She has always favoured the night over the day

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She has always favoured the night over the day. The light of the day allows all who would bask in it to be active and go about their lives. They go to world, travel, socialise and spend time composing themselves as human beings. In the night, however, all those people retreat to the comfort of four walls and recharge so that they may continue in their cycle. They may extend their days by engaging further, long after the sun has set. They go out drinking, dining and dancing. It’s not as if she doesn’t do these things, she loves them. She loves the night for several reasons.

There is, however, one reason that she favours the night that stands above all others. She is fascinated by the glow that the street lights bring to the horizon. For her, it always seems like an attempt by man to reach out to the deep black abyss. The glow of the street light, created to protect them all from the dangers created by man when the sun is absent. It is those very dangers that prevent her from taking full advantage of a time that she adores most. How she would love to take long walks in a city that she only sees in the light of day. She longs to see the way the leaves look in the absence of sunny, blue skies. Environmentalists call it “light pollution”, and that always makes it sound so evil. But she like to see the state in which Man leaves his world behind while he slumbers.

And when they slumber, she takes a moment to disconnect herself from her entire species and anything related to it by simply looking up. She looks beyond the street light, up at the twinkling blanket thrown over the world to tuck all its creatures in and takes comfort in knowing that it is in this image that she can confide. When her mind swims with heavy thoughts the accompany existential crises, she knows that she can step outside and look up to see the shining stars that have been there for as long as she can remember.

Her friends, the Evening Star, Sirius, Orion and the Southern Cross, are all there, ready to hear her tales. She tells them all her deepest fears because she knows that they will not tell anyone, and they will hold those words for eternity. She can always stand under them and ask what life was like when she was young, and they tell her about how they used to watch her sit with her closest allies and they would introduce her to the celestial beings. Though the allies come and go, the stars always remained with her, wherever she went. Even on road trips, she would look out of the window and watch them fly through the sky with her, just to keep her company. And now she sits with her glowing friends, reminiscing on days gone by, knowing that the current trials are merely minutes that shall pass. They tell her how much she has been through, and how much she will still see, as if they see it all happening at that point. They tell her that they can see her right now, an old woman, sitting in peace and looking right up at them.

She has always favoured the night over the day. The night is the old friend that stays with her and brings her peace.

Bright Lights in Accra

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When I left the house, it felt as if the family was just jumping into the car for Saturday evening dinner. I had been so occupied by the organisation of my trip that I had forgotten to realise that I was leaving. For the first time in my life, I was going to be all on my own in a foreign country. This trip would also mark the longest time I would have ever been out of my home country, six weeks. And so, when the time came to cross the boarding gate, I was met with a rush of emotion. I wasn’t going on a school trip or a family vacation, I was going out into the world. On the plane, I found myself wondering what on earth I was doing. I sent my mother one last ‘I love you’ text before turning off my phone.

The flight was long and I couldn’t decide what to watch, but six hours and twenty minutes later, I had touched down in Accra, Ghana.

The standard disembarking procedure took forever, but this could have been because I felt a little buzz inside me. My silly human mind had taken the sadness of leaving, flipped on its head and turned it into the excitement of going. At the door of the plane, I was hit by a wave of humidity. There was a slight drizzle coming down and I distinctly remember the glow of yellow city lights stretching up to the night sky. On the bus ride from the plane to the airport, my excitement grew, and I tried so hard to contain it, for responsibility purposes. I couldn’t be a little kid in a foreign country, I was looking out for myself. But I could still look out of the window with child-like glee.

After getting the admin of bags, greetings with coordinators, passports and sim-cards out of the way, I sent my mother a text to say I had landed. Two of the coordinators I had met were Alex and Eben. After having been helped with everything, I followed Eben out into the parking-lot and loaded everything into a taxi. On the way to Teshie-Nungua, the town in which I would be living, we passed by a mall which had stores like Mr. Price, Game and Shoprite. I would later find out that this mall was heavily associated with South Africans, though I never really got the full story. It seems I wasn’t so far away from home after all. I could smell the salt in the air, a smell held exclusively by coastal areas. In Ghana, they drive on the right side of the road, and coming from a country where they drive on the left, the oncoming traffic being on a different side coupled with the taxi driver’s reckless driving and constant hooting induced slight panic-attacks. On the side of the road, I could see many little shacks and shops selling anything from food to foam mattresses and rendering services like tailoring and different forms of hairdressing. All of this reminded me of the organised chaos of South African townships.

