Men have died from time to time,
And worms have eaten them,
But not for love!
Phew! Finally, it comes around—this mortifying escapades and playing blackjack with scandal matriarchs and devious angels. Blinded by the sparkles of the star, the young Moth in The Moth and the Star story, never understood that the dazzling twinkle he thought was trapped on top of an elm tree, was actually million of light years away from his world and trying to reach it was chasing after the wind.
I didn’t spend all my years trying to reach Damascus—thanks to the blinding bolt of lightening! How blind I was to myself finally when I reached Damascus, or perhaps all along, I had been blind even before I embarked on the voyage and struck down thrice like Paul, the good old Roman citizen (I wonder why Caesar declared all his subjects ‘good’) and transformed by the thunderous voice.
Perhaps Damascus was a mirage after all, for I could have missed it in my blindness. I was that want-it-now child who should have accepted his mother’s advice that the moon wasn’t a plaything for children, and taken his mother’s jewels to play with. Instead, I was the contradiction—having eyes that the more they looked, the less they saw, and a heart that hated evil but was more than glad to partake in its reincarnation. This was the moralist’s prattles against vices they had become bored of committing. This was the anti-abortion crusader’s denunciations who when his teenage daughter became pregnant, rushed her to queue in dark-lit backstreet clinics.
Not to mention the fiery clerics and those on the forefront ridiculing our misdemeanors, that they pretend to show by their exemplary lives the higher values, else if they don’t, as in my case, then that kind of hypocrisy touches our subliminal essence so passionately. We really feel it when someone who either reproved our faults or motivated us with their ideal life falls short. It’s an intimate betrayal if the marking schemes of our morality are flawed. But isn’t that commonplace? What have they committed? Can’t they denounce themselves? Of course, yes, is the implied answer.
They came short of convictions that they embraced deeply and fell with a big bang into the hole of hypocrisy, so what do they do? They usually devote the rest of their lives to penance trying to amend their idiosyncrasies. If like me they don’t, that is, somehow fashion a scheme that allows an exception or two, then they create in themselves not only professional hypocrites but also get their necks ensnared serving the god of duplicity. Before you know it, they’ll be writing books denouncing deception and making headlines in Talk Shows.
So you’d ask, Mr. Teacher of others, do you teach yourself? You denounce against gossiping, are you one? These too, are my trepidations and in simple algebra, I’ve attempted to give you the one letter or formula that sums up a long course of reasoning—that summarises our hypocritical journey to Damascus, and now Paris with my scandal matriarchs. Remember I had promised you in the last episode that I’d be there ‘for a while’. Barely had I been there ‘for a while’ than was heading back to Charles De Gaul Airport to catch my flight back to Nairobi. What happened? You may ask. More drama?
You must have read French Newspapers some three odd months ago, of how a young man was ‘duped and lost his left kidney in a drama gone sour’—I was international news for once—the only ‘other’ time I was important enough for this to happen to me. Now your eyes are almost popped up more than the Richman’s when he saw Lazarus on the other side sitting beside (and patting and riding perhaps) the camel that had narrowly made it through the eye of the needle.
Don’t be impatient as the French gendarmes to listen breathlessly to my drama—wonder and awe intermingled with a cocktail of sympathy—some sort of mild emotion like the fascination that Desdemona felt in Othello’s story! You can’t fool me with your crocodile’s tears, but here we go dear traveller—the shortcut as you’d prefer—without beating around the Damascus bushes for it has brought us nothing but tedium in the past, and I hope you can suck the poignant gloom out of this poisoned drama as a weasel sucks eggs.
In Chinese Chalk Circle, (one final digression!) there’s this mother who would have qualified in every way to be worthy of being a mother—if only she had never had children of her own! So in life people may consider us upright, honest, decent, and altruistic; and we may believe ourselves as deserving all such merits; but it is actual experience that will bring them to check. An empty cup is much easier to carry than one fully loaded with serpent’s milk.
