Tea, Heartbreak and Marijuana.

I am curled up at the edge of the room.

The door is to my left. Every once in a while someone comes in. Every once in a while someone goes out.

A number of huddling silhouettes encircle the bed, their shadows sliding silently across the pink walls dimly lit by the flickering orange candlelight. The air is warm and abuzz with male voices speaking in Wolof.

Grande´ is the oldest one here. He should be in his late forties or early fifties- I’m not entirely sure. He has long dreadlocks, and is missing some bottom incisors. His room is markedly neat, and his bed is always smoothly laid.

His room smells like strange incense and old clothes. Like clothes that have been in the same room for decades. The smell reminds me of my maternal grandmother’s room. I wonder if there is a way old people generally smell. I don’t know. Maybe. I am not really sure.

We just had dinner. It was steaming Senegalese rice, with boiled carrots and tasty fish. It was served in a big bowl, and about eight of us sat around it while we handled the rice.

Bamba made the food. Bamba is such a great cook though. His food is always so delectable. Whenever I eat his food I find myself experiencing some very interesting sensations.

I used to eat the communal food with a spoon before. But then I realised that between one spoonful and another, like one thirds of the food would have already evaporated.

And so I had to adopt their strategy of eating with the bare hand.

I am curled up at the edge of the room.

Grande is making tea. 

Grande is always making tea.

Come to think of it, I think he is like a Senegalese Sisyphus, but his own curse is to be perpetually stuck in the motions of making tea.

Haha. Hahahaha.

The tea is warm and light coloured and sweet.

There is THC in my system.

I am experiencing depersonalization.

Separated from worries. From anguish and anxeity. From the intermittent disruption of my train of thoughts by the searing pangs of heartbreak.

Right now I do not feel heartbroken, no.

Mayowa is heartbroken, and in a way I can see him going through this experience. But right now I do not feel his pain. I feel separate from him- I feel like a separate person.

I am not quite sure what strain of Marijuana we had this night, but its most prominent effect seems to be depersonalization. Right now I feel separate from myself. And that feels relaxing. My thinking faculty is right now, unburdened of the responsibility of both making sense of my  disconcerting past experiences, and navigating current uncertainty with the aim of figuring out my next step in life.

Right now my mind feels like it has been ejected from the cockpit of what would have been my usual cognitive vehicle- and now it’s roaming about, untethered, and paying attention to things that usually would have been suppressed and submerged beneath my subconscious.

It feels very calming, sitting here and being supplied with warm Senegalese tea.

Voices resonate around the room.

Everyone in this room is older than me. Right now this makes me feel safe. The weight of my responsibilities feels lifted by the sound of their voices. I feel like a child who has absolutely no problems because he is surrounded by adults. I take my time to enjoy it.

Recently I’ve been experiencing some confusion regarding how to perceive older people. Some people are older, and there’s the usual tendency to afford them some deference with regard to the validity of their thinking. But recently I’ve gradually been coming to the position that a lot of these people are just older than me- their thinking could use some recalibration.

The marijuana is numbing that right now. Right now I just see them as adults, talking about whatever it is that adults talk about.

I am curled up in the corner of the room.

I think the pangs of heartbreak are coming back.

4pm at Ramadan.

It is 4pm.

I have been waiting for 4pm for the entire day. There generally exists a number of different markers people calibrate their day with— Sunrise and sunset, breakfast lunch and dinner, time to go to work and time to get back from work, and so on.

All of my days for the past week have been bisected into two principal divisions: Before and after 4pm.

As the digital clock on my computer makes me aware of this significant temporal transition, my physical body switches into autopilot and my limbs begin to execute instructions that have been painstakingly rehearsed throughout the entire day.

I find myself getting dressed- putting on my blue buba1 and my purple shorts – shorts which used to be the top-half of the trousers of a two-piece suit. I have found the shorts to be much more useful, versatile and pragmatic than the trousers they used to be. I frequently do a lot of climbing and walking and general jumping about. I find shorts are much better suited to the task.


I watch Mayowa engage in all of these actions, from his destination. I- his consciousness, am already there.

I am already seated on one of the logs of wood that surround the fire. I can already smell the invigorating Cafe Touba2 brewing atop the flickering flames. I can already taste the bread and very interesting Senegalese bean sauce waiting patiently for consumption. I can hear my companions with their flowing gowns and baggy trousers and thick beaded necklaces and unbelievable fat dreadlocks conversing enthusiastically in Wolof3.

I am already here. Floating amidst the bodies and the gowns and the conversation and the calming smell of Cafe Touba. All that is left is for my physical body to catch up.

I see him- Mayowa, mechanically getting dressed. Putting on his white rubber slippers that have been through multiple rounds of cobbling. He was reading about quantum physics earlier today, that guy. Something about matrices as a tool to represent quantum states. Something like that.

Me? I’ve been here all day. Watching the blackened pot of bubbling coffee sit above the fire, entirely immune to any further blackening effects of its position. A phantasm revelling in a hypothetical gathering.

The strike of 4pm transforms this figmental assembly into a physical one, and now a number of corporeal entities are on their way here.

I watch Mayowa leave his studio apartment. He briefly glances at the remarkable beach a few metres from his door, but has little attention to spare. The entrancing blue waves crashing against the shimmering sand fail to significantly grip his interest. He is hungry for something else right now.

He is hungry. Literally hungry.

Feet drift through the desert sand, trusting memory, experience and a sense of navigation to successfully arrive at the intended destination.

Oh so much procedure. His dusty feet have to venture forward, one after the other– one after the other, and slowly his entire body edges closer and closer to the party where I wait.

So much procedure. So many rules. So much anatomical bureaucracy. Ugh.

Now it makes sense, all of the interest in matrices and quantum states- it could simply all be a being attempting to understand the invisible principles that impose constraining loci on his physical existence.

I can sense his anticipation. For the coffee. For the bread. For the effervescent sound of voices in Wolof3 vibrating in the evening air. For the emotive pulsing of native Senegalese drums and Baye Fall4 chants that he relates to, not as communication with the supernatural, but simply (although not any less significantly) as enchanting mesmerising music.

Me? Anticipation does not apply to me. I am already feasting. I have been feasting since the the time before this meeting even came together. I have been feasting since this gathering was just a plan. I have been eating this bread since it was still just flour and ingredients. I have been eating the beans since it was still on the farm. I have been…

He is almost here. Mayowa is almost here.

I see him in the distance. With his white slippers and blue buba and red hair.

He is almost here.

4pm at Ramadan5.




  1. Buba – Top half of a traditional Yoruba attire.
  2. Cafe Touba – Popular Senegalese coffee drink.
  3. Wolof – The lingua franca of the Senegalese people.
  4. Baye Fall – Senegalese Islamic sect.
  5. Ramadan – Annual Islamic religious observance.


Image Credits: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-sight/wp/2015/01/23/the-roots-of-fashion-and-spirituality-in-senegals-islamic-brotherhood-the-baye-fall/



I was listening to  “Poye” by Issa Bagayogo while writing this.