Why are you here George? She asked me. ‘It’s not the money, I answered after a moment’s pause.
Why are you here Faith? Yvonne turned to pose the same question to my supervisor. Faith suddenly sat erect as if to allow for more clarity and for a second looked thoughtful. I wanted just one person to share in my ideals, I could feel my cheeks get hot as Yvonne’s voice easily carried through the whole office. What if I had made a fool of myself? I thought. Yvonne asked a few more colleagues huddled in our side of the office, not even one person supported my notion that an idea comes before the money, it was quickly turning out to be the question of the hen and the egg which came first? At the moment though, it was clear that in the beginning there was money and in the end it was all that counted, money was perhaps above all else.
A few months later, I resigned. I was armed with a little more than an idea and much less money and I started out in hopes to prove the world wrong, did I?
Six months after I had walked away from employment, I found myself seated on a tree stump outside my mother’s house. I was totally distracted by Pussy (I forgot to tell you, that’s my cat’s name, and there’s a way you pronounce it) and why am I trying to explain myself? She seemed intent on finding something that lay beneath a pile of rotting wood. She would burrow her nose through the pile and wouldn’t budge. My thoughts again drifted back to thinking about my life, did I really have one?
Just then, a grasshopper appeared from beneath the wood imprisoned in the teeth of its merciless captor. Pussy, I was to realize was quite the prolific hunter and the grasshopper was as good as dead, I just couldn’t tell then. That caught my attention because I had known Pussy for just about three months since her sudden appearance at our house and touched by her helplessness took her in. She didn’t come across as a wild cat, maybe her owner had left her behind.
I remember my lovely niece inquiring about my cat’s name, her beautiful innocent eyes searching my face her attention piqued perhaps hoping for an intelligent answer from her favourite uncle. “I call her Pussy, I answered. She wasn’t impressed, “you should call her Bianca, she retorted. I absorbed that without question, but was a little curious, I hadn’t heard of no Bianca when I was seven.
As suddenly as it appeared, it took flight…I mean the grasshopper. In a split second’s thought I saw myself as the cause. Pussy must have noticed me and that made her uneasy and ineffective at hunting. I must confess I was inwardly cheering her on, I wanted to see her conquer the grasshopper, God knows if I had thought it would escape I would have caught it myself.
It turns out I had little cause for alarm. When the grasshopper had just made its move, Pussy leapt into the air in a fine show of talent (I had never seen anything like it my whole life) and cut the grasshopper’s line of flight. She caught the poor insect in her teeth once more bit just a little and let it drop to the ground. Oh, I was smiling from ear to ear and beaming with pride. You see Pussy was mine and she was a cat and pretty good at it, whatever it was that entailed being a cat.
“That was pretty impressive” I would recall telling her later that day as I pat her small dark frame and she seemed pleased at that as she quietly purred and raised her head for more patting. We also have this way we talk where she meows and I imitate her and she shows complete understanding of what I just said.
After she had successfully intercepted the insect, bit it and dropped it she made an adorable gesture with her paws to see if it would move, it made me momentarily forget the timely skilled sharp jump of a hunter and the sharp merciless teeth of the predator, she was once again my pet, innocuous and just passing time waiting for better events.
When the grasshopper tried to fly a second time Pussy repeated her antics and I wished I had a camera just then. I stopped thinking about my real life situation and albeit in a funny kind of way, I saw myself in that particular situation. Yes, I was impressed by my cat, truly, if I had a child she hadn’t just learnt how to walk before my very eyes, she had in fact run a marathon and won now though, other thoughts were starting to take form.
I saw myself in terms of what life was all about. In some way, you were either eating or being eaten sisi pia tunataka kula nyama (We too want to eat meat). When is this life going to make sense? The young say it’s now their turn to lead the country, the young take office, then other young people feel left out and demand a piece of the pie…politics, life…there had to be a way to make sense of all this madness.
Pussy continued repeating the process; let it fly, bite it, drop it, paw it…I think she was enjoying herself. This was all new to me, I waited to see what she was actually doing, was it just a game? Was life nothing but a game? After a couple of runs the insect was worn out or dead I think, or maybe Pussy just got bored and was like “what the heck, come here, munch, munch (chewing sounds)”. This time the teeth bit and never let go.
Hey, talking of Pussy getting bored, she does look the kind, maybe she was the one that walked out on her previous owner throwing deuces, and now had ended up on my porch begging for a decent meal hehe just saying. Anyway, in that instant it became clear to me what was in effect, a rule of nature- ultimately the weak are preyed on by the strong. Lord of the Flies by William Golding one of the first books I had read as a child was now in flesh.
What was I in this case? Was I the cat or the grasshopper? I just couldn’t understand why such a simple event insisted on making an impact on my life. But why does a winged creature allow itself to be captured and killed by a cat. I thought of just how many have wings, but never manage to fly and what hurts is the thing that brings them down is within their grasp. Yes, I wanted Pussy to conquer the insect, but I expected it to elude her given its obvious advantage. Hey, by the way, Pussy hunts birds too, I hope she won’t have an appetite for my dad’s fine chicks, almost on their way now.
It then came down to a question of why do things or people get overpowered? Why don’t those that have wings fly? I think it has a lot to do with ideology. Not for the grasshopper- I mean it must have been doing something wrong-but in the broader sense. People don’t take flight because their minds are imprisoned. The bars are right there in the mind.
What was my ideology? I could almost hear Yvonne’s boisterous voice ring in my head. “Why do you think you are here? It’s obviously because of the money, that’s why anyone’s here.” Money it seems is more important than I thought, maybe it could even unlock those bars right there in my mind. But how did I get here? What was that I heard about money—the root of all evil? Say what? Then why do I need it to live and just how can I fly?
Hi Guys, please check out the new site (six months now) that I’m on. http://www.jscope.co.ke I call it A Young Adult’s Dream. Let’s continue interacting there. Thanks and Happy New Year to you all!