Life… and death… there is not a pair as inextricably intertwined.
Life denied me a chance, so death schooled me.
I learned… years, spinning to years, until a hundred felt like a million.
Childhood sprung with beautiful, forgivable ignorance;
Now cold and forgotten, rotting away, I feel things I should not.
Crowning it all, the burning scar of eternal absence,
Never belonging, never resting; my dead, feeble bones—what once they were,
They bear the scar, and it burns, I feel every singe.
I have no eyes now, no mouth, nose, or ears—o’, what a pity!
I re-live the memories of what cannot be; a life once lived.
I can see me at five; innocent, ignorant, and oblivious of death,
A family of five, laughing and loving, like there was no tomorrow.
I can see little Sarah, my sister, at roughly one and cuddled to Mother.
She would suckle, and Mother would hum; Bobby bossed Brian, his lesser.
Father smiled in the picture frame; he always smiled, he looked happy
And we were happy; I with a toy, bare-chest, no pants and no shame.
Then men came; first a bunch, then a dozen.
Some bossed Bobby, some Brian, and another tossed my toy,
“Mama!” I yowled and, “MAMA!” We would all cry;
The disgust in their faces—they whispered in a strange tongue
And passed judgement because we spoke differently and looked different.
They bothered Mother with questions about Father;
Questions Mother found impossible to answer.
She looked at Father, smiling in the frame,
She pointed and spoke in a tongue that bit her,
And one man said he would make us all a frame
And we would soon trail off from life and journey elsewhere—
A journey with no return; Sarah and Mother would prepare the way
As we questioned the merciless blades in our hearts; why?
Why were we deemed unfit for life and fated death?
And to date, I wish they made it swift for Bobby, Brian and I.
My heart still breaks to the thought of wishing, crying, and dying wishing.
Nobody listens and in a flash, it is all quiet… but never really over…
The men had a better plan for us three; they would burn us,
Along with Sarah, and Mother, and Father in the picture frame;
He smiled as we burned, he always smiled—this time, it hurt.
And the other side would be my only side forever,
Death had tossed me in the shadows at an age so tender;
I hopped, hoping I could feel me do it
But I was so dead, and there was that to get used to.
Over the years, I have heard whispers in the shadows;
Whispers of anticipated newcomers who made it in one piece.
I aged, waiting, believing there is no simpler answer to life;
My bones aged as I watched the men who stormed our home,
Obliterated a family of five and razed down our existence,
Go on living life; some had children, others, retired jobs
All, eventually, made it here, somehow.
A hundred years later, I am dissatisfied and still hateful.
Not much about life seems to have changed since;
Not after thousands like the unfortunate five
Were fated fit for death, by those who felt deserved life
To be their judgment to make—what a world we lived in!
A world that watched those like the unfortunate five
Persecuted for a skin they did not invent,
Used as machines and butchered like chicken,
Forever loathed, forever hated,
For their different tongue, and their different, simple lives…
Not much about life has changed since.
A hundred years have passed, that felt like a million;
My family’s tomb is overgrown with the desire for change.
Plans for a studio version and performance of 100 Years For Change are underway.
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.