i step into the book store unsure of what it is i am looking for. i remember a book i had seen before ‘When to rob a bank’ by Steven Levitte and Stephen J. Dubner but the last time i checked i hadn’t found it. so before I can rush over to the history section or the english classics section i go over to the african literature section. this is a habit of mine- to peruse the african literature section before all else. i like to see which of our stories are being told. stories about home are not only enriching and relate-able but are important, and as Chinua Achebe says, “there is such a thing as absolute power over the narrative. “ our writers need to write in order to have such power of the narrative. something i think the book store, one of the few ones we have in town, understands little of though i bought the very same Achebe book from them. why else would they have only six shelves for african literature and the same six writers every month? and i know a number of writers in town but i am yet to see their books, something close to national treasures, sold in the very same book store they buy books from. and because the books are the same ones i saw some months back i move over to the history section. i take some time there before i move over to the english classics, taking time to smile at Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austin and Kafka and such others. after reading a number of synopsis, all talking about what a powerful and moving piece of fiction or literature the book is, i walk over to the books on promotion. i have all the time in the world and besides i am waiting for my mother who has gone to the the next store to buy headphones. i decide as my hand swiftly and sensually runs on top of the book covers that i will not buy, at least not today, books that have too many plosives and fricatives in their synopsis. i am not looking for sensationalism. i am looking for sense and silence. i search for a quiet book, an endearing book, a book so lost in its own world it doesn’t desperately seek out my attention. and i find none, at least none i can afford. i leave the book store soon after.
but the truth of the matter is not in the books or maybe the book store but in myself, in my life and the nook of quiet i find myself in. because everything seems loud-the printing machine printing my cv that i hope someone will take keenness to, time ticking, the noise at back of my mind in contemplation of the lack of experience i have, my dreams rattling wildly against the cage i have encased them in… and though i have spent five years of university, four years undergraduate and one year post graduate and i can’t find a job, and though i like to tirade myself for not working harder in school and getting higher grades i know there’s a number of saturated factors as to why i can’t find a job as yet. it is probably the same reason why i can’t find a book to take home with. and this is not a lamentation but yet another reason why the gathering clouds make everything smaller. my mother finds me at another store. she, tired, wants to go back to her house and i have no more reason to stay in the mall. we head out. we had come to have lunch which we had before our stroll around the mall. i always insist we go to the book store. as we walk back to the car she makes to re-enter the book store so she can pay for the book i had chosen. i tell her we can go, that i didn’t find anything i wanted to take home with me. we get to the car and two minutes in she drops me off by the bus stop so i can catch a combi, which works the same way a bus would in first world countries. i am on my way to my friend’s house. as i wait for the combi, happy and excited because i had spent time with my mother and she had given me some money, i notice the clouds.
it’s the easter holidays and the city has returned to its quiet and its somberness. the sound of traffic is thin if not none-existent. the sky is bluer-Raleigh process and the clouds, in their best whites, roll in, sweeping off the remainder of the clean sky. the sun dims its rays a little and a fold of a cold breeze wafts past me. I close the cardigan i have on and watch as nature takes its course. the mall i had just been in looks like a toy and i can only imagine how smaller i look. i feel smaller and lighter, happier even. i watch as a group of young boys cross the road and walk into the mall. i think back to simpler times. but these are simpler times i tell myself. at this, i recall Hemingway when he said, “don’t think, old man, sail on this course and take it when it comes.” i marvel at being in the presence of. there are no fricatives here to whisper into my ear nor are there plosives to spit droplets of saliva on my face. this is not a story about a young unemployed woman who has to be taken care of her mother though she is a two time graduate. this is not a story about the questions of what if this dry spell carries on for a long time. this is not a story about a young woman so tired of being an adult that she relishes each moment of being under her mother’s wing of protection. this is not a story about a book store and it’s inadequacies. this is a story of the clouds that rolled in and swept the sky and the sun away. this is a story about a cool wind bringing things closer if not making things hold on to themselves in order to feel their own heat; in their breath and in their body warm and living against the cold and desolate metal of the bus stop seat. this is a story about a mall that was big an hour ago and smaller now. this is a story of a young woman reading a story being told by the earth. a story very much like the one she had been looking for between book pages. a story without plosives and fricatives. a story about the earth that was so busy in its own little world that it needed not her attention. a story about how all else matters not and how everything is small no matter how big it is. a story about how clouds make everything else seemingly smaller.