Of recent jumping out of bed has been a boring sport. I wake up lazily pulling together disbanded body parts from wherever they were spread in the course of sleep. This Sunday morning was not any different, maybe, it was even worse.
Usually I have a book I am reading before sleep steals me away. That same book starts me off my new day. I awake and turn to it to finish that paragraph, page or chapter that I could have slept off before finishing.
This morning I had no book by my side.
I reached out to my back pack and picked Jackson Biko’s DRUNK.
From the first page I could tell it was going to be a good read and of course a good Sunday. Blame it on the choice of bookmark I randomly picked by so many stories or the beauty of the word order of the text but not me. I was only a reader running after words neatly plastered in crunchy sentences that I could not stop munching. Isn’t that what books are written for?
One thing that strikes me about this book is the way the chapters are clearly crafted; brief and concise to the marrow of the story. If there is one thing the author (or editor thereof) did with the manuscript was to be economical with words. No word is left lousing about in the chapter, every word has a direction to take building up a detailed nimbly presented story in only 167 pages.
Reading the words from one sentence to another, page to page, I found myself identifying with the story.
In Mama Larry, I saw my mother, in Larry I saw myself, as I did of Jeff for my brother. When Larry looks at his brother Jeff with such a judgmental look and talks him into being a better person upon his return from India, it only reminds me of the time my brother was home after university. Why couldn’t he get a job? I always wondered. I saw many opportunities he was not taking up and I thought he was not being fair especially in a world where firstborn children assume the role of deputy parent.
I had to pause and give my mother a call. This book was having a toll on me.
A friend of mine often alludes “to the time that thunder will strike” and I thought this time round time itself must be struck by thunder. The turnaround of events in Larry’s life does not take a lifetime before he is down to seek the umpire’s help.
Larry’s life is no new story to the life very many of us the recent corporate/ working class/ millennial are living.
Our stories have a similar pattern of events. We have so many friends with very few—if any—to talk to. We are all over the place without any being our own.
We live at a time where we struggle to be friends—for those who still try—with our parents. Many have grown up under roofs of broken families with a living—yet absent—parent in their children’s lives. Parents like Larry’s father, who is dead but alive because he gives you some money which you need but are too broken to say no to it. After all, bills won’t pay themselves. Somewhere in a conversation one will share their distaste of their parent, of how they abused or abandoned their own children. If this is not your story, it is one for a friend or even a cousin or someone as close.
And yet the Malkia’s of this world are also as many. When you attend church, pastors are always praying for the same things, breakthrough in finances, healing of the sick and something about relationships. All these spheres are wounded. Yet when the Malkias come into people’s lives, healing happens in people’s hearts. This particular kind of joy is not shared in words, it is only lived.
It is somewhere in a photo near you as a whatsapp display picture or status update. It is a desktop wallpaper on someone’s laptop or smartphone.
It is in this drunk status of our lives that some of us resent phone calls and prefer texts. And texts have come to be just more than that kabiriti sms, the kind that makes a loud beep inviting you for a wedding meeting. We have outgrown that. We are at a level of checking that that whasappp text has been read and marked with the blue ticks. How things change, in school, they were red. And it does not stop there, there is always a reply being waited for. It’s not our fault, it’s just the time we live in.
We are drunk on our smart phones that have since become our body parts but still we manage to hang in there. We are yet to learn that seeking help is not a weakness but a sign of strength. Maybe these our “fathers” should not wait for us to get to this place and them coming their medical advice of how they can be of help. Maybe simple things like creating time for lunch on a birthday would save a thousand nights at a night club with random faces. Maybe!
Maybe if our dear parents and bosses at work took trouble to understand the goings on in our lives before they passed a verdict over our lives, maybe talking also helps.
One sure thing there are a thousand angels in the name of Malkia out there, we need to find them and we talk to them about the lengths of our elephant’s nose.
This book should be read by everyone who has ever addressed someone or been the addressee as a millennial. You cannot escape a paragraph that talks about you.
This review was written by David Kangye. The book is available for sale and delivery at ttpafrica.com