Life

Broken

Old respite, I bid thee farewell.
I’m gone. To a place I do not know well.

I broke my branch before I flew.
I’m not going back to the place we knew.

My old friend, I bid thee farewell.
Do not think my actions aren’t swell.

Caution :you may not recognize me.
I’m broken. In pain. And I bleed.

A pain I’ll need.

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I’ve lost you, and it feels right.

The blaze is gone.
Wet flames, all that is left. Mud ash.
Your touch is foreign.
I can see it in your eyes- I failed you.

We used to chat, on Facebook, for so long.
Stale talk, all that is left. Burnt stash.
Our embrace now means nothing.
You know I see it too. It’s no more “we” but “you”.

I know it’s my fault. I’ve known all along.
You tried, with all you had. Never brash.
I could do better.
They don’t speak. But they sense it too.

This is the longest bond I have forged.
Or did I? What’s left? Pictures and emotional mash.
I don’t deserve you.
They knew this day was coming. I did too.

For a long time, I have been alone.
You showed a page I’d never read.
Pores through which I’d never bled.
With you, for an eternal second, I was at home.

I know what would happen.
Its inevitability is almost hilarious.
It has happened before. I have been here before.
Only, you have too. But not with me.

Hence, we will thread new territory.
One I am all too familiar with.
We had more than our own moments of intimate revelry.
We will bleed. I know I would. I will need stiches.

I wish we could hug over a cup’a coffee and shake hands.
I wish in a few years, we would laugh over the past months.
We would think of how much we grew and how much we out grew each other.
Lies. Falsehood. Sky bound castles.

I have grown. I see this coming and I feel nothing.
No pain. I bleed, without pain. Without strain.
I knew this would happen.
The first time you smiled, I knew this would happen.

So, when I say “It’s my fault, not yours”, I am not being flattering.
It is the truth. I don’t know how to do “this”.
Actually, I do. I just don’t want to.
And the mashed stashed of thoughts I need to scream is because of this.

You are a good person. You have shown me love.
You have shown me care. You have shown me tenderness.
You showed me reason. And I thank you, for showing me one thing:
Family.

I have grown. And I know I am not cut for this.
I have accepted, finally, who I am. And who I want to be.
Who I must be. Who I need to be.
What and who I am ready to sacrifice.

Love is a choice I make every day.
Love is a concept I learn every day.
Love is a feeling you articulated.
Love, is what I saw in you.

What I saw. But, no more.
Goodbye, my pillar. My anchor.
I sail to my lake. One I know all too well.
One in which I built the island on which I thrive.

I hope you feel pain. I hope you miss me.
I want to have meant something to you.
I want to have meant something.
I want to.

I hope you hate me. I hope you forget me.
I hope you ignore my calls. I hope you don’t reply my messages.
I hope you unfriend me. I hope you block me.
I hope you blacklist me.

I won’t forget you. My mind is my curse.
The same mind that doesn’t comprehend love.
The same that would look back at this moment in the future and mock raucously.
The same that needs you to hate me now.

Slap me. Plot against me.
Tell everyone how truly heartless I am.
Tell them the truth.
They don’t deserve to know. But you deserve to tell.

I am not a good person.
I don’t deserve your forgiveness.
So, don’t forgive me.
But, by all means, don’t ever think you could have done anything differently.

Because I knew how this would end.
I knew it all along. For months I fought.
And now, I’ve lost.
And it feels right.

Goodbye, my pillar.

Don’t wait till death, my friend.

Then I chewed on the battery. The liquid spewed easily. A sting. Liquid metal. A cold drenched feeling took over me as I pictured my entrails wailing in chemical unrest. My mother came in, saw my dirty hands and the broken remote…then she…

No. That’s not the story I want to tell you today. Let’s talk a bit about death. Given the abrupt circumstances with which she visits, I will be ..well… brief.

This is not the first time I am talking about death. And it might not be the last. Please eh, forgive my momentary morbid mental inflections.

Prince died. I didn’t enjoy his music. Many, many humans did.

Music lost Papa Wemba as well. Right on stage! I didn’t enjoy his music either. It is said he was an African icon.  I believe those two wonderful artists would be truly missed by those who knew, cared and loved them.

May their souls, and countless others who die each day, some as you read this, rest in peace.

Now, I have issues with these deaths- the media coverage AND the outlandish expression of sorrow/affection/ quasi-affectation that now seems to be omnipresent thanks to social media and the digital age.

Here’s my problem: forget the stars. Forget the icons. Forget the national heroes. Take “Joshua”. He’s your friend. You grew up together and went to school together. You dodged classes together. You were there when his heart first got broken and he was there the time you got drunk and made a fool out of yourself.

