Today is on a Monday, a busy day for people with dreams to chase and money to make. To me, it is just a usual day, not different to a Thursday or a Saturday. It has been the same for close to three years now and as we slowly draw closer to the end of the year, I find myself in a period of self-reflection and evaluation of choices I have made so far. Outside, young women and men the same age as me rush up and down to find their calling. Young men and women who will once be referred to as fathers and mothers by future generations. I have found myself constantly inspired by their energy and ravenous hope for the future. Despite the prevailing economic and social difficulties I have tried to remain optimistic and objective. It is hard not to in the face of such beauty of life. I have constantly reminded myself the needless purpose of self-pity and sadness and the magnificence that could be born from chaos and destruction.
I have remembered an ancient story by my grandfather of a man lost in the green savannah grasslands of Africa in the 19th Century. A man trying to find his way back to his wife and kids. Then in his search for directions, the man encounters a lion, that springs up from nowhere and stands defiantly before him ready to attack. In dismay, the man has recalled an article in the Nation Newspaper of the murderous man-eaters of Tsavo. The man with all determination to survive and get back home to his loved ones takes a moment to examine his options. There was no tree, no cave, no bush or rock that could have come in handy in the situation. The man stares directly in the eye of death and came to terms with the impossibility before him. At this point, we would look up to grandfather to tell us how the man survives the ordeal but he would end the story abruptly saying that the man went back home and his family and they were very happy to see him. We would demand an explanation on how he got away from the lion and grandfather would casually shrug, He found a tree, climbed it and waited for the lion to go away. You said there was no tree, no cave, n0 bush or rock, we would reply impatiently. And grandfather would easily make the lesson of the story that there is always a tree. Given the right motivation, there is always a way to get what you want or get something done.
I have tried to find my tree and each time, I have got lost in the long grass of the savanna grasslands, I have come out empty. There is no tree. All my life, I have heeded to grandfather’s teaching and chased better grades, good schools, CAT deadlines, examination revisions, promotions and jobs. I spent almost every day in the classroom and in an office believing that education and hard work was the absolute certainty of success. A conviction I have carried to this day but no longer.
I have shut my eyes in prayer in the dead of night when the dogs howled at the moon and the darkness hid my fears. A prayer without a destination and to no one in particular. Somehow, I have found myself hoping that someone hears this prayer. Hope is tiresome, hope is the constant action of expecting something that never comes. It wears you out, feasts on your sanity little by little until it gets uncomfortable to stay inside your own head.
Then I have listened to people, older than me. People who have been swift to tell of their demons buried in their past. Stories that in more instances that one, begin, “I have suffered, I have experienced life at its worst”. And when they think that what comes next about how they made it is the most important part, mine has been that singular impression of frustration. That part they quickly rush over like it is not important. When life was difficult and nothing made sense. When the body was weary of waiting and anticipating.
While grandfather was a wise man who saw more in a glance than most men see in a lifetime, he failed to observe that in some people’s lives, there is no lion and there is no tree. To some people, it is just continuous barren wildness. I will have to bring that up the next time I see him and I have a good feeling that it will be soon. He held value in the mystery of life, saying that sometimes down is up, sometimes up is down and sometimes while you are lost, you are found. I have added a line that sometimes when you are lost, you are just lost. Three years have shown me nothing else but strife, dismay, pain, coldness and devastation and therefore today, I will make my own lion and let it devour me. I have decided to write my last log and sign off before I sleep and never wake up again. No tree, No rock, No lion, I have just given up.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.