Darkness is falling outside as I write this. I’m in the car. I’ve resorted to sit here because the house is a bit noisy, not that this is any silent though, the car’s stereo is turned on low. This relaxes me. Of course what I’m not telling you is that the song playing now is something by Timmy T-Dat. This man with the absurd lyrics and an even more laughable voice, it’s a sad time to be alive folks.
I’ll keep this short.
I’m sure you’ve noticed my consistency has hit a slump. It’s a day past my deadline for chrissake. I wish I could explain it in a way we could all understand, but I can’t. So I’m going to tell you a story that I hope throws some light here.
One day when I was a boy of about 9 years old, I was running around the digs in socks when I slipped and fell –front teeth- first on the floor. The right tooth got chipped a good deal. And I cried like a little girl. So I got a filling, they told me the filling would come off if I bit something hard with that part. For months I took care of that tooth.
But that was a long time ago.
I stopped minding the filling after a while, forgot all about it during meals. Soon I was tearing up sugarcane and roasted corn like a hungry beaver. Nothing ever happened to the filling. Up until Friday, when I sank my teeth into a cold chapo for breakfast and the filling dislodged.
I went in for another filling the next day.
My dentist was lady by the name of Margaret. She laughed when I told her how it happened, had one of those hearty laughs that pulsate to the shoulders. Although I suspect she laughed more because I looked funny. A pal of mine actually said I looked like Magunga. Hehe, I died.
The process didn’t take long. But from where I was sitting, with my opened jaw getting tired and all, it seemed to last a year plus a few months. At some point my jaw hurt so bad I started scheming on how I could close it very slowly without
She noticed. So she put some square thing in my mouth so I could bite onto to ease the pain.
Because she apologized profusely for the pain I felt when she was sticking a needle into my gums, I decided that she was cool people. And I thought hey, it’s been long since I interviewed anyone, why not ask Margaret a few questions later? I passed it over her and she was game.
Normally when I’m doing these interviews I type out the person’s answers on my phone as they speak. And then I make a story around it. Most of these interviews end up on Instagram and Facebook. So I take the subject’s pictures to go with. This for me is the hardest part, because not everyone wants their picture taken, so you have to get creative with props and things. This part bores me, to tell you the truth. Not what you’d expect from one who, for a short stint, took to photography the way paper takes to water huh?
Anyway, when we sat down for the interview, we got off to a great start. The ice had already been broken the moment we talked about the chapo, so everyone was relaxed. And then something I once dreaded happened.
I went blank. Suddenly I couldn’t think of a question to ask. And the good doctor was looking at me with pity in her eyes. I even had to apologize for my sloppiness. I felt so ashamed I slouched on her desk in defeat. To make me feel better she started asking more about what I do. And friends, it’s not easy explaining what or why I do this, not when I’m a periodical school dropout trying to make it as a writer anyway.
See, no one commissions me to do this. I do it because I want to tell people’s stories, and if I’ve learnt anything so far is that people want their story out there, somehow. I do this because it’s something out of my comfort zone, I can be a bit shy you see, I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve had to overlook because of my anxiety. So I do it because with time it can only make me better. I do this because I get to learn something about life. And I do this because it’s a joy to get the chance to watch someone unpeel themselves from a single question.
Margaret asked if I could come back later, because of time, she had other appointments. It almost felt like a break up. We shook hands and I walked out with loose bits of story (kind of like what I’m making you do right now eh? Haha).
I don’t think this was the last time. It will happen again, and the only way I can avoid it is do it more often. The other thing, of course, is to keep looking for that job, this, unending character-testing pursuit to jump into the tube of employment. This means writing thousands of Emails and sending out copy to editors.
I have a few ideas, which I’m going to be working on for a while. So about that Monday consistency, forgive me. I’ll pop up as often as I can. Ok, friends?