ISRAELI MAN

“…First of all, don’t even try making sense of all that. In my experience, as is everyone else’s, I think, dreams are a series of incoherent occurrences summing up to one big ball of an incongruous opacity…” 

Sunday night. The working class are brooding over the prospects of yet another Monday. The stay-at-home mothers with kids and spouses necessitating early morning preparing are also not enthralled by the idea of a looming Monday but they’d be damned if they let it show. Knights in shining armor don’t pout. The average student is removed from everything. For them, Monday could as well be Thursday. This cohort spends little time mulling over matters academic. In fact, unless it’s absolutely necessary, where necessity is the child of duress, anything academic is a forlorn thought, sequestered and left to collect dust. They make for the happiest people you’ll come across on a Monday. As for the serious lot… I can only imagine. Are they counter-checking assignments they’ve actually done by themselves, alone? (I can’t stress the rarity of individual input enough.) Are they anticipating a presentation due Wednesday? Are they listing weekly short-term goals? Are they envisioning answering and asking questions alike in class? The wild horse that’s my imagination must be tamed. 

Well, last Sunday night finds me neither this nor the other, of the above. I am reduced to the fundamentals of life; sonship, brotherhood. Small talk and gossip regarding Mama Njuguna’s son whose throes with drug addiction have him recently perambulating in his birthday suit aside, it’s not a demanding job being my mother’s son. As for my sister, well, she’d rather spend time with her dolls than a real human being who doubles up as her brother. It’s her bizarre and distinct way of saying she loves me. Don’t argue with me. So when you really get down to it, at most I am a common citizen subjected to Sunday Television. 

If you’ve picked up the tone of displeasure and tedium, well, you’re on the right track. It’s almost incredible the faith some of my fellow Kenyans have in the system, in reforming the system to be particular. I think some are on a regular pay check with the media houses since their faces have become like the palm of my hand, too familiar, and their voices like the music of my favorite song, also too familiar. I run the risk of being misunderstood. It’s not that what they speak to is some outlandish tomfoolery. I simply believe in a different way of combat. Like a-fire-eventually-consumes-itself, so will the bad governance. Maybe this is what I’ve brought myself to believe since my voice can’t be heard. 

I digress. 

On this Sunday night I flip through the channels looking for an alternative. I am running away from the reality that rears its head in every corner. For better or worse, I don’t know, but I end up watching Hotel Rwanda. My first watch.

(I have also never watched Titanic. I am probably at a happier place than most human beings for that. Sinking ship that takes love with it to the ocean bed… No, thanks. I don’t need that sort of negativity in my life.)

Hell has already broken loose when I tune in. Rebels line the roads of Rwanda, preying and praying for a hutu or tutsi to behead depending on your inclination. I wonder whether a situation would cloud my judgement and render me murderous. In that instance, to cleanse myself of such a malevolent hypothetical, I inwardly vow to never get angry. My lips turn at the edges. 

Throngs of people are huddled in one hotel with a man who’s constantly uneasy and negotiates on their behalf in a high-pitched voice. I wonder how many people still believe he’s going to deliver them from what they’d wish was simply a dreadful dream. Or how many souls he’s crashed and lost with his voice.

While I am still wrapping my head around the peculiarities of this movie, it ends. It was a happy but an unexpected and inconclusive ending. Many questions were left unanswered. Does the war end because the yapping, black man with a forced African accent finds his two long-lost, previously adopted daughters? Was that why there was a war in the first place? 

All in all, I am pleased with myself for the acquisition of the ability to critic a Hollywood production. This is a new level of freedom. The African child is making strides away from the superiority complex left in the wake of colonialism. It’s sort of like when you come to the realization that maybe your parents weren’t always at the helm of their class as is vigorously purported.

Caught up in the amplified noises of the night, when everything seems to be making sounds louder than usual, as I stand up to switch the TV off, I catch my mother’s snort. A remote and bemused sound but unmistakable nonetheless. She’s awake.

As a family, God wished upon us this; thou shan’t wake up and thy neighbor be oblivious. To this effect He made sure our nasal membranes are easily irritated when we wake up, by the same oxygen we’ve been inhaling all through the night. Beats me. If you and your partner have just started out, you’re allowed to blow your nose. Also, if in times of dissention you’d be pointed to the corner and asked to think about your actions, it’ll come naturally to you to blow your nose.

Well, for the rest of us, you can choose to sneeze in protracted measure, back to back, until the feeling goes away or simply draw in air, twist your nose in an instinctive angle, let it scratch the insides of your nose, snort in the process and kill that bitch dead. Back to primeval basics when you had a pig for a friend and apprenticed a thing or two.

Dear future wife, do you see how me waking up translates to us waking up? Full disclosure.

I make for my mother’s room, step in, light gushing in behind me and moving to settle where the walls make a right angle. Her bed creaks. I have her attention. I peer through the window into the night, get lost in the darkness a bit and make a general comment.

“Out there somewhere a thief is doing his thing right now.”

She acknowledges with a mere grunt. She’s not even trying.

In the ensuing silence, I smile. My half-baked diminished reflection smiles back, some teeth white and deeply rooted, others missing. I am still my mother’s toddler. Times when I’d initiate the conversation with reference to mundane and obscene real time observations. For example, asking whether she had two noses because I saw two nostrils. Questions or remarks whose answers you didn’t care for. However, perfect excuses to seek refuge and friendship in she who bore you.  

Her voice brings me back from my reverie.

She’s explaining the reason for being awake when she should be dreaming. It’s a dream. A dream woke her up. From the sound of it, so far, it has all the qualities and features of a nightmare but nothing ever is, in her opinion. In fact, in her other opinion, every dream is worth further scrutiny and study for deeper comprehension since it’s God’s way of talking to her, to us. 

“An Israelite man was set to launch an explosive into the air. By the time it hit zenith and started descending it’ll have detonated and would come breathing fire. I pleaded with the man and asked him to at least wait for me to pick your sister from school. He was unflinching. I ran to the school, anyway, and got your sister. On our way back, the fire started spreading like wild fire, coming at us from hizo sides za Narobi.(The way Peter Kenneth says it, yes.). By the time we made it back to the house, your sister and I, to join your father and you, the fire was right behind us…”

From the conflict between her mouth and brain, resultant of a stutter, I figure there’s more of the dream but her maternal instinct knows better. So she stops.

First of all, don’t even try making sense of all that. In my experience, as is everyone else’s, I think, dreams are a series of incoherent occurrences summing up to one big ball of an incongruous opacity. You’ll sit on an excerpt, analyze it then try piecing it with the subsequent incident for a wholesome reckoning, but to no avail. 

Let this be known. That dream left me in a trance. It got me a good one. Not, if I make the excusable sad attempt of putting two and two together, at the prospects of an impending war but the fact that, in an inexplicable way, my life flashed before my eyes. Suddenly I was questioning and vetting my short stint here on earth. Had I done enough to meet the threshold for admission to heaven? Had I lived my life well? 

“Mom, must I spread the word of God to the non-believers, to the heathens, for God to be happy with me? Can’t I simply live my life well and that be underlined and checked as ample?”

“No. You have to serve God how you deem best, one way or another.”

With that, I took my leave, twigging where I stood. The light that had leaned against the corner where the walls met at a right angle, all the while observing silently, without a flicker, followed me behind as I shut the door. As if to show me the way forward.

_Bmk

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