DIE EMPTY

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By Nyatundo N. Yvonne

You grew up in your beautiful, green village back at home even though you want everyone to think you grew up in the city. On some fast days, you miss the comfort of your welcoming bed back at home and the fresh air and all the love from your family. On other days, you have a flashback of the journey that your life has now become. You recall engaging with your friends in banter about how you wanted to become like baba Otieno who was regarded highly by the community for being an engineer. Well, now you know that he was only a mechanic but still you so badly wanted to become like him- highly regarded, successful and with fuller pockets than the next person. You talked about it severally with kina Mike and Onyango but deep down you never fully thought it possible. You dreamt anyway.

At your local primary school, every teacher took a keen interest on you because your parents were well known in the village your mother being a principal in a secondary school not far away from home. Nothing less than excellent was expected so amidst all the reprimanding and viboko you found the hidden courage inside you. The courage to dare to dream and to believe in the dream and yourself. That you are capable. You did not know it then but the struggle to wake up a little early and sleep a little late just to study a tad more contributed greatly to who you were becoming.

Now you are in your 5th year in school of engineering in the University of Nairobi lying on your fairly neat bed in your little crib not far off campus and all that seems like a lifetime away. You no longer talk to your parents as often as you used to. You know you should but lately your voices sound hollow and strange to each other over the phone as if you’re in different worlds. Papa is elderly now so is mum and they no longer have the energy to push you around. They often talk of how education is the best investment you can make in your child and you couldn’t agree more but the spark is lost. The close connection you shared with them growing up has dissipated and weariness has felt in because every attempt to restore the intimacy is met with awkwardness and unbearable gaps of silence. You washed your hands years ago and decided to let the sleeping dogs lie.

You forcefully close your eyes and try to picture that small boy who went around the village trying to fix everyone’s broken machinery which pragmatically meant putting apart every part and then getting frantic about putting it back together but its a good thing they all understood your passion, so mama Agnes always gave you broken items. A broken radio or that bike that Agnes’ big brother used to ride while you were little that had not been used in years. It hits you that they majorly contributed to making this once far away dream a reality. You make a mental note to call Agnes and get her mothers number so you can officially thank her. This, you know you will not do but you lie to yourself about doing it just to feel better about the person you have become. You are no longer the diligent boy that everyone praised you to be, you have grown lazy, unmotivated and impossible to deal with. Perhaps that is why mama and papa distanced themselves from you. You literally shake your head to get rid of that thought because you always were their golden boy. You refuse to think that they would be happier without constantly thinking about you. After all, aren’t you their first born? The hope and light of the family?

You will wake up one day and you will be 40 and still postponing that visit to see your mother despite the fact that your father passed away while you were on an important business trip and you never made it to his burial. Now your mother has been sick and the best you do is send her money for her medication and keep lying through your teeth about going home. You no longer advocate for peoples right or volunteer for community service. you started a blog back in second year and for a year or two you were on a roll! You then forgot why you began writing in the first place and you ditched writing.

You only exist now.

You no longer have the comfort of immortality that writing could have given you. In the place of big dreams, high expectations and tremendous courage to achieve lies broken dreams, disappointment and shame.

You will die soon. Will you die empty? Have you given off yourself enough to boldly accept your sunset years without remorse?

The problem is, we think we have time.

TICK, TOCK… Time is up.

Frankly, it is beyond up.

I’d recommend a book called On the shortness of life by Seneca. Here’s a quote by the wise Seneca;

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

“Many pursue no fixed goal, but are tossed about by ever changing designs by a fickleness which is shifting in-constant and never satisfied with itself. Some have no aims at all for their life’s course, but death takes them unawares as they yawn languidly – so much so that I cannot doubt the truth of that oracular remark of the greatest of poets: ‘It is a small part of life we really live.’ Indeed, all the rest is not life but merely time.”

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