The King’s Speech

There was a ban in the land that no one should drive; no cars, no bicycles, no trains, no trams. Everyone walked; common folk and dignitaries alike. The only cars allowed on the roads were Kia Picantos, and even these were not allowed close to the auditorium which the king gave his speech. 

Three days ago, I had bought a ticket to Ekiti from the airport. This was a one-day return ticket to Ekiti from Zone 5. The aircraft was a bus, and all was jolly. During the trip two days ago, I could see the landscape from a birds-eye view although the bus rode on the street. Ekiti looked an awful lot like Germany — I have never been to Germany. The landscape though had green areas, industries, and streets made with interlocking blocks. Ekiti also has an autobahn. On my way back I was the only passenger in the aircraft, so I was allowed to fly first-class. This was only because the fears of the pilot coupled with an illusion of boredom, scared him into needing company close to the cockpit. I had been briefed in the meeting I went for, that pilots of this airline had been made to believe religious nonsense which scared them per trip; I did not know this prior. The religious nonsense, according to the airline management was meant to keep them “alert and vigilant”. Apparently also, I was the only one who did not get the memo that the king’s speech was going to cause a total lock down in my hometown, Zone 5.

The trip back was faster despite the heavy rains which poured from the heavens beneath us. The airbus tore through the autobahn at the speed of necessity, and free road. “This is when they come out”, my pilot said, “I don’t like them. I never wanted to do this trip. How are you not concerned? Why are you so relaxed?” Quite frankly I had no clue what man was going on about, so I sat tight. The airbus swerved on roads which cut through forests, ate up corners and bends at speeds race car drivers wouldn’t dare attempt. The amount of time the aircraft spent on two wheels was more than the amount of rain which made the road slippery. My picture through the window was that of trees swaying in agony as their leaves cried with the tears of a recent widow — but how could they complain, when the heavens constantly blessed them with endless tears to cry with? I had lost my landscape view; may be because we had left Ekiti and her industrious promises. 

On getting to the airport, I met the Tao. Thankfully the rains had stopped. However, the sky still remained gloomy like the face of a scolded child. Privileged to meet a rare Asian concept in Zone 5’s airport, I bowed in respect. “Why do you leave so?”, I asked trying to spend more time with the Tao in a bid to understand what Lao Zu meant in all his musings.

“Haven’t you heard about the king’s speech?”, the Tao replied with the voice of a woman ever so familiar. “You should be leaving also. You have no business where volcanoes breathe ice.” …like it had already plundered through the depths of my mind uncovering not only plans but secrets locked away from my own understanding. 

“Well, if you must go, try going to Ekiti. I’m just coming from there. It’s a lot like Germany. You, of all people, with your ‘way’ of doing things, would like the Ekitists.” I finished that statement holding my arm out in the direction of the aircraft on whose wheels I had rolled in, this aircraft was nowhere to be found. The thought “what sorcery!?” crossed my mind, leaving a perplexed look on my face which the Tao found amusing. Soon, the Tao was gone; and with it went every iota of order.

Walking into town, there was darkness; the usual lack of electricity emphasized by the absence of sunlight as agreed upon through the contract humanity signed with Evening. This time around the chaos in town presented itself as black Kia Picantos which tore through the city with long childlike giggles. One of them, appeared out of nowhere, screeched to a stop beside my left knee, giggled, and took off on reverse until it got lost across the horizon. I would later learn that these giggles were police sirens. “Jeez, because of this man’s speech, our people upgraded”, I thought.

I stopped by the market to get some groceries. The grocery vendor is dressed dapper in a tux which came off like shining armor; on it was written “Fresh fruits are fresher when you are”. His tux did not continue to his legs though which, instead of pants, he had on jeggings. His feet were bare, unprotected, and looked like he spent more of his time as a fisherman. “Give me three naira carrots, two buckets of orange juice, one pineapple, and four naira kiwi.” These were the words which threw the grocery vendor into mild shock as he looked at me like no one had ever spent nine naira, forty-nine kobo at his stall ever. As he bent over to gather my order into a suitcase, the giggles I heard while making the order grew louder and louder. I raised my head to see a Kia Picanto screech it’s way into a bend, cornering into the market line behind that of my grocery vendor, and continued on the Ankara walls therebehind. The driver of that Picanto made sure to pay attention to every line, twist, and turn on the Ankara cloth. 

“This king’s speech must be something else entirely. This town has always known some level of calm”, I said to myself. “But the Tao has always been around during those times. That’s why people kept their heads. Now the Tao is traveled, I must be able to understand why there is so much disarray”, myself responded to I. 

I finally got home. The silence in my apartment was deafening. Finally, the peace I am used to with or without the Tao. Sort of made me think I am a Tao myself! I walked into the kitchen and offloaded the fruits from the suitcase. This grocery vendor, Krax Fontusher, had left his complementary card inside the one of the boxes with carrots in them. His card reeked of lavender. Written on it was a “Call me ;)” …as literal as can be. Yes, the winking smiley face was included on the card. Beneath my apparent disgust, I was disappointed. Disappointed at the fact that Krax would sell himself for so cheap; fall for nine naira, forty-nine kobo. Where was his dignity? On sensing that question, my trash can rolled to where I was by the fruits cabinet and opened his mouth indicating the hunger of an starving troll. I gladly fed it Krax’s card.

I prepared a healthy meal and went to the living room to watch the king’s speech on what functioned like a television but didn’t look much like it. The shock! My living room had been transformed. The will behind my TV area was fell and a stage was brought in. Thereon stood the king, paused at the “I am about to begin my speech” je ne sais qois. My neighbors in the apartment which shared this wall, carried on with their mundane weekend life like nothing was happening. In front of this make-shift stage was my couch; someone had brought my couch front and center to be the symbol of the political bourgeois. Seated were three females rocking back and forth with the rhythm of a funeral albeit dressed in loud colors. And I only knew they were female because of the hijab-style dressing they had on. Only their heads distinguished them, because the shoulders were connected with a single cyan cloth which joined all three and tapered down covering their feet. This cloth did not crease once throughout their rocking; a testament to their synchrony.

Confused, I woke up.

thing
Aside

Om Nom

There is “the thing”, of which I am an epiphenomenon. You are an outsider; and my circumstantial friend, as we both are outside “the thing”. Our friendship is directed: yours towards me and mine towards you. And with this direction, you force me into the thing while I force you out of this thing. That’s the erroneous representation of love, you see. We have come to like this…. This representation of “could be” as fantasy. The same we have unfortunately come to embrace in our many human cultures. And in order to keep you, I must occasionally forget the fact that I am from this thing (as much as, in a broader sense, you also are) and dance with you the contemporary dance of push and pull, of dig and fill, the grave dance for forgetting oneself to embrace another… the seemingly morbid dance of replacing oneself. The sacred scare!

But when oneself has been redefined as myself in yourself, when your hair grows from my follicles and your vision comes form my very own human oculus, when my thoughts are articulated by your speech and my path walked by your feet… Then comes the realization that you also have a thing to which I am an outsider. And my friendship towards you has removed you from yours, as you removed me from mine. You fell into this error to learn the our mistake. This is one the first time your feet have been enslaved to this tune. Fascinating!

p.s. Try reading this again. But this time, replace the “I”s with the you”s and the “you”s with the “I”s. Keep doing this till the personification vanishes from your mind.

Speech
Quote

That which God said to the rose,
and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty,
He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful.