Tuesday, February 09, 2010
I am writing today because my body is sort of forcing me into it. I have this sinking feeling that refuses to go away, and I think writing – punching the keypad hard – would at least partially take away that feeling. I have also been scared that if I continue like this, not writing at all, my readers will permanently disconnect from me.
It’s not that I have had nothing to say to you or share with you through these weeks. But it’s just that I didn’t know whether my words would be of any importance to you; whether they had the power any longer to inspire you, titillate you, or make you close your eyes and throw your head backwards for a short while. I was not sure. But I should have written anyway. I didn’t, and on that account I am guilty.
Last night it rained in my part of the city. I was caught in it, wholly drenched in it, and through the slush it created on the roads, I moved about, with no particular aim. Actually, I had to run an errand, and after I was done with it, I simply walked to a market complex I used to frequent fourteen years ago when I landed in this city. In ways I’ve changed, the market has changed as well. We have both aged gracefully, I suppose. I went to a bar, and the old waiter recognised me. I ordered some rum, and watched the rain wash over the window panes.
Outside, young boys and girls drank coffee from Styrofoam cups and held hands. Sometimes, they locked lips as well. I watched them from the window of the bar, with a feeling which I thought was a mixture of nostalgia and envy. Neon billboards flickered, displaying discounts on jeans, shoes and Zippo lighters.
In some time I was out. A cab I had called to take me home had been delayed by more than an hour due to traffic jams caused by the sudden downpour. I waited outside for a while, watching two shop attendants planning to fill coke bottles with rum and sipping it on their way home. A team of police swooped upon a gang of Nigerian drug peddlers, pinning them down on the slushy ground, and then pushing them into waiting cars. My cab arrived and I was on my way home thinking about one of the peddlers, a thin boy who moaned in pain caused by a policeman’s foot over his belly.
Five days ago I turned thirty-four. Just before that, I made a journey. I think it is sometimes important to undertake journeys – journeys which may not be necessary at all. So you make up your mind, and still, you are not sure about it at all. That is a situation best avoided, more so when journeys which are not necessary at all need to be done. Once the tickets are done, and you take print-outs, the fate is more or less sealed. Still the doubts may lurk but they don’t come in the foreground.
You tell your friends about the journey. By now, probably, you are excited about what the journey may behold for you. A part of your excitement rubs off your friends. They egg you on – offering advice, forgetting the fact that the place you’re visiting is not new to you. Nevertheless, they offer you tips about best hotels, cheap modes of journey, best taverns and eateries. Then their own nostalgia raises head. They have memories attached to certain places you may have been thinking of visiting.
“I used to live just two blocks away.”
“Remember that café, I used to date her.”
They talk mist-eyed about their former beloveds – beloveds now married to somebody else, sharing the photos of their tenth marriage anniversary on the Facebook.
You listen to them in the beginning, and then your own memories lay siege. Then you only pretend to listen. Inwards, you are lost in your own thoughts. Scenes of your own life flash in front of you – of places you had lived in, and cafes you had frequented.
When that happens, you know you will make that journey.