PEACE FOR THE WICKED


There is no peace for the wicked,’ saith my God. But is there peace for the righteous? Is there peace for the millions who before you shed suppliant tears, who anguish over the evil affairs of this earth?

The labourer will work his hand coarse and still will have scanty bread on his table; the mother will cry her heart out but her ailing child will still die in her arms. The man who refuses bribe will still go unpromoted. There is no recompense; there is no mercy; there is no peace: there is only wretchedness for these hordes whom you have pronounced peaceable.

O my God, walk my street and do not turn your face away! Look, the offscourings who litter the walkway, who stretch out hands for mercies that come in trickles, for whom no sun brightens their countenance, for whom no rain refreshes their soul. They are the remnants of a nation which cannot sustain itself; nay, they are the filth of a nation whose bourgeoisie feed their dogs with gold. The rest are hollowmen, soulless indwellers of your earth whom no music can rouse to a dance. Aho! What plaintive cadence can rouse their forgotten selfs? What alien hope can infuse life into their inexistence? There is no peace for them, my God.

But there is peace for the wicked. There is peace for the looters of the national treasury. There is peace for those who make bonfires with naira notes to warm the houses that have become cloyed with comfort. There is peace for those who drink from chalices of gold the sweat and blood of their fellow citizens. There is peace for those who wad currencies in their sock away pits, who erect edifices for no man’s occupation, who run to foreign lands to heal a toothache. For these first sons there is peace.

There is peace, my God, for those who mock your name on the pulpit. There is peace for those who use your name as bait for their victims. There is peace for those who build temples for you but turn around to inhabit them, who defile your temple and defy your power. There is peace for those who rob in your name. There is peace for those who ride on your wings while treading on the souls of your redeemed, the seventh sons of your calling. Yes my God, there is peace for those who defame you.

They have peace who trouble others. They have life who kill others. They have families who wreck other people’s homes. They have children who enslave other people’s children. There is but one death for the man who had killed a thousand. There is but one charnel-house for the man who had buried a nation. They have love who incite others to hate. They have peace who incite others to arms. They have tranquillity who set afire other people’s homes.

What speak of justice? What speak of the tens of thousands who have grown decadent beards because Justice does not know their ilk? What speak of the outlaws whose dark deeds have been whitewashed at court sessions? There is justice for the master, O my God; but where is the justice for the servant? There is justice for the herder, but where is the justice for the oxen? O God of Justice, are these whom Justice embrace your children – and are these many others the condemned, the unknown, the Ishmaels who may weep in vain for a drop of comfort?

Talk then of justice and peace for the meek! Talk of the meek who are now the carpet for the wicked’s trampling. The meek are not the possessors of the earth, my God. The fruit of their kindness is bitterness. The hand which gives, the heart which aches, the soul which forgives – there is for them a common denominator of sorrow! Men will trample upon the flowers of the earth and it will go well with them. Men will uproot refreshing seeds and still live their full terms of life. The wicked spreads his memory abroad – on edifices, on statues, on parchments. Yes, even at death the tombstone of the wicked keeps him alive. But for the meek there is no stone to mark his grave; no eyes had shed tears for his passage; no clouds had gathered to mark his fall. In death, as in life, the meek remains barren – the meek whom you have proclaimed the possessors of the earth!

My God, speak of guilt to consciences deadened with evil schemes! Speak of guilt to souls alien to goodness! They will know no heartbreak who break the hearts of others. They have paramours in dozens who seduce the faithful man’s betrothed. She who has lived her whole life in concubinage will marry and birth children, but the chaste lady will wither in helpless spinsterhood.

There is neither peace nor justice for the righteous, O my God! The earth is not the possession of the meek. Happiness is not for the heart which aches for you, nor song for the mouth which supplicates you.

But for the wicked there is peace!

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THE SUPPLICANT 


(for Bunmi…)

Chilled by the desire

For your nearness,

My heart trembles, seared

By the fires of your lambent eyes

Whose ardour mesmerises me…

Drunk in passion

My brain labours

To extricate itself

From your magic hold

But how tenaciously you persist!
Repeated are the moments

When I am lost

In your elusive phantasma.

