Knowledge,… Huh,… Fear 

Walk to a library or bookshop. Skim a section you wouldn’t stumble upon if you were in blindfolds. Pick a book. Read in a posture unfamiliar to you.

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​”He who reads lives a thousand times. The non-reader lives a measly one.” – Paraphrase of a famous quote. 

Today, I called at the library. It was not a first.  The sun had resumed and a passive wind blew about. Outside, students wandered in flocks, throats gurgling with anticipation, with zeal, with a certain fear of the unknown.

Two buildings towered opposite the library – a techie theatre and a computer center. (Notice the alliteration)? The theatre, a gray edifice seated on an uneven patch of grass, drew few heads. The center did. Once a while, a pinch of undergrads would trip out from the north side and would immediately be buried in a sea of students-turned-reporters. The question? “What came out in your exam?”
Can we ever avoid fear? Not all the inquisitive students were unprepared. I can testify of a twin who read till they misplaced each other. Yet, they panicked. Noticing the unpleasant trend, I slipped into the library. 


Nothing had changed since the last time. Not the porter’s desk that curved like a sharp arrow. Not the male cloakroom littered with a gob of black bags as if they contained secret documents. The man behind the desk was bent on a recent newspaper. He acknowledged me and… 
I was in. The air in the general reading room was redolent of a ghostly silence, like God demanded it. I paused for seconds, then ventured in, two steps, before veering left. A leather chair smiled at me and I smiled back. “No, thank you. I would not be tempted to sit and doze away while my mates are writing exams.” The space allotted for books were stuffed with mahogany shelves, the distance between each allowing room for one athletic body to weave his way. I went past the first two as if they did not exist. Then, on the fifth, and with a lot of zigzag motion, I discovered a treasure. 
Are your eyes popping? They should. The treasure was not the typical chestnut gleaming with coins, but a paperback coated with Spring dust. I walked to the carrel and picked a specific chapter. And my brain opened as if in a cooling system. I read about genes. I saw the 46 chromosomes in every human. I studied the soft blue eyes of a patient suffering Downs Syndrome. I exchanged words with Genghis Khan, the famous – maybe infamous – Indian warrior. 

If you haven’t attempted this, do. Walk to a library or bookshop. Skim a section you wouldn’t stumble upon if you were in blindfolds. Pick a book. Read in a posture unfamiliar to you. Read, letting each letter bloom, as if you don’t need the knowledge. What happens is that your head and heart synchronize like you’re witnessing the rapture, and your eyes soak in data at a rate the fastest computer can’t match. Don’t think about the subject being absorbed. Try to yield to those unexpected burps. Laugh and shriek like Brad Pitt stopped by your house. 
It was awesome. It was riveting. Really, we’ve deprived ourselves of so much by turning away from books, or grabbing them for the sake of examinations. While I boast many more e-books than the printed stuffs, nothing matches the pleasure of holding a book. 
I would eventually leave, but those moments are wedged in the unknown places of my subconscious. I returned two hours later and surveyed three chapters of No-Tech Hacking by Johnny Long. The information would come in handy, I know. 
It’s evening as I punch these words. An uncertain, calming breeze lifts nylons on a baked pavement. I concluded the rereading of Divergent (e-book, as hoped) some minutes back. I still have exams this week, and I’m not in the top ten Dazzling Minds yet. 
However, this I’ve learned – we can not avoid fear. But we can overcome it. It’s a running theme in the Divergent series. And besides, we can do this in Christ. It’s always a simple step of coming to Him. 
P.S: I intended writing about knowledge, but, huh, fear poked its face. So, it’s two tastes in one serving. Think about knowledge. Think about conquering your fear. 

My phone didn’t tag along, so the picture credit goes to Ted Dekker’s Facebook page. Thank you for reading. 

Block F 

​Ugh. 

Exclamation expressing disgust, horror or recoil, says Wordweb. Disgust is not what I feel. Neither is it recoil or horror. Perhaps ‘ugh’ covers it best. It’s like having prayed and prayed till the point of being drained of words and all you utter is a full sigh. Like fetching bucket after bucket into a plastic barrel and then heaving at the last pour. Like punching keys away through the night then hitting the nearest couch for four hours – waking and giving a long druggy yawn. 


