Although the destination be unknown,
Although the night be dark and sky empty,
A sphere of light walks by my lonely side.
Although the way be far and dangerous,
Although the light be gone from the tunnel’s end,
I stole the darkest cloud’s silver lining.
Although I wonder how long these flames burn,
Although I wander these streets endlessly,
I will never let go your metal hand.
* * *
It’s dark. Living in a city without power, it’s always going to be dark. Whenever it gets this dark, the heroes retire and the villains have to save the day, or night as the case may be. I’m one such villain even if people say I’m the one who needs saving. The only illumination around comes from a lantern half-filled with kerosene that I pick up to light my way and this begins my routine nightly walk ‘round the neighbourhood, but tonight i whisper, “let there be light.”
I feel like the lantern is the first bridge to my island of sanity and also the welcome sign. Tonight, like every night before this night, the only thing I attract are these insects but unlike every other night they seem more interested in my new bridge.
I live in a part of the city whose actual name I don’t really know. I’m sure it has a name, I’m sure the city has a name too… I also know I once had a name. Everybody calls the neighbourhood “The Streets” so I call it The Streets too. Trying to be different is dangerous business. People die around here for things as little as calling petrol kerosene especially if the seller says it is petrol. Even if it smells like kero, looks like kero and even tastes like kero. You might just get burnt by the kero/petrol too.
As bad as The Streets can be, there’s a harsh beauty to it. A beauty not idyllic but no less captivating. The dirt roads, dark streets and dank alleys. Ashawos on the prowl, shouting obscene statements and promises of sweet release spoken in not-so-poetic ways. There are the gamblers and the stoners, both addicted to sister demons. The preachers and foretellers of personal doom. The rapper-wannabes ready to sell their souls. The graffiti artists preaching resistance. The not-so-blind beggars with not-so-missing limbs. The babalawos selling wash-put as get-rich-quick potions. Then there’s me, the only island of sanity, marvelling at how insane my world can be. A platform where beauty mingles with ugliness unabashed.