Monday, 4 December 2017

The Earthworm Story

I was born to this earth, a worm. A brown spineless earth worm. And right from when I knew myself, I hated it. I hated that I was an earthworm. I even hated that I had to hate myself. It was perplexing.
For a long time, I remember always asking God why he had to make me an earthworm. God had a way of being humourously wicked, didn’t he? I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t talk and I very much couldn’t smell either. I only had a sense of feeling.
Now I asked God why he would create some others with five complete senses and just leave people like me with one miserable sense. The sense of feeling. What did I need it for anyway? I asked God to trade that sense of mine with sight, that I would appreciate it more.
He didn’t. I wasn’t even sure he heard me. I was not sure he cared about me. He had no reason to, anyway. He had a lot more creatures who could help him do a million more things than I could for him, so he did not have any cause to care about me or even to consider listening to me.
Why, he was God and I was what? I didn’t even have a name. I did not have a proper place in the society. I was not one of God’s already numerous children. Nobody cared about me.
Except maybe those biologists and agricultural science teachers who told their pupils that I was good for the soil.
Now I cannot tell you when I realized that I was not a normal earthworm and that I knew more things and was capable of thinking more things that my regular earth friends and how it is, that I came to know all these things I know–but there are things that I realized early on about my race.
For one thing, we were useless. The only good we were supposed to do was for the soil, and one day, while thinking about it. I realized that even that soil that we helped so well could still do very well without us.
We weren’t even as useful as chickens and fishes who at least had an important role when it came to human beings. Rather we were used as bait for fish.
“God” I said “Like, really. Is that the best you could do for us? Bait for fish?”
And like all the other times, he did not answer me. It pained me to think that he had never heard me speak–which to tell you the truth–was a big possibility , since I was not human and was not a christian either.
“I would have served you, God” I told him. “But you made me an earthworm. That was your loss. You should have known God, you should have known. You should have known being a worm was no good for me.” And he knew. He was God, he was all knowing. It was why I considered him as a wicked God. I hated him. I hated him for making me a worm.
I also treadled on the possibility that God had just being funny when he made me smart. He was using his sense of humour. His dark humour. He made me able to think. Why hadn’t he just allowed me to be like the other earthworms, at least I would not have been this miserable. It was torture. It must have been worse than hell, I concluded.
But then, I did change my mind one day when I wasn’t overly angry, when I thought of the fact that even though everywhere was dark and quiet in my world, I was not burning hot and no one was torturing me. If I had eyes, or tear glands at least I would have cried. This was torture enough. The only difference between my life and hell was that I was not burning.
And this, was the gospel truth.
For days at a time, I tried to understand life. I tried to think from God’s side of things, as sensible thinkers did do. I tried to think outside the box.
Yes, God had a purpose for earthworms. We did play a major path in soil fertility. Right from the fact that our burrowing through the soil created space for air and our partial digestion made the soil richer in nutrients.
But as I saw it, that was the purpose of the lowly earthworm. I was different. I could think for one thing and that would be a waste of so much of the potential I had. God was truly wicked, I thought.
I then looked at a big picture that told me that there were already so many human beings and that I played a big role in the ecosystem, generally. But just like the fact that one human being would not suddenly make the world come to an end, I thought the same for myself.
Earthworms in general, contributed to the ecosystem, but no one would notice or even mind my death. I had heard the stories from earthworms who had miraculously survived going too close to humans: they always sought out to dry them up. With a white poison that dried our kind up. I told them it was called salt and they just sensed at me and continued their talk.
Dullards.
And everything seemed to boil back done to the fact that I was smart. I suspected I had an IQ of about a hundred, which was much considering that I thought my brothers had IQ’s of five and below. I would have been a smart human being, I concluded.