That’s how the past few weeks have left me. Without syllables. Imagine that predicament for a writer (and we all are writers, we don’t just face the work). I’d go through each routine while humming, “I’m going to sit my butt and write. Really am,” like the grasshopper making mental notes to gather food against winter only to find itself starved then. 
Over the weekend, something happened. So many things. And one of the results is this – blogging. No, I didn’t forget the need to blog, or how to write. Neither was I deprived time. I just couldn’t put together a blog. Well, not anymore. This one is called Block F. 
The block has no entrance or exit, bordered by intertwined steel wires with holes tiny enough to swallow a newborn’s fist. It has to its left Block C and Block D as rearguard. A trail of white paint runs on all four corners of the block.
A boy comes out of Block D, wearing dark shorts. His face, hidden in the darkness, is pressed into wrinkles. His shirtless tummy is as flat as the decrepit land before him. He takes a step and coughs. He spits loudly into the gutter, taking in the splash. Another fellow grouches, “you people are the ones keeping this hostel dirty.”
The boy closes up to the guy, one hand balled, the other balancing a bundle. The grouch quickly looks away and retreat, bread and beancakes in both hands. He must have had too much, the boy concludes, while he is in dire need. The boy watches him disappear and hisses, then clears his throat and spits again. It’s a missed shot. The boy steps over the pavement supporting the walkway and is hit with an overdose of howling wind. He doesn’t shield his chest. 
He takes another lazy step. A mass of white light blinds him. Sheathing his eyes, he gathers his bundle closer. The lampbearer is now at him. He mutters a weak, lifeless, “sorry” and is in Block B in an instant. The boy considers trailing him, dragging him by the neck and beating him to excitement. He lets the thought fade. Wind picks intensity, accompanied by rumblings in the sky, like a kettledrum cadence. 
The boy smells rain. 
He hastens steps, crossing patches of grass before arriving at the concrete floor. He unties his bundle and retrieves a thick cotton which he spreads slowly. He picks the only other item in the bundle and lays atop the cotton. The boy steps back, assessing, like a mason supervising a project. He smiles. He steps on one end, facing his entry point, and goes on his knees, as if participating in a liturgy. He utters no words of reverence. 
He doesn’t know when he sleeps off. His last thought is the rain been like drops from an Alaskan river. 

Dear Young 

News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct.

Hello. For today’s post, I attempted writing to a younger me. As I’ve overtly suggested in the last two posts, I’m in school. So, I penned to a fictional me the things I’d have loved to know. 

Here it goes. 

********

  

