My name is Alala. I am a dreamer. Let me dream.
When two leaves merge, as though they had fallen from the same autumn branches, is it natural that they be blown apart, forced away forever by cruel winds?
I see people every day. Their faces are sprinkled in my side views as I zoom through my existence. It’s as though they had been paid to be extras in my life, filling up space to make it look more wholesome. The same way that I am in theirs. A millisecond, and they’ve vanished, under the market umbrellas perhaps. What else could 110 million people be doing here? We’re all acting out films in parallel, you know.
I was groomed within four walls. Brought up to be a specific person, with specific tools, of my language, and my culture. And then I was sent to other walls, where I would meet others like me, pre-determined cast members that would be forced to watch my life play out. And it would make sense that we’d be friends, because we were young and knew the same things. Then I would be fully made.
But how does one explain being made, and still meeting a near remake in far-flung quarters? How do you explain being 17 years separate in sights and sounds, but crashing neatly together in humour and words? How is that so? To have your lips move for more than half a day in one stretch to this life-determined stranger, without feeling that he’s strange at all, or wanting to stop, or walk away?
How does life replicate the same circumstances for my inordinate stranger two continents away? How is he still so receptive to my words despite the space from which they rose? I mean, yes, we watched the same cartoons, bending our heads and laughing at the same eventualities that children’s cartoons would always give. He’d never get the girl; he’d never catch the mouse. She’d always disrupt his work. But it would be newly funny each time. And we’d both laughed. But he hadn’t been teased by pap, and taught by canes. He hadn’t stood between his parents, interrupting the flow of strong forceful Yoruba, as opposed to Sweet. Soft. English.
Yet we meet. As though it had been a mistake. A second longer, and he’d have moved. A moment later, I would have been drinking from the fountain with no one watching me. But a second went slowly past. And that possible mistake of time never felt more unmistaken. Then seconds became weeks, and weeks became the strong conviction of years. In that time, I have let you into my movie. You’re the freaking star of the show.
What was all the trouble for? We crossed paths and merged lives, so cleanly like nothing had gone before we came. Yet we walk away, as though satisfied by the fountain water, done with our acting out. Never crossing paths or merging lives again. Now, that has to be the biggest mistake. And all the art and songs we talked about would mourn their new obscurity.
So we’d be forced to live out our eternities in parallel lines and separate spaces, perhaps in different languages too. And it wouldn’t make sense. Because unlike those in other scenes, life picked you out for me. Not certainty. Or pedigree. Or church. But life. Yet our lives are wiped of all traces of each other, like a movie I will store in a box. In my closet. And never play again.
My name is Alala, and I am a dreamer. Perhaps I dreamt you up one day. So maybe it’s only natural that we fade away…