I would not only have coped as a human being, I would have done well–and I was sure there were many people who were human beings who couldn’t say that comfortably.
There was even a time I didn’t eat for three days, just thinking. Trying to calculate, time and space and if there was a possibility that I had just being unlucky. I even considered a Godless earth. Maybe the big bang had caused everything. Maybe it was why, during the distribution of lives I had mistakenly gotten stuck in an earthworm body.
But then, I was too smart to believe that there was no God. There was a God and he had allowed me to be stuck in this miserable, boneless body. I admit to being annoyed. God did not have an excuse. He could have made me a human.
I also thought on with the line of, you never know what you have until you loose it. He wanted me to appreciate humanity. But how? I had never been a human being, and the thought that he would somehow transform me into a human being thrilled me, but I knew he wouldn’t do that. I was not just being realistic about things, I knew it was virtually impossible. God performed miracles. He had once made a donkey talk, but that was where it ended for animals. There was never an animal in history that had been given the chance to be a human being–except in mind numbing fairytales.
Animals, once animals, were always animals. It was a destiny. It was a trap, a hole, we couldn’t get out of.And so on days like this I wept. I wept for myself, for my existence and for the hopelessness of my situation.
I tried one last time to make sense of my situation by saying: “We are all animals aren’t we?”
I couldn’t even fool myself with that. All fingers were not equal. All animals were not equal. There were higher animals with higher brain and physical capabilities (humans) and lower animals with little or no sense and little of physical worth(me)–which was quite fair if you looked at it the right way.
But my case was the laugh of the century. I had higher mental abilities, but I was a slimy, spineless worm. What could have been worse. God could have at least made me a dog, so that those humans would have recognized me and I would have worked with the police.
Why did I know so much If I was just going to be a slimy nobody of a worm. Music artists did sing of being nobody’s before they became famous, I later heard. They should have come to stay in my shoes for just a day, to see what it really meant to be a nobody.
And what I feared was that things would not change. This would be the way it would be till I died a bitter and unfulfilled life. I could not let that happen, so I resorted to the only thing I could do. The last option at my disposal as a worm.
I decided to kill myself. To end this misery that was my life. It was a tough decision but one I had to make.
*
Funny as it may seem, after I made that decision, my life did take an interesting turn for the first time that I can remember. It was the first time I had put myself to do something so difficult.
It was the first challenge I had given myself since I was born.
You see, killing myself was not as easy as it is for you humans, even though there are a lot more attempts on suicide than the actual suicide itself. It makes me wonder if they are not just faking it, begging to be noticed, instead of actually planning to kill themselves.
I did understand, that the reason many human beings attempted suicide was for pity. They wanted others to pity them, and people who had hurt them, to feel sorry for them. It was why they didn’t succeed as something so easy.
Idiots.
I, on the other hand, had no one who could feel pity or feel sorry for me. Certainly not my spineless, brainless counterparts. They would just sense at me, and then burrow deeper into the soil in search of some green leaves to eat. They did not have the capacity to fell pity, to have emotions.
I am ready to admit though, that I was going to go through this because of God himself. I wanted him to see what he had caused. I wanted him to see the waste I was, as a result of his own doing. I wanted him to feel sorry for me and then feel regret for not making me something much better.
Something such as a human being.
But you cannot say this was the main reason I was committing suicide since, I was almost certain, God did not know me, or even know that there was one earthworm on earth, screaming out for help and asking him questions, asking him for simple favours like an exchange of sense and the wish to be something better.
It sounded laughable even that God had listened to me. In fact, if I had gotten a sign that God had heard me even if just once, I was prepared to do away with my suicidal plans and embrace God and hope that he would accept me in heaven where things would be made perfect.
A place where I would be young again, where I would have all the things I wanted. My precious five senses.
But I did not get a sign, so I went on with my plan.