Dear Young, 
  News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct. There are thick and thin black lines, white lines, gray lines, and brown ones. The play is yours. 
  You requested that I give you candid advices as you prepare for resumption, well aware I once maneuvered this road. Not so off, but I should warn you. Never engage this method with anyone. Now, the response. Your brows are arched, right? Your lips are knotted in a bewildered smile. I urge you, listen. 
  The ancient ones quipped, “Experience is the best teacher.” Without permission, I modify. “Experience is a masterful tutor, appropriate for some specific sessions.” One of such is being a Freshman with the intent of obtaining a degree. As you balance bags on both arms, your pocket jammed with bills, let thy head remain blank. 
  I know, I know, you’ve been choked with warnings and stories and rumors. “Remember the son of whom you are.” “Try as much to avoid relationships in your first year. The foundation must be solid.” “Discover what works best for you and stick to it like parasite to host.” “Cut frivolities.” And the one which always beg a grin. “Don’t join bad gangs.” All commendable instructions, but… 
  Dump them in the bin. Loll in the backseat as you’re driven to the park. You might be fortunate to leave late in the morning. Don’t struggle to catch an interstate bus – and you may if you wish. They say you don’t sleep when making your first trip. Please, do, like a baby overwhelmed with love. Get snacks and drink to satisfaction. Take a silent belch. Alight with grace, then take a deep breath. The first human you notice must enter your diary. 
  During your first week, you’d be hit with a streak of surprises. If you had taken the advices of elders to heart, your reaction would likely be irritation. If you didn’t, your reaction would be awful wonder. When you stumble into the hostel’s kitchen and meet the sink clogged with brown soapy water, strands of noodles and sachets of paste, shut your eyes and turn slowly. Try to stifle the grouse. Attimes, you’d be in a hurry, perhaps a mistimed class or a formalty meeting. Those are the moments you practice rinse-and-spray. You have no business with the bathroom on those days. These are the things experience alone teaches. 
  If you ever considered yourself an academician, prepare to be dwarfed. If you thought you weren’t dotty towards intense studying, know you’d meet more passive students. Lectures? Stab as much as doesn’t pile towards a negative effect. You might wake one hot afternoon and discover your ears were deaf to an assignment, cross the ocean if necessary, but get it done. 
  Last I remembered, you were pretty inclined towards fashion. Hmm. Snag your seatbelts, cause you’d be schooled on dressing. You will be out under the walkway at noon, bent over your dirty laundry. You’ll raise your head and notice two guys. The first will be clad in track pants, a gray vest defining his torso. He’d run a thick comb through his hair, sweeping every last tuft. He’d make a sideway spin, brushing his beards. As he observes every ritual, you will run your imagination loose. You’d note he cares more about the message he communicates than his outfit. Then, you’ll realize the other fellow is cloth-concerned, his black trousers a bit large and his baseball cap totally not it. 
  You’d have had a bout with envy prior to this new phase, but the form which awaits is the other side of envy. Here, you do not long for the branded belt of a roommate or an icy drink a classmate consumes after a stuffy class. Rather, you’d lust after mental things – the accuracy of a mate’s construction, the tongues of the midnight prayer warrior, the skill of the boy next door. Ever had an affair with worry? School would cleanse your blood of it. 
  I suppose I’m exceeding the expected length. There are a lot of things yet to be scraped. In one sentence, discard all Advice, including this. If there’s one thing I’d strongly recommend, it’s life. Get the life into your system before you set foot in the institution. With that, you might fall, but you’d not collapse. You’d be weary, but you’d faint not. And God-willing, you would read the second part of this letter when you complete the course. 
Till then, 

Your friend, 

Michael. 

*********

Comments? Opinions? 

A Story From A Story

“He’s there.”

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on.

“You see him now?”

Clap, clap, clap. Now’s the perfect time for clapping, because I’ve got novels. 

In Monday’s post, I mentioned not having any book to read and how empty that could make a writer feel. Well, not anymore. I have thirteen novels now, e-books, courtesy of a mate. And to make the icing more lip-smacking, it’s the Left Behind series. 

To celebrate, I wrote a story. Off-the-cuff. I was thinking about being able to describe negative emotions and the lines I wrote about doubt to a friend. The rest is below. 

But, I ignored the rule of editing, so all errors should be forgiven. 

Enjoy. 

########

The first day I stumbled into the boy, I thought he was gauche. The third finger of his left hand was completely tucked in a nostril. He looked at me and picked out residue, then tapped it away. Next, he tiptoed to the nearest table and, with all the force he could draw from his belly, – which was a bucketload, given his stomach was like a gourd, like stretched wineskin – he guffawed. 
A lady slicing into chicken almost fell off her chair, serrated knife tipped towards the boy. The boy was already moving. He’d found a table with spaghetti as the main course. As his eyes rolled, I observed something strange.

His stomach kept increasing. The faster the roll, the larger the growth. It was surreal, like a Star Wars effect. 
The boy stopped by a bald server and swept off a glass of wine. If the server felt anything, his expression didn’t reveal. The lady with a knife had adjusted. No one seemed to notice. 
I pulled up. The boy was twice his size. He’d grown as tall as a basketball center guard, and a blow from his leg would knock out a pro wrestler, no doubts. Yet, he was searching, searching for more. It wasn’t just food. Gold bracelets, fabrics with intricate designs, keys kept in holders, he swooped them all. He had no bag or purse, no hidden wallet, much like the disciples sent out to witness. But except disciples left humans feeling queasy like the humans ate maggot, this was no disciple. 
I approached another observer at the north of the hall. A dirge of a countrysong warbled through the hall. 
“Hey.”
“Hello you,” the observer replied. He was fondling a bottle of water, sealed. Didn’t look like he’d had anything all day. 
“You’ve been watching since.”
“Is that a crime?”
“Didn’t say so.” I wasn’t calling for a fight. “See, I’ve noticed something. Wanna seek your opinion.”
He was looking past me. “Say what.”
“There’s this boy who’s been taking others stuffs and no one seems to know.”
“I don’t see no one.”
“He’s there.” 