Most people are not only born in bed but also die there—so it’s the most dangerous place to be. Many a sad face sheds a thousand tears on the pillow, and many a time a heart breaks under those feather-soft sheets. I proved that once more as I sat with Cherrie, in her bedroom, the same night I had landed in France, and she had a real lair—laden with Lebanese linen. She stood facing me, posing like a stunning model, and stark naked. Her frame was as gorgeous as a statuette; a sculptor must have moulded her.
She was strangely fascinating and I wetted my lips in spite of myself. Had the cost of staring been a litre of saliva in my mouth, I would still have stared. Her bust and shoulders, slender and blessed too with slim arms; now slung at her wire-waist, giving the impression of ‘dare for more’. I felt a burning sensation in my grey area and my groin itched impatiently as my eyes brushed slowly over her body. Her tits were shy and round as Jamaican mangoes. A tattoo bearing the face of Mona Lisa proudly grinned on her lower belly, a diamond ring stuck out at the tip on her belly button and its small chain swayed from one plump thigh to the other.
She strutted in catwalk to grace the occasion, swaying her wire waist this way and that way, showing off her juicy and flourishing dairy farm, prancing in her excellent transport facilities, shaking her tantalizing seating capacity. My eyes ravenously fed on her, dwelling upon her goodies and beauties and grace! There was no satisfying my hungry eyes, which dared incessantly to ask for more, and inspired a poem in honour of her lovely model body.
May thy love garden nurture
In me, sweet roses in nature.
A century spent just to stare
Thine eyes, caress thy hair
Fivefold to adore each breast
Two millenniums to the rest.
Ages to fondle thy every part
Eons to the beauty of thy heart.
She crossed the floor. She sat next to me. I leaned my head at a romantic angle. My lips moved towards hers. We kissed each other. How can I even describe how it felt at that moment? But say, you put a gun in my head and threaten me to describe it, or else…! So, I’ll sketch you a poor description, that then, it appeared I had spent all my life waiting for that one sweet momentous bliss of rose-coloured memento. She quivered all over and shook like a small plane during turbulence. I didn’t tremble but as soon as I closed my eyes, my inner ones opened and visualised the Grand Canyon and the Niagara Falls, the spectacular harbours of Sydney, the snowy mountains of Fujiyama, the Himalayas, the Nile in its glorious cataracts, the fiords of Norway, the geysers in Iceland, the city of the midnight sun in Tromsoe, the Twin Towers in Malay, and wonders upon wonders.
Chicken merry, hawk de near!
But before we could proceed with the lovemaking, she gave me some pills and asked me to take them, as they would relieve the stress of having travelled to Damascus for nine gruelling hours. She put it so casually and caught my numb instincts off guard. It even escaped me to be on the alert for the ever-present traps from daughters of Eve and overlooked the metallic obscurity in her eyes that should have reminded me of similar spectre in the eyes of a snake, poised and ready to sink its lethal fangs into my jugular vein in the woods of my childhood.
She was enacting the Final Scene of her Tramedy—and like all other tragic-comedy pieces; it only got worse at the interlude. Before I knew it, she had pulled back, sighed heavily and sadly begged me not to make love to her that night, as she was not in the mood. Oh, the logic of women! Not in the mood! Not tonight! Incessant headaches! Pain in the back! It all came back in a flash—this poisoned misanthropy in me—just to think about it!
That’s why it is still noble for man not to let his passions be trapped by her wiles. That’s why I could do without the whole sex. Talk of a woman? I’d rather fall for a blood-sucking vampire even though the very thought gives me diarrhoea from a stomach soft as butterflies. Women, Oh My Living God! Aren’t they creatures dripping from books of poetry and romance! Just to see one in the distance makes my thick skull splinter at her image into pieces and my third leg starts twitching with wrathful apathy.
Before my third leg could enter a mutatis mutandis plea, I had my second leg in the land of sleep and my first about to follow—sleep was creeping into my eyes and coiling itself around my brain. I can only recall in cloudy puzzlement her watchful eye gazing directly into my dozy ones with an angelic face, full of pity and cuddling warmth—such icy warmth and serpentine harmlessness flowing from her eyes and swept me down the river of lethargy to the sea of sleep.
