18 Oct 2018

Eyes that speak

She sits across from me.

Her eyes will occasionally meet mine, then travel. At first, they will look at her feeble fingers wringing on her lap, then to the side as her head cocks as if to listen to a voice far away. Like a weary traveler, those eyes that have seen more than language could ever express, finally rest on the notebook in my hands.

I follow those eyes.

                                                                                    pic source

They beg to be followed. They promise to tell, promise to show. It's a nondescript notebook. But in it holds questions that reduce her life to a series of answers. Suddenly, I want to throw it away. It seems to generate heat, too much. It's a Moleskine. Nothing much. But as I look at it through her eyes, its the window in which her past is displayed. It's the epitome of all things evil, all things inhuman, all things she has been working so hard to forget.

I find my hands putting the moleskine down. I am surprised by this move, more than she is even. We both look at the object of her disdain and my new-found bane.

I have been asking her questions for the past 15 minutes. It feels like we have been talking forever.
Talking insinuates we have been discussing how healthy her goats are, or how fat the chicken are becoming. Talking makes you think we have delicate china in front of us on checkered table cloths with steaming tea and biting on finger sandwiches.

I doubt she even knows how to make finger sandwiches. I doubt she ever owned a china set. Her cups are old cylindrical tins that have hints of the colour they were when she first got them. That is what she offered me tea in.


I do not like tea with little milk. Yet, norms dictate that I never refuse such an offer from a woman such as this one. Now my tea sits on the ground next to my chair, flies covering the rim of the cup. I see them fight for a spot on that rim. I assume that spot is the least hot for them to perch on.

She clears her throat. I look up. Those eyes again. Now they are imploring. Asking me what I am thinking. If I am judging her.  I hold her gaze, trying to push back the current thought. Which goes like this - 'I am stupid for shifting my attention to flies, instead of what you are telling me. I am sorry.'

I pick the moleskine again. I have forgotten what my next question is. Shameful really. Because I have been asking the same questions to women in this area for a few days now.

'Are you afraid of dying?' I ask

Stupid question. Who isn't?

Eyes that speak answer me. No.

Why?  I ask her.

The cameraman who has been quietly filming this interview interjects.

She did not answer, he says.

I sit up and shift in my seat. Of course she did not. Her eyes did. She has barely moved.

I ask her again.

She bites her lower lip, and chews it slowly.

The woman in front of me is 40 years old. She looks 70. She is frail. Too thin. She is dying of AIDS. Because she was raped and infected during the post-election violence. She has 6 children, all under 15 years. No husband. She is alone. She is all her children have. They have no idea she is dying.

I seek out her eyes. And hold them.

No. She says.

I have been here before, just not here.

I had what most would call a dream job for about 5 months this year. I was excited. I talked about it constantly. It was like being paid to be on holiday. But then it wasn't. I could not grow creatively and I had to make the hard decision to quit. Now that I am trying to unpack what exactly about that job did not work out for me, one thing is hazily manifesting. I need to work with people, I was not doing so on that job. I was not creating. I was processing created content. I create for a living. I weave stories and spin tales. Real human tales mostly. I need it. I cannot live without it.

Barely 3 weeks after saying goodbye to God's playground in the African wilderness, I was on another project. I had no time to regroup and gather my thoughts. What did I want to do? What was my next project?

So I packed my bag again and caught a flight to one of the remotest parts of the country. To tell a story. It's not my story, I am working with a group of filmmakers who conceptualised it. But it could as well be mine, it's the sort of thing I would do. It is my first time here, but not new to such a setting. I have been here before, just not here.



Everything looks the same. One road looks like next road, the trees merge into one. It's sun and sand; and not the holiday type. It is the beach without the ocean. I could take a million pictures and it wouldn't matter where I took them.

There's despair in the air. Pungent. Strong. A feeling of not belonging. For me and for the people I meet. Like we are all drifting. Except I get to leave. I get to live.

