For someone I used to know



By Tamanda Kanjaye

I wish I could go into detail about all the souls I have encountered and what colours they seemed to exude but I am limited to the number of the words I am allowed to use. I will however tell you about one particular soul – and that is the soul of Harry Daniel.

#

The first time I met Harry Daniel I was sitting on the stairs outside the national library. I was clad in blue jeans that swept at the ankles of my comfortable shoes and a black shirt written, “I AM THE UNIVERSE” across it. My natural unruly hair was in a mess as per usual. (You might think how I appeared when I first met Harry Daniel is not very important, but trust me, it is –  it very much is). Anyway, I was sitting on those steps and I was reading “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell.

“That’s quite a challenging book you have there.”

I looked up at the person standing over me, blocking my light. It was a boy and he was wearing blue jean trousers, a black golf shirt and a smile that made his eyes shine.

“Kinda,” I replied. 

He took a seat next to me. 

“Do you believe what the book says and that some souls really cross ages and keep meeting?”

I shrugged, wondering why he was talking to me.

“Cause I think our souls have met before.”

I rolled my eyes. 

“How many girls have you picked up with that line?”

“Not many.” He grinned. “But seriously do you believe souls reconnect?”

I gazed at him intensely. 

“No, but I believe they have colour.”

He frowned a bit. 

“And what colour may yours be?”

“A depressing shade of blue,” I told him.

“That’s deep and maybe a bit glum,” he stated. “You seem like a very happy girl.”

“And what, exactly, is the yardstick of happiness?”

There was a silence as he thought about my statement. 

“I guess happiness is a bit abstract, quite immeasurable,” he looked at me, “So what’s your name blue-souled girl?”

“Do you plan on talking to me after this again?”

“Are you always this poetic?” he chuckled.

I shrugged again. 

“I’m Tamara and you?”

“Well, my mom calls me Harry and my dad calls me Daniel. You can call me either.”

“Harry Daniel,” I laughed as if it was at all humorous.

“I have a question for you though, about souls having colour. What colour do you think mine is, Tamara?” he wondered.

I looked at him deeply. 

“Are you happy, Harry Daniel?”

Harry Daniel’s lip tagged down. I stood up and stared thoughtfully at him.

“I know nothing about you Harry Daniel,” I stated. “So, to me, your soul has no colour.”

#

It seemed fate would have it that I would meet Harry Daniel again a week later at the library and then again after that and again and again until we were very familiar with each other.

We got very close too and started to bond over complex conversations about the universe, how happiness tasted like, the people we used to know, the people we used to be and what it was like being sad.

Harry Daniel, as I came to learn, was a very sad soul. Maybe even sadder than I. If he asked me, during that period, what I thought the colour of his soul was, I would have told him his soul was grey – the colour of the world on a cold June morning.

He told me about how his drunken father abandoned the family. How his mother was struggling to raise him and his siblings. How his first love cheated on him and how all his friends left him. He said they found him too depressing as well as too queer because he didn’t drink, smoke or have sex or whatever and that I was his only true friend because I accepted him just the way he was. It didn’t matter to him about the rest of the world because he had me – one true friend –  and that was enough for him.

#

Harry Daniel left for school three months after I met him but when he came back, he wasn’t the Harry Daniel I knew anymore. He came back and his soul had completely gotten another colour.

“What happened to you?” I asked him when we met up after he returned.

“I decided I was tired of being sad. You should try it,” he blew out some smoke from the cigarette he was smoking.

“If this is what you call happiness then I don’t want it,” I snorted.

“You need to adapt Tamara. Mother nature has a way of killing off those who are unlike the herd,”  he looked at me with something imprinted on his expression –  disgust?

“We all die anyway,’ I remarked.

“The herd shall transcend.”

“Well, let them transcend with their unhappy selves. Let them carry on being fake to ‘fit in’ but still striving to be unique.”

“You know I think you like the allure of being sad,” the cigarette dangled dangerously from his lip. “You think it makes you poetic or something idiotic like that.”

I frowned: “I didn’t think you saw me like that, but at least I’m not like you, trying to fill the void by lying to yourself that doing stuff you don’t like will make you whole again – that it will make you happy, yet you aren’t.”

“I’m happy, okay. I have friends now. People didn’t like the old me. I was too sad. Too weak.” 

He took another drag and blew it directly into my face and it felt like a slap.

“I liked you,” I whispered before raising my voice a bit, “but I guess that wasn’t enough. I don’t think the new you and the old me are compatible. Let’s just draw a line on our friendship here. I hope you have a happy life.”

I didn’t wait for a reply. I started to walk away.

“I don’t need you or your pity benedictions. You can go on being sad. I’m happy now.”

I wanted to turn around and ask him if he really was, but I just kept walking.

#

I met Harry Daniel a good half year after we cut all ties of talking to each other. I was walking towards the library when he breezed past me. We both stopped, then turned around slowly, to face each other, in only a way people who once shared a world would.

