THE SILENT THINGS IN OUR HEARTS

THEY HAD always had an eye for each other, ever since their primary school days. Naturally, neither had ever given even a hint of this to the other, but each had carried his and her own slumbering love silently, unspoken, unsubstantiated, deep within each heart.

The primary school days ended and they separated, each going to a different secondary school. Six years of separation and in that time neither had any idea where the other was. And yet their love continued to grow, to wax soft and strong, tender and untouched and sacred, in those recesses of the heart of which even the mind itself is barely conscious.

Every once in a while she would float into his thoughts and he would remember and vaguely yearn and long… then forget again and continue, like other youths, with the demanding task of growing up – until the next bout of longing.

Nor did she ever completely forget him either. And being genuinely of the deep female gender, her ability to call forth his memory in her heart was even stronger. Often she wandered where he was; was he still alive? Was he fine? Was he in love? Would they ever meet again? Would he recognize her? Did he ever think of her? There was no reason why he should; he had hardly ever looked at her in their childhood days. Foolish me, she would think, dreaming hopelessly…

Thus did the years pass by.

He grew up into a young man at the tail end of his youth, matured by love affairs, ideological battles and heartbreaks come and gone.

She grew up similarwise, and if he had loved deeply, she had loved twice as deeply… and if he had believed blindly, she had believed even more fiercely… and if his heart had been broken, hers had been dispersed, ground, into the winds.

Thus did they suddenly meet again in the university.

Who recognized whom? Who was more – or less – eager to let show the fact that silent, unconfessed love had long smouldered in fiercely hidden embers deep within the heart?

Often he would visit her in her room in the evenings and they would crack many jokes, and slowly came they to also like one another. But if he was seeking company with which to cure his loneliness and erase the memories and after-effects of earlier heartbreaks, then she for similar reasons was reluctant to unite again too quickly with a member of the male gender. It was a subtle cat and mouse affair, nothing ever actually spoken, yet both being fully aware of exactly what was going on – and while these things were happening silently in their hearts, outwardly they continued to crack their friendly jokes.

But tensions build and pressures mount and something somewhere must always finally give. And, for hesitation, the tide untaken at the flood, it sort of wilted and softly broke, the potential lost its momentum, the attraction lost its orientation, and it died between the two of them. Gradually they began to see less and less of one another…

One year then passed, during which their paths did not once cross.

She had meanwhile exchanged her room for a new one which she shared with another female student with whom she had quickly become good friends. But never had she voiced it to anyone, not even to her good friend and roommate, that there was someone whom she silently, painfully, loved. –

And no-one could have prepared her for the shock she got when she one evening opened the door of her room upon a visitor’s knock and saw him standing there. They stared at one another with bewildered looks of surprise on their faces.

And then, from behind her, from deeper inside the room they shared, the happy voice of her room mate called out loudly, brightly:

“Oh, Zubi – hi! Finally… you’ve come.” And, bounding forward with barely suppressed excitement, her roommate turned to her of whom this story is about and, taking Zubi’s hand, said:

“Efe, meet the guy I’ve been telling you about… and, Zubi, meet Efe, my room mate.” –

With pain almost impossible to bear, Efe watched her roommate Awa hug, and be hugged, tightly, by him, Zubi, the silent owner of her heart.

Over the next couple of weeks it became clear to her that Zubi and Awa were in a serious relationship and loved each other deeply.

Nor was there anything for her room mate Awa to know or ever suspect in connection with the two childhood friends, Zubi and Efe, for there was nothing that existed or ever had existed between them, was there?

They were just , as always, two casual acquaintants who happened to have known each other in their childhood days and who, today, whenever they met in Awa and Efe’s room would, as usual, aye, as they had always done, simply crack light friendly jokes with one another.