That’s when evil became real and corporeal—with form and shape—like the evil hoot of an owl in an African village in the most ungodly hour, and that made your spine shudder at the thought that someone was about to become past tense! I felt something tangibly evil transiting vibrations of evil from her eyes, into mine, spewing forth from her lips, into my ears, penetrating into my mind, entering through my whole body, saturating my organs, piercing my heart, finally, finding lodging in the bed of my soul.
In my cocktails of dreams, visions and nightmares, I was finally down and out, having been struck by that lightening and transformed by the mysterious voice. I must confess that it was no longer a suspension of faith but the expulsion of it. I was actually in the theatre, no longer able to suspend—even ‘for a while’—my absent disbelief that this was just another play requiring a poetic faith to perform.
I was dying from the shock and bolts of that lightning, worms eating me, but not for love! Cherrie was burying me alive while I protested angrily to this mistreatment even after I was apparently dead, breaching the barricades between my real and dramatis personae, soliloquizing sometimes and throwing punch lines directly to the audience and at one point, I was frantically shouting an aside to the backstage light-mixer, ordering him to minimize the light effects. I was both the director and leading actor.
In the hag scene, the scandal matriarchs, TD, MH, BB, BF and our stage dog entered from the stage and turned the play into a theatre of the absurd. They were taking over. I reminded the audience that I was the main actor but Cherrie ridiculed my pedestrian delivery of lines like a first timer. There was laughter—a mile away—and the dog crossed the stage and started barking at the back-stage intruders who, in their mimicry, were trying to warn me to get out of the stage before it was too late. They threw stones at the dog to get away too. Two huge ones fell squarely on its ears.
The dog let out a splintering yowl and cowered—looked the type that was used to be kicked on occasion—putting its tail between the hind-quarters, vanished into the Prompter’s skirts and even she, in her trembling legs (for she looked the type that had had bad experiences with dogs) shooed the laughing hags when the offstage noise became unbearable. TD thought it was perhaps thunder or a hag had broken wind (for they were timid at the sound of thunder), but I pointed out, with guess-worked inaccuracy, that it was a backstage dying roar! That the peals of thunder were impatiently rumbling and laughing themselves silly, warning us from the skies above that we were no longer acting in a play but in reality, had roles reversed, that not only were we in an actual reproduction far from its mock-up but also a perfect live-version of it.
That was the first death, the next time I died, white worms rushed and swarmed all over me, laying their maggots in my putrid carrion, but not for love! They hatched, and two larvae emerged, fed on the remaining carcass, exhausting it. Then there were no more carrion to feed on, and the two larvae transformed into souls, sized each other. They looked so familiar. Yes, they were Cherrie’s and mine—strange we were naked and entangled in a ritual dance. She gyrated excitedly, climaxed with brazen boldness, put on a masquerade, become monstrous, grew fangs and clutched me by the neck, broke into an evil laugh—that you only hear from cringing doors in creepy movies.
Her evil soul crept into mine, like a giant worm into an orange, ate and ate my manliness, reduced and reduced my moral energies, drained and drained all values, depleting it except for the outer crust and holding puny pores of black powder within. It was so painful—the way she dug deep into my naked soul—bored and bored reluctantly, it was the most miserable way to die and I wanted to get away desperately from her tight clutch, but I couldn’t. I just lay embraced in her coiled tongue like a snake’s and enchanted by her metallic dark eyes; and eating on my soul to the very last dregs.
The third death, I was a young strapping moth flying across the sky to my star, a million light years away, and Cherrie was on my back again, tightly clasping, entangled. The more I beat my wings to shake her off, the more she wrenched me down; down and down we wafted, hitting the oceans with all my six legs and wings bound. I lay in the water, panting, drowning, exhausted and struggling to get away—now a dolphin, she, a shark, now Nile perch, she, French coast penguin, swimming for all my worth underwater. But with paralysed fins, the stronger I strove to keep abreast with my pace, the deeper I drifted down, down, until I sank to the bottom where again, she spread out her trap-shaped arms like giant octopus, rough and ready to clasp me in her tentacles—and there I was bawling like Coach Carter, she smiling silently like that lunatic. ‘Sucker! Sucker!’
