Monthly Archives: December 2010

voice of the voiceless

Voice of the voiceless. From the heading it may seem like am setting out to write about the politically disenfranchised or the economically deprived or at least the socially awkward, well you would be right I have belonged to each one of those groups at least once in my life and this is about me so…

And why am I one of the voiceless, the simple answer is that I lost my voice-its also the only answer. It’s gone and no searches have been able to find anything (I always knew Google wasn’t perfect.) how I lost it is not important to this narrative- ok it maybe but I have found that no one believes anything I say about how I lost my voice so I gave up.

For an hour I was stuck with that earthy, sexy growl that happens just before your voice decides to take off. As sharp as a tack it occurs to me to call every girl on my phone book but charge is to the phone as my voice is to me. In no time at all talking at an audible pitch is an exercise in masochism so is trying to sing along to we were four so I give up and begin whispering everything I say. That night am leaving for a party. If you ever lose your voice go for a party. Trust me it makes all the pain worth it. First thought as we’re entering a Matatu to take us to the place (this is around 9 pm) I see this guy with a pot walking around selling some liquid to every driver in sight. I have never seen this before and am understandably curious and excited about this new form of social entrepreneurship so I make a substantial contribution to his business, I buy a cup. A cup costs 10/= the substantial contribution is that am writing about it, or not. That coffee(that’s what it was I think) tasted like shit and left all sorts of stains on the cup its like instead of using coffee beans the dirt that the coffee was grown in was used to strain. It would explain the flavour .

Anyway we get to the party and I make my round of introductions to everyone. And I calmly tell them I lost my voice. This loss of voice is going to be harder on me than anyone else I think. This is since I usually talk, not a lot, let’s just say I am the master of the art of conversation and it’s not my fault when some of the slaves dislike what I have to say. The thing is now I have to steer clear of both music and large groups of people if talking is going to be part of my evening. It actually turns out quite interesting. I get involved in this conversation about a monster of a car that this one guy sometimes drives. Me and another pal are quick to point out how much that car does for you in the ladies’ department (it was also at this party that I had someone use the term Ocampo list to refer to a Mercedes 600 because there are 6 people on the list.) well the guy gets modest and says that the monster is not registered in his name. I get this incredulous look in my face as I think of all the times that women whose opinion of you would be influenced by what kind of car you drive would also demand documentation of proof of ownership. Imagine taking a girl home and the first thing she asks for is the title deed!

This other guy decides to make fun of me about my voice. This by the way is a running theme for everyone at the party. I take note of the fact that my lost voice and what became of it are going to account for at least 60% of my conversations Usually if you whisper to someone they’ll whisper back but it was ridiculous how many people did it and I could tell that they wee making fun of me. This hurt my feelings though not as much as it would have hurt my throat to audibly explain this sentiment to them. Any way this guy decides to make fun of me.

Guy making fun of me: I lost my voice on Monday morning and by afternoon I had got it back, that’s how soldiers do.
Me: well I wasn’t going to go crying after my voice like you did, pleading with it to take me back and making all sorts of promises to treat it better, to stop smoking and drinking. If my voice doesn’t miss me enough I don’t want it back. Am not that desperate!

Another thing that is guaranteed to happen if you lose your voice, nobody is going to believe you actually lost it and every 30 minutes you’ll be asked again, why are you whispering? After getting tired of telling the truth to all these people I started fibbing. I was with a group of people away from the music and am asked why are you whispering? I make up this baloney about being asked to keep it quiet and everyone there, everyone starts whispering.

But there’s this one girl who won’t believe that my voice just got lost so I think of the most outrageous thing I could tell her. So I say that I have a proclivity to prostitutes and had recently acquired the services of a real professional one who showed me things I had never seen before and I screamed so loud and so consistently that my voice got jealous and left. The amazing thing is that she believes it. When we get back to the party she asks my permission to tell that story to a group of guys and goes on to say it putting full faith in it. The weird thing is one of these guys misunderstands and thinks that when this girl first met me I asked her to guess how I lost my voice and she came up with that whole story this provides us some laughing at her expense as he says;

“ok wait, you met this guy and he lost his voice and the first thing you think isn’t that he had a sore throat but that he went to a prostitute who made him scream so much that he lost his voice, seriously? Seriously that’s what comes to your mind? Seriously?”

