BOOK 1 IN THE SERIES Rise and fall of the Computeligents
Depicting quasi robotic technology, with human features, at intrigue with a shadowy political grouping, warring with apolitical mastermind suspects, in a postmodern EA nation, THE ANTI-COUSIN is Book 1 of the Series The Rise and Fall of the Computeligents.
Published by Timothy Wahome at Smashwords.
© Copyright 2013 Timothy Wahome.
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The Anti-Cousin (The Rise and Fall of the Computeligents) is a product of the imagination. I penned it with a view to offer alternative surreal excitement, only a little wayward than straightforward content of the subconscious. My intention was to try to establish an order in the 21st century just like other surreal works have always endeavored. But unlike Kafka’s, The Trial, which influenced my exposition somehow, I chose a less obscure plot.
In lieu of having characters shadow each other in a virtuous circle, which apparently is the expiation of all hallucinatory novels that seek an impossible end in themselves, I chose to put the action in a real context, only a little mechanical, in the implicit future. This is why even closing verdicts take place in a court to gain tangible character. Though there are interior monologue verdicts, some of them within a story in a story, the proponents must face justice like any other citizen, and bodily at that.
Thus, the term ‘selfchastice’ would aspire more to its vague, abstract, meaning, were it not that it also construes the sense of bodily pain. In this novel, I have hinted of how judges take advantage of negative verdicts to lay hands on the victims and lash them. This strengthens, and even culminates, the subconscious flow of thought, which one may term surreal, of the judge always taking exception, at the start of each trial, by stating that prior to any judgment, ‘this is a special human case.’ He, alone, can render the ‘selfchastice’ concerning which.
Several publishers that I have seen, beforehand, have forwarded the thought that mine is a pseudo-surrealist work. That score I do not waive aside, nor do I stand firmly with my own affirmation that my work is sci-fi in combination with the detective mystery genre. Though I value style as the embodiment of a work, without which the plot falls to nothingness, it is not a question of external style (genre) but internal style that matters. What the reader finds inside the book confirms that matter subconsciously. He does not need to know whether this is a mystery, romance or pulp fiction as long as it is legible and satisfactory.
The accounts in my work are also attempts at a little bit of psychology. I have tried to put two characters in a cage, so to say, and review, from an esthetic distance, their reactions. One knows he is injured by the other, but their destiny is at the crossroads. None can escape and not betray both. The eyes of the machines are watching.
In denouement, it suffices to say that The Anti-Cousin is less scientific than it is mundane. In fact the ‘computeligents’ feature in action only at the beginning and the anticlimax. It was my intention to create situations where they have but a fleeting, direct influence, only that their aura is everywhere the main characters are concerned. Thus, the work is about humans offloading their share of political distaste and a highlight of excessive mechanization of the future.
THE COMPUTELIGENTS: M OR PATRICK?
There appeared an unfamiliar light, a white light that radiated the red iridescence of the halo of the spy computeligents…
Now the overdue delay had affected every passenger, indiscriminately, inside God's people's machine. It was then that the bus driver whispered some hurried words to me and the other passengers gave some vital geographical information on what they knew of that place they were leaving me at, after we had descried this unfamiliar light of intelligence. The driver climbed back to his seat, waved me farewell, and drove on. The vehicle continued on its journey to Moyale as if nothing had just happened. It was just a moving red star on the long Isiolo-Moyale highway.
A significant thing occurred sometime later that night. I was walking with the exaggerated courage of a zany on the sandy stretch of road the knowledgeable passengers had directed me to, when three masked figures flitted past me into the darkness. I could not make them out from the shadowy tree stumps. There was not a chance that I would pass them unnoticed. They were one too many for me to handle them. But the light I noted.
Then I realized that they had run into the path I was in. And then it occurred to me who these figures really were. It was just a hint but I struggled to keep the intelligence intact through willful mental power rather than face the reality or otherwise I might just as well stop in my tracks right where I stood. But I knew that this stupor of disbelief of actually making an accidental tryst with the machines that one never thought of directly in normal life was just an end in transition that would just give me away.
Furthermore, I just couldn't commit my mind, lest I collapsed, to the very sensitive truth that they were expressly hunting for me; nor to the blinding fact that they were very close. This sleek short-range tendency proved them to be none other than the infamous computeligents. They could only access their targets when they were close to them.
The way was steeped thick in darkness and to miss the path by as little as a meter you would never re-orient yourself again. The semi-desert was flat all around. There was every other possibility that I might miss the compass. There was not even a strip of moonshine anywhere. I could try to make my escape by running away in a hopping motion to diverse directions but confound the impenetrable darkness of the desert!
I ran a death-faced risk if I continued on my way. However, it was where my easier option lay, since I could not go back whence I had come. These forensic perpetrators were very potent objects and they could injure or murder whoever they had come for. It was as simple as that and these computerized machines were crazy too. Their IQ averaged 150 and their eyes beamed with intelligence. In the beginning, bio-technologists had plugged special devices in human brains so radioactive that many died during the first scientific trials from the effects of radium. The human guinea pig was therefore done for. This led to the development or 'creation' of special machines built from spare parts obtained from Russia that could contain the irradiation effects of the precious metal. But in the contemporary times, scientists had reached a breakthrough by erasing all radioactive traces, even in these machines, leaving out only the cognitive factor. It was what we the public feared most: cognitive recognition. This metallic consciousness had earned them the term computeligents. They were like demigods who could see into everything.
Subsequent to the Criminal Review of 2037, court cases catapulted to hundreds of thousands, per year, and inherently case and trial quality had ebbed considerably. One judge went further than that in a certain case back in 2038, when he decided to execute a defendant he found guilty of contempt of court by himself. He stripped him down to his loins and lashed him thoroughly as if it had been a personal insult. He did not know at the time that he had set an infamous precedent. It was ridiculous how the victim he released immediately after, was shocked with what he considered his lucky pardon. He even presented the judge with some rare home grown bananas, two years later. The judge told the media that he had not tasted anything so organic for as many years. It was quite a sacrifice since farm bananas cost a whooping 10EA, apiece.
Now that was exactly the situation I feared most to find myself in. If these machines caught me, and I was lucky enough to be delivered in court and alive too, the judge would infallibly present his own agenda. He would be sure to show no mercy by indicting me with capital charges, just a degree further from that of the prosecution. Then he would personally execute me, which was a given death at many such trials.
