People everywhere. Scattered like dry leaves on the ground during the dry season. Different ages, different genders going about their daily lives. An old lady walking slowly with an expensive purse tightly clenched between her armpits, looking around the goods neatly displayed on the sides of the pathways. Just an ordinary human being about her business. Or so she seems. In her mind, tons and tons of thoughts are hovering up, down; basically all over. With the decades she has graced this world, her levels of stress, anxiety, failures and mishaps are exceptional. She has seen it all. One might think by her expensive dressing, she is enjoying what life has to offer. Little do they know that she is wondering how life for her family will be in the next two years. Her mind can’t accept the fact that she will be no more in this world after recently being diagnosed with some type of cancer. No one knows: no one sees it but her. It is something that is locked deep down in the cave of her heart. She proceeds to a piece of scarf that catches her eye, takes it and gives it a closer look. She tries it around her neck: it fits perfectly and she smiles as she hands the hawker the cash. She places it in her purse and slowly walks away and disappears into the crowd. Meanwhile, a young man, probably my age mate, quickly walks past the same spot where the old woman purchased her scarf. Huge dreadlocks dangling on the head, ripped jeans, a Jamaican t-shirt and some pair of sneakers makes him look like an accomplished reggae artist. The way he bounces on the pathway like the whole world is his. Everyone compliments his sense of style. He smiles and keeps walking. Little do they know that deep down, behind that smile, lies another self: full of hopelessness and uncertainty of life. His big dreams of becoming an artist have been overshadowed by poverty back at home. Fake it till you make it they say. His mind wonders on where he could obtain some cash to at least land him into the studio. He smiles and winks as a pretty, well-dressed lady passes him, making the lady blush with shyness as she looks down. As she passes him, he turns back towards her direction. He slowly walks a few meters behind her, his right hand now tightly clenching a rusty, blunt dagger, ready to pounce on her unsuspecting prey…
Hello there… How are you?
Are you doing fine?
There you are. Somewhere along a busy pathway skillfully maneuvering your way through the oncoming and outgoing fleet of fellow human beings quickly crisscrossing you from front and back, while others bumping you without even looking back. And yet they say no hurry in Africa. Pure plain lies. Pure…plain…lies. The level of hurriedness existing in this beautiful continent of ours is quite enough to propel ourselves from third world to first world people. But somewhere in between we went wrong. Really wrong. I have no clue whatsoever so let’s just leave it at that.
So, as I was saying, you are busy walking along the pedestrian walkway in the middle of some overcrowded city, with your mind totally focused on your destination. You glance at your watch (your phone of course), knowing very well some strategically located muggers might have spotted you showcasing your piece of electronic to the masses. As quickly as you look at the time, you return it back into your pocket and proceed with your journey. Then out of nowhere, you feel a tight grip holding one of your arms. Stories of violent muggings have been scattered all over the media and immediately your mind locks into a conclusion that something not-so-interesting will be happening in that moment. You stop walking, put up the most serious of faces you have hidden behind that calm smile of yours, make a scary looking grin which makes your face look like someone who has just been released from prison after being unlawfully imprisoned and is eager to find the person behind his misfortunes. You quickly turn back with a venomous snake’s eyes ready to confront whoever is distracting you from heading to your destination. On turning back, instead of seeing some shaggy guy with some syringe filled with God-knows-what pointing at your stomach, you see him. You become surprised.
Three years down the line, you finally see that long lost friend of yours. Each one has his own destiny they say. Same earth, different paths. You exchange greetings, ask each other those questions at the begin of this masterpiece. Those few-lettered questions. Simple they may seem.
“I’m doing very well, and you?”
That is the answer everyone replies with.
You ask each other how you’ve been all this time. You all give each other the cliché’ response. You briefly narrate to each other how your lives have been in the last couple of years. You tell him how you currently work at a major firm somewhere in the city and your pay is one to make anyone look down upon himself. He in turn tells you how he is planning to fly to the United Arab Emirates since some suitable job opportunity has opened its wide doors for you. You all feel a sense of accomplishment with each other.
“We made it bro.”
You made it in this life. This crazy life. You two are a sense of hope and future for the masses. At least that’s how you view yourselves at that time. Two successful gentlemen who unknowingly meet up along the way.
Five minutes pass after the short narrations of each other’s stories and you bid each other goodbye. You proceed walking towards your destination while your friend walks the opposite direction towards his destination. Your mind is filled with questions. Endless unanswerable questions. What did you do wrong in this world? You have played your cards pretty well your whole life yet there are no visible outcomes to showcase your hard work. The guilt and burden of lying to your friend sets upon you. Faking your story to seek validation now seems to have been a huge mistake. Maybe I could have told him how jobless I was and how I’m struggling to settle the endless list of bills parading in front of my life. If only…maybe he could have offered me a solution…or maybe he could have just laughed at me and narrated to his colleagues how f#$@d up I was. Who knows? The destination you were busy heading to was a job interview you luckily came across as you were scrolling the Facebook page. Deep down you know your chances are almost nil of getting that job. You have no idea what or where to go to next after that.
Your long lost friend, whom you paved goodbye as he proceeded to his destination, confidently walks on the alleys, a display of one successful person. In his mind is an endless spiraling web of wild thoughts. He looks at his watch and realizes time is up. He must reach to that corner as soon as possible lest he faints in the middle of the road and begins convulsing like a person with epilepsy. He is in deep regrets. Regrets to the one who introduced him to the use of cocaine. His life has been miserable despite the confident gait he portrays in the streets. It had been 23 hours since his last dose and in one hour’s time he must inject himself the drug or he literally seizes to function as a normal human being. Deep down he knows he needs help but lacks the courage to seek it, since he risks becoming a laughing stock. He rushes to the only place where the drug is available at a cheap cost, somewhere in the dark, dirty paths of the city. The salary he gets, almost two-thirds goes to the drugs. United Arab Emirates. What a blunt lie! He is d not leaving this country any time soon. Just a chocolate topping underneath the burnt piece of cake. He places his hands in his pocket and feels the 5000 shillings in his pocket. All of which will be used to purchase the drug. The only money he has left. After which only God knows what he will do next.
As he is walking, a young pretty lady passes next to him as though he was standing. She seems to be in a hurry, he tells himself. He gazes at her as she crosses the road quickly and enters a supermarket. He goes on walking, only to feel a tight grip on his side. Looking behind, he sees a dreadlocked man wielding a blunt knife which he tightly presses on his side. The dreadlocked man looks at him with fiery eyes as he occasionally glances at the route in which the young lass used to head into the supermarket. He looks at the old rusty knife with blood stains, looks back at the dreadlocked man, imagines the only money he has in his pocket and instantly knows things have gone from zero to a hundred real quick.