By Immanuel Lokwei,
GENRE: Solipsistic, Fiction
(From Anecdotes of An “Ethnic Warrior” Who Never Was!)
There have always been people on both the giving and receiving ends of oppression. When I see some people on the latter end, I wonder whether it is not a double tragedy to waste their misfortunes, to fail to make a good thing out their misery. I have thought and thought and come to the conclusion that it is prudent to exploit the misery of these afflicted others for personal advancement at the very least. Now here is a potential lot – most New York beggars are sophisticated and some of the women among them are indeed beautiful. I will inform you how they can be made useful (this is why I am here.) By the way, I am here not to appeal to your sensitivities and bloated “moral” ego but to tell my story, the story of my conquest. So you must first ease your frown of heightened concern if I am to proceed. I cannot start this anecdote, which I’m just about to do, on a more agreeable moral note.
I had just gotten off a train at Grand Central terminal, hurrying to catch a subway to 68th street and Broadway, when I was struck by a very spectacular cowrie in the distance. My next maneuver would have been to beat a left-turn to exit the main concourse of the station. But doing this would have forced my back on this cowrie, something I instantly realized I did not want to do. I postponed my plans like any reasonable man would do and instead made a right-angled turn in the opposite direction when the chance presented itself.
Now, straight in front of me was the woman, full of promise.
If you could see her through my eyes, you would surely be hypnotized by the power of my keen sight – I must say it’s a gift not so uncommon among us nomads of Northern Kenya. A dark hue, probably a result of dirt and sun, covered almost her entire face except for a small part on her right cheek and right ear that had a glass-like earing dangling like Eros on a rope. Despite her full composition having endured forces which her frock conspicuously proclaimed to be those of poverty and homelessness, I was still able to see, unlike the multitude of men and women and children who thronged and whizzed by oblivious to even her shivering and sitting posture, that underneath this façade of a frock must be a human bomb. You know many people crowd Grand Central, especially at hours like this, and you have to be careful not to bump into this person or that ugly person over the other side – you can get lost in all this frenzy. Luckily for me, the green necklace resting on that woman’s bosom and the pendant kissing the crevice created by her parted breasts functioned surprisingly very much like the North Star. The sailor in me would soon dock home.
Let’s take a step back and explain in honest detail the strange pull of the object of my desire, strange of course from your point of view (I know people). There is, of course, my keen sight which I have already mentioned, and my “infamously” eccentric sexual appetite – eccentric though within a special framework. I have to emphasize this in case I happen in the near future to get a job in Kampala. But anyway, if I conceal the ideological dilemma I have recently been battling, which is the chief cause of the woman’s draw to me, the explanation would be wanting and I would be understating the facts.
THE IDEOLOGICAL DILEMMA: My one side is pulled by an obsession with the immorality of prostitution and the other side is in a tussle with my unrestrainable experiential-artistic side. I moved away from soliciting prostitutes when I concluded it was impossible to determine a purely clean prostitution system that does not echo, faintly or adamantly, elements of slavery and subordination. On the other hand, my artistic experiences and quest have shown me that the probability of reaching sublimity of experiences is highest in free-willed and purely hedonistic encounters. Sublimity certainly can be reached when participants in these free systems are fully experienced, as prostitutes are. Indeed, I would have stuck with them but the problem with soliciting prostitutes, as I’ve said, is the thought that the other partner is in it for economic gain; it sullies the whole business and diminishes my prospects of reaching the sublime.
But how can I reconcile this duality – the fight between my want for sublime sexual experience and my conscience?
I am a man who loves conquests; in conquests are the seeds of sublimity – paradiso, my comrade. Though I am a born nomad conqueror, I want to fit in too. I want to be like any other free-minded “modern” man. So I have decided that I want diamonds for my wife, instead of cattle. And so I no longer conduct raids for cattle – I have torn away that element of my tradition, for in some ways I want to be like the western man. I hear that “modern” men use the magic of coercion and not brute force to achieve their desired ends. Really? I doubted this at first. Are they successful? But I was changed by the spell of this magic. I adopted and practiced this tactic of coercion. I gave up my love for the Kalashnikov, not that some western men don’t love them too.