***
As smart as I was, planning my death was difficult. As I said earlier, it is much easier to plan death as a human being. You can get a gun and shoot yourself in the head. Which is what I would have done where I a human being and needed to kill myself for any reason.
You could slit your two wrists and bleed to death. You could jump off a federal building, or any high enough building. You could eat shaving powder, or take an over dose of sleeping pills. You could hang yourself. You could carbon dioxide yourself with a generator or your car in your garage. You could drive off a cliff. You could drown yourself, you could jump in front of a train, and so many other things.
It was just too easy as a human being. As an earthworm, I could not do any of these. My only shot was at drying myself up, and since I could not see to careful situate myself where human beings would notice me–preferably in a bathroom, I only had one other choice: To leave my swamp in search of dry grounds and hot sun.
I perceived a long time ago, that I lived with my mates, in a swampy porthole. A very large porthole, that got larger, each time, rain fell since the path was not tarred. It was wet most of the time, and it was blissful and cool, during the rainy period.
However, it did get a little hard to burrow through during the dry season. as the surfaces were almost always clumpy, dry and hard. During a lot of my…I can’t call them walks, since I don’t have legs…crawls, around the swamp, I did meet an area that tapered into total dryness and heat. I tagged there as the end of home. I lived right in the middle of the swamp that grew bigger and smaller as the weather predicted and knew that it was no bigger than twenty five feet, give or take a feet.
Which meant I had a journey of about twelve feet to the other inhabitable side. The side where I would burn under the heat and dry up. I would dry up and die, and hopefully, God would be sorry.
At the back of my head, a voice kept taunting me: You are wasting your time. God has more things to worry about than you. He doesn’t even know you exist. You are not even grateful that you are smart enough to know the difference between good and evil. You are complaining. You are no different from a human being. You will never be satisfied. If you know what is good for you, you will scrap this plan and live your already comfortable life.
I did not listen to the voice. I went on with my plan.
I believed the plan was fool proof. I chose a time I had studied, so that I was not expecting any rainfall and I also made sure that I left just before the sun became hottest, so that my death would be as quick and as painless as possible, since pain was one inescapable factor in this suicide plan.
I went over the plan in my head, over and over again. I made sure I was consistent with my timing and the weather. I did not want anything to go wrong, so that I suddenly developed cold feet and decided not to go on with the plan again, since it had failed once.
I did not write a suicide note, because I did not have hands and did not have a biro and a paper, and even worse, my peers could not see, talk less of read.
I felt utterly alone as I had always felt, alienated in a world where no one came close to my excellent intellectuals. I was sure they would not miss me. They never missed anyone. I had initially planned not to tell anyone about it, but there was this urge too, that made me do it.
It was a load I had to get off my chest. So one day, before I finally left the swamp, I bumped into the worm I believed could have had an IQ of maybe five. I sensed him as really dull though. He had been burrowing for new holes. I had stared at him for a long while before I said:
“I’m leaving”
He stopped burrowing for a while and then I wondered disgustedly if I had told him this, so that he would somehow dissuade me from going on with my plans, make me see a light, a picture I had been missing all along. One that would make me stay and enjoy life at it seemed. I felt the sudden urge to leave immediately, but I stayed and wondered what sense he would make out of it all.
He sensed at me for a long while before saying: “OK” and went back to his burrowing of the soil.
I was hurt. Maybe he had not understood me properly. Maybe he had thought I was just leaving my holes in search of new grounds, or was leaving where I was lying right there and then. So I took time to explain it to him.
“I mean, I’m leaving for good. I’m never coming back. I want to kill myself. I’m tired of life.”
He sensed at me the second time, and I myself could sense him frowning. He said: “You heard me the first time when I said ok, didn’t you?”
I shifted the day of my suicide to the next day. I was not needed in that community, it was obvious. It was better, I died sooner.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Screech - Earphone Horror

