Its cool in side the bar. Outside the sun blazes with all the intensity that one would imagine appropriate to the desert. The Sahara desert or the Nevada desert or the Kalahari desert. Or the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula. We call it the Middle East now. The Theatre of War and Strife, perpetually dominating the evening news whether you live in America or Nigeria. But this isn’t the desert. Its central Nigeria, Abuja, the shiny bright new Federal Capital City. Except its not new anymore. Its beginning to look shabby and frayed around the edges . The paint gradually fading on the imposing federal buildings and private residences in the twenty years that I have lived here.
The condenser of the industrial fridge kicks in with a roar intruding into my reverie. I look up and notice that the power is back on. It is 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The hottest part of the day despite what the geography books tell you. The heat has accumulated by 2 o’clock by 4 o’clock every body should be wilting in the shade but the natives never stop moving, bustling around, hustling. There are only so many hours in the day no matter how hot it may get. The desperate don’t rest and don’t wait for the sun to go down like the few of us lazy ones. The natives don’t like to go out at night. The dark has always held terror for them. Everyone wants to be back home or as close to his or her house as soon as possible after the sun goes down. Only the fool hardy elite and their sidekicks risk the malevolent night spirits to roam the numerous pubs and drinking parlors scattered in the dwindling green spaces left in the concrete city of wide bitumen roads.
I stare out of the glass wall into the parking lot. The bar isn’t open, I come here to work in the daytime till the proprietor my friend comes in at 6 pm to open for the evening customers parched from the heat and sun. Cold beer at the end of a hot day is the only slice of heaven they can afford. Its a neighborhood bar. A bit too upscale for the area its in. The customers are few but loyal. I pace around the small space like a caged lion or tiger. Or maybe like a panther, a black panther. I always liked the black panther best. I pace a lot when I’m thinking something through, when I’m looking for a way out or a way in, whats the difference I wonder to myself.
I turn and stare at the Macbook Air sitting open on the table. Its bright screen stares back at me reproachfully. The light slowly fades as the power saver turns off the screen. Stories and ideas run around in my head but refuse to stand still long enough for me to capture them. Writing at the speed of thought is impossible and so is going back over the road I came. Rewriting is torturous. I don’t want to go back but I must. I stare back at the now black screen and resolutely turn it back on. The short story I have spent three months struggling over sits on my desk top. I am not satisfied with it but I ignore it. Start something new. Go somewhere else, in a different direction.
Sometimes I wish I could plug in a cable and down load all the stuff in my head, have someone transcribe it for me and read it 20 years from now. My writing always seems better after the passage of time. I’m never happy with anything I just wrote. Sometimes I forget a piece for weeks, months, years and when I come across it and read it again I look to see who wrote it. Was that me? Not bad.
Its hard to decide what to do. Work on my novel or work on that job application. I want to lose myself in my writing but I have to get a job. Paid employment is a necessity right now even though it is a luxury. Without an income life is drab and boring and monotonous. There are no options no choices no action only an endless pause. Like a car stranded in the middle of no where with no gas. Or like a movie that has been paused. It will continue from the very place it stopped but the wait is interminable, agonizing to my restless spirit.
I decide to write. I just had a good interview. They will let me know. The next application can wait till tomorrow.
I can never write fast enough, the words tumble out in a rush, incomprehensible without a rewrite and an edit. I will stick to it and let the words pour out. I may have a thousand stories echoing in my head but to retrieve just one would bring satisfaction, a single legacy that I can leave on my demise to say, hey I was here and this is my story.