Friends, I have been so engrossed in getting the right simulations to keep slurries behind casings but the Halima Epistle continues. Have you read Epistle 7 and 8?
Travelling had always held its lure for me. I had always nursed and nurtured the dream that one day I would be successful enough to travel the world. That being said, I never had any kind of premonition that I would be taking this particular journey. A journey not of my own volition; a journey born of terror. But here I am, today I see one of my many dreams fulfil in a nightmare. Today I travel as a slave – the particular kind of which I am yet to know – into the very heart of oblivion.
My eyes were glued to the windows of the truck but my mind wouldn’t register any of the images that crossed my sight. Too shocked to take anything in, my whole being reeled keeping a different kind of cadence with the recklessness of this truck driver. As we galloped and negotiated the bends and gutters on this hilly northern road, one question kept coming to my mind: Where are they taking us?
Even if my mind wouldn’t register anything, one thing was apparent, we were being taking into some kind of forest. As the trees receded before my eyes so I felt my dreams receding, I felt them slipping away from me. Like a magician stripped of his spell contorting powers, like a god losing immortality, I felt my mind reverting to state it was unaccustomed to. There was this ordinariness, this emptiness that pervaded my being. It felt like my destiny was haemorrhaging like that of a patient in the final stages of Ebola. The feeling beats dying by miles.
You see, I had always thought of myself as a jewel of the North, an exception to a trans-generational norm. If you know a thing about the culture of my people then you would understand the rarity and prevailing novelty of my case. I’m a girl child born into a culture that gives my kind out as a bride before we see menarche – our first menstrual flow. A culture that values chastity to a fault – the fault birthing some form of fanaticism. So much that for fear of having her being defiled before marriage, they give her to a suitor before even nature prepares her for coitus. In my culture, the girl child has no right to dream she is fit only to be a man’s dream. She is possessed before she understands what it means to own anything. Before she learns to own very herself, she is made into a man’s collection. You see, I come from a culture where entire generations of women live and died without any mention in the annals of history. They were like fart, never seen, most times, never heard, but only remembered for their stench. I was a child of need, born in a time of need, but born to own a dream. Born to make up for the many generations of negligence my kind had suffered.
So when I say I’m a jewel, please believe that I don’t say that out of vanity but I speak with recourse to the powerful privilege I was born to enjoy.
I was a child, one amongst many, born to negate the norm and consequently create a new norm.
The tears began to pour again, tired and drained as I was, my eyes couldn’t stop releasing them. The fear of death is powerful; it has its grip on almost all of humanity. It’s that commonality on which even the exclusive rests. No matter how much we would appreciate and celebrate our difference, death and its dread is always our common denominator. But then, powerful as it may be, death is not the greatest loss. To a life well lived, death is a transition – even the holy Quran teaches that. But there is nothing more tragic than dying before you die. Yes I know that doesn’t make sense but I also know what I am saying. One of the worst things that could ever happen to you is that you stand on the side-lines and watch your dream die while you yet live. I personally think that our dreams are our reason for living and when we lose them, life loses its meaning. Every man’s usefulness and earthly relevance is in his dreams. Losing his dream is losing his relevance.
My dreams weren’t entirely self-created; they crystallized out of the many sufferings, poverty, disease and failure that had been my waking sight for as long as I have lived. This suffering and despondency that had become a part of the everyday life of the average Northern dweller. A suffering that is of multi-factorial causation. Perhaps it is the multi-facedness of our problems that constrained our forebears to give in without any meaningful attempt – to surrender to a fate that will incapacitate many generations after them. Seriously, even now that I think of it, I can’t remember hearing of or reading about any generation of my people that stood up to confront this madness. Did they not know that we are cursed to adapt to the things we would not confront. Yes cursed! That’s the word. Because generations will come and go and we will still retain an old order. In fact, we will retain it as tradition. It becomes our enduring value and when tomorrow’s people come, they will transmit them to the next. No wonder we live like savages even in the 21st century.
Driven by a holy rage to change this, I forged my dream out of a furnace fuelled by the failures of my forebears and also from a desire to give meaning to the life of the Northern girl child. My one greatest drive was to make a difference, to be an exception to the rule. My desire was to paint a picture of powerful possibilities to the men who’d reduced us to beings fit only for procreation. I had a statement to make with my life and I was just beginning to construct the introduction to that statement, I was just at that very place where my life’s purpose was getting its definition, I was beginning to gather the foundational stones that I would build my life upon, and then this happened!
Halima – The Death of a Dream 11 & 12
The Halima Series is written by a good friend Chukwuemeka Ezeogu