And just so you too can have been the catalyst behind a scene like that, if you lose your voice go to a party. Go!


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true beauty

She had rarely been more uncomfortable which was saying a lot considering the type of life she had lived in the place she had lived it in. but this day was definitely one of the worst she had experienced. The pregnancy had ballooned her to epic proportions and she was always tired, she always needed to pee and she was often in pain. Vanity was not one of her weaknesses she did not spend a lot of time worrying about how she looked and as a result she had that elusive kind of beauty, the one where the owner has no idea what she possesses and to make up for this everyone else seemed to. Pregnancy had given her that inner glow that came of happiness and peace. She wasn’t just beautiful anymore, she was beauty. Maybe this was what they meant when they said beauty came from the inside.

But she had been traveling for hours. The sun had been unrelenting and punishing like a blanket of heat pulled over the earth, sweltering did not even begin to describe how it burnt. Her husband had done all he could to keep her comfortable but chivalry can only go so far and even a white knight without a horse can only carry his wife so far especially a pregnant one. She had sweated through her clothes and there was that feeling at the end of the day that cried for a bath. Even cried for tears cos they would at least take away the dirt from the cheeks. Another problem with undeveloped countries was the roads, dust and grime stuck to the air as every wheel threw up more and more of it. Being driven along it was painful as every jolt reminded her that her body was not her’s alone and that the new occupant demanded recognition.

All she had wanted to do was bathe but even that one comfort was denied her. She was so tired she collapsed on the bed whose mattress was like straw. She nearly stifled a cry as she looked at her surroundings. This time of the year usually meant that you put up with whatever you got, but this was horrible. The room was tiny as big as a coffin for two people side by side. The bed actually looked like a coffin she was sure something had died there. The last time this room was cleaned was probably closer to when it was first built than when it was last lived in.

On a roof corner there was a cobweb, not just any cobweb this spider had ambition and had set to work building the most beautiful set piece ever. For a few minutes she was distracted by its beauty. The silk of the web intersected with each other in such intricate and playful detail every line exactly where it should be like the most beautiful snowflake ever imagined and then there was the spider, the queen of her domain a dark queen beautiful and terrible as the dawn . Holding forth over her territories patient as a rock and in that patience could be seen some horrible secret as if she knew when we would all die or perharps something worse.

She shook these thoughts from her head with some effort, stink assailed her nose and the one thing she kept rejoicing over was her insistence to carry her own sheets. The ones in here were probably infested with disease and memories of lust. Her husband had gone in before her, ever the gentleman and had put on a brave face when asked about the condition of the room. He had grimaced and hid something behind his back. She didn’t let him know but she had seen what it was and it brought a wry smile to her face as she thought about all the people who had remarked cruelly that if she had only used one of those se wouldn’t find herself in that situation. Her beautiful husband, he had a soul to be remembered, not many men would have agreed to be in this situation. Pledging to raise a child that they knew wasn’t their’s. And yet he still treated like her like a delicate flower set atop a precious pearl. Getting angry on her behalf and traveling with her to this place forever fretting about whether or not she was happy. Yes a soul like that was hard to find maybe that was what they meant when they said beauty comes from the inside.

Death is known as the great equalizer and the rest is left to sleep and how lucky it was that she needed rest in that moment. She closed her eyes to everything but herself and her child. If she concentrated hard enough or let loose just enough it was as if this child made her feel better, holier and more hopeful. She liked to listen to her womb she found comfort in it the way people found it in the words of great teachers or in their teachings when words were too little to express emotions. Closing her eyes to the world she could be carried away from the grime and grim to fairy tale stories of a place of bliss. This pregnancy did that.

Sleep was cruelly robbed of her sleep by bursts of excruciating pain. She opened her eyes and screamed. She was going to give birth in this place? The thought of something so pure being brought here opened her eyes again to the place she was in. to the smells that assaulted her nose. To the sights that were an affront to the vision, to the sounds that surrounded her(somewhere far away the strains of we were four could be heard) to the fact that this room had more occupants than she had time to count to a million other details that right now made the moment that much harder to live through.

