June 24, 2013
The roads were perfectly tarred. The markers were perfectly aligned. Street lights were light exotic lamps spread out equidistant along every street, never failing to light up at twilight. Speed limits were spelt out and adhered to. The lawns were a perfect green, tempting you to lie on them and bathe in the sun if only it was actually up there. Well, it was indeed up there, very far away, hidden away by the thick clouds, its effect completely quelled by the chilling breeze.
The apartments were well managed, regularly cleaned. Everything was paid for, nothing free. Even the smiles from security men and receptionists were “part of the service”. After all, they were taught to make sure the “customer” was always happy. The customer paid for the smiles like he paid for everything else. The sound-proof walls were sealed; making the streets like half-ghost-towns. Once in a while, a car passed by, a fellow or two walked by. You could not have imagined the amount of noise within the walls of that mall we so often went to. You could not have guessed the number of people in the fourteen story apartment building.
Everyone minded their own business – European Hellenization of Africa. The community was swallowed up by individuality. Those who were nice to you were almost always paid to be nice to you. Often, you were the payer and you were at their shop. I mused about how many lonely, depressed and unhappy some folks could be, locked up behind sealed walls and sound-proof walls in their lavishly furnished apartments. I mused about how many of the “love pairs” I ever so often saw were merely make-belief relationships fighting the loneliness deep in their souls, attempting to find meaning in physical intimacy alone.
You see, humans were created to need family, and community. Some seeks to replace that need with gadgets or social media, keeping people far away enough not to hurt you but close enough to meet your own need for attention. The people around you are your cook, your cleaner, tablet, cell phone, computer and possibly your pet. The people that accompany you are your car and your driver, behind sealed glasses rushing early to spend eight to twelve hours daily with other lonely souls at work. It becomes obvious that the living things closest to you are often paid to be close to you. The 21st Century City.