The truth is, dear Matt, I never really knew Mr. Nick Plummer. That’s probably of no interest to you. I just had to say it to heal my conscience, in the event of a wonderful truth went with me where none speaks to the other. Alas, I told you, and with that, I say we consider it settled.
However, you may be interested; remorseful; or most likely both, to know who I got to know instead, just a few moons before Mr. Nick Plummer’s death.
I, just like you, had heard, gladly believed and glossily retold the bible-thick horrid stories and tales, about the ghost of a living man at 13 Nholiba Close. I didn’t quite get nor enquired what it was, but something about that man had made him so loathed that everybody seemed to have their own version of his life story. He could have cared more about them; He should have tried to kill the rumors; He could have put us all to shame or fame by just saying a word in defense of his character, but that measly six feet-ish coward, who chose defiance by way of his silence. All told; all he heard, yet none seemed to purge a word out of him.
And that my good friend, is the million dollar puzzle that bought me a paper and a pen to in my final attempt to give me peace (if any I deserve) and courage to live beyond the silence of the man who chose to defy the gravity of the sordid tales, told with more pride than pity and borderline satisfaction of the fate of his measly life at 13 Nholiba Close.
Now, for the sake of letting me finish my letter or whatever category the learned you put this in, I ask of you not to expect so much of grammatical correctness and coherence of me, in laying down my facts. I certainly ain’t no Hemingway or Mark Twain and neither do I aspire to be one. I am, but just an old friend taking things off his chest by way of ink and paper, in the best way I learned me to.
Let’s rewind to Orwell’s 1984 – in the presence of the year itself, a good year indeed, much of what he predicted came true for me, for that’s when big brother moved me from old good Nakaseke a little West of Nghoma Province, just a few days shy of my 23rd birthday and two moons late into my internship placement into the Nholiba Boots and Shoe Factory.
A lot (subjectively depending on your background) about Nholiba township was everything Nakaseke never was and probably would never be. The paved way was for starters a feature we slumdogs thought of as fictitious illusions the capitalists (as if we were any different), had a well bred artist draw to make us wretched with envy. 13th May 1984 proved My entire township, or as in the moment promoted slumhood – wrong. That, to anyone with above average civility or even a sixth sense some call intuition, should have prepared them for a series of bummers of previously held beliefs in the superiority of their home. As luck, God, karma or whatever controlled the shockingly nice revelations I witnessed that day didn’t have me on the right side of intelligence.
My skin color was different. My old man had talked about it someday under the oak, that there were indeed PEOPLE with no black at all. Everybody, even wise ass Sam took it as bluff and drunken talk. I felt a tinge of faint in me of fading confidence and fear of what to expect or be expected of by these people with no color as I consistently came to know my old man as the kind that you’d take for their word.
I moved into a probably seventy or so year old bedsitter that provided all and everything above my naive expectations. The bedsitter had a front and back door, a glass panned window, a flash toilet was as well enclosed in a smaller room that too doubled as the bathroom. The rats there were polite enough not to move on my slightly squeaky bed when I lulled. This was pure luxury. Why would Orwell think so ill of a year that brought me forth so much good? This was a great improvement if not pure levitation from my room at my grandfather’s farmhouse way back home for which on my often lazy drunken nights, when I would be too lazy to move the bed to the rear side of the room, I would wake up soaking wet from the late night showers that were characteristic of Nathenwood. That was good old Nakaseke, old farms spanning 3 or more generations depending on the life expectancy of the reign at the time, which too, am told depended on how much rum they drunk. That good old place is all I knew until I moved into 10 Nholiba. Aah, save for one time when we moved to Southgate and visited my plain though warm-hearted paternal aunt Theresa, when I was about four feet and something. Though I later only gained a meager one foot and something into adulthood from then, am still fond of that visit. Bubbly, grey-haired, also four feet something, neat though modest small cottage, aunt Theresa always made me feel special, both at hers and ours. She never served the rum without a lamb leg or lamb chops, which certainly was a privilege in her absence.
