Carey Baraka’s Blog: One Day You Will Write About This Place

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old man in Africa

One day, you will be an old person.

An ancient human being with a back bent from life. You may be hard of both hearing and sight, as most ninety year olds normally are. Anything more than three feet away from you may appear as a shadowy haze. Anything more than two metres away invisible, the scales in your eyes having rendered it so.

Your twenty year old grandson may have to shout a statement several times into your ear for you to get what he is saying. Even then, it may be shouted only into the right ear, for the left may have completely died by then.

You may have only your incisors left in your mouth, the joys of eating nyama choma* having been extinguished by your losing your canines roughly ten years earlier.

You may be living alone in your house, save for your thirteen year old cat (That’s around a million years of age in cat years) and your manservant (I’ve always wanted to use that word) who will be completing his thirty second year of service to you.

He may be called John, not because an angel revealed that name to his mother, but because his mother’s first boyfriend was called John, though she had lied to her husband that she had gotten the name from the Bible.

Your cat may simply be called Puss, as your mind may be too tired to name it properly and also because it refused to respond when you called it Melchizedek. That arrogant cat. Here, Puss Puss…

You may be living in a bungalow somewhere in the suburbs. Somewhere far enough from town as to provide a delusion of peace and tranquility, but at the same time close enough that you do not feel out of the loop. You are an urbane old man, see, ala Charles Njonjo, so there is no way you are going to punish yourself to the boring rigidness of rural life.

Most of your friends may have been long dead by then. The few that remain may either be comatose in an ICU somewhere or too loopy for you to have a decent conversation with.

Your sole companion, apart from your cat, Puss, may be your manservant (That word again) John. Sometimes you may forget the story of his mother’s first boyfriend and call him Yusuf instead.

This is because, in your head, you may deem it unfair that you have never known anybody called Yusuf but have a son, a grandson and a great-grandson all called John. 3 Johns in your direct line, sired from thine loins. Now, your manservant. Akh! No, He shall be called Yusuf. Maybe the cat should be called John…

Yusuf (the one formerly known as John) will cook all your meals for you. Your diet may consist of mashed food, Cerelac and Weetabix, because that is the only thing the mouths of the toothless can muster.

Yusuf may also be in charge of your hygiene (read that he may bathe you.) You may be vexed that a fellow man has to wash you, and will once in a while stubbornly insist on showering by yourself. Only when you may have slumped on the clod bathroom tiles after your legs have given up on you, will you call Yusuf for help.

Yusuf may refuse to come saying that that is not his name. You may be forced to call Him John, and instead of the manservant coming, your grandson called John will come running, see you on the floor and then run back to tell his father, also called John, that he has seen Grandpa’s nakedness.

Once in your while, your brood may ask you to tell them how life was like in the early part of the 21st century. You will regale them with stories of your early years, about tell them all about whatsapp, Instagram and Tinder.

You will tell them how everybody with a phone and internet access had a blog. They will look at you with shock and wonder and ask you what a phone is. You will shake your head and pray to God to take you away.

By that time, you will be an old respected citizen. You will be one of those rare people who existed when Justin Bieber was still alive. By that time, Bieber may have been dead for 50 years, having died of a drug overdose, as every other person in his type of business does.

There will be a new type of music people will be dancing to, a music genre which you can not fathom, with artistes bearing names such as Al the Cockroach and Susan the pregnant Mosquito.

Some sort of translating device will have been invented, and people will stick mini versions of it in their ears at night, so as to have those pristine nighttime conversations with mosquitoes and all sorts of frling insects.

You may stay in your house all day long, because the environment outside would be too harsh for you to bear. There will be flying cars all over, which at the press of a button, turn into easily portable briefcases.

People will communicate with their minds, because some sort of thought transmitter will have been created. You will be an old fogey, or as is called in our times, an analogue Dude.

You may reminisce about your earlier life when you could eat nyama choma* because all of your teeth were still intact.

You will remember the drinking binges when you were in campus, when you got hangovered for days on end. You will remember Simon, your drinking buddy, that man who could drink a whole bar by himself.

You will start to take out your phone to call him, but then remember that phones no longer exist, and that Simon would be already dead anyway. He died of liver cirrhosis when in his late fifties.

You will remember Jennifer, hot Jennifer, the one who made your blood boil like mad in your youth. The first girl you ever truly loved. The girl in the yellow umbrella. The one. You will start crying because her funeral was five years ago and also because your eldest granddaughter looks so much like her.

Puss may come into your room and find you crying. She will climb up onto your shoulders and start licking you. You will be comforted, but only for a bit, because you will realize that cat is very old in cat years, and will die very soon.

Your great granddaughter may come suddenly into the room to show you a ladybug she caught outside. “Look at it, it’s so pretty.” You will see her lips moving and smile sheepishly at her. She will flash a pretty smile at you, oblivious of the fact that her great grandfather is ninety years old and may not have heard what she has said.

By this time, the sun will be setting. The sun’s rays will cast their shine over the hills in the horizon, lingering, almost daring you to believe that it will stay. The whole place will be a pale red, as the sun casts its last gaze over the land.

Puss may still be perched on your shoulder. Your great granddaughter may still be showcasing the wonders of the ladybird to you. You may think that now the time is ripe for you to pen your memoirs, write about your childhood, our friends, your life.

You may lie grossly about events as the people who would have called out your falsehoods are all dead. You may start crying again at this thought. Puss may lick you. One day you will write about this place.

*nyama choma – Swahili word for “roast meat”

© 2015 – 2017, Carey Baraka. All rights reserved.

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