaphors I can invent today can best describe. When I think, and I often do, about the texts we churned they seem like dirges. Dirges to us. We the living dead to whom the future tense was a luxury.

Then the cans of Napshizzle would run dry. Our pens too. Then we would stagger, each to his hovel, slump on those sagging Vono beds and let the alcohol take us away. The next day, or night depending on how long or how much we had drunk, we would wake up, read what we had written and (maybe shamed by the emptiness of our own existence that stared us back through our own words) set it on fire.

We used to claim that the writing was cathartic, but how come it was, at the end of the day, the alcohol that lulled us? Is it because our drunken sleep was the place for dreams and the writing a place for making portraits of the frightful nightmares that stalked our wakefulness?

That though is not the question that bothers me the most but one of whether the goodness of time and life would have proved you to be the greatest of Kenyan writers? It is such a shame. Such a shame that I, who was given the time, life and chance to prove myself, failed. That is the reason why, after all my upstart journeys into the writerish world out there, I keep coming back here. Return to this place, brooding and prostrated by my inadequacies. Come here and mourn you, wishing that you instead of me had had half the chance that I have had.

I do not know kid, but I feel like all the writing is done. But for you, and all the little ones that looked up to us, I will keep trying. I will keep trying, not from the fanciful lairs of the bourgeoisie writer class, but from down here. This neighbourhood is, for me, both home and muse. If to write we were called to, pray I be the least of your avatars.

If to own a piece of this earth that we, merely, walk on be rightful, then let the words that ooze out of my pen run deeper than the blood that our ancestors spilled that we may have it.

Affectionately yours,
Potash

3 comments:

Mace said...

This had me crying as I read along. The memories it brought back of another existence were really painful. On the flip side, your narrative is fabulous as usual.

Anonymous said...

Wow, mace has said it all - sad but uplifting. So was Tim a 'brother-brother' or friend?

POTASH said...

I generally do not comment here but for the edification of any new leaders, I will do it now.

Multiple strands cut through this blog joining one post to another... that is why I call it a narrative.

Typing 'Timi' into the search box will put him into perspective.

Reading the archives is highly recommended, if only because the older stuff is much better, in my opinion.

P