A dreamland where you reign

Centre of every other sphere

An ethereal Queen whose light

Infuses goodness…

Your eyes dare the sun

The smile on your unblushing cheeks

Effervesces across a million galaxy,

Ripples of inexhaustible charms…

Your distinctive form, unpossessed yet by any,

Breeds fancy in men, draws angels

To a dance of guilt…
O, for a one so richly adorned!

Were I a painter, Bunmi

I would sit for days on my drawing board

And spill all paints to capture you

Were I a musician

I would summon all sweet cadences

To your adoration

Were I a poet

I would invoke the muses

To breathe words to my ink…
But alas, untalented

Ungifted in coquetry – 

I come to your supple altar

O Bunmi, deign

And touch your earnest supplicant

Let not his prayer go unheeded…

ACHEBE – A MAN NOT UNDERSTOOD 


The history of Biafran war is a history which will forever dwell in the memory of Nigerians, born and yet unborn; but it is a history whose memory is most disturbing to the generation which witnessed it. Not a small number of people are of the opinion that what happened in the years of the civil war should be left as it was – it is a story already over-told. But in There Was a Country, Achebe was true to his words, ‘You told your own story and now you are announcing that the novel is dead. Well, I haven’t told mine yet.’ And now Achebe has told his own story; and what has he accomplished by his exposé on the Biafran tragedy?

The problem with Nigerians is that they are at times so full of premeditated ideas about matters that they are always on the lookout to praise or condemn without giving themselves the opportunity to be acquainted with that which they seek to praise or condemn. It is surprising than in less than three days after the public release of There Was a Country, it generated so much controversy. One wonders how suddenly voracious the Nigerian public had become that they could read 265-page book within two days, and read in such a way as to have formed their own opinions about it!

Of course it is evident that neither Achebe’s critics nor eulogizers are really aware of what he has written in There Was a Country, for should they do, I suppose they all should be gravely disappointed. There is an element of disappointment in There Was a Country for everybody, and if people should but take their time to read it, they will no doubt leave Achebe alone, neither praising nor criticizing him. It is admittedly near impossible for opinions to be formed about a public figure without prejudice; however, it is suggested that in the case of Achebe, one who wants to know his stand on Biafran catastrophe should at least endeavour to read him first – understand Achebe before judging him!

Many have alleged without reservation that Achebe has written a pro-Biafran literature, some even going as far as implying and even saying outright that he has written against the Government of Nigeria in support of the secessionist Biafra. It is easy to see why the Igbo man gets carried away with exultation that Achebe has finally opened his mouth to talk about Biafra, no doubt hoping that he would get ‘justice’ from his fellow Igbo man; but little does he know that Achebe has done him no more good than he has done everyone else! There Was a Country is not a book which seeks to justify the action of one people, nor to exonerate anyone from a rightly merited blames; it is a book in which the writer has candidly stated out the facts of history albeit in his own passionate perspective – but then, it would be asking the impossible of any writer to be totally objective in whatever subject he has set himself to write upon. It is a perfect blend of truism and literary ingenuity; and its major aim, as far as one can deduct from its pages, is to give the facts to the public and allow everyone to form his own judgement about who among the power players of the civil war were the heroes or the villains. This, I think, is the most a writer can be asked of in a disputable issue such as we have all agreed the civil war to be.

Soyinka’s initial silence after the release of There Was a Country no doubt excited some people since they might have thought that he had probably seen the indecorums of the book; but when more than a month later, Soyinka gave his praises on the book, people sighed conspiratorially, no doubt thinking that it was a mere case of an Ibadan old student praising another’s work (hypocritically). Whatever conclusions any one might draw from Soyinka’s accolades, it should at least be acknowledged that he reserved his comments until he has read the book before commenting on it. Let he who must praise or criticise Achebe first read him, not the newspaper editorials! Maybe then, it will be easy to understand why even the radical Soyinka identified with the candid narrative of Achebe in There Was a Country.

