Monday, May 04, 2015

My Kenyan Metanoia

I had that dream again, the same dream I've been having for three months now. I used to be blissfully ignorant of such things, discarding them as errant whispers from a universe desperately trying to stay relevant in my life. I was the captain of this ship, the master of my own domain, the stirrer of my own pot of uji mix. I had full control of my life, or so I had convinced myself countless times before jumping gleefully over the precipice of drunkenness (in Tusker you never dream). How had it come to this?

In the dream, I'm at my own party, old friends and new cousins all around, toasting and waiting for the guest of honor to arrive. The legend/infamy had grown, whispered and mauled with an inextricable mixture of lies, innuendo and promise into a caricature completely unrecognizable to me. What or who did they think I had become? I can see the seat reserved for me in the middle of the dais, and from the second I see it, a crooked voice in my head tells me that I will never sit in it. And as I walk past each table, I catch snatches of conversation. I heard he was deported. Did you hear? I heard he abandoned his wife and kids in the US. I heard he came to get married, I can't wait to see who it is. I heard he refused to go to school and that he spends all his money on booze. Do you think he'll take after his father? I heard he wants to get into politics.  

The conversations rise from murmurs to a deafening roar and I can no longer make out what anyone is saying. Still there on the dais is my seat, my small throne, one I had apparently abandoned to sow my wild oats if the stories were to be believed. I climb onto the stage, invisible to anyone but myself. Each step carefully placed after the last, inching closer to my destiny. I had been told this is where I belonged the whole time, just wait and see, they saged, fate is not to be defied. This chair that would fulfill all I was to be, to myself and others. 

One chair. 

One man. 

One fate.

But as I move closer I see the truth, glaring and permanent, the dais is a painting and only the man holding the paint brush (and I now) know it. It is a masterpiece, really. The detail, the colors vivid and alive. If I hadn't approached it, I would have forever believed it to be real. I begin to understand what the crooked voice had said, that I would never sit on that throne, not unless I painted an illusion of myself on it.

But as I start to turn away in disappointment, someone grabs my arm and whispers in my ear, "Boss, behind the painting, a far grander chair awaits!". Before I face the owner of the voice, it blends back into crowd, fading as if a mirage swept away by a cold wind. I stand there bewildered at my newly found knowledge. Could it really be? Is this some kind of test and the painting an illusion of an illusion? Am I to believe an invisible voice telling me about my lying eyes? This is all too much, I need a moment to take it all in but I know I have no time. There's really only one way to know for sure what is true. I reach out and touch the painting which starts to fall...

I sit up in my bed, canopied by the mosquito net and drenched in sweat. A couple of mosquitoes urgently, dizzily fly away from me, their meal interrupted. I have been in Kenya sleeping in this same bed for months now, still have no idea how the mosquitoes get past the net each night, but believe me they do. It's like a recurring episode of Mission Impossible only the mosquitoes are the heroes, and I their mission if they chose to accept it. I quickly go over what I remember from the dream this time. Each dream, though basically the same, is like a movie shot from a different angle, the protagonists remain, but I catch some different background detail each time. 

The weight of expectation, when unnoticed can be unbelievably light, but once fully aware can crush you. Is there truly such a thing as being true to oneself? Or is it merely choosing a list of things you want to keep doing, and calling them you? If all we are we've learnt, then all we do we can change, unless, of course, we were born into a certain character. I don't know if I can change or even if I want to change whom I have become. One thing has become clearer to me, life will eventually come down not to good vs evil, but to self vs responsibility. Somewhere out there, is the right choice waiting to be made.

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