Diary of the Infrequent Writer

In the blurry moments that followed having my story on Brittle Paper and Kalahari Review concurrently, I intended to gloat in my next blog post. Well, just a tad of, “Yeah, finally…” But then, the publications are growing stale. It is time to move. It is time to shut my eyes against the rejection letters and pen something else. Here’s one of the little things I’ve penned. Enjoy.

journal

I.

Life, you write, is running. Life is running and you are pursuing.

You stare at the single sentence and shake your head. A pitiful, grateful shake. Grateful because at least, you are one sentence down. Grateful because the newly purchased sketchbook is no more the color of empty.

It is now the color of ink.

You close the sketchbook, set your pen beside it, gently, as if a more forceful way would shatter your muse. You push the chair back, flex your right arm, left, right, left, until they begin to ache. You press the bones in your finger and they pop.

You dress for lectures.

You put on gray trousers and a shirt baggy at the hems. As you stare before the mirror, you imagine what she would say – you and your large shirts – and what your response would be – well, what can I do?

You head back to the room, puff your backpack, head out. The sky is tinted with moody gray. You sigh at the ridiculous thought flirting with your mind and amble towards the shuttle park. An hour later, you nod off. You dream. In the dream, you are in a class and you are thinking about storytelling when your name pops out before the board. When the lecturer says, “Yes, you with a rock’s face,” you shake your head and do not budge from your seat.

You wake up then. But you are still dreaming. Only in this dream, you cannot refuse the lecturer’s bidding. Only in this dream, you are the target not because you are lost in storytelling but for the wanderings of your eyes. Only in this dream, she is there. She is looking at you. Her mouth is parted and her eyes are fixed, as if someone just snatched her okansoso.

You shut your eyes. You nod off.

II.

She is not talking about it. Actually, its – two ‘it’. You walk with her down the stretch of concrete, your sight blurring with each turn. She wears a cream skirt. She carries a bag. She wears sandals.

You note how low you have fallen, how you can’t string a couple active descriptions, how you can’t say – the hem of her skirt repels a soft breeze, how you can’t say – her footfall, suppressed by the lightness of her sandals, is barely noticeable, how you can’t say – a mass of hair slopes down her shoulders, firmed by a golden clip.

You reach the lab and pull the door in. The registration officer is in Nowhere Land. A note taped to his office presents this in simple, layman terms.

“We’d have to come back,” you say.

“‘Course,” she says.

You breathe. You breathe because trouble needs no more flavor to be edible. You breathe because the last time she said, ‘course’, she forwarded you a panoptic message on Whatsapp. Panoptic. It’s the word Soyinka would use. Shakespeare too. Real writers. Not writers of your niche that’d say…

Long!

She taps you. Her fingers blush against your skin. “Can we sit?”

You stare at the benches. “Sure.”

She walks ahead and settles on one the way a bluebird might settle when it’s about to whisper a dirge. You sit beside her. You do not hold hands. There are some times that hands do not need to be held.

“You have a problem,” she says.

“Certainly,” you say. The grin consumes your chin, the stupid grin.

“And we have to rid you of that problem.”

You keep quiet. Your eyes flit to her nostrils, sharp as Thatcher’s, and her lips, a speller’s lips. You feel a soft pat on your inside, a pat that says – at least, you know a little comparison.

“David,” the voice calls. The wind calls.

“Yes!”

“What did I say last?”

“What?”

She drills you her we-are-all-serious look. “I said something. I want you to complete it.”

“It,” you say.

Her eyes snap shut. Eyelids, rather.

“Debbie,” you say.

Closed eyes.

You dare to touch her. Nothing. You tingle the hair on her arm. She cracks up.

“Don’t do that, Dave. Stop it.” She clamps a hand over her mouth and parts her eyes. “Dave, stop. Stop joorh.”

“So now, it’s all done.”

“At all. It isn’t even near done.”

“At least, you are laughing.”

“We aren’t about my laugh here,” she says. “We are about your writing.”

“I would be fine –”

“So you said last week. I need you to write.” She suddenly cuts contact. “Our rent is due next week. Mum’s working herself up trying to pile the balance, and it irks all I can do from this side of town is chip in encouraging pills.”

“And pray,” you say.

She shakes her head. Does she not believe in the effectual power of prayer anymore?

“Dave,” she calls. She crosses her legs. “You should write, irrespective. Thing is, the problems around you wouldn’t subside because you need to pen the next Purple Hibiscus or Blink of an Eye. People would keep dying. Rejections letter will stream into your mail like there’s a purging in literary agencies. Lecturers would mark your face during classes and call you to the board, your writing sometimes would feel like cardboard copy… Bad things aren’t edging close to the end.”

Then she takes your arm, your right arm, and brings her lips to it. “You know what to do. Now, go do it.”

III.

Life, you write, is running. Life is running and you are sweating its butts in a chase. There’s no need to catch it, so long you can hit positivity off a few co-runners during the chase. You write for half an hour, series of not-so-sensible sentences, then close your sketchbook.

You call Debbie.

“She’s paying tomorrow,” she says. “She isn’t sending me money till the month draws out. I don’t know what I’ll eat.”

“That’s good,” you say. “That’s very good.”

“Dave?”

“Yes?”

“This you?”

“Sure is.”

“Wow,” she says. “You wrote.”

“Yes,” you say.

No one says anything for a while.

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What Happened On Saturday?

Hello.

I have been away for so long, so long blogging feels odd, like a beginner taking the first strokes in a swimming pool. I intended to break the silence with a post entirely different from what you are seeing, but it is. And what can the petite me do to twist the fingers of fate?

Well, today’s Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Makes it a special Saturday. And I’ve written about this Saturday. What exactly went down on Saturday? That Saturday?