When we arrived at the house, I met my housemates, most of whom were British. Many of them were going through a culture-shock but we were all so excited that it didn’t matter. The house reminded me of my grandmother’s house. Showers outside, crowded-spaces, it’s like going home for the December Holidays.

A very energetic young man named Elliot was introducing himself to everyone, and when it came time to meet me, he offered me a very large beer and we exchanged words that, when repeated, wouldn’t really be understood because, well, you had to be there. Eventually I found out that people were preparing to go out for the night. Having agreed to join, I took a shower, got dressed and sat down again while I waited for everyone else. This would become standard procedure, because Ghanaians run on ‘African Time’, and having decided to take a ‘When In Rome’ approach to their experience, my fellow foreigners had decided to do the same. We left the house around midnight.

We took a walk down the street, piled ourselves into several taxis and took off. The ride was blurry in my eyes as the giant beer had taken my bloodstream under occupation. I felt euphoric and when we arrived at the bar, I took in all of my surroundings. Across the street, taxis were parked and their owners were waiting for their next passenger. There were more bars lined up and down the street. We made room for our entire group by connecting tables and as soon as we sat down, I found myself taking in the details of a drag queen who had been dancing since we had arrived. She was dressed in a bra, mini-skirt, and heels. She had log, shiny earrings dangling from her ears and lots of mascara and lipstick on but the best part of the outfit: she had her name, Akua, painted across her belly. She danced to the loud, vibrant music for what I think might have been half an hour, and she eventually sat down, but only long enough for me to find out her name.

We didn’t stay for long. The purpose of this excursion was for us to just have a night out instead of going straight to bed. We all had a beer and tried as hard as we could to converse over the loud music. It may or may not have worked, but it didn’t matter. There was a silent agreement that we were all content with the people we would be staying with, or at least I thought so.

When we got back home, Elliot and I stood outside the compound to have a smoke and share stories that are far too personal to divulge and, if repeated directly, wouldn’t be understood because, again, you had to be there.

That night, I fell asleep with the fan on, something that would also become standard procedure. As I rested my head on the pillow, every thought in my head was swimming and doing tricks to catch my attention. I tried to record them all, but I had passed out in minutes.

We were off to a good start.

A Peek Into A Stranger’s Life Is Not So Strange

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The Twist was to be brief.

I’m not sure about the rest of humanity, but I know that I have the tendency to live day to day in complete autonomy, caring only about me and being completely indifferent towards the issues that anyone else might have. I think I’m just so swept away by my own troubles that I forget to look up and check if someone else might be in need. I accidentally stumbled upon that realisation when a letter between the pages of a book I had taken out from the library.

“Dear Lucy,

I’ve tried tirelessly to apologise to you. I hope that one day you could forgive me, and let me meet my son.

David.”

It’s dated 1969. It has no creases so it seems it was never posted. David might not have met his son.

I wonder if my dad would like to see me. Wherever he may be.

Enchanted, Addicted, Committed

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Every Friday night, and for as many nights as we can in the week, my friends and I make it a point to gather at somebody’s house and have a what we simply call a shindig. A shindig requires few things, a venue, beverages, food, and most importantly, music. It is the glue that holds this group of young, fast-moving and ambitious group of friends together. Because as much as we need the pace to forward our careers, we must always keep ourselves grounded and remember that one day, when we’re old and retired, there were moments where we sat back and absorbed all the blessings in our lives. Over time, our shindigs have become more organised. There are certain things that each of us need to do in order to prepare for them, a set of unspoken rules, so to speak. We each bring our own six-pack or bottle to contribute to the box of vice for the night, and we rely on Zanele, our resident chef, to take care of the food. The event usually takes place at my flat, and because Zanele and I have been friends since high school, she has no qualms about raiding my kitchen. They all say that we have to gather at my place because it’s more central, but I know that its because we all silently agree that I have the best taste in music.