But what could fill the emptiness, the void, created by neglecting the hard-wired joy of conquest through the spit of gunfire? What raids could I possibly conduct in this “modern” world to substitute for the ecstasy of cattle raiding? And mind you, we did not just conduct cattle raids for raiding’s sake. Besides cattle, I can parade before you ten thousand virtues that raiding brought: ECSTASY, NECESSITY, PRIDE, ALIVENESS, MEANING, etc.
The first substitutes I fell for were prostitutes, until my conscience almost exploded. Since the personal advancement that was nourished by these nomad conquests is indispensable, a new substitute had to be sought out quickly. I had two choices; either tweak my conscience to accommodate the reality of my essential needs or shape my surrounding reality to appease my conscience. The former is harder. So I decided, the best and easier way to channel my energy, the best way to pursue my sense of meaning in this “modern” world, would be to become a manipulative sexual hedonist with at least some moral sympathies, rather than be either an outdated cattle-raider or unreflective sexual hedonist who is insensitive to the plight of prostitutes. So I shed my first and second selves and put on this new one.
Now here I was standing, pulled by the two magnets of her eyes. Eroticism is a great pull my dear friend. I, ethnic outlier that I am, standing face to face with this homeless woman. I felt alive. The rush of blood in my muscles surely confirmed that the world can be a beautiful place. In my head, the following principle was ringing: “Better to coax someone and have them voluntarily yield to one’s sexual advances than buy love!” I felt like spitting at the last clause but you don’t spit inside Grand Central! So if you don’t want to buy love, what about random sex with any skirt that might dash by? That can do temporarily but I told you my quest is for the sublime and not just any mediocre experience. For the experiential-artist that I am, endowed with finer sensibilities and proclivities, I would rather coax this homeless woman than tolerate random hook-ups with inexperienced, boring and – yes – very inept girls. Furthermore I have no time to teach anyone to better themselves.
One thing for sure is that this homeless cowrie is experienced in these matters. Without understating the exceptional capacity of a few of them, they are generally defenseless, and due to constant exposure to the cruel advances of men who other people have mistakenly compared to me (I tell you the world can also be very stupid), they in due course get experienced in these matters. I know you wouldn’t mistake me. I am morally better than these obviously cruel men and others who buy sex from prostitutes. Anyway, judgment day is coming for them.
Let me rather tell you what I will do with this homeless woman. I will drop a hundred dollar bill in the container next to her feet. No no, this hundred dollar bill is not for buying any favors from her. I won’t stoop that low, my dear cowrie. The hundred dollar bill is just an ice breaker. For my purposes, I will use smooth-talk – this is the mark of my moral reform. I will smooth-talk her like a gentleman. I will. Like a bird flying into an open cage, I will coax her into my kingdom. The principle is that she has to enter willingly and happily flapping her wings. She has to feel utterly appreciated – this is one of the essential components of sublime experiences. While she feels completely treated with all the dignity she can imagine, and while she feels like she’s being loved in her whole singularity, you know that you are the creator of her feelings and that the interaction has been asymmetrical all this time. Oh my God, I’m so clever. You become a kind of god with the secret power of the whole scheme. Praise be to God. Soon, Bamba, I promise you, I will have her in our bunker.
By now I was standing right next to her. You can feel the rush in my blood. My cowrie stared expectantly in my eyes; not anywhere else, right into my heart. She stopped shivering, just the power of peace and love that I bring. In my head rang the reassuring principle, which is of course based on the hierarchy of sin: “It’s better to be a manipulative sexual hedonist than a non-reflective-and-indiscriminate one, and far better than to be an outdated cattle rustler.” Cattle, unlike women, can never give you or deny you their consent to be raided upon. It is simply impossible to extract that from them. Anyways, I choose to be an ethnic and mainstream-culture outlier. This is how I reconcile the duality in me. The want for power just like the need for music is indispensable; you just have to pick your genre. This is my unique taste, and indeed it will be a lighter and fairer yoke around the homeless woman’s neck. This is how I advance.
I threw the hundred-dollar bill in the container. She smiled. Smile my cowrie. Smile, for today you are mine! Today, I will establish my new reign in you.