THE UNIVERSE, TINCTURED
by KC Manuel
The chalk writings leap off the face of the blackboard which received a paint job
that nudiustertian morning. The blackboard, always in a continuous mode of data collection like a government database, is as rigid as the education we procure. Although bound to a state of
deletion and depletion, the chalk reincarnates into a chain of dunes at the foot of the blackboard, clogging the teacher’s gullet and painting her black hands white on its way down. Through
inculcation, she belts the mnemonic now earworm: ”Z for Zebra”, and coughs maniacally.
Mother warned me not to trust anyone when crossing the road, not even the yellow, green, red
and amber colours of the traffic lights, but the white stripes on the black bitumen because the
way these colours kiss my frail feet is like an entire street holding my hand to safety.
History has it that at first the black on the Kenyan flag wasn’t accompanied by white. On asking
why, the teacher says I’m old enough to know that a complete day is the binary of daylight and
darkness. The added white fimbriation turned the black and red and green into a pout. The
minimalist white wears its new identity – peace – like an undeserved medallion. The black,
always as rigid as the education we procure, doesn’t even acquire something as simple as
pertinacity for a new identity. It’s so insecure of the white that a shield and two spears have to be ingrained in the flag, for why would they be needed where there’s peace?
My screenplay was returned unread because it had little white space. But how else could I have
told this Biblical epic when this way was my only way of making sense of the world around me?
The Bible is open to interpretation like a poem. It’s a scope you can only see through in a split-
second and strike its meaning like gold from the earth’s underbelly. As I muse over my loss, the
major plot points play in the theatre of my hazy headspace: Jesus comes back on earth as a zebra.
As He reincarnates into the Father, He flays and His skin carpeted on the road leading to the
judgement square. Some people step on the white spaces. Some people step on the black spaces.
Others, bound for glory, walk with their heads held high, heedless of the ground graced by the
union of two beautiful colours people deem to be odd, but still revelling in the power of this
THE UNIVERSE, TINCTURED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KC Manuel is an emerging Kenyan poet and writer, and student at Kibabii University. His works have appeared in The Kalahari Review. His piece, ‘The Rough Ride Home’, was shortlisted for the Igby Prize For Nonfiction. More than anything else, he reveres moonlit nights and twilights. If he’s not writing, he’s thinking about what to write next.