Being a character


I have become a character in a book.

My options are limited because I have to constantly make sure the options are consistent with what The Book says. It just so happens that I really do want to go back to South Africa, but even to say it in such an ordinary manner is loaded with meaning. Somewhere within me a voice hysterically responds: “Why does he say, want to go back to South Africa? Shouldn’t it rather be, yearns for it with every gram of fat in his body?”

This literary project is still months away from the point where I could walk away from it, to give to others to read. But The Book is already holy. Things have been written, so I can’t change it anymore!

Do you the reader realise that, like an old-school propagandist, I can remove all the instances where I mention going back to South Africa? I can replace it all with “want to establish myself in the wastelands of Patagonia” or “Every ounce of my being yearns to become an evangelist.”

What if I say I’ve already gone through such a process? That the first version of this project rattled on monotonously about my long-time desire to move to North Dakota? Because that is where my wife and two children live – I’m sorry, I wiped out all references to them as well – since my brother (the two sisters were also a fabrication) took them to America to join him on his ranch? Will you believe me when I say that my brother did it because I had embezzled money from … let’s say Standard Bank, and that I came up with the idea of writing a book about “self-imposed exile” during my seven years’ incarceration?

The other possibility is that I’m a creature from outer space.

Am I ready to start writing stories? Clearly not. What is true, is that I’m annoyed with the fact that I am writing myself more and more into a corner, that I feel caged in by my own writing.

And to think I wanted to start this piece with a plain question: What does my ideal life in South Africa look like?