Interrupted Moments of Silence
Mornings and I are not BFFs. We tolerate each other simply because we have to coexist. We wave, mumble a hello and that does it for good deeds for the day.
I dislike early morning conversations too. I consider them unnecessary. What do you really have to say that cannot wait for the sun to come up and for your throat to be lubricated with a cup of coffee? Think about it, what? Good conversations happen after a good cup of coffee, preferably with the sun smiling down at you.
I don’t understand why people want conversation all the time. Why not take the few hours of the morning just to gather your thoughts, soak in the silence and you know, just be? Me, I ease into my mornings slowly, nice and easy. I take a few minutes with my thoughts, my body and the monologues in my head. Only in my head.
Because it is 6.07 in the am, I am still in that ‘silence’ ‘monologue-y’ mode. Only that I have earphones stuck in my ears – I don’t mind music in the morning, or at any time of the day for that matter. Only that I am on a road stretch. Only that I am jogging on that road. My chest laments and the jog soon comes down a notch, to a walk. Walking is exercise too, right?
I am enjoying my music: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. The violins are in tandem with my footsteps. The sweet voices. Everything is beautiful around me; the song is beautiful, the stillness that surrounds me is beautiful. I am panting (and sweating just a bit) but my body feels light and beautiful.
But someone had to spoil this beautiful moment for me. Someone who desperately needed conversation. A woman, who for some reason, felt the need to talk to another human being – earphones, good music and morning jogs, be damned!
The woman appears and starts walking with me. I try walking ahead and when it doesn’t work, I try lagging behind. But my steps and the woman’s are synced! When I move, she moves. Just like that. (A song just popped to mind, didn’t it?)
The sun is still tucked in bed so I need more time before I can switch to ‘conversation mode’. I am not at this hour of the morning fishing for conversation with a stranger.
I am still catching my breath. Please ignore me! Please don’t feel the need to talk to me!
She starts talking!
Her lips move. Her eyes make contact with mine. I don’t hear what she is saying because; The Verve? I choose not to even try. Now this is the part where she is supposed to give up, label me an insufferable snob, and then get on with her life. You would like that wouldn’t you?
She doesn’t (sorry to disappoint you). I, in fact, see her lips move again. I hesitate before removing the earphones from my ears. I would rather not remove them, but she keeps talking while looking at me in a way to suggest that she is waiting for an answer.
“The rains are relentless, aren’t they?”
She will interrupt The Verve to talk about the weather? At 6 in the morning!?
I expected something more important. Something worth interrupting The Verve for. Like: “Look lady, your pants are on fire!” or “You are running short of breath, I think we need to call paramedics!” “Your life is in danger!” “There’s a lion coming after you!”
The rains are relentless? THE RAINS ARE RELENTLESS? I took out my earphones for a weather conversation?
“Mmmh” That is the best I could do.
I try to slow down but she gets equally slow. My fate is sealed. She wants to walk with me. Which I don’t mind. But she also wants to talk to me. Which I really really do mind. Especially since I don’t know her. And this is not the perfect time for a tujuane session.
She begins: She has been working as a househelp for that house over there (points) for the last three months. This morning, her employer told her that she did not have the money to keep paying for her services.She has therefore decided to go back home to her village. She wants to catch an early morning bus.
“What will you do now” I am all in. There is no escaping this.
“I think I will go and open a kibanda. Start selling clothes or maybe vegetables”
“Which one of the two?”
“Don’t say maybe. Choose one” I tell her.
She looks at me and says nothing. I suspect she thinks “This is a weird one”
If it was another time of the day, when the sun was up and I had had my coffee, I would have told her how I have a problem with the word ‘maybe’. How I believe that indecision is what kills most of us. That she should just pick one thing and run with it. I would have told her how it was unproductive to always dance around ‘maybes’ as they never got you anywhere.
I notice the polythene bag she carries in her hand. For someone who is going home, that is a small piece of luggage to carry.
We reach an intersection and she heads the bus stage way as I find my way back to the house.
You would think she would leave me alone after that. But she was to appear again the same evening. This time she interrupted my dinner.
Her face is powdered and her eyebrows profoundly outlined with a pencil – quite a different look from her early morning look.
She unceremoniously (as is becoming her trend) appears on my TV screen, a smile plastered on her face.
“…Kalekye is wanted for the murder of her employer, who was found dead in her living room with knife stab wounds” the reporter’s voice says.
A proper introduction at last: Her name is Kalekye. She is a murderer.
This article was first published on the Storymoja Festival Blog