“Communication,” my Father enunciated with his fading Naija accent. “Communication means Come U and I into Action.”
The voice was an active organ, agent, being, that had a presence, a purpose and an impact. Words were like daggers falling from salted lips, either tinged with bitterness or some other, subtle purpose. As we learnt to meld and mould ourselves into various social situations, the art of communication was developed, becoming an integral part of our efforts to present an adequate image to the burgeoning populace of ‘others’.
Yet within our own families and intimate relations, communication seems to fade into a distant cacophony of unfinished persuasions and intimations, head gestures, hand waves, and winking favours. The words fail to simply fall or if they do, like cat litter on the recently polished burnt oak floor, they are swept under due to inefficient, insufficient aural comprehension, to swill in the vacuum of poor memory retention.
I claimed to speak to be heard. Yet my eyes gloss over. My voice becomes mute. And the gulf between is no longer as ephemeral as the tender trills of a tongued flute. Why don’t we speak, why don’t I laugh, why don’t you ask?
After all, the reason my heart skipped a beat when I scrolled down the page, my heart in my feet, till I saw your name, was because I had dreamed, of liming with you there. Dressed to the nines, with perfume I swear would intoxicate you, till only my eyes told you where, you were, my voice coaxing you (in the maze of my childish mind, filled with the fantastical fantasy of romantic lines) coaxing you up the stairs to a
Boudoir, sheathed in velvet, though I hate the texture, but Mr. Mills and Mr. Boon always told me that it got you in the right temperature. They spun the web that said to me, once I had you ensnared there would no longer be a need, for me to use that muscle in my neck, the one that can sing, or sometimes wretch. They said my mouth was only the facilitator to intimate a gesture that would result in pleasure. Not really Aristotle’s exercise of the mind, speech no longer needed to create action that was fine, but mute lips moving would certainly engender a reaction, some might call, reaching the sublime.
Yet you didn’t come, and we didn’t speak, and silent eyes wandered off down the street, away from your face, hooded from the rain, as booted heels marched solitary against the grain. I tell you, in the mazes of my mind, where doubts and hopes speak in overlapping notes, we’ve already been to my favourite cafe, had breakfast on the backs, and even had a quick pray. You’ve wrapped arms round my waist, i’ve stroked your face, and we’ve laughed along the way. The perfect match, silently placed into the ‘dating space,’ – yet still I laugh, because it does truly sound daft, like the young school girl I often regress into, unsure and awkward, but certainly not mental.
Come you and I into action, he said. But away from the podium, the lights and the space, away from old stone walls and passing waves, we’ve barely met or spoken, shared a joke or story. I am a figment of your imagination, you are an unfinished character in my silent, mental, story.