I am here to tell a story, one that I don't think I am even qualified to tell. Not professionally, but as a human being. What makes me the right person? As a filmmaker, I struggle with my self appointed duty to tell others' life stories. But its like a drug. I feed off their life challenges to drive me. It's a sick relationship. And yet. I am still here. Doing this. I am telling others' stories. Of things I will never experience, of a life I will never know, of tragedies I will never imagine, even with my overactive imagination. 

I have moments of incredible fear. Paralysing. Moments where I feel insignificant, worthless. Moments that I feel like a fraud. Like I deserve no paying attention to. Moments that I want to disappear and hope no one ever notices that I am gone. These moments that I question my purpose; if this - telling stories - is actually my purpose. Moments that I wonder if I am making a difference. 



I get to go back home. To my warm house, to snuggling with quilts on the couch and hot chocolate mugs with bits of marshmallows. To a life where my biggest challenge is figuring out whether I want to cook or order take out for dinner. To a life of a fully stocked fridge and claim to have nothing to eat. I sat down under a tree and listened to a girl my age tell me of horrors she has lived through. I was there with her. I was re-living the moments with her. My heart broke. But my broken heart is hardly an issue. That is my problem, not hers. Her heart broke along time ago, she no longer cares about her heart, just her hurt.

I will tell your story, I thought. And from this, your life will change. But will it? Or will I tell her story to people who only want to see others' pain so that theirs can seem insignificant? Can I look her in the eye and tell her that her opening up to me and to my camera will make her life a little easier? But that is the unspoken promise between a filmmaker and her/ his subject. Tell your story and hopefully,  someone somewhere will do something. And I hate to walk away with this promise hanging over my head, knowing that I might never fulfil it. 

6 Sep 2018

Coming back home

In more ways than one, I am coming back home. I have been away working in the Maasai Mara as an Assistant Director for a company that does live game drives - a very interesting experience for me but also a huge eye opener. Now that that part of my life is over, home is where I am headed.

This blog had been my where I brought my thoughts for years. From 2005 I think. That is a long time. I was a fledging then, and I guess for you to really know me, you would have to go that far back. 


Sometimes I do that, and constantly get awed by how far I have come. How much my life experiences have shaped me, what tenets I have kept and which I have let go. I have realised that what I thought was an unhealthy relationship with this blog, actually kept me grounded. 
And now, I am coming back. 

Home. To this blog.



5 Sep 2018

What a 23 year old me wrote -- Life



Life is what you wish you had but you don't. It is what you see from a far and yearn for, or in some cases, actually pursue it diligently, if only to have a taste of what you think other out there might be enjoying. Life wheezes pass you like that cab that won't stop when you hail, but will not hesitate to splash muddy waters on you on the pavement. And as you watch it speed away, you realize that you have just been dealt a very bad hand, and lady luck has retired, not for the night, but for the decade. Every morning on my way to work, I'm forced to stare outside the car window for long (long is used loosely as this could stand for 2 – 5 minutes) and sometimes, I do actually pay attention. Sometime last week, I observed, really observed. I become aware of a small pickup truck that I meet with at around the same time every day. It's a very nondescript car, and you are likely to ignore it. What made me notice it were the chickens in the back. The owners have constructed a mesh cage and horizontally divided in into two, thus making a double storied kind of cage. They pack chickens – hybrid broilers / or old layers on their way to the slaughters house – that is my assumption – in these two stories. The chickens sit quietly, almost demurely, as if cognisant of what awaits them.

