Universal Syntax

The concept of universal syntax I have come up with has not yet come to be regarded as “common”…which I think is absolutely absurd, because just about everyone in the world has one — a universe. Don’t bother trying to deny it, please. We cannot possibly say — even in the case of colours— that all humans perceive the world the same way, have senses that do their jobs in the exact same way; neither do humans all exist in the same exact time and space as each other. Hence, depending on our environments and our way of perceiving, we all have our various versions of the universe. 

Having cleared that up, we must now move on to the problem of syntax. Syntax, in this case, is simply a systematic and orderly arrangement. Each person has their own idea of what the universe “should be” like. This is not an idea of perfection; it is an idea of “normalcy.” Such ideas usually form subconsciously, from observation for a long period of time of the general habits or rates of change of the human and physically geographical environment that surrounds them. So, for example, according to my universal syntax, Simeon and I walk to school together and Owiredua never wears yellow. 

As I said before, universal syntax is not an idea of perfection. If, on spare occasions, Simeon lagged behind in the maelstrom of walking students, or Owiredua donned a yellow headscarf, it is not a destruction of syntax. It is merely an error—a fluke. Assuming our personal universes are microcosmic, what can, in fact, disrupt syntax is the introduction of new people into the microcosm and/or the removal of others from it.

It may take a while to recover from the discomfort of this disruption and intervention (the Victor Butler definition of intervention being something from outside that is coming into a certain space to effect a change), for it involves a person having to come up with a new universal syntax, this time, factoring in all the changes that were and are out of his/her power to control. 

I have been trying for the past three years to perfect my syntax, which, admittedly, is foolish. In this same time span, elements outside of my control have intervened so much as to turn my universe almost 180 degrees. There is conflict within me. 

“The conflict is created when, in our quest to master the elements, we come up against structures that remind us of the enormity of the world outside our frame.” -Victor Butler

To follow through with my previously chosen illustrations as examples, what is happening to my universe is this: Simeon is not walking to school with me because he would prefer to walk with the newer people in the system, and Owiredua has changed almost her entire wardrobe to yellow due to the influence of her roommate, who is new to the school. (Note that these are just examples. I’d kill Simm if he tried that, and personally torch Ray’s wardrobe if she made such an atrocious decision…or is it just my desire to master the elements talking?)



The Typecasts That We Create

You’ll have to forgive me for generalising with this one. The problem is, for most of my life the past two years, I have been existing in this microcosm of a school, SOS-HGIC, thus my current general idea of “humans” is of the humans around me. So, though it is unhealthy, to avoid unnecessary dissent, let us henceforth assume that whenever I say “people” or “humans” or “they” or anything of the sort, I am referring to those within this microcosm. 

(On a side note, my diction is beginning to sound too academic for my own liking.) 

I was initially going to put the word “stereotype” in the title, but I realised that again, it was goo general. A stereotype refers to many, but a typecast refers to an individual. Typecast: to cast (a performer) repeatedly in a kind of role closely patterned after that of the actor’s previous successes. (Source: dictionary.com) For the purpose of this post, let us replace the word “performer” with “individual”. Note that typecasting is not always a bad thing. It can, in fact, be quite helpful…until it is taken too far. 

Never before admission into HGIC had I realised how important first impressions are. Not just the first impression one makes on another, but also, it is a matter of who makes the greatest first impression first. To illustrate this, let me use a hypothetical scenario. 

Lady is a girl who can dance. She performed one night on stage in the first month of he academic year. Hence, the whole school knows she can dance. Whenever there’s any sort of issue about dancing, she is the one they call. 

Ewura is another girl who can dance. She didn’t perform on stage, but she dances on every occasion, and people know she’s very good at it. However, when they think of dance, the first thing they remember is Lady’s performance, and the knowledge that Ewura can also dance is pushed far off to the back of their brains. So, if there is an issue, they will automatically go for Lady and leave Ewura out. 

What happened here is that Lady has been typecasted. Now she’s the first and best on anybody’s mind in a particular aspect, which is great for her, but what happens when she’s in high demand and pressure gets to her? And maybe Ewura would have volunteered, but those who picked Lady for whatever position never even bothered to ask of there was anybody else able or willing; they picked Lady even without conferring, and it was final. 

Now, if Ewura’s already-existing skill is being callously ignored, how much worse will another person who developed this skill to a good level over time be treated?

What I’m trying to say is that a lot of the time, when people typecast like this, they are, maybe unintentionally, denying other people the chance or right to showcase what they can actually do. Think about the implications. Maybe, somebody who is staying silent could be destroying their own self-esteem internally. I don’t think it’s right.

