It is sunny out here. Too sunny for a Friday morning but when has this world ever moved in a way we liked?
Yesterday, I read some of Teju Cole’s letters to a young writer. I have to admit that they were pretty revealing. That I have been suffocating my writing talent with a pair of “I don’t feel like writing” for hands was something he made pretty clear to me. Cole really knows what he’s about. Anyway, I have grown bored with my non-writing-ness so here’s an attempt, frail though, but an attempt nonetheless, to remedy these long periods of non-correspondence. I’m writing you a letter!
You have probably found this letter because you got bored one day and decided to search through some of my old write-ups. Well, welcome. I hope you don’t leave even more disappointed than you came. What can I tell you today?
How about this: you ever heard of the phrase , “build it. They’ll come”? It’s okay if you haven’t, but if you have , that’ll make the point of my story even more relatable. A long time ago, I was a “fresh” student at the college of education in Berekum. At a time I was full of fury, uncertainty and other things, I left Konongo on a whim to attend the college. At the college, I was a bit “unconventional.”
That was the polite word Sarpong, our S.R.C. P.R.O.( God rests his soul), used to describe me. “Unconventional”, you know as much as I, can mean a host of things. I took it to mean I was special. His way of smiling impishly as he said it spelt other meanings too. I didn’t care. I was too oblivious to care.
You’ve got to have a name that appeals to the imagination- because imagination is a thing of the spirit
As a joke to corroborate how Sarpong had described me, the boys began to call me Mr. Bean. Like that famed character, my “unusualness” could manifest in unpredictable ways, uncertain ways, and sometimes in absurd crazy ways. I shall explain. My little angel, one afternoon_ I shudder to say this_ but I lost it, and I mean that in the most idiomatic of ways. One thing I noticed when I got to the college was how un-punctual they were for dining time. Scores of students would hold their plates, stand in droves at the veranda of their various halls, and like dissident rebels waiting for an unwilling leader to spark their march, just wait. They’d wait for a Rawlings-esque character who would usually come in the form of Baah- Acheamfour. Yes! Acheamfour! That was who they’d wait for. Not the persona exactly as he had left the college the year before for teaching practice, but one like him. You see, Acheamfour was the “driver of the bus” so to speak. He was the one who’d usually start his walk to the dining hall first and then the others will follow. I never met the lad personally; however, to say he was a hero to the plebians wasn’t an understatement.
“Where to find an Acheamfour?” was a question they asked every meal time and sometimes a person might show promise but they’d scream “)rek) oooo! Driver no rek) oo” as the guy led the march to the dining hall. Later , the poor bloke would resign_with all hopes of being an Acheamfour shed like old skin.
Humans are fascinating creatures , but even the God who created them gets bored with their antics.
On that afternoon I speak of, I got bored. I held my bowl tightly and with hope in my heart, started down the pavement that led to the dining hall. I’m sure you’ve been to my college by now and you can attest that to get to the dining hall from my great Yiadom Boakye Hall, you’ll have to pass through the hot and arid desert of Hall 3,Stewart hall; the waste lands of Hall 2, Nicholas hall; and the weird metropolis of Hall 1, Buchanan hall. Taking steps can be a daunting thing especially if you have about a hundred eyes trained on you as you make your way through. A hundred eyes, unsure what to make of the sight they are being served. Searching through their schemas will provide them with a previous search image, and having found it, they’d scream in unison: )rek) ooo, driver no rek)!
I became a driver that day. Not of the car kind but more_ of humans. A driver of sons of Adam! Oh and how they ridiculed, and clicked their tongues , and laughed at me that day! It was hard for me to be honest( thought of quitting the next day like the guy before), but I waded through the throng and got to the paradise that was the dining hall. It was in the dining hall, as I sat behind one of the tables, that I saw it.
I realized as I sat down, that I wasn’t the only one that had entered the hall. A few people had followed me. They really had! I had hope. The next day, a handful of guys joined us. The following day, sixty. The rest joined more and more as the days progressed and before I fully knew it, nobody was laughing now when I would “start the bus” . I had become Acheamfour_ no scratch that_ I became Mr. Bean!
The following week, nobody would move to the dining hall if I had not yet started my walk down the pavement. In a way, my name became synonymous with meal times.
The principle of contiguity as discovered by Pavlov maintains that if two things occur together over time, they become associated.(I hold the same hope with your mother. I’ve been studying with her at evening preps 24/7. Wish me luck! Lol)
Wow, look how time has ran out. Let me finish this story before your mom comes home. I’m probably in charge of dinner today, and you know how she prefers everything “now.” The point of my story is that you’re in your teens now. It’s not always easy to be an isolate animal_ to have an original thought, or take initiative by yourself. You most likely ascribe to various forms of herd mentality and that’s okay. It happens. But Daughter mine, if you desire to do something like chase a worthwhile dream, but you feel some asomasi or )benten(all words meaning a person) will laugh at you or ridicule you, guuuurl, forget them and do you! Build! Build! Build! And they’ll come. Whether they come soon or much later, that ain’t for you to worry your pretty head about honey. Just build!
When Ray Kinsella(protagonist from Field of Dreams) heard that voice tell him, “ build and he will come” (original phrase by the way) , he knew immediately that it would cost him something. Likewise, it’ll cost you something to be great dearie. The ridicules and taunts and whatnot, just imagine them as bricks people will throw at you, and you know what we do with bricks right honey?
Say it slowly with me, “WE- BUILD!”
Vanity card #8
This, I hope, will be the first of many posts to come from me this year. Ma sesa(I have changed) this year. I hope to write more, to grow more , to fail and fail better. Cheers!
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