Is this any different from my journey to work? Do the chickens also look at me and feel that fore boarding sense of worry and pity towards me? Do they look at me with their tiny beady eyes and wonder whether I know what awaits me, what the day that the night worked behind the veil of darkness to so deftly craft hold for me? Douglas Adams almost convinced me that mice do run earth. In one of these traffic snarls, my house mate and I got into a conversation, well more of a speculation about Mice and Cockroaches. I will give them first caps as this will somehow recognize their yet-to-be-proved dominance. Cockroaches will be the only surviving living things on the planet when we finally fry ourselves up with UV rays and other cosmic rays and their off springs, radioisotopes. And we wondered, is there a scientific research, maybe in the USA, or Russia or even Japan, to make a replica of the cockroaches shell for humans to wear protectively, when we can no longer make higher SPF's? And Mice actually do run the universe; that every little thing we do, no matter how ingenious is orchestrated by Mice. Which is what got me wondering to my housemate in the car, what of the mice that scientists conduct research on? He thought that those were the prisoners or pariahs of the Mice kingdom, and being subjects of us lowly brained beings is their punishment. I thought he had a point. Imagine the lowest animal you can think of on earth, actually, expand your thinking, in the universe. Now imagine you being condemned to be the subject of its meaningless research.

What I fail to understand is why you would allow yourself to be one of the dirtiest animals on earth, especially if you controlled Earth. I mean, look at all the advancement we have thereof. Even in my pea sized brain (I'm looking at my brain from a Mice Point of view); I would surely want to be a greater animal. It's like God choosing to send Jesus as a pig to rescue the human race. I would call that very bad mathematics. Anyway, he had a point, if far fetched at that! We could be controlled by the lowest form of life without our knowledge. Apparently even dolphins had a revelation of what the world was headed into (notice I said what not where), and have been trying to tell us for years. Can't blame me, and other human forms for not listening. Their language is harder than Danish. And take it from me, Danish is not a language, it's a advanced form of galactic medley of confusion (Sorry Hunny, you can kill me later, you know how best)

Happens that religion can explain most things and hence rest our troubled minds as to why we exist. Science can also do that. Big Bang is where the two meets. They fight to differ, and to me, the harder they fight the more similar they get. Like an old married couple. Think about it, if an old married couple to us is along the lines of 10 years to 60 years (life expectancy limits the bracket), what about centuries, and still forced to co-habit in the same house (read Earth), deal with the same kids (read Humans) century after century? I'm not a fan of religion. I was born into one. And somewhere along the way I felt like a groupie on some really confused rock band. I got the concept of what religion tried to do, but I saw it fail. Then I wondered why I was in the religion I professed to be in. I got one answer; because I was born into it.

When I really thought about it, I decided to get off the bandwagon and watch from the sidelines. I think this is when I should confess that my not so favourite pastime is thinking, and worrying. About things like; are there homeless children in Alaska, whether the ant that I stepped on accidentally this morning knew that it was going to die today, and if so, it say a proper goodbye to its family, (I worry about that with humans too) whether my pal knew her mother would be dead this time last year, and if so, what would she have done differently, whether I will celebrate my 30th birthday...anyway, that was not the line of thought I was going to follow in this blog.

You believe in the religion you believe in because you (your soul, your nature) cannot accept that death is finality. There has to be something more, otherwise, why do we bother living, why not kill ourselves and get over with. Well, I think suicide bombers have got that covered. That is why we go through the motions of life, because we have given ourselves reasons to, because we humans need justifications, reasons and answers in to Why, which when married to How, breeds very naughty children, namely, When, Where, and the twins, What and Who. We then devote our lives to finding answers, fighting about it, and proving the dominant faith and downplaying the rest.

Are the dolphins really that cleaver they might actually have something to say that if we do not heed to, will lead us to dire straits? If we stopped cutting into Mice and just observed them, would we learn something valuable and hence settle the Ultimate Question? I bet if I were to choose an animal, I would pick Ants. Sorry I know they are not animals... for animals I would pick the pig, for its celebrated orgasmic capabilities. But then, I figured that the only thing I have to worry about in this life is living to the ultimate satisfaction in everything I do, as I don't know what awaits me ahead, and if I spent too much time worrying, fighting and arguing about it, I'll lose on the best things.