Fast forward 10 years. You’re both working. Joshua runs a fledgling startup. You have a very demanding job. You both have kids. You don’t see each other as often. Sometimes, you pick your phone and you just want to chat with your buddy.

Then you think to yourself: “Why should  I be the one to call? It’s not like I am the only one who should miss him!”

So, you never call. Joshua has the same mental soliloquy.

Then, one day, Joshua’s wife calls you. Joshua is no longer of this realm.

Your eyes well up with tears. You wish you’d called him. That you’d given him some money to bootstrap the company. That you’d offered him that old car you weren’t using so often.

You wish you were back in high school with Joshua.

Now, we both know where I am heading to with this.

Prince, the world will miss you. Same for you Daddy Wemba. But before you splurge my timeline with how much you will miss those who are gone ( I wonder why no one wrote about them this much when they were alive), take up your phone and call a “Joshua”.

Mom, Dad, sibling, friend, spouse, colleague, buddy.

Send him/her a tweet. Give ‘em a Skpe call. Send a snap.

Don’t wait till death, my friend.


P.S: I should take my own advice. I think this is the earnest reason why I write. I have so much to improve that the only way I can remind myself to do it, is to write about it. You may have noticed the “entrepreneurship” tinge here and there. I am working on a venture which requires a lot of guts and a lot of patience. The past months have NOT been peachy. But writing about these things gets a lot in perspective for me. It’s a sort of therapy because I still believe I need professional help. So far, I haven’t gone down the streets naked. So, we’re good.

Thanks for being here…Joshua. 🙂

“Taking Advantage”

Making use of a seemingly awful situation for the benefit of a venture seems to be a  trait that cuts across many  entrepreneurs and business people.

I want to believe that if we treated our lives as businesses, we’d spend very little time on non-productive activities.

That we’d  take advantage of our environment, but more importantly our God given gifts.

It is unfortunate that many times when this phrase is used, someone is  being  blindsided.

“She took advantage of his naiveté.”

“Because he knew she didn’t know an original from a fake, he sold her the fake model at the price of the original.”

Here’s the thing about taking advantage of someone:

There’s always someone smarter, more informed and less inclined to be fooled.

It’s only a matter of time before you get caught with your hand in the pot of meat. And how despicable.

I love taking advantage of situations. My favourite is when I have disappointed someone and I know carrying out a particular task or buying that CD or downloading that audio, will put me in his or her good books.

I blatantly take advantage of any situation that would make the person in front of me happier. Even if it is 1% happier.

How amazing would our days be if we took advantage of situations in order to make others happy?

(This doesn’t mean you should wait to disappoint friends, colleagues and family before “cheating”. Don’t be an idiot( like me)).

If you’re going to take advantage of someone, don’t act surprised when karma comes knocking.

…And I am Culturally Incorrect.

I’ve been thinking about the responsibility that comes with being at the receiving end of a gift, a favor or a service. One that doesn’t require an exchange of any sort other than the traditional “ Thank you” or “ I am grateful”.

How far do the impacts of such acts of kindness go? For example, someone buys you a birthday present, do you have to in return, purchase the said friend a gift as well?
Now, if you do, is it because you received a present as well, or is it because you actually wish her well?

Or siblings, when you do something for your brother- that white lie( we both know lies aren’t ever white), does she have to lie for you back?

How far does this “reciprocation” reach? How long does it take to eventually pay a debt?

Actually, my question is more of: is there a debt?

Does a child owe the parents his/her life?

Because you are on this earth only because two people made it possible by the heavenly guided meeting of a sperm and an egg( never thought I would ever use a variant of “heaven” and “sperm” in the same sentence in my lifetime), does this mean all your actions, your dreams, your desires, your goals must be approved by your parents.

Is that it?

I have a feeling that I will be called out as trying to copy the West. You know what? Spare no expense. I am copying the West. But keep in mind that I am very mindful of my context. I know where I come from- a Christian family, with catholic married parents. I went to boarding school for seven years and I have a degree from one of the best Universities in the country. So far, I haven’t been convicted and I am not a father. I neither drink nor smoke for sport.

If that doesn’t establish my “uprightedness”, I don’t know what will.

( Then again, worse crimes have been committed by people with a “saner” profile. But…just bear with me)

There is a term I have been fascinated with recently-“Cultural correctness”. I define it as :

“ deliberately avoiding cultural offense;relating to or supporting the use of language or conduct that deliberately avoids giving offense when it comes to what is acceptable by a community.

Yes, you’re right, I stole the term from political correctness.