I was a monitor lizard, darting for my life, she, chasing me, caught my tail, bit it, a new one grew, she invited her hags and together they feasted on my coiled twisting broken tail, like ants, and my siren-like wails never touched their sharp claws as they chewed me, I only saw her gleam and grin and yes, Mona Lisa smile!
I hate you Mona! I hate you Lizard! I hate you hag!
Yes, she is still sitting and smiling, stealing a saintless secrecy in her Mona Lisa stealth—hushed and apathetic in her aloofness. Indifferent when it’s your birthdays, unconcerned during your anniversaries, neither stirred by your happiness, nor compassionate whether your new baby dies or lives, whether you fall in love, or out of love. Smiling yet helpless to hate or to love; as calm as a cat by a rat hole—a predator who knows her dinner is in there, yet can’t savour it just yet, but she can while away her time ‘for a while’ in wait—what freak! What coldness!
She still sits silently in her sullen parisien masterpiece, smiling after the triumphs of her ‘pretty traps’, spreading about her ‘rat traps’, knowing only too well that ‘in a while’, you’d poke out of your curiosity hole. Sometimes you take too long in there, no problem; she can read Status Updates to scheme best how her friends would swallow the baits of her traps faster. She could peruse through Newsfeed to curse why disaster isn’t befalling someone she’s eyeing, or she could feed on the morsels of Notifications to see if someone has finally become single or engaged with another ‘pretty trap. Or, make herself useful with fellow scandal matriarchs in non-stop Babels of chatters and bouts of verbal diarrhoeas. Perhaps she is timeless, after all, and doesn’t get tired sitting and smiling—like in her masterpiece—conniving and sniffing out her next billy goats and weighing out her chances of reward like a fireman in a blazing house full of treasure.
I finally woke up after what seemed to me to be a whole week’s sleep—the nightmares, the visions and dreams came flooding back vaguely but still realised that I was in great tribulation. I pinched myself after staring around and seeing, but not believing, that I was in completely new environment—hospital. I also felt a dull pain and strange sensation. It was so unbelievably true just lying there like a man who dreamt quickly for fear of waking up.
As I lay, my ears picked a resigned melancholy from a song of a bird only familiar with the memories from my childhood, and there was no way it could have found its way to Paris. I picked myself up and sat to listen to its urgent plea. My grandmother had told me the bird was a goodwill messenger looking for Kibeles, a blacksmith working in a far, far away land, for his wife whom he had left months ago heavy with child, had given birth to a bouncing baby boy, but were now being nursed and fattened by a man-eating mean ogre. He had to leave his pursuits and hurry back home:
‘Oiyee chakte chichi,
Mi chemosit kapchi!’
I had to hurry up! I never left any wife back home, but the pregnant connotation was clear as day from that messenger of wet news, and started shaking with gigantic goosebumps like a squirrel in the talons of a falcon. I sweat, despite the cold weather, like a grasshopper in the hands of John the Baptist. Did it matter the nature of weather for the unfortunate grasshopper? Its fate was in the jaws of the Baptist!
So was mine. Nothing was setting right that morning nor made sense anymore. The thermostat in the AC seemed regulated by a baboon—it was out of control! Once the room was freezing, then suddenly it soared and soaked me in extreme heat. Or was it a monkey operating my hypothalamus? And I fell back to my useless maxims—now lame—like an F1 driver who just discovered that his spare wheel was also flat and his tongue hang dangling limp like elephant’s proboscis.
I reflected the vicissitudes of my recent life in vague clarity. The latest endless circles of triumphs, escapades, joys before reality had pounded me and reduced me to ashy powder and then destiny reassembled me again and pounded me the other way, then minced and mashed me, ground me up, and put me back together and the mortar-and-pestle monkey business started all over again. Whatever dreams I aspired to were turned into round squares by the icy winds of fate. Cool was sub-zero freezing points. Warm meant getting scolded sitting inside a microwave. There was no mean balance!