We gave each other a once-over and cringed almost simultaneously. However, our mutual shock was caused by polar opposite reasons. As he took me in, he saw the very same girl he met a lifetime ago. I still wore jeans that swept at the ankles of my comfortable shoes. I still had a liking for shirts with some strange phrase written across it and my hair was still the unruly mess it was. He recognised me almost instantly. To him I hadn’t changed at all. I was still the blue-souled girl and I wondered if it surprised him, if it disgusted him that I wasn’t being pulled by the allure of the ‘new world’ he had ‘adapted’ to.

On the other hand, I had cringed because I was looking at a complete stranger. The Harry Daniel I once knew would never be holding a bottle of vodka the way the boy before me was. He wouldn’t be dressed like one of those rappers on TV we had often ridiculed for not saying any actual words. I took it all in as I stared at his eyes. They used to shine once but not anymore, or maybe that was me just trying to find fault in the person he had become. 

I wondered if he was happy, I doubted it, but maybe he was. I thought of our last conversation, how we tried to prove whose lifestyle was happier. What a stupid argument to put an end to a once beautiful friendship. We, of all people, should have known happiness is almost immeasurable. I mean, what is the yardstick of happiness? 

It seemed like we stared at each other for an eternity only him and I knew about, but in reality it was only a couple of seconds. I don’t know who turned away first, but we walked away from each other, once again, into our separate realities.

As I walked away I thought of the different colours of Harry Daniel’s soul I had encountered. I thought of the Harry Daniel who had talked to me on the steps of the library. I had known nothing about that boy and so his soul had had no colour. I thought of the depressed grey soul of Harry Daniel that had become my friend. The one who had gotten torn apart by the realities of this world yet still understood it in a way only dreamers would. Then I thought of the last Harry Daniel I had exchanged words with, the one with a black soul who had found other ways to fill his void by changing his whole being. Lastly I thought of the one I had just passed, the one who was a shell of someone –  now a ghost – I once knew. I wondered what the colour of his soul was now. I thought of blues and greens and reds that would best fit him now but no colour clicked. I knew nothing about the new Harry Daniel. So to me, his soul had no colour.

##

Comments

  1. i can relate to this, your writing style is so similar to someone that I know, you probably know them too. Beautifully written and breathtaking to read. I've shared it on both Google + and Twitter. good luck

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  2. Amazing....AMAZING story! I love it

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  3. This is some impressive work Tamanda. Keep it up. Love the story too.

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  5. Deep, your work is so touching like I'm out of words to describe how great your work is Tamanda. Your work keeps on getting better and better. Malawi needs more writers like you.
    #TamandaTheWriter

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  6. It's an amazing read ,it's simply beautiful.

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  7. It's incredible and I enjoyed the craft

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  8. very nice story. I enjoyed it a lot

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  9. Beautiful piece of work. I just love it.

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  10. Ending a friendship because the other has turned into a smoker is a pretty silly way tho. I know it's just a story but think about it. You don't help someone by abandoning them. That friendship was lost coz Daniel got on the defensive, it's normal for people to react in that way when they feel they are being "attacked".

    All in all, good story, well-written, I like it. You have a future in writing.

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    1. The friendship did not end because he started to smoke. T ended because they both changes. Tamara realises this when she says "what a stupid argument to end a once beautiful friendship,"

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    2. Ahahaha the way Harry Daniel sounds like Hurry Daniel hahaha. I loved this story. It's gritty and personal and that just captivated me completely.

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  11. Rendered speechless, you have outdone yourself and I'm so proud. This is a really beautiful narrative. Great job. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ

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  12. Wonderful story it is a great read.

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  13. Amazing..... it's so meaningful... ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

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  14. Wow! Captivating story. So proud of you Tamanda.

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  15. This is quite impressive, Tamanda. captivating from beginning to end. I love it!

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  16. Wonderful story, so proud of you dear.

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  17. Mysteriously poetic.You have a gift keep doing what you are doing.

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  18. Pristine work Tamanda! Such work is exemplary of the highest award possible. Bon chance!

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  19. A great read... thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep it up Tama

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  20. A great read... thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep it up Tama

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  21. The story has a way of drawing you into it's world and actually feel the emotions of that existence.
    A *unique write* as i would call it.

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  22. Aint a fan of reading It being the first story I've read from you, quite impressed some sherlock Holmes stuff right here! me likey

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  23. Really love this story! You're a great writer x Can't wait for your next piece.

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  24. Absolutely beautiful, thought provoking and engaging ๐Ÿ˜Š loved it

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  25. Mind blowing read...you are the it...wish u well

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  26. I kept on reading till the end. I like skipping words but this I read every word. As an English teacher i would love my students to write like that. nice. Keep it up!

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  27. Go tamanda go, proud to have been one of the first people to have read the story, it's amazing, tama ur a fabulous writer hope u win

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  28. great story tammie I enjoyed the plot and how you portrayed the characters...super proud of you right now...I hope you win no am positive you will

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  29. This is amazing man keep up the good work. There is no dream too big and no dreamer too small. ☺

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  30. Really enjoyed this piece of work Tamanda. You truly are an amazing writer, go girl!.