Now, my “special” definition limits to the behaviors governing those of children towards elders. In the Cameroonian African environment.

Case in point: You’re 16. You love biology. You watch discovery channel in the morning afternoon and evening. When asked why you don’t watch cartoons, you don’t even get the point of the question.
Duh!
Now, you pass the GCE advanced level. You have 5 papers. Awesome grades. You’re going to the Uni.
Yay!
Not so fast.

Mom thinks you’ll make a great doctor. Dad agrees. One of your Aunts is a medical practioner. Both parents call her name with so much respect.

You would love to study biology. Probably get a Phd. Even have your TV show. You try to argue.
Mom isn’t happy. Dad broods. You consider their option.
“It’s not so bad..” you tell yourself.
You’re smart. So you write the the entrance exam. You make it. Every one is ecstatic! The new family doctor is born!

The family biologist just died. You just became a victim of what I call: emotional blackmail ( note to self: write blog post on this. You’ve been a victim way too many times).

How often do we not stand up for what we really want?

How many times do we sit silent and just do what we are told even when we know that we don’t want to. When we can feel our stomach and every nerve in your body telling you this is a bad idea.

Here are some of the verbal cues of emotional blackmail:
This is Cameroon. Not Europe.
You need experience.
You’re in the virtual world. Reality doesn’t work like that.
Who will pay for this??
Where do you think you are?
You’re going to give me a heart attack.
What about your brothers?
What kind of example are you showing.

OR my favourite…

You’ve changed. I don’t recognize you anymore.

You see, I know all too well all (or a lot) about emotional blackmail and cultural correctness. I have suffered from it for a while. But, recently, I have fought my biggest battle ever.

The battle against the voice in my head. I haven’t won the war. But this post, is part of the battle. The war never ends.

And here are ways to recognize people like me- us- who wage this battle everyday.
We are labelled: stubborn, reckless, selfish, rebels, inconsiderate, bad examples, {Insert other derogatory term to describe someone who does what he or she knows to be what is true to his or her DNA.

( Ok, there is a fine line between someone who knows exactly what he or she wants, and someone who is plain confused. Both seem as confident, only time will tell the difference.)

There are others who can stay culturally correct and live a truly decent and happy life. Many who follow what their parents and elders tell them and find true happiness. I have a friend who wrote the entrance exam even though he didn’t want to be a medical doctor. Today, he’s one of the happiest people I know.

There is no harm in listening to counsel and doing as you’re told.

But if you’re not one of those people, if you’re not built to follow orders, if your heart knows what you’re good at, if your DNA tells you the path to follow…if you’re like me…

Then by all means, I urge you to be culturally incorrect! Please!

Learn the rules, break them- but don’t break the law. Give the world an authentic, true, original version of yourself.

By all means- do not listen to me , your parents or anyone. Find yourself. Shine your light.

Am I asking you to be disobedient? To leave home and be stranded because some idiot on the internet said so?
Nah. I won’t take responsibility for what you do. That’s the whole point of being culturally incorrect.

You make your choices. And you deal with the consequences. No pain, no gain.

But, before you chicken out , let me give you a list:

Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Ev William, Bongajum Leslie, Spielberg, Cameron, Bekolo, Francoise Elong.

These may all be artists. But I want to believe that if these people (and many like them) who have changed the face of music, movies, the internet – if they had listened to those who loved them and wanted them to be safe, we would not be benefiting from their true art.

My name is Tchassa Kamga. And I am culturally incorrect.

What about you?

Five lessons I learnt from my selfishness

For a large part of my life, I have been lonely. I have been selfish. I still am as I write this. But it is a battle I have had to engage full throttle because at some point, the difference between loneliness and being alone becomes clear.

And I don’t like any.

Which means that I have to redefine a lot of my interactions with friends and family. Below are five lessons I learnt just today. Each might stand independently. I know. But I don’t think I am the only one who has had to learn these. Please, share your lessons ( on selfishness) in the comments.

1. Give everything time:
Especially when you request something. No matter how small or big the favour may be. The receiver needs to process the deal and react within his/her psychic time frame. Assuming that because YOU thought it through means the other person should take as much ( or maybe less) time,is a recipe for strained relationships.
Ask. Then wait. We all have our issues we deal with differently.