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on. 
“You see him now?”
“Hey, guy,” observer called. His gaze was fixed on the boy. “I don’t know who’s nuts, you or me. I’m looking where you said and I only see a family of six at a table. No boy packing other people stuffs.”
My lips parted slowly. A drop of spittle hung on the lower lip. “But…”
“Look, I haven’t had nothing all day. The food here wouldn’t satisfy me. If anyone is doing the packing, that should be me.” He shook his head and squeezed the bottle. I looked away. “I’d sure love to meet the boy.”
I turned. 
He was gone. 
Something blazed by, like a bazooka travelling at neck-breaking speed, like a maniac groom pursuing his bride. 
The boy was gone too.

As I wrote, greed kept ringing. Do you suppose the story portrays greed? Dissatisfaction? Comment your opinion.


Catching Up 

Ralph is his name… He’s realized he’s on an island, as I am.
This is my first post for 2017. It was worth writing and sharing.

​  The first page of ‘Lord of the flies’, a young boy with a round nose wakes and observes his body feels like a sauna. His shirt, torn, sticks to his skin like adhesive, and heat shoots up his leg. A voice calls out. He spins slowly. The lad who called is rubbing his cheek, stumbling towards the boy.

“Hey,” lad shouts. He’s struggling to cover the distance. Fats of flesh flap on both cheeks.

The boy struts forward. “What’s your name?”

“My classmates, in school, they call me Piggy,” the lad whispers, “but it isn’t my real name.”

“Piggy,” the boy claps. “Piggy, Piggy, Fatty.”

“Don’t shout. I don’t want the others to know.”

The boy stops. Arches eyebrows. “There are others?”

“A plane,” Piggy says. “We was on a plane. Excursion. The plane crashed.”

The boy looks around. Up ahead, there’s a vast emptiness, bordered by a calm sea to the left and swirling tall trees on the right. He assumes one has coconut – the one with broad, wretched leaves. 

“A crash, you say?”

“The hostess said before everything passed out. Crash.” Piggy follows the boy. “You didn’t say your name.”

The boy doesn’t answer. 

Ralph is his name, and his numbness is because he’s just realising they are on an island. As Ralph awakened, so did I. Not that my happening upon the island was without forewarning. There are some changes you can’t prepare for, changes ramming into the victim like the fender of a sixteen-wheeler.

For this reason, I was on hiatus for three weeks. Unable to access the internet community and brazing for a switch in environment, I had my arms open for the worst. All the plans for Christmas/New Year washed into the river without consideration.

This post should be for catching up, and here are the things I’ve navigated.

(The picture was taken last September. Then, I’d gained six pounds. Pretty certain I’ve burned twice more now.)
First, I was immersed so much in fiction I forgot fiction could happen. Consequence was I was denied access to social media and a week later, to writing. November had been my busiest writing month and I intended wrapping up during the festive season. But the event came as a thief in the night, literally. I’m not sure I’ve blogged since. 

In quick succession, I landed in new weathers. Given, I was ready, as much as ready went, but it’s been tasking. Some things exist that cannot be learned by reading, – and I say this as a writer – or by any other means. Experience matters. After all, what coach can predict the exact passes that would lead to a goal? Or the goal scorer and assister and exact second?

Before I moved, I backed up my writings and books on two disks – one with my brother, the other with me. I would be moving deviceless, I might as well have a contingency plan. And so this day, finding someone with a laptop, I plugged my disk and….

Empty books. There were zero books. Also, the one and a half novels I wrote was poof.

Now, here I am, two weeks into the year, writing my first post. I have a small device now – so small it takes one hour to type what I’d do in fifteen minutes. There are no books here (not novel, not classics, not how-to books, nothing), no music, no video, no manuscript to edit or finish. 

Luckily, I got a spiritual book from a senior. It’s one of the best things I’ve had this year. I’ve learned gratitude, joy, and satisfaction. I realized the day before penning this, someone in another milieu is having a similar experience. To that person, be encouraged. Believe in the Lord Jesus, sing a lot, laugh with strangers – they abound here – and be grateful. 