I gathered the little energy left in me and staggered to the spacious patio. A pigeon, ochre-red in head and silvery wings, sniffed out a frail-looking female frantically, exactly the way a rapist would do its victim, she was unwilling, so she fluttered away, but was hotly pursued, in between the branches of the lone tree standing in the compound. She scurried through the bushy groves as her life depended on it. Stubborn as a he-goat on heat, he assumed a different strategy, strutting the plumage around his neck and cuddled his wings, flew up a telephone post to enact a chorus of endless cooing, no doubt to attract his reluctant mate, to come out from her hideout, and admire his handsome eminence, then get raped into the bargain!
One gendarme nodded at these inducements dramatised by the male pigeon—as if to acclaim him. The other threw me a knowing smile warm enough to melt the snow of Mount Kilimanjaro, and then glanced at his watch and informed me politely that it was time—my flight was due in an hour. I swayed back into my room, and as I dragged myself slowly, it occurred to me that I should leave my belligerence and masculine pride to the family of pigeons, for the etait d’affairs of the pigeons were beyond doubt justified. With the soaring swiftness of her woman, he required all the aggression he could gather for his Dr. Jerkyl and Hyde existence—otherwise he could never be a proud father.
Being the guest of the state, I was escorted to the waiting embassy limousine that proceeded to make haste to the airport, slower than the speed of brother tortoise, as if affirming, that, although he hurried at a snail’s pace; he carried his destiny on his head. I shouldn’t have travelled at light’s speed on the ‘Road to Damascus. My grandfather was wiser: ‘Hurry, hurry, get there tomorrow; make haste slowly, get there today!’
I thought too of Nairobi, where it all had started, and felt bitter that, I was going back there, minus a piece of me. I was in for another revenge strategy—I was reverting to my favourite maxim: ‘Reculer pour sauter ‘, to go back in order to jump forward.
‘Next time I can help you mount her.’ The chauffeur casually offered. What cheek! My eyes blinked rapidly like disco lights, I wasn’t entertaining any kind of insolence after what I undergone.
‘M’excuses vous!’ I could barely conceal my bitterness.
‘Such beauty, it’s a pity you never mounted her, no?’ He pointed his middle finger at the towering Eiffel Tower.
‘You mean climb the Tower, right?’ I corrected, relieved by the confusion caused by his poor vocabulary.
‘Oui, la masterpiece de Paris. She’s gorgeous, no?’
I sighed heavily and steadied my rising anxiety. Indeed, a perfect metaphor for the French, I mused. With a reputation of infamous machismo, what erection would appear more superior to camouflage an impotent bigotry and shortcomings, than the staggering phallus?
Nothing under the sun, made sense anymore, moral values, once upon a time embraced tightly, revered with monumental dignity—a phantom Eiffel Tower erected on platonic pillars of integrity, truth, justice, decency, all fastened together and consistent with one other, amicably plastered by goodwill to keep the edifice standing up; a moral marking scheme against which we appraised our ethical performance. We had long ago trampled that tower—we blew it big time, like Babel—and now abandoned, lay wasted in lonely ruins, can’t be mounted even by any self-respecting rascal. A defiled ghostly tower, now a theatre where tragedy and comedy, death and life, decay and growth, green grass and stubble, conservation and pollution, corruption and purification, jostled together—one often prodding the other—and hypocrisy played hide-and-seek with truth!
What a botheration upon all humankind! Sad but true.
When the gendarme’s car pulled up at the airport, my heart fell heavily to the floor of the backseat. A battery of journalists and TV crew swarmed all over the place, craning their necks to scoop more perspectives for their editors about my ‘Kidney Kidnap’ ordeal. I didn’t have to go through all the protocols and rituals of checking in—thanks to their threatening presence—but still noticed, through my side-mirror glances, that strangers stole stares at me whenever they thought I wasn’t looking, while those who didn’t pretend just openly offered me that knowing look a mother throws her daughter when she holds back some secret. My looks didn’t help either—gave me away—like those of an actor, taking the part of a Roman Centurion, but spotting Gucci sunglasses and wearing a Rolex watch, in a second century scene.