When choosing a song, the trick is to find a song that can make you feel both extremely high and low at the same time. A song that jolts excitement in such copious amounts that you feel you need to settle down almost instantly. As a group of twenty-something year-olds, we feel mostly comfortable in the manacles with which we’ve shackled ourselves to this life. As music played a huge role in forging these manacles, we prefer to listen to the music that ignites flames deep in our memories, songs that haven’t been played in a long time. No offense to any artists of the present, we fully support them in their creativity. But if a song is good enough to make me feel like I’m hearing it for the first time every time I hear it, it deserves to be played into eternity.

And there we were on a blissful Friday evening having a much needed shindig. The air was warm and the smell of Zanele’s spices and Vuyo’s incense danced together to form warm feelings of soul food and zen meditation. That night, it was just the three of us, which was fine, more food and drinks for us. The night was still young though we submerged ourselves deep in nostalgia with a song that pre-dates our existence, “Do I Move You?” by Nina Simone. This song always brings forth the image of what I think the American South was like in the 60s. How black people would gather away from the rampant racism for a wild night. The blues guitar and harmonica sets the tone for Simone’s seductive voice to dig deep inside the id and conjure up the primal instinct to lose all inhibitions and just move. Vuyo recounted the first time he ever heard the song, “I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so young, eight years old, I should have been asleep but my dad kept me awake while he was sending me back and forth. When the song came on he decided that he would impart a lesson unto me. He said, “my son, the most important thing in life is the love a good woman. So when you think you might have met the one and you want to check to make sure, ask yourself “does she move me?” If the answer is yes, you need to work towards asking her if she’d like to, perhaps, move you for the rest of your life.” From then on I knew that Nina Simone was the compass that would point me in the right direction. I’m not there yet, but I’m still young, who knows?” I sat back and observed as this song caused an indelible smile on my friend’s face, a smile that can only be caused by the memories of childhood.

As one song faded into the next we all laughed as we have the same familiar feeling with the next song, Kgomo by Jonas Gwangwa, also known as the Wedding Song. Each of us remembered this song from our childhood. It would always play at large family gatherings, weddings, house-warmings, Christmas, whenever there is a reminiscent feeling in the air, it plays. The first time Zanele heard this song was at her aunt’s wedding reception. “That was the first time, in my memory, that I started meeting new family members. The ones that are only ever seen at weddings and funerals. I was seven and when the song came on, everybody formed a line behind the bride and groom and started stepping all around the dance-floor. Their hips swayed to the rhythm of the trumpet as they took two large strides forward and two short ones back. It was like it was instinctive, everyone knew what to do, it all fell into place. Nonku, you’d better make sure it plays at my wedding, I don’t care how old it is.” As she stood to demonstrate the dance we stood with her, because we knew exactly what she was talking about. Like she said, it was instinctive.

The next song that played was and is by far and away my favourite song of all time, Midnight by 340ml. My memory of this song wasn’t a childhood one, I had just begun high-school when it came out. The first time I heard it was when my cool uncle, Kgosi, came to pick me up from school. It was a Friday and he had promised me a trip to the movies. On our way home after the movie, we were deep in the discussion of the plot-line when the song came on, and we both fell silent. The sun was setting, splashing colours of pink, yellow, orange and gold to mix in with the cool blue sky. The road was open and it was as if it went on forever. The bass guitar tugged at my emotions like a dog on a leash wanting desperately to run wild. The drums had me enchanted, the guitar had me addicted and the vocals had me committed. I vowed to chase a moment just like that, with those feelings, those sounds, that atmosphere and when I did I would hold on to it forever. I would take it into my old age, I would show others how to do it, how to feel what I felt. If they didn’t immediately click, it would never happen and I would move on to the next one.

It has clicked with many people. Those who are like-minded and have experiences similar to mine. I called that moment, that very special moment, a shindig.

