It is six minutes past six. A cool summer evening. I am sitting on a bench by the beach. It is quiet, calm, although the sea is throwing a wave or two my way. Occasionally I do wave back. It is that time of the year when the days are longer than the nights, so the sun it still slowly waltzing away from a distance.
I sit in silence, recollecting my thought. It is something I do quite so often, so that one day when I wake up and find out that I have been living a lie all this while, no one will be to blame but me. At first, my thoughts are scattered because most of the time I do not know where to begin.
Looking back, all through life, we have those people we are close with. People that we trust that no matter what comes our way, we can count on one, two or maybe three of them to come to our aid. They are the ones we call friends. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of us skate through life without really getting to know whether in deed we had true friends because the circumstances did not really work in our favor to offer a test. So we will be invited to their birthday parties, their graduation, that occasional weekend drink to pour libation to our ancestors and we will gladly make an appearance without even thinking for once where that person will be when your shit hits the fan. We end up living in this bubble thinking that when that day comes and you have to jump off a cliff, there will be a cushion of friends down there waiting to catch you.
Now, the thing with life is it is not predicable and it has the tendency to throw curve balls when you least expect. So one day you will wake up to a world you haven’t seen before. Somehow in such days, you always feel something is not right from the moment you get up from your slumber. You will wake up feeling like a rolled up toothpaste tube. As you glance at your smart phone, you will see something lingering there apart from that dismissal letter from your job. You will spring up, not sure of where to start, and since the die has already been cast, you definitely have to make a move. You have been living this lie of one day at a time, and never really believed the adage that a penny saved is a penny earned. Looking back, those numerous night outs with your so called friends will slowly replay in your head, that loan you are still repaying on that car will be due, but you won’t fret, not just yet, apparently because you have friends.
For the first couple of hours you will text, or maybe call your friends and you will all share a laugh or two about it and one by one they will tell you “let us talk later, I’m at work”. You will sit there oblivious of the huge hole that you have been digging yourself into over the years without realizing. You will slither back to bed, after all it is a free day for you. Everything will still seem okay at first but later in the day when your texts and calls are going unanswered for no apparent reason or with flimsy excuses, reality will start to kick in. you will lose sleep, simply because you have nothing to wake up to and with bills to pay, that is scary. You will forget that you have barely eaten the whole day, after all you have no reason to eat. The night will be unusually quiet, and the moment when you start hearing your digital watch ticking is when you will realize that you are completely alone. Like a single ice cube, slowly melting away. The night will be long, very long, unusually long, like a Legio Maria sermon. It will feel like a whole bunch of nights sewn together.
Just before the crack of dawn you will manage to grab a minute or two of precious slumber but soon enough you will awake feeling like jumping off a cliff. It is a new day, but the same old problems that you faced the day before. You will forgo your usual morning caffeine and sit by the window gazing at the morning frost. Last night’s dreams will flash at the back of your mind if at all you managed to dream a thing. You will sit and stare at the rising sun, the frost melting away from the glass windows, but your circumstances will be there to stay at least not without a fight. You will start you long journey along depression highway. A journey we all dread, but one you have to travel nonetheless. The day will lazily go by with your circumstances sinking deeper and deeper into you. At dusk, you will find yourself strolling towards your local watering hole. You will sit there, with a beer and if you’re lucky, probably a girl. A couple of pints later, with less and less of your situation occupying your mind, you will remember how it feels to smile again, how to crack a laugh without a care, how to be free, free of all worries but you won’t realize that that freedom is hanging on a very short leash. You will realize that even in your sorrows, your current friend, Mr. Beer, has your back and you will love him even more. You will get up and dance, with your friend in hand like there is no tomorrow. People will stare, perhaps even laugh, but at the end of the day, deep down you are on your own.
The following morning, while you will be waking up from your own vomit in a drain somewhere, with your phone and personal effects missing, that is when you will realize that there are savages out there, people who will kick a man when he is down. Your phone on the other hand now with a new owner, won’t have a single text nor a missed call from anyone checking up on you. The thief might even question where it is functional at all. You will trudge home feeling like you have hit rock bottom and you will be right. One thing however is as long as you live to see another day, you have a chance to fight and rebuild your life, perhaps this time with true friends after all not everyone get a rebuilding chance.
The last couple of days, I have been reading so much stuff on social media about the passing of Achieng’ Abura. So many people posted messages about how good she was and how greatly she will be missed. On a careful glance of her Facebook wall, on one of her finals posts, she lamented on how she had let life get the better of her and lost 50kgs in a mere three years. On a different post from 17th September, she asks for support for her ailing son and miraculously people seem to have just seen the post when she was no more, because all the comments are dated from 20th October on wards telling her to rest in peace. They say that at the end of your life, if at all you managed to get at least one true friend, you have lived a good life. So I sit here silent, with a pocketful of ‘what ifs’. What if, just what if a friend had extended a helping hand when she actually needed one. And now as we are left here to ponder on our hypocrisy, here is a ‘what if’, I thought you could all use one day. Spend it wisely.