That’s it for today. I have a cough still. I haven’t read a novel this year. I can only write short stories, even started a Mysteries on Campus serial. I’m adjusting to typing on a small screen. There are many classes to attend. I can’t ascertain the amount of errors in this post. 

But, in all things, God is faithful. Say with me, “In all things, God is faithful. Amen.”

A Christmas Change

christmas-pic

We were taught, “Whenever you don’t feel like doing something, then go ahead and do it. For your feelings are the least thing you could ever trust.”

The beautiful thing about the world we inhabit is, there’s no absolute truth in this world. There’s my truth, your truth, and the truth.

The truth doesn’t change. Everything else does.

For this reason, I decided to trust my feeling the past two weeks. Not that I really had limitless options.

For fifteen days, I haven’t posted on my blog, my longest streak since I owned one. It was my intention to communicate with you readers at least twice between then and Christmas. On my Facebook wall, there’s no Christmas message. Not on any of my social media account.

How this started?

The week before last, the house was full. Christmas was waving ten fingers at us, saying, “I’m here, and that means you’ve gotta slow. Gotta slow down, gotta slow down.” I did not heed. Of course, I had things to do. And I wasn’t willing to get into the mood.

Twelve days ago, I still had a whole lot to catch up to. Writing, writing, preparing for changes, New Year resolutions, books to read, stories to share online, things to learn…

Ten days ago, something changed. James Scott Bell wrote in Plot and Structure, “There’s a door through which your protagonist must pass, almost always reluctantly. This door should lead to a change.” But it’s reluctant.

The best changes come after we’ve been pressed on every side. Same was mine. Passing through that doorway slammed a pause on everything. Suddenly, I wasn’t writing again. I wasn’t thinking of platform. I wasn’t interested in reading books. I just wanted to curl in the fetal position and let the tears roll.

And then, the inevitable frustration seeped in. It didn’t come like a truckload. It began as introspection, then concern, then panic, and finally fear. But then, I didn’t cuss.

Thanks be to God for that. It could have gotten much worse. I could have grown angry. I could have allowed the ill feelings grow.

I started to forget the essence of everything, focused on the present. I was bothered others were making progress. I was afraid the days I couldn’t work would greatly shape the future. I was bothered things weren’t running along the path I would. There was a willingness to trade joy for happiness, contentment for a feeling of satisfaction.

I wondered if anyone would still visit my blog, if my Instagram account would now be banned (as if it were possible), if… ifs, ifs, ifs.

But.

Christmas isn’t about ifs. It isn’t about the things we do or do not. Christmas is remembering the Word became flesh, giving us power to be the sons of God, translating we who sat in darkness into light-givers. I consciously told myself, “I’m not worried about the things past or the things coming. I give thanks for the present, for the things done.”

And.

I am better now. Yes, I still haven’t written. Social media is playing background. Christmas is come and gone. The change remains though.

It isn’t about the turkey, or the dancing lights, or the deadlines. It is about reminding ourselves of who we are, as we believe.

A son and a daughter to our Father.

P.S: Thank you for staying here through 2016. For reading and liking and sharing.

2017 is four days away. I’m not a regular New Year resolutions setter. What about you? What do you hope to begin next year?

 

Seven Lessons

This would likely make the records as my shortest blog post so far.

It’s eleven pm. The whir of a copter’s propellers drift pass my window as I pen these words. Here are the things I realized or stumbled upon as I waged through today.

  1. A stitch in time saves one. A stitch before time saves nine. A stitch after time is no stitch.
  2. It doesn’t matter how the day starts, or how the day ends. What is of utmost concern is this: How did you make people feel?
  3. Zooming into each day with goals should actually encourage flexibility. Having a deadline means opportunity to provide a fella a lifeline.
  4. He who can keep his tongue can control his whole body. But to do that, you have to keep your mind. Transformation.
  5. You might not be the best in your field despite years of practice, but you are the best you. No one can do you better.
  6. Keep at it. It pays.
  7. Take account of all the good things you’ve enjoyed, and don’t be affected by them. Be pushed to your knees in thanks. Get back and put in more efforts, and finally, do all like you’d never do another.

So, there they are. My shortest blog post, shy of midnight posting. Thanks for reading.