And such is the banana-ness (in my world, being a banana is an insult, because I don’t like using real insults) of humans that, in the event of the primarily typecasted individual’s absence or incapacitation, they throw themselves into despair as if there is no more hope in the world. 

People. The world doesn’t match only one person to one skill. One tree does not make an entire forest, even if it is the tallest tree. It’s still just ONE tree. Who knows? Other trees may have greener leaves, or longer branches. But how are you ever going to find out, if you never bother to look? 

-Ivana Akoto

People and Their Relevance to Society

It is commonly suggested to young people to find mentors, both local and external, who guide our lives and learning, whether directly or indirectly. I have a couple of practically unreachable (read: either dead or too famous for me to meet) mentors, but my primary personal one is Mr Victor Butler. I’ve written about him before.

Here’s an overview of who he is, not exhaustive: a genius, awesome person, artist, programmer, engineer, writer and a thinker. (I’ll explain that last one shortly.)

Recently, I paid him a visit, for no reason in particular, because one simply needs awesomeness exposure in one’s life from time to time. During my hours of stay in his house, we had discussions centred on his current (art) collection, called Ethos Revisited. I’ll talk about that later as well. What you should probably know before you read this is that the conversation that ensued was rather philosophical, as conversations with him tend to be, which brings me to the subject of what he describes himself as.

I took the opportunity to ask him if he considered himself a philosopher, and the response he gave me was, “No, I’m a thinker.” The reason for this is that philosophy, as its own system of thought, has its own parameters. It’s strange to think that something that appears so free also has its own strict rules. Some of what Victor Butler does is philosophical, but he calls himself a thinker because there is no reason to restrict himself to what only philosophers consider philosophy. Being an in-depth thinker is freedom to analyse, question, evaluate and conclude for oneself as one pleases. He manages to project all of this through his art and his writing.

Mr Butler’s art is actually the most meaningful I have ever been directly exposed to. I’ll say he’s succeeded very well in keeping his name, works and personal information off the internet, and he has his reasons for that. I also think he’s one of those people that are going to become global, phenomenal sensations after they die. Why is that, you ask? The answer is simple: because he’s a relevant artist.

Relevance was one of our main themes for discussion that day. When Mr Butler was eight, he simply believed he existed and would exist as he was. No projections, no evaluations. Then, at twelve, he believed he was a very important person. By the time he was fourteen, he knew he was going to be an important person. He began to have the idea to be a ‘relevant’ artist, for when he finally did become an artist.

He posed to me a task, to think of a book that perhaps, my grandfather had read, passed on to my dad, who in turn, passed it down to me. My answer was almost immediate: Animal Farm. He asked me who the author was, and, admittedly, I had to think a while before I remembered: George Orwell. Then came the third question: “What other books has he written?” And for that, I was lost, at least until I strained my brain to remember the title of a book by him that my dad had implored me to read: Down and Out in Paris and London. This is probably disputable, but I would conclude that Animal Farm is the one work George Orwell is [most] famous for. Consider, for example, One Hit Wonders. This is when Mr Butler introduced me to another thematic question of relevance: Which should be the more relevant: the artist or his art?

To understand the entire concept of the relevance that we’re talking about here, we must first understand the relationship between past, present and future. For this purpose, I will fast forward a little bit and talk about one of Mr Butler’s artworks. It is a drawing, if I remember correctly, in charcoal, and perhaps, watercolour, with the face of an old man, and underlying that is the face of a little girl, distinguishable if you pay close attention. The meaning this artwork was portraying is that sometimes, aspects of families – maybe similarities in features, interests or behavioural characteristics – may skip a generation, such that a child is closer to his/her grandparent than to his/her parent. What this simply means is that whatever this grandparent has holds more relevance to this child’s present being than his parent does.
Then there’s the slight paradox of relative time in terms of people. Take, for instance, a grandfather and his grandson. They both exist in the present. However, if we look at each of them as an era, the grandson is the grandfather’s future, and the grandfather is the grandson’s past. It doesn’t even matter if this doesn’t make sense to you.

I’m sure we all know what the present is: ‘now’. The past, of course, is ‘then’, which can also be a reference point from the present. The present, in turn, is the reference point for the future. But what is the future? It would be hard to give a definite or even finite definition for it. Mr Butler described it, with equal aptness and ambiguity as “a conceptual space.”

