A lot of things are opinion. Subjective. There was a big ol’ line between facts and feelings. And it was as clear as the neo-colonialism bondage into which Africa is entering with China, where one stopped and the other started. That line’s gotten so blurred and grey, people don’t really differentiate anymore. I like to keep it real. Grey areas offend me. The fact is that feelings and opinions are like souls, everyone has them. But that doesn’t imply value. Or even validity. Mine might even count for less. But since this is the internet, and everyone has a free pass to spout out all the shit they can express in ones and zeros, here’s my load.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be so hard to accept ourselves, Georgina thought as she stared out at the shores of Lake Victoria, that backed her clan home in the small but thriving town of Mwanza, north-western Tanzania. The house was old and plain looking, aluminium-roofed, and the sand and cement exterior had turned into a withered beige colour, making the cracks in its walls all the more conspicuous. The front yard was sandy and empty, and there was a threadbare sisal mat on the ground beside one wall. Trees and tall grass surrounded the outside of the compound, giving a leafy respite from the blazing heat of the Lakeside region. A path off to one side of the house led you to the back where she sat. The back was also sandy, but there was a scattering of three-legged wooden chairs and a four-legged one, with a slanted back. From this last one, she gazed out at the water, thinking about the conversation she’d just left in the house.
“I don’t believe any of this,” Sasha spoke from the back door. “Why are they talking like that?”
“It would seem they have run out of alternatives,” Georgina said, narrowing her eyes.
“Can’t they look beyond their own fears?” Sasha asked.
“Perhaps not,” Georgina mused.
“But this is someone’s life!” Sasha nearly exploded. “They can’t’ just make decisions for someone like that! She’s not an invalid!”
“I wonder if she realises that,” Georgina said, cocking her head to the right.
“What are you talking about? She only has PTSD,” Sasha said, striding to her side.
“Do you think it was ever known to inhibit the mental faculties of an individual to the point of complete disassociation from normal developmental pursuits?” Georgina raised her eyes to him.
“I think so, yes. But that would only be applicable to trauma on the higher side of horrific events such a murder, prolonged torture and the likes,” he responded.
“She’s never experienced any of the kind, as far as we all can tell,”
“So why won’t she act?”
“Perhaps she doesn’t know how?’
“I fail to understand that when she’s been to three different colleges in under two years,” she countered.
“What makes her stop halfway, do you think?” she went on.
He shifted his weight onto the arm of her chair and balanced one leg at the tip of his shoe, facing it down. The last rays of the sun were bouncing off the surface of the water in front of them, making it look deep and dark beneath, but silvery on top. The huge rock formations the region was known for stood on either side of it. You could see dozens of houses in the little niches and groves coming out on the surface of them, and in the hills further behind them. The sun was nearly half in the water by now. It was a glorious view, and they sat in silence a while and enjoyed it.
“I wonder what they’d say if we took the boat out right now,” he spoke after a while.
“That we have a death wish,” she replied, a smirk teasing her lips. “Neither of us know how to navigate.”
“Ignorance in this age is a crime you know,” he said, giving her a sidelong glance.
“So is arrogance,” she quipped. “You haven’t answered my question.”
“There are times in life when shit catches up with you. All your past comes at you from ten different directions in ten different ways. ”
“And you think that is the case with her?”
“I think it might be a combination of things. Things that will make it harder for her to take steps forward. Be proactive in decisions that involve her future. Even make those decisions herself and see them through. It’s why she keeps dropping out of school.”
“What are these “things” do you think?”
“She has conflicts.”
“That’s pretty obvious. But are they so unsolvable? And why won’t she come out with them?”
“She’s afraid it will diminish our perspective of her?”
“That might be. But keep it all within her at what cost?”
“At the cost of her own growth, I imagine,” he replied.
“Far better to lose sight of yourself from the eyes of others than to do so from your own head, I think,” she said, thinking. “We can be persuaded to wear glasses, but yours would be a loss you might not soon forget. It will eat at her from the inside until there is nothing left.”