This is not the place to appreciate the book; suffice it to say that Achebe has simply laid bare the follies of both sides of the conflict as he understands it – which is not a small matter considering that he was very active during the war, albeit not in the artillery fields. If any man is hurt by his remarks, it is because the truth has an offending arrogance which spares no man; and if any man is praised, it is not flattery but deserved praise. To mention in passing, for instance, Achebe did not portray Ojukwu as the classic war hero which even ‘Nigerians’ themselves think him to be; he was portrayed for what he is, with all his nobility and tragic arrogance. Achebe did not present Gowon as an incorrigible villain of the war (not of course that he was not highly critical of his war strategies which Achebe himself personally suffered under!) It is surprising that there should be objections from parties so fairly treated; and Zik would surely have appreciated how his position in the war was brought to the public, for not a small number of Igbos believe that he was anti-Igbo.

Admittedly, the fairness and bluntness of Achebe’s assertion may at times border on the offensive. For instance, what Igbo man will not be appalled by his blunt yet truthful assertion: ‘I will be the first to concede that the Igbo as a group is not without its flaws. Its success can and did carry deadly penalties: the dangers of hubris, overweening pride, and thoughtlessness which… can obsess the mind with material success and dispose it to all kinds of crude showiness. There is no doubt that there is a strand in contemporary Igbo behaviour that can offend by its noisy exhibitionism and disregard for humility and quietness.’

This is the book which many will not read but will pass their judgement upon; this is the book which many will judge by its covers and cast away; this is the book which will be praised or criticised because of its author’s name. But just like the Bible, both its critics and eulogizers will never get to know its strength and weakness until they have read it.
©2013 Joshua Omenga 

TEMPTED


She came unsought

Smooth sail into my broken life

Gift unasked, I opened my arms

To embrace, but

The air undeceived my grasp

Gossamer my faith, so was

My gift: nothingness

The shadow of my pursuance

Was gone with the wind

 

In vain I stood, longing

Long after her departure

Then it came, a voice as of old

‘She is gone, son

Because thou canst have

A phantom for a gift.’

But Father: she is real!

‘Yes, son, and so your doom with her’

O Lord, such wreath

Crown of thorn

To lure my empty heart!

 

O fool, even now revealed

The tempter’s tool

Still must do its bidding –

For though out of my life she went

She lives ever still in my mind.

 

© 2017 Joshua Omenga

SOUL-BOND



In moments like this, when my spirit is at its lowest, when all else deserts my mind, and in the emptiness of my soul there is neither comfort nor hope; at moments like this, I find you are there. You are among mortals my sole heart craving. Not for what you have to give me, nor for what I have to give you. But this, this inexplicable attachment, this soul-bond between us which we may deny but is always there. It’s what keeps me coming back, even when weighed by anxiety, and with nowhere to rest my soul,  I come to you. I know that you too, in your loneliness, think of me, though there’s in me no comfort for you. I know and so do you that we don’t crave comfort from each other, nor satisfaction, nor even hope; we need but the awareness of that kindred spirit which far or near still elicits the bliss of agonized souls. 

Ah, we are here now. Someday we’ll not be. You’ll look for me and not see me; or I’ll look for you and not see you. We shall have succumbed to the inevitability of mortals… And yet when that moment comes, when you find I’m not here, you shall not look for empty hope, for the feel that has ceased inexorably, for that small voice that delighted you… none of these false hopes will tickle you, but yet you’ll survive. You’ll survive because in you shall be the fond memories…. Nay, not fond, just memories of our togetherness, of our yearnings, of our inexpressible bond. So shall I, in that moment when I shall look for and not find you, when the mourners bear your coffin away, and people whisper and voices wail true and false… I shall be silent, I shall not observe, I shall not hope…. But in me will be the little glitter left of the shiny days, in me will be the memories we have shared. In me shall be the remnant of that fire that sorrow has attempted to douse… But in my silence shall be our reunion. I don’t know what lies behind mortality, whether men shall ever be as they are now, or if religion has deceived us all. Sometimes in the chaos of existence, I entertain this hope, this longing for another life, for a life that has no end. But shall we, dear one; shall we live again? For you see, if it does exist, and if ever it is meant for men such as have lived on the earth, we shall be there, even if in its removed corner, observing those worthier to occupy its elegant part. All we need is our togetherness, and the earth might apportion to the rest as it wishes…… 