Labour pains are the stuff of legend. As her’s began she remembered this incident from her childhood, she was maybe four or five years old. She couldn’t remember what she had eaten or what originated it but she had a stomach upset. A low rumbling upset at first and with that childlike need to protect she hadn’t told her parents about it but gone to bed. Tossed and turned and finally slept then she was woken up by the ache. It was the kind of ache that flips you over and over as you look for the best position in which to confront it. There was a war going in her stomach and the only casualty was the battlefield she had felt like chunks of it were being burn away by acid leaving gaping holes where all that existed was pain, that horribly dark, twisty lonely pain that threatened to take over your whole body. This night reminded her of that night except worse, so much worse. The darkness in this instant began fully fledged, the pain was like a black night with no sounds and she was both blind and deaf. All that existed for her was the pain. The pain was everything, complete and total. This pain did not make idle threats about bodily coups but went ahead bloody and determined and took over. She turned around and around and from the foggy recesses of her brain she remembered that she had to push. To pus through the pain, to push with all her might to the other side where all that was waiting was… she wasn’t even sure what was waiting but this was the kind of pain that killed the fear of the unknown. So she pushed.

As glorious a thing as birth is it is also messy. There is blood everywhere and a million small details. From the cutting of the umbilical chord to the sterilizing of instruments. One of the advantages of a husband who was such a good midwife (mid husband?) that he was referred to as the carpenter(because he handled the results of so much wood). Was that even in this place fears of disease were immediately allayed and all those details were taken care of all she had to do was push. When she was done the first thing she asked for was to hold her son.

The baby was put in her hands. He was still bloody and had all types of fluids stuck to his skin but she didn’t see any of this. Instead when she looked at him and he smiled and all she felt was joy. He smiled that hesitant half-smile children first smile and she was sure she had never before felt such love. It wiped away the memories of everything. She smiled back and in that moment an eternity passed. She wasn’t sure whether she held him for one minute or one hour or even one day for that moment time ceased to matter. Ceased to make sense nothing else existed but this baby which had always existed. For that moment the world stopped and all considerations became small she looked at her son and smiled for in that moment all that mattered was the moment. Looking at her son Mary was sure that that was what they meant when they said beauty came from the inside.


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the quest

The quest was ours for the night. A couple of knights in shining amour out to buy the fuel that would quench the thirst of the dragon that was to be slain that night. The mission was simple enough though potentially fraught with difficulties: get alcohol before you come to this party. The situation was that my brother and I had been picked up at 12 for a party that was going on. At this point I would like to say how good it feels to be picked up for a party. Its an amazing experience, your night is over, maybe you had supper watched a movie, watched some TCM (which played a few good men recently.) your night is over and you’re ready to retire to bed and this plan comes along t out of nowhere so no matter how bad the night is going to be your day was already over its just a free extra.

So the guy with the two dogs from the tyre changing picks us up. In the front of the car there’s this French speaking girl who I’ll just refer to as French girl from now on. The guy I’ll call French guy (they speak really good French and good English too.) at that time of the night the driver is usually a little sloshed and we’re all good with it. The car drives at a speed that’s a little dangerous but the night air wafts in and fills everyone up with expectation, hope and promise. This is when men feel like men perharps also when boys act like boys, caution is thrown to the wind and since the car is going so fast and the windows are open before long the caution is too far behind you to make a difference.

The stated mission was to buy alcohol and go forth with it to the party. The first place we went to was nakumatt junction. By the time we got there it was obviously closed, I knew this and I can’t say why didn’t mention it was closed maybe it had a lot to do with the night air. Am glad I didn’t because when we got there the barriers that usually block cars from entering weren’t there, it looked deserted and this led to the following gem of a conversation,

French girl: even the barriers aren’t there they must be closed.
French guy: woman, you mean when they go home they pack the barriers and go home with them? Can you be serious?