The relationships between past, present and future that we just established are easily applicable to our world as a while. Using the past as a reference point from the present, the world has become much smaller. As far as I know, of course, there has been no decrease in planet Earth’s diameter (let’s ask the physicists), but in a sense more important than that, the world has shrunk. Many years ago, the world was “flat,” at least to us humans, who didn’t know any better. If one were to keep walking forward without obstacles. We supposed one would eventually tumble off the edge of the earth. All of a sudden, humans discovered that the world was, in fact, spherical. There’s a psychological aspect to this. You see, before, earth was one long strip that nobody knew the length or end of. Then, when it was discovered that it was a sphere, and you could travel all around it and end up at point one, Earth became something contained – where all was within one’s reach. It’s natural to think that contained things, or enclosed things are smaller than plane strips. Imagine how much longer a cylinder looks like when unrolled from the side or cross-section.

Ever since then, the world has shrunk again, especially with the emergence of technology, machines and other modes of transportation. Whereas China was once a three month sea journey from Ghana, it is now a click of the “Send Email” button away. Vous comprenez?

Another thing about this relation is that not only has it affected the concept of space, it also seems to be allowing eras to run together. Of course, many of these middle-aged to ancient people will disagree with all their hearts that this is not so, and that “Teenagers are so…so…” and then they can’t even complete their sentence. Mr Butler says that from all the times he has asked, the most common response he has gotten for the definition of teenagers is: “Very different these days,” which I think is absolutely hilarious, although I would say the definition I have heard most often is: “Something else kraa.” The bottom line is that most people don’t seem to be able to figure out just which planet teenagers came from. But you see, despite the world having gotten smaller, there now seems to be more ‘space’ to comfortably express oneself. We are now hardly restricted by tradition or strict practices. There are jobs now that didn’t exist twenty years ago. Mr Butler even gave this example: seeing a quinquagenarian walking around with his pants “a little low” isn’t so strange, because he feels like this is the era he lives in, and this is his space. Here’s another Butler definition: Personal space is one’s domains of influence. Quite frankly, with all these things teenagers adopt from the media, have we considered that not all of the celebrities we copy from are seventeen as well? There are legit forty-year-olds in there.

So now, the questions are: what are the things that survive despite the evolution of the world? How does a community define itself? What is relevant to a group of people, and why? To answer questions like these and others, we studied the ethos of a community. (As I mentioned earlier, the name of Mr Butler’s collection is “Ethos Revisited.”)

Dictionary.com defined ethos as: “The fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs or practices of a group or society.”

Generally, when we talk about communities, we are thinking of different groups of people, distinct from each other. One community is not the same as another community. What separates humans from each other, whether physically or metaphorically, are boundaries. I say boundaries and not barriers, because I am not specifying whether these boundaries keep things in or prevent others from entering.

One of the questions Mr Butler asked was “Is the concept of boundaries a measure of our scope?” There’s a lot to consider here. Do we barricade ourselves according to the limit of what we know or are familiar with? Or do they simply restrict and regulate the things we are ‘meant’ to be familiar with? A lot of the artworks in this collection have boundaries of different kinds.

The thing about boundaries is that they can usually be stepped over very easily. But how often does that happen, if we are made to believe that our boundaries are for protection and that our safety is not guaranteed once we cross over? Maybe boundaries also demarcate how far we can go to protect our identity. Identity is another thing that is relative to another. In defining your identity, you are defining the things that make you yourself as compared to someone or something else, sort of like height (tall, short or average).

We could break the essence of the community down into three parts, which is what Mr Butler did:
The mind of the community
The soul of the culture
The spirit of the community

Different communities, separated by different boundaries, could be said to be distinct from each other because of their views on morality and their values. Every community has a definition of what is right and wrong; these are morals, and they cannot exist without values, for that is what they are based on. As Mr Butler put it, “Values are the soul of our culture.”

Previously, I mentioned that an author can turn out to be less relevant than his story or ideas. The same, according to Mr Butler, can happen to a community. Its values et cetera may live in, but nobody will know who or where they came from. As time progresses, some things carry forward, and some do not. But in order to keep up with modern things or widen our scope, sometimes, communities need to stretch their boundaries.

Stretching one’s boundaries is similar to widening one’s comfort zone, so that it does not stay as is, but grows. Stretching our comfort zones means that we are still able to accept new things without feeling like we don’t belong, or panic out of discomfort. What needs to be remembered is that widening your scope does not always mean questioning your values, although sometimes, I believe that is also necessary.

