LONG MOUTH PUBLICATIONS @ KASS WEEKLY NEWSPAPER

THE ESSENTIAL AWAKENING: AN ENCOUNTER WITH A PRECISE ATOPOS

By Immanuel Lokwei,

Thus was Ibrahim R. Rotich’s resolution. You’ll recall that during yesterday’s drinking-bout, which as a matter of rule takes place at a popular drinking den in Eldoret every Saturday night, an interesting development occurred. Usually he would tag along with the party from the early hours of the night till about midnight when he would lose them or they him and wake up the next morning either in his bed or in one of his friends’ girlfriends’ apartment. He never had a girlfriend he could confidently claim his own but as though luck had secretly conspired against his ethics, he almost always fell attracted to his friends’ girlfriends and to his surprise, the sexual feeling always was mutual.

But this time the hubbub in the den began to recede to the background. And, one could say, for the first time in his life he was left in an unacquainted frontier. To feel lost in a crowd while one is a stranger to isolation and solitude; to lose taste of the usual appealing camaraderie; this is the hallmark of all introspection.

Alone like the middle post of a grass-thatched hat, he remained rooted in his place surrounded by what he would have previously described as “the life.” Now life stared at him, a different kind though, beckoning him to emerge from the stale.

“All these shall come to pass!” his mind swirled around. “Merriment and friends alike.” True Albert Camus described the birth of absurdity, he had said, “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street-corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.” Here he was confronted by his life, erstwhile we must add.

Urban life had been quite charming up until that juncture. But its transitory aspect and to add to this fact his dwindling inheritance, and the indeterminacy of his likely flaky urban-friends, and the shame of dependency even if they would turn out to be “all-season friends”; all these concerns coagulated into one solid and palpable fear. Suddenly he felt an abrupt and impinging urge to smoke. This often happened when he was very anxious or when extremely drunk and acting cool around his friends. Other than these two separate occasions, smoking wasn’t really one of his favorite pastimes.

A lady by the name S grabbed the hem of his shirt as he excused himself from the group. She too wanted to take a few puffs from Ibrahim’s cigarette and get fresh air outside.

“You are not also oppressed by life inside there?” Ibrahim asked her as he lit a cigarette.

S looked at him puzzled and with a demeanor begging for clarification. But Ibrahim knew it was too late to reason at that time. His friends, S included, lived for the present, the sensuous and the immediate; they were basically milking their youth to the last drop. But such fervor, energy and time could otherwise be spent for better goals and not always for the “live for the present” and “have good times” ideologies and the mediocre understanding of life which exclusively entails urban life debauchery; and happiness without purpose is wretched. Ibrahim felt the need to beat a hasty retreat to some new environs where he could re-think a new program of his life. He yearned for such a place.

While these thoughts rushed in his mind, Ibrahim did not realize that he stood there hypnotized by these thoughts, his cigarette burning out without the services of his lips and was only shaken out of this transfixion by S.

“You look and sound weird today!” S commented.

“So has life been to me lately.”

S could make head or tail of this rejoinder and was more baffled when Ibrahim added that it was his time to head home. S, without suspecting the gravity of this decision and without guessing that home meant not their usual rented lodgings but the rural home, tried to implore him with even implied suggestions that she might want to accompany him later home, if only he could stay a little bit longer since it was barely 10 pm.

“Well, unless you’re willing to embrace rural life you may as well stay for I am going back to Kapseret.” The atopos effect had taken full possession of him by then.

The wheel of Ibrahim’s life was in motion and you can guess who could afford to come along with him and who could not. A man must at some point in his life make turning-point decisions and must solely execute his plans. So Ibrahim journeyed alone for he alone could fathom the importance of his journey.

The following day’s midnight sun found him contemplating on his father’s farm, making plans on how he could make good use of himself and hence become a stark mark in history. He looked back at his past life, at the things that led to the turn of events, and at his seemingly ridiculous yet firm decision. He laughed at all of them. He had now found a new sanctuary and purpose in this rural abode. About the friends he unceremoniously abandoned in town, only their lives and final ends would tell their histories.

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