Classic zinger. We all snicker a little. A suggestion is made of that pizza inn store, can’t remember its name but we go there. The prices were highly unfriendly. At that place we wouldn’t have gotten enough fuel to slay the dragon, if we knew what would happen next we may have buckled down and bought but hindsight is 20/20, maybe that’s why we’ll never achieve vision 2030. We drive on to nakummat prestige to buy the alcohol. We enter and it looks shabby. Not dirty or derelict just not befitting its image from a few years back. I remember when nakummat prestige first opened its doors. That mall was the shit! I used to love meeting people there cos if they were late I could rummage through the book store or look at what new movies were playing or even go to the music store and bitch about the woeful lack of we were four music. It was lovely and oh, so classy. Then junction came along and embarrassed the hell out of its big sister, after that we had Westgate and by then it was all nakummat pres-who? Anyway it looked shabby. Not dirty or derelict just not prestigious.

We entered the supermarket and started off towards the alcohol store. Here I would like to say that as shabby as it is the supermarket is huge. I felt like we were walking down a zombie wasteland hours and hours in quest of the alcohol practically training for a marathon. plus it’s convoluted like a maze in a building and that’s always amazing in a building, congratulations architect. Anyway we get to the secluded alcohol spot lo and behold, at this point i want to build up the suspense so much that what comes next is an anti-climax because that’s what it was for us.

Instead of well wishes from whiskey, greetings from gin, voyages courtesy of vodka, bear hugs from brandy all we get is this notice about the new alcohol bill and how they can only sell alcohol between 10 am and 830 pm. We bounced around a few more supermarkets like IDP’s with a little hope as they have at this point. We finally left as shabby as nakummat disappointed, derelict and ultimately sober.

Then the next day those NACADA(association against drugs, alcohol and who knows what else.) guys ask me for a donation to help their fight against alcohol and drugs, really? REALLY?

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Just some dumb stuff.

1. I was in a house the other day for a party and in the sitting room there was this blackboard thing with rules for the house. The weird thing isn’t even that a house had a blackboard with rules in it, the rules read:
1. Always heed the advice given.
2. obedience to parents is very important
3. No spitting on the floor.

Now that’s not made up that 3rd one read it again and scratch your head in wonder at the kind of spitting epidemic they had in this house, and as you scratch your head make sure you look where you’re going because with spit in such large amounts its bound to be a slipping hazard. Were people spitting as they heeded advice and obeyed their parents, and if this was so why not just advice them to stop spitting then order them to stop. But no, rule number 3.

2. I was told this story about this drunk guy on a mat one day. He was beer drunk and the thing about being beer drunk, you need to pee, its this sharp necessity like there’s a sword up your bladder and then you start imagining the release and when that happens now you need to pee doubly as badly because of both the pressure in your bladder and your anticipation about pleasure from its release. He pleaded with the mat driver to stop and let him pee. He would only be 4 minutes(beer does make you pee like a camel.) but the driver is having none of that. So the guy makes an executive decision. He asks to be dropped at the next stage whichever it is so he can pee and walk the rest the way home. Alcohol is bad for you. Especially since the poor guy was nowhere near home, it was late at night and he was drunk. He was willing to brave the odds that he would get home safe just because he needed to pee! Beer is bad for bladder sand causes blunders.

3. Someone exclaims “there are camels in coast !” and I reply, ”that’s why their called the ships of the desert.” Well he saw right through that one. Hit me right back with the witty retort “there are no deserts in coast”

4. This chic at a party loses her phone cos she had left it charging near the dj. Unfortunately the grief counselor from hell is there, you know the one who was let out because all the tears from the demon’s eyes who went to see him were putting out the fires.,

“you’re holding your cheeks because you lost 6,000 shs. only 6,000, we drink 12,000 shs. In a night we put that money under our foots right here(at this point he makes as if to put his foot on a crate.) but it’s a nice experience for you next time you go for a party you’ll know to charge your phone at home(insert wicked laugh here) Us when we lose we lose 600,000 shs. Like the other day I rolled my wife’s car and I had no idea where to get the money. In fact just to help you I’ll do a harambee and give you a third of the price , 2,000shs.”-he went on and on, berating her about her loss for the next ten minutes.

The way he said it was really funny and I saw all these guys laughing their ways out of getting any that night, cruel insensitivity and he didn’t chuck the 2,000.

