Once upon a time, in a year I do not want to remember (but long ago), I took a safari tour across Northern Kenya. On a day I also choose to forget, I arrived at the end of the world. Scarped slopes lay accusingly in the distance, behind Lake Turkana. Round-bellied children looked up at me with bittersweet eyes that grew large and soft each time they giggled. By the fishing villages, the jeweled lake spread like liquid silver over the plain, ending in a vast mouth that slowly devoured the rosy red clouds. Trees had fled and boulders and sand wrapped around us like a petrified mist. Countless pebbles, smoothed by eons of erosion, became a handful of dust, slipping through my fingers, like tears of coal. My heart welcomed the sounds of children, but loved even more the indifference and solitude of the dry air.
春日在天涯， chūn rì zài tiān yá
天涯日又斜。 tiān yá rì yòu xié
莺啼如有泪， yīng tí rú yǒu lèi
为湿最高花。 wèi shī zuì gāo huā
At the end of the world, on a Spring day
When the sun sets,
Were the nightingale to sing, imagine its tears
Sprinkling the tallest flowers
Musical Interlude: Rachmaninoff Prelude Op 32/10 played by Mark O. Ndesandjo
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s prelude evinces a fatalistic, fins de siècle mood. I recorded this piece in Nairobi last year. If one listens carefully one can hear birds in the garden!
Lake Turkana – is the world’s largest desert lake. Lake Turkana sustains the tribes in Kenya’s remote north, but projects upstream threaten its lifeblood. Read more about this in Last Rites for the Jade Sea
About the Calligraphy
春日在天涯，天涯日又斜。莺啼如有泪，为湿最高花。At the end of the world, on a Spring day, when the sun sets. Were the nightingale to sing, imagine its tears sprinkling the tallest flowers. (3 rows, 20 characters, Cursive Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo.