The Lives Of A Dreamer.
SCENE 1. Home—an empty dinner table. Intermittent humming. Enters the family, settles.
OLD JACKSON. Son, I hear whispers of your writing. They do injustice to my ears. I need your words on these words I hear. Son, I hear little of mastery, I hear… disappointments. Poison words. A page, so dark with crude strokes—no beauty in what it is meant for, what art is. The little you know, son… listen to the minds that scribbled in might and lived in fullness…
“A sword, I yield, and bind
‘Who by blood, will live—
‘Will drink, ‘will dine
With the gods, ‘who by sword,
Will die—lives in truth.”
TYSON. [Aside.] Is it not a burden to exist among those that feel so strange? Is it not stranger to not belong among those whose blood courses through you?
MAMA MARTHA. What is it you speak? What writing is it you say? Is it the white in black that I waved over your face? The notes, choked of life, smeared in dirt; literature—abused, defiled by the evil strokes? The crude strokes! What is it you speak? What writing, so? What does our poor boy know about art, dear one?
You insult the ears, husband, worse with philosophies as ineffable about life—why do you pervert your mouth? Would you not let the burn in our eyes sore off?
“O’, human, listen!”
“Listen to the world
As it sings songs
Of beauty, of love;
O’… preach life,
O’… preach love,
For war is death
And death is no good.”
OLD JACKSON. But, dear wife… do we not condemn our own blood? We see greatness only without yet I feel… beneath the darkness, beneath the vile in his thoughts, there is something. I see a twisted little thing in there but it is something. Did you let the words but brush your feet, or did they sweep you off them? What good am I if I speak not the truth of the feeling of something?
[Aside.] What if he could tell the truth? What if… he could wield his pen like a sword and pierce our hearts with truths we want not for fear? Hmm…
[To TYSON.] Do not lick it-your sword-as a spoon. Something in those words were true. The world is dying, I agree—do you not, dear wife?
MAMA MARTHA. (grunts.)
OLD JACKNSON. [Aside.] Hmm… is it not an embarrassment to humanity? —Abandonment of our roles in it!
MAMA MARTHA. (grunts.) What hypocrisy! O’, acid—your words burn my tongue as I swallow the insult in them! Is it not the same hands you see something in that wove ideas of war? Death? What life!
[Aside.] What life will you live, killing yourself for it? Forget such rubbish, forget evil, forget war. Forget those vile thoughts—only the highest knows whence he fishes them; they now soak his mind!
[To TYSON.] If you must do it, do not choke a reader to death in the first page, unless, of course, you intend to bury us there. If you must write, little bird… you could show us the beauty in the world. Let us swim and bathe ourselves in your thoughts—not burn, with the acid in them. Show us the potential in humanity; do not destroy us who read you.
TYSON. [Aside.] I am no writer. I am no artist. I am but a vessel—imperfect, discovering, reaching, and becoming… becoming more than they will ever know.
OLD JACKSON. Humanity, you say? What a joke!
“She was once a dream,”
Speaks Shallo, from dear wife’s shelves,
“She was once a thought,
She was once the way—
She is now obscure;
Gone, with the winds
MAMA MARTHA. Enough of your tongue, husband, enough of you! Do not use Maria Shallo’s words to drive nonsense! Speak nothing if of value your words hold little.
OLD JACKSON. So, you speak like and for the wise, huh? Should we bow our heads whenever you do and worship your condemnation? Rubbish!
[To TYSON.] Son, tell us about this book we have seemingly not munched enough of. Invite us to your mind and share drips into ours, with a heart of care. Perhaps, we do need be more open to ideas.
MAMA MARTHA. (grunts.) It would be premature to term the disappointing trial a book—let a spoon be one.
TYSON. (exhales.) I see plenty, easy to dislike, easy to judge, and easy to ignore. I understand.
MAMA MARTHA. My poor boy, you made a leap at expression and broke both your feet. We could scurry through the reek, with fresh minds at the start, and reel only moments in, stained with all kinds of dirt. I yet wonder—from what dark lake or sky did you even fish the words?
OLD JACKSON. Let him speak.
[To TYSON.] Freedom, my son, is the bedrock of knowledge. You begin to truly learn with first, a free mind.
MAMA MARTHA. (grunts.) Knowledge is man’s curse.
OLD JACKSON. My dear, please.
[To TYSON.] Go on, son.
TYSON. [Aside.] The sky of dreams twinkles with life—it is always full of it; it does not care for the emptiness in feeling, for it fills, it does not care for the weakness of flesh, for it is a pillar of might within. Our dinner table is empty but for three minds in disharmony… I am no writer; I am no artist. But mistake me not—the mind is as independent as a walking body would seem yet my heart claims greater independence. Our dinner table is empty but for three in disharmony. Within, I feel drained but for two in disharmony—my mind believes my words are like a sewer’s drain to them, yet my heart feels the rightness in the boldness of my thoughts, ideas and my delivery.
[To his folks.] Turn out the lights, thus, of scrutiny. Let me into you as I have submitted too. Allow my ideas to dance with yours in a pool unmarred with judgment, with ignorance, with fear of provocation.
See you tomorrow for short stories and one-liners!
Categories: Short Stories
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.