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When Being Lost Is The Only Way To Live

There are those for whom being lost is the only way to live. They do not want to be found by others. They would rather live in the dark bowels of the earth, eat manure and slake the thirst of their dangling tongue from the dew that fall off the flowers of evil. These men and women are different from those of us who equate being lost with being dead. We who desire to be found and cry out in anguish:

“Oh cities of rejection come! Discover us!” —Adunis

These folks who we count as dead because they live in places where out maps cannot go. We could not leave them to their absence. We fished them out of their hiding places as though they were vermin. And then when we found them,  we counted it as righteous on our part to tell their story like they were heroes or men like ourselves. First, we asked them to tell their own story, but they refused, replying us with silence. That kind of silence that resided deep within the heart of an explosion, the silence that chilled the heart before it sets it to flames. Then we decided to tell our own story through them, to write a biography of them: a people with fatherland, descended from a ancestors., etc.  But these were no ordinary men. They were invisible like air. They had been running away from us for so long that their bodies had become thin and weightless.

Since the charitable act of fashioning a story for them was not entirely successful, we waited for them to die so we could write an obituary. But they chose to die slowly and intensely in unpunctuated time.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “When Being Lost Is The Only Way To Live” Subscribe

  1. Adebola Rayo 2011/02/09 at 16:09 #

    I like this, the solemnity to it, how it’s telling, yet not telling whose story it is.
    is it an excerpt from a longer work? i get that feeling there should be more… or maybe the more is for my head to create

  2. admin 2011/02/16 at 13:12 #

    Hey Adebayo: Thanks so much for stopping by Brittler Paper and leaving a comment. This piece actually came about from my reading of J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K. A good i definitely recommend. You’ll love it.

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