I looked up at the skies. The moon had come out from nowhere. Then I saw the silhouette of a woman clad in a black Hijab rope-pulling a jerry can full of water, across the moonlit terrain. She stopped arms akimbo when she discerned me. She adjusted her headdress around the eyes to survey me better. She appeared to have a keen intelligence for the first thing she did was to ask me in a shrill soprano:
“Lost?” Decided better, and plunged, “how is Kenya my friend? You seem to have come up here from down Kenya.”
A thought flitted through my mind that the computeligents who had evaporated into thin air had used her as a bait to catch me. This synced with their silent ways of capturing a suspect. With proven criminals it would even be worse.
She spoke some other gibberish that I did not understand.
“Far from it Madam," I replied. "Far from it, I don’t come from what we of the north call Kenya. No. I’m one of you.” I lied.
She took me for a northern man in the haze of the moonshine and I took up her water container on my shoulder. I drank some of the refreshing liquid from the vessel, night though it was.
“You know these aliens among our other people, I mean, in down Kenya, have made their life miserable. We, we are lucky they have ignored us for long. But guess what I saw today Hadijah?” I whispered anxiously.
“What? O, please don’t tell me they have come and the way it’s been peaceful here. Allah, where will we go with my clan?”She was spellbound.
As I was about to ask her for accommodation that night, we heard high-pitched screams inside the village. But it is inherent that she has deciphered my motive to sleep at hers, I thought fast. With the onset of the sounds, I stopped. On her part she neither paused nor did she look back. She walked majestically like a queen. She only discovered many steps later that she had left me behind. Her face did not show any sign of perturbation but some sadness seemed to enshroud her.
“What is that sound?” I asked breathlessly.
She bent her head gracefully and in a savage manner said. “That is our clan fighting with another clan. This time I think it is about the scarce water.”
I experienced a state of inexplicable calm at the words: communities at least still showcased a sense of the past, which to me was cool, in the background of absurd dehumanization elsewhere. She led me through a sand barrier, down into a gully and up again along a thorny field. Acacia pricked my rubber shoes against the weight of the water I was carrying. She was wearing only sandals and did not seem to mind the thorns. We passed through a horror of sun-baked trees that reflected the moonlight in pure white. The barren country climbed gently onto an oasis that began with a borehole at the southeastern extremity. The government had reclaimed the land ten years, earlier, and created a human settlement of about a thousand people. Like artificial communities interspersed all across the arid regions that locals referred to as lands foreign to the
Kenya they knew which was Nairobi, Marina, Mombasa. In short, all the lands south of the North rift, to the west, and Nanyuki and Garissa, to the east, comprised Kenya. It was not their fault. It was actually realistic.
The sounds that met us were reminiscent of the human massacres of the 1990s’ Africa. A youth was hanging from a roof wounded by an arrow that locked inhumanely across the head. Another heavily bearded man was stringing arrows from the rooftop down into the desert where no one was visible. Then we saw a silhouette of a cloud of dust against the moonlight far off to the northeast. Hadijah immediately whisked past me from behind the tree where we were hiding and ran off inside. I had difficulty following her.
Then I saw her wailing uncontrollably before a group of men restraining her in front of the empty cattle shed. They were laying a hopeless ambush there.
She was brandishing a machete pointing to the direction we had seen dust. The smell of firearms was still in the air.
I translate what she was saying.
“By the most High I will follow them to the end of the earth. Leave me alone I tell you. This is my battle alone! Who will educate my son now Allah! I curse them. Spat! Those unbelievers! I will see you eye to eye some day if God wills. Leave me alone!” ----
“Goodness gracious, whath ighzi zthis you find yourself in now, maghy friend!” One local, a short man in a white turban ushered me into the house. I soon learned that he was the uncle of the screaming Hadijah. The whole clan was surely inside the small house that vaunted an Arabian carpet and cheap Persian tapestry. We were twenty of us and all men. They were apparently discussing the new crisis, in their gibberish, while barely breathing. I did not see Hadijah again for sometime. But remarking how warlike the woman had become, it was wiser to keep distance. Yet she seemed to me the only link between ‘down’ Kenya where I had come from and these arid lands.
I soon learned that women were becoming more and more independent in the Cushitic villages. It was no emancipation per se, but the fact stared you in the eye. Though the beautiful snake-slim girls who came to serve the men did so graciously, I could read an aura of neglect and freedom once they were out of masculine presence.
“Maghy neece is gha single mother of two girls. She ghas phower and howns ha dam.’’ The Uncle said.
“The one I guess I met her drawing water from?”
“The van as ghoes as ghe crow flies?”
“Yeah, I guess the one in a southerly direction. I don’t know quite well seeing I have arrived here
“Wallay. Never mind. She hallways fetches water frogm that well. It ghis her-rs inheritened frogm dead father-r.’’
“Oh, I’m sorry.’’
“Wallay hear him! Abdullahi, Abdulai, tell ghis frighend of our-us howqhu bahd the woman is. You should pity hus maghy friend hinstead. Hit his hard as hit is to be hontrolled bahy ha vomankind day hin dayout. Tell him tellim.”
The fellow was silently weeping as he said this. I don’t know whether it was religious fervor or something else. The other guy, Abdullah, did not seem to understand English. He wasn’t talkative either. His silent, sinister, wooden-like face was handsome. It bore no malice or meanness but harbored some kind of eternal consternation. He generated an aura of inexplicable threat though his timidly sinister eyes showed him as weak, somehow.
At that moment, Hadijah entered the room. She was carrying a Russian samovar of coffee and she served the men, one by one. The men did not cease talking nor did they break the monotony. Hadijah was now wearing a free falling buibui that did not distract her in her movements. She was a lovely lady to look at and I wondered who was eying her widowhood since she went ‘un-inherited.’ She was young, too.
Twenty minutes after she had served us, she came back and stood at the door. She told her uncle something about the room being free for children. I was astonished at her grace at saying something apparently hostile and the way the men left the room almost immediately, each kissing her hands in turn.
Minutes later she showed me where to sleep next to the empty sheep pen.
“Don’t worry Hadijah, God will provide you with others.”
“Thank you, Allah will bless you too young man. He will provide me too with full beneficence. Good night, my friend.”
“See you tomorrow.” Bang.
