“Yo! Whatcha doing ’round here?” The stranger is asking
“What? Oh, you mean my moving around? I’m just trying to avoid the smoke, it feels like it’s teasing me…or is it? I mean…”
“Psh… Nigga, you set the fire?”
Some reptile, I suppose, is climbing the rough bark of a tree to my back; some keratin fingers breaking the plant’s back. Wood. Fire.
“No, it is not me—the fire. The person can see, I think, maybe the retreat director; he left a heap of corn there, he must have been roasting them.”
I can hear the stranger ruffling leaves on the ground. Oh, he is finding where the corns are. “You are blind? Too? You came for the retreat too?” Why am I saying ‘too’ too many times? Damn it. No response. First silence we shared.
I see he came through here looking for silence like I did. I can hear him get up, the stranger. I hear him peeling an ear of corn. “Wait, we don’t know who has that. Do you know how to roast corn? You are blind too? Right? This is fire.” As if he doesn’t know.
A short-lived silence passes with some seconds washing away with it. I quickly brush off the insect climbing my hand.
“Psh, Fuck that. There is fire and there is fresh corn, come on, bruv. I cannot not get some corn in me, homes. Chief, chief, see,I’m sure any nigga that sees two niggas, blind, tryna eat some corn to quench a-hunger,” he scoffs, “nigga would roast some more corn for we. Ain’t no nigga turn a blind nigga away.”
The fire’s heat is eating into my right leg; I shift on the log I am sitting on. I should have worn trousers. How does this guy even talk? American?
I hear him put the corn close to the fire; the flames must have died out, all that would remain would be the red spirit that possesses the hot charcoal.
“I once saw a blind dog, it fares fine. One year like that–“ Whois shouting over at the campground?
Anyway, now is silent. “What was I saying? You know I used to see. Blindness is lived in faith. A lion can be lurking around,”that is what I say.
He replies, “nigga… Fuck that shit. I ain’t going to be like that. Nigga that be like that never live their lives; their lives be a shitload of deaths. Bro, bro, you see reality we is inside, an illusion, bruv, that we theorize about based on their manifestations. Manifestations, bro. None of the shit is real.Wha, nigga I was not blind until I was nineteen–whatcha talking about? There ain’t nothing better that can happen to a nigga. Whatchu talking, bro, you bugging mehn.”
“No, no, I mean–okay, you want to tell me you don’t miss when you used to have sight? When you could see? All the things you could do?”
“Listen, son. Why the motherfracking hell I be sad? Because I lost one way to see the damn world? Fuck that. Brah, when I got four more illusions? Hell, when I was not blind, I was too consumed with the world, you know, and its fucking glamour that I fucking lose myself.” He takes a deep breath as if the remembrance of this drains as much of his joy as his strength. There is another silence; a bird is kissing it now to death.
I guess the problem with me is that I like control. And I’m unable to accept the surrender to fate that sometimes brings happiness. Amor fati—loving one’s fate. I want happiness but sometimes I want it in sadness. Does that even make sense? I am a slave to habits.
A silence begins…
“Godday, who are you talking to?” I didn’t hear him coming, Mr Gbenga, the retreat director; with his chicken voice that is like Aunty Priscilla’s. I heard what he said, but I don’t understand.
“With Sam here, of course.”
“Sam? Nobody is here. Who is Sam?”
I stretch my hands to touch him, he is not here. I pat the back of this log to the edge. He was sitting here just now. Right here. I touched him… He kissed me. Where did he go? Mr Gbenga must have seen him leaving, I was just speaking with him, I touched him.
“Sam! You don’t know Sam? You must have seen him. One of us camping here. I met him in…some hours ago.”
“I have nobody called Sam here, this year or any year before this. I didn’t see anybody leave as I was coming.”
“Sam!” He should hear me.
“Somebody loss again?” That is Jolly’s voice.
“Jolly, nobody is lost. Go back to…anywhere.”
“Jolly! Jolly, didn’t you see Sam just now when we were all talking here?”
