Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Just A Number

(Nat and Zack are in the Junction, whiling away the time, when Max enters with a big grin on his face.)

Zack (suspiciously): What's making you so happy?

Max (affecting an affronted tone): Ah-ah! What's your problem? Can't a man sing and rejoice when he feels like? Isn't there enough bitterness, sadness and anger in the world that my happiness should be treasured by all like a ray of sunshine on a dark night?

Nat (amused): I don't know what kind of world you live in where the sun shines at night.

Max: Oh be quiet, you. Must you nitpick at everything?

Nat: Anyway, what is making you so happy?

Max (grinning even wider): I ran into Mad Dude on my way here. He says he'll be here shortly.

(Zack and Nat let out long groans.)

Zack: Why did you tell him we were here? I should have known - for you to be happy, it definitely has to mean that someone somewhere is being very unhappy. You know I can't stand the man when he starts behaving like he's some... what does he call himself... 'gangster'.

Max: Oh, come on, my friend! You are always grumbling about something or other. If you aren't careful, you'll become as bad as Moses. Anyway, the Dude is always good value for entertainment.

Zack: No - the guy is just an embarassment, plain and simple. He's one of those people who you keep a significant distance between when you are walking together in public so that you don't end up being guilty by association. And please don't call him 'Mad Dude' when you know that his name is really Ahmad - you're just encouraging him in his foolish fantasies.

Nat: And the worst thing about it is that he is completely oblivious to his embarassing behaviour. The more you point it out to him, the cooler he thinks he is. (Shakes his head, as though pondering a lost cause.)

(Just then, a middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap, several chains, a sweatshirt and very baggy jeans walks up to the trio with a very exaggerated side-to-side swaying motion. He stops and lets out a loud whoop as Zack shakes his head in dismay and Nat covers his face in embarrassment.)

The Man (in a loud voice): Wazzup, my main homies! Yo ma dogs, how's everyone hangin'?

Nat (sharply): Ahmad, will you just sit down and stop attracting attention! And for your information, I am a human being - not a dog!

Ahmad (turning to Nat): Zack, don't be down on a dude! Don't be hating a playa. (Turns to Zack who is still shaking his head) Zacky man, ma numba one nigga! How's it rollin'?

Zack (furious): Please do not call me a nigga! That is how when white people start insulting you with that word, you will start complaining.

(Ahmad looks at Zack, momentarily taken aback.Then he smiles.)

Ah, Zacky man, you're having a bad day! But that's OK... you're still my n... (he looks at the murder in Zack's eyes and hesitates) you're still my main dude.

Max (grinning): Don't mind them, Ahmad. They're just jealous because they aren't as cool as you.

(Ahmad beams, then turns to Max and engages in a complicated series of handshakes, fist touches and hand slaps, half of which miss their intended target. Then he pulls up a chair and sits down.)

Max: So Mad Dude, what's happening in your universe?

Ahmad (beaming): Yeah Max! You know I'm the number one guy, the guy that everyone wants a slice of, the numero uno...

Nat (wearily): Since we're going to have to listen to you go on and on about how wonderful you are, can we at least ask that you drop the fake street slang and communicate in the plain English that we know that you're capable of? Then you don't have to torture yourself to speak and torment us to listen.

Ahmad (slightly confused): Er... yeah. (Brightens up again). Yeah, life is good, my friends, life is very good. Like yesterday, I was at this night club... you know the one near the big roundabout...

Max: You mean Glitterspot.

Ahmad (noddding enthusiastically): Yeah, that's the one. The place was seriously bubbling... good music, good drinks and good looking women.

Zack (sarcastically): I suppose you are going to tell us that you were the cynosure of all eyes, then?

Ahmad (exclaiming): Of course! When I got down on the dance floor, everyone just cleared a space for me to show them my electric moves. And man, I really showed them... like this! (He abruptly gets up and starts shaking his body and flailing his arms and legs around to demonstrate his dancing. Max looks on in amusement, but the other two stare in utter disbelief.)

Max (clapping his hands): Excellent! Excellent! I especially like that move where you spin round and round with your arms stuck out! Really cool!

Ahmad (turning to Max and beaming): Thank you, my friend. That was one move I only just thought of a few days ago - I thought I would use it on this night out.

Nat: I would certainly say that your... er... dancing is... erm... very original and indvidualistic. It's definitely one in town - impossible for anyone to attempt to copy.

Ahmad: Of course, now! As a trendsetter, I have to be very creative with my moves - I can't just be copying some old steps that someone has already thought of. (He turns to Zack.) So - what do you think?

Zack (bluntly): If you think I'm going to lie or be diplomatic, you are very much mistaken. Your so-called dancing reminded me of someone who was being electrocuted by high voltage electricity. No co-ordination, no rhythm, nothing! I'm not surprised everyone cleared a space for you... who wants their eye taken out by an arm flung wildly in their direction?

Ahmad (shaking his head): OK, I can see you don't get that particular dance. Let me show you another of my moves. (He gets up to demonstrate, but Zack waves violently at him to sit down again.)

Zack: If you try any of those your alleged moves again, don't blame me when someone calls for an ambulance because they think you're having a fit!

Ahmad: I don't blame you. You know that your time passed twenty years ago, and you're just jealous because I can still get it on while all you can do is to look forward to your pension.

Nat (quickly interrupting Zack's response): So... how did they respond to your... er... moves?

Ahmad (smiling again): They absolutely loved it! They were laughing and pointing at me - I was virtually the centre of attention.