And if they felt anything else, anything deeper, for one another perhaps, then it spoke not, nor loudly, but remained, silent, as it continued to reside in the deep quiet places within their hearts.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

REMEMBER YOUR DREAM

You’ll never be a better man
Than the boy you once were
So, when you lose your way
The answer you seek is not far:
Remember the dream you once had
Between child- and adulthood
When the boy you once were
Had just awakened from his dream
And the man you now are
Had not yet forgotten that dream.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ADULT AND LOST

A gentle feeling of lullaby
A soothing wave, a beast asleep
A little child is passing by
Why does it weep?

Tears as large as sun and moon
Bright as heart, dark as dream
Butterfly trapped in a cocoon
Life is vanishing cream

We spend our youth growing old
Learning sophistication, hardening up
The night grows empty, proud and cold
Saddening up.

But precious moments will come sometimes
A tear, a thought, a child’s pure heart
A Memory, a bell that suddenly chimes
And tears your heart apart

Those who find the child again
Do so because they looked again
Through clouds of lies and inner pain
And wiped its tears of pain
And became normal again.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

AS IF ALREADY WE KNEW

I remember you
Almost everyday.
Do thoughts forget
Their creators? Heart
And common sense agree
In me that they never could.
I remember you daily.

Our childhood and youth
Made my heart what
It is today. And though
You’re gone who knows
Where in the Beyond,
Still my memories of you,
Brother, know no boundaries.

How many times did
We watch Joe Panther?
Little did we know that
We were watching our future.
For, like Tiger died and left Joe,
One of us would go
And the other would lonely stay.

And I remember how quietly
We sat, together, trying
To hold back and conceal
Our tears that first time
We watched La Bamba –
As if already then we knew
How it would one day feel.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE NOISY CHILD

I walk the streets, the broken streets. I encounter people, broken people. I see the materialisation of broken dreams – and suddenly I understand a-deeper, that a child was silenced at dawn. Ssshh! Keepquiet! Shutup! Don’ttalk! Can’t you see that adults are talking! Stopthat! Standthere! Standstill! Obey before you complain! You’re just a child! You’re still a child! DO as you’re told! You will understand only when you’ve grown… – But by the time they grow, poor children, they’ve forgotten whatever it was they once wanted to say or what once they wanted to know… – – – I walk the streets, the broken streets. I encounter adults, broken adults… noisy… empty… silent… silenced. I see the forgotten memory of the broken dreams blowing in the evening wind under a sad sun. And I understand once again, that once upon a crucial early time, a child was told to be still… stillborn.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

RIGIDIFICATION

Basically to do with respect – or the lack of it. A disrespect that has its roots in an unexamined, unquestioned presumption which a person has grown up with from childhood.

The presumption becomes the basis for all further interactions with and reflections upon the people or places to which the presumption applies. This presumption forms the bedrock of the basic attitudes the person develops towards the object of consideration. It stands like a wall in the face of a reappraisal of the people, object, situation or place; it is wielded as a weapon, held up as a shield in one’s dealings with them.

 A common tendency towards lethargy might then prevent one from examining the presumption, which may also be called a prejudice. To examine the prejudice means facing the danger of encountering and acknowledging its incorrectness or partial incorrectness, and taking the trouble to build up a new view of and relationship with the discriminated – and thus making an about-face.

 So it becomes a matter of pride. And, passed on from generation to generation, it will stand through the centuries like the Rock of Gibraltar, and no-one will know its beginning anymore.

 Pride is a drug. It offers you comfort and succour, with gentle paws and steely claws that entrap what they embrace.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

EVENING WALK

Kidnapped
Is there still hope for me?
The sun sets sadly as slowly as he can
By the last light of day
Find my way

Did you see the baby that was stolen?
Did you see the boy that was broken?
However hard you look, you will see
No resemblance at all between them and
The man now woken, now walking.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

NEW ROADS

How maddening it must be
Upon reincarnation to see
The fullness of your memory
In all its grime and glory –

Take it away, take it away
I don’t want to know today
The sadness and joy of yesterday
With my heart let me find my way

I fell in love, in love anew
With dawn and dusk, with dream and dew
With life and love, through vice and virtue
Another me, another you.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.