So I was whisked straight away into the VIP lounge, where a dozen VIP tongues who were incessantly wagging themselves silly, as they waited impatiently to board the Nairobi non-stop Air France flight, but still could find time to take turns staring—curiously and with a twinge of sympathy—at the ‘young man who lost his kidney under mysterious circumstance’. The staring was getting into me by the minute, and I wished they could be charged—those accusing eyes—as well, for nonsensical sabotage such as picking your nose in public, staring at its brown contents, and stealing a glance around you to make sure no one was staring back and it was safe to put the slime into your mouth. But BANG! BANG! Before you closed your mouth, I stared back shamelessly; looking intently at all those open mouths, searching as if they had plotted with Cherrie, and beware, a man whose kidney was missing would rummage around for it everywhere, even between your teeth!
I found no kidney though; instead, those stinking mouths went into a ritualistic Babel of hollow blubber. Having trouble with my ears because of my condition, I was strained beyond measure, by the swelling buzz of humdrum dialogues into an audio anguish, which only my eyes could helplessly meander from one excited pair of mechanical jaw to the next. Despite being as deaf as dumb, I still feigned interest with my plastic Mona Lisa smile, but felt a growing twitch to blast their mouths. No wonder God quashed that noisiest project of all time, and brought the towering Babel tumbling down when they were just a stone throw away from heaven’s gates. Perhaps they roused up Peter, who still ‘deny’ his stupor instead of standing guard at the gate, or perhaps their incessant drones bothered the peace of the meditating angels—but down and down, they were brought. And immediately they were down, you can imagine your sick ears at the mercy of those Babblers when you try to calm them down or stop their verbal diarrhoea and brouhaha!
You’d no wonder summon enough audacity to bluster each pair of mechanical jaw and set of teeth, admonish it: ‘I know what to do with your big mouth! Brush it with Colgate and shut up!’ and for your audacious gesture, you may perhaps succeed, with genial gratification, to witness, one empty-headed fool followed by the next, clamp their trap for a few pregnant seconds in utter disorientation, before those hydraulic jaws would next inquire in Greek: ‘What has happened to our Babel Project Fame?’ And you bet the answer in ancient Sanskrit: ‘The plane I booked on Monday, was delayed for Tuesday,’ or ‘the ticket I bought last Thursday, I’m returning today.’ or worse, ‘on Friday, I got exactly the booking agent that I wanted, but when I was booked yesterday’s flight, he got me in the wrong destination. I have lost my luggage, and now I’m praying to high heaven that the agent has booked me in the correct flight, and about my luggage, I don’t’ know what to do with him!’
Just be courageous enough and speak up your mind. ‘I know what to do with your filthy mouth; brush it inside out with Colgate and shut up!’ Make sure you hear that wheeze from them. Stare at them to be sure that they recognize you mean to be impolite. And as they turn and walk away from you, so bruised in spirit that they limp, let that elated sensation shroud you. Bores and fools! Don’t make the mistake of listening to them all with equal attention. In life, be courageous to call spade a spade.
That’s what I was just about to do and to be.
But the announcement on the tannoy interrupted my ‘to be or not to be’ Hamlet thoughts, occupying my separate minds. The two gendarmes rose, escorted me to my plane and reassured me that ‘no stone would be left unturned to bring the perpetrators of the grievous injustice that had visited me,’ and then bid me a bon voyage back to Nigeria (even when it was clear that I was going to Nairobi). I once again excused their slippery tongues since it was in line with their ‘misunderstandings’ of geography, perhaps supposing that Nigeria was Nairobi’s capital or even neighbour.
Inside the first-class compartment, my hopes for justice lay drowned in the French’s judicial system. My heart sank, as they say, into the soles of my boots. Tears, redundant tears, oozed from the bottom of my soul; tears flowing from the depth of some divine despair, trickled from the heart, and paraded in my eyes. It was just sad reminiscing my happy-go-lucky days, and relishing on memories that were no more. It still pained too, my left side of tummy, where my kidney had been surgically removed, but the pain was most bitter in my mind just at the thought. They had been very professional for I only felt a little physical discomfort.