(Zack snorts in disgust and rolls his eyes, while Nat gapes in astonishment.)

Nat: They were laughing at you, and you thought they loved it? Ahmad, I'm sure you know that when people laugh and point at you, it means you are an object of ridicule, not an object of admiration.

Max: Nonsense! Did he say that they were laughing at him? He said they were laughing - full stop! Is it not possible to laugh with someone rather than laugh at them?

Ahmad: Exactly, Max! I see there's too much dissing going down here. Is it my fault if I'm so good?

Zack (with contempt): Look at you - a grown man deceiving himself that he is still young when all his mates have left their youthful exuberance behind them. Instead of behaving like a respectable grown up person that the youth can look up to, you are busy disgracing yourself amongst them. Do you seriously think that young boys and girls are going to accept you as one of their own and take your dress and dance style as gospel?

Ahmad (hotly): For sure! I mix with them, talk to them, play with them, dance with them... of course they will feel comfortable talking to me and listening to me. But for you, it seems that all you care about is 'respect'. You want them to call you 'sah', you want them to be quiet when you are talking to them, even though you are boring them to death, you want them make all those 'respectful' gestures even though they don't connect with you at all. I'm telling you, tomorrow if any of those youths has a problem, who do you think they will come to - you or me?

Nat: But do you have to go so overboard in trying to fit in? You know, it's still possible to be approachable and not do everything that young people do, if it's approachability you're looking for.

Ahmad (getting even more heated): Why can't you guys understand and accept that I actually like going out to place where young people go and doing what they do? Don't you know that age is just a number? Do you want to be one of those people who retire to their home village when they hit sixty, even though there is still plenty of energy in their bones? One of those people who says "Well, I would have loved to carry on doing what I'm doing, but if I carry on, everybody will say that I'm not conducting myself properly - so let me retire"?

Zack: That's completely false. Society has no problem with older people continuing to work, even when they are very old.

Max: I think you're missing the Dude's wider point - that you guys are more interested in what society thinks about what you do than you are in doing what makes you happy. (Ahmad nods his head in agreement.) If you carry on like this, one day you'll wake up and realise that you've wasted so many opportunities to enjoy life because you were too scared of what people would say.

Zack (sarcastically): Oh, of course! I can see that not getting down on the dance floor to boogie when I was eighty-five is a definite cause for regret!

Nat (smiling): You see, you too are guilty of the crime you are accusing us of. You claim that we are trying to fit into society instead of being ourselves - but did it occur to you that it actually makes us happy to do what we do, and that we aren't doing it because of what society says?

Max (in disbelief): You mean to say that you prefer to live the adult life prescribed by society with all its burdens and responsibilities, when you could be living a much more carefree life like the kind you enjoyed when you were younger? When you didn't have to worry about bills, marriage, work, social status, armed robbers and all that?

Nat (still smiling): Those spectacles you are using to look at life when younger have some serious rose tint in them o! Have you forgotten the restrictions that were imposed on your movements, the unreasonable household rules you had to obey, the lack of privacy and most of all the lack of cash?

Max: I still don't agree. Why can't you have the best of both worlds - the freedom and the cash - when you're older?

Nat (with a wry smile): In an ideal world, it really shouldn't matter what you get up to. But unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. We have to interact with people whose opinion of us is based on how we conform to society - and if they end up with a low opinion, then it could mean a loss of status, and even worse, a loss of livelihood. So you might have the freedom... (shrugs) but not the cash.

Zack: That's true. Even Ahmad here recognises this - I remember years ago when you were actively involved in running your import and export business... you always used to be dressed in sharp business suits and ties. Then I don't know what happened - you caught this mad idea that you had to be 'young' and started dressing like a hoodlum.

Ahmad: I got to a point where my business was doing all right and I could take my foot off the gas pedal and do what I had always really wanted to do - get into youth culture. So I employed people to wear the suits and deal with society while I now enjoy myself dancing and having fun how and where I want to.

Nat: What I really don't understand is why you also have to dress the part. I mean, do you really need all this jewellery? (Absent-mindedly reaches out to finger the chains on Ahmad's neck, but Ahmad sharply bats his hand away.)

Hey! Don't touch those anyhow. Do you know that these are the finest, most authentic 22-carat gold chains I could find?

Nat (puzzled): Why do you care about buying the finest gold chains if you're just going to enjoy yourself by dancing?

Zack (grinning): Could it be that not wearing the right clothes means that you won't be readily accepted in that social setting? (Turns to Nat) I think that what we are seeing here is someone who has exchanged the restrictions of one society for the 'chains' of another society. (Turns back to Ahmad) Or if I'm wrong, perhaps it won't matter if you go back to Glitterspot wearing a danshiki with nothing underneath? After all, that will allow you to gyrate more freely... and if your danshiki flies up while you're spinning round, that will provide the opportunity for everyone present to laugh at... sorry, I meant with you!

2 Comments:

  • Hey there,

    Thanks for stopping by. I've read excerpts of your blog enteries on NVS thanks to shoko. Hope you'll continue to write. Apart from love, I believe that Humor is the other universal language, which tends to break interpersonal relationship barriers.

    Best wishes for year 2008!

    By Blogger Bennie, At December 27, 2007 1:18 pm  

  • I haven't been here in ages, but I am so thrilled that you continue to share your writing with us all.

    Happy New Year and may 2008 be one of blessings, happiness, fulfillment and peace.

    By Blogger SOLOMONSYDELLE, At January 07, 2008 11:11 pm  

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