2. Selfishness is the cause of every wrong thing in the world:

That sounds overly pompous doesn’t it? But if you look back to every time something went wrong either with a friend, family, colleague, etc, someone was doing something solely to satisfy his/personal desires. The sad part is not recognizing this selfishness. You need to accept that primal need to save everything for yourself and remember ( consciously) that no man is an island. No matter how strong you are, you can’t wash your right hand properly without your left hand. Don’t think so much about what YOU stand to gain. Sometimes, losing is winning.3. Minds can be changed:
Just like walls can be broken down. It may take either time, tact or (hopefully not) a bulldozer. No matter the cause you stand for or the product you are selling, persuasion takes many forms. And just paying attention to the questions (verbal or non) could be the key to selling that product or idea. Never give up on the first try. Sometimes, you just have to insist politely ( within the humanly/legally/morally acceptable bounds) in order to convince your interlocutor.
However, this may not apply in arguments. Many arguments are just plain pointless.

4. Every explanation is better than SILENCE
I have had to deal with this way too many times. And I still try to make this part of me. No matter how much you feel you have disappointed anyone, make sure you keep him/her updated. Nothing feels more horrible than a phone that rings forever or messages not replied. You may postpone the reprimand but every moment heightens the impending distrust and disdain.

5. Be honest with the small things.
Because the devil is in the details.

If you liked these, please “Like” and leave a comment. I reply to all my comments. Your attention is priceless.
Thank you for your time.

Worn Out of Insolence

Backpack strapped.
He moves fast.
Fast past the blur of youth.
He has old eyes. Tired, old eyes.
Worn out of patience. Worn out of fun

He talks fast. Stammers often.
Too much he knows. So little time.
So he writes. Scenes. Chapters. Volumes.
He writes. Wanting to stay sane.
Wanting…just wanting.

He yearns, daily. His cry, the same.
“Transform potential to example”
Yet, the mountain moves away, in his eyes.
With every step he takes, the mountain moves away.
He is underfed, physically and spiritually.

He once loved.
A long time ago, he once loved.
“What does love even mean?”
He often wonders in between keyboard strokes.
He never stops to consider, that the fault may be in his stars.

Backpack strapped.
He moves into the night, fast.
Pitch black. Heavy sack. More hope than fact.
He has old eyes. He is an old soul.
Worn of insolence, he takes life by the horns.

Three Ways I See Death

Almost everyone, has lost someone. A friend. A sibling. A parent. A lover. A neighbor.

Almost everyone.

Do you ever think of “death”? Not the action. Nor the importance it plays in the cycle of life. No. The concept.

Death.

Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech said of death as being “Life’s most definite creation”. Or something like that.

The concept of death seems so far away. Especially for young people like me. I have never witnessed a child die. You might have. And I have heard of people younger than myself dying.

So, is anyone every truly too young to die?

Considering the fact that no one knows neither the place nor the time, shouldn’t we be actually embracing the concept of death? Or is it one of those “your thoughts have powers” sort of situations where you avoid to think about certain things because:

a) Karma is a …not very nice thing and
b) The Law of Attraction works?

The fact that you are reading this means that you and I are alive.

(Or maybe you are a ghost. If the latter is the case, then I guess I would still be able to update my blog when I die. Yay!)

What does death remind you of? I don’t think about death all the time. I have never been close to a near death situation and the last time I felt truly terrible for the death of a family member I had grown truly fond of was over 15 years ago.

So, you’re right. I am no expert on death. And you shouldn’t be reading this.

However, here is what death reminds me of:


A. Death is inevitable:

I know it is obvious. But I don’t think we pay attention to how truly obvious it is. This life will end. All you see will finish. Everyone you know will die. Sooner or later.

Take that in. Absorb it.

Now tell me, would you live a carefree life if you had this little voice at the back of your mind telling you: “Dude, it could be today. It could be now”? I won’t. I try not to.

The inevitability of death, in my opinion, should be the driving force behind every life changing venture. It should be the reason we don’t need an alarm clock. The reason we are polite to everyone we meet on our way and more importantly, the reason why we stay true and honest to ourselves.

B. It could be right now.
If you’re reading this, it means I was able to press publish.

Unexplained deaths are that way for a reason- the fact that a creator exists means there are things as humans, we can not understand. I believe He simplified a lot with reasons such as: cardiac arrests, brain aneurysms and other ‘salient’ causes of death.

Your heart could literally stop right now. Or your brain. Or a some vessel, somewhere.

The more I think of this, the more I understand why many of us can’t stand the thought of death.
How sad would it be to have these thoughts all day long? You might as well be dead! The design of death is indeed macabre.
Especially given the glorification of the process through literature ( Dorian Grey, Frankenstein, Vampire Diaries) and the blurring of the obvious (The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, iZombie, et al).

It seems the “global quartier” has succeeded in carefully packaging the afterlife into a commodity that can be consumed in 40 minute intervals. Or binged watched. Depending on your mental palate.

