It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
I remember it specifically. He was sitting there, eyes focused, intent on the worn fingerboard. Trimmed nailed fingers, wide with a few ridges across the fore, plucked at the steel strings whilst their counterparts pressed down on the fret boards. The notes came out with speed, yet he moved with ease, grace. He didn’t notice me sitting on the light green leather sofa, hunched over my knees, gazing at him with a strange mix of awe, jealousy and enchantment.
The sound. It was, as cliché a phrase, like water trickling so very gently at dusk over small, rounded stones. It was a lullaby waiting to be formed, then it picked up, gurgling, rushing, sweeping and swerving, a rainfall melody, a waterfall of harmonics, and it swept me away. He painted our front room with the sound of his guitar. He clothed the curtains in precious raiments of acoustic notes: they slid, they crawled and they gently kissed everything.
I remember this hush. It was deep inside of me. The noises of my mind were quietened, and I let him in to the deepest, darkest part of my soul. His gentle melody was like a smooth balm, it overwhelmed me so softly. The notes just kept trickling out, and his eyes were shut tight, lower lip hanging over upper, chin slightly forward, left shoulder raised. Sometimes his nostrils flared, they seemed to be speaking, counting the rhythm that i couldn’t hear but I could feel.
A year later I was sitting at a computer. We’d had a fight, i think, probably, knowing me. But it came on, through my plastic earphones. The recording of that moment. I felt my heart swell, it stopped. This sorrow bubbled inside me, and this all-encompassing warmth, this deep, deep sense of falling in love. A sacrificial, authentic love.
That was the day i fell in love with my brother. Not in a carnal, or romantic way, but that agape style. Familial, a deep sense of appreciation, respect, honour. After that piece of music had strolled easily from his callused fingers. It was the moment when I realised, I loved him – not because we shared the same genes, but because I loved him. Because he was someone who represented so many things I admired. He was someone who shone, and reminded me to shine.
He took me into the purple and out again.
His music still shades my mind, and its gentle hand caresses my wounds. His music, inspired my voice, his music, at that time, was my voice.
It was like a release. A slow burner that devoured the gaseous air, leaving space for clean, new oxygen to enter. Inflamed lungs began to expand and contract, but the breath didn’t catch. The fingers didn’t squeeze down on the blue plastic contraption held tightly in the palm of a sweat lined hand. It was a moment. A moment of release. The release when you take hold of the part of you that is hidden away in a parallel universe. That compact, almost invisible mirage of feelings and thoughts that no-one gets to see. They call it Vulnerability.
But in that one moment instead of a chemical compound of steroids spurting out into the air, the fingers reached into that tiny pocket, hidden between the folds of time, the creases of ‘identity,’ and ripped Vulnerability out into reality.
Then vaseline lined lips kissed it a sweet goodbye.
And there was a release of pure air.
I know what you are thinking. You’re looking at the post number and the date and going – they don’t correspond. She missed a day – she lied! Hold that judgement. I did not lie. Neither did I specify that I would do a post everyday before 12am (haha, the beauty of small print), but simply everyday. Considering I haven’t gone to bed yet (power naps don’t count) this post still counts for day 27, but just to appease you, I shall post again tomorrow before 12am.
So here I am, at 2.20am eating cold pasta with home-made haddock and tomato sauce and writing something, this. As interesting as your early morning cuisine is, what kept you away from your systematic posting, I hear you ask through the ether. I was living, is my response through a half-chewed mouth of now slimy carbohydrates and chewy amphibian. And now, I shall deign to explain.
As a student you are told one of two things:
1) Go to University for the experience
2) Go to University for the degree.
If you are a student of african descent it goes more like this:
1) Don’t Facebook face your book
2) Did you got to University to get friends or get a degree? (NB: This is a rhetorical question, there is only 1 answer.)
However, after many involuntary power-naps that I ascribe to the sheer overworking of my mind (allow me some pity), i decided to venture outside the walls of my room and into the cobbled streets below.
I went to watch people dance.
Creepy, is your response. No – you are the creepy one for implying what was not inferred. Control yourself.
I could do an elaborate critique of both the Jazz event, dance show and finally club night I found myself at – intrepid explorer am i, three shindigs in one night, who knew?! – but instead I want to leave your eager eyes with this, concise, valid, and perhaps unique (?) thought:
When people dance, the motion, the action, the intent, isn’t in their bodies. People dance in their faces, and that visage is what tells the story, the figure is what conveys the emotion, their very physiognomy exudes the vivacity, the beauty, the sheer power of entertainment.
Dance isn’t bodily. It is facial.
[insert dramatic pause, for want of nothing better to say]
Go on, I hear you cry. But alas, my optimistic left-overs-for-tomorrows-lunch have found themselves safely into my digestive system and so it is time for me to sleep. To sleep peacefully, with the beat, the pulse and the rhythm etched in the contours of my face.
I firmly believe that within literature one can find themselves. That is what makes the written word so emotive, so compelling and so powerful. It has the ability to re-write a history, to destroy a presence, to retell the world, to make the world. The beautiful moment though, is just between the created and the creation. When you are poised on the balance, on the teetering knife-edge of some poetry, prose, article, or simply a sentence. It speaks to you, and you recognize the sound of your own voice.
It may not be the physical manifestation of your audible speech. When I say voice I mean the thing, the sound, the idea that signifies you. Your eyes read, your mind reads and you see yourself there. Your ideas, your beliefs, your fears held within the palm of a few letters, a syntactic structure, a word, a story, a character painted in language. And you smile.
The knife-edge tips an inch lower and you fall into that world. You assimilate yourself with the ideas, the concepts, the feelings and actions of what is being expressed. Reading is an immersive action. It creates life, it holds the essence of life within it, and when you find yourself in literature you come alive. A sense of purpose, a clarity of mind befalls you. At times it is indescribable, but a sense of grounding, of definition embellishes the sketchy idea that is ‘you.’
It is one of the most rewarding experiences. To hear someone speaking about a theory, a feeling, describing a view, speaking under another name, and realize in truth it is yourself, speaking back at you, expressing, quantifying and exposing the inexpressible.
Today, I found myself again in literature. And it made me smile.
Language carries culture, and culture, especially through literature, carries the entire body of values by which we come to perceive ourselves and our place in the world.
(Ngugi wa thiong’o: Decolonizing the Mind: The politics of language in African Literature)
When you genuinely have nothing to say, it’s always better to keep it that way.
They fell like tiny globules of melted diamond, elongated, translucent yet shining like the sun. They gently stroked the tips of our ears and noses, and pawed our cheeks. Our long-lashed eyes closed and laughter escaped our lips, as we scrunched up our faces and jiggled our shoulders. One pulled the slender branch, the other reached up with pliers. Together, two separate brown-eyed girls, one was a hazelnut the other an almond, cut the mimosa branch.
The sky was a moody grey, streaked with black and white like an unfurling badger. Clouds clustered together gossiping and the shy sun hid behind, the last to be picked in the school play.
Metal chewed at bark, and bit by bit branches were cut loose. The small yellow-brown hand held on tightly, stubby fingers clutched around the gangly limbs of the tree. The other arm, closer to bronze, manipulated the pliers, twisting and turning them. When three whole branches were gathered, they locked eyes, and on a unanimous count let go of the branch.
A girlish giggle bubbled up and out just as a shower of diamonds encrusted our hair, our eyes, and bright yellow mimosa flowers shone out against a pale grey sky.