The days are quiet out in the wild. The only sound you can hear is the sound of wind tickling the trees, and the trees responding in loud guffaws as they sway from the mirth. If the trees had arms, it is certain that they would be holding their sides in pain. From the proper vantage point, you can see the joke spread from one side of a forest to another. Soon enough, the entire forest is in on it. At those times, I can hear the world laugh.
Not at you, or with you. It laughs with an indifference to our existence.
At night, the crickets shriek an impassioned orchestra that drowns the laughter of the trees, but if you listen closely, you can still hear the amusement in the air. The green of the trees is lost, only to be replaced by a blackness that is only shaded by pitch blackness. The humor turns black with the leaves. The backdrop is a clear, starry sky where it is finally evident that there are more stars in the sky than human beings who have lived, are living and will ever live. Against this, the trees are monstrous shapes. They are patches of the abyss that block out the radiance of the night even as they continue their rustling laughter in night-time breezes. If you close your eyes, you can imagine the leafy teeth in the wide grin that accompanies the glee of every tree. The nights laugh the richest, deepest laughs on the dark continent.
Monetarily speaking, Africa is an impoverished continent. The only green you’re likely to find in most countries here is in the form of thick, impenetrable foliage. If leaves were money, Africa would be the most affluent continent on Earth.
Despite the poverty, it is hard to find a place where people break into smiles as easily. There is no ice to break here. The humor is inescapable. Out here, the primary realities of life – Sex, Love, Death, Truth and Religion – are simpler than they are anywhere else in the world. Elsewhere, all humor is derived in one form or the other from the perversion of these realities.
In Africa, they are uncorrupted by men. Men are so overcome by the bestial nature of the land that any realities become invisible. When the trees laugh, they laugh in open mockery of Man’s feeble attempts to subvert these realities to elicit humor. They mean nothing to the wild. Eventually, they tend to mean nothing to the people that live there. It is only there that laughter can permeate and become a part of a man’s soul.
A sense of peace pervades and eventually saturates anyone who spends enough time here. Everything is more heightened, and being more intense, drowns our senses. The feeling is that of the calm one feels when underwater. You notice it as soon as you step off the airplane into Africa, and it sinks in further when you escape the hustle of the continent’s burgeoning cities into Africa proper. The indifference of virgin Nature is so much more fulfilling than the indifference of Man’s cities, those rearing tumors on the planet’s surface that are as cancerous to the people that dwell there as they are to the world that they belong to. Living in Africa always feels like going home to the innocents we used to be.
If it has been said that laughter is medicinal, then Africa is medicinal. Apart from the Malaria and lawlessness, of course. The people who think that they can fix Africa are the very same kind of people who thought that Industrialization made the world a better place. It might have, but it is still scarring this beautiful planet we live on. This is a place that fixes you, not the other way around. Human beings have never fixed anything of importance. That is still the domain of Creation. We do not create. We are very good at destroying, though. One day, we will understand that true power lies in the former, and that it is the only kind of power worth having.
Just as the laughter heals, the frequent rains baptize. When it rains, the sky sobs uncontrollably as the trees drip in empathy. Lightning forks ring the black sky like whips cracking at a million angry lions roaring on the wind. The grass drinks in the anger of the lightning and returns it in deep green fire unending.
Still, as the tears get heavier, the roaring laughter of the trees grows louder. Sometimes, it appears as though Africa is the continent that mirrors the Earth’s emotion. The sky here cries for what the world suffers elsewhere and the trees laugh so that the world can smile too. In the face of that gargantuan sense of humor, what are our feeble jokes? They are poor jokes.