STILL ABOUT THE INSIDE
I couldn’t be late…no; not again. I had tirelessly prepared for this event but if I missed one move, it seemed I could abort 3 months of hard work. I didn’t have time to make my bed or fold my clothes. That could pass today…it had actually been that way for the past ….well, i can’t really count now. I’ll get round to it sooner or later. This meeting was paramount on my mind and its success would bring about change in the world of Interiors. Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.Should I eat at home, pack the food or go to Aunty Meg’s Kitchen to sort my hunger out? Time was of the essence. Anyway, I wasn’t intending to drive so I could actually eat on my way to the venue. I glanced at the time while I creamed the visible areas of my body. Thankfully, I had actually planned on what I was going to wear, so there was no crisis there. It had to be something that would reflect what the meeting stood for… I briskly dressed and perfumed the African printed top and slacks and headed for the door.
Conflict awaited me between the two most important doors of the moment: the door leading out of my bedroom and the door leading out of the house. Moments like this, a private exit from my room would have come in handy but no such fortune in the rented apartment we lived in. It was bad enough rent rates were so high; despite the overwhelming plumbing issues we encountered from day 1. Adding all these extras luxuries seemed to be an utter waste of resources; wouldn’t it? Should we manage it until we could build our own place and do things to specification? These thoughts, however, were for another day. Soon enough, though, I would have to follow my gut feeling and give the place a facelift…yes…despite the fact it wasn’t mine and ensure the ambience suited our needs and reflected professionalism. (no matter how simple) The other option would be to follow the general opinion to wait and save our money until we got ours, right? It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J. K. Rowling
Where in heavens name was that noise coming from within my walls early this morning? I stormed out to the very scene I was trying to avoid. ”Are you a child that you must cry over everything”? , I caught myself yelling to the 6- year old? He looked at me quizzically and went off still bawling. Just give him what he wants I told the nanny, and strangled the surging guilt that I had spent no quality time with them for...i had lost count. I couldn’t afford that right now. I needed to do a mental rehearsal before heading out. I hoped he wasn’t asking for a knife, or something. I've always been very aware of balance and, even before I had a child, my life always takes priority to my work.
The gateman was nowhere in sight. After waiting for less than 5 seconds, my efficient driver decided to save himself from my temper and stand in for his brother. (They both came from the same state)This was the fourth time this week I was going through this. The excuses were templates in my mind: either he had gone to eat, gone to gist or nobler still; gone to ease himself down the road or in the wilds! Fortunately for him, we had expanses of uncultivated, unkempt fields around the neighborhood. Truth-be-told, not too different from inside the compound; and to think everyone plays the blame game… The landlord blames the caretaker, the caretaker the tenants, the tenants blame both the landlord and the caretaker and eventually each other. The vicious circle goes round and round. Blame is just a lazy person's way of making sense of chaos.
Doug Coupland My driver looked at me curiously as we drove out the gate. Not a word from me. No complaining of how people are paid and they don’t deliver or a word about the inefficiency of our security outfits…not a word. Unknown to him, something had caught my eye as we drove towards the gate, something reminding me of issues, like my unmade bed, I had kept pushing to the back of my mind.
It was the security post.
The door to the post was slightly ajar. It was a blurry image from where I was but unmistakable…end. Dingy and stuffed with old newspapers, I noticed the tiny security post was devoid of any form of comfort…yes, I know it’s just a security post but nevertheless; where he spends his whole day when on duty. “Pleasure is Nature's test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment.” His bathroom was self-designed. As dysfunctional as it was, He had improvised his bathing area by using the nature around him; (can’t say the same about some of our designs…be it roads, or houses. We’d rather bulldoze the trees and the rocks out of our way instead of incorporating them. Little wonder erosion seems a natural part of our landscapes.) He had a ‘shower curtain’ (an old bed sheet) tied between two trees. The fence and the security post acted as the walls. Dirt was bound to bounce back on his feet with the water splashes. He rushed out with barely anything on to close the gate. I found it ironic that I was rushing off for a seminar I had helped organize titled, “Interior Design: Your part in your Community”. What part was I playing in my little compound? Was it with refuse disposal or maintenance of the compound grounds…or was it with the insurmountable issues that needed attention in the house?
The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what's in or what's out. This is not an easy job.
I recalled several of the tenants had complained about their absence at their duty posts several times…possibly the same experience I just had but who was to blame, really? For crying out loud! How could we expect them to function effectively without the bare necessities? Okay, I don’t think he’s asking for a “designer” WC; in this case, even the archaic pit toilet would be more honorable than the wilds he was accustomed to. And the slab of concrete that served as the bath tub? Please!
But where do we even start from? How does change begin? It begins with a serious deliberate and conscious effort to ‘look at the man in the mirror’ and, still borrowing from Michael Jackson, asking him to change his ways. Not outside where we feel it matters most, ( my seminar, perhaps?) but from the inside and with the things that really matter; our responses and reactions with our children, our attitude towards our immediate environment, the Change starts from me…from you…and the decision to look around us more keenly and be our brother’s keeper. Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.
Helen Keller It should become hypocrisy to step out of our homes, or drive out of our neighborhoods, without feeling pangs of conviction to act on the wrongs we see in our environment. Trust me; a herculean task starts with just a step at a time. First things first, don’t go out of your house, your room, without ensuring at least one thing is in place. Stop throwing gum wraps out the car window! When you organize the outside, believe me I don’t know how it connects, but something about the inside echoes a response.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.