‘Somewhere, always, behind visible life, behind the backcloth of survival, a battle between flesh and mind occurs and recurs. Kingsley Charles’ “Why I Fast–a testimony in fine language–is an inward conversation in milieu of the said recurrence; and in it are some of the most interestingly paradoxical givens of the thinking soul’
— Oyin Oludipe, Nonfiction Editor
The third day. In the grey half-light of the gloaming, I hear the tempests rage. Feed that need, boy! But the land lies barren—no food, no water, except for a suck of stifling air. Why do I fast? Why do I starve my flesh of gastronomic indulgences? Why? To abnegate appetite? Or invoke penitence? Ours is a rainbow world, bursting at the seams with the spiralling proclivities of the glitterati, a court of the fetishes of Polaroids. My life’s task is not given to such flaming whims. Thus, I lock my vision in the void of my soul—not for the ecstatic raptures of the tongue. No! I abnegate fleshly desires to immure myself in the hallowed sanctuary of being, of solitude, where words are but spattering motes of thoughts.
Why do I fast? Why do I staunch passion? Why do I so vehemently resist the continuing bursts of Ghrelin to suffer resultant pangs and collywobbles from unfed worms? A masochistic strain? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Of course, Jesus fasted; and Moses fasted, as well as the prophets of old, all to connect with their daemons. Hence, I scorn delights to nourish yet chastise my mind; for can the flesh and mind be reconciled? I must resist the seduction of culinary flourishes to immerse myself in the Brooks of Socrates’ philosophy and King Solomon’s poetry and Chaucer’s fables. I suffer my flesh to learn wisdom and adopt madness, which transcend the sordid wretchedness of unregenerate rubble. I must grow. I must grow.
But all humans are mortal. I am human; therefore, I am mortal. I must console my flesh lest it should wither to a reluctant death. Hence, as the rising ball of fire baths my void with its rich red-gold light, I flatten my bonce against the sash and fasten my eyes upon the horizons—with the rose-tinted spectacles of youth—to cast foggy scenes, scenes which are, in truth, too heavenly, too ethereal to be crafted into form. Yet, I spawn those foggy scenes to sweeten my soul. Man must dream: it is the elixir of life. Or what, like the winged dart, sweetens the heart but dreams?
Day six. A forlorn path seared by Hell’s fury. I am sinking into the depths of the gloom. O Crescent, where art thou?
Kingsley Charles is a matted-haired stripling, who finds companionship in his thoughts. He is a medical student at the University of Calabar.