Deep in the sheets, I was soon to learn that the children gave me a grace period of ten minutes to sleep since the table room adjoined mine. Then they started perusing books violently, asking each other questions in English, Kiswahili and the mother tongue. It was almost an academic quarrel. To hear their academic fervor I could not help but confirm the belief of many people in ‘down Kenya’ that the marginalization of these people of the North, in gone years, would be rooted out by their own dedication. The child who could manage to go to school had a bright future ahead of him. He was a shining star among others. The government had recognized the potential of this region by building mobile schools to cater for the nomadic community. Furthermore, the constitutional amendment passed by parliament in 2034 and entrenched in the
constitutions of other countries in the EA Nation read: Equal Opportunities for All and Special Provision for Arid and Underdeveloped Areas in [Kenya, Northwestern Uganda, Midwestern Tanzania and diverse parts of Rwanda and Burundi].
Going by this semi-autonomous model subject to review and given to different approaches by the separate communities and self-governing counties of the EA Nation, people from the Kenya North had benefited in the work place by having their best students get relatively higher chances of employment than those from the rest of the country, or to use a fashionable phrase, ‘down Kenya.’
It was five in the morning when the unexpected-expected happened. It was unexpected because I had chosen to fall into deep slumber in the eye of the tiger; expected because the machines had telepathic minds. I heard vague, free falling footfalls on the corridor. I jerked my body upright in bed and looked out with barely open eyes. A hooded, small figure hesitated in the moonlight and I saw another of the same diminutive height lurking in the moonlit sheep pen. Just then, Hadijah knocked once or twice before collapsing into the room in one pile along with the dilapidated bamboo door. Terror mounted in my blood veins especially when I looked outside to see three figures scatter away. The Heltz glass in the shaded solar lamp she was holding in her hand had not broken. I raised her up. She was in her classic black night gown. She whispered breathlessly:
“They are here!’’
“Who are here? Oh I know.’’ I said confusedly for I was in a hideous stupor. “Where are they? ----Hide the solar lamp!” This intelligent woman knew who they were!
“…In the sheep pen!”
“…In the sheep pen...?’
“They have come for you.
I knew that my doom was sealed when I heard that. And she was talking like she was their agent. I calculated fast as is given to people at the last moment of looming disaster. I had knowledge that their metal brain studs were short-range, transmitting electron telepathy within a radius of three meters. Thus they had synchronized with my mind and knew all that I was thinking then. Now they were awaiting remote instructions from their human superiors on their next moves. With the alarm incipient to this frightening intelligence still lingering in my mind, I barely looked outside via a big chink behind the bed when I discerned the shadows still lurking there. My blood seemed to seethe within me and I felt like a runaway train just to try to inform or adjust the mind, effortlessly, on what to do in order to confuse their decoding operational systems that were stuck on my track. This dillydallying tendency revealed to me that before they came for the hunt their operational systems had been altered from the usual violent mode to conniving mode which rendered them no longer invincible.
To think of it, just the thought of it! I foresaw the upcoming and inevitable results: they would arrest me, deactivate my recent memory and infiltrate it with the software of a criminal, intoxicate me to confess what I did not do, then would come the inevitable long trial culminating with the judge’s selfchastice. The secret service would then present me before the glare of the television cameras as the mastermind and expose me against a resounding government score on internal security matters. All in the name of solving a case that had lingered for years in order to impress the public that I was no longer a mere suspect. What hindered them from arresting me forthwith? Simple: they wanted to confirm first that I were the real criminal by using these robots decode my mind before apprehending me. This lack of violence, which by the way was naturally their right, made my case special.
Hadijah caught my arm and unknowingly did just what I should have done. She told me: “Run away my friend. Wallay, they might kill you here. Allah will lead you through the journey. I have my son”- She did not finish what of her son. We both saw the figures abandon their cradle, one by one, and retreat into the shadows which melted them from my sight. They had read my mind that I would run away. They knew that what a woman told a man a man must do ninety nine to one in a hundred occasions.
I would dash away, too. But then again, this woman who has stuck on my mind with precise advice all the time is she real or is she possibly double-edged? But then, those who don't know the real nature of things fear them less than those who know. People fear God because they know his nature through images, hieroglyphics and the Biblical antithesis of the evil Devil thus the fear mortals harbor for him knowing the How of Him but not the eternal Why. Thereby, with her quick mind she can improvise on ways to deal with mechanical things she has no clue about. Furthermore, with her long stay in remote locations with only a TV set as her guardian she has come to formulate all imaginary ways to deal with the machines already legendary to her naturalistic tendencies
We looked to our right and left as if some stray leaves had fallen in our midst due to the sudden calm. She held my shoulder like a mother would while I imagined the few minutes of the breather left to me and how I would utilize them, but all I saw was a land of barren, flat-topped sandy hills that took you to nowhere.
We decided that there was not a minute to lose and I prepared to flee. She caught me by the shirt and called Ishmael her son. He was already half-prepared as if going on a journey.
“No. I refuse to have your son for an escort. You don’t know the danger we are running into. You just see these devils on TV but they are real I tell you.”
“He is going to school and he’ll borrow their school bus for you. I believe in education and so do other people. People who’ll see you accompanied by this boy in uniform will think twice before they strike. You are like a father escorting my son. They can’t deny you that privilege. I’ll give him a note to lead you into the light. You don’t know but Allah has different ways so to speak and you might be the savior of my son some day. God will lead you from the harm of these dogs of machines.’’
She delivered the sermon just like a true warrior. There was nothing I could do and the innocence I saw in that child’s eyes! I could always visualize that braveness peculiar to boys of five, courage that is unmitigated by the additive crisis of other adult emotions. “Come on, wallay, I’ll be late for school. And the way my headmaster is strict!” Ishmael said as if we were departing for his Biblical Edom.
I could do nothing else. The chilly desert wind blew outside so forcibly that I had to cover my bones nearly wholly with the disguising brown robe of Cushitic men. Not that I wanted to attract attention by looking like a mummy but the cold forced me to do it. Mosquitoes buzzed around the hot sheep pen lit by a solar powered bulb. In retrospect, I still believe the insects were enjoying the same radioactive odor of the computeligents that I would be privileged to know before my journey’s end.
Ishmael kissed his mother goodbye till the following evening. I hailed Hadijah adieus for the last time.
“Allah will lead you till we meet again.” She said.
“…till we meet again.”
We trekked the country for so long that hope began to fade away like a dream. We reached a dusty culvert in the small hours of the morning just before dawn. Then we discerned the bus which was full of giggling boys and girls. I would soon feel like a cabbage beside them.