“Oga, this guy, something no correct for ‘im head o. Na so he go just dey talk to ‘imself. He be wan even dey insult the owner of the orchard. It be like say Sam nah ‘im spiritual wife.”
“Jolly, oya dey go. This your mouth is too much.” He whispers at the end of the statement as he does when he is jolly and narrating something during some of the sections. He is enjoying this. He knows about it, my sister must have mentioned something.
“Godday, don’t worry, it happens, you are a bit stressed. Your sister told me today’s your father’s birthday. We should be celebrating.“
“Not again, not again. Director, tell me, must I distant myself to be able to love myself? What is this hate?”
They must think I am mad. I am.
Some breeze finishes hugging me on my back.
“If you were so perfect, how come you have come for this pathetic retreat that should have been called a camp for losers?”I put it out there.
We hear the cracking of roasting corn. I hear him move closer to the fire.
“Your voice,” something changed in his own voice, “there is some sorta texture of tenor in them voice that make a nigga wantto listen to your ass tell a story. Straight up.”
“Oh! Okay. Thank you.” I guess. Why was that so awkward?
We know it should be morning. We can feel the raw sun unfurling her lights and making skins fall in love with her warmth.
I have always imagined I miraculously gained back my sight at sunrise. In my dreams I still see. Awake, every sun ray on my skin has always carried more than I can have, and it has made them even more precious. Maybe the sunlight is now blue, I don’t know, I seem to remember to forget.
“Where do you live? You work here in the camp?” I ask the man in front of us—I and the stranger that speaks americanah English.
“Yes. I-I dey st-stay d-own the the stream. He let me, he let me s-stay here, my master,” the man responds.
“Your master, you say? Nigga… Did he ask you to call him that?” the stranger asks the man. I don’t even know his name, the stranger. I can’t believe we roasted and ate that corn.
I tap him on his lap, “I don’t know your name.”
“Jolly,“ the man in front of us says.
“Not you, I meant him.”
“Call me Sam.” I hear him turn to Jolly sitting opposite us, behind the now-dead fire. “But my nigga, this your master, does he pay you to work here?” Sam says to the man that set the fire and owns the corns; it turned out it was not the retreat director. It was Jolly here, the security man.
“Well?” I refuse to let the issue die.
“Well what?”Jolly asks.
“Do you get paid? How much? Yes, you live in this forest but how do you afford what to eat?”
“I l dey feel say yoou dey j-udge me. Who-who youu think-say you-be? You no well for head? You, th-think say you better pass me?“ He gets up. “You still yonyon-young, pray–pray life no frustrate you, pray say you no strug-gle stru-or-ggle many–many times, but life come sc-scatter everything–everything make you don build, again and again. Pray. If not, you go tire; my papa do do, he not fit, I ga-to in-hel-hel-herit all the un-unfulfilled dreams of my pa–pa. Thank God I no get chu-children. Anysomehow, when my master win na me still win. If na slavery, make it be slavery; Life don humble me. I want stay for inside this cage so far I dey see food eat. You no know wetin it be like to no get purpose for life, still yet, to dey starve to death. My mas...ter, self–self, deserve the respect, he–he no be small man. And, still, he dey respect me too. He say I be like ‘im family. Wha–what are you telling to me?” He storms off. “Nonsense,”we hear him add to his vent.
“Wow I didn’t see that coming,“ I say.
“Psh… Nigga’s just projecting all his fucking ideas of a made man that he ain’t to his master. Being satisfied and being fucking afraid of failing again is two different shits; nigga suffers because nigga’s not living in harmony with himself, his fucking self. A fucking narcissist man living like a lirru fucking rat; fucking using pride to work as a servant. Shit, the respect nigga got for his master be borderline religious. Nigga, delusional; nigga sees niggas master as father, while niggas master is just the same old fucking slave-master. Nigga thirsty asfuck for father’s love.”