SCREECH (EARPHONE HORROR) 

by Amurawaiye Adeyinka and Ikenna Osi

February 2008 

The music playing in his head was off tune. Yes, it was recognizable but it wasn’t right. It was high pitched and screechy. He removed his earphones from his ear. These earphones had a problem. It wasn’t new to him, so he went to his room and lay down to sleep. 

He visualized the movie characters in his head. His roommate must have started watching a film, if not he would still be deeply asleep by now. He stirred in his bed, as some character in the film screamed out in anger. Damn! His speakers were loud. Now he was pissed off. He subconsciously muttered a plea: 

“Dude, reduce the volume, its loud.” 
No response. 
He said it again and then his roommate replied: 
“Do you want me to put the volume on zero?” 

Later that day, he was in a friend’s room. His friend was listening to some music with an iPod. He stood at the far end of the room, yet he could hear the music playing. He couldn’t fathom why his iPod earphones were this loud…yes they were loud but he could hear the song so harshly. Forever, by Chris Brown. It seemed like the music came from the walls, and not the earphones. It surrounded him like a black veil of sweet confusion that arises from astonished ignorance. 

He left the room to get off the feeling. 
Silence, that was better. 

The next morning, he was in his school’s library, trying gently to get the weird happenings of the day before out of his head. He began reading an advanced book on Quantum Mechanics, hoping to get jaded and eventually fall to sleep. 

Just as the book started having effect, right there in the library, someone turned on some music. Quite secular. Very loud. Shayo, by Durella. The sound was deafening. He turned around. No one in the library seemed to notice. His heart skipped a beat, no way! They weren’t going to tell him they weren’t hearing that! At least someone else too must have turned... 
No one. 
Not a single soul had turned except him. Everyone just moved around like continuous space-time. He turned round again trying to look for the perpetrator. He had to be somewhere close with his laptop...what audacity! But he didn’t find anyone with a laptop around him. His heart skipped three beats and started pounding now. No, he wasn’t running. He wasn’t hearing things. This was not from his head. He stood up very shakily in fear. No, he had to find this guy. He had to convince himself he wasn’t mad. The music was as loud as ever. He tapped the person to his left: 

“Can’t you hear the music playing?” 
The person answered, quite startled: 
“No?” 

He moved from his seat very clumsily, making silly scraping noises with his table and chair. About three people stirred from their work. What? And they didn’t move when the music started? He walked swiftly around the library looking for the person. Some students were using laptops, but none of them had any music playing. He was nervy as he moved back to his seat. 

Just then, the music got little louder. He reflexed to the music source. He almost collapsed at what he saw. He shook his head, rejecting the things his eyes were telling him he was seeing. 

He carried his books and left the library in a haste, still shaking his head and denying the facts it was presenting to him...he had seen a guy with earphones! How possible was that? This wasn’t happening. He was going to sleep now and get the whole thing out of his head. 

He passed by a girl using earphones. It was as clear as digital. It was one of those songs Keri Hilson could have sung; he just didn’t know which one. His calming agitation took a herculean leap; his heart almost coming out of his nose. It was real. It was happening. He was going fanatical, and it was earphones that were making him so. He had suddenly (or overtime) developed an acute hearing for earphones and speakers alike. He passed by five people with earphones on his way back to his room. He recognized some of the music. He was new to some but they all seemed louder. 

The intensity of the sounds increased in a geometric progression. He realized in shock by the time he reached his hostel, that he could hardly pick up a distinct earphone sound. He looked around in panic; his pulse rate sky shooting. He didn’t feel the sweat tricking down his side, his heavy breathing, the booming in his ribcage initiated by his heart. There was not a person in sight using earphones but he was going insane with the music and movies, oh his favorite song, Love Stoned by Justin Timberlake, then…then…he couldn’t pick out the rest. 

He moved closer to his hostel. The different sounds were now like noise produced on a Sunday market; only it was a music and film Sunday market with each sales man displaying his wares by blasting his own type of music; creating a liberally nepotistic array of ear-splitting jargon. It was almost constant now, but it couldn’t be called music anymore. It was more like loud rushing water. Plenty humming bees. Jolly big shiny green flies. Clumsy chickens in a poultry farm. A noisy lecture room. A cricket ridden bush. A standing ovation. The wind blowing trees; and metal scraping metal all at the same time. The closer he moved to his room, the more unbearable it became. 

Now the whole thing was out of tune, spinning in the limbo version of cloud seven. Many colours. Many sounds. Uncontrollable rush. Pain. Severity. Gnashing of teeth. Demons. Many demons. More demons. The earphone demons. Pitch black. Void in forced screeching. Bursting screeching. Fork scraping metal. Many forks on metal. The sounds were searing into his mind, and very soon it would rupture, like a rind of lemon slicing through his timeline. Sour tasting sounds. Intense sourness. More demons. More torture. 

The devil himself. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

A Cold Night

He woke up with a start feeling sweat on his skin. The night was cold, dark and breezy; the kind of night he loved, the leftover of hours of rainfall.

The room was silent and dark, save for the rythmic hums of breathing and soft snoring from the sleeping boys; and the intermittent squeak of the celing fan. He reached for his phone and switched on the light. His natural alarm clock had been accurate this time, as this was the exact time he was supposed to get up and study or mope around till he drifted back to sleep.