When, at first, the wild-looking driver confidentially shook his head in a non-aligned manner after Ishmael had given him the note from his mother, I knew that my doom was getting closer. The frightening, related thought that passed like lightening, through my mind, even made me mistake some tree stumps for the human-machines out there.
I held my peace till we reached the far-off school. It was still dark and the mobile institution was just opening its gates to the young apprentices. I learned from Ishmael that these were the only pupils, which apparently made learning easier but in a way discouraging. The shrill throng came out and rallied behind their headmistress who apparently had been in the same bus. Ishmael engaged me to a manly goodbye by squeezing my hand, warmly, before stepping out, eagerly, behind the others. He disappeared behind the train container that served as a rotating office for the staff.
As I waited for the driver to return, I reminisced on my school days.
It is always wise to begin the day with a cup of tea. Our English grammar teacher had told us back in primary. That morning I had passed by his, and he had given me the punctuation lesson for the day, in advance, alongside the cup of tea.
We valued education much and most of us were not just waiting to finish and become citizens. We were doing our tests for the end of the term. We had chosen the alternative form of Math that was officially known as Alternative B. We wanted to pass. If you wanted to gage a student’s academic brightness, he or she was sure to be doing the original hard Math.
There were two types of students at school all over Kenya. The larger margin believed that there was no need to break your neck through too much education, when you would end up ‘tarmacking’ with your degree in town. The other group believed that once you had maximum education, despite economic difficulties, it was a given right to land yourself a job in the twenty-four hour economy.
After that only one term would remain till we did our exams. Then 30 percent of the class was sure to resolve never to see the inside of a classroom again. Artisan jobs and other forms of self-employment were making their mark in the postmodern times. This was especially true in the urban areas where children of five could do mental calculations better than adults and once they reached a certain academic level, they began to feel that their intelligence was being infringed upon by too much education. They would learn computer and start ‘our own website seeing everybody is doing that.’ There was also a reversal in the preference of education between urban centers and the rural areas, comparable to previous years, with the rural students exhibiting more desire for higher education than the former. Secondary school was still important to many but its illogical bondage rendered it to some as just a waste of time. But those of our precedents, who had stuck to their guns on the latter opinion, while still at school, had soon showed us that the mettle of the reality out there was stern and different. What they meant but did not know how to express was that they wanted to jump into college without having a boring and overburdening sojourn at high school. We might consider that some day, but not till we had done our Alternative B Math and thought about joining Secondary later. Of course I was ignorant then.
When I joined the University of Nairobi, eight years later, through the 2-6-6-3 learning system, I encountered another incomparable research fellow in the department of Arts and the Humanities. He once delivered a history lesson that remained fresh in my mind many years later and would influence me when I myself came to make a circumstantial stint as a teacher of the subject.
“Our lesson in today’s history lesson is Bismarck’s Germany,’’ said our history lecturer that particular afternoon. I could see some of my student pals from around the globe following the lesson through asynchronous means, on the computer screen before me. “Before the unification of Germany, the country was made up of many diverse states each warring with the neighbors. When Bismarck united Germany in 1870, this became a great event in European history since the continent was crumbling under territorial wars and power struggles in respective countries. The shadow of Napoleon was still being felt many years since Wellington and others ousted him to Elba Island for a second time in 1815. The rise and fall of Napoleon was significant because, though post-Waterloo saw the return of kings, they had fewer powers and had lost their divine rights that paved the way for constitutional governments. The constitutional monarchy in England, for example, though it had began more than a century earlier, was a fine blueprint of the new order.
“The fall of Napoleon sent shock waves throughout Europe and redefined the idea of the glorious emperor; this had much influence in the twentieth century where tight-fist dictators rose to power by the quarter of the new century. Hitler was rising in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and General Franco in resistant Spain.
“Our focus will be with Hitler since he belongs to what we refer to as Prussians.
“Class you remember that I told you we should call our lesson Bismarck’s Germany. He deserves this title for did he not do it, perhaps present-day Germany would not be a nation as we know it but possibly as a part of France with which it had fought wars historically known as the Franco-Prussian wars. Despite our hypothesis, Germany gained the upper hand in these conflicts.
It is funny to notice that at the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany was ruled by a king, Duke Fredrick II. Hitler stepped into the stage at around this time with his imperialistic ideas even bigger than Napoleon’s. His Fuhrer republic would embrace the entire world; Napoleon had wished for the civilized Europe, at first, before his wings would expand to other parts of the globe. This shows that he had defined an idea that others were making a personal dogma. Hitler’s rule would know no bounds and he would sacrifice anything to attain his rule. Some claim that he wanted to enforce order on chaos over Europe whereas others believe in the antithesis of the idea. There was no manifesto that came to be prevalent in Red Eastern Europe, to assert the claim. Supported by the other three dictators who were apparently propagating new dictatorial terms like Fascism [in Franco’s Spain], they would hold the world together in their palms. Theirs was iron rule; Napoleon’s had been romantic in comparison.
“All of them fell before, on and after D-DAY at the climax of the second World War. The story of Germany seemed to end with the destruction it had gone through in these two wars. But Bismarck’s blueprint of over a century ago to this minute seems to have been an imprint of the minds of generation after generation of the people of Germany. For despite the credit crunch which we are still experiencing in this year, 2019, the economy is still the third in the world after China and the United States.
“The aim of this lesson is just an aid to show how the EA Nation also came to be formed. It brought shared ideals such as a common currency, common heritage, common Founding Fathers, common regional wars and shared politics together to form this great state of ours. No one can deny that we are enjoying material freedom.”
This is what he did not add: that African Nations should root out impunity and follow the models of the once great fathers of their respective nations. Most of the time, nations are defined by their original rulers rather than the contemporary ones. Fathers of nations never fail to leave an indelible mark on the country they founded. It is this easy formula that leaders should strive to improve rather than impose fresh agendas that never work within their short mandate.
That was the greatest teacher I’ve ever had. You never see the like in these days. Education nowadays seems like a personal initiative aided by technology but bereft of rhetoric. To look at the pupils in these mobile schools now and seeing some of their skinny teachers made me wonder. How could they teach like then? I really pitied them. People will always despise the generation after theirs but sometimes geniuses arise: For I am sure that that lecturer, whom we called Mr. Matano, was greater than many African lecturers since our independence in 1964.
'1964’ I say because most children nowadays do not care about the date of the country’s independence. That was the day that ‘down Kenya’ attained its independence from Britain: these girls and boys, at this mobile school, would interpret to heart what they learned in their history lesson.
