They say I’m a pariah. A villain, an outlaw. That I wear a black hat with a certain pseudonym as my signature. They said I drove a grey dudu car with a faulty driver’s window in the gloom of the city’s grey skies threatening to break open at any minute. It was true that the driver’s window was indeed faulty. They say I’d prefer not fixing it up despite the seasons whether blowing hot or cold. I’d sit in the corner of those barren pubs where lost souls found their redemption. The looks on the patron faces grim as their whiskies. I’d call random women in the dead of the night. Those that I’d shag and know that the one night stands wouldn’t see the light of the day. I’d never miss a cigarette lighter at the breast pocket of my shirt. Sure I’d spend time puffing the time off as I sat stuck on traffic weary of matatus scratching the small car that I held on to like a locket. Hoping that it wouldn’t break down. I’d have fun on weekends and that as soon as it ended then the frenzy dies with it.

I’d never sit still at a function, be it a wedding, funeral, or any social function. I’d tap my right foot continuously waiting for the event to end. Most of the times my mind would wander astray thinking of various things that held no water like oil. Without people like us, happily ever after would seem like a fallacy, rudderless with no intuition whatsoever.

As I’m cooking, this is the story of a guy I recently had a tête-à-tête with. A guy who lives like an island. A nomad who is always on the move. He never stays in one place for long. He prefers it that way if he has little attachments or none if possible. He does not hold most things sentimental. He subscribes to the phrase, “in the end we are left infinitely and utterly alone.” Perhaps it’s the loneliness that offers him solitude. It gets me thinking of many things. If one prays for patience, does God give them patience, or does he give them an opportunity to be patient? If it’s praying for courage, does he give them that or give them the opportunities to be courageous? If one prays for their family to be closer, does he zap them with warm fuzzy feelings or does he give them chances to love one another?

He thinks of all these when he sits alone by the counter nursing his brandy as he waits for the rain to clear. He spent most of his days in California, a little older. He’s a bit lost from where he came. He says since his love went away living in that place had not been the same. So he moved, from one town to the next. He’d purchase empty containers, design them into something modern and then sell them after a few months. That was how he stayed afloat all that while.

Despite all the women he met, this single woman made him do things he thought he’d never do,like a family, kids, and the likes. He wants everything to go back to the happy self he once was. If he could do it all over again. Or if it could work out just as friends. He questions himself what all that was for. He keeps texting her if the break was everything she wanted or more. He feels out of place. The worst part would be that soon enough they’d be oceans away. He asks if it’s right when everything is easy. He knows there’s no taking it back when she found him stark naked on the couch with her best friend. He wonders if he had an extra chance, if they would both need him.

It hurts him cause he realized a little bit too late that she mattered to him. The proof is in the pain he keeps inflicting other women. Even though she’s gone now, it doesn’t mean stuff will change. Every evening he sits solo in his car, with no one to ride shotgun heading to the East side whereby it’d threaten every time that the rain would pour. There’s no place he’d rather stay. All he wants is another night with her, soft lips, and a pillowcase.

But that’s all just a dream he had of her.

In a society of love, an asylum would be a place of rest, such as a relaxing retreat surrounded by nature and emotional support. In a socially darwinist society is a garbage bin. It is where those judged “less fit” are put to rot. What the words conjures in our imaginations, and materializes in our world, is either a compliment or an indictment on society. How we treat our vulnerable matters.

The asylum is no place to seek asylum, not the true meaning of the word. It should be a place of refuge from the storms that hurt the mind, a place of love and sanctuary, a place to be welcomed into arms that will hold you until the entire self is soothed, content simply to dwell in those moments with you, being your anchor, the pillar in your hurricane. And so in truth the “asylum” would have been more aptly named as a house of torture, for the removal of any hope of real love is such. He thinks of the bare walls and bare floors as reflections of what the place really is, as if the building itself was trying to tell the staff what they had built and perpetuated. Then there were the windowless rooms, the lack of real light, the doors without handles. It was the world’s most obvious constructed metaphor for emotional indifference. If the asylum was an asylum, it would be the same as o8thne of those fancy retreats for the rich, all soothing, calming, comfort and love. It would be a manifestation of empathy so that the entire person, even the deep brain would be soothed. He loves himself when others love him, He measures value in correspondence to how others value him, and there is no good at all simply saying the words if the actions tell another story. That was the state of his heart. A flume of emotions and a haven for a in.

Is there anything worse than institutionalized love? It isn’t love at all. They talk softly with the keys in their pockets and wonder why the bond they forge isn’t real at all. The asylum is a place to escape, a place of trauma and fear. It is a place to forget once the haunting memories fade.

“Isn’t it ironic that I feel I’m in an asylum in my own story Amwadeghu?” He asks.

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