See, Matt, this started out as a letter about losing the feeling of having and with all good intent I would rather keep it that way, so I ask both patience and forgiveness of you if I keep wandering into territories of still having the feeling of having, I say this one more time, I ain’t no J.R.R Tolkien, good prose Robert Ludlum or J.K Rowling. I ain’t no writer. God knows the last letter I wrote before this was as disastrous as Hitler’s invasion of Russia.
When I turned 15 knots of age, I felt man enough and deserving of a girlfriend. I’d been drinking rum and scotch for six cycles of a certain holiday some smarts called Chritmas; I certinly knew for sure I’d mastered rum. So it was right about time I moved onto conquering other territories. Moriah wasn’t beautiful by any standards, but sometimes food doesn’t need the right recipe to be palatable. And besides Moriah was already a good friend, 3 years older but’s numbers bro to a pile that couldnt count past the teens? And besides we already hanged out in the same circles. You can always tell what was meant to be that’s going to be…believe that only if you are drunk!
I knew for a fact that I wasn’t the only one turning 15 that year or who had 6 years of rum galloping under his belt and looked at conquering other territories and that there weren’t many Moriahs in Nakaseke for that matter. So I had to move fast. And fast I did. As that thing called luck had it, a few days before I’d found my grandfather taking his afternoon nap outside the oak, nothing unusual – just his routine, only this time a dollar was peeping out of his left side pocket. Matt, what was a boy supposed to do?I leave that to you to judge. I bought a scented writing pad and them exotic pens and set forth to note my inner most lines and a good many more borrowed from Homer. I also thought it worthy that I should also use official mail to post the letter to Moriah even when we lived a few hundred meters from each other. Sent. Definitely read. Anxious. Hopeful. Two days, she’d been probably writing me her heart out in Shakespeare or one of them love tangled poets. I liked. Definitely hopeful. Day three. Did I get the address wrong, I probably did. I’d heard from those that did write that it was common to get names or addresses wrong, for a first time writer I definitely must have messed up one of the two or even both. It now grounded on me then how right my mother was that grade five was then definitely not an enviable class for me to have chosen to stop school, if at all what we had back there would pass for one.
Another scenario could have been that being a like minded soul to me, she could have seen it romantic too and sent the reply by formal mail but I could also ask Sam the grocer what happened to mail that is messed up in address or name by a five grade dropout. Hopeful.
In Nakaseke, we always believed that bad events always came announced. The dead always spent some days, months or years on their death beds, storms too were kind enough to first send a warning wind to announce their eminent arrival and we were even told that those who so wished to divorce had to first be separated for a while before the divorce could be made official. So all bad news came announced, always.
The forth morning after my dispatch, I woke up at 0500hrs, we always did wake up at 0500hrs, only for different reasons, just to take extra rum so that at 0600hrs there was no hangover. This time not to break the ritual, I did the rum, cleaned up a bit and waited. I took some more rum and waited for the clock chime at 1000hrs, my presumed perfect time for Sam to have received his stock and served the early shoppers of the day. I reached the grocery in time to find a gathering of around ten or so people at the glass proofed notice board seemingly reading Hitler’s obituary or a really nice tale of a drunk who skipped the bridge (yes we laughed at those too) for everyone seemed to be laughing. Someone noticed me approaching and I cant recall who and believe you me Matt I wished I could, but everybody turned to see me so fast only now with even louder laughs and mocks. I didn’t have to approach the board further for I noticed my writing pad therein the board, in my not so calligraphic handwriting.
Later that night I sneaked to the grocery with my little sister Anne to see the board up-close. The skunk really did me in. She scored my letter for grammatical errors and all that bullshit I warned you earlier not to judge me about and scored me a measly 5%, making corrections wherever she could like Miss. Lucy did back in Grade School. Moriah really did me in.
My mum too took in on the jab, she told my dad when he visited that November from the coal mines down south, that at-least something good had come of my dropping-out of school. She reasoned that I’d created the small town’s first monument and infamously a reason given to stubborn kids to go past grade five in school).
I had intended to send you a picture of the letter in the grocer’s notice board,but unluckily for you, the grocery got burnt to ashes by someone or something called Arson that resented it more than I did. Luckily I wasn’t in town, Arson wouldn’t have been the only one on sheriff’s suspect list, there would’ve been a Wilhelm too.
End of Episode One – draft-no edits yet
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