In between my dreams, I think I live. I think, I live and I wish for a mighty lot of things. In between these dreams, I wish I knew they were my dreams. Perhaps I am someone else’s dream; someone crazed by expectations of a judging crowd, someone depressed by unmet goals and outcomes that disappoint the that crowd outside the ring; someone apprehensive and in fear of never being sure-footed, never confident- but confident of never failing to know that they will fail – a confidence that knocks other self assurances surely out. Dreams of a person suppressed by owned debts that were never actively incurred. That is, incurred through naïve blunders of signing on paper tricks. Perhaps this person whose dream I think is my life never enjoys this dream and I pity him. Or her. And I pity myself too for being a bad dream and for being unable to improve it, change it. Perhaps I’m my own dream and perhaps I’m able to change it. But perhaps I’m in a coma, or in some virtual computer drive and all I think I do, I actually don’t and changing this dream is but changing only a dream and never anything else in actuality. However, if I’m someone’s dream, I should let them know that I don’t like my dreamlife and that they should change it, remove some characters in this dream or just make me dream- I mean live- without seeing or interacting with them in any manner in this lifedream or any other my dreamer might chose to dream. Or livedream.
So it was from strange forgotten dreams that I awoke into this main dream that morning in the setting of small town Loiyangalani to find a kind twist in it. There was a lorry travelling north towards Marsabit where I was headed. It wouldn’t get to Marsabit but it would get to the main road where I fancied trucks and buses and four-wheels would be falling over themselves competing to carry my bike and I. It was a good prospect. It was also during this morning that the town hustlers approached me in turns trying to sell me fossil shells, crocodile teeth, some blue and white rocks they called gemstones, goodluck seeds -too late for that now, and weed. Always in broken English and alot of it. I led them on putting on that foreign-sounding English accent and having fell for it, they quoted some figures that brought forth involuntary laughter from me suprising both of us. A few shells embedded in hard shale for two thousand shillings! What could be funnier?
“Kwenda kunia kwa nyasi, fala wewe!” was always my reply. It translates to “Sorry, brotha. Your price is too high.” It also means that I was not prepared to get into any kind of deal with them, however sweet.
One of these loafing experts was a large youngish man with short thick dreadlocks and that ill-fitting round cap that he wore drew my pity. The poor cap must have felt as one must feel making a bed on jagged tree stumps. This is the man that had tried to sell me a sad-looking, thin joint for the price of almost a hundred Cubans and I dismissed him not too kindly. He left promptly. He wasn’t used to people telling him off straight to his face, I gathered, except maybe his “boss” and supplier. He must have put me into this category for he came back shortly smiling and fidgeting to where I sat in the sand with a long-haired blonde young man that seemed as out of place as color white on shit. He introduced us with almost apologetically with false names and left. I was Ras Jack and I never saw him again.
My new friend was an Italian writer and music producer in South Africa. He had a girly face and no beard. I couldn’t help but notice how similar he looked to the female character called Dani in The Scrubs. (The babysitting, younger sister of that tiger, Jordan). He had quit his job and was travelling alone with a small backpack for what felt like no reason at all since May of the previous year and he planned to travel the world until May then he would go back to work. It is hard not to envy that.
By and by, our journey aboard the trunk of this beaten lorry started. There is not one pleasure to be had from travelling this way. There is no dignity to be maintained when being shaken in ten different postures at once, continuously, and for hours. There are no frowns or face lines to be hid when swimming in this fog of dust and smells of sweat and of people getting sick. There is no optimism to be expressed when among the loud unheeded complaints, yours is the loudest curse elicited upon hitting your head on the metal side. There is no greater impatience than that expressed when the driver stops to buy boiled eggs and flirt with a topless Samburu woman in a small market along the way. So many flirting stops even with fully dressed women that I eventually started fearing women on the road.
Our driver was a gifted man at time wasting. It was a misplaced gift to use on us but he was nevertheless determined not to let it go to waste. At one point he spotted a pair of ostriches from a distance not far from the “road” and he drove the lorry into the bush to chase them while in a loud boyish laughter like it was the greatest joke ever played. And the passengers cheered on and occasionally ducked from onrushing acacias, ecstatic at this rare rumble in the jungle. Great fun! Not for me. You see, chasing ostriches and stopping for boiled eggs-timewasting techniques that do not involve flirting with topless girls don’t work for me.
At eight o’clock after dark, we got at the place I was to come off. A small town of Laisamis whose shops and small restaurants were almost taking their last orders. I was happy to get off. Too happy perhaps that I forgot my little inflatable mattress that I sat on.
Everyone was covered in improbable continents of dust but the clown award went to our Italian friend who blinked through openings in his crust as if unable to comprehend what possible cruel judgement had befallen him to deserve a journey that long in one life. Coming off, I beseeched the remaining passengers in the name and for the love of humanity to please take a bath as soon as they got to wherever on the next hell they planned to stop.
“I didn’t catch your name there,” I said turning to leave our friend.
“See you in Addis Ababa. My name’s Dani,”was his reply. Strange dreamlife.