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Published: 2 years ago

Five Meditations On Movement

This essay is taken from Brainstorm’s new e-book, 127.0.0.1 – Thoughts on Home, which is available for free. DOWNLOAD IT HERE to read more such essays.

by Renee Akitelek Mboya

You will call home.

One.

They will read you the poem for the census and the forecast. Aunty so and so is very well though the cyst on her eye will not go away. We heard in church that Maureen had her baby but then they took it to a different church for baptism. It was 17 degrees outside yesterday – the forest is breathing cold air – where did you put that blanket? You must bring us souvenirs – but are you eating? Don’t eat anything that didn’t have legs. Do you know how much mercury they put in cans? What is ‘yassa’? Wear sunscreen. Eat your fruit. Brush your teeth, dentists are expensive. Did you find a husband?

Two.

There is no larger feeling than the abandonment that rests in that moment of transfer. You will resent those you leave behind for letting you go. You will linger, wait for the impulse that begs you to stay. You will create in your mind the fantasy of home every time you drop soap in the bathroom, every time you wipe your shoes on the mat, every time you meet a stranger – rest your fingers in the soft skin on the back of their hand. You will want to say ‘one day I will know you like the back of my hand’. You will try to leave bits and pieces of yourself lying around – clues. Home will not find you here. Those who should make you stay will not remember your name tomorrow. You will smile creepily at shopkeepers when you buy phone credit. You will hope that they will ask you where your path split to bring you to Nouakchott – Ferkesedougou – Cotonou. Instead they will adjust the dial on their transistor radio. They will crank up the weather report or the call to prayer. You will pass definitely, quickly, out of their present into the more foggy reserves of their past. This place that has touched you will think nothing of you once you are gone.

Three.

Running out of shampoo will become your greatest personal tragedy. Every hair on your body will literally shed the memory of the place in which you are rooted. Squeezing the last of it out of the green bottle will be heartbreak in every stead.

Four.

You will lose your language. This is not okay. It will slip through the cracks of the things that are half heard and half translated. When you speak in child like sentences, in languages that are far from your own, your tongue will start to desiccate. You will stop hearing yourself. You will be quiet and smiling, foreign in more ways than one. You will whisper the words of your national anthem to yourself – you will regret that it is the only prayer that you know in Swahili – Yoruba – Shona – Dinka. When people ask you where you’re from you will no longer be vague, but you will have no way to prove it. Language is only valuable to those who can hear it.

Five.

Your body will cry for a hot meal, a hot shower, the hot pepper sauce from the mama ntilie on your street corner. You will want to be touched, sometimes. You will want only space, other times. You will resent your roommates for sleeping.  You will resent your roommates for snoring.

You will miss the smell of rain.

Renee Akitelek Mboya is a Nairobi based writer who works in fiction and narrative non-fiction. She has published work in Art Life Magazine, East African Standard Newspaper, Kwani?, and others. 

This essay is taken from Brainstorm’s new e-book, 127.0.0.1 – Thoughts on Home, which is available for free. DOWNLOAD IT HERE to read more such essays.

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