Have you tears to shed? Have you laughter left? Have you in this world moments we can cherish? O dear fearless one, remember me in your sorrow and your joy. I may not always say it but you know I love you. Yes, even if the time comes when neither you nor I shall mention love, we’ll know it is part of us, indelible. And what are words to souls that know the eternity of feelings? If all fails, who lives should remember : there was US. 
©2016 Joshua Omenga

CREDO:ON GOD AND SUNDRY MATTERS 


(an Apology to my readers
Necessity compels me to write this, not in defence of God, as might be expected, but to clarify matters which have arisen inevitably, albeit foreseeably, from the posts that I have put up on blogs and social media. Although for the avoidance of doubt it should be understood that this writing is aimed at clarifying those posts about God and sundry matters philosophical and religious, it should not be understood that I have embarked even marginally on an exegesis of spirito-religious matters. This writing, then, is aimed principally at clearing some misunderstandings that I have perceived that some people have about my posts with regard to what I believe about God.

Not of course that what I believe in is of any moment to any soul, nor that I am obliged even morally to explain my beliefs or lack of it. However, I have perceived that most readers find it difficult to separate my writings, or certain aspects of it, from my person. The blame is largely mine, for in choosing to use the first person (stream of consciousness method) in issues of personal and emotional importance, I have often created a fusion difficult to separate if at all separable. The inevitable interpretation in the mind of a rational reader is that such expressions are mine, and the result is that such a reader may not understand why instead of taking responsibility for such writings, I only offer feeble disclaimers after the harm has been done. It is out of respect to such well-meaning reader who misunderstands me through a fault entirely mine that I make this apology.

I will take a moment to explain an aspect of the literary world that readers rarely avert their minds to, but which writers are constantly battling with, and I ask beforehand that you pardon my pedagogic approach as I do not know how else to do it. Characters are the creations of a literary artist, and even the ‘real’, non-fictional characters have had their own mouldings in the hand of the artist. Characters are the mouthpiece through which the writer passes his message or expresses his actions and through which he demonstrates his perception of the society. Proceeding for the most part from within him, the characters should naturally be the writer, but they are not. The characters of even the most incautious writer who sets himself up as a mirror of his creations are not him: they are either the abstraction of his good part, his bad part or just his desires; but most of the time, the characters have nothing to do with him. Otherwise, is one to imagine that those writers who create as divergent personalities as there are characters even in a single book are a concatenation of those characters? On the other hand, can one imagine a writer whose writings are peopled by characters who are a mirror of himself? It does not matter how interesting his person is, his readers would inevitably confine his works to where they belong: in dustbin.

What the writer does in practice is to use his imagination in creating his characters. He is free, but the limits of his freedom are circumscribed by the society in which he lives, or rather, of which he writes. He must hold up his creations to the mirror of nature; anything done otherwise is banished to the genre of fantasy where the readers venture principally to escape from the realities of life. In holding up his characters to the mirror of nature, the writer is bound to reflect differing characters in his creation. These differing characters may be so divergent as to represent an impossibility in any mind that such could be a reflection of any one person. Take for example Milton’s ingenious creation of God and Satan, angels and demons, heaven and hell. His depictions of the characters and events and places, apart from being as widely contrasting and yet pungent as one can imagine, are themselves creations which, even taken singly, a man with the fullest of vision would fail to achieve, much less a man labouring in blindness. No one ever imagined that Milton had to be God to create a God, or the Devil to create a devil, neither is any one less convinced of his depiction of heaven or hell because he knows that Milton was never in either place. No one has ever seriously questioned how Homer as the quite observer of the happenings in the Trojan plains, managed, when the need arose, to transport himself to heaven in order to observe that he might tell, the melodrama of the gods. In their imagination, writers are gods, omniscience their licence – they know what they need to know, they are where they need to be, for the sake of their creation. That is the liberty available to a writer, the liberty from which he derives the immunity from the actions and expressions of his creations.

