CONSTANT CRY

He lived with us very briefly
When I was still a child
My father’s elder brother

When we prayed before our meals
And made the sign of the cross
He teased us, Protestants, about having gone Catholic

When he shaved in the morning
He explained to us the mysterious science
Of shaving stick, cream and blade

Other than that he didn’t talk much
A quiet quiet quiet man
Hurt no-one, thoughtfully kept to himself

Very different from the others
Never preached, never argued, never moralised
Never scolded, just silently observed

Three decades have passed
Rarely our paths ever crossed again
A short Hello each time, nothing more

I’m still trying to understand
The pain I’ve felt all morning today
Since I heard of Uncle Joe’s death

It doesn’t make sense
Someone I hardly knew
Just a few childhood memories

Just a few memories
That remind me of a time
Rich in memories and childlike insight

And a few memories
Of a quiet adult who never found a voice
In a culture of big egos, loud voices and aggression

His silence was louder, calmer, more lasting
So deep that only his death
Would open the deep wound of memory in my heart

His middle name was Ahamefula
Meaning “May my name not get lost” –
No, dear Uncle, it will not.

In loving memory of
Joseph Ahamefula Chukwumerije
1935 – 2013

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SEX IS NOT THE ONLY FORM OF INTIMATE CONVERSATION

Sex is not the only form of conversation, connection, exchange and sharing, in the course of Intimacy between people. There are other options that may fulfil the need for temporary or permanent oneness more effectively than sexual intercourse, depending on the chemistry between, the story around and the needs of and nature within the people involved.

1. THE NATURE OF CONVERSATIONS
The nature of verbal conversations between people can sometimes be a more powerful form of intimacy than sex, giving room for an inner release of pressures that not even sex can achieve. This often happens between people who feel comfortable enough with each other, or find the courage, to share information about their vulnerabilities with one another, and have found a language in which to do so. Some friendships bear this Quality intrinsically within.

2. SHARED SILENCE
There are some people whose most intimate exchange happens in deeply felt moments of shared Silence. This silence is like a continuum in which their thoughts and intuitive perceptions merge and shape one another. The people involved always emerge from such moments with enriched souls. These are people who of one another often say: we like to be silent together. Silence is their bond.

3. HONEST QUARRELS
A good quarrel – extreme, hard, honest, totally baring – is sometimes the best form of conversation and the most intimate way to exchange the most revealing information between two people or a set of people. I became acquainted with some of my closest friends after a quarrel. I met my wife through a quarrel. It was the quarrel that paved the way for the love. Quarrels are often missed opportunities when the people involved, while quarrelling, are – for lack of trust – not honest with themselves and with the other person. And yet sometimes the fundamental or temporary chemistry between two people is such that only an honest and brave painful quarrel will fulfil the function of the intimate conversation they need in order to take their understanding of one another to the next level.

4. HOMELINESS AND HOME
There are some people with whom we share the most open exchanges and most intimate conversations because the context of our chemistry and the base of our bond is a certain sense of home or homeliness, the type in which the real us feels ‘at home’ when together with these people. Some share this connection from birth, some acquire this in the course of a relationship or a friendship that makes them feel at home with each other. And this sense of home does not require of them to do or say anything extra or particular, or require another form of intimacy. The sense of being at home while together is in itself already their intimate conversation.

5. DISTANCE
There is a curious intimacy in distance that sometimes comes into play between certain people. It is delicate and fine, but also very intense, very strong and very revelatory. Invasion without invasiveness. Penetration without intrusion. An all-encompassing knowing, full of the most sensitive respect. The power of distance as a mediator and form of intimacy is often underrated. And yet there are some people with whom we can only enjoy a feeling and a sense of an intimate conversation when we find and keep the right distance between ourselves. Sometimes such people know us more intimately than the ones closest to us and may sometimes enjoy our rarest trust. It is also not by chance that people sometimes reveal themselves to and connect with less restriction and more satisfaction with Strangers than with those they know – exactly because of the fact that they are, and will remain,… strangers.

6. SEX AS A DEPTH OF COMMUNICATION
Voluntary sex is different things to different people – a power-game, a playful act; or for some it’s deeper, a level of release. There are people however who, apart from or in addition to this, experience sex as a form of conversation. An intimate way of sharing self-knowledge and exchanging sensitive wordless information about what we are in the primitive depths of our fundamental personalities. Just as sex can be used to tell lies, project a falsehood and hide secrets, it can also be used – by people whose bond trigger that chemistry – to communicate. People who experience sex solely in this way have a satisfying sense of communication, or frustrating non-communication, in connection with every moment of sexual intimacy.