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  31. I loved your story Tamanda.Fictional yet relatable.All the best ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  32. I can relate to this story, been a bit of a Harry Daniel myself, finding true happiness is a journey, and sometimes we really can't know if we're actually happy, or just in a better position than we were before.

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  33. Tamanda. This is amazing, I love it.����

    -thoko

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  34. Such a great story, still waiting on the longer version :) I can very much relate, I feel like I know this Harry Daniel in a way, I hope you keep this up, so that I'll be reading more of these in my 30s with coffee on the side, I really like this story it fits into the description of the morden world do much it is almost scary

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  35. This was truly amazing, just like fire on ice. All the best hope you bag it home

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  36. What An Amazing Story it was. simply reminds me of the past, when I had a friend and loved each other so much but now we don't click like we used to.
    Big up tamamda!!!

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  37. wow impressive, there is always more to people than meets the eye huh....

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  38. that's a beuatifully written story. I didn't quite know that we had such talent in our country its very riveting.

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  39. Quite riveting indeed,keep up the good work Tamanda.

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  40. Breath taking truly remarkable work can't say keep it up cause you already are but all in all I loved it.

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  41. I knew u had talent, but this my friend is unlike anything ive read...keep it up ey

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  42. Wooow.๐Ÿ˜ฎif this doesnt tatake first place then i di t know what will..well done Tamanda

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  43. I felt the narrator was a cliche of a an atypical upper-middle class african girl. The characters needed more depth, surely the is more grey in the personalities of people then the black and white that was presented in the story

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  44. Amazing from the Start to the end.. You really got the talent

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  45. I really love this story. it's amazing

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  46. The most beautiful short story I've ever read!

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  47. Your writing gets better and better over time ! So unique and not at all clichรฉ I loved it ♡ who knew that's where that story would end lol

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  48. Awesome stuff adha
    Am proud of you

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  49. Nice story.....we all strive for happiness

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  50. Nice story.....we all strive for happiness

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  51. This is a nyc piece of work Tama! Its a short narrative with rich content and the characters just speak beyond the text for me! I like it

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  52. Thank you everyone for the comments. I have read every single one and appreciate the praises and taking note of all the critiques

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  53. Woah! This is a well thought out beautiful painting of words. I was transported to a dimension that I know and could relate to. And it was more than that, I saw the expressions and exchanges and I felt the chemistry change between the two characters. To me, that's what good writing should do to a reader.

    I hope to read more of your stories. Like a collection of short stories or a novel.

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  54. It's a beautiful story dear though I couldn't help to think that there should be more cos there's just too many questions. anyway maybe it's just too beautiful to end just like that. Keep up the amazing work

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  55. This is truly amazing Tamanda (as usual) Keep on keeping on,the sky is not a limit #word_addicts

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  56. its a beatiful story ......well written i honestly love your story keep it up Tamanda i realy like such sort of writing

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  57. Wow!quite intriguing.I can see a future in writing for our youth because of this.keep it up

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  58. Was worth my time. Wish i could read it for the first time again. Looking forward to reading more of your works.

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  59. What an intriguing amazing story,,awesomely talking to the soul,,,i can't wait for more of your writing

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  60. Amazing story!! loved every bit of it

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  61. lovely piece...I see...I see see a brighter writing career full of broken pencils

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  62. The artistry on display is astounding. Keep up the good work tama I am a fan and I'll enjoy watching you progress and improve your storytelling

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  63. Captivating! Love the style!

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  64. Well, i like the idea of how the human soul has colours. However, does the colour change basing on the mood which is temporary? Liked how you handled the issue of happiness; whether its from within or something that is a result of the society

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  65. Great read; one of those stories that gets you thinking and all. Very well written and rich in illustration; Loved the very idea of it...

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  66. I read this and it just blew my mind, we have such talented people out there

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  67. This story is deep. One can relate to it at some point in their life. It's sad that at times we let go something so beautiful. Amazing work Tamanda. Can't wait to read more of your stories.

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  68. This story is deep. One can relate to it at some point in their life. It's sad that at times we let go something so beautiful. Amazing work Tamanda. Can't wait to read more of your stories.

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  69. This story is deep. One can relate to it at some point in their life. It's sad that at times we let go something so beautiful. Amazing work Tamanda. Can't wait to read more of your stories.

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  70. This story is deep. One can relate to it at some point in their life. It's sad that at times we let go something so beautiful. Amazing work Tamanda. Can't wait to read more of your stories.

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  71. So creative! Brilliant cut! Keep it up Tamanda!

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  72. So creative! Brilliant cut! Keep it up Tamanda!

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  73. Intriguing.... we need part II. Woow

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  74. The future is now! What a story - an artistic flow of colorful emotions! What a creative mind you have there, Tamanda! Keep up the good work! Can't wait for the novel!

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  75. This is a writing of great mind in genesis of profound creativity

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  76. Whats the colour of my soul ?

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  77. I love the story, it's great. The style impressive, I hope to read more stories from you, Tamanda.

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  78. Wow what interesting story I like it

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  79. What an amazing story this is nice and interesting story meet it up !!!!!

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