That is the liberty I ask of you, O reader; and do not imagine that it is any less important to an upstart writer than to an accomplished one. Acknowledge that I have this liberty and you will find it less tasking to understand that I who have never experienced the nearness of death could write about a man dying in his bed and regretting the path he had taken in this life. You will understand, without feeling betrayed, how you can read a passionate article from me about atheism and see me the next day on your doorstep preaching God’s Kingdom. I am not a bundle of conflicts as would appear from such writings, because I am simply not the characters I have created. There is for you, reader, a wide ambit to accept or reject a character and criticise as much as you can conjure up adjectives. There is, alas, no such liberty for me, for I must make my bad character as bad as can be, my bizarre character as bizarre as can be, my good character as saintly as can be; I must attempt to give what I do not have and yet not appear to be at a dearth. It does not follow that, removed from the world of writing, I do not detest these detestable characters as you do, or strive after the good ones equally because they have characters which I do not have, even though I have been instrumental in their creation. For the most intensely constructed character is the sum total of what the creator cannot be: his intense desire or dislike.

I assure you that the writer’s life is an exception to Christ’s proverb that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I concede the reverse exception: that the character, no matter how far removed from himself the writer creates him to be, will invariably reflect something of the writer. Yet, even where that that is the case, I ask that the creation, not the creator, should bear whatever sentiments you harbour for the character. Pass whatever judgment you wish of the character as he is, or even unjustly if an opinion is capable of being unjust: a writer cannot ask of more. As glorious as Les Miserables turned out as a piece of literary work, if Hugo were to take to heart the criticisms he received of his characterisation, he would have had the book withdrawn from circulation and probably would never have set pen to paper thereafter. But criticism turned out to be good for both him – in his subsequent creations – and his critic-audience who were edified by his improvements. Well, even if I am not improved by your criticism of my creation, I shall still respect your opinion; I have no choice even, for I am duty-bound to accept it as your right, just as it is my right to create without bounds. I have only tried to point out what I think has been responsible for some reader’s misunderstanding.

I may have grossly exaggerated matters! I therefore elect to bear the blame if, instead of your misunderstanding me, I have turned out to be the one misunderstanding you. I ask for your generous pardon in advance. But I will not be just to you or myself if I do not tell you why I have been led into the belief that some of my posts have been misunderstood, namely…

An aggregation of questions sometimes asked and sometimes implied in my posts that have something to do with God. Taken separately, they are nothing serious, but to overlook its aggregate is an injustice. In response to the post, ‘As I Lay Dying’ which in retrospect I concur is strongly worded for any seriously religious mind, a reader who is familiar with me tried to exonerate me by saying that it could not have been my sincere belief. Not so many people have such penetrative minds, or are not quick to judge as to pronounce a man innocent in his absence. Regarding that same post, a friend who knows my religious orientation asked, ‘Does it not contradict your religious beliefs?’ Of course that was just a cautious way of reminding me that my posts are not in consonance with my beliefs. Others have been far more express in their vociferations. What has really broken the camel’s back is my recent post, ‘The Pains of Atheism’. One would think that I would escape harsh criticism by the way I couched the title, but alas, not one reader was deceived! A reader made an emphatic declaration: ‘[God] does exist dear Omenga!’ – as though I was personally determined to prove that He does not exist. The tone of his comment was unmistakably that of disappointment, and on reading that, the Devil himself could have pointed fingers at me and said to God, ‘There goes the man determined to prove that you don’t exist. At least I believe that much.’ Another friend pointed out, quite rightly, that the post was more a vindication of atheism than of theism. Another friend: ‘the lengthy and complicated form of your post keeps many at advantage (whose conviction would have been shaken) as many skip reading…’ Perhaps the most hurtful was a rather jocular interjection of another reader: ‘The atheists have found a friend in Joshua Omenga’. As if in justification, a blog follower commented on the post: ‘I say there is no god, but I am no fool…’ obviously implying that he has found a kindred spirit.