I was already plotting for my sweet revenge, not just for the emotional attachment I had for the loss, but to bring these organ harvesters to poetic justice. It was nothing less than tooth for tooth and eye for an eye. I waxed indignant scheming—without being found out—how to injure them. This is where it helped to subscribe faithfully to old Mosaic Laws of Righting Wrongs and Avenge, that is, full redress of the violation, especially by physical approach, which Moses venerated as the nobler, and was dialectical to the monkish doctrines, that when you are smitten on one cheek, to turn the other also.
This would not crush the cheek, but give confidence to the criminal. No wonder it was practiced by spineless cowards and advocated only by charlatans, or men who aspired to subjugate others into slavery by dispossessing them of the power of self-defence. A wrong was unredressed when the consequences overtook the redresser, or if he failed to make himself felt. I wasn’t making a scarecrow of this law, setting it up to scare the garden birds, but still allowing them to get used to it by habit until they turned it into their roost and no longer something to frighten them.
I whispered a weepy prayer, with tears rinsing my sanctified begging in my eyes to make petitions lucid as day. I didn’t pray to God to forgive them of their sins, but to smite them for iniquities. I entreated and implored God until I felt he was lodged in my mouth, and proceeded to chew His name, a name I no longer believed in, except when I was ailing, terrified or in the plane. There and then, I was all—in the dark skies, scared and convalescing!
I didn’t have appetite for the ritualistic finger-licking dinner and inflated drinks served on the newly-launched A380 Airbus. I picked up my fork and jabbed the meat with the knife; chopped off a piece of the beef, half-drowning miserably in a mourning sea of soggy sauce, put the beef in my mouth, chewed it and, with massive exertion, forced myself to ingest. It tasted nothing. What a waste of French’s culinary talents. In fact, it choked my throat and I felt that sickening sensation to vomit. It was so satirical like the last dinner of the damned where lamb chops or chicken tikka moustikka—whatever the condemned man desires—is lavishly dished out in his cellblock as a mockingly merciless memento of what the immense little-fleeting world has to extend. Man shall eat from the sweat of his brow; otherwise, the bread became tasteless.
So I took to drinking, taking sips directly from the bottle, to the consternation of the flight attendants. I found my rudeness justified for there was no difference, drinking from the glass or the bottle; it was all the same if only you got drunk. A marvellous mood encircled me, as if light were being shone on me, besides the awareness of how many years had passed since I had enjoyed being uncouth on purpose accelerated my drunken stupor. I just felt I had to be deliberately impolite and indifferent as the lonely cold skies below. It felt better and lessened my pain and bitterness. Drinking to forget was the delicate art of mixing tears with sugar—sad but sweet. And the tears called for were warm tears, never bitter. There was always sugar at the bottom of the cup. There was always elation at the bottom of the bottle. I was consoling myself instead of poisoning the first-class atmosphere with useless sighs and groans.
I think I got drunk, for I finally lay still in bliss, shut my two eyes, opened the other three, and let the fluttering flood of realities wash over me. I sprawled back contentedly, in conquered comfort, gulped more sips and plunged deeply into oblivion. In my trance, penitence, compaction, guilt, sorrow, dishonour all paraded around my luxurious armchair. TV cameras hounded, chased, and followed me everywhere I escaped. The international press, whirring, clicking, paparazzi, pursuing me, even when the plane’s doors and windows had been tightly closed, I sensed my solitude uncovered by those peering phantom thousand eyes. I pulled a heavy curtain across my private self, but still felt ghost eyes piercing, penetrating, every wall and undressing me, stark naked, stripped, uncovered of body and soul. Perhaps, I dreamt, the Maasai were right, after all. Who knows if the camera captured and took away your soul?
The bitter end
Oops! That was the end of this story, but not my story. What transpires when I land at JKIA, to meet Mojo, Skylark and my cousin, waiting for the bride I had gone to fetch? The police and immigration officials waiting for me to record a statement? The paparazzi and the press and how I evaded all of them and boarded an ambulance straight to hospital where I am still recuperating and plotting my sweet revenge?
Well, I leave all that drama to your imagination. I must disappoint you because my story shall be continued in your mind…in your mind…in your mind….!!
The true end
© Gideon Chumo 2010
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