5. When I opened this blog I felt so proud of myself for embracing technology and finally putting a piece of myself out there on the internet, then i heard my cousin opened a blog. Am not some elitist who thinks no one else in my family should embrace technology or one of those avant garde who needs to have done it first or not at all. I just happen to know for a fact that my cousin’s writing will be very immature and if its not she is a child prodigy, my cousin is 12 years old and started her blog before I started mine and the only reason I haven’t checked it out yet is because of this nagging fear that there may be better writing there or, gods forbid more comments.

6. Some girl asked me who we were four I had no answer for her, literally no answer.


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The thing about being alone,

I came home to an empty house yesterday. Everybody is out decembering and living their lives its not that am not I came home pretty late and was so tired I just dumped onto the bed. But its morning now and there’s no one here this is strange because I have never had a room to myself for any appreciable period. The house is always full of life on a Sunday morning and to have it like this is unsettling.

The first thing I did was to grab a soda and sit on the bonnet of a car and think. The sun is amazing today; it just lightly caresses your skin which is really pleasant considering that the sun has the power to overwhelm you with its heat, its brilliance. It has so much power and for it to be considerate enough to hold it in check and just linger on your skin is…

Well am sitting on the car and suddenly I start thinking about loneliness and want, desire and ambition. About all those things that perharps we should think about more. The nature of these things is so contradictory. One of my favourite quotes in the world is you can have anything you want just as long as you are willing to sacrifice everything else. I firmly believe this is true. I just don’t think anything is worth it. The problem is that the process that is described in the quote above happens in miniature all the time and this is what I was thinking of.

For all the things we want, the things we really want we have to be prepared to sacrifice just a bit of ourselves to get them. We were four have to sacrifice social engagements, school and a lot more in order to keep making great music but this changes all of them. If a man is courting a woman, a good rule of thumb is not to appear to like her too much; calculated neglect has been proven over the centuries to be the most effective weapon in any would be lover’s arsenal. The problem is that there comes a time when you like someone enough not to want to neglect them. In that situation if you do what you really want to, there’s a chance you’ll never get what you want.

And that is the contradictory nature of desire. There’s always a small sacrifice that you have to make. Which of your wants do you consider to be the more important? A band may want to drink instead of practice but they have to sacrifice that part of themselves. I may want to call her all the time but I have to sacrifice that if I really want the girl.

The result of all this planning, of working with foresight is that you don’t end up doing what you want. There is a person walking around, wearing your skin, smiling your smile and going about business. It’s just not usually your business its their’s. There are very few moments in life of pure pleasure; moments when you’re not denying yourself something because you believe it’s worth it. A small sacrifice is worth it to get something bigger. But there are so many big things you want and every time you get there you want something bigger still. Once you get the girl maybe you want the relationship to last and again this requires a lot of sacrifice, time with friends is reduced. Many of the things you do are compromise situations and now that you can call her every day without the scent of desperation accompanying every successive call you never want to, it becomes a chore but you do it, it’s a small sacrifice to make right?

But if everyone lives a life filled with small sacrifices (I believe most people do) doesn’t it add up? Everyone makes at least one small sacrifice every day until that could be the motto of the human race “the species of small sacrifices.” It adds up. If your life is a collection of small sacrifices at the end isn’t it possible that all you ended up doing is making one big sacrifice.

But we need to give up the small pleasures in order to really enjoy the big ones. That’s the argument at least. And most people would revolt against earning the tag of “the people of puny pleasures.” But isn’t it possible that there are no big pleasures. There is no achievement out there that will give us a constant well of happiness. Maybe all we are promised is a cup at a time. The problem is that most people take all these cups and pour it down a hole in the ground hoping one day all these hapinesses will congregate and provide them with joy forever.

But this doesn’t happen.

I was thinking about the contradictory nature of desire. It must be a really complex emotion to provide a path to humanity to be either “the species of small sacrifices” or the “people of puny pleasures.” And isn’t it strange that most are drawn to the former because of some sense of nobility and the latter is just thrown away because of the fact of smallness. But what if?