Traditions evolve because life evolves. Our traditions are what we base our identity on. Of course, as Mrs Tonya Butler contributed to our conversation, some things have forced their way into our traditions borne out of the wrong ideas. For instance, some things could have been introduced for the purpose of keeping certain people in subjugation, like these gender control practices. You may consider things like female genital mutilation in this case.
A community’s customs are practices that simply reflect said community’s traditional stance. Customs have come to be the things you have to do to be accepted into a certain people’s space, like at the airport. Mr Butler defines intervention as something that enters another’s space, trying to effect a change.

The spirit of a community is kept alive through established channels of communication, in whatever form they may be. Humans naturally elect leaders among groups, who make decisions and serve as a particular group’s voice. But good communication between people means that one party does not believe that they are better than the other.

When it comes to evolution, there should be a structure that defines the change of our traditions, help us to blend our traditions with our culture, and at the same time, makes sure the symbiosis is beneficial to mankind. As we choose to stretch our boundaries, we tend to adopt. Mr Butler defines adoption as: “redefining the original boundaries of what was inside.” Of course, stretching isn’t always easy. In Butler’s words, “The conflict is created when, in our quest to master the elements, we come u[ against structures that remind us of the enormity of the world outside our frame.”

So, from all that I’ve said, the challenge I pose to you as a reader, but even more, to myself: when you think about the relationships between the past, the present and the future, the space we have and take up in the world, the concept of communities and boundaries, change and culture, communication, and the problem of being beneficial to mankind, what are you going to do to be relevant? Where? When? To whom?

Some Lessons I Learned from Artworks
It is true that descriptions of paintings don’t hold as much power as the paintings themselves, but I simply can’t release an artist’s pictures before they are exhibited, so bear with me. What I have written is more about what I learnt than the aesthetics, anyway.

1. There’s a painting of writer, but when you look closely, you see that the entire picture is mathematical, and you can sort of see a pyramid or a cone. It all depends on where you locate the apex. The lesson in here is that writers should be able to change their perspective. Writing has a lot to do with the ideas that one puts out, but it also reflects who the writer is and his stance, and through his words, he portrays something about himself as well. It is like a pyramid which may look like a cone when you see it up front, but you only know how many sides it has when you’re looking down from the apex. In the same way, a reader may only get what lies beneath the surface of the written words if they bother to look at it from the other perspective.

2. There was another painting with two women, one who looked rather sinister in the front, and another woman who looked kind of confused in the back. Or have I confused who was in front or behind? The point is that one looked smaller and less significant than the other. However, if you measured, you would realise that both women, who were versions of the same person, took up the exact same amount of space, though one looked more prominent. The lesson here is that everybody has their own truth in most situations, and though your own truth may appear insignificant or lesser, it holds the same amount of power.

3. “Delayed Response” is another painting, where there is a girl thinking about an answer to an apparent question a guy has asked. When such a thing happens in any smoothly-flowing conversation, the response is delayed, not because the question as unexpected, but because they believe the question is coming from somewhere else. If you looked closely at the guy too, he appeared either to have two faces, or like one eye was focused somewhere else.

4. The difference between a visitor and a guest. There were two paintings, one called “The Visitor” and the other one called “The Guest.” I only saw the former. It depicted a woman sitting rigidly upright at a doorway that led into a more open space. Mr Butler showed me that the difference between a visitor and a guest is that a visitor is not always expected or welcomed. A guest, however, is respected and received warmly.

5. I already described the painting with the grandfather and the grandchild. The lesson in there is that the past and the future can exist in the same domain.

-Ivana =)

Summer Highlights: Going on Radio

Is anyone familiar with Poetry Nite with the Rainmakers? Well, you should be. It happens on the first Saturday of every month at Café des Amis, and it is simply an open mic night. I attended the July function of Rainmakers, and I performed this piece called My Fate Is My Fault. It was near the very end of the show, and honestly, I was surprised at the positive reaction I got, because it wasn’t exactly a…conventional poem. (I have a rant about that, but it may come in a different form, in another post.)

After the show, I was approached by Rhyme Sonny, and he invited me to featured on the poetry section of Y fm’s Monday evening show. I accepted. So, two days after Chalewote, I went on Radio and performed two pieces. The experience was fun, I got to meet Bentino, another poet I had only observed but never actually spoken to, and I met Caroline (as in Caroline4Real. LOL.)

The first poem I performed was Jealousy. The second was, again, My Fate Is My Fault. Someone requested that I post what I performed on my blog, so here it is. Many people say the didn’t understand the first poem so I’ll add a brief explanation below the poem itself.

