The Chronicle Gambia

Seeping Souls

The old furniture that gets shipped in.

A pile of them by the road side. Faded leather, bug ridden.

The man with the hungry look in his eye, he laid the chairs in a row. The blue one with the springs jutting through; the one with the metal parts all rusty and mildewy; the chair with the suggestive stain on the backrest, the stuffing spilling out – gutted by time and relentless butt-rubbing.

Each chair has a story, my heart could tell. There they stood, all of them, in one long miserable row.  Then there was this one, which caught my eye. It was ordinary, you’d never look twice.  But… this chair was within a sphere of energy, so potent, so alive, throbbing. A dense mass of colors danced around it, twirling in then out of existence, out of history.

High back, wooden frame, its fabric covering once was black with intricate patterns woven into it, you could still tell from beneath Time’s renovation. Time had spilled coffee and powdered milk over it, when Time was an old World War 2 veteran sitting with his pipe, filling his lungs in the veranda.

When Time was the voice of a woman humming a tune to her dying baby, holding on when everyone had let go, Time had seeped soul into the chair’s sponges.

When Time was a little girl getting her long, lively blond hair braided into a single ponytail by a nagging mass of voluminous, afro hair, Time had seeped an understanding of social injustice and classism into it.

The chair wasn’t an “it” anymore, the chair had a soul now, the chair could feel now, the chair had absorbed the energy, the chair understood, the chair wondered why.

The heart wrenchers, the joys, the injustices, the sweat – they wore down her fabric covering, they fed her soul. I looked at the chair from across the road. With her naked, paint-stripped frame, her discolored body with the seat on the verge of caving in, sagging beneath her – I saw a soul with a story to tell. Our hearts met, one heart looking to feed, another to be fed and she drew me in, her chance to convey the message before letting go.

I was in a taxi with the windows down, it was stuck in the usual single-road-two-lane traffic jam. The Gambian air, dust filled and omelette making, pressed down on us. The traffic freed and the driver sped off, breaking our 30 second bond.

I’ll pass by again in a week.


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