The fickleness of memory
It comes like a wave; someone posts a joke in my old class group, and everything comes back in a wave of bitter-sweet. It isn’t even a funny joke, but the memories it arouses are crippling. I miss the smallest things about college, like eating rice-beans-chapo from the food joints in that small dusty town of Juja, or the pressure of rushing last-minute to complete and hand in group assignments that I almost always ended up doing alone. Mostly, I miss the random revelry in the Friday night life of Thika town, spent in between club-hopping and running away from police in the naked hours of morning.
I don’t drink any more. It never made much sense to me, even when I used to. Drinking was one of those things I did solely to fit into a certain social context, until I realized that alcohol didn’t really give me what it seemed to give other people; an escape. And I got tired of waking up with nausea and the stale aftertaste of Guinness and bad decisions in my mouth, and I just stopped.
Which is why memory is a strange thing, because despite all this, my best memories of college life are made up of those nights of drunken debauchery with my pals, back when our biggest worry was which girls we’d be partying with that weekend, and how much of our (parents’) money we could blow on buying them Guaranas and Smirnoff Black Ice. I miss those nights the most. And it has nothing to do with the alcohol; it is the feeling I miss. The carefreeness. That ‘living in the good times’ vibe. And the camaraderie; those friendships, bonds that were formed so naturally over Fifa games after class, and cemented over bottles of Tusker in poorly ventilated clubs.
I suppose I should just get down to making my point. I miss school. I miss my friends. I miss my friends terribly.
Of First Jobs
Starting out is the hardest thing I tell you. It feels like Nursery School all over again. Scratch that. It actually feels like Form One. That high-headed invincibility of graduating with first class or second upper or whatever else is quickly watered down when you join that ‘big organization’ and instead of making an impact and changing the world as you had set out to do, you realize just how little you know, and how irrelevant all that information you absorbed in school is now. And because you know nothing, all you’ll be reduced to the office errand boy for the first few weeks, months, maybe years; doing everything everyone else would rather not. And because you are the youngest in the office, quite possibly in the entire company, your frustrated opinion means zilch. Who do you complain to when they’ve all been there, done that? Serve your time, boy, like the rest of them did.
End of the month brings a temporary reprieve with the excitement at the prospects of your first salo and you wait for that account credit notification because you want to finally Make it Rain, but when the money comes in and you see just how little it is, it is highly likely that the only thing with any semblance to rain will be flowing from your eyes. But you hold, because you need to start from somewhere. Everyone needs to start from somewhere, right?
If this is beginning to sound like a rant from an entitled millennial who has only now realized they actually have to work to survive, I assure you it is not. I have no issue with work. I have thoroughly enjoyed the brief period I have spent in my current job. My beef isn’t even with formal employment. Not really. Let me explain.
The Zombies are Here
At what point does a shell have to stop calling themselves human?
Lately I have been thinking of randomly abstract things; like the components of feeling and meaning, and how we struggle in vain to grasp at both. One: from heart-shaped icons and smileys and inbox(1)’s on Facebook; or from the intangible emptiness of rose flower emoji’s and italicized Whatsapp fonts. These awkward how are you’s and what are you up to now? and Oh Lord how exhausting they are, these talks laced with meaninglessness. Love in the era of soft copy emotions.
The other: by sitting in air-conditioned offices and clinging to self-assuring titles and salaries that barely fulfil our needs.
And herein lies my greatest fear.
My fear is that I’m getting eaten into the routine, turning into a robot with a scheduled existence. The monotony of 8-5 that reduces us into corporate zombies.
I have had discussions with some older employees, and their conversations are mostly a collection of dissatisfied grunts. When will Friday get here? I have so much work! I’m so tired, I think I’ll just take half of my leave days already. Did you hear the rumors about downsizing? Was it 200 or 500? Who do you think will leave? I listen to all this and I think dear lord, did I endure the torture of 8-4-4 for this?
I am scared. When I finished school I had such an elaborate plan for my life. I was to learn at least one foreign language each year within the first two years of graduating. I was also to proceed with my Master’s, no longer than a year after graduating; I am scared of being those people who went back to school late because they either got too comfortable or too caught up by the demands of life, only going back to school reluctantly at age 37 to increase the prospects of a promotion. I do not want that. But lately there are times when I feel like that may be exactly where I’m headed. I feel if I let life get to me I will get caught in the routine of things and before I know it I will be floating; all my dreams on hold. All my curiosity, sense of adventure, crazy plans, and hunger for knowledge all sacrificed at the altar of a monthly salary.
And days, months, years will waft by in this state of buoyancy. All I will know; all I will be able to prove at this point, is that I exist. That I occupy space and have mass, and a name. A wife and children, if I’m lucky. But meaning, I think, ought to be more than that. More than presence and movement and the convenience of being able to eat, drink, breathe. More than succumbing to the pressure of ‘settling down’ and getting kids, and having your children inherit the same culture of discontent.
Why does the wind not move the light?
I just finished reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, and it is just one of those intense books that leave you gasping for breath, leaving you in a flurry of unanswered questions, like why does war exist? I thank the creator that I haven’t had to live through a war scenario yet (except for that brief moment of madness in 2007/08), and I pray with all my will that I never have to. War is evil, people. War turns life into a gruesome anthology of stories we’d much rather forget.
But this, this one line stays with me. A random question in an old notebook from one of the characters. It feels so scientific, yet so philosophical. And i am interested more in the essence of the question, than in finding an answer. I don’t
know care if that makes sense. I want to keep asking this question for ever and ever. Why does the wind not move the light? Why does the wind not move the light?