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The Best Story: An Essay by Seotsa ‘Soh’ Manyeli

They say our lives are completed and modeled by the risks we take in order to tell the story that will make a difference in our lives. The distinction depends on who wants to take more risks so that his or her story becomes better and worth telling. But then the world has changed, through its smell, through the feeling of the waters as they pass by, quietly, quickly and none live today who remembers how they used to be.

Someone said ‘I heard from an old old man that all that is beautiful drifts away like the waters’. I do not know whether that is true or what kind of story he was trying to tell; all I know is that somehow the writer had been disappointed by life in some way. Beauty does not drift into anything different except what it is. But then the heart of man is naturally corrupted and the things we used to see, that made our lives sing with hope and dance with rapture also pass by quickly, and quietly. But the truth is still hidden and the stories that we want to tell live with us as we grow with the rivers. We sometimes look for our stories from some other place, except ourselves. I wonder why we do not look within to find the best stories that will give our lives meaning.

Life is not hesitant to throw a surprise at us from time to time. And there is always a surprise that life throws at us from time to time. There is always something we can find if we search within. But the fact that we work so hard not to be seen as something that we are not gives a rough edge of what our lives may mean or may say in the said story. Still, our lives are shaped by the moments we share in the solitude of hope and we try to find ourselves in them. Our stories are the same as the stories of others; and it is through that we can measure the value of our lives – by valuing the lives of others. Our lives depend on the stories we choose to tell and those that live with us as we grow towards something that is elusive.

But there is only one story to tell. It is a story of love and freedom. My story may be of something I do not comprehend and possibly observe. But there are regrets along the way that shape the story that I am telling or trying to tell others. There is no better reference than the feelings we have when we are narrating the said stories that flow with the rivers that take beauty along their plains. But the mountains stand the same and we can never really tell whether the mountains that stand today are the same mountains that used to watch in anticipation as the waters flow endlessly to beauty. None live today who can tell us whether these mountains are the same as those ones. The waters that pass by today, quietly, quickly tell a story themselves of hope and clemency, and hope again is that we will never forget what the waters tell us of the beauty we possess, and that is the best story I can relate to others. But none live today who can tell me I am beautiful than the thoughts that assist in telling the stories of my life as I get disappointed by deeds not completed and people not relating to me in a mature way.

And we keep searching and we keep reinventing ourselves fresh as we search better and find better. But is it better we want or is it beauty we seek? The smell of something I have forgotten but that still lives today lives with me. It is in the air that I breathe; it is with the waters that flow down a stream of choice that I dare beauty and goodness. It is in the beautiful face of a child who is as innocent as the birth of a spring at night. It is the smell of life and yes, none live today who remembers how it used to be. The story of my life is that I be remembered as a man who loved his family more than anything in the world.

Is the smell of the waters creeping back into reality or has it been there when we were too young and foolish to notice the smell? But more people are beginning to wake up to the reality of life as it was, and they are finding the purpose and the reasons of such excellence that was seen then. We appreciate the elements of what life is through the waters themselves as they flow down the stream of choice and yes, of life. Sometimes we flow with the whispered waters themselves and we watch through the window of reflection what they say about our own lives that live today as a remembered forest that stands together with memory.

In truth we find ourselves through the stories we tell. We keep a memory of who we are by seeking remembrance from the people we meet. We find ourselves from the smell of thunder before rain comes – and sometimes after rain. But our lives are meaningless until we give meaning to them. And the only way to give meaning to one’s life is to act the deeds that the waters talk about as they pass by. Is it true that none lives today who remembers the beauty of our mountains for they have drifted with the waters? We are all judges to that, and all of us can make something of our lives if we are serious about changing the fortunes of life and of destiny. Yes, none live today who remembers the sweet smell of Senqu when the Lifaqane wars were raging, but I know the smell of the same river today and that is the kiss I take with me to eternity. That is my best story.

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