Busy as I may claim to be enjoying the best of things, I do worry though; I'm still human, no matter how hard I fight it. Do I worry about religion? Yes. Why? Because it was ingrained in me from the day I learnt the difference between the beauty of fire from a far and the beauty of fire on my fingers. And just when I convince myself that I have safely crossed to the other side without the proverbial troll riding and digging deep into my back, it sinks it claws, from whatever end of my body it was hanging on to. But then I have that special innate ability to be stubborn, even unto myself. Don't' forget that other special gift of not being able to concentrate on anything for more than the time my brain will allow. It selective on what it really wants to concentrate on and there is nothing I can do about that, in this case, thankfully!

Making excuses is not my specialty. But I do like listening to them and wondering how best I would have put it, were it left to me. And by gawd, I would have an excuse for everything in the universe, and to me, everything interconnects. By some cosmic power of pulling elements towards the centre of the earth, all things hurtle towards each other, like the Bermuda Triangle, only at a slower pace. Religion, politics, relationships, business, war... all of it. It's all to satisfying so sort of deficient.

A quest by the human race to prove something to each other, to themselves. Unexplainable does not mean inexplicable. Just because something is unexplainable does not mean that paranormal forces must have been involved, only that we haven't found the explanation for it yet. I could start a whole school of thought and argument with true and untrue theories in accordance with that statement, but I'm not that inspired today. Take it as it is, mull over it in your sleep.

Living without knowing what you are here for, what your purpose in life is, where you are headed is frustrating. Which is why we have higher stress levels that any other living organism. That elevated stress level of animals, say a chimp will be to find it's tree cut down, or it's favorite spot occupied by a pride of lions. Why don't you try for a change, just not think about anything? Live today like you don't have another day like this. Actually, you don't. Today is never a continuation of yesterday, and neither will it ever be a prelude to tomorrow. Different entities, like you and your parents or siblings. You are related, but you are not the extension of any of your family, not even your twin. Think of the days septets, their mother being the week they fall in, their father the month. In the end you will have a father that has 4 wives, and each has 7 kids. Now take 11 more families like that and you have a clan called Year. The only relationship they have? Association by marriage, birth, nothing more.

This blog was not about religion, life, etc. It was about nothing really. It was my weird way of trying to prove something. Now as you were busy reading this, you failed to notice that the first words of every paragraph formed a sentence: Life Is What Happens When You Are Busy Making A Living


Get my drift?

3 Mar 2016

Till Kingdom Come

No, this is not a religious post. That will never happen here. It's the name of the song I have been listening to over and over for couple of days.  I love Coldplay. Chris Martin gets me. Corny, right?



So this song is about this guy who will wait for this girl, till kingdom come. He is lost, he does not know himself, but as long as the girl will promise to come and set him free, he knows it will be alright.






Now that is some bullshit that we fall into over and over again.

But then again, isn't this the kind of love we crave for? Other people see love from above, hover above it, assess the surrounding, carefully eliminate dangers and possible heartbreaks, then slowly ease down, guided by the winds of common sense and the agility of levelheadedness. Gently they land in love, no dusting off required, no quickened heartbeats and near-heart attacks.

Me?

I am the one that falls headfirst and braindead into love. I see love, sometimes I see ideas of love, you know, those that could be love but who really knows...and I dive. I come down hurtling, bumping my head into clouds of slow-down-mercy, scrapping my knees onto the storms of  recklessness. By the time I hit ground-love, I am a mess of pure ecstasy, dishevelled and glimmering with bittersweet pain that can only be described as suicidal rhapsody.

I feel. With every single pore of my skin. This could be termed as borderline obsession, but not in an 'I'll kill you then end myself' kind of way. I have tried to explain this but all I get are blank stares coupled with a very huge urge to reach for a phone and call help for me.





Let me try explain it.

It is a feeling that starts from a deep crevice of my heart's heart and spreads slowly into my main heart. It is a slow burning ember that emanates as a flicker of light. As a candle would from a distance. And as you approach it, it glows, becomes brighter, bigger... now imagine that light is a fire that does not burn. It is a warm and gentle blanket, but at the same time, a fire that doesn't consume you in as much as it envelopes you. For me love is a heart orgasm. You know that feeling you get when you climax? Now... imagine that for your heart. Every freaking minute you think, see, feel, touch that person.