“Was I the only one that noticed, he didn’t stutter anymore when he got even angrier? I thought the opposite was true. Hmm... One thing i know is that until one is God, one is always a slave to something. To whatever we cannot do without, we cannot define ourselves without. No one is really free.“ Hmm… why am i desperate to seem smart? Mtcheew. How confident were his steps as he was walking away. “At least, Jolly is not blind.”
“What tha fuck does it matter, blind or not blind!” Sam breathes out. “Careful, homes, take care not to love your pain.“ I hear him shifting where he is, sitting close to me on the same log. “You think we be going back to camp now? The music has stopped,you know what I’m saying,” he adds. I was the one saying this a while ago, now, it’s him. Do you think he is bored by me? “Love at first sight my ass,” Sam blurts.
It is a good theme, though. The irony. ‘Love at first sight’ in a camp for single blind people. I mean, that is, if it was the irony they were going for.
“…could be someone who understands you the very day you meet the person... I mean, for example, I just met you today, we have stolen, roasted and eaten some angry guy’s corn and I feel I have known you for years. Though sometimes, you are too blunt, yet sometimes you say some things and I would think, yea, I would have said the same.” I adjust on this log, I have been sitting here for long and my buttocks hurt. “That’s the kind of-wait—“ What am I touch-fuck, I am touching his prick.
I try to remove my hands, he holds my hand on it. He touches, with the other hand, my chest and traces from there to my face. He leaves the palm there, it is soft and warm on my cheek, I want to lean my face towards it, I feel someone has finally brought an ocean for me to dissolve in, salvation for me to finally breathe in, but I don’t lean, but I don’t move. He removes his hand from my hand, puts it on my lap and leans on it as he rises to touch his lips to mine.
His lips remain here as if asking for permission; as my lips are reacting for them, he quickly quickly kisses me back with a desire that swirls; I match him soul for soul.
And as if uncertain, we pause. We break.
What tha fuck. “I am gay.” Fuck, I said that out loud. Small silence. But I like girls. I do. I do? I must do. Fuck.
Since the particles of silence have settled, “should we be going back?” I say. Look at me quickly suggesting it before he does.That means I was hurt by it before, when he suggested it.
“Do you miss some-of all those shits you was doing from when you was still ain’t blind?”
“I do. Movies, photography. Visual arts… and yes, sunset and sunrise. The lemon tone of the evening right after some wet afternoon in my corner of the world... So many other things, even mirrors, seeing yourself and all that… You know, sometimes, it is painful…every passing day, I am forgetting how people’s faces were; even the faces of my family are beginning to mix together, or something.”
“Yea that shit happens mehn; the soul fucking works shits like that.” He pauses. “Can I tell you shit though, that is entirely unrelated to this shit?”
“Sometimes, we reject a part of who we is or what we actually is that even when it comes to us face to face, we won’t see ourselves. Nigga, you think you know me for long because, bro,you really fucking have known me for long.”
Know him for long? Love?
“Have you heard of the story of Narcissus?” He asks.
“No. Oh no, you know I am not saying we should…sexually...Imean…this is very confusing-I mean…for both parties. And the country...“
“Hey. Bro, chill. Now about Narcissus; some Greek shit though. Nigga was a very handsome dude, died watching his own image on the surface of some stream water, you know what I am saying? Nigga rejected many suitors; some, he rejected very cruelly they killed themselves, my nigga. But the gods punished his ass by making him fucking fall in love with himself, this nigga’s own image, in the stream that this dumb nigga was so scared of losing sight of the beauty he had fucking seen, he died watching it. Love at first sight, but to your-fucking-self, homes.”
About the Author: Osagiede Best, is an emerging poet, and storyteller. He reads philosophical and psychological literature in his free time; they greatly influence his writing. They help him open up his unconscious to the workings of his mind. He loves history, photography, physics, nature and biology; they feel his curiosity and help him to understand his anxiety. He has a degree in science but had always been in love with arts and how they cut through to the soul.
A melting pot of profound African literature and Lifestyle.