This had been his way of life since he moved into this room. Class, study, class, cafeteria, class, room, sleep. His life had overtime been reduced to a beautiful mechanical sequence; a sequence he loathed and feared; a sequence that mocked him. Life in this room had become a multitude of feelings; of mostly fear and boredom and anger and as he woke, the familiar feelings came rushing back, dancing in his face, choking him.

He looked around the room and slowly sat up, still half-awake. The room was still. Some beds were strewn together on the floor directly under the squeaking fan, while others lay on iron bunks. Across the beds lay boys with their laptops, iPads, smartphones, clothes and shoes, all meshed together and competing for space. His tired eyes scanned the room in a vague attempt to figure out what to do next and as he looked, his feelings of emptiness and dread intensified and he felt himself drifting back to sleep. Then he saw the fair boy strewn across a mattress to his left and he froze. It was him.

He recognised the boy and sat up, semi-awake, paralysed with fear and guilt. He sat still for a moment and his eyes darted quickly across the room. Save for the silent hum of the breathing boys and the squeaky music coming from the fan, the room was still. He looked at him again. The boy lay on his back on the bunk to his left and was fast asleep, breathing softly. His head was tilted slightly to the top and his lips were slightly parted and wet from traces of saliva. As he looked, he noticed again his fair slender body, the spotless innocence of his face, the sweat beads trickling down his eyebrows, and the feelings he had felt came rushing back in terror.

No, not again. What is this? He thought. His chest heaved, his ribcage boomed and beads of sweat escaped from his face. His sense of time slowly faded into the dark as he felt and counted the beating of the heart in his chest and the drops of sweat dancing on his body. His senses numbed as he realised he was still staring at this object of horror. He hated himself.

His breathing came in long gasps now as his gaze shifted, and observed his bible sitting among the rubble in the room. He felt an urgent need to leap at it and grasp it and enter it and swallow it. But then he turned and his eyes settled on the fair boy again, lying flatly on his bunk bed.

He first met Chibuzo when he moved into the room two days ago and had introduced himself to the "Squad of C201 Boys",  a social ritual that must be undertaken by all hostel freshers. Chibuzo had introduced himself as, and had been subsequently known to be the fair rich boy from the north with lots of provisions and gadgets, but then after shaking hands with him that afternoon, after feeling him, a feeling loomed; a feeling he could not shake off from his subconscious. For most of his adult life he had been aware of his changing moods and bizzare thoughts; and had fought overtime to suppress them, with the help of his religion and self-help books. But then once again someone had access to them; had pricked and prunned them; delicately caressed them to a point of unbearable quality, and now it had matured into a raging war between his emotions and his conscience.

He was sitting fully up now, sweating and staring at this boy, and wondering if he deserved to be alive. He looked around in panic; his pulse-rate skyshooting. He could feel his blood boil and his body collapse into an irresistible slump of defeat. He had a first impulse to hurl something at the boy; something to destroy the images that had taken over his mind; something to obliterate from his consciousness his troubling dilemma, and end this torture forever.

But once again his eyes met the eyes of the sleeping boy and he knew he couldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. No, not now. He thought. This was too much. He looked around the room and studied the other sleeping faces. Swiftly, he stood up, walked over some sleeping bodies and stooped beside the bed of the fair boy. Panic seized him. His emotions were a turbulent mix of fear, passion, guilt and lust. For a split second his natural clock stopped and time suspended. He stretched across the bed and met his lips.

The clock went on tick tick tick. The fan went on squeak squeak squeak. In the seconds that followed his mind was blank and filled with nothing but emptiness. For a split second he had an awful feeling that the fair boy knew what he wanted, and had wanted it too for he felt the boy return the kiss. The seconds stretched wide and seemed like forever. He seemed like a wide eagle that had been chained to a rock for thousands of years, finally set free and soaring across a cloudless sky; watching with awe, the blind curious creatures on the ground. He felt strong and whole and morbidly fascinated.

A sharp pain to his jaw jolted him back to reality. He felt his body rise and in two swift movements he felt himself crash to the floor with a thud. His head ached and he could not feel his jaw for a moment. He stood up shakily in fear, squinting across the black room at the looming mass coming towards him. A sleeping boy stirred in his sleep and for a moment he thought he saw a shadow coming towards his face. Slam. He was on the floor again. The looming mass walked past him and made for the door.