I’ve perfected it, making last as long as possible. Enchanted, addicted, committed.

Simple Pleasures at The Speed of Light

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From 9 am to 5 pm I become suspended in an environment that prides itself on having features that I like to think of as clinical. The area must always be clean and minimal, similar to the cars we sell. The tiles on the floor are white, or ocean-foam white, as they were named by whatever company manufactures them. The walls are white, I think the paint is called sandstorm, though it’s the exact same as the floor. Where there isn’t a brick wall, one will find towering glass barriers. Those face the street so as to display the cars on the showroom floor to the public. Our desks are arranged in a very orderly fashion, though you would think that it was chaos when you see people running around with sheets of paper in hand, asking each other questions and trying to get work done. The phones ring constantly with someone on the other line trying to get a piece of the German excellence on our floors. Potential clients walk in to a world that is entirely different from any other, to buy a product that is in a class of its own. At least that’s what the brochure says.

This is the world I occupy. The 9 to 5 I maintain to pay the bills. It is mundane and stifling and at every moment I wish I could get away. It’s not that I hate the job, I like it. I try to think of it as an art form, so as to stimulate my ever-hungry right-brain. But occasionally I wonder about the places that I would like to go to, if I were given the power. If I could travel at the lightning speed at which we claim our cars travel, where would I be? If I teleport like X-men’s Azazel or had the TARDIS, where would I want to land up? There is no grand paradise that I imagine. But there are little pieces of sunshine that I find in my own time, outside of my money-making hours.

If I could zoom through space at the speed of light, more specifically, space-time, I would take myself to the park a few blocks away from my flat, at sunset. I’d like to go to a time where the children frolic about on the jungle-gyms without a care in the world. I’d like to be in the presence of lovers basking in each other’s happiness. The park is the perfect place for this. It is so vast and the natural scenery brings out a peaceful nature of co-habitation in everyone present. I find my solace on my very favourite park bench, which is positioned across an oak tree whose leaves are at this very moment gaining hues of red, gold and brown. The sun sets just left of this tree and the warm colours give me an extra dose of life with which to carry on in the night. But by far the best thing about this park is the paradoxical quietude among all the noise. Even though the children might scream and shout and the cars might zoom past with people trying to get to the next point in their lives, I can tune out all the noise because I’m all alone. Its as if no one else is here.

If I could zoom through space-time at the speed of light, oh the places I’d go. I’d take myself all the way to Jay’s Pub on the corner of my block, on a Saturday night. This place is one that I truly call home because I am able to shine light into the corners of my soul. Corners that I can’t show to my dearest friends or even my family. This is the place where I can pour my heart out to the kindest human-being I’ve ever known, a complete stranger, the audience. I stand on a stage in front of a crowd, and though there might be a few individuals I know, when they form part of the giant creature called The Audience they are anonymous. The smell of tobacco and wood stains my senses like mud on the formal outfit of a mischievous child. The spotlight shines on me, I look into it’s eyes and everything else falls away. As I speak, the response from the voices in the audience peel away at my insecurities to reveal my inner-child. A fierce, serious, silly and shy little girl. As I speak my mind, the laughter and gasps echo on the walls of the pub and I find myself possessing the power to silence a mass of people with the shock of my words. I am all alone in this pub, I speak out loud to everyone and no one. I love them all.

I am Nonku. Selling cars by day, poet by night. I chase my true passion in the dark, work to survive in the light and in between, I find solace in my paradoxical quietude.

20 Minute Rambling

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I write this post 4 hours later than I meant to because procrastination got the better of me. What was meant to be published just after 4pm will be published at 9.20pm. But now that I’m on the ball, I  have no choice but to keep to my time for the rest of the month. The idea of this post is to carry on typing for 20 minutes, just to get the mind moving. It might be working, I can’t tell. Let me move into a different direction.

I could go on about how my day was, or write a touching descriptive piece about the night. My day wasn’t all that and I’m saving the night for another night. However, I must say I’m glad to be back. I went quiet for a while and I’m not sure why, but as I’ve said before, this blogging thing is hard. In this the month of June, I chose to refuse all the excuses that may come my way. I’m beginning to sound like one of those people in an on off relationship with fitness. I don’t like sounding like that. I’ll move into a different direction.

