I always find the verse ‘cattle on a thousand hills’ romantic; romantic in the sense of the dreamy image that comes to mind on hearing it. The image usually is that of a sea of distant tepid cattle eyes, countless hooves that look like art and tails that are intermittently whisked into the air, in a rhythm that looks semi rehearsed. The hooves are on a perfect green carpet rolled over beautifully rounded hills, hills that look lonely and cold from a distance.
From the herd, a few cows look up momentarily and study the weather which is warm, sunny and cheerful. A chilled wind is coming from one of the hills but the sun is working hard to push it away. The rest of the cattle graze while breathing heavily like all cattle do. There’s an occasional mooing here, a thud of droppings there, it’s beautiful and serene.
The herd looks picture ready; the bulls, brawny their muscles tightly hugging their taut, shiny hides, the cows look pious as though members of one prayer cell. Maybe they meet once a week to lift to the Lord in prayer one naughty bull that has kept waylaying their teenage cows with intent to deflower them. The cow’s hooves look strong like they would actually contend with the bull(s) if it was the last thing they did in a bid to protect their young from the naughty bull(s). The calves look happy, skipping all over oblivious of these evil bulls that have kept their mothers wide awake in prayer and supplication. Those calves don’t know it but part of the reason the bulls haven’t mauled them it’s because of the prayers of their pious moms.
I think of all the cash i could collect if I owned the herd and my chest constricts with excitement, all the cheese I could make sends streams of saliva into my mouth hehe. Romantic right?
You know who else has a romantic worldview? A man in say his early fifties i met on in a Matatu the other day. We all boarded this Matatu without the knowledge that a music lover was among us. The journey began and the driver tuned the radio to a station that labels its news program ‘Dira’
We all listened to ‘Dira’ and scoffed at the news; there were new corruption scandals, whose combined effect was a measly touch to our emotions; we only were curious as to the sum of the loot. The presenter went on to tell us of a rape case, which roughed up our emotions, I heard a few men sneer loudly at the perpetrator of this act. A lady at the back gasped ‘Jesus!’. The gentleman who in this case we shall refer as ‘the romantic’ suddenly declared that if he owned a gun the rapist would be dead by now.
At the mention of his intentions we shifted nervously in our seats. The presenter bid us goodbye and a song came on; an oldie which could have been by Daudi Kabaka or Papa Wemba. The romantic gentleman began to sing along loudly, a few other passengers joined in, the rest of us beamed for no clear reason.
The song got to a long bridge and the gentleman grabbed the opportunity to educate us on a few aspects of the song.
‘That song was composed in the Congo forest’, he announced.
For some reason the composer of this song had been exiled deep into the armpits of the Congo forest. One day this melody came to him, and it unraveled a love buried deep in his heart. A love he had lost when he ran for his life into the Congo forest. To soothe his heartache he composed a love letter to his lover. What we were listening to were the contents of the love letter.
No one in the Matatu had such unparalleled knowledge of this Congo-based-lover so we did not question the authenticity of the story. We were intrigued and for a few seconds we said nothing. The long bridge gave way to the rest of the song which the romantic gentleman whistled comfortably to. After the last note of the song was played the gentleman further intimated the song’s instruments included three bass guitars and a cymbal. Our curiosity mutated into awe.
Luckily/unluckily ‘Kwangaru’ came on and the gentleman sang along Harmonize’s lines however his lips refused to be in sync with Diamond’s on the second stanza. We all remained silent as Diamond sang to us things we wouldn’t want translated in English, before the song can come to its legal end the presenter came on and jabbered in Kiswahili.
Later I thought about that Congo story and wondered what the said song was written on, I told myself the song was possibly written on the lover’s heart and later transferred to paper when he got to freedom. I wondered what a cymbal could be; I made a mental note to look for the song on YouTube.
The ease with which the gentleman sang pointed to the fact he was a romantic, he cared about something and actually did something about it.
Thus I thought how about we morphed into romantics? You know like literally do the things we actually care about, things that make us truly happy. Normal stuff like taking a walk and actually stopping to smell flowers, going to a river and letting water run over our toes? Or simple stuff like walking out of the office sitting under a tree for a few minutes and noticing the flowers, weeds, and the sky.
Actually tip the conductor for no reason, help the little boy struggling to fix the chain on his bike though you don’t know a thing about bikes. Leave our phones at home on purpose, without a phone lock pattern hehe. Actually smile at a stranger. Sing along to songs and even try to hit the very high notes though this might leave you in a coughing fit and laughter in your heart.
Listen to baby babble and momentarily gasp to show interest and then babble something silly back like you are in a conversation, go shopping to the supermarket and buy the guards ‘chapo’ and bring it to them with a smile on your face. Write love letters, not texts or emails, writing it on a piece of paper.
I bet we would be a bit more fulfilled, try to be romantic today won’t you?