For a time i have not had a ‘the chord that struck’ post and in the recent days i have simply become inebriated by Nina Simone’s body of work, her accomplishments, her choices, her activism but most of all her authentic musical soul.
However she managed to imbue her music with such truth, revelation and pain as to move a crowd even decades later to a complete and utter breakdown is the gift that keeps giving. As an African woman the lessons and dedications in her music ring painfully with every chord more so because not only because it is true but because it is continuous, every so often the repression of black individuals around the world like a snake sheds its skin and takes on a life anew.
In the 19th century it was slavery, in the 20th it was colonialism and now the behemoth we face has donned a new face of neo-colonialism and in the west systematic incarceration and indiscriminate extra-judicial killing of blacks. The pill is hard to swallow, allow Nina to transport you to the water, because as always swallow it we will and rise again and again as we always do.
People are the worst kind of projects not because they break you but rather because they make you.
I only ever saw her once, accidentally so, I pitied her.
How could she not know?
Timba was brilliantly deceptive and if that wouldn’t suffice he could talk you out of any doubt. I never could resist his bashful apologies.
“I didn’t mean to, you have to believe me Ruth,” he said inching ever so slowly. He knew just how to approach you after a spat, how his voice’s timbre lowered as if he was bowing down to you. How could anyone remain locked in anger after that, what humility. His words reverberated in my mind even days after their reliance.
I found a knack in rationalizing away the irrational. But when I saw her that day all prior logic flew out the door,frail despair took its place, he wasn’t leaving her, was he?
A middle-aged woman but every bit as radiant as though in her teen years, she had a round face, affable and sweet. She struggled to wake from her seat and I rushed in.
“Are you well?” I asked feigning concern.
“I came to see Dr. Mukul about something?” she said slowly, as if she couldn’t make out the words.
She wasn’t pregnant, was she? My eavesdropping eyes discovered her subtly protruding gut, it was confirmed. I wondered who’s it could be?
How? Wasn’t I enough?
I informed her of her husband’s absence for the day as I helped her get back to her seat. Immediately she was irate, she frantically struggled to get out of the embracing couch, desperately looking for a way out. Out of that God forsaken office where she had been ignored and humiliated tenfold, hopefully out of his life.
I suddenly got a whiff of a familiar scent, I wondered of its source, after all the office was always soaked in the depressive sterile scent of antibacterial hand cleanser.
After a minute or so I noticed her forgotten purse sinking into the quicksand couch, indelibly on its surface, the words, Agnes. I now knew her name and what a beautiful name at that.She had crystallized before my very eyes and she wasn’t ‘a wicked witch’ as he so aptly put it. She was just trying to resuscitate a dead union, the proverbial dead horse flogging.I both understood the impulse to keep trying and abhorred it all the same.People and their choices.
I rushed to give it to her and as though I was Hansel, I trailed her to the parking lot by that familiar scent.
“It must be coming from her “I mouthed loudly , as i always did with things that didn’t seem quite right.
I finally caught up to her, she was leaning on the bonnet of her car, exhausted by the staircase journey she had just embarked. Only she was crying, more precisely weeping, the sort of crying you would happen upon at a funeral. She was mourning her marriage, my eyes glinted with surprising joy, maybe it really was over, fingers crossed.
As the sisterhood prescribed this was a moment to hug, and so I did, I rushed in and cushioned the pain. I caught a nostril full of that scent again only much more saturated this time, on her neck.
I recognized it now; I only ever wore that scent while rendezvousing with Timba. I made a point of dousing it on all my sweet spots for his benefit, secretly hoping that she would bump into it time and again and realize finally that he is mine.
“Why in God’s name would she take to wearing it herself?”issuing yet another soliloquy when i discovered that in all that confusion i still had her purse in hand.
One great song
Two masterpiece renditions.
Honestly up until i heard these two songs i didn’t know the power of paraphrasing music, i thought doing covers was the work of amateurs or at best people on ‘the voice’ but forgive me because i clearly hadn’t heard the magic of these songs.
These songs are entities quite separate from the originals which they didn’t demean or diminish in any way.
These songs were so great it took days before i realized that they were covers of some of my most beloved songs.
Oh not today
today am not fine
but i shan’t ,no i shan’t
though forever more
defined by my pine
my darling divine