I have returned. I have 9 more minutes with you. I will be here for longer. There are many things I need to say to you, although, as usual, I can’t. But I won’t run, I’m committed to the Writing 101 course now. There must be a way we can spin this and make it fictitious and delightful. I see a name…

Nonku…there we go. I’ve added an extra twist to the alleged twist I will receive daily. I have to write about this character, Nonku. She will be fierce, silly, serious and shy. Your job is to force me into doing it. I’ll do it everyday, only on weekdays of course. Promise me? Liar.

4 more minutes…not bad. This is a brief introduction to the month of June, Youth month in South Africa. What a month we’ll have. Stick to your promise and I’ll stick to mine.

2 minutes…I have so much to say. When did I become a slow typist? Writing is fantastic. I’m excited. A person is born. Already with a life and a past and a future. I don’t know what it is but it’s mine to make up or figure out.

And in this last minute I bid you adieu, cliche and cheesy, I know, but who are we without cheese?

Xx

Monkeys And Typewriters

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The following is a post about writing, which, as it turns out, I write about a lot.

In 1913, Emile Borel came up with the idea that if he had an infinite number of monkeys and type-writers at his disposal, typing away into eternity, they would eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare, and probably humanity as a whole. So, let’s unpack this theory.

The monkeys, let’s chose a species and say chimpanzees, because apparently, they’re the smartest, and we’d be able to regulate the outcome. Then let us assume that chimpanzees all type in the same way as is intended, and they don’t just bang away at the keyboard. They press random buttons in series to create symbols on a page. This might be the roots of programming or something like that, who knows? Anyway. The infinite amount of chimpanzees and type-writers typing out symbols in series will eventually create every word, sentence, paragraph and story that has been made and ever will be made by man. Not only that, but the monkeys would mix and match different works of writing. So in those infinite pages, we would find Macbeth attached to a report on dogs playing football in Surrey, or even the works of Darwin prefacing a collection of crude YouTube comments.

Let us go a step further and say that these chimpanzees hold at their fingertips, the power to predict the events and control the behaviour of our society. Since, as we had previously established, they would type out every word that ever was and will be, somewhere along the line we would find every reported even that ever was and will be. You’re still with me, right? Good.

These assumptions and conclusions would lead us to believe that the chimpanzees are prophets, nay, sentient beings. We are at the mercy of their words. They have the ability to type out religious scripts which we would use to justify right and wrongdoings. They would predict the wars we engage in. They would find our cures, bring us to tears, send us to new worlds, give us new legislation and so on and so forth. Does this mean, that you, the budding writer, are no better than some animal tapping away mindlessly at a keyboard? The work that you put tireless effort into, litres of coffee, hours of rumination, could all be typed out by a chimpanzee left to its own devices? For all we know, I am just a chimpanzee, this is just a random process. Or this has already been done by a chimpanzee, and there was no need for this at all.

Let us stray to a different topic, for a moment. Move your mind to the Rubik’s Cube. Invented by Erno Rubik this devilish toy has exactly 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 permutations (that’s forty-three quintillion, two hundred fifty-two quadrillion, three trillion, two hundred seventy-four billion, four hundred eighty-nine million, eight hundred fifty-six thousand.) However, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to change just one block without changing another. So I cannot have the combination of all sides being perfectly aligned and just two colours out of place. Even if I move the cube an infinite number of times for eternity, I won’t get the result I’m looking for. Though it’s probably just the method I’m using.

Another thought: The Costa Coffee advert. They replace type-writers with coffee-machines. Basically, the ad says that not all coffee is made through luck, it takes time and training to make the perfect cup.

