Not all live;
Not all die,
Yet, all die.
Most walls in the streets had on them “the government for everyone.” Sammie read it without noticing it – he had walked meters away before he paused, stared at one on the wall where he was. It was then that he stopped to think: “Maybe the ‘everyone’ there was not meant to mean all, or the English word ‘everyone’ must be having a special meaning that doesn’t mean the ‘everyone’ I know…” he thought within himself. Head down, shoulders withered, in a whispered tone that himself might not have heard, he said, “I don’t belong here, among the everyone.” His tiny legs helped his feet kick through the dust in the street.
Well, that was Sammie, but Sammie seems not to be alone in this alienation from the everyone; the world seems to have quite a number of Sammies who do not belong in the world, even this world. Did you say, “everyone is born into the world?” True! By biological standings, not by reality standings because not everybody lives – I don’t mean to say some were stillborn, but I write of the ‘still-living’(people who had never lived).
The world is dual caste: the living on the one hand and the still-living on the other hand. There are they who get all the money, while there are others who do all the work, some cultivate all the food, while some eat all the food, some cast all the votes while some usurp all the power, some commit all the crime, while some others get the jail terms, some read all the books, while some others get all the jobs…the list unending, you could add yours; maybe now you know what Sammie meant.
But, for real, of a truth, everyman belongs somewhere, but not everyone in the same ‘where’. So, when you say ‘I belong here,’ the question is “where?” i.e. which of the ‘heres’?
Haven’t you observed that someone out there is longing to be like someone else who himself is yet praying to be like yet another someone somewhere…? That the street kids aren’t in the same world with the men in those great mansions?
You know, I got into the street the other day, tried to do some recording of the desires of the street kids. It would interest you to know that they never wished for all the comforts and luxuries many of us wish, you know. Maybe what they wish for is what they term their luxury. Have you ever being to the orphanage? Did it ever occur to you that these orphans – termed so by us with parents – were actually sexually conceived and birthed by some parents? Jones’ wish enlightened me, and I cried my eyes out. He was only six and here I wish his wish for him. His wish:
I wish I could have the ‘murder’ who conceived me for nine months and then threw me away…(he sobs) and the ‘farther’ who never asked her where she kept me. They make people call me an orphan but I know my ‘pay-rents’ are out there alive! I wish I could be a bastard than an orphan…(I broke down)
I wish I were aborted! (I cut the recording)
We’re not through yet. I stopped with Jones the first day, and had to end with this girl the second day –and didn’t have any more day. Get it, not that I’m lachrymose…no, no. Just try it; get in the street and have a feel. The girl was barely eight, but seems to be the mother of all of them there, she was Sarah. At her turn to make a wish, with beaming smiles which radiated her trembling cheeks she sang, but it was the song of the slum:
Borne in the slum,
Had sands for play,
Spoils for food,
Nudity for cloth,
Cold for nature,
Night to work,
Day to roam,
Life for death,
…I’ve never lived.
Forbade by furnished walls,
Received by stinking slums,
For our bed, cartons serve,
We’re one with the seasons;
Though it rains,
Though it shines,
Though we die,
Yet we’re happy;
For here, I belong.
So, I have no wish.
“Thank you, aunty for the opportunity to sing again the anthem of the slum. You see, we don’t need the government or anyone’s help. The rain gives us water, and the gutters are never so dry, the sun and the moon, even the stars give us light, the trees give us shade, and death gives us rest in its embrace…we don’t belong where the government is, we belong here, in the slum…” Their tale’s tail’s tip, like the Nile best compares.
Obviously, overtly or covertly no one belongs everywhere; we belong somewhere, differently spelt out by life – by what we have and/ or what we do not have, we are classed. In world of patriarchy, the women don’t belong there, they belong here; ‘here’ meaning the kitchen! There is always something tearing our world apart, it comes in fashion of race, sex, class, education, religion, nationality, language, dressing… and I wish we stop to ponder. I actually did ponder. And, I realise why finally no one belongs here – yes! No one belongs here!
If anyone belongs here, why then do men die, leaving this world behind? “May their soul rest in peace,” is the best we ever wish them. But, if only we realise that one thing that unites our differences into one beautiful world, we would realise men don’t need peace to stay dead, but to stay alive. I mean, if only we had allowed them to live in peace, they wouldn’t have died, because, then, this world would have been a heaven. Yet, this one thing missing that ought to make us all belong here is missing. I write of L-O-V-E! Where there is love, there would be peace, and …we would all belong here! – One World!
Akinsimoye Samuel Omoniyi,