“But true. You know this. You do not fight darkness with darkness. Only light repels the dark.”
“Why do you not tell her this when you are with her?” he asked her.
“Because I fear I’m too passionate in my speech. As you well know I am not very good at verbal persuasion.”
He chuckled. “Yes, just perhaps a mite tactless, if I were to be bold.”
“You are bold. That’s why subtlety is not my strongest suit.”
“Are you making accusations now,” he smiled down at her.
“Maybe I am, ” she gave her a jaunty look. “But my caution nonetheless rings true. I dare not make the matter worse.”
They were quiet yet again, each contemplating the issue in comfortable silence. It occurred to her just then how lucky someone was to have inner peace and an unburdened mental facility. There are those things, sure, that sneak up on an individual once in a while, but they don’t have to be given permanent residence. These come and go; like a drop of envy, or jealousy, or the usual laziness and selfishness. They can be made to leave. However, it is a combination of these, that if left to stay, grow to become a disease in the heart, that soon affects the mind and how a person thinks, sees and feels things. But it is the internal, diseased mental roots, such as her relative was currently dealing with, that made her frown. A beating heart and working limbs did not, health guarantee. Same as how a full bank account and a palatial house does not, happiness guarantee. The life of this world does not suffer one individual to have everything. Like the earth, there is always something that he lacks. He is ever in search. Ever looking for more. And in the end, all of it he will lose.
“Your face looks like you just found out people die,” he had turned fully to look at her.
“You could say that. But then again, I suppose I’ve always known.” she clarified.
“Do you think we’d be the better if we knew how fleeting everything is? Like really understand, and not that smart-sounding but utterly self-gratifying way people like to indulge?” she asked, quietly.
“I think it wouldn’t matter as much what we did if we could see the future coming. Sometimes it is better not to see the sausage being made. But if you think about it, knowing that we’re all going to die hasn’t changed a thing right now. People do what they want, regardless, but now even more diligently. Some of the things are good, others not so much. It has become a world where profit in the general sense precedes all things community. All things benefitting more than twenty people.”
“You convince a population to elect you into a public chair only to build a bomb shelter for five in the event of national conflict.” she gave an example.
“Exactly. But here’s the sitch. Who always brings him back into office at the end of the next election?” he asked.
“Haha. Are you calling the majority depraved…”
” Why yes, I think I am. What you have to remember is this, the self, when not following the wave, is a formidable opponent. He/she may not be able to move the physical mountain, but little else is difficult.”
“The self must also not be battling crippling self-doubt. Or chronic illnesses. Or…mental health problems. Or…ingrained segregation and deep trenched oppression and poverty from which it is impossible to rise alone.”
“Those too, I guess. But most established societies in this age, give a more or less fair shot to everyone’s version of success. The field is very wide and the race categories are many. One only has to be ready.”
“The way you’re speaking someone hearing might just be thinking it’s cookoff we’re talking.”
“Well, it could be, kind of. The essence of the game is to finish with a more desirable result than your opponent in all respects, isn’t it?”
“Well isn’t that the point then? You have to prove that you deserve everything good or bad that comes to you. As far as you can control it of course. Some things might happen to you that you did not intend, and they also fall in either dichotomy. But it is not for you to try to explain those things. You can’t help it, accept that and make the best of it. It will take care of itself.”
“Yes, sensei,” she whispered.
“Mch, rebel,” he shook his head.
She laughed. “How can we help her though?”
“In some cases, someone must first want your help, I think.”
“It’s fundamental to the process. I’m sure you understand.”
As the sun sunk lower in the horizon, Georgina watched as a breeze picked up from the Lake into the compound. It felt delicious after the heat. The water lapped lazily into the grass where the sand meets it. The air smelled of car exhaust and grilled beef, the night birds would be coming out to hunt soon. Georgina wondered when this black sun would cease to darken her beloved’s horizon too.
To be continued.