Sure, not everyone is fooled into thinking that zombies exist. But a seed well planted and carefully fed will surely grow. Even if it just ends up being a dwarf plant.

C. Death could be a source of joy:

When Princess Diana died, I had no idea who she was. I cried. When I lost my uncle in 2000, I felt terrible grief. When my classmate died in 2009, even though we weren’t particularly close, I did feel a painful loss.

First off, there is no way my pain will ever be equal to yours. It could either be more or less.

Second, my pain could be a source of joy. Keyword: empathy. Thinking that today could be your last day ( or whoever you are talking to) could be the only reason you need to be…you know…nice.

I miss my Uncle. And the only place I can see him is in pictures. So, now that I know that I could miss you too someday, I take my phone and I call you. I smile to you. I do well to be in good terms with you and for us to be, simply, happy.

I think grasping how futile our lives are with respect to the infinity of the universe and the incomprehensibility of creation should be the only reasons we have to do our best.

Right now.

Clearly, this is just an argument of perspective. This is the way I see it. And this is the reason why I don’t bear grudges. Of course, I get pissed.

All the time actually.

I am human. But rather than getting pissed for two months, and not talking to my friend, or siblings, I ask myself: if this were the last thing I would do, would I be this angry? Would I really feel this way?

For me, things become really clear when I put death in perspective. When I use it as a source of inspiration rather than fear. When I accept that this life will never be truly understood and that all I need to do I do what is in conformity with my soul.

This is why I suck at politics. And why I don’t pay attention to the news. Yes, James Altucher may have inflenced the latter but I take his arguments and fit to my context. Watch CRTV for a week and tell me if you get any value from watching “the news” or any other “content”.

Death cannot be explained. Each religion has its understanding of the concept. Each person has his/her perspective.

Thank you for reading mine.
I’d be very happy to read your perspective in the comments below. And if you think others could see death like I do, please share. Have a great week ahead.

All that matters, is what we do now.

Just Another Face #Short #Fiction

“Miss Bright?”
“Pim!”

The old cab pulls over. Surprised, I am, to find that I am the only passenger at 7.50 pm. Unless I am in a different time zone, on weekends in Molyko, the day starts at 9 pm.

Eta Palace
Apart from the customary hum and occasional gear change, the vehicle moves silently. I love silence. I don’t bother looking for an identification document. I barely see inside the vehicle, why remind myself of my already incompetent visibility in low light conditions?
He is old. 50 at least. His gaze never leaves the road. Mine, the sidewalk. The silence eats our thoughts. The necessity of quiet is usually underrated.

Total

A bevy bunches up at the entrance to Dirty South, the street just after the Total gas station. The rainbow striped crew clearly has a Sunday evening outing. The kind that usually culminates in : a refurbished sense of moral decadence, lowered standards of truth and a renewed archive of dirty little secrets. He doesn’t stop when the couple points in my direction.

Mile 17
I reach for change. 200Frs. On evenings when I am particularly excited, I argue the fare with, tease and try to get the best of cab drivers.
Today, I just want to go home.

Kawah
I hate it that I don’t see properly in the evening. Just like Dad. This makes me grateful every time I get into a cab.
A bittersweet reminder of the diversity and complementarity of all humans.

Miss Bright
“Miss Bright?”
“Yes.”

Coins clink. I step out. Will he give my 50 frs?
I watch him hesitate for a split second- wishful thinking that I would start moving into the street without taking my 50frs. He catches my gaze, smiles in the dark and stretches his arm.

“Thank you”.

He knows he lost the battle when he flinched. I know he is not in that taxi because he admired cab drivers as a child.
We both know he doesn’t deserve the extra 50frs.

Miss Bright Junction
It’s six past eight. The street light reflects on my glasses and blinds me for a moment. The bar squeezes the peace out of my ears. As the bikes beckon, asking if I would ride them into the pitiful excuse of a tarred road, I wonder whose father he was. Whether he had made the day’s quota and whether he was strong enough to carry on such a grueling profession.
The thought didn’t stop me from arguing with the young man dispensing pawpaws. I wondered if in another life, he would be retired and reaping the fruits of a well invested youth.
I wondered if he would remember me. The nonchalant, lenses borne quasi-blind dude.
Did I look like one of these Pawpaw fruits? Identical except with slight curves, color and fruity attitude?

“How much?”

Would he remember our moment?
“Cent ngoma for this small thing massa? Noo. Take piece.”

Did he consciously ignore the couple or was he just pleased that he had a passenger who didn’t want to be bothered as well.

“Thank you boh”.

Maybe. Maybe not.
In the end, like my pawpaw buddy, I would be just another face.