Jealousy is not green.
Jealousy is as black as my own skin, but darker.
She has a forest of hair kinkier than mine will ever be.
Her eyes are wider, just as inaccurate, more alluring, commanding as much attention as
Her voice, properly enunciating the Queen’s English, louder than my own voice with a bullhorn
Drawing eyes to her entity; her body – significantly more African
Drawing art to represent words that I couldn’t think of, much less form
A form of confidence alone and confidence surrounded, whereas I am shy and loud and boldly bashful.

 Jealousy is not an abstract notion.
Jealousy is a boy, as physical as I am, but taller.
He jumps and he soars higher than his height, both physically and mentally.
He plays the piano and it sounds like music, inviting you to admire, and turn oblivious to all the world and feel only him: Jealousy
Is amiable, hilarious and sarcastic; the most mutually liked around the globe.
He’s first to be picked, last to let go.
And of course, he’s cryptic. About what? We’ll never know.

 Jealousy and Jealousy are both the shape of the letter A, with an asterisk as an appendix.
Jealousy is the definition of success, and jealousy is the embodiment of fame.
Jealousy is the girl I will never be, and jealousy is the boy I never was.
Jealousy and Jealousy are the meaning of talent.
Jealousy is my personal demon.
Signed, My Jealous Self.

 Jealousy is not a part of me and therefore
Doesn’t deserve to have a hold on me.
When Jealousy was born,
I was neither a before, a present, nor an afterthought
So I can’t understand why I have never fought
Against it, when, against all odds,
We were craftily designed
To remain mutually exclusive.
I have long since accepted
That I can never be Jealousy
And now it’s time to accept
That Jealousy can never be me.
Signed, My Actual Self.
What I did here is that instead of talking about my jealousy directly, I took the two people I am jealous of most in the world, one male and one female, and I personified Jealousy as two people, who have the same qualities of both people I am jealous of, with the same name. Do you see? I said in the poem that Jealousy is neither green nor an abstract notion. That is because both Jealousies are actual people. Comprenez? I swear there’s an Oscar Wilde quote that says that when you explain art, you take away the mysteries of life. Let me look for it.

“Why should those who cannot create take upon themselves to estimate the value of creative work?  What can they know about it?  If a man’s work is easy to understand, an explanation is unnecessary. . . .

And if his work is incomprehensible, an explanation is wicked.” -Oscar Wilde

Excerpt From: Wilde, Oscar. “Intentions.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

My Fate Is My Fault
When I was a zygote in my mother’s womb, 
And God was taking orders for forehead, nose and butt-sizes on His celestially sophisticated tablet of menus,
My as yet unformed index finger accidentally pressed the extra-large button for each of them,
The result is what you see before you today.
That’s right.
My fate is my fault.

“Why is your butt so big?”
The one question I’ve been asked more frequently in my lifetime than “What is your name?”
But obviously, it’s natural for me to take the blame 
For something I can easily explain,
And I would tell them the zygote story, 
But once they hear what I’m saying, 
They’ll think I’m insane. 
But the joke’s on them…

“Your forehead is large,” he says with conviction. 
I try to restrain myself from bashing his face in. 
It is?! 
Why didn’t I know this?
Because after being alive for sixteen years, 
Not once has this sentence ever touched my ears,
So thank you, Einstein, 
For this amazing conversation. 
Maybe next time, you’ll be discovering that human beings breathe oxygen!

What do you gain
From repeating the same things 
Time and time and time again?
It’s like a CD that got stuck when a nasty song was playing
And it keeps repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating
And defeating you while you’re fighting a battle with your mind,
Telling your body to stop hiding and stand erect with pride
But they can’t see what their comments have caused, 
That you are tormented by your bodily flaws.
These stupid ego-thieves
Have caused you to believe
To let your mind revolt, 
And make you resort
To thinking your fate is your fault.

I was walking down the street 
And an unknown woman yelled at me,
“Ei! 3to nie!”
Translated as, “Damn, that ass though!”
And I was ready or blow, 
But I know
That God does not condone murder.
So I continued on my way,
Swallowed all the words I didn’t say,
Went home, went to eat, and cried myself to sleep.

But why submit to all the bitterness and salt?
If misery was my fate then my fate was my fault.
Since sorries said for an action intended
Mean that the committer has not fully repented,
I refuse to apologise if my body leaves you offended,
But if anything at all, it is Oga you must consult,
Because we both know it’s a lie
That my fate is my fault.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Yeah.
So, the radio experience was fun.