I often walk away wounded, bruised and vowing to never fall. Telling myself how I will make myself a love parachute. Until the next time when I see it from above 50,000 feet.

And I dive.





16 Feb 2016

A footballer and a tea leaf

Last night I had a dream.




In it was a man I do not think about outside a green tuff, leather, and very sweaty 22 men. He is tall, dark, and well, never thought of him as handsome. Do not get me wrong. He is not bad on eyes, and he does have a kind of  “will grow on you eventually” look.  He’s the kind of man that you meet and think, he looks like good people, until he gives you a certain look, a smile - the kind that starts at the corners of his full lips, doesn’t quite completely break and stops as fast as it began. Then you think about those lips. And think again.

So last night I found myself walking in between endless bushes of a luscious tea plantation. With this man on my side. The dream opened like a movie. Of course, how else! Establishment shot, two people, a couple, walking next to each other, surrounded by an endless sea of green.  A stretch of the truth here in this dream- the spaces between the bushes allows for a single file. Oh well, it’s a dream. It was not a lovers stroll, more like two friends who have known each other a while, the kind that communicates without saying a word and silence is not lack of words but their abundance that commands it.

Those do exist, by the way.


Move closer, medium shot. She’s all of 5 feet. He’s towering at 6’2. His head cocks ever so slightly to catch what she is saying. She looks towards him, but does not look at him. I am now hovering over myself. And Yaya Toure. Even in my dream I do a double take. Come on! I did not even realize I knew how he looks like that well. We are talking. About a football match. And he is telling me how he’s frustrated and misunderstood. I ask Cakegate? I could not resist the urge. He shakes his head and smirks. It wasn’t about cake; it was about little things that mean something. From friends.

He plucks a tealeaf, places it on my palm. We stop and both look at the leaf. I do not ask, he knows the question, but does not answer it. Yet. He bends and blows it from my palm. As if hesitant, the leaf slides of my palm, hovers between us for the shortest second, then ebbs away. You cannot hold on to things forever Merc. Letting go doesn’t make you weak; it means you have the strength to build again.

I scoff.

I look around. No cameras.  I am having a therapy session with a footballer on a very windy day in the middle of a tea plantation in Limuru. My brain has new definition of mindfuck. I am always game. I decide to engage.

That leaf is not building. It’s gone to rot. He smiles. The kind I talked about above. So I think about those lips. And think again. It’s gone to be useful in its rot. Because even at your broken, you are still you. Okay, so maybe he is making sense. Not good grammar, but sense all right. I do not have to be green to be useful. Or beautiful. Even in my rot, I am still me.

Back to him, I ask. Are you at your rot?  He laughs. A genuine laughter. He knows I am not going to let him pry into me. I am going to jab back. And hard. It’s getting blusterier, and our voices seem to carry away from us. He pulls his jacket closer to his body. His arms do not go unnoticed as the thin fabric stretches across them. I am not a leaf when I play. Because talent is the whole plant, not part of. The trick is to know when it’s dry, and when you need to water it more. Otherwise it dies completely. And then, there are leaves. Part of the whole.

Too corny; but then again, never thought of life in terms of plants and their components. Your life is your talent, your essence. What you stand for. That is you, the plant. Other aspects of your life may change, read rotten leaves but that does not kill the plant. Only you do.

The first drop of rain hits my forehead. The second my eyelash, forcing me blink. I haven’t been. We are now face-to-face. Well, not really. It's more of face-to-chest. It’s raining. He whispers. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a regular Sherlock. I whisper back. A man handed his own. He nods, biting his lower lip and chuckles. I join. He grabs my hand and we ran. He is jogging. I am running.

