Shaka Momodu Hostel
Old Sawmill Road
Oct. 11, 2011
At specific moments in our lives, the world blacks out around us, gaoling us in padded confinements out of which only those with the true power of self-reflection can emerge. The period spent in such psychic isolation can be irreversibly traumatic―like finally coming to terms with the fact that the object of your affection will never return your love, or comprehending that your disease will end your life within the medico-specified span you have been predicted to have―or blessedly illuminating―like finally realizing that there are many fish in the deep blue sea: that there are many who are better suited to you than the object of your unrequited love, or understanding that, yes, all men die, but your death must not be insignificant or miserable even though your life has been either or both. The world does not need us to survive (in fact, the sooner we were off its back, the longer it will exist), but we need the world to survive. One theory I gleaned from James Herbert’s novel, Portent, has it that natural disasters are part of a recycling process the world undergoes to cleanse itself of man-invented impurities; man simply happens to stumble in at just the wrong moment, only to later shriek blame and hatred in the face of a God who did not shove him into his catastrophe in the first place. (Do antigenes not scream their indignation at being flushed out of man’s system by medicines?)
If that theory holds some modicum of validity or veracity (and who can argue that it doesn’t?), then it probably follows that these aforementioned blackouts that the world imposes on us―individually, of course―are remedies more for us than for itself. Remedies, in that we are too much in the world for our own good. The world kicks us out at intervals, snatches all the props we lease from it to lean on, that we may define or redefine ourselves, stand on our own feet. And just as people die or are wounded or psychologically and permanently altered when they are victims of so-called natural disasters, so do aspects of our character become victims of new choices we must make. Some of these choices are very hard to make, and one sure gift of our isolation from the world (a totally individual experience, I emphasize) is that a path is hewn for us from all the confusing details of our existence. (Like it or not, admit it or not, humans are pathetic creatures, some more than others. Calling humans beings sometimes seems to me an exaggeration―and a distinctly unpoetic one at that. Let’s just stick to creature.) This path is ours only to trod―or ours only to eschew. We can be cowards even in our own minds and delude ourselves that, since no one can really see into us, then the shame of such stain on our conscience is made easier to bear. But someone really sees into us, and that person is us. But if we choose to do that which is right, to stand and fight, not enemies that bleed, but that insidious force which lounges at the core of every human, nibbling away our essence, the joys of that victory can only be imagined. Not even the explosive ecstasy of those few seconds just before and after coital zenith can equal them.
The world blacks out on me a lot of times. And when it happens it seems to me like some oculist has slipped on improved spectacles on the bridge of my nose, and I see things a little more clearly. These perspectives are brought on by the strangest of jamais vu―a spit of breeze from behind my right shoulder, a bright and sunny day, a shift in the rumpled clouds, a sudden glimmer of hope in a perfect future, an inspiration for a book―and I see, say, a familiar face in an unfamiliar light. The person usually does not know it, but several routes leading out of and into that person materialize in my mind’s eye, and I am shocked at how gullible, how far too trusting, how easily loving and caring I am, or how blind I have been all the damn while. Sometimes the world blacks out on me… and I black out right back on it, and am consumed by a depression and hate and malice so great it weakens me. All I want at such moments is for God to clap His mighty hands and grind humankind to dust. The only reason why we are depressed, why we scuba-dive into the bottommost levels of self-loathing and despair, is because of our fellow humans… no other reason. If we were left all alone, then we would not be available to be hurt, and would hurt no one. I can’t imagine that Adam did not think that his life could be no more perfect before Eve cat-walked into it―or was it snake-crawled? I can’t shake off the feeling that her introduction into his life cost him much more than a rib. And what is a rib in the larger scheme of existence?
A rib is spit on your face when you deign to look with affection on one whom you feel something special for, spit from the mouth of that one who sees only a depraved monstrosity any time your face and theirs cross trajectories. A rib is a hot brand on your fingertips when you reach out to one who has, by virtue of word or deed (even if it be unconscious or unintended), inspired your hand to seek out their bodily warmth, to just touch, because you feel they are intelligent enough to realize that there are moments words are utterly incapable of capturing and expressing. A rib is your compelled non-existence, bestowed on you by one whom you care for; it is a status of non-thing or non-entity placed on you like a curse from lips forever sealed shut only around your presence. A rib is your unwillingness to make sacrifices, because they would be gems cast among swine, and you don’t have that many to part with in the first place―gems, I mean―even at the risk of giving the impression that you only make moves ‘when you want something’. A rib is a deliberate ploy by one whom you endeavour to understand, to misunderstand you.
How come no one has ever asked if mankind has lost more or gained more since Eve traipsed into Adam’s life? Haven’t I lost more since you entered mine?