My rate of progression was naturalistic I always think. Not many social influences molded me into who I became later on in life. I must have inherited an intelligent mind from my father who used to operate a motorcycle powered by cast aluminum coils that he used to connect to a dynamo and use the machine without any sound emitted by the engine. He was such a great fellow although he died in relative obscurity. Since then I have come to entertain the creed that inventors have no peers to give them real congratulations during their unrivaled passage on earth. It must have been the germ of my rebellion later in life, due to the frustration of living in a borrowed system of governance. My mother would warn me from taking part in political gatherings and I followed her advice, literally, but would soon take an alternative path by infiltrating the political consciousness through writing obscure hate theses developed along Machiavellian philosophies.
Remembering how innocent I were before I attained the target position for the intelligentsia mercenaries nearly left me in tears as I stood outside that mobile school waiting for the driver to come out. Did I not involve myself in conniving with apolitical forces, nobody would be hunting me now, I thought almost remorsefully. But no regret for it is hard to reform an extreme mind in any case!
It took the driver what seemed like a whole year to come back. Without a word he reignited the vehicle. This cool act, however, did save me from the forlorn drear.
We passed through treeless terrain that terrified one even when inside the vehicle. The sun, quasi-direct to our view, peered with its golden light over the eastern ranges. We were on our way to Garissa. It was strange how the cold went off almost in a blare of heat that succeeded with the rising of the sun. The night had blotted away like a gray curtain.
Then the driver talked for the first time when we started seeing greener fields around River Tana. He was apparently gay and cheerful when he felt like. For the rest he was moody and charitable. He appeared dedicated to his work and also work-manly. He did not have many words to waste on a stranger, anyway. His was a summary silence sufficiently replaced by the drone of the vehicle and the working of the gears, plus the low Ethiopian music his system played.
The biggest river in ‘down Kenya’ had depreciated its water levels, over the years, but it was still efficiently navigable. It was a river that nobody had paid attention to in early years when geothermal power was generated indiscriminately from its waters. It was the single important source of electrical power in Kenya before the world went green with nuclear power, the cheapest source of light energy these days. River Tana was a miracle to a person who had gone on an escape mission to the arid north. When we reached the sparkling, dusty city of Garissa, the driver had only a few minutes to spare, which appeared good to me, luckless as I had always been before. He bought me a cup of Matrezzi tea and availed some khat for himself.
“Haiam tekiniyou to Hairobo.” He said side-wisely, started the engine and in its background added carelessly, “Hi hev buhsiness there.”
I did not ask 'where' until we reached the lush and industrial City of Thika and then I understood that Hairobo meant Nairobi pronounced by a tired-of-talking northern man.
When we reached the big city it was evening. I have never been familiar with any other city like I was with this most beloved of all metropolises. Due to its magnificence, some of it Bohemian, Nairobi, the architectural half-caste of the west and the orient, was dear to me as a blind man's stick is to the wielder. Its very densely populated streets and great neighborhoods were the only places I could hide in from those looking for me. It is true they were based here, but an enemy is best fought in his own home turf. I could not help but feel a pause of melancholy when treading on its streets once again and experience the whiff of the eastern wind brushing dustily against my right cheek. The rush hour was on and the busy streets offered good camouflage. I felt home again. I would go to my shack in one of Industrial Area's rehabilitated Kagendo apartments, formerly a slum area.
I showed my faithful man where we could buy ourselves some Matrezzi tea and some beer. He paid warmly for everything. He had become drunk within half an hour of drinking the seething liquid of concentrated Imani. I watched him at a safe distance. Then we stepped out into the neon-lit evening of a Furahiday.
I said a thankful goodbye to my driver and asked for his phone number, just in case. Then I wished him a safe journey back home and went on my way. When I looked at his back turned on me, I felt apprehensive, all alone.
“Allah will keep you.’’ He said as an afterthought, at last, and drove away into the traffic.
This is how it all started. Back in 2037, an anonymous individual wrote an open letter to the press in a mind-boggling style, indicting the shadowy political class. This letter that the leading newspapers copied and the new breed of daring apolitical television aired, received mixed reactions from readers and leaders. To most readers it was a congratulatory reaction to the anonymous writer for subtly highlighting the evils of impunity. The stream of consciousness style was so simple that reading it just made you feel like it were you who had done the thinking. It was jumbled up it is true, but simplicity came from the realism in those lines. It was this style, rather than the content, which mainly prompted the state to act.
The whole matter was inexorable and kept resuscitating. During that time I was at the University and belonged to an intellectual fellowship simply known as 'the Behaving Group.' We owned a magazine we meant to generate some capital for us that went under different titles to cover our identity. The publication was called 'the Behaving Journal.' It featured different styles of writing, the most popular of which was of a dreamlike turn and closely resembled that in Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial. However, the most important treatment, the one that would soon prove our nemesis, was the stream of consciousness style that the members had initially thought would earn us camouflage due to its easy confusion. The main target of the journal was the Politicians Group. Yet the trickery of the literature contained, therein, ensured that it did not refer to anyone specifically.
It was in early 2038 that the title 'Impunity on High' appeared on 'the Behaving Journal’s' cover page. It implicated the targeted class so much that it prompted action on the part of the persons it purported to trade insults with. They acted and early one evening the police and other forensic officers impounded the building and arrested all the members.
Luckily, on that fatal day, I had gone to visit my brother, who was recuperating from a sudden illness. We were at his suburban home in Upper Hill when we heard the news on satellite radio. I were struck speechless and nothing could I do but wonder at my narrow escape. As we heard all the details about how the police forcefully arrested all the intellectuals, I could not help but offer my supplication, silently. In many such cases it was a given life imprisonment against which one could not bargain easily since the authorities automatically referred to such a case as treason, no matter its simplicity. It was not a laughable matter.
“Bro, it was time I left for the university while there is still time.” I lied. “I hope you get well fast. And please give good tidings at home before I return. I may be away sometime. Goodbye.” I departed.
In short, that is how I had made my narrow escape to the northern climes and escaped the selfchastice that some of my friends at the university would come to suffer by. But that was not why the forensic officers were now looking for me. The paper that was written back in 2035 still had no writer and now that one of the 'Behaving Group' had run away, it was all the more reason to believe that he was the original perpetrator.
