There is something strange about pain. The way it makes us alive to the joys of life. The way memories of it add vitality to happiness and strengthen our resolve to find happiness. Still, it can take you past that boundary where logic breaks down, to a land where all answers to the meaning of life are echos from the grave. This second nature of pain is mostly the non-quantifiable type. It is the kind of pain brought about by an impossible emptiness within. When your heart and mind are at war. When the dying screams of your dreams and hopes in life keep you awake well into the dead of the night. And you realize the only salvation is you. That familiar sense of “a loneliness” that is part of human nature surges to the fore. Yet ,somehow, deep in this hell of loneliness lies the potential for boundless happiness. At times to begin living, one must have an intercourse with pain.
I can say that we are born exiles into this world.Lonely exiles of oblivion into a cold ruthless world forced to give our existence a purpose- ever since man cracked open the sky. Daily we are tasked with the maintenance of a fine balance between heaven and hell, a process called living. And straying too far into either side of the divide leads to insanity. As we grow up, our sense of loneliness gathers violence and becomes increasingly eloquent. With every breath, the distance between us and the womb grows. This only serves as a reminder of our mortality and the fact that we are alone.
But nature provides an escape from the misery that is the promise of life. Some through God, manage to escape this rut. Others through love manage to find a partner through the curse that every examined life promises. Yet some others through the pursuit of goals far greater than them manage to escape life as hell and find some piece of heaven to call home. The unlucky majority walk through life like zombies; with drugs and wild sex their only refuge from the gulags that their empty lives are.”Zombies” might sound too far fetched, but most of us have known the feeling. At least most of those who have taken time to examine their lives.
I know fellow zombies understand how everything makes sense till you realize you have the weight of the world’s expectations on your back. Till you realize you have never lived life on your terms and you cannot see anything beyond the prescriptions of the system. Inside, your dead dreams have cocked guns trained on a stressed brain. Soon your smiles freeze into a rock. And with every step your spirit recedes into a sea of black waters and you can only watch in tears as it disappears in that murk ,spurred on by strange songs by Sirens to a teary grave. Your fingers have grown bloody,your nails broken from trying to cling on to life. But every time you think of doing yourself in ,cowardice always comes to your rescue. You try to look for something positive in life and all you can find as success is your failure in a failed system.
Soon you cannot breathe as you choke on the stench of your mediocrity. You try alcohol to drown the pain within. You drink yourself numb. But tomorrow your sense of doom meets you with a bright smile dampening a beautiful sunrise. The perceived joy of the rest of the world only serves to exacerbate the emptiness. Then comes the weed. Good old Mary Jane makes life sensible. When taken with alcohol, a certain equilibrium is reached,albeit fleetingly, where only bliss exists. And you suddenly long for this promise of childhood nirvana;but as is the nature of everything in adult life, this too comes to pass.
Then one night after you are done with the system, you get extremely wasted. It starts with some Valium and a concoction of coca cola and pain killers. You feel fine. Your wondering mind directs you to that ever horny girl’s room. You knock the door and there she is watching Game of Thrones. And without asking, you plant one kiss on her lips. One kiss from the depths of hell and her knees buckle. Your penis is rock hard and all it seeks is violence. You look into her eyes and ask her what she wants. She takes off her pants and tosses her divine ass into the waiting air. And just like that, you pop in like a possessed rabbit from the house of sex. To the spirit of Lil Wayne’s “I’m Me” you fuck her till you are spent. You two lie in a hip as you hold her shaking body. A sense of disgust engulfs you and you struggle to disguise it with a cuddle. Your sense of emptiness is compounded by this actions by the old libertine in you. After some time of roughness and violence, the lethargy of Valium kicks in. You have to leave for the night is just but a baby.
Later on in the night, you meet up with friends in a container then on to finer stuff. All along your sense of invincibility rises with every puff of a blunt or chunk of cookie swallowed. By midnight you are out of your senses. You cannot be allowed into a club. So you are forced to sleep on pavements.Your knees give in and life slowly bleeds out of you. You know you have walked past the threshold of fucked up and it is either death or a paradigm shift. You choose the former and throw in some more Valium . But within a second you throw up a booze fountain .
You wake up the following day with torn trousers covered in vomit. You are still high so the walk of shame does not exactly have the sting it should. But something has changed. Death paid you a visit last night but some how you escaped. “Something has to change,” you say. The emptiness must be filled. These drugs and sex cannot be the answer. You must find something more. You must find that purpose death reminded you of last night.
The emptiness is still there. The sense of loneliness is still alive. That dungeon within is still baying for your blood. A shift of perspective is all you need, you think. You start making lists of what you are grateful for everyday before sleep. You zone in on some pleasures of life that you had not noticed before. You begin to notice the beauty of sunsets-the various hues sunsets are clothed in on various evenings. Your nose revels in all the beauty of Petrichor- that fragrance after a light drought. You start taking evening walks. You begin to embrace solitude and discipline.
In all this, you fail to notice the pool of joy that is slowly forming in that hollow within. The graveyard echos within are no longer as loud as they used to be. You are smiling more often. You have made true friends in all this. You have given up drugs and alcohol. You exercise more often. The child within you gains some courage and comes to the fore. In all this,the echoes of the graveyard grow muffled with every sweat broken in your resolve to change. What you want in life starts taking shape and all it asks of you is courage. All it needs is your back against the world.
Then one day, you are late for class. You arrive in haste, sweaty and panting. And there sits the next roller-coaster ride of your life. In all that hurry through paths and corridors, you failed to notice cupid lurking somewhere in the corner of your eyes. You failed to pick his spoor amidst the stench of panic. And now a smile from the lady with the red-ochre hair is all Cupid needs to take you down. Red-ochre was the color of yesterday’s sunset-the most beautiful you’d ever seen.
By Ariel Ombura