What if there are no big pleasures and at the end of your life all you can remember is looking for them and making sacrifices. It might be worth the risk to indulge in some small pleasures, today, tomorrow maybe even forever. It would probably help to stop thinking about the pleasures as puny and think instead of them as pure.” the people of pure pleasures” I drink water in cups and it has been keeping me alive, if i fell down a well i would probably drown. Maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere.


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a man’s work

Today I did a man’s work. Something sweaty, hard, full of friction and immensely fulfilling. No I didn’t provide for my children or pleasure a woman it was something much more fundamental than that. They say money makes the world go round some say love does and that’s an argument that goes round and round. Instead of making something that makes the world go round I fixed something that makes cars go round and I don’t mean accidents, I changed a tyre. Yes take a moment to marvel at my masculinity. It oozes out; it oozes out so much so that if that car drove behind a puddle of it (and there are puddles of it all over the city) I could cause that accident.

The situation was a flat tyre on a car that my father needed to use that morning. He dispatched my brother to get a Jake, a device that doesn’t survive for long in any household. My brother set off in his pyjamas, an outfit that consisted of a pair of shorts hastily thrown over his boxers to hide his masculinity, mine would have needed trousers, but enough with that I wouldn’t like to put off my male readers (all one of you.)

Back to the story at hand I had to change a tyre. Well my brother came back with the Jake and w got to work, being firm believers in division in labor I let him raise the car not that I didn’t want to. The power that it gives you consider; a car is a few tonnes. A while back I lived somewhere where I had to carry 40 kgs of water a day, my muscles ached, my chest heaved, and my breathing got more even as I was filled with this sense of accomplishment. Now, raising a few tonnes would be like climbing Mount Kenya after only going up long’o’not. Its not that I don’t understand the mechanics of a Jake(well it’s a bit of that, if I begin believing spell-check I don’t even know how to spell it.) it’s just that you’re moving a few tonnes. There is this thing that comes with role reversal, taking care of the parents who took care of you, teaching the master who once lorded it over you or even moving the car that usually moves you. And on this tyre change I did not get to do this.

Instead I got to loosen the screws. I took the thing that loosens the screws, am sure it’s not called a screwdriver and am reasonably sure that at that size they stop being referred to as screws. Let’s call them Tinas this is just so I can call the device a turner, maybe an Ike, ok. An Ike cos it sounds like its hurting those Tinas as it turns them. So I take this Ike and I put in the Tina, at first it doesn’t fit(I hate when that happens), then I realize it’s the wrong hole(I hate when that happens). I quickly change tract- it’s like changing track only that it has something to do with friction.

It fits into the hole and I try to turn it. It doesn’t work. The tyre is screwed on tight. I remembered the righty tighty lefty loosey thing so I know am turning it right or left as the meaning may dictate. The last time a tyre was changed in my house, when we put it back on we turned those screws so tight we jumped on the Ike and made sure it was good and never coming off, when we were done with that, a neighbour of ours came over. A big guy with a drawl, he’s from cote d’ voire and he walks around with these two German shepherds. He wears a vest without looking ridiculous. And he talks slowly, so very slowly like all the time in the world is already his and he just lent it out and is receiving interest on that principal He gets his hand on the Ike and turns it effortlessly. I have to say here that that time all I did was raise the car. Anyway the point of this little aside is so you know the Tinas are tight, really tight. Some guys like them like that but I don’t like the wailing.

When changing a tyre, when turning a Tina there is a wailing that comes along with tit. Have you ever heard metal scream? If not you never changed a tyre. The sound is worse than chalk on a board and you can feel it through your hands. Sound passes faster through solids than it does through air so its much more intense. Anyway I get the Tinas loose (a few minutes with me usually does that). I get it off.

I take the tyre out and in collaboration with my brother we begin the process of putting the tyre back in its holes. It doesn’t fit. We try our best to do it again. Then we use the car to lift the Jake, probably the other way round. And try again. Its still not high enough to put the tyre in. its at that point that I remember that new cars don’t have carburetors- these are the things in old cars that perform the same function as appendix in unevolved humans. Many people should be wondering what a carburetor or lack thereof has to do with changing a tyre. Nothing. I just thought of it right then and wanted to include it here because I love to educate.