The question is not whether these people are wrong or right; but to me, it is sobering that they should be united in the opinion that I have promoting the things I wrote about. I have, there is no doubt, led them to this belief; perhaps I could have believed the same of another writer whom I have no intimate knowledge of. It is for this reason that I have taken time to write this in clarification of issues; and I can only hope that the reader does not stop somewhere because of the length of this article. That said, let me quickly point out the crux of this matter, namely, God and my beliefs. I need not emphasise again that it is not about God’s existence or His character that I intend to defend, only to establish my belief in Him. If I would attract censure through this, let it be based not on the ground of my belief in God, the rightness or wrongness of such belief, the truism or otherwise of the proof of God etc, but on whether I belief in Him as I claim or not. Having agreed on that, I here present a summary of my credo about God.
CREDO
1. I believe in the God whose name is Jehovah and hold that he is the creator of all living things.

2. I believe in the existence of other gods but do not bother about their attributes or number or significance.

3. I believe that Jehovah is the Almighty God and that His majesty transcends that of any other being who may be called a god.

4. I believe that Jehovah inspired the Bible for the purpose of guiding mankind.

5. I believe that man is capable of understanding the Bible on his own, so long as he is humbly determined to seek God through it; and although a man may benefit much from another’s explanation, he need not depend on others to understand the Bible. 

6. I believe in the perfection of the Bible even though there are passages of it that I do not understand or can reconcile with the remnant gamut.

7. I believe that man’s misunderstanding of God springs not from the Bible’s depiction of God but in man’s interpretation of the Bible.

The above forms my credo about God and the Bible. I believe in them all; but they are not all my beliefs. By them let me be judged.

LOS VENCENDORES


(For UNILAG LAW CLASS OF 2016)


Joshua Omenga

How can I, prognosticator of your success,

Extol your dénouement?

An epilogue denuded in the very prologue!

But necessity impels me to this paean

For to leave unacknowledged

The strides you have trodden

Shall be the ultimate perfidy…
In hard times I have known you

When malefic courses threatened your progress

In eras of change I have known you

When new policies redefined your studentship,

When many took to routes obscure,

When, drilled beyond bearing, others fell

Victims of the inevitable –

But you Los Vencedores

Fed fat even in the dearth of grasses

And can I, your advocate

Fail to cantillate your triumphs?
It was not a road untrodden

The familiar glade of legal education

Has lost novelty before your investiture

For you no rule was changed

It was – same irksome lectures

Same vexatious catalogue of cases

Same monochromatic garb begrudged by the uninitiates;

But what greater miracle than this:

Your transmutation of the mundane into the transcendent?
How transient seems the yesteryears of your sojourn

At this moment of parting! 

Bitter is this farewell, O ye beloved of the faculty – 

And yet parting it must be

That you, whose light have long been veiled

May freely shine to the world…

Let this be my succour:

That I your acolyte, watching from a distance,

May say unto spectators:

‘I too walked among the winners.’

Postscript 

Can one choose from among the stars? It is not out of choice that I name these for whom we are indebted: Ijeoma Efobi, our adept Class Governor; Alade Omotosho who ensured that materials were timely available; Michael Isochukwu, selfless provider of class note in all formats, deliverer of lazy students; Aishat Okesola, Barakat Mustapha, Teri Wellington and other stenographers who ensured accurate transcriptions of incoherent classes; Rilwan Shittu whose tutorial demystified and made wadable the numerous materials and classes; the Adebos, the Bidemis, the Ifes, the Joneses, the Ubakas, the Vivians , the Yinkas who saw to it that we are winners outside the confines of the class – these representative few inuncted the rough road that we have trodden. And for those whose timeous Whatsapp information, villainy, jests and mischiefs made pleasant the tedious life of the law students…

MEMORIES, Of the One


Joshua Omenga

The most dreadful moment in your life is the moment when the one you love is lost to you; when, in the dreams of your night you strain to grasp her shadow but she is gone. You will hear her voice in silent places, see her face in crowded markets, feel her touch in your loneliness – but the moment you reach out for her, she disappears. She is the phantom after which your longing desires shall never sate. But you do not believe it because you cannot bear the stunning reality.