Computeligents had originally failed to handle the situation at the dawn of placing the mysterious writer. The state soon after removed them from the case since they were utilizing millions of EAs to do the tracing. Subsequent to their failed mission to capture me, the authorities had now assigned the case to a Mr. Kioni, who’d later come to be known by the public as the Cousin from an espionage bluff with a Somali counter-insurgency that had led to his temporary arrest. The pedantic counter-insurgency in the democratic country would, time and again, try to save face with the federal peace delegation that Arusha would send to calm the situation by referring to the kidnapped spy as 'our cousin.' The term gained following with members of the investigative press when referring to any symbolic gesture by the new Somali democracy towards the EA Nation.
The case had gone on for two years and had gradually taken backstage. Then the re-discovery of 'the Behaving Group' reignited the search due to the fact that their writing exploits paralleled the premise of that investigation. No wonder they mistook me for the writer. That was the reason why I had found myself in that first flight to the arid north. I had taken passage on a bus that was conveying Kenyan tourists to visit these developing parts that had been marginalized for a long time. I happened to know the driver and he had accepted to drive me to Moyale, free of charge, from where I would cross to Moyale town on the Ethiopian side. As has been seen in the beginning, that did not happen for soon as we had taken the Isiolo-Moyale highway, threat messages whose code bore the Computeligent insignia besieged the inbox of his phone and he had to let me go. This was after a long battle with his conscience on whether to release me or not. The last decision would have meant to sacrifice the rest of the passengers in cold blood in a sensitive situation involving these complex machines. For one thing with the robot technology, around the world, in the post-modern times is to give a personal face to the machines whereby they can communicate with an individual through mobile phones by transgressing frequency laws. They have a very wide bandwidth and there is cause to believe circulating intelligence that the government uses them to store most of its vital data for it knows that, though they are not made of flesh and gore, they have the living motion of escaping destruction. Thus, they would be the last things to destroy when everything important in safe boxes is being put to the flame. And then I had seen Hadijah pulling her jerry can full of water across the starlit terrain.
Immediately after my return to the city, as became of a University dropout, I began wandering in the back streets looking for a job, even in the tough nightshift, in our 24-hour economic dispensation. However, as fate would have it, on a bloody Sunday morning, I got another serious setback. I had not eaten for a whole day. On that Sunday morning, I got a bus ride to town and went to rest at the old Country Bus Terminus. I viewed life passing before me with the eyes of a tired man. I did not know who was that I kept seeing before my hazy eyes showing me to a camp for the hungry. The surrealism of the whole idea baffled my senses such that I could not see, feel or hear quite well at that moment in time. I had decided, beforehand, that were this state of affairs to continue, I would do anything to contain it. I would even pretend to be a journalist by attending functions at the KICC.
As people of all sorts swarmed at the busy terminus, I thought about that wardrobe back at home. I would wear that gray trouser and the black shirt and a blue tie on top of it and go to the book-launching function on Monday morning at the KICC, posing as a journalist. I would pretend to scribble notes into my notebook, always keeping an eye on the serving table. When time came to eat I would serve myself to several platefuls of barbecues, salads and anything else on the journalists’ menu. Then I would go for take-three where I would stuff my bag with a serving to take home with me for supper. Nobody would notice. During my campus days I had espied avaricious interns doing this.
Hunger cramps were beginning to overset my stomach. I rose, stretched and yawned. I walked in the dazzling sun into the exit onto the Race Course Road. All over a sudden I began to feel bitter with the world. Here were healthy people wearing lavishly, bypassing me as if I did not exist. I resolved in my heart that I cared for nothing at all in this mundane and I would do anything right for me. I would not trespass the law, would only correct wrongs where it was necessary. I would not even ‘see’ people, hungry as I were, nor even beg from them for their damn bread. But I soon realized that that was just a daydream. How many times had I had psychological warfare with both others and myself, only for the dawn of a new day to show me how foolish we were to strain relationships that would never change? Reality was different.
I had resolved not to violate rules and regulations. However, I had barely passed by a dilapidated place along Race Course Road, near the Salvation Army, when an urge to pee overwhelmed my bowels. The fence was collapsing over the pavement of the deserted streets. Next to the old, gray buildings, on the green grassland, with just a small heap of garbage, I saw the signpost that was caving in: Politicians Group Public Wing.
I don’t know whether it was the word 'Politicians' or the fissure at the fence where people had made a urinating nest that prompted me, but I felt a bitter taste in my mouth. I also saw a silhouette of a big figure run upstairs from one corner of the building into the next, before I urinated.
“Stay right there.” Some big voice said behind me. I looked up with involuntary surprise. It was the figure I had just seen in the upstairs. Then the foolishness of what I had done dawned upon me with tremor-like impact, which made me tremble. I thought about home. However, I did not heed the call but jerked rapidly back to the banks of the clean Nairobi River. Minutes afterward, three men and one woman in plainclothes accosted me. These were the Council patrolmen on duty. They dared me to move but I were already slowly edging away backward towards the river. They had no guns on them. I knew what to do when the chase began. I had been a swimmer back in secondary school at Uroda High in Nanyuki.
They were too vain to come for me and I just kept edging away. What they needed was something also referred to as plastic. A crowd of people that I felt full wrath against was already forming around. There was that bullish and naïve manner so common to mobsters that made me feel helpless and much alone. In that freezing moment, we just stood confronting each other, like a cartoon against a crowd of real men. I had to mentally engage the mood of the growing mob to reassure myself that the signs of what I feared most, lynching, were minimal. Still, some men offered to get me for the lynching. One person even played the practical joke to get a tire from the nearby ‘Grogan’ scrap metal neighborhood to set me ablaze in. That is the problem with Kenyan mobs: they are just too stubborn and can perpetrate mob justice without enough justification, due to idleness perhaps. The Councilmen shoved them back.
A boy and a girl met on the street and greeted each other. Their simple handshake with palms smartly intertwined made me wonder how humans could have perfected the art of handshaking so well. The girl was pretty and wore a ponytail whereas the guy was fine and well-groomed. They did not seem bothered with what was going on in the streets: it was just another free movie. They disappeared behind the ancient white Temple towards River Road. They were exactly my ideal that morning of how indifferent people ought to be by minding their own businesses.
A clap resonated in the crowd and took me back to reality. Two men had just met, probably after long years of separation and had shaken one another’s hands with lightening speed. They bared their white and yellow teeth to the scene direction every now and then. To me, in my public moment, they looked like the main representatives of the jolly, enterprising and family-loving 360 million residents of the EA Nation, out there.
