I’ve always had an issue with that word. Is it not a lie? It exists to portray that which cannot be described, yet is a description in and of itself. It annoyed the hell out of me. It was a traitor to language; I tore the page containing it out of every dictionary I came across.
“I mean, with the entirety of the global lexicon available at your disposal, surely you must be able to find a word to fit any scenario, right? How could one mere word dare to divest all the explanatory words in the world of their power…” Kamba was leaning against the wall of the library while eating an apple and snickering as I went on and on, passionately destroying the hated word. It was a hot, dry harmattan day. I was irritable. I had just found a dictionary with the page containing ‘indescribable’ still intact. As I took a pause for breath in my rant, Kamba replied, as he always did, “Sometimes life is just like that sometimes.”
I shot him a glare. He winked in response. How annoyingly pretty.
“That’s another damn thing. People that start and end a sentence with the same word. I mean you’d think with the entirety of the voluminous varied verbiage at your fvcking disposal…”
Kamba laughed and closed his eyes.
“He had a beautiful name”, I thought distractedly. “Nwakamba”, the child that’s greater than a nation.
The sun was out. The brown wind was rushing somewhere again. He had dust on his long lashes.
Kamba died three months later with the ghost of his smile still on his face.
You know what his last words were? While I held him in my arms, his neatly kept Afro clenched in my fists, and I screamed as if sound could stop blood from flowing
First he winked. Then he said, “Shit, I’m gonna die. Shit.” He coughed up more blood, and I kissed him, willing my life to flow into him. What did I need it for now? But it didn’t. Then with the final twinkle in his eye he said, “When you think about that last sentence later… think about it with a comma after die.” Then he died. The unbelievable nonchalant gorgeous bastard that I loved died while making fun of one of my idiosyncrasies that only he knew. I closed his eyes, not because that’s what you do when people die, but because he was always at his most beautiful when asleep. He was smiling. He could have been leaning against the library wall laughing at me, the way he looked in that moment, while the place fell apart around us, and paper mingled with burnt flesh, terrible screams, and the unmistakable stench of death.
You know what one of the army officers said? While I stood, desolate, staring at the destroyed remnants of the Vicente University Library, and they covered up my lover and carried his body away?
First, he spat.
Then he said, “Waste of our time cleaning up this shit. Did they think their books would save them from war? Fvcking infidels.” The words woke me up and my mind was warped into something grotesque and inhuman. Something that would have broken Kamba’s heart, had he still been alive. But neither of us were, so I did nothing to stop the thoughts that followed as they formulated into devious and cold blooded murder.
His face was etched into my brain with such stark clarity that it surprised me how easily I recognized him in ‘June 12’. Later in the evening. It was the only restraint on campus that still worked, and the wicked formulations were certain that the asshole would join the usual throng of killers as they binged and groped students’ asses after a day’s work of patrols and packing away dead bodies. I stepped back outside the joint and waited. I don’t remember how long I stood there waiting, but I remember how cold the knife felt under my bra. My body was burning; I was already in hell.
The target stumbled out eventually, and I made my move. It was pathetically easy. I made sure he noticed me staring at him, and as he looked back, I subtly undid the top button of my blouse and jerked my head at a nearby alley, then briskly walked into it. The idiot actually left the rest of them followed, me into the pits. Kamba would have never been so easily seduced. I had to let the soon to be slaughtered pig touch me for a few seconds, and he threw his hideous, wretched face into my chest like a newborn. Would you believe that he did not even see me draw out the blade from the very place he thought he was about to slobber his tongue around?
Throats slit a lot easier than I thought they would. Then again, Kamba had died infinitely sooner than I thought he would. He clutched at his neck, but as the life left his limbs he quickly gave up. His eyes found mine, asking the question. “Why?”
You know what I said to him? While he fell backwards onto a discarded garbage bag, and for the second time in one day, I watched a man die?
First, I smiled.
Then I said, “Sometimes, life is just like that sometimes.”
He should have laughed in the face of death like Kamba did. I thought my joke was pretty fucking hilarious.
Where the hell am I? Oh right. The courtroom is eerily quiet. My lawyer is looking at me, waiting for me to respond.
“Ms. Bello, what I had asked you was, how do you feel now about killing Officer Johnson?”
We had gone over this question. I was supposed to say how remorseful I was. It was part of the plea of temporary insanity. Yet I cannot say it. That is not how I feel. There is nothing in this world of shit and grime that could possibly describe how . . . I . . . feel?
Then it slapped me across the face like a sick practical joke. The irony of it all. So I laugh and laugh and laugh, because it is so damn funny. Kamba would have laughed too. And I tell my lawyer, “I feel like I need to apologize to so many dictionaries.”
We raised the defense of insanity all right, but not the kind my lawyer wanted. Oh well. I hope there is a library wherever they are taking me…