The first time you came to me wondering what happened to you, I was reluctant to reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as the saying goes. I am always suspicious of people who live their lives in a trance, sleepwalking their way into the future. However, in your case, I will make an exception because of the circumstances surrounding your departure from the land where you were supposed to live your life by the laws of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I am happy that you have settled in your new country and seem to have found a sense of reconciliation with yourself. In this case, I think I owe it to you to tell you the truth. I have followed you, been with you, protected you and guided you throughout your life ever since you left Africa and arrived in Macarena country. Now I think it is time to reveal myself to you.
You were used to hearing about refugees seeking refuge in Macarena country. In fact, it has always been the land of immigrants for people leaving their countries; fleeing from political persecution, poverty and imprisonment, fighting for their rights and freedom, fleeing from all things inhuman and of material lack. You arrived as an African immigrant leaving your country of birth, Ayallolo country, in search of spiritual freedom. You abhorred the fetishism, the rituals of death and the inherited superstitious beliefs that feeds into the mendicant post-colonial narrative of military, the degenerative habits of corruption, the orgy of nepotism, secrets, sorcery, tribal incompetence and bureaucratic human complacency.
You have always wondered about how Africa has managed to master the art of selling itself to the highest bidder without feeling guilty about its own sense of self betrayal. So you left your country in search of a new identity and citizenship in the land of the free and the brave.
After all these years in Macarena country you embarked on your second exile as a form of rebellion of sorts against the predicament of society’s aversion to greed. You became averse to the predatory and preemptive mentality that had seized the imagination of the nation after the collapse of the Twin Towers. Therefore you choose to leave as an act of spiritual exile, a metaphysical freedom fighter, fleeing from the tyranny of materialism, the addictions of Macarena to its sense of superiority complex and the zealots who preach about patriotism and family values; as an excuse to go to war against invisible enemies. In fact you were also fleeing from the miasma of blackness and its overwhelming obsession with the narcissism of skin color, in a world full of wounded people. You were running away from the tyranny of an inflated and mortgaged life and the despotism of debt. You were running, running, running away from shadows and phantoms of the imagination and apparitions of fear. You were escaping from the litigious violence that drives the machinery of justice; in a society that justifies the right of all men to possess fire arms and the pursuit of happiness by any means necessary. You were also running away from jealous eyes, employed by City Hall who were interfering with your business, determined to bring you to ruin and to undermine you and your disgruntled employees who wanted to hurt you; they had threatened you with fights, knives and guns.
You lived your life in fear of others, avoiding people and spent your time talking to yourself in silent public places on your lonely walks through the drug infested neighborhoods of the city; having arguments with invincible creditors. They were the secret society of creditors who were predators, exterminators, financial terrorists and their lawyers and banking friends, secret members of cults and invisible fraternal societies. The country was at war with invented enemies, the war dead are numbered on the digital screens of public information polls or on the walls of big buildings. The country had been hijacked by people who were afraid of their own shadows; nothing was visible except the evidence of all that could be possessed, owned, bought, auctioned or refinanced.
The sky was grey with tears of lost innocence, haunted with feelings of regret. You imagined seeing an eclipse and in your dreams your friends passed you by as if you were lost, thinking about the illusions of their lives. You were a threat to their sense of self-conceit; you were disturbing the house of cards everyone had built on the landscape of their own credit history. Everyone saw you as an alien member of the plantation of private pain.
“Why do you want to leave this great country, this is a beautiful country. People don’t leave Macarena. Everyone wants to come here. Why are you leaving?” Your friends asked you in multiple voices. But you had no answer, only a murmur of pain and a sigh of tiredness. Indeed you were relieved you were leaving. You couldn’t tell them the meaning of your own metaphysical anguish. You were flying out tomorrow, she reminded you. She’s been your on and off again mistress of sorts, Belinda. It’s been going on for years since you first met her when you arrived in Macarena, a poor African immigrant and she liked you and helped nurture your dreams of becoming a successful entertainment producer. Belinda was a gentle and patient woman who understood all your angst and anxiety to leave. You had wanted to marry her, years later when you were at the height of your wealth and fortune. But the mystery of time and the irony of fate prevented such things in your life. You are always trying to do the right thing for the wrong people and at the wrong place, so you missed out on your own future, and that is why you have lost all your illusions about your life in Macarena country.
You still remember the day you left Ayallolo country on your way to Macarena. Your mother stood on the porch and waved as if she would never see you again. There goes my son, he is going to seize the world, she thought. Memory has its magical moments, even when the dead appear to be alive in the memory room of our minds. But here you are now, almost eighteen years later, leaving again, this time without the fanfare and the sentimental waving hands of your mother to say good bye; only the sad face of your long time lover.
“Will you ever come back?” Belinda asked.
