by Anikulapo Macmillan
‘’ Experiencing I’ art de la distance is like a ghost promenading in human circle ‘’
Before I could start to write this essay, my mind was dumb of words; and haphazardly, it was like a writer’s block. Seriously, I had not experience this before. Even when I sat in the presence of my laptop to write while its stared at me with the empty screen. My mind was forced not to write anything. It was annoying. I stood up from the wooden chair, I went to the kitchen and opened the kitchen’s cabinet. I brought out a tea-cup. Also, I switched on the electric kettle to prepare coffee. One of my secret to creativity is when I drink coffee. I mean Espresso. Actually, coffee is an effort of my muse— it is beyond an ordinary beverage for me. Whenever I drink, I feel the muse to think. Coffee goes with my writing or the ability to make an oscillating reaction to my thought and discretion.
After I took the cup of coffee, I felt I could write this essay. I kept mute to myself. My mind was knocking at me. It was a kind of reticent attention; and perhaps, I tried to ignore it. But I came back again to stare at my laptop. The screen was calling me to write while the keyboards were hallowing at me to press for my mind to speak about this essay. Sometime writing is fiendish. It is like ghoul trying to come to life. It errs my mind. Although, it is always a salubrious thought that is trying to profuse. Therefore, I wrote words ‘’ this is the beginning of how human disappears from the scene of its own crimes ‘’ these words came with a tip of frustration because my mind was not bold enough to write its own word. I left the words on my laptop screen for a while.
My mind was sprawling into the past. Although, I just finished reading Emmanuel Iduma’s travelogue ‘’ A stranger’s pose ‘’ the narration inhere is comprehensively a voyage to a strange land, where language becomes complexity; and culture becomes ethos, while style of dressing disparages a stranger because of the societal belief of such a society. Living in a society that isn’t familiar is like a distance to one’s home or camaraderie. After reading the enthralling non-fiction from Iduma, who is also the editor of Saraba magazine. I then began to understand what distance means. It is not a salvaging experience to live where you barely understand language or belief. It was from that travelogue I began to think about what I would write. While I was thinking about that, my mind echoed this as if there was hemorrhage in me. Suddenly, I gulped the last part of the coffee. I took my laptop with me to the toilet. I sat on the toilet seat and I began to imagine what to write; not until these words came ‘’ this part of society is strange when you get yourself to complacency and thought that are not part of human significance. It is the death of mankind that makes someone to believe that life without an association is a distance of death; and art is the sustainability to make it look like a felicity.’’ When I wrote these words, I took a heavy sigh. To write about death or distance or social illness is a recluse hue from state of well-being. I dropped my laptop on the washing machine. I looked myself naked in the mirror to realize if death is like disease that part of me is trying to avoid willingly. I looked at my scar. I got a reminiscent of that day. I took a deep breath again not until my phone beeped.
In my mind, I thought I was writing about this COVID-19 pandemic. I was sick with the way things were going. I felt perplexed. I was even disillusioned than ever before. I began to have migraine. As a lover of coffee, someone is pronto to have migraine when the mind is lost. But it is not dementia. It wasn’t a severe headache but just a minor headache. I took my laptop and myself away from the toilet. I went to my room, I laid down on the bed, but my mind was still thinking about the death toll of coronavirus victims globally. Death itself is scary to human. It was discomfort to me.
I took my mind away from such catastrophe. When someone thinks about death, gradually one would begin to have nightmare of seeing a dead. This is not a myth. It is apparently one of the reality I have discovered in the course of my sojourn. When I lost my uncle at the age of sixteen, I felt the shock. I kept leaning on how his death occurred. To die is divine; but the bereaved is like a subterfuge of such bad experience. I carried this trauma forever because I saw his corpse. Nobody will see a corpse of an associate and he/she will forget. Therefore, after I left myself away from such thought and rejuvenation, I took my phone. I checked my mails. But my laptop was unnerving at the moment. The processing unit (PU) was giving a heavy sound. I began to get scared of the malfunction of the laptop. I paid my attention on it for a while. When I checked my mails, I saw new messages from those media I had subscribed to— Brooking Institute, Paris Review, Campaignlive, The Economist, New Yorker, New York Book Review, Adweek and etcetera.
I opened them one after the other. I began to read while I forgot what happened to my laptop. Memory is distance. And distance is culmination of life and frenzy. I read each article carefully. I was inspired with one I read from Brooking Institute, of which the article was apt. I read further. The writer’s style of language was extraordinaire with the insightful composition— that addressed the recent COVID-19 pandemic. I learnt from the article: ‘’ What coronavirus means for illicit crime ‘’ when I finished reading the article. I began to think on the impact of this deadly virus on global economy.
Conversely, I read the next article. I was sordid with the writing. I couldn’t feel the expression of the writer— but before I knew it, I was already dozing because I had not slept for a while. When I told a friend, Dr. Peculiar Okofu, whom I affectionately admire that I had not slept, she marveled. She began to question while I had not slept. To me, it was an insomnia. Being a writer is schism from one’s self-imagination and self-damnation or maybe that is why I could not have slept. I was actually reading and not until the moment I realized what distance means.
When I began to read Paris Review magazine, where I mostly read interview from old poets and writers. I was about to read an interview from one of my favourite poets, T.S Eliot, when I came across this phrase: ‘’ ART OF DISTANCE ‘’
It is an act of moving in absentia from a confined place to a new inhabitant. Thus, I felt this during this COVID-19 pandemic. I went back to my laptop. I opened it. It had finished updating to the new version of its operating system. When I restarted it, and opened a browser what popped on the screen was: ‘’ stay home, stay safe ‘’ I was excited because the laptop could come back to life. Meanwhile, I thought the laptop had spoilt. Reading those articles were to console myself. Immediately, I went straight to the Microsoft word of where I was initially writing this essay. I opened it. The page was empty. My mind cut off. I was exasperated. One of the painful things when writing is when you forget to save what you have already written. This is a bad experience to any writer. So, I began to question myself: why didn’t you save? What were you thinking? How could you recollect everything you had written? Was it that you would start again? These questions never came up with an answer, not until I forced myself to write the topic of the Paris Review as the title of this essay: ‘’Art of Distance’’
What I mean by art of distance is what this pandemic has caused. It has made people to disappear from the streets. Now everybody stays at home. We now communicate to ourselves from a distance. Even neighbor doesn’t know another neighbor during this pandemic.
I live in one of the most expensive areas of Abuja. My house is an estate that occupies different houses; although they are already façade. Nobody was sauntered. No even cars honk. Wuse 2, Abuja had no prescience of liveliness. When I started living in the borough, I enjoyed its voluptuousness to people but now it is different entirely. Living here has made me to feel the exquisiteness of people and the acquiescence. Since this pandemic started, notno any alfresco business anywhere.
So, writing about distance in this time of pandemic is an art because we now live in separable environment where nobody can walk freely. Albeit, pandemic has happened before during the Spanish Flu. Moreover, German Philosopher, Karl Marx has said: ‘’ history repeats itself ‘’ it is the new way to write a memorial of the past in new definition of being, in distance apart of social media.
This art of distance is when you can’t go out or visit the grocery or go to cinema. It is an art of living in oneself. I was disdained with this. I began to find ways to be more productive in writing. When my laptop’s keyboard began to call my attention to write, then I realized what it meant to be called a writer in this time of pandemic. It is epoch!