There is always a stage in a human’s life where they question their existence. Whether you are at work, school, or however else you may be going about your day, you stop for a moment. You look over what you are doing, or repeat what you said and trail off, or maybe you say nothing at all. And you begin to stare as your mind wonders to that reoccurring question, asked throughout human history: What is the point of life? I mean, what really is the point in all this? You begin with the common solutions. Religion? Evolution? And you ponder on the thought that all this means nothing from a wider perspective. And that your life will have no impact on the universe, and at this point you become ever so quiet. Your head starts to spin, and your heart races slightly. But I want to make a change in the world, you say. Or, I do not really care, you say. Or, it is all in God’s plan, you say. And you turn your palms up, and examine every dash and curve. With those same hands you put their backs on your forehead to check for a temperature. And then you place your hands on your chest to check that your heart is still beating.
Your eyes scan the crowd of blank faces, of people you have seen, but will never know. And then you see a familiar face in the crowd, but still it is not someone you know. Just the same person that you pass every day, on your way to and from work, or in your lunch break. They decide to light a quick one a distance from their work building. You are sitting in a nearby café from your own workplace, as you watch them from the window. It is clear that they are having a stressful day. They deeply inhale, and exhale a plume of smoke. You admire their skills, as you have never smoked a day in your life. You know that smoking is not your taste, but something about it in the movies, and in the way this person is standing, makes it look somewhat cool. You check your watch and hurriedly finish the croissant and coffee that you have been enjoying. As you make your way back to your workplace, you pass the person smoking a cigarette. They turn their head to avoid catching your face, and you smile politely as you pass, acknowledging their consideration. You walk a few minutes more until you reach your destination. What you do not know is that the person smoking as you passed, caught the end of your smile, and let their gaze linger upon the back of your head a little more than necessary. You have always been told that you have a great smile, but you have never quite believed it. Once the cigarette has been put out, they quickly brush off any remaining residue, and straighten out their clothes.
A few towns away, a dispute can be heard. One is accusing the other of cheating, while the accused furiously denies such suggestions. Hands flail around. Their rings move in and out of the light, catch it and flash like sirens. The regret is clear on the face of the accused, and after trying to convince their partner, they sigh and blame it on the bottle. A neighbour smirks after peering through a bedroom window. They begin adjusting the buttons on their shirt, and fixing their rumpled hair. Their pulse is still racing.
In the world somewhere else, a group of children take the miles-long route to school, travelling through forests in order to learn. Their hands are a little rougher, their hearing a little sharper, and their vision is just a little clearer than their across the sea counterparts. Who knows what is waiting in the forest? Across the river, two people stand at the water’s edge, trying to catch some fish. The rumbling of their stomachs is muffled, but the hunger is clear in the longing of their eyes, and the salivating of their mouths. When one starts to become impatient, the other taps their shoulder a few times, and mutters, ‘patience’. Their bucket remains empty until the next morning.
Somewhere else people are travelling to other countries. Think of those first time flyers, the honeymooners, the experienced travellers, the escapists, the adventurists, and those people on business trips. Or they are being trafficked by the same people that promised them a job and a new life. This new life, turns into a lie. One that could cost them their life, or limbs. On a ship there is a container full of livers, kidneys, and hearts. For a second you stop and question how they could possibly be human, but before you get any deeper in, your mind changes subjects.
Moving along, someone dines in the finest of eating establishments, where they eat until their heart’s content. It has taken them years of saving in order to afford this. Course after course is served in the daintiest of portions, cooked to perfection some might say. Each mouthful leaves them longing for more, and as they ponder on the taste of the previous dish, a new one arrives. When they have finished dessert, their stomach reaches full capacity, and they fall into a kind of food coma ecstasy. Food is what they live for after all.
And as a baby is born, another life leaves this realm, and enters one unknown. And you finally realise that you have been thinking and people watching for far too long. You continue to go on your way. The answer is still unknown to your question, as you go a few more years before it crosses your mind again.
Lexus Ndiwe is currently a student at university, and when she is not studying or writing in class, writes outside of academia as a sort of therapy. She is fascinated by the sound and influence of words, and uses them as a bridge to try and connect with people.