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Memoirs of a generation (II)

Somewhere far away in space and time, I used to know a guy from Kenya who once told me a story about myself. Those were…

Somewhere far away in space and time, I used to know a guy from Kenya who once told me a story about myself. Those were the heydays and also the twilight of my past life, at the peak of that self-righteous idealism where everything is really just so obvious. 

He believed and argued that our generation was lost no matter what we do. He believed we were born in the African Dark Ages, and because the world is so small today, and because the competition we face is hopelessly out of our league, we couldn’t possibly hope to pull a full renaissance during the useful years of our lives. We were doomed, and it was not because of the conspiracy theories. It is because the laws of nature are the laws of nature. Of course I disagreed, not because I thought he was wrong and I was right; just another conundrum. 

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I believed that I did all the growing up I needed to do to be an equal to any person and any idea. I came of age in only a few weeks within the time I left secondary school, before heading out to university. Kuruciya, or sentimental infantilism, is a disease. It was at first a nuisance even to myself at first, but I decided to deal with it by simply going with it just like I usually got over the things I could not beat at that time. 

My Kenyan friend was someone I couldn’t get over so I just went with it. I soon discovered that hearing more did not translate into an understanding that went beyond the anecdotal, so I considered shutting out anything that ever had anything to do with the incongruent conundrums of life. Then I was soon accosted by a disillusioning reality check – ducking my head deep onto the ground did not make the predator disappear.  

Somewhere along I must have heard enough; perhaps grown enough too, to learn and also accept that I was allowed my own subjective idealisms. Everybody was, apparently.  

I grew and understood, or misunderstood. There was a time I worshipped one of my heroes, whose biographies I consulted on everything. I believed he knew everything, he had the answer to every question and if there was anyone qualified to be supreme dictator of the world, it was him. It all came crashing when later I realised he was just loud – loud enough to arm things he said with the truth of a writ inscribed on astral megaliths. For a while after that, I became obsessed with being different, at every turn wanting to make the opposite choice even when it was glaring that going along with the tide was the way to go; I craved distinction, even a wrong one because of the bitter contempt I had for social orthodoxy. Besides, ‘wrong’ was a question of perspective. 

Then I thought I was still an ill-informed child and that was why. I thought that I was only an entitled, rebellious child who would shape up in the image of the world when the time comes. The generation I belonged to is already dead on arrival. My tale had already been told.  

He got about at least half of the things that had so far happened in my life right. At the time, he told me he had himself “perished the imaginative delusions of grandeur” he had that he would ever measure up to his Caucasian friends professionally. His performances were stellar, comfortably over and beyond what the Caucasians offered. But the world had only humored him all this while. He thought he was now more aware of the fact that the firm he owned together with those friends was rated high because of the other faces that weren’t his. Slowly, he began to let go and give in to cynicism, increasingly believing that his friends were the ones pulling the weight of their engineering firm, not his useless smart brains. He will have to spend his lifetime as a second-class citizen of the world… even when he goes back to his own country! That would be my fate too.  

It does not matter what he, or I, know or what we can do, we will always be second-stringers in any game the blueblood heirs of the world will also play and for all this we have no one to blame but the world of man and laws of nature. No one man or race is any guiltier than we are ourselves. Indeed, if anyone or anything is evil in this world, they are only as evil as this world is, only as evil as mankind is, as collectively constituted by everyone in existence. That was a step in becoming who I think I am yet to become – something my Kenyan friend told me I would. The second would come after the first generation of the millennium. 

There was however a paradox about this. This was a paradox like all the other paradoxes of life… there were such infinities even between one and two, and we traversed them everyday but could not solve the riddle between yes and no. I had no illusions I would fill in the infinitude between my first step and the second by the time that I would have taken it. Even though I will walk across it between my first two steps, even though it was a technical possibility, I will not find the truth they said will set me free. I knew that much. It was a long way to go, a thousand miles ahead, a thousand miles populated by a thousand infinitudes in steps.  

But I also knew that if there was one place I would have a real-shot of solving the riddle of life, it was here and now. I will strike the bullseye between the steps there till the end.  

I was almost always mischievous and sarcastic when I talked to him. For me, this was a big part of what the last 20 years were to me. Now, then as now, I believed and argued that there were many variables my friend was neglecting, as compelling as his conclusions were sometimes.  

 

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