Because M asked. And because an old man’s emphysematic cough did not did not disgust me this once.
What is left to life when all you have is medicines, so many tablets you can only tell them apart now by the different colours and the most exciting the week will get will be is to keep to the minute the doctor’s appointment in Kamwokya on a Tuesday afternoon when she is free? You know she is not looking forward to seeing you, you talk too much, but how many people sit still and listen to you like she does? She is paid to listen but on some days, good Tuesday afternoons, you may think that you have seen in her eyes a light kinder than professional courtesy and she cares even before the medical receipt that this consultation has been paid for is in her file with your name on it.
Your life is lived, everywhere and everything tells you so. But how come I still throb and long when I see her, and how come this feeble heart races like I have been running when that maid comes to sweep in my room in the early morning. Sleepy still, mumbling her greetings, not sweeping exactly, a black queen in a maid’s white night dress, I want her every morning she is in my room, try for her and she pushes me away laughing, she thinks I’m joking. Laughs, throwing her Kiswahili braided head back, her strong neck taking in gulps of air, and oh, she is the one! But she is asking me if this Sunday morning I can be away so her boyfriend can come over to be with her. Why am I the only one who does not think my life is over?
I have lived but I want to live more! I do not want my stories to always begin with, “When I was your age,” this city is not a city for growing old but I do not want to be old. I have smoked. I have drunk. I have fucked. I have eaten. I have loved. I have worked. But there is never enough of all of these and I want more! I want more, my life not like a candle guttering its last light in the room I stumble back past midnight, past 2AM, I’m still awake, I still want more! I need more! I must have more! Why are we never told that the end of life is intenser than the beginning and the fire that burns in my red eyes is not only all the liquor I have drunk, it is wanting too!
I have not been the man I could have been. I have let so many people down. I have dishonoured my gender as much as I have dishonoured the name I got my father and my mother. I have betrayed whoever let themselves believe in me and I have betrayed myself, all for the lust of life to satisfy this craving, to get these needs out of me, now I come back, trying to undo all I have done wrongly. Life is still here for the living, I will not let it go, don’t ask me to let it go. I’m not ready to be history, the past tense on your lips, a profile in a book in a library in a shelf no one ever goes to in a town more ghostly the one that lost its title of capital to a neighbour. I’m not a relic. I’m not an antique. I’m not yet ready for the museum of lived lives. I’m alive!