Words are all I have

Words are all I have

191

 

 

What is life? Why was I born? These are questions I have asked myself, all of my life. I get the semblance of an answer, when out of the mundane day to day activities and the inactivity that at times permeate my existence, I see hope. I see that layer of hope in the eyes of my brood, in the love of my own family, in the ties that bind my wider family comprising of my relations from both sides-both my father’s and my mother’s sides. Both sides I resemble, though to my father’s side I am partial, as most girls are.

I see that hope in the kindness of strangers, in the chattiness of wayfarers, in the humility of beggars, and in the light footedness of kids; my neighbors’ and mine, as they frolic and play till the sun goes down. I see the ray of hope lingering still  in the far  horizon as I watch on… in my relationships, the ones that I still keep, the ones I have  lost and the ones that fall along the way. In all of these relationships, I do not allow the emotionally draining sentiment we call ‘regret’ to consume me…

Mercifully not.

 

No regrets at all. Regrets are ‘the waste of time’. Once it felt good. It was right when it felt right…why bother with the now? Why beat self up? Nothing is changed by regrets. I believe in repenting of ways. Repenting from what was wrong, gearing to make things right…

May be repenting is too strong a word. You repent when you sin… thus repentance is toward God. We assume a more suitable word … overcome. Yes, we overcome the demon in us that leads us to regret through a mastery of self, a mastery of our own bodies, of our spirits and of our souls. Ultimately, this will lead to a mastery of our hearts, of a tongues and of our limbs. Hence, we shall not be consumed by the clout, we shall not speak evil or do evil. See:

 

“When I am thirty

For a day

That I cease to be the next day,

I see the knowledge of thirty years

Walk up to me

On paved blunders,

Tarred by the acceptance

Of my own weaknesses,

Yet not long suffering

The notion that I have blundered.

 

For I live

When others have perished,

Not by my will

I have soared,

When others plummeted,

I stood tall,

When others crumbled and fell,

And I have stayed undaunted,

Not for want of choices,

For choices I have had,

But by the winds of mercy graced

To a kindred spirit,

Strengthened by

the fortitude of my

Nonchalance.

 

In the sphere

Of my acceptance,

Of all the baloney and trivialities,

I have learnt to walk,

To crawl and to jump,

I have learnt to run,

To love and to lust,

I have learnt to forgive,

To let go,

To be patient…

I have learnt the world!

 

And I have not been oblivious

Of the chastisements to frustrate,

Nor been blind to the derision

Of the weaklings,

Or been unbothered by the

Malignancies of haters’ tongues,

Yet I have chosen to walk on

Because walk I will do,

Towards the gift of life,

That is never earned, but given.

The gift I have lived

As well as I have learnt

To live,

In my thirty years gone

And my thirty years to come.”

 

Yes. Just before I turned thirty, I wrote this poem. Already, I had made up my mind to feign ‘nonchalance’ to the caprices of life, reinforced by the precocity that distinguishes the limitations of the being human, on my part.

Perchance, by the acceptance of will, and destiny or fate, we recognize that the real enemy of man is not the one we profess to have, the one who can’t stand our success or the one who tries to stop our progress. We recognize the gift of life is what we are given, but for a while. In the solitude of our homes, we understand that the Giver will retrieve His gift in His own time, not ours. This precludes any summative exercises in vanity. To sum this new concept up, I wrote the poem “Behind My Back”, which is the theme for my second Anthology of Poems:

 

“I seek the silence

Of the throbbing load

On my head,

I the red sun

Guiding daily slog

I walk.

 

I hear the whispers

Of the scornful slug,

Spitting my persona

Behind my goaded gourd

Stinging…

 

I rile.

Over the nothings

The whispers pout,

In craved annoyance,

What my nemesis sought.

And I laugh…

 

My laughter soft,

I cackle in chagrin.

My folly disclosed,

They can’t change me.

 

My load is purpose,

My vocation, is my God.

Let them laugh,

Who wants to laugh.

And let them talk,

Their tongues to bite…

Behind my back.”