Then shall you walk the streets with face bent to the ground seeking to find the unfindable. You shall look into your troubled mind for the moment when she was yours. You are content with a few moment of laughter with her, her face so near yours you choked with joy… In your search into the past you do not know when you are smiling, and hands are pointing curiously at you, and wagging tongues call you madman. O how you want them to know we are all mad; it does not matters how we express our madness. But the striated soul will keep bleeding, and nothing but time can heal it…

You wonder if you shall ever wake up from this. But you do not truly desire to awake from this dream, because in this dream she will be yours. It is at this moment that truth is your enemy. Philosophy is not for your wretched soul – you are willing to buy any lie, believe any hypocrisy, so long as your beloved is given back to you.

Listen, listen, O eremite – is not hers the yonder melodious voice? Hear it as it peels across the stream. The lapping water brings her joyful cadences and her melody is all over the plain. Will you not harvest them – the songs of your dear one? Now shall you know pain, when you hear that voice that shall no more be yours, and you strive after her but do not see her. Every turned back is her wraith, and away from your longing grasp she ever keeps…

Dare you turn away from the stream now? Dare you close your ears to the familiar voice whose softness now rings like funeral chimes in your ears? Nay, you do not mind the pain, you do not mind the agony, so long as you see and feel that flesh from which the voice emanates. Like a giant spectre you lift your feet to seek her. But a voice says after you: ‘Son, do not seek her. Do not go after her for she is not yours.’ You open your protestant mouth to tell the voice that it is wrong, that she is yours, has been yours, shall ever be yours… but the old wise voice has receded and you are left alone in the closing dusk. The world is going to sleep. You are the lone creature in the wide world, and the wicked stars are grinning at you.

Bend your head, mourned one; bend your head and weep. Weep for that which you have lost. Weep for that which you shall never have. Weep for that receding figure which this closing darkness shall swallow forever. But your tears are inured. Your eyes are two embers popping out of lifeless sockets. Your voice has withered in your throat. You need no voice for the ears which have closed themselves to your hearing. You need no eyes for the ghost that ever flees from your sighting. You need no hand to feel the once sensate flesh which now is hardened in the maws of inexistence. You need no nose for that smell that once reeked beside you in the bed… Let sorrow overwhelm you! Submit yourself to disgrace’s emphatic embrace…

What may you not think now? What may you not imagine? As you pour the sand on your sweating head, you raise your head and remember the lullaby your mother had sung for you; the lullaby you shall sing for your offspring:

‘Sleep, little one

God watches over you…’

But now it reeks of lies… You cannot sleep, because the serrated soul can find no solacement in closed eyes. Sleep is the balm of the soul whose desires have been granted. You raise your head and ask, ‘God, do you watch over me? You dozed off and calamity overcame me. You turned your eyes away when my beloved was snatched away from me. No, dear God: you do not watch over me.’ Your utterances are blasphemy: you know it but you do not care. You know that you have come to the crossroad when you may utter any anathema because salvation is no more for you; no, you need no salvation…

You do not need the salvation in which you shall look for your beloved and not see her. You do no need the golden house decorated with precious stones in which you shall wake up to the feel of loneliness. There is no Elysium for you without your beloved. When you recall your pastor’s telling you that when your eyes are closed to this world, they open in heaven in the dazzling presence of God’s glory, His hands stretched out to rake you in embrace – when you recall this, you laugh at your pastor’s ignorance. To you heaven is no heaven if you search among the innumerable angels and cherubim and not see your beloved. It is for her alone that you care; God may keep His angels and make them purer still…

When you have gone through this experience, when you have gone through this chastening flame of lost love – then shall you behold the world in a different light. Nothing will hunger you anymore. You will pay no heed to wealth when it shakes its tail before you; you will grin at fame when it comes luring you. When an angel human comes to knock at the door of your heart, she will find it firmly shut against all enchantments. You do not want love because you think love has ceased to exist: it has fled with your beloved. Only memories remain, memories of bygone bliss whose sweet unreality will never be repeated.

You alone know who you are: you are the man who has loved and lost. You alone can look the world in the face and tell her the truth. Now are you fit to be a prophet.
©2016