“I don’t know.” you said with a sense of sadness.
“At least you have another country to move to. We black people don’t have anywhere to go.”She said. You had wanted to tell her, this whole thing about being black and having no another country to go to, is all in her head, but you restrained yourself. What was the need for upsetting her any further, considering the fact that she was not happy you were leaving, you thought.
“That is a choice you have made for yourself. The world is an open country, ” you said.
“It’s easy for you as an African to say that. You Africans can go around the world and claim citizenship everywhere. But we blacks, Macarena is our only country.” She said as if to assure herself.
“I’m still searching for my country, okay? I don’t want to return to Africa and I can’t predict how things will turn out in Australia, but I have to leave this country for now.” You said, almost in a whisper.
“Then keep me posted on your life when you get to Australia. I will always love you,” She said, but you only heard the word: Australia. The land of second chances flashed though your mind. You were overwhelmed by her vigorous embrace and the wet kiss across the left corner of your lips, touching your cheeks as she kissed you.
“The winter season is here with us,” she reminded you. “You go and enjoy the summer down under.” She added.
“I will come back to finalize the sale of my house to pay off all my debts.”
You glanced at her briefly as she went towards the door. You looked at her with a feeling of lost hopes. She becomes like a shadow of your past. She reminded you of why you loved and lost all that was of your life in Macarena Country: You lost everything to the recession and the bobble, you lost your business, your cars and had to refinance your house at predatory interest rates. You were upset with the greed and violence that had permeated every aspect of national life in Macarena; avarices had seized the imagination of the nation and you wanted to be out. Nothing in the world would convince you to stay.
“I’ll send you a post card.” You forced yourself to tell her.
“I’ll expect it.” She said. The silence lingered. “I will miss making love to you.”She said.
“I will miss your scent.” You added. She stood still staring at you, holding back her tears. She knew that would be the last time she’d see you. She closed the door behind her and you flipped through the pages of your passport to make sure your visa was still real, the itinerary of your trip via Qantas and your jeans you intend on wearing to the airport.
You kissed her good bye in your mind’s eye, standing still, knowing it was the end not only of your relationship with her, but your attachment to your imagined country where the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was linked with the predatory culture of a person’s credit history. All that remained for you was the fragments and glimpses of memory. You realized that did not belong there after all. You close your eyes to absorb the moment and the world as you had known it since you arrived in Macarena eighteen years ago and everything vanished for you. Your metaphysical exile had begun.
Martyrdom is not your style, so it did not even cross your mind that your unconscious assimilation of fear was caused by your thoughts of taking your life into your own deadly hands. Rather you wanted to use a gun if you had the courage to do so, to annihilate all the infidels of society, custodians of human indecency. They were the authors of human bankruptcy; they were financial vampires and scavengers and the pillaging politicians who saw no good in the renaissance of the city of bricks. If they were not lining their wallets with silver, gold or platinum credit cards, it was the cunning way they tried to make sense out of lies that begot more lies. So you became stoic, vengeful and prayed for hurricanes, tornadoes and pestilence to ravage the city of its corruption and of treason.
The sound of the winter winds cracked at the wind shield of the car, like drums of thunder with angry speed. It was foretelling the coming of a storm, but you knew you would be out of the City before the storm hits the streets. The winter winds were chasing you out of the country and the haunted eye of the moon gazed at you, suspicion of your intensions. Macarena country does not tolerate those who leave. They are considered traitors. But in the midnight soliloquy, you assured the moon that you will still worship her, when you arrive on the continent at the bottom of the earth.
I will worship you. You looked at the moon and your thoughts raced into the future, as you spoke to yourself: Our lives have a narrative sequence to its existence and mine demands that I leave and go to another country, to continue with the story of my life. We must live to its conclusive end to understand the meaning behind our existence. Life is luck, what we are, how we are, who we are and what we become, are all defined by the luck factor of existence. We are in control of nothing; we are just reflections and representations of thoughts and the enigma of human experiences. Where I have been, the country in which I was born, my nationality, my race, my attitudes, my circumstances, my level of wealth or health are all coincidences of the larger narrative of the human experience. Now I must go in search of new narratives, new stories to fill up the emptiness of my existence, now static in the recession of life in Macarena country.