7. A SHARED GOAL
There may be truth to the saying that there is nothing that binds people together as primordially and intuitively as a deeply-felt and shared Goal. The stronger and deeper the love and loyalty they have for the cause, the more this condition possesses the ability to break all barriers between them and link inner parts of their hidden selves with one another on levels which are never activated in their dealings with other people. That is to say: when people love the same thing and work passionately towards the same purpose, it wavelengths them into a place where only they can go together. The entire context of their relationship with each other becomes determined by that for which they share their truest love and most quiet loyalty, to which they have pledged the very essence their life, and it becomes the underlining hearth of their bond, their quiet intimate conversation.

The individual natures of each person and the chemistry between people, as well as the nature of intimacy possible, mutually desired or needed between them, is what determines the form of interchange between them which permits the realisation of this intimacy.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

HURT

When will he stop
Persecuting that guitar
His voice is hoarse
It hurts me

It digs a hole in my armour
Roughly
And scoops me out
Hoarsely

I wish I could remember him
In my dream tonight
When silence is wall
Enclosing me, she’s gone

His voice is gruff
A street musician
Enjoying his moment on stage
Roughly.

– Che Chidi Cjukwumerije.

GOODBYE, LAUGHTER

Have you ever listened to
The night talking to itself
While you lay there beside one another
And not a word occurred to you?

You see the end approaching
Like a boat coming to the shore
To take you away
Away from a laughter called love

And as your worlds drift apart
In the space of one short night
Strange, but no words occur to you
To adequately say goodbye.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FREED

Hardly a night goes by
Hardly a breath flows, an evening
Melts
Without this thought
You brighten my life

Curly windows
When the crowds are many
I am alone

I wanted to be a nightingale
To be a flower
I wanted to be a star
The evening wind blows
I am human. Let it be…

Sometimes again
Freed from the city’s shackles
Hackles, hard tackles
I am green, bright yellow, blue as sky
Glad am I.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SILENCE WILL ROLL INTO SILENCE

Silence will roll into silence
When your heart, for miles,
Lonely, clothed in the essence
Of sorrow shed in every sense
But one…,
Arises before your countenance
And, despite sorrow, smiles –
Fresh Food for your sustenance,
Fresh impetus for the long distance
You run…

Do you hear the rolling silence?
If you listen and listen hard
To Silence, the deeper bard;
Just listen, listen in hard…
Do you hear the rolling silence?

Silence will roll into silence
When the pain in you
Has crossed the line into convalescence
And the Horizon’s in view.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THOUGHTS OF FREEDOM

Bottling up the thoughts
Will not get rid of them
Yet speaking them all too soon
Is folly…

In the depth of silence
Assuming silence to be a lake
There is a cave
Wherein it glows like
Happiness

Bury your thoughts quietly within this
Cave of silent happiness

And no matter how rough a storm it be
That rocks the lake…
When all is calm again
Your thoughts
Will emerge matured and multiplied
And urge you
Urge you to set them free…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

METAMORPHOSIS

THERE ONCE lived a girl called Vanity. It was in that strange country where newborn babies are left unnamed – simply being referred to as so and so’s first son, so and so’s third daughter, etc – until they have grown into childhood. Only then would their parents and relatives, having up to this time carefully studied the character (for early dawns day) of the one to be named – finally confer upon the child that name which they believed best captured the essence of its core personality.

And so did this girl, from an early age, come to be called Vanity, for she was as proud and vainglorious as a peacock. Vanity believed that the whole world was there just to serve and admire her. She did not care much for others, nor could she tolerate, in her vicinity, another receiving more attention, admiration and adoration than herself. This she simply could not bear. She thus constantly went to all and any lengths to make sure that the attention of everybody would always and only be riveted upon only her. Vanity dressed in the most beautiful of clothes, wore the most attractive ornaments, learned the most alluring manners of self-expression, perfected the most sensational methods of walking and swinging, and – being the scion of wealthy royalty – made it very obvious to the gentry that she had a lot of wealth to spread around. The inevitable consequence of this was that the world divided itself into two groups before her – those who crowded themselves around her and those who avoided her. Great was her pleasure, for ‘her side’ verily outnumbered the other side.