"Bastard". It said as it walked passed him, wiping what seemed to be its lips. For a moment he had a ridiculous urge to laugh, but was held back by the darkness and cold. "What the fuck, man. If you ever try that with me again I'll kill you. And I mean it." It said and walked out of the room.

He stood and looked around the room, confused. He lifted his phone and checked the time. It was nearly 4 am. Soon the sleeping boys would wake and inquire about the rustle they heard in the night. Slowly, very slowly, the full impact of what he had done seeped into his consciousness; draining him of energy and filling him with fear.

He packed a few belongings into a brown bag, put on a pair of jeans and a camo and left the room in a haste, still subconsciously denying the happenings of the chilly dark night. He had committed a taboo and he was in trouble. He had to get out of sight.

He walked down the hall, bounded down the stairs and walked out the gate of the hostel into the cold. Shortly after, he broke into a run. He could feel the wind on his face, and the rain in the distance.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

On Time as a Separately Observable Dimensional Body

Short note on Time as a Separately Observable Dimensional Body. Just another premature scientfic proposition, on the continual journey to the interesting Theory of Everything.

***

I have never been an advocate of theoretical assumptions or isolated mathematics so I will go straight to my point.

The Hafele-Keating Experiment with flying atomic clocks has been performed to prove the concept of time dilation. This means that, at least for now, we can accept the idea that time ‘slows down’ as it approaches the speed of light, c.

If time dilation is true, then this means (scarily), that relative to a stationary observer, time comes to a standstill while approaching c. So we can assume that c is the threshold for absolute relativity when considering a classical reference frame.

But when considering relativity, would it make sense to quantify speed objectively? Why should c be a threshold?

If I were moving in a car at 5m/s relative to a stationary observer on earth, and threw a ball at 5m/s, the observer on earth would see it move at 10m/s. If I released a pulse of light with speed c in the same car, the stationary observer would see it travelling with speed c. This is the point of the famous breakdown of Newtonian mechanics.

The stationary observer in the above example sees the body as travelling at 10m/s. But the body itself also sees the observer as travelling at 10m/s also. For only in our preferred reference frame, the hypothetical aether, would the speed of light be c.

The idea of picking out a reference frame is good, for classical calculations, but philosophically, it is weak. From geo-positioning and aerospace, to satellite mapping and sonar engineering, our understanding of the universe depends on the idea of ‘reference frames’. Everything that has to work has to account for special relativity, perhaps that is why so much attention has been given to the speed of light, and less attention given to the philosophy of speed itself.

I believe speed itself, a measure of distance with time, is an isolated, fleeting property; a property which could have dimensional implications, and form. I believe speed should not be treated with absolutism, and just like the well-accepted impossibility of determining the exact position of a particle in xyz space at every instant in time, the result manifesting in the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, I believe it is ‘much more impossible’ to determine the speed of a particle because speed itself is a dimensional property.

If I am stationary and you are moving at 2m/s, you could also be said to be stationary with me moving at 2m/s if we rotate the reference frame. And with the Michelson-Morley experiment backing up this claim and disproving the idea of a classical reference frame, then what indeed is stationary?

I could say that ‘distance’ is the only sensible variable in Newton’s first equation. You could always say a body is here or there, to some certainty at least, but speed isn’t. The time it takes to get a body from point A to point B could also be the ‘time’ it takes to get the body from point B to point A, with both bodies cross-referencing each other in each event.

I am saying that speed, a passive property of time, could actually have dimensional properties. Time could have measureable form, and be an isolated dimensional body, like space.

Conventional knowledge has it that time is the forth dimension of classical xyz space. I am saying that time is another observable dimensional body with possibly its own mechanics. Time affects space, with interaction mechanics, giving rise to passive properties like speed. Also, it doesn’t take much to realise from this that space does not affect time, but the other way round.

To properly model this new line of thought, algorithms would have to be developed for ‘Time Mechanics’, the study of Time and its interaction with matter and energy. Attention given to the classical studies of space-time interaction would have to be reversed to the study of ‘time-space interaction’ because interactions in Time could be responsible for the fuzziness of matter and natural systems. Time could also be the answer to the wave-particle paradox.


***

Ikenna Osi
University of Lagos