We are not in a tropical climate anymore. The rain has turned into slate. The ground is covered by a blinding white carpet that crunches on our feet as we run. It’s snowing. I stop suddenly, an action that pulls him back. I look up to the sky as a few chilly flakes fall on my face.  I want to feel this. I say, almost out of breath. That is what you get for thinking you can run (trot in my case) with an athlete. He pushes strands of my braids from my face and wipes the snow off with a finger. Are you putting out a fire? It’s my turn to laugh. I haven’t heard myself laugh from my soul in a long time. He is watching me, intently. As if trying to read my answer from my thoughts before I can say it. My eyes betray me a lot. He knows he is not going to get a direct answer. We are in sync again. We actually do not need words. But we use them anyway.

I could be piling on the cold. He was expecting this and has a quick rejoinder. Your heart does not know cold. Very matter-of-factly said. I open my mouth to counter him. He does not let me. He grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me ever so gently. As if trying to dislodge that thought I had poised for rebuttal and push it over the abyss of my brain. Kill it. Correction. He starts. Your heart knows cold. It has felt it. It just doesn't know how to process it. Cannot even emit it. You're all fire.




My heartbeat quickens. He has pried into my heart. It is uncomfortable. He's right. I only know fire. It's always passionately sweltering, intensely blistering, incredibly consuming, and absolutely sizzling hot inside me. I am fiery ball of fire inside despite the any cool exterior fa├žade I might project. He’s seen me. And I want to hide. He knows this. He feels me shrink. He lets me. Slowly, he pulls me to him and holds me against him. I feel his fire. It’s explosive. His heartbeat is loud and foreign. Heartbeats are not a sharp sound. They are a hum when the heart is at peace, and a gentle comforting thud, like love falling gently on the hearts' surface when restless.

His is neither.

It’s piercing, and scary. I want to look up at him. I want to see this face with the strange heartbeat. He’s looking down at me, with a knowing smile. I am beginning to think, in all the ways I shouldn't. But the sound of his heartbeat is getting louder. He moves his hands from around me to my face. Cups it the way you would an egg.




If you're into that sort of thing.


And I smile, trying hard to ignore his now screeching heartbeat. Because I know what is coming. My eyes in my dream begin to close, the telltale sign of expectancy, as my eyes out of dream begin to open. My alarm is going insane. I fell asleep with my phone next to my pillow.

My mind needed to get my attention. And it used the one thing I have been paying attention to. 

I really need to stop watching that much football. And need to start writing more. 


Message home. Brain. 

22 Jan 2014

The Lake Underneath

Not once, not not twice. So many times I get asked why I am not posting as much. The other day, someone asked me if my muse was gone. Even suggested I go to a coffee shop to get inspiration. Now that is someone who reads me far too much. I do not lack something to say. Heaven knows there is even much more going on inside my mind. It's a whirlwind in there. As I child, someone told me that if you covered a whirlwind with a basin, then uncovered it, a snake would appear. Now I never tried that, mostly because even then, I wondered who was that idle to go covering whirlwinds with basins. But that's my mind. I am scared to cover it up. I do not want to find out what happens then.

I am laying on my bed in my hotel room. Hotel rooms do two things to me. Remind me that I am lonely or give me that serenity that comes from finally being alone, kicking off the jeans and the shoes, getting rid of the bra and just letting the air around me caress my body in ways that only the unseen can. I am looking out through the glass sliding doors, past the tiny porch, and out into the lake. Well, what used to be the lake. I am looking at a marsh of green, big lily-like leaves, too bulky looking to even sway in the gentle evening breeze. It was raining earlier. As I type this, the clouds are parting to let through the sun rays. So bright I have to lower my head to hide my eyes with my laptop.





Marsh.


I cannot see the water. But I think I can hear it. Far, beyond, somewhere deep in my mind. It could be a memory of what I once experienced, or a flashback of a sound I heard somewhere. But, its as real as if I was looking at it. It's a cry, not loud. Not weepy and needy. It's a sniffle, one that accepts helplessness, but does not accept powerlessness.


Started in June 2013. Never to be finished.