Not Here

“We were born sick
I heard them say it”

– Hozier, Take me to church

Sometimes it’s easy to imagine away parts of life. Journeys to parts of Kenya reveal neglect. Everywhere the bleeding reveals itself. Mother of two, income – 6000 a month. Orphan, sells fruit for 10 bob a day. Schools boast of a teacher to student ratio of 40 as elite.

Broken bodies plead for their humanity.

My body is allowed to navigate in certain ways. I try to make myself smaller

“Check your privilege”

As often and as freely as possible. I wonder how to do this without being rude. “No, I insist,” moves from being a plea to a statement barely muttered.

The violence of silence can be heard in the pauses between words.

Even here we slip into roles. Me, the bright eyed visitor. Them, the welcoming hosts. An experience is manufactured. I don’t know how to say no.

Socks with sandals
are not considered
appropriate wear

Except maybe
if you’re a village elder
proudly carrying the
Canadian flag.

Nairobi blinds. The imagination destroying space narrows ideas of Kenya.

If you are on the margins of the centre where are you?

“Let’s go somewhere,
somewhere so remote
even the clouds
haven’t heard of it,”
she whispered
to the wind.
But the wind
kept blowing
knowing,
nowhere is remote.

The news reported 4 dead in a car crash near Chemusot.

4 dead, reported the news. A car crashed near Chemusot.

4 dead, reported the news.

“Last week we lost our chief in a car crash.”

I do not know how to unimagine death. I do not know how to unimagine life. Instead I just sit, imagining. Trajectories of lives stretch like veins. “Brother to, sister to, mother of, uncle to, friend of…”
Unspoken “enemy of, screwed over, hated by, guilty of…”

She has parked
somewhere between
Londiani
and a hard place.
‘where on earth am i?’

Language continues to gather and alienate. Tongues move in ways I didn’t even fathom they could. But eyes remain constant. The language of the pupil is the only constant.

“Command me to be well.”

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