As she grew into a teenage adolescent, a spectacular beauty happened to grow out upon Vanity’s features and fitted itself around her form. Naturally this pleased Vanity extremely  and only served to confirm for her and her court her egotistical claim to prenatal supremacy. And at this point her name changed spontaneously from Vanity to Beauty. Beauty became the rave of her time, the talk of town, the object of the envy and idolisation of the women, the desire of the men – exactly what she wanted. Beauty wore her outward beauty like a trophy and used it ruthlessly to acquire everything she wanted, most of which she indeed also got. For people practically worshipped Beauty; they made her their idol, their goddess, their queen. She controlled all.

Such was it that by the time she had become a young woman her name had changed once more – and now everybody called her Power. Power exalted in this name granted to her by her fellow human beings and proceeded to have a crown manufactured for herself on which her name was inscribed for all to see. She became so full of herself that there was no space left for her in which she could continue to expand, nor could her bloated ego grow any further. It neared its peak, its limits. Her ways became stiff and cold, lifeless. She could not find any further height to reach and claim. She became an ornament herself.

And very soon her name became Rigidity. For rigidly fixed was she to the dogged attachment to vanity, beauty and power. She bore no love for other human beings. Frightening and strange became her ways. Rigidity detested her new name intensely and tried to rigidly hold on to the previous one and to thus force the people to keep on calling her by it, but the people, like people like to do, persisted in calling Rigidity by the newest name they had given to her. And the harder she resisted it, the louder they called it.

It happened that, at this time, owing to her persistent attachment to old forms, her health broke down. By the time she recovered, her face, older, less beautiful, remained marked by the deep scars of her illness and struggles, and there was a tired ring to her voice. And, for some unknown reason, the people at this point began to call her Lesson. They pointed at her and said: “Lesson, Lesson, Lesson!” And Lesson saw that they were but pointing her out to the new, young beauty in town and pointing out her own destiny to her too. Lesson was very dejected. Sadly she sneaked out of town in the dead of night and wandered lost and lonely, trying to put a finger on what exactly had gone wrong in her life. And Lesson spent many years trying to understand life. Many lonely years.

And during these years of her travels, fellow wayfarers who saw her simply dubbed her with the name Simplicity, for she walked silent and alone and appeared to do all her things simply. When Simplicity found out that this was her new name, it seemed to her that there was a hidden message and clue in this name. She then began to consciously strive to do all things simply, to think simply and to cultivate true simplicity of the soul. Finally Simplicity settled down in a little hut in a little village where she cultivated farms and gardens and grew to love children and nature.

The people of the village loved exceedingly this obviously aristocratic yet so modest, archaic stranger who had come to live amongst them and, inspired by her ways, they named her Humility. This name struck the surprised Humility with such great humbleness that she again, using it as a guiding star, started striving consciously after true humbleness and humility in her life, in order to become worthy of the name. Humility was ever ready to carry out even the lowliest of tasks and was never too proud to speak up for the truth when she saw it being denied, or even to fight for it, no matter how much of a fool she might appear in the eyes of others for doing so; for in her newfound humility it no longer mattered to her what others thought of her. Because true humility is strength, not weakness, as we all know.

The people of the village learnt much from Humility, who was by now rather an old woman, and gradually they recognised the absolute magnificence of the beautiful female spirit that occupied her old body – which revealed to them the essence of true inner beauty – and, unanimously, they agreed to change her name to Beauty! And so, for the second time in her life, Beauty was called Beauty again, but now for a genuine reason, for the truest of beauty is the beauty of the heart.

Many more years has Beauty now lived amongst the people of this dear and beautiful village, and it is Beauty herself who is now writing down her own long and eventful story. Except that now – now that this village has become a place of that true heavenlike peace and beauty which she has always borne hidden, deep, within her maturing soul – Beauty’s name is no longer Beauty, but she now bears an other and final name which will be the one that will be etched unto her grave tablet when this old, warm body of hers is finally returned to earth. And what do you think this her ninth name is? – It might be Service; or Leadership; or Strength; it could be Love; or perhaps Peace; or even Heaven. It may also be Purity; or Guide; or Guardian; or maybe it could be Mirror. Choose for yourself, every woman out there, do.

I am simply what I should be.

Emptiness always makes the greatest noise. Would that emptiness could learn to become silent, that it may be true and become filled.

Goodbye, Earth. – – –

The beautiful old woman died two days after writing down her own story; and when she was buried, the grateful village people inscribed upon her grave stone the single word…:

HOME.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije (from my collection of short and inspiring stories and essays titled „There Is Always Something More“)
Available on all Amazon stores.
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015