The Pool

On the count of three.

One, two, thr- I plunge.

Within minutes the water is swallowing me. It’s holding on to me, welcoming me home, like a long lost friend.

Come, you’re safe with us.

As the water washes over me, I am met with memories that I’ve taught myself to bury.

I am somewhere between five and nine. My mother is telling us bedtime stories. She’s letting me play with her long black hair. I am standing under the scorching Nairobi sun, waiting in line, hoping to sneak in some school lunch.

I am ten. The bathrooms at my new school in Kampala smell like paint. The smell makes me sad, and I wonder why we’ve had to leave home all of a sudden. I look at my classmates, I wonder what it would be like to be them. Did they have a normal functioning life? What was a normal functioning life?

I am between 24 and 25. I’m on a train, in the park, in a club. I am crying. I am laughing. I am drunk. I am high. I am coming to terms with all that has happened.

The water is talking to me.

Things are going to happen so fast. People are going to forget so fast. Life is going to carry on as normal. Nothing really matters.

I’m slipping further into the water. But I don’t feel short of breath, nor do I feel the urge to swim back to the surface.

But wait. There is a strange creature here. He’s nearing me. Get me out. Help.

“Where are you from?”

The question that has haunted me at ten and 16 and 18 and 24 and 26.

“I don’t know, I’ve never known.”

He does an underwater backflip.

“Is it Kenya? Is it India? Is it even Dubai? Dare you say London?”

“I’ve never been enough for any, I’ve never been enough for myself.”

Oh God, he’s disappeared.

The memories are floating back.

I am seven. We are playing hopscotch on the pavement opposite our house. And just next door, there is a massive maroon house in a compound where I ride my bike in circles. I tell myself that there is a witch that lives in there who takes small children away and I wonder when my turn would come.

I am nine. We are driving away. My house. The pavement we played hopscotch on. The large maroon house. No, please, make it stop.

I’ve reached the end of the pool now. I am everywhere. Me at five, at nine, at 12, 16, 19, 23, 25. I am trying to reconnect these parts of me. I am trying to make sense of the person they’ve made me become. They’re singing to me in unison.

“Where are you from? Where are you from? Where are you from?

“I don’t know. I’ve never known.”

“What are you doing here?”

All these versions of myself are staring at me, studying me.

They’re inching closer to me, merging into one, merging into the water. It has swallowed me whole.

“Where are you from?”

I’ve lost my breath.

 

When He’s Wearing Blue

He is lying down on the topmost floor of the yoga studio. The ceiling fans are spinning above him, all at different speeds, an attempt at blocking out this Nairobi heat. This place reminds him of the treehouse from school. It is a good memory.

He shuts his eyes.

The worst thing I’ve done to myself is smoke a cigarette. I remember people telling me to stop, that it would get harder, but I always thought I was above it. No, you don’t know me, this is just temporary, I’m not gonna wanna smoke when I leave.

Bullshit.

I can’t sit still now. My feet shake to all the voices in my head, and I tug at my hair, trying to undo the non-existent knots. Is this all a result of not smoking?

Even my body is different now. It’s thinner. There’s a bunch of mysterious scratches only on my right thigh. My lips are drier. And there’s a recurring bruise on my left calf.

When did I lose so much control? Am I too much now, with the shaking, and the tugging, and the scraping, and the scratching. Do I need to take a step back? Not literally, but in the tryna-figure-out-what-happened sense. Trace the patterns, join the dots, figure out how I got here.

Wasn’t I so sure of myself? So sure that I am so funny. So easy-going. So laid back. So chilled out. What happened?

I’ve been told that things take time. That with time, things will get better. But look at me now. I’ve changed so much. Won’t time make that worse? The worst cliche in life is the one where people say they stare at a mirror and a stranger looks back.  But it is kind of happening.

And it is terrifying.

“Hello, all! My name is Daniel, and I will be your yoga instructor today!”

He jumps out of the world in his mind, to the one in front of him. He’s matching with the yoga instructor today.

They’re both in blue.

HI!

Hi guys,

I’ve decided to blog again (this time for real, for real) and this time for myself.  Partially because I need to practise my writing, and partially because when I read this five years down the line (when I am 30!) I can tell myself, “see how you’ve grown!” (or not).

I just read some of my stuff from five years ago, and I was a whole different person (I am so painfully cliché and cringe, I know). But I need to write. Right? (Lol!)

Anyway.

I moved out of London. The transition to back-home has been a bit weird, but what isn’t? I’ve been up and down and then totally with no feeling (but still breathing, lol).

I’m so bad at this now. (20 year old, overly excited, oversharing “blogger” me would be so disappointed – but see how I’ve grown, right?)

This is difficult. It feels like I am sharing too much (is that normal?)

Anyway.

I’m gonna use this to write whatever – stuff like this, and then my feeble attempt at ‘creative’ writing because I got a book of writing prompts (and writing fiction is a fun way for me to deal with my emotions or myself and it would be cool to put my stuff out there, no?).

How are you all? (Who am I addressing even – is it 30 year old me from the future? ARE YOU EMPLOYED, ARE YOU FINALLY EMPLOYED?)

Anyway. I feel weird. (But I have a badly written piece of fiction coming right up – so stay tuned!)

By the way, OITNB is wrapped up (I haven’t watched season six yet) – but it’s weird to think that!

OK Bye! This was painfully awkward! Does it get better?