The askaris finally chose to get me, forcefully, and I flew to the brink of the river. My Uroda High Nanyuki swimming days do not forsake me now. I prepared for the plunge just before I saw people run to the other side, the Machakos terminus. I made a u-turn on the river, diving backward. I held on for some minutes till I felt my emaciated bones begin to fail me. But goodness gracious, I had already made it to the bustling New Market that was just getting busy. I looked around for signs on the surface and dashed onto the ground dripping with water. I heard a siren nearby and a gun went off. That is when I had just time to disappear on my weak legs to the heart of the teeming market before collapsing within. So far so good, I told myself, for nobody seemed to bother, busy as they were. A Good Samaritan offered me four bananas and I thanked the stars for taking me through the current to him. Hunger proved to me a very motivational force that day.
I had on a leather jacket that miraculously had suffered the t-shirt inside to only a few shades of water. I shed it off and ran in my t-shirt to an idlers’ changing bay behind New Market where I bartered the wet clothing for blue dungarees.
I took stale Matrezzi tea in a dirty hotel in Kariorkor. For home I used the long route of Industrial Area to Eastland’s Kagendo apartments. There I met my landlord and I did not tell him a word of what had happened. I went straight to my house and prepared for the escape. I intended to borrow sixty EA from my homely landlord and head for Nanyuki. I knew rent was lagging behind but I could always return to pay.
“Say what,” I said to him in a cheerful manner, “I have nothing to eat and so I thought why not go home tomorrow?”
He adjusted his trademark leather jacket and queried me with his eyebrows.
“The only problem is, I need to go tonight by the train but I don’t have the fare. I know, too, that I have not paid rent but I’m sure you can always trust me to pay later on.”
“So?” He continued to give me a look of askance. He was a good neighbor and even if he lived with us in his premises, he never blasted his radio to full volume like some neighbors did who thought that since they had the money, they could as well show it off by turning on the volume on their radios from across the other side of the wall. He had seen it all in his fifty odd years in this hi-tech life of ours. So when he removed his brown wallet and unfurled many EA notes and separated 60EA from them, I was not very surprised. He was angry though, and showed it in his face. His red eyes told me all. Were it that I were not saying goodbye he could have asked me very many auditing questions. Goodbye had such a moving power over him, especially on such a short notice. Naturally, he viewed farewell as an event. I was his only true friend in the residential flats due to the fact that, though he had many followers, he feared that they would make him an idiot of some sort. Nevertheless, he liked to be seen with motley company other than his tenants.
“Use it well and make sure you return.” He said. “Greet your father for me.”
The sun was shining like a broad smile on the western brow of Upper Hill suburbs and created streaks of rainbow on the tinted window panes of the neighboring estate. I had never seen the City look so beautiful.
I moved into the gloom of my room and finalized everything against the imminent departure. I looked around and checked that the few utensils and bare furniture were alright. I had zipped the clothes closets well, earlier on in the week. I turned off the lights and saw to it that everything was fine. It was like a ritual.
I picked up my bag to leave before curious neighbors came back from work.
I did not make it beyond the gate. Three policemen came holding guns and ordered me to drop everything on the ground and surrender. I put up my hands behind the head and surveyed the scene. Lookers-on were already swarming and I did, indeed, recognize some of my neighbors there.
My landlord came forward like a gentleman and began to negotiate my case.
“I offer you 20EA if you release this kijana. Urinating in public is not that bad. It does not warrant him this. He hardly deserves this treatment Bwana askari. ---I can always invite you for tea any other day if you release him.” Mr. Karanja, my landlord, argued. I wish one of you could have seen the pain on his face. He had sheepishly trusted me as very bright and [wise] and now I had betrayed him in front of his tenants’ inc. and others.
The policemen declined the bribe. That is when I realized that corruption was a thing of the past. The tall policeman who looked like molded marble shoved me into the back of the Simba Yetu range rover and we were off. I saw the crowd diminish behind me; a crowd that I could have annihilated once and all did I have the might and chance. For the nosing around neighbors who had no excuse to be there, I could have wrenched their blood veins, drop by drop, by my bare hands, bitter as I were.
They mishandled me all the way to an Industrial Area prison.
I had stayed in remand for one ‘just’ month when the report came for my further detention as the prosecution had filed new charges against me.
Life in jail was a new phenomenon to me since I had neither reflected on it before nor had I cared to listen to the views of society on imprisonment. Thus it came as a surprise to be actually behind bars and I did not see the reason I had to adjust myself to the darkness on the utterly gray walls. Furthermore, what was there for me to fear (senseless fear overwhelmed me) even if I had lost weight in jail? Fear is a sign of revolutionary minds planning to overcome conservative barriers that have all the power, by any means, most probably by fleeing to self-imposed exile. I shuddered at the vague thought although I did not harbor desperate notions to escape in my disillusioned young mind. But I kept visualizing how somebody would come to my aid, either legally or illegally. The case was like an implant on my brain. It was turning out to be more complicated and confusing everyday. Once the mind settles to the stark reality, nothing else remains the same and the known world seems to crash before your untutored eyes.
One Tuesday evening, a few days later, the prison clerk summoned me before her. “What are you charged with?” She asked me with a concerned look on her seemingly evolving dark face. It was boyish, rather prominent, smooth and sullen. She looked modest in her casual khaki attire.
When she asked me what I was in for I did not know what to answer. “Mwangoma, Mwangoma come here. It is like this; just return this boy to his sell.” She said Sell, “and I will make sure these people act responsibly. They can’t be serious ruining a sweet young man for two days with no trial nor charge. Well, make sure you look after him, won’t you?”
Firstly, I did not know the charge. Secondly, nobody had even talked to me and I did not know how to express justice for the individual such as right to timely trial and access to a lawyer. On this front, I knew that I would fail miserably for reality demanded an explicit approach to law. Did they give me a chance, then and there, to express myself, I could have spouted a verbose of all the generalities surrounding the theme of law as I understood it from a theoretical point of view. Third and worse, I did not know whether the charge amounted to the infamous selfchastice. Courts in 2039 could do anything to you. This came of the rotten court system of the past years. Sometimes people sought the only transnational court for Civil and Criminal offenses in the EA Nation, based in Arusha, for it guaranteed feasible, distantly objective and demographically-realistic court applications. The other was the EA Marine tribunal in Mombasa Raha.
“Here is your paper. Read it carefully.” The chief jailer handed over the form to me on the same evening the clerk had intervened, peremptorily adjusted his hanging specs, touched his belt and then banged the door to loud enough to awaken the bats earlier than usual.