Please, this is entirely fiction. Do not draw historical conclusions. Thank you very much. Soon, I’d get back to blogging, and stating the reasons for the absence. Enjoy.

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“Saturday was smack-down. Right before the smash, no one predicted the outcome. It was unprecedented, yet predestined.”

The boy giggles. “Father, you’re speaking literature.”

Josiah smiles. “Forgive me.” He sips from the bowl on the table. The boy turns ever briefly to consider the trembling water. It is calm after a few seconds, as if it was never disturbed, much like the sea of Galilee responded when Christ gave the command.

Josiah walks to the shelf pushed against the north wall of the room. “Samuel, come.” He’s speaking the boy’s name for the first time, and it tastes sweet. Honey

“You have a kid story on this festival?”

Samuel stretches his fingers to the second row and runs them along five, ten books, stopping on a hardcover. The book is coated in dust as expected, a problem Josiah handles with a rag. He moves to the table and shifts the bowl of water.

He raises his head to find Sam by his side. Hunger bites the kid’s smile.

“See, Good Friday. Enough historical research and opinions. Ashterah, Easter eggs, buns, blah, blah, blah.” Josiah feels the anger in his tone before he looks at the boy. “Sorry.”

Sam shrugs.

He turns two leaves. “And the resurrection, which occurred on Sunday.” Three pages were dedicated to the happenings on that day – the attire Mary had on while she approached the tomb, how she could have observed the angels with naked eyes, debates ranging from what Peter said to how John reacted.

“What do you want me to see, father?”

“This.” Josiah jabs a finger at a page filled to the half with words. Saturday. “Nothing much is said of Saturday, except that it had to pass.”

“But…”

“But showdown occurred on Saturday. The devil thought he was winning, and the next snap, he was under Christ’s feet. Christ had won. He was raised by His Father. It’s like having a two wrestlers tug, with one bound for defeat. In a thunderbolt, the condemned has forever knocked his opponent out.” Josiah exchanges a glance with Samuel. “How does that sound?”

“Surreal.”

“It was real.”

“Yes, Father. It was.” Samuel watches the grandmother clock nailed adjacent the doorpost. A quarter before seven pm. Almost dinnertime. He turns slowly. “Father, why did Jesus not rise on Saturday? Why Sunday?”

“Why not Monday?” Josiah asks. “Did the Lord require forty-eight hours before the resurrection could take place?”

Samuel stares.

“No, don’t answer. As you know, son, the details of his death, burial, and resurrection, were recorded to the details by the prophets.”

“And by the psalmist.”

The passage came to Josiah as if he were just reviewing it. I am poured out like water… My bones are out of joints… They pierced My joints and feet…

“The twenty-second psalm,” Samuel says.

“The twenty-second psalm,” Josiah says. Hence, The Lord is my shepherd. Because he rose… the twenty-third psalm.

“He rose on Sunday.”

“Oh, He did.” There’s a gurgle in Josiah’s throat, like wine signaling to burst. “He did, so we live.”

There’s a knock at the door. “Mother,” Sam whispers.

Josiah, leaning on the wall such that his view is to the window, nods and shuts his eyes. Footsteps fade.

“What happened on Sunday?” Sam asks.

“Rejoicing. Rejoicing in heaven, rejoicing that’s not an everyday occurrence.” There’s a steep silence, then a soft whoosh.

“Rejoicing,” Josiah whispers again, eyes unopened. He sings into the darkness.

Preparation – The Irremovable Factor

​The simplest of things go a long way to affect futures. And funny, they don’t happen in seconds. They take years. Years to develop. Years to be hemmed and hawed and straightened till perfection.

Often, the people through which these simple things occur are far from perfect. They’ve been taught humility and discipline, perseverance and understanding, patience and honesty, yet they still show the other side of man.

Is there such a thing as the other side of man? You bet.

The childish Christian I am, I often expected success to be immediate, or at most, pushed ahead for a year, two max. Given, I’d read stories of Joseph and David and Moses. I knew Joseph dreamed at seventeen, became prime minister at thirty. I knew Dave slumped the giant at a similar age, but had to fight wars and wiggle under caves before being crowned king at…

Thirty.

Moses was the worst of the lot. Forty years of thorough demands. Even with this, he couldn’t hold back from spilling fire (not literally) when the fickle Israelites provoked this sage.

Welcome to the New Era. Or Testament. The disciples went with Jesus for three and a half years, receiving sermons that weren’t just lengthy but were truckloads slamming against the walls of their heart.

They were feeble when time came to give out.

But then, there was Paul. Paul didn’t experience the travails of the sage, or the parables of Pete.

He just went blind for three days, and then he was preaching.

Oh. Did I say just? You don’t just go blind, man. Without sight for three days. Really, there are so many things humans cannot perfectly comprehend until they take a sip of the experience. Here’s how to know.

Close your left eye. Walk to the nearest entrance. Now, shut tight your better eye – or right – and step out. Yeah, do it. March on with both eyes closed. Try crossing the four-lane highway or ordering decaf. Man your vehicle with eyes taped, or attempt hugging a loved one.

It’s terrible. A terrible situation. In fact, the only thing more terrible than been maimed is losing one’s soul, as Jesus said. 

So, there appeared to be only two options for me. Either the lengthy hemming that’s necessary for awesome expeditions, or the quick frightening experience that positions for exploits. Which would I choose?

I don’t know. Earlier today, I read a blog discussing preparation and the writer. It goes beyond the art of weaving stories. All things require preparation.

Ministering to a group of twenties? Prepare. Intend to pen a bestseller? Prepare. Want to hear from God and live as a son to The Father? Prepare. Interested in learning a new language? Prepare.

There’s no specific length. There’s no specific how.

But the place of preparation is irremovable. In spirit, in soul, in body.

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.