Well finally we slant the tyre first into the lower holes and stand it up so it fits perfectly. That’s always a moment for a deep breath or a beer if you have it. A study was done on the calming effects of a beer over counting backwards from 10, the found that nearly 87% of people were calmer after a beer than after counting backwards from 10. When the study was dissected in detail it was found that 13% of the population can drink a beer in less than 9 seconds. That’s more education, though this time its in doctoring study results; always use prime numbers.

It was pretty easy to finish the job. I came back to the house and put on a we were four track-there have been no studies yet on the feeling of accomplishment one gets from listening to we were four over drinking beer. It was then that my father walks in with shoes that need brushing and looks at me saying.

“You look like you haven’t done anything this morning.”

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Halleluiah performed rufus wainwright.

This may be the most beautiful song I have ever heard. It has everything from biblical allusions with stories of love and loss, faith and betrayal doubt and denial. Every one of its verses has a story that is beautiful in itself but even better when taken as a whole. And as it goes on the song takes on a decided tinge of sadness, as he moves on from faith to despair, from love to hate. It chronicles the destruction of a beautiful relationship, or tells about the end of things, the death of all as the singer sings of memories so timeless they cannot be captured in anything more complex than the battle cry halleluiah.

From a refrain of praise at the beginning by the time the song winds down it’s a cold and broken halleujah sung by a cold and broken man. A man broken by a woman, by his love for her, by his faith and it’s a beautiful thing to hear such brokenness in a song to see the process. Its as if all that is born of beauty is despair but even the birthing of that despair is beautiful.

I can never remember the first time I heard this song, I just remember that it always symbolized endings. In a time of my life when I watched a lot of TV this was the song that was used to put a beloved character to death or to say goodbye at a time when words were not enough to convey the emotions that the screenwriter needed the tool used best was this song played over a montage of images..

It would start, (and they would always use the rufus Buckley version). The most emotionally wrenching one, with extended soulful instrumentals and a voice that seems to be breaking with sadness. The first verse would start about David and his secret chord, perharps the only hopeful verse in the song as we hear about the boy king and experience the love that god feels for him above all others. The montage would begin; this may be the place where the tragedy takes place there is still a chance the character isn’t dead there are still vague stirrings of hope that are mercilessly crushed by the time the song moves on to the part about Bathsheba as we see the beginning of the end of king David and hear about the betrayal of Samson by Delilah it becomes clear that there is no coming back from the end.

By the third verse the singer starts to sing about the past “I used to live alone before I knew you.” It sounds like he’s convincing himself that he can live alone once more. Refusing to accept that the world has changed and that he has changed too much to live alone as he did before. At this point the character is most assuredly dead, by the end of this verse there is an acceptance of the sorrow as there is a “cold and broken halleluiah”. Hope has left the song and the lives of the people on screen all that is left is memories and sorrow. We are at this point provided with a tearful close-up, the song fades into the background as sounds of sorrow come to the fore.

The next verse speaks to the real end. As the memories of a better time are visited “there was a time you would let me know what’s really going on below.” The halleluiah in this verse is pure nolstalgia. When one can’t accept grief or sorrow they bargain. Thinking the memories of a bright yesterday can bring light to a dark today. The emotional connection continues to deepen. Who of us hasn’t held on to the good times when we are confronted by the reality of what’s happening, what’s happening on screen or in our lives. At this point in the song the words take a break and the instruments get a chance to shine. The guitar wails with sorrow. The montages continue to appear on screen and we feel as if we have lost someone. When the lyrics pick up again they speak of something dark and sinister. We learn that love can only teach to kill “all I ever learnt from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya.” The bitterness is palpable. Sometimes this verse is cut off. Most times it is. A TV show isn’t going to play the whole 6 minute thing.

But this may be the most poignant verse; it speaks for the first time of doubt in god “maybe there’s a god above.” It speaks about the destructive nature of love and is a mirror image of the beginning. From hope comes despair, from love death, from god disappointment. Only beauty begets more beauty.

That song tells a beautiful story and it does it so well. Perharps even better than we were four.


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