“This is an independent suit filed against you jointly by the City Council and the Politicians Group. ----Other charges include:-You are charged with contempt of Council officials on patrol duty. The second count is on defilement of part of private property owned by the Politicians Group along Race Course Road by urinating on their premises. Count three: you are charged with utmost irrelevance and treasonable act against the state by typing offensive writ retrieved from a t-shirt that belongs to you and that you had thrown away trying to escape the Council officers. This count is filed under suit from the state prosecutor. The count is double-edged for the Politicians Group charges you with the same. You will be brought to court this afternoon at noon and cross-examined the same afternoon by a defense lawyer of your own choice procured by the state.”
I was greatly astonished by the additional charges. Treason it was! All at once life had no meaning for me. For instance, how could I have been so careless as to leave the said 'paper' inside my shirt's pocket?
The following afternoon, at two, I met my defense attorney. He was a fine young man of about 28 who wore a very trim black suit. He was all black from head to toe and his whole aspect was that of a rock star. His handsome thin face marketed itself, one would almost say, by its premature fine lines above and across the noble brow; nevertheless, his voice was not naturally soft as he tried to make it sound. It had some traces of croaking but retained a deep-shrill crescendo of its own in the heat of debate. He stammered over c and h but otherwise he talked very eloquently despite the fact that he was an introvert. I laid down my challenging, if not surprising, case before him. Then we ascended the courtroom stairs. I was talking and he was still shaking or sometimes nodding his perfect mold of a head.
The miraculously attentive judge sat before the seven of us in the little mahogany room and opened the case. Apart from my lawyer, who was the only serene figure in an otherwise agitated setting, I only recognized the two Politicians and one of the Council patrolmen in court that afternoon. The three sat behind us beside the prosecutor. The latter soon moved to the front seats in front of the judge. The judge did not look like he would inflict the infamous selfchastice on anyone. He was all sagging skin and smooth forehead where the white hood did not obscure. He must as well have been a civilian by his ways.
“May the plaintiffs tell the court their names and addresses?”
The two complainants alternatively answered: “I am Tony Simasi ----and I am Cathleen Muthee of the Politicians Group Public Affairs Wing on Race Course Road, Nairobi CBD.”
The two of the Council then told the court their names.
“After the discovery of offensive typed papers, on the defendant’s t-shirt, which he apparently threw away when fleeing from Council officers, this case has changed its scope. The original case went thus: the two complainants in charge of the Politicians Group building at the time of the crime saw the defendant urinating inside the fence of their premises, while on the outside, and they reported the matter to the Council from whom the defendant flew. Hence, this turned the case from civil to criminal and the court had to remand the defendant until the new suit that the Council has filed is concluded. It is no longer an independent case but statutory. This is contained in our amended laws of the year 2038 that I proceed to remunerate: ‘- that---- It remains the Politicians Group civil case so long as there is technical judicial measures in place that they can apply to appeal a ruling not in their favor.’ And now that the Council, which has filed criminal charges against the respondent, is part of the post-modern powerful county government, the case is at most statutory even if the Politicians have a technical say in the matter.” The judge opened the case with these words.
I understood nothing in this harangue. This was one of the many contemporary proceedings that are jumbled up to the extent where one cannot tell apart the parties involved from the naked charges. It all struck me of sheer irrelevancy and ire of impatience rose in me just to consider the formal aspect of things I'd rather see remaining casual forever. Too sad. It looked like too much nonsense to discern the judge raise his gowned hand to conclude:
“Therefore I call upon the prosecution to proceed.”
The prosecutor was a giant of a man. He was in a black and white striped suit that covered his bulky physique almost sumptuously, I’d say. He talked in a low, hoarse voice.
“Your honor, may I begin by reiterating that the defendant defiled private premises on a Sunday. The Politicians Group owns the place. Then to add fuel to the fire, he very deliberately wrote and typed this paper that mentions the Politicians name three times and in bad light. In the first offense, he defied the recent bylaws passed by the Council prohibiting that behavior exclusively inside its boundaries be it public or private. The defendant has denied any wrongdoing in that, or have you?”
“Yes your honor.” I said deliberately. “This is because I’m well versed in my law, your honor, and I know there is no place the constitution mentions against urinating.” I finished boldly, following what I believed the law said blindly rather than on its specifications.
“It might be true what you say young man, but you know that a law passed in the independent bodies of local government also legally binds you to a prison term or a fine if contravened. Don’t you?”
I searched for an answer in the clouds.
“Objection, your honor!”
“Sustained: Proceed with your objection defense attorney.” The judge intervened.
“The starting method the prosecuting Counsel has assumed, your honor,'' countered my attorney, “is just protraction aimed at creating fear in my client before the main case is read. We are dealing with another case here, being that of a document that the Politicians Group, in what they purport to be their civil suit, claim to have some relationship with another one of two years ago that was termed as treasonable to the state. We can read that in their suit. Yet if treated in this way the Politicians' case becomes criminal which it isn't according to their current lawsuit which is civil. This shows that one of the two parties, either the Politicians Group or the Council misunderstood the suit-filing procedures or, on the other hand, one party has malicious interests in this case. This is all the more reason we should attend first to the most serious matter at hand to eradicate any technical doubt, my lord.” He wanted to make the case vague in our favor, as he told the press afterward.
“Prosecution Counsel you have heard the learned Counsel speak. Bring in the relevant evidence.”
“Granted my Lord.”
He read the treason charges and argued against them powerfully. Several eyewitnesses corroborated that they actually saw me evade the arm of the law while others said that they disinterestedly espied me throw the t-shirt containing the criminal papers at the Retail New Market. Then when it reached time for hard evidence, I saw the prosecutor fumbling inside his black briefcase. I recovered from my bewilderment and stupor of disbelief set in. There was the original copy of my apparently infamous lines. I must have written them in a foul mood. There were the two titles on an A4 size print paper, beginning with a big S and ending with small double S. Stream of Consciousness. I imagined how shocked the court would be at finding the yet unraveled contents childish. They would murmur, unheard, how only a seriously idle mind could have thought to scribble with a pen like that.
At that moment I did not even know whether it was my own writ; maybe I chose to deny the truth to my own mind. As he prepared to read I lowered my eyes with shame and propped my body stiffly against the wood. He had barely read three sentences when I sought refuge at the television set that hang from an edge-of-the-cliff ceiling bracket. It showed motion pictures of past trials, in silent mood, at a position you could not easily refer to with the eyes unless you propped your head