These thoughts came to you as you looked through your passport to make sure you had your ticket and other documents ready before departure. The scent of winter, crisp, lime-like and cotton wool hovered in the air. You were with me before I arrived in Macarena you said to the moon in your mind. You have followed every footstep I took on the journey of my life from Ayallolo Country to Macarena Country and now as you and I depart to Australia, I must continue with the ritual of giving you water after prayers and pour libation before dawn, to remember those who suffer for want of gratitude. When you first came to Macarena, you did not ask what Macarena could do for you, but what you could do for Macarena country. So you built a castle, a magic playhouse and a citadel of dreams, yet no one had the courage to tell you thank you, rather some decided to rip it apart and bring it down. You were tired of fighting the enigmas of jealousy, greed and hate, so you decided it was time to let them have their way. You became tired of chasing the mirage of money and figuring out how to acquire the alchemic know-how of transforming debt into wealth. You got lost in your search for the secret codes of how to visualize riches beyond your wildest dreams. You became obsessed with the magic of goal setting, imagining possibilities beyond the realm of the possible, hoping that you could give life to ideas and give life to your dreams. You prayed – you had invisible conversations with Onassis, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Jean Paul Getty and J.P. Morgan – you imagined yourself becoming very rich and became addicted to self-help literature and motivational tapes, dreaming that one day you would buy an entertainment media company and take it to Wall Street for an IPO. You wanted to live large, move somewhere in the suburbs nearer to the coast and live on a land surrounded by large arches of foliage and trees by a creek. So you consulted the Torah on how to make money, you spoke in your dreams to financial sorcerers and mediums who promised they could get you in touch with Reginald Lewis and inherit the psychic instincts of aging billionaires at the point of death. All your wanderings became vain in the face of the metaphysical collapse of your life. You became disillusioned, and finally concluded you were living in an imagined house of mirrors.
You continued to read Forbes magazine’s annual Who’s Who of the richest in the world with a sense of skepticism and listened to tapes by self-help gurus with the awareness that, there are experiences yet to come in your life that will be beyond your ken. That we do not always make our own experiences or define how we want the future to be. So, you allowed the days to go by, drift by without feeling driven to achieve anything, but to meditate on the infinite possibilities of solitude, living a life without risks, without fear, without regulations of the spirit to conjure the future the way you want it. You became aware that if greed was good, then debt was a curse.
There are demons out there, you thought. There are mirages waiting for humanity and storms that will come with the melting of the earth. Snow will have no chance in hell. So you prayed for a world where the profit motive will not drive human intensions but preservation of the earth and piety in human conduct, dreaming of paradise without pain and pleasure without sin.
Your life became a parable in atonement and a miracle from the book of bliss. You are now visible only to yourself and free to roam the imagined country in your imagination, singing your own national anthem to an assembly of butterflies, bees and a garden of lilies, daisies, daffodils, roses, camellias and magnolias. They pollinate your dreams; they mesmerize the universe and give the metaphysical freedom fighters the courage to besiege the temples of avarice, the castles of greed and the cathedrals of pleasure. You have now become a legend in your own dreamy thoughts. It is only by this metaphor in your mind that you finally conclude that this is the reason why you choose to start your second exile in the land of the dreaming song lines, Australia.
The phone finally rang; you stared and motioned towards it, then grabbed the receiver. It is your friend, Clement. He promised to pick you up to the airport.
“Are you ready, all packed up?” He asked.
“Sure, you can come here to help me move the luggage downstairs.”
“How many suit cases do you have?” He asked.
“I’ll be right there.” He said.
He lives two houses away and had agreed to help you with your luggage to the airport. The thought of leaving caused you to see yourself as a legend in the wondering forest of your own imagination, creating mysterious meanings in your mind to explain to yourself the reasons for leaving and the decision to go into exile for the second time. Suddenly, you remembered how you came to a crescent point of your life that forced you to decide to leave. You became disinterested in the material world of your once imaged country. In life we lose things and if you had to lose the past to find your future, then so be it. You lost faith in the dream of opulence and imagined affluence. The sirens of the police cars stopped bothering you. The news of gun related murders over the weekend stopped stirring your blood. You began to have the courage to tell off the creditors who were calling you at dawn.
“Don’t call me at this time of the day, it is an unholy hour.” Ding. You slam the phone and curled up in your bed, listening to the morning chatter of the sparrows, warning of the coming of omens to disturb the sanity of the earth. You lost your fear of the shadows that followed you at night and the gangs that congregated at the street corners in clusters; men and women smoking and drinking near the apartment block, two streets away from your house. You even began to return your evening greetings. You were an exile; you did not exist anymore from Monday to the end of each weary week. You will be gone to another country. You felt free.
You looked around your living room for the last time. It was emptied out of the evidence of your previous life. The paintings on the walls were all removed and the couches are without covers, the fridge was cleaned out, empty of food and the kitchen was sparkling in its emptiness of life. It was time to head to the airport and on that note, you accepted your fate as a man, ready to begin the second exile of his life in another country, way beyond the realm of all that he had known, living the illusions of the Macarena dream.
I hope you are now satisfied that I told you the truth and nothing but the truth. Please spare me the follow up statement, “So help me God,” because I am not your God; I am your imagination.
Image: Dushan Hanuska