The Kenyan Mademoiselle By Abigail George

It is a Sunday. The wind is up. It’s been one of those long and boring afternoons. Nothing to do but count the hours to your favourite television show. It has been a beautiful day. Do you live near the beach? I do. I should walk more but I don’t. And I think too much. I always want to say the perfect thing and the words must be elegant. Maybe that has something to do with me being a writer. Lunch is over and so I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon doing nothing or read something. We don’t buy newspapers anymore. Magazines once in a while and what I’ve learned is that I really like to read inspirational stories. People who’ve made it in this cruel world, and who have lived to survive it.

With all the rain we’ve had there’s has been flooding in the low-lying areas. We see rain as God’s gift but then there are others who don’t see it as that. I am fortunate that I met you when I did. It was more than luck that brought us together and you’ve said so more than once. I wish I could have written more to you, spoken to you more often, been there for you the way you have for me. You are made of kind folk, a kindred spirit. It really feels like we’re related or connected somehow on so many levels. And I have found a sister in you, family and so many things, a comrade. I can hope that you will write, write and write and that it will turn into a beautiful book filled with joy, written with eloquence, enthusiasm and audacity.

There are many bad people in this world but as I discover more of the world I live in, you live in, there are just as many if not more good people. I believe in you. I believe in your literary work and your devoted commitment to that work. When you have courage and display that authentic sense of self and selfhood to the world it gives me courage. You understand what it means to be an artist, a creative marvel who surrenders (no matter what difficulty she encounters to reach the turning point).

You are the mistress of your own destination, forging quietly and with steely determination ahead. You make me want to pay close attention to what having empathy means, to tolerate what I could not tolerate before, for my heart to listen before my intellect, ego, consciousness does. You illuminate me and I suppose that is what great friends do, great sisters, great teachers, and poets do. (And now I feel I can go on but I’ll stop here.) I want to be brave. I want to be a brave forward-thinker making progress like any adventurer in pursuit of a dream expedition or pilgrimage.

It’s hard to want to live sometimes. In my world it’s a feeling I can’t escape sometimes but knowing that there’s a lifeline out there sometimes makes everything, everything easier to bear. So thank you for your spirit, thank you for your soul, thank you for being so angelic in your communication with me. I wish I could have printed out some of the stuff we have ‘said’ to each other. It is food for thought (much food, much nutritious thought). I see art in everything now where I didn’t before and I see artists everywhere I go and I think to myself. They don’t even know it. They can’t see it and it is in front of their eyes. There’s so much to live for.

There’s so much life even in bread, even in fasting. Around every corner are communities wanting to learn, wanting to be educated. There is so much joy. Joy in the faces of people, strangers whose names I do not know and faces I will not remember. Today has been a good day for me. Today has been poetic. I think that we’re on the brink of an extraordinary era. If only everyone had poetry in their spirit then there’d be more than enough joy to go around for everyone.

I’ll never forget your friendship for as long as I live.

I hate the dark. How it expresses itself, yields crime, and brings oddities to the surface. I love the moonlight. I’ve grown used to the cold. I’ve found its elements useful in some ways. I’ve become mindful of the miracles I’ve found in other poets writing and their love and passion for writing that ignited the flame of habit within them. If others can see those personalities of the stems, haphazard roots, spinning flowers, spinning like the red heads of poppies in the wind of the poem’s soul why can’t I?

You ask how do poets prosper today if people do not read poetry, find inconceivable pure threads among it, seize it as if it was life itself? I ask how do people live if they do not read? Do you, should we find it necessary to put ‘African’ in front of writer or poet these days? I need to lose myself and not cherish the separation anxiety I feel sometimes.

The pioneers of Southern Africa lived a madness life exiled in the earth’s storm, living off the land with their white teeth. I wonder at the adjustments their children made. They lived off everything that had an organic description from their fruit orchards; potatoes, bread, their animals provided the meat for their progeny and workers and families. All those finicky cells all had ancient life.

The beaches of my childhood are pure to me, usually always breathtaking, a magnificent portrait, never bleak. Particularly the light of the day as it closes in on people, on me, on my mother’s back as she charges ahead of me, as she charges ahead of heaven, of paradise. Earth is not the only link I have to God, to beauty, to pioneers who came before me, to laughter.

The other day I found shells on the beach and it was as if angels had a hand in making them. I collected them as if they were fossils. As if they were ghosts from another time and place and then they became a feast of white in my hands. So mankind achieved progress. This evening there was rain on my tongue. I could not speak. The beauty all around moved me to tears. It is my sister’s year of weddings.

What is ill health, your body being, becoming more and more attuned as each day turns into weeks and months of being, becoming committed to ill health? I can no longer indulge vanity, insanity and conceit. Ill health is locked down into my sleep, my dreaming, and my goals. I am no longer my mother’s genuine futurist. I remember warm days. Something snaps inside of me. I drink lukewarm tea. I must remember love. Running into words, prose, essays in the darkened interior of a bedroom.

Acknowledgements must be mentioned. Prayers must be said. Preparations mustn’t be hurried. Writing is like an open field; flat, bewildering. It can smell cold like the untouched keys of a piano unspoiled by fire, time, memory and place. There’s a place for you too in nostalgia. We’ll still talk of the men in our lives, past and present. Every external custom, dramatic comprehension, the heritage found in our shared loneliness.

Previously published in Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine on the 27 October 2013.

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