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What sort of men were these, then, who had been torn away from their families, their countries, their religions, with a savagery unparalleled in history?

Gentle men, polite, considerate, unquestionably superior to those who tortured them – that collection of adventurers who slashed and violated and spat on Africa to make the stripping of her the easier.

The men they took away knew how to build houses, govern empires, erect cities, cultivate fields, mine for metals, weave cotton, forge steel.

Their religion had its own beauty, based on mystical connections with the founder of the city. Their customs were pleasing, built on unity, kindness, respect for age.

No coercion, only mutual assistance, the joy of living, a free acceptance of discipline.

Order – Earnestness –Poetry and Freedom.

From the untroubled private citizen to the almost fabulous leader there was an unbroken chain of understanding and trust. No science? Indeed yes; but also, to protect them from fear, they possessed great myths in which the most subtle observation and the most daring imagination were balanced and blended. No art? They had their magnificent sculpture, in which human feeling erupted so unrestrained yet followed the obsessive laws of rhythm in its organization of the major elements of a material called upon to capture, in order to redistribute, the most secret forces of the universe…

Monuments in the very heart of Africa? Schools? Hospitals? Not a single good burgher of the twentieth century, no Durand, no Smith, no Brown even suspects that such things existed in Africa before the Europeans came…

But Schoelcher reminds us of their presence, discovered by Caillé , Mollien, The Cander brothers. And, though nowhere he reminds us that when the Portuguese landed on the banks of the Congo in 1498, they found a rich and flourishing state there and that the courtiers of Ambas were dressed in robes of silk and brocade, at least he knows that Africa had brought itself up to a juridical concept of the state, and he is aware, living in the very flood of Imperialism, that European civilization, after all, is only one more civilization among many – and far from being the most merciful.

Frantz Fanon, Black skins white masks.

fire & smoke

She was the fire in my chest,
the volcano in thine breast.
Albeit my ice heart,
she burned bright and she burned blue.
She made my glacier part,
And my soul flew.

Mine own lungs’ oxygen kindled her,
as well as the brazier she lodged in my ribs.
Now she burns no more,
She left my core sore.
All that’s left is to vomit ash.

Sometimes at dawn if I am lucky,
I find my soul’s dew,
ruined waters of my spirit.
Even rarer i find a heavy fog,
or a light mist.
As though she burnt bright,
Even if only for a night.
On those days i am a kite.

And she is both the fire and the smoke,
devouring me, lifting me or choking me.

Queer little twists and quirks go a long way into the making of an individual.To suppress them all and follow clock and calendar and creed until the individual is lost in  the neutral gray of the host to be less than true to our inheritance….

Life, that gorgeous quality of life, is not accompanied by following another man’s rules. It is true we have the same hungers and the same thirsts, but they are for different things and in different ways and in different seasons….Lay  down your own day, follow it to its noon, your own noon, or you will sit in an outer hall listening to the chimes but never reaching high enough to strike your own.

Virginia Nash

The attempt to infer existence from thought is a contradiction. For thought takes away from the real and thinks it by abrogating its actuality, by translating it into the sphere of the impossible.

Kierkegaard

The word ‘spirit’ has all but lost its meaning, and the human mind itself has been impoverished. For, though we may discuss endlessly what is the real difference between man and animals, there is no doubt that man is the only animal who is influenced by its idea of itself, so that lowering the status of reason has lowered the status of man and undermined to foundations of his dignity.

Reason initially considered as absolute and capable of solving all problems, finally seems to remove all problems by degrading itself.

Roubiczek

collegiate

Bright eyed and bushy-tailed,
freshly graduated high-schoolers,
scurrying and prancing,
Miles from the nest,
Glittering new apparel to boot,
Oh the sweet scent,
of clothes new to the touch,
nascent to knowledge and freedom,
that which they simply crave.

Now deeply set in the environs,
New appendages, less confusion,
tightening of freedom’s yolk,
Realization of the intensity of knowledge,
adulthood,
Lacking of the requisite organization,
Though all is not yet lost,
After all,
We are young,
We are free.

Scholarly maturity,
Inability to rid sins of the past though,
Farther away from that oblivion,
the daily battle of routine,
the tug of war between lethargy and discipline,
revelations of unleashed desires,
Wires of the intimate and impersonal interconnecting,
Surprisingly so.

Visitors yet again,in converse,
the elderly among the bustling babies,
Sleepy dozing eyelids,
Symptoms of that quadrennial fatigue,
Less of that prancing,
sluggish treading to the next …
Adorned in frocks and hammocks,
the circle clocking its final quadrant,right
Celebratory collective fear and cheer,
A burial for all that was,
Birthing of that which awaits,
Cheers, cheers,
May we again be bright eyed and bushy tailed.

journalling sins:scents

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.

Yes, there is a march of Science, but who shall beat the drums of its retreat?

CHARLES LAMB, shortly before his death (1834)