 

There is no need to respond to every despicable statement or answer to every question about one’s excesses. The cry song is to overcome as alluded to earlier. I shall overcome. Together, we shall overcome. Overcome the vagaries of our existence. The filth that our enemies place on our backs, the ones we place upon ourselves and the ones we are yet to encounter. The imaginary burden that breaks our backs into fine pieces that cannot be mended. We overcome the regrets we feel, the ones wish we could feel and the ones we wish upon others. We overcome the overwhelming pain of regret as it wounds down into our hearts and make us lesser humans than we are. For we can only be human…not more Catholic than the Pope…

As humans, we start our lives as utterly experiential. We begin as babies, the neediest human beings ever; needing love, comfort and nurturing to aid us grow. We can’t will ourselves to grow, neither can our parents. We just grow. We have parents, we have siblings and we have the bigger family, to remove the selfishness from our ‘selves’. To expand the circle of kinship; everyone was raised by someone, for we are not born ‘ able’ to fend for ourselves, to cater to our own needs etc.

As we sort through the confusion to learn what feels good, what works, and what doesn’t, we form our character, we careen from one relationship to the next. But above all else, we have moral judgments at the apex of our existence. The morality, which we are taught as traditions, cultures and religions. With time we grow and we continue to grow…even without the perks of affluence, fame, education, etc. in our existence, our lives are unhampered. We prevail.

Through our life we acknowledge a Giver. The Giver who is unconcerned by our sentiments. He did not make a promise to anyone. We take it for granted that we live, we grow old and we expire at a ripe age. Yet growth is not a given. Too many people die young.

 

We are modulated by time, experience, circumstances and our unique destinies. The gift of time is what God gives us to live our lives. Yet there is no turning back time.   Time is the eternal enemy of man, myself and yourself inclusive. Time is the fake friend we seek. And time, is no man’s friend.  Trying to appreciate this concept, I wrote the poem, Growth, on my eighteenth birthday:

 

“She got up,

She walked away,

So slowly she went,

Never turned back, she did.

Away, away, away…

 

Where has she gone?

Why did she go?

When did she go?

Will she ever return?

 

No she won’t!

Why should she?

How could she?

Where would she?

She will never return.

 

What was her name?

Her occupation?

Her mode of life?

Her dress sense?

Her mannerism?

Her destination?

 

She was Growth.

She was diligent,

Never flamboyant,

Once she set on a path,

Her strict motto was:

No turning back.”

 

Thus our lives are  the summation of our  experiences, our feelings, our aspirations, affections and affectations. Our lives are a culmination of traditions, taboos, miscreant behaviors and the yearnings to do right, by self,  by our God and by the god that resides in us, controls us and seeks to destroy our sanity- the destroyer of pleasure, our ‘naffs’, wimps, desires, egoism, pride; whatever you choose to call it.

They say the world will end when the greenhouse gases overwhelm the earth and the sheer heat of the sun kills all living things. I dispute. I was taught ‘Kun faya Kun’…God says, ‘Be and it IS’.. and I don’t care either way. My world will end when my day on this earth ends- decided before I was even born, by the One who gave me life and walked me through the corridors of this earth as I sojourn in it, for the while. By the by, He aids me to fulfill my mission on this earth. God does not sign a contract with anyone. When our times come, there is no negotiating…we’d be gone in a jiffy.

But above all, our lives are meaningful because we are in possession of hope, which thwarts fear for morrow, and which He imbues in us. Hope, as I began this write-up with, is What Fear Can’t Kill:

 

“If fear be the force

That holds me back,

Hope shall guide me

Back to my path,

For the sun’s ambit

Does clear by day,

Yet it crawls back

At each night’s end,

So lives on hope

That fear can’t kill,

Nor time be stealth

To steal from me.

 

Hope, that rainbow

Up the sky,

A splash of shade

Painting light,

Appearing timely

When the rains

Have fallen,

Heralding tidings

That the storms

Are gone

 

Touched the soul

Of the farmer is,

Who stands to welcome

Each year there is,

And who is more hopeful

Than the farmer is?

Who tills the land

Before the rains

Have fallen!”

 

In the end, when I ask, why do I live? The unending question that torments my existence, from the day I took possession of my own faculties,  the answer does not dampen my spirit for I know I was meant to write. When I moan my rejection, when I can’t talk about things, I write about it. For words are all I have. That is the reason why I was born. To write.

 

About Author:

Rohey Samba is a Gambian writer and publisher of three anthologies of poems namely, Mother Gambia…Beats, Behind My Back and Heart Songs.

by Rohey Samba