The air rushed in through the half-opened windows, blowing my weaves so hard across my face and all I could think of was how relieving it felt. It felt so good, I wanted to fly in that moment, fly far away. It was exactly the same feeling I had had while seated at the back of a bike, with my eyes tightly shut letting the cold air rush violently against my face.
I stood there with my hands clenched on the supposedly yellow holder, now darkened from the numerous palms that had sweated on it, trying to hold still. Everywhere else seemed dark, and the humans seated appeared like blurred pictures with a handful of them struggling to secure a humane standing position; I honestly wished the stand was my main concern. It felt like all my worries stood with me, looking so high up, I felt like a midget.
I tried to break a laugh in my sad attempt to ease up. What else was I to do when that feeling of feeling like a failure creeps up and everything I thought I could do fails again. I smiled at my pain, perhaps I’m overrating it, it’s probably how I’m looking at it- I could do what the books say and ask, what this is teaching me?
The longer I stood swaying left and right in unison with every turn the bus took, a feeling with many names, intense enough to rewrite my emotions took over. I felt no discomfort in standing instead, l was left with the plain feeling of appreciation for the breeze that blew. How little it had to do but simply blow, I thought to myself.
Closing my eyes, I traveled to a time where everything would be just the way I want it to be. It felt so refreshing until I was almost yanked from my standing position by the rough edges of a bag.
Its force was strong enough to wake me up; the lady with the bag apologised unapologetically but I felt sorrier for her in that instant. By now, she had fallen on both hands and crawled on the garbage-semblant floor of the bus in search of a bundle of money that had fallen from her purse. She swept the floor frantically with her bare hands as she struggled to gather the scattered monies. The speed and tenacity were bewildering but her transformation was even more startling. She had pulled off her wig and even in the darkness, I bet every one seated around there had a good view of her undies- it was 5000 naira. All of it was for 5000 naira. Neither is the money in any way invaluable nor unworthy of the chase but in a split second, everything fell into perspective.
Perhaps that was all she had to live on? At least she would be better than millions of people who would probably never understand the feeling of owning such an amount.
For the first time in all that evening, my pain fizzled like it had been nothing. It wasn’t because someone else was having a more terrible day than myself but because, I thought that if this is all there is to life, chasing paper then the value of living is essentially non-existential.
A bundle of cash had automatically transformed a personable lady into a seemingly deranged human who was willing to crawl on the floor to retrieve her lost money. As miserable as it seemed, I saw myself in her, not the in the same manner but same tenaciousness she had displayed in her chase. The same rage to acquire, retain and withhold.
Her little son stood loss in the background almost leaning on my legs, the least I could do was, get him seated but I could see through his eyes the surprise at his mum’s sudden change from even-mindedness. Simple logic told me perhaps all this could have been for him.
All the fuss, all the sacrifices, all the challenges all in a bid for paper, but not many of us walk around with alternatives. I should be glad that my belly hardly weighs little and my head sleeps under the same roof every night.
Should this moon reflect the sun’s burning light every night just to light up the room enough to rest my tired bones? Or does it require more? Perchance that’s why the breeze meant so much to me after all.
As it blew across my face, I felt the energy of life it carried in it, the kind that could be felt only under its dominion. It reminded me that my heart still beats and if I wait a little longer, I could have all that I have when I close my eyes.
These days will come again; the ones that come with the feeling with many names. They will be many, harder and taunting. And then they would pass, as they always do. But a day exactly like this will never appear again, the relief of that understanding should be enough to simply breath in the air and enjoy the art in the sky.
It’s an ever changing picture out there, perhaps the creator is wise after all, why else would he give us beautiful images to soothe are scornful hearts. But do we see?
Do we notice the moon at night or the stars that litter the sky? Do we notice the wavy strides of the ocean as it stirs towards the moon or the white cushions that rest in the blue skies?
Of course, they won’t produce the millions but at least the view will gladden the heart. Isn’t that what we chase anyway, happiness?
So it’s safe to accept that though paper will always be paper, the moment it blinds eyes to notice and appreciate everything else, then it adds nothing.