By Mankhokwe Namusanya:
If you want, you can make a resolution. Brief and straight to the point. Like, telling yourself to stop talking to that particular person. Or maybe something useful yet hard to attain, like planting a tree and then tending to it until it outgrows – and outlives – you.
Or, maybe, something exotic: like buying a pet. And start talking about your pet as if you were talking about a fond person, a close relative, a cousin u grew up with such that now the line between cousin and sister is so blurred that you always have to explain to strangers why you have different surnames.
And when new lovers come into your life, you can tell them the most important thing in your life is your pet. Then, your family. Then, them. In that fashion of throwing back the head while licking a cone of ice cream when laughing at the silliness of a lover, you can tell them: “It’s because I know she won’t leave. I know she will always be loyal. Closer—” then you can cross your index and middle finger like some incoherent scissors – “than blood.”
You can even plan something fancy. And flamboyant. Like telling yourself that this year you will develop, career wise. Maybe get a new job with a new title. Get a new paper. Get a scholarship. Do something. Just anything that will give you bragging rights – even if you do not like it.
Or, you can have a whole pamphlet of resolutions. Identifying them in roman numerals to make them look serious and different from anything you have done before. And, do not write them down in the notepad of a smartphone. Write them in a proper hardcopy format. Blackmail your lover – or crush – to get you one. Tell them:
“I really want to be serious this year. To do things different. I need to properly write down my resolutions.”
Then, you can write (i) start going to the gym from such and such a date (ii) start eating healthy e.g. cut down on carbohydrates, more proteins, less fats, less sugar, stay away from alcohol (iii) read a lot of self-help books (iv) and so on and so forth.
Like, whatever you decide to do. You can do it. Or, rather, whatever you decide to write, you can write it.
And, if you are really pessimistic or just that I-don’t-care guy with an attitude as cheap as late morning sex in the streets where sex is sold, then you can write nothing. You can actually, just to piss off people, keep saying that the calendar is just a human construct; that the new year means nothing really; that it’s all consumerism to a higher level that we overspend on such celebrations.
The point is: you can write anything, write nothing or just be and whatever is to happen will happen – or not happen.
Things do not always happen because we plan them. But, also, things do not stop from happening because we did not plan for them. It is a trap of some sort. You can spend your whole waking hours planning, your sleeping hours dreaming – all about something – and it might just not happen. Like all that planning and regurgitating over such plans was in vain.
You might also avoid planning for something and, just as you least expect it, there it happens: like even this column.
Perhaps, using this column as an analogy is not right. But, maybe, it is just befitting. Or, it just gives the entry point to discussing the idea of this column.
But, it is not as if it is something that was actively planned. It had been thought over, discussed over trivia and in breaking awkward silences (like meeting a stranger on a bus stop, waiting for a bus and nobody wants to talk to the other so I would just say: what do you think about me having a column?) yet it had not been given much thought. I could not lose my sleep over thinking: I need a column, how do I get a column?
So, when I met with the editor that night in some secret location in Manja, Blantyre, we started to discuss a lot of things. Books (I accused him of stealing my books, he did not deny), football (yes, European football – all pan-Africanists can blacklist this column already), movies, music and everything. Then, somehow, we discussed about me flirting with the idea of being a columnist.
I was neither high, neither was low, so I would not say that I committed to the idea of a weekly column in the best of my judgement. But, I committed. And, I hope this will be my new year resolution. Or one of many.
Not because it was discussed in an atmosphere laced with emotions of friendliness and gentleness, but this column will not have a specific focus. It will be disparate. Talk about this today, that tomorrow, that other thing the next day and whatever that other week.
In brief, this will be like a Facebook wall. Of an average Malawian. So, let us call this a wall. My wall. But, it is not like my actual Facebook wall. Still, it is my wall. And I can share what others post some other times – on my wall.