-Akotowaa =)

My Thoughts: And the Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hosseini.

Every time someone asked to see the book, or hear its title, the general response was, “Ei, it sounds deep.” My response to that was: well, it is.

I cannot specifically tell you the subject matter of the book. It was not very defined, and it was winding through narrators, central characters and time zones. I think the skill I most admire in this author is the ability to effectively connect all the characters and times. The span was about seventy years, back and forth.

Without spoiling much, I want to touch on a few themes I identified and what I took from this book.

1. Hiding one’s feelings in fiction.

More than one character did this. There was one specifically closed-off character who never spoke emotionally save through the stories he “created”. Created here is in quotes because what the stories actually were, were foreshadowings of real life events he felt were too emotionally difficult to explain. It occurred to me that people actually use this in real life as a method of escape, but also a dry for help, and maybe we should pay more attention to the “creative” people we think we know. I myself am guilty.

There was another character who was actually a poet, and did similar things, except more lyrically embellished, as poets tend to do

2. Forgetting about passion because of distance

There are some situations that can hit you unbelievably hard, ad can make you feel, at some point, like dedicating your whole life to solving a problem. A certain character felt like this, when, on a trip to Afghanistan, he met a severely physically damaged, orphaned little girl. His heart was, as they say, in the right place. The closeness and reality of the tragic situation sank into him and consumed him with sorrow and the det3rmination to provide means to right the girl’s wrongs, upon his return to America. You could tell it was genuine. However, when he returned, he was swamped by work and engulfed in his own life. Then, gradually the gravity and personal feelings toward the situation began to fade. At a point, he actually started to wonder if his initial passion had ever been real, and why he had made such a senseless commitment. And humans, I am sorry to say, really do have this flaw. Once the problem is far away, it loses its personal relevance to us. We are, by nature, self-centred, thanks to modern life

3. Roots and identity, and family

There was a certain character who was, at a tender age, torn away from her brother. Throughout her life, she felt a metaphorical hole that could not be filled by anything, in her heart. The empty feeling would come upon her at random times, and its intensity only ever decreased after she got married and had children. After finding out she was adopted, she became almost obsessed with finding her origins – that is, until she began her own family after which this concern significantly lessened. I will include a quote from her:

“But it is important to know this, to know your roots. To know where you started as a person. If not, your own life seems unreal to you. Like a puzzle. Vous comprenez? Like you have missed the beginning of a story and now you are in the middle of it, trying to understand.”

The last thing I will add are two of my favourite quotes.

“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.”


“I learned that the world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows that lay masked behind skin and bone.”

I will say that this book is not too long, but it’s not a fast read either. It’s too mentally engaging to gloss over.

 -Akotowaa =)



Her favourite place to get away is a waterfall. Hidden deep in a village in the Volta region, it remains unknown to most people, and thus, unexploited. There, she finds serenity, and blissfully distances herself from people. She does not write there; neither does she draw. Those come later. At the waterfall, all she does is look. 

Sometimes, she looks with her eyes open. At others, she looks with them shut. In both cases, she sees. With her eyes open, she sees natural beauty that man has not yet poisoned with filth or tampered with. She sees the beauty that is visible. She sees freely rushing water that turns to white once it crashes forcefully on the rocks and produces foam. Beyond, the gently rippling water reflects the cloudless blue of the sky. 

She sees with her ears as well; the sound of the water falling, falling like a God is crying tears of joy. She can hear the relentless beating of the water against the rock. It is like a giant, paradoxical chorus of the loudest possible “Shhhh!”; one that overshadows entirely whoever was meant to be silenced in the first place. It suits her just as well, because she wouldn’t want to hear herself think. 

Without her eyes, she sees the waterfall as the dynamic thing it is; the very god of adaptability. Throwing a mere stone in the water will not change the consuming force of the body itself. Plunging a stick in it cannot change, but at most, insignificantly alter its course. It keeps cool in the summer, and all rain does is help it. Even barricading it sounds like a sin. Dam. Damn? As in damnation, for defying the powers of water. As if you can be its master. But dams aren’t eternal. 

Water does not need the approval of man to flow. Neither does it require acceptance to cascade. Water manages to alter while keeping constant. It never tries to be something else. Water finds its way out in the shortest possible time. 

So, with her eyes closed, she studies water, sometimes submerging herself in it. She is determined to learn its ways. With enough practice and dedication, one day, she will be able to tackle life with the adaptability of water. It is her own self-taught lesson of water ninjutsu. 

But whether or not she succeeds, the water will fall.

-Akotowaa =)