With the Rubik’s dilemma and Costa Coffee’s time and training in mind, we return to our chimpanzees. Let us imagine with hope, that even through infinity, there are some words that just cannot be combined. It’s a stretch, but for the sake of the ego of humankind, an the writer, let’s. The chimpanzees, infinite as they may be, are simply just a program. You, however, are the writer. You put painstaking hours into churning out logical, reasonable, beautiful and moving work. You didn’t just look at the symbols on the keyboard and tap whichever one you felt like tapping. You gave life to a thought that was just swimming around in your mind before.

We are the chimpanzees banging away at the keyboard, and the masters of our own fate. We control our outcomes. We have the power to bring tears and transport our readers to new worlds. So very simple. So very powerful.

This hasn’t cured my Writer’s Block. But it’s a start.

Where does art come from?

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There’s nothing more frustrating than a creative block. The idea is there, you can see yourself creating a thing, but once you sit down and so it, the content is absent from your mind.

I once wrote an entire epic about love and the noble fight for justice. I was flowing so freely that I continued to write thrilling novellas and stories that tug at the heartstrings. Then, I woke up.

I always picture myself sitting at my desk, writing out the things I need to, but a block like The Berlin Wall stand between me and my creative freedom. There is a reason why, there’s always a reason why.

The ideas we come up with are not our own. The creations we think we make are merely snippets and translations of a world that we are being allowed into, by our vastly powerful minds. When we sleep and dream, or shower, have coffee or engage in any other routine task, we often find ourselves staring off into the abyss. We have access to the peephole that many have seen over the ages. Dali saw melting clocks and massive red roses. Picasso saw angles and blocks. I see a whole new world, and my young vocabulary hasn’t yet found the words to describe the magnificent complexities that I see.

When some experience a creative block, they see nothing. Others see everything. Buy when the lens is clean and all is clear, art happens.

What do you see?

Researching The Cure For Writer’s Block

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The internet will make you do really weird stuff.

I’ve come down with a terrible case of writer’s block. Naturally, being a child of the 21st century, millennial, born-free as they say in SA, I googled a solution. I’ve always found it simply fascinating that Google can be used as a verb, even when you don’t use the same search-engine. I’ve googled things using Bing countless times.

The search results showed me a number of creative sites with all the usual solutions, go outside, pet a deer, buckle down and write, build a chair, eat healthy, remove distraction, basically solutions to all things in life. Then I caught a list that intrigued me. Composed by Brian Moreland, it had seven ways to overcome The Block. The first six were the usual, but it was the the last one that I’m going to try.

Moreland calls it the Glass-of-water method. The idea is to fill up a glass of water and, before going to bed, declare your intentions to said glass. Drink half of the water, sleep, and drink the rest in the morning. Moreland says that within 3 days, the victim will be cured.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it made me think of Masaru Emoto’s water crystal experiments. He would expose water to various forms of media and communication such as pictures, music, words etc. and then he would view the water, in a crystallised form under a microscope. The molecules that were exposed to positive messages formed solid structures while the negative messages formed molecules that looked broken and unstable.

So if I give my water a positive and reinforcing message, and proceed to consume it for it’s optimistic power, I shall be rewarded.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Xx

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window | Bertha, Bertha and Bertha

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This picture was taken from the study desk. It is of the electrical lines out in the field. These lines are supported by Bertha, Bertha and Bertha. Goodness knows why the municipality decided to call them that. (I don’t really know if they called them that. But they should. It’s a really good name.)

Bertha, Bertha and Bertha stand proudly over their field, surveying all the activity and guarding all that is sacred. They are the keepers of the light. They wear their armour with pride, standing with their legs apart and hands on their hips, showing true grace in their authority. They know all and see all. When power surges in the night, with families tucking away into their creature comfort, they are most alive. They know where each and every single electron goes. If you’re watching mindless TV, they know. If you’re cooking a meal for your loved ones, they know. If you’re seeking shelter from the cold, they know.

It is a lonely but noble task for Bertha, Bertha and Bertha. They never leave their post. The last time one of them did, (it was Bertha, by the way) the power was out for three days. The government called it “load-shedding” but I know the truth.

Bertha, Bertha and Bertha will stand guard and protect us eternally. Or at least until we figure out how to transmit electricity wirelessly.

Posted as part of the Weekly Challenge