When I finished school Asante invited me to move to the city and live with her. I went to college for a while but there wasn’t enough money for me to even finish the first year. Asante got me job where she also worked – waitressing. We worked long hours for minimum pay so when we were free we painted the town red. Asante is those free-spirited type of people who live for today because she had been told she would die young. Yeah doctors and their false diagnosis or maybe God has a hand in it when everything says you should die but it just isn’t your time.
Asante wanted to live fully before she died so she was impulsive; a night out with her could go from breaking into rich people’s houses and skinny dipping to ending up in jail. You never know so I had to always be the voice of reason. After a while living with Asante became too much and I moved out to try and salvage that little bit of respect we still had for each other. Every other day was a party night at her place. I later realised she not only smoked but did drugs too. It was like she was trying to have her chest give out on her after all, but she believed the drugs were medicated. She was spiralling out of control and she wouldn’t listen to reason. She always claimed to have a handle on her smoking.
One night we woke up with guns in our faces and bulky men raiding the place looking for money. I ended up giving them money I had been saving up just to get them to leave. That and the feeling of being sucked into a death trap pushed me to move out. Asante saw the move as some sort of betrayal, but I wanted different things in life and ending up with a bullet in my head in an apartment block so far from home was not one of them. Smoking a joint from time to time was cool, but a full-on mix of drugs and heavy drinking every other night wasn’t my cup of tea. It always wasn’t good for my voice. I had decided to sing at bars at night to make a bit of money and put myself out there to see if I could crack singing as a profession. I had never seen myself singing professionally but every time someone heard me sing they’d plant the seed so I figured why not give it a try. Once I got over the fear of trying and failing I loved it. It was a slow process but once people knew my name they bought into whatever it was I was selling them. Music was my love; the notes lured me away from the world into another dimension where I could recreate and express myself without fear. I could tell my story through sound and look into the eyes of listeners knowing I was touching a piece of them that needed to hear something new.
I had to stop singing when I found a better job that promised growth at a corporate place. I put in five years there working like a slave to the promises of a promotion but the pay was better than the waitressing and bar gigs combined. It still left a lot to be desired because it wasn’t my passion, and after years of doing it I expected to be further in position as promised. I trained and retrained for a new position but was never placed. I trained new staff and they ended up getting placed before me. I woke up one day and quit my job and decided to follow my dreams. Of course, opportunity had to present itself. I had to wait until my sister was working. Before I left I tried to get in contact with Asante but her number went straight to voicemail and she’d moved out of her old place. I showed up at home ready to recuperate from the city and its demands but my mother didn’t approve. I think she feared what I’d become just sitting at home and sleeping my life away. I was set in the decision to stop living for other people and their expectations.
At home the air is lighter and you feel you can just live and shift with the wind with no worries about the state of politics and not care if the fuel is up or down. The pace is slower and the highest connection is between people; you may even have to pray for good network connection. I was in that Zen mode, just collecting myself when I got the call from Asante’s mom. I knew it was bad news and a great part of me regretted not trying harder to save her. I picked up waiting to hear that she was dead. Praying that she hadn’t overdosed, only to find out that Asante died in a prison cell in Thailand where she was caught smuggling drugs and got detained. Her mother had to go there and collect her body because all they wanted in the end was to give her a decent funeral. All spoke of Asante’s will to live beyond here and now. We had always talked of one day travelling and when that didn’t happen she pushed borders and found a way to make it happen, never mind that it was illegal. In the end she smoked herself out and I, the voice of reason wasn’t around to see it happen. We sometimes argue with people we love and because of differences we stop talking and become strangers in a way. Even when we talk again we find it hard to find our way back to that earlier connection because of whatever feelings we harbour towards each other.