Friday, May 30, 2014

The journal entry (a short story)

"29th May 2014

I spent the last five minutes trying to start this entry with one of my epigrams. But all I can think of is - I am 86 now. Well, I presume I can be lax and not keep up my "witty and profound style" in my journal entries. I am not deluded into thinking nobody will read this- I am certain somebody will find this 5 years from now and put it up on Twitter for all those silly people to read. Yes, I said silly. I doubt that ten years from now writers would have the courage to call their readers that. I doubt they can do it now, but at least there are a few Shaw fans still around so there is hope. Anyway, I think I can be lax because I choose to be, whether anyone ever reads this or not.

Getting back to business. Today was like any other day in the last 4 years since I lost my hearing. I went through my regular morning ablutions and breakfast and then sat at my writing table for an hour with a book review that I hope to send out tomorrow. Somehow, my writing seems to have mellowed with me, so it takes me much longer to write words that count. Not that it matters in this day. When any buffoon (I am actually thinking baboon here) with a phone camera is able to make it to a few hours of fame like a firefly, it seems moot to even to attempt to write meaningfully.

No, I am not a sour, grumpy, old man in general. I know have had my good days- getting out alive after a World War was a biggie (notice how I keep my language updated. Mr.Dickinson at grammar school would have considered that a sacrilege, but I am the adapting kind. Yes, I am no grumpy old man!), then there was the Pulitzer and more recently the Peace Prize nomination. I am sure I would have got that last one if they had not decided to give it to a politician before he did anything at all. Lest you think I care- I don't. Knowing you shall be one with the mud in a few years leaves little room for desire. When I was younger, I used to want people to think great things about me "after I am gone". Maybe I imagined that I would be watching from the heavens or something. It seems preposterous because it's obvious to me now that if I am not around to notice, how can I give a damn what people think about me.

I have had my bad days too. Death of a spouse, paralysis of one leg and so forth. But I don't want to drag this entry down with the weight of useless immutable sorrow.

I only have one desire. Something that shall not come true, but a desire nevertheless. I wish I had died a century ago. There would have been a quiet ceremony with just a few people that mattered. Of course, there would still be that neighbor Mr.Jones jumping around my grave trying to look like he was my closest friend and like he actually understood me. But at least it would have been just one person like that. The rest of the congregation would know I desire quiet and would leave me alone.
You see, all I desire now is to go quietly. I don't care if nobody understands my work, as long as the ones that don't, remain silent. I don't even care if nobody notices - I could be that tree that fell in the forest for all I care.

But as I said, that is not going to be. Millions of people are going to tweet away their "RIP"s- the ones that had never known me the loudest to proclaim the sorrow at my loss. There will be the auctions next, where men with wads of cash and vain old ladies with inheritance but poor eyesight would want to spend millions on my first published work and my first typewriter. To be honest, I'd rather someone just burn up all of my personal belongings or donate it to someone poor. That auction money could definitely be used better. A fan who wants to own my pen probably never understood that I never thought it was about the person. If someone understood my ideas, what do I care if they did not even know my name. 
Oh well, I assume I will have to put a clause in my will against the auctions one of these days, if I find it worth the effort to make one at all.

But they won't stop with the auctions. There will be the stupid blogposts- what Tamajong's work meant for racial equality, why Tamajong's loss is too big for mankind, and so on. Then the life portraits- "Tamajong moved into the US at a time of great strife", "He shall remain a beacon of hope for millions to come" etc. If I had any life left in me at that point, the din of insincerity would finish me off.

Actually, I don't mind what people would say about me half as much as what they would do to my writing. I do not want those memes with my quotes (and quotes of people I completely disagreed with) on them. And I definitely do not want people sharing a piece of my novel with "This story will make you cry and change your soul forever" (Notice how I started this sentence with "And". Mr.Dickinson is turning in his grave now!). I do not want the commentaries and the throwing around of my name at dinner parties where hosts try hard to impress upon their guests the idea that they are elite and well-read. In fact, I wish I didn't even have a name.

And if someone owns my first published article and think it is to be treasured, what d
" (the handwriting trails off here)

Detailed above is the text of Peter Tamajong's last journal entry. This page shall be auctioned on Sunday the 21st of June at the African-American Writers' Museum; the auction is open for the public. The offered price is 2 million USD but the bids are expected to go up to 10 million.
Peter Tamajong, considered one of the most remarkable writers of the 21st century and certainly one of the most influential, passed away on the 29th of May while writing his last journal entry. This newspaper joins the millions of fans in praying his soul rests in peace.

(Also see Page 4: Interview of Toni Morrison on Tamajong's demise,
Page 5: Fans assemble at the Tamajong house in LA for last tribute
and Special Supplement on Peter Tamajong: One small word for a writer, one giant leap for mankind)



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