Empty roads. I love them. I simply do. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a relaxed neighbourhood such as mine, that monotonous snaking blacktop becomes just another human-made scar on Mother Nature’s virgin face. Just another means to get you where you need to be, speeding on the highway. Or for the unfortunate pedestrian, the sole reason why he arrives at the workplace in mud-stained shirts and trousers (Curse those speeding drivers and sludge-filled potholes!).
But in this Nyeri suburb, I have little of that to worry about, especially on one of those lazy Sunday afternoons that are usually spent napping. If the weather permits, I divert from the entrance to my neighbourhood, savour the silence that leeches through your very being, occasionally punctuated by the mating call of some extravagantly coloured bird. Drawing my memories back to the weekend I spent with friends watching rally cars appear round that black-spot bend that claimed so many lives back in the day (Anybody remember Tawfiq buses?). The day, on which the roar of those supercharged engines became my alarm clock, the dust we ate, my arrival home being greeted by my mum’s querying which war I had come from. And so I walk further.
Round that spiral of a bend that ascends the hill I call home, marvelling at what courage it took those rally drivers to manoeuvre it at hair-rising speeds. On I walk. As far as my feet deem necessary, across a treacherously narrow bridge that I am meant to believe has been in relentless service since 1950, as the plaque says. And I get this scary desire to test the limits, scoot over to the centre of the tarmac, look cluelessly around…then burst into a spasmodic presentation of the Running Man,
then PAUSE FOR EFFECT!
Then switch to the Azonto dance, which of course I can’t pull off, so it’ll look like just another eclectic version of the running Man, all this time, tempting fate as I expect a random vehicle to come round that bend. Tempting fate…or as Paulo Coelho so aptly titled it in The Alchemist: ‘’The World’s Biggest Lie’’.
I lie. I couldn’t do this. I simply in my sane, sober state CAN’T.Truth is, I am scared of this road, deeply terrified. I t holds dark tales, this one. Dark as the tar that binds the gravel on it. Tales that I am (un)fortunately unable to remember, a small token that the world pays to me for the pain that it actually causes.
These roads, I wish they could speak. Then tell of the metallic taste of all the blood they have tasted over the years, felt it clot on their hot, rough surface as it seeks to close non-existent wounds, not knowing that those in need of such biological reprieve edge closer to life’s only certainty by the second.
Come to think of it, what would it be like if the very to constants of this world switched sides. Death being the short, enjoyable yet vain period of our lives…wait, I mean deaths. Then followed by an inescapable destiny of life. Would we, just as we do now of death, dread this ‘life’? Seeking all possible avenues to postpone the inevitable? Would we still have those random clichés on seeing your whole ‘death’ flashing before you, the now ‘darkness at the end of the tunnel’ phrase.
What would we know about it? Would our seemingly dead hearts start beating at the end of our deaths? Would our skin suddenly tingle with the sensation of sensing the world, goose-pimples rippling over our skin at the sudden fear of being alive? Wait, would we be fearful? Would you be scared?
Back to the real world. Are you scared of death? Heck, why ask. OF COURSE you are! Everyone is. Some pretend to be badass and stuff, but there’s no escaping it. The worlds’ constant. And this fear, what would it take to drive it away?
If only we knew just what exactly death felt like. For someone to go past that portal and by grace, turn back, to tell an untold tale. Would we fear death then? If indeed it is all about that white light, that comfort of leaving the world’s hardships behind, would we embrace it?
But wouldn’t that be an anti-climax in the functioning of the universe? A critical blow to the tenets of various religions. So maybe it should just stay as it is. Maybe, for sanity’s sake, it is okay this once to stick with the status quo.
And so I will remain scared of pulling of that Running-man/Azonto stunt on the tarmac…though eventually I will pull it off, thanks to low traffic and stuff, of course. And with God’s grace, we’ll make the most of our lives, knowing they could be gone the next minute, peaceably or otherwise.
R.I.P. TO THE FALLEN KENYANS IN THE FAR-FORGOTTEN AND RECENT PAST.