Raza Jafri

I used to write essays on variety of topics. You're welcome to read them if you'd like. Below are excerpts from some of them or you can peruse through all of them here.


As the high crawled up on me, I began to enjoy the moment more and more. Here I was sitting in the African sun, exchanging words with Cynthia in between extended moments of silence. It was the silence that was the loudest. The rolling paper crackled as it burned and the water swooshed around in the bucket. In those moments, my eyes would keep wandering back to her, studying her. She was bent over the bucket, methodically moving the wet clothes into an empty one to the right of her. Her sleeves were rolled up and I could see her forearms as she pulled another shirt of mine out of the bucket and wrung it over the pavement. Her toned muscles flexed under her African skin as she twisted the water out. The water dripped heavily onto the pavement and pooled near her bare feet. She was enjoying standing in the cool water. Her wet toes pushed against the wet cement as she maintained balance over the bucket.

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Lamu is paradise. I am so envious of someone who who was raised here. There are no cars present on the island. The buildings are of Arabic influence made with white stone that drip with antiquity. The alleyways are narrow and lined with locals and their mules. It’s clear that everyone knows everyone here. The mornings are so hot it is weary. There is no escape from it; it drains your energy and motivation. As the sun settles into the West, life seeps back into the town. There are forts on the island. Resembling castles, they are relics from when the town was a major trading post. The smell in the air speaks of so many things: the salt from the sea, the donkey shit that lays baking in the sun, the arabic oil that perfumes from the locals, the burning tobacco. The women here are dressed in gorgeous Niqabs. The outer layers are black but the layers underneath are as unique as I’m sure they are. Daffodil yellow, royal purple, and blood red all pair perfectly with the black robes that adorns their bodies. I watch them as they pass and they watch me, saying as much, or as little, as they want with their eyes.

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I think her and I got along in a way that I appreciate more and more, the more and more people I see. There was an airiness to our bond that gave us both a sense of freedom when we were together. There was the comfort, as well. When we were intertwined in bed, I felt a mutual sense of contentment. It was not the fleeting airiness that comes from being detached. It was a lightheartedness that originates in amusement and manifests into a thirst for adventure. I remember when we had finally made it back to my car from the forest during our mushroom trip. I was laying in the driver’s seat with the seat pulled down and my feet out of the window. We listened to the same song I had shown her years ago in my room in Wheaton. It was a song by Philip Glass that felt like antiquity. We were covered in muck and still vibrating from the psychedlics. That moment felt like it could last for eternity. I took a drink of the water and rested my head close to her. I looked at her upside down through a mess of hair, my hand in hers. The moonroof was open and the sun streamed into the car. It all felt so playful and so, in a burst, I spurted out water from my mouth. Much of it escaped into mist, reflecting in the light. Some fell as globs and droplets on my face, on our hands, and on her legs. I felt so much love for her.

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To me it indicated the mindset of a culture. Cultures, like people, vary greatly in their relationship to time. As Mesechu continued to reflect on Kenya he said something along the lines of, “I don’t know about Nairobi, things just move too fast here.” This was beautiful. For the past 3 weeks, all I have heard is complaints by the Westerners that surround me on how slow things move here. To have someone enter from the other end of the frame, forced me to reevealuate the entire vista. This sort of sudden shift in perspective is the hallmark of travelling. It left me to confront one new thought after another. What pace of life should I live at, then?

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