YOUR NUMBER

WHAT ARE YOU thinking about at this very moment?

It is hardest to know yourself. Before you know yourself you will first come to know many other people. And when it is time to know yourself, you will not see or discover yourself by yourself, but somebody else will show you yourself.

Then you will really know yourself as you are.

If I told you how this train of thought was set off in my mind, you might find it strange, but I learn from little things and I let the little things show me the big things. Big things expose themselves in little things.

It was my mobile phone. My first. I have had it for almost a year now and I use it several times everyday. My little handy. But I never succeeded in memorising the number. I have seen this number several times, having stored it myself on my phone’s own address book, and I have read it out many times to many people. But I have never memorised it.

No, the problem is not with my memory. I have other people’s landline and mobile numbers in my head. I can reel them all off anytime. But to give you my number I would have had to, even until yesterday evening, look it up first in my address book. For the umpteenth time! Even after almost a year.

Yesterday a friend pointed his phone at me and said, What’s your number? Oh stop, I have it here, don’t I?…

And he thumbed his handset severally and said 08037220738…?

Even before he finished I spoke the last four digits with him, mouthing them at half-volume zero seven three eight…

It was my number. Painted before my mind’s eye, recognised instantly by an internal antennae, consciously reactivated. Suddenly it awoke within me like youth awakening into manhood and remembering the code stored within its soul even before birth. Like memory returning of an old book for long forgotten. Now it’s at the tips of my fingers, re-echoing in the hallrooms of my head.

I know it off the top of my head. No, I know it now. How? Somebody told it to me. Gave it back to me. It came home, for good. It stuck. His voice. The words. Visual digits. Awakening. Recognition. My own is now mine. For it has come back to me.

Earlier, when I told him about my life, he sat up straight and, pinning me with an incredulous look, said, Man, you have some wild stories to tell.

In my mind I thought, Yes, to tell one day. You haven’t heard anything yet. We all have the same thing, and then I’ve got something more.

The day is dawning well today. The sun is not too bright. I couldn’t stand that just now.

What do you know about yourself? Your father told you your name. Your country preset your status. The world showed you your race. Society put you in your place. A stranger read your mind. Your lover undid your heart. Your superior told you your job. And the owners of your ear have pointed out to you your style.

In the midst of all this, you want something. But by the time you figure out what it is, you’ve probably become something else already. Your hopes you exchange for regret. Don’t be bitter. Could be worse. Might be better, if you laugh. Truth is, you have never stopped being yourself, the same person I always knew, through it all. We are now even as we were then, at our beginning. But do you remember?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

From my collection of thoughts and short stories: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE.
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015

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