An Allegory (To A Past Self): Composite of “Success”

There’s nothing as delicious as a familiar pain. Or a scathing pleasure.

It’s easy to say we want to change, to ‘be better’, to ‘make it’… Meanwhile bad habit, aka old friend, scratches at the entrance to your aspirations like your favourite pet wanting to be let in, hungry. Like the temptation of a bunch of minions disguised in finery and luxurious perfume, just for you. A delicacy for your consumption.

Play that sin until your heart gives in during the early hours of the morning. Too much butter? the waiter will ask casually, as you lay splayed against the leopard-skin rug in The Hall of Hesitation, clutching at the crude agony in your chest. No, you are not dying. Not today.

They will peer at you with their hands on their knees as they tell you to get up and greet the sun. It’s time to try again. It’s not a waiter’s job to help you up, they say. So you struggle along, until you are on all fours staring down at the leopard-skin rug, imagining your grey cheek pressed against it while your soul dances in heaven. Free.

Then you remember the sweetness of the confusion each day brings. Mixed. Always mixed. Joy, if you allow it. Disappointment. Angel you… Those moments when you’re an absolute terror…

You decide war is not so bad and get up on your feet. The invisible knife in your chest is gone. Those present in The Hall of Hesitation step aside to make a path between you and the open door. You walk along the path, swelling up with optimism as you watch the sun come up.

Tonight, you may be on the leopard-skin rug again -ready to let go. Or you may be on the other side of the mountain, greeting a brand new conjuring of your doppelganger (it will be too soon to realise the doppelganger is you). They all go about their day, only noticing your existence when you stumble on a big, fat pile of rules. Some might laugh, most won’t see anything or anyone special there.

Yet they will all be waiting for you flowers-in-hand, figures in traditional garb writhing to the beat of a victorious drum should you make it to the top of the mountain.

And all your world will sit and finally ask your name as you complete the climb down the other side, the bodies of the relationships you ‘grew out of’ littering the shoulder of that mountain -their spirits whispering inside jokes through your frost-bitten ear and into your bruised heart. At times when delirium set in, you wanted to grab on to those corpses. You hoped they would get up and take you back to where you used to belong. But no. Your mountain killed them long before you resolved to turn back. Now there’s nothing but to make the quest count.

Also now, you think of the other choice. The one where your body lies lifeless against the dead leopard’s skin, your soul dancing naked among cherubim. Then, freedom might surely reign and you wouldn’t be so darn tired all the time, wound up like a music-box ballerina getting ready to perform Perfect once more. Forever.

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Copyright © 2022 Tebogo Ndlovu

PS: Thank you for stopping by! The next post will be up on Tuesday.

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