Assuming nothing; questioning everything

Tino’s soul is dead

When I met Tino, I wanted to be her. She was everything I imagined was an embodiment of success. She was intelligent, well-spoken, confident, and accomplished. Her dread-locked hair and African clothed body spoke of self-assurance and comfort with her roots. I could tell that she was just about my age, and that made me slightly jealous and curious at the same time. I wondered what it was that had moulded her to be that way; was it her background, did she go to the ‘right’ schools, or just a case of very high intelligence? To sum it up, Tino was my girl – crush.

Talking to Tino was completely accidental. I had not intended to talk to her, being too intimidated to approach her. When I talked to her though, I realised that we had so much in common, and although we came from different countries, we had shared dreams and aspirations for our countries. Ours was a union of hearts, and a marriage of minds. Tino was like a waterfall; energetic, inspiring and just fresh. I got so much from her, and felt guilty that I didn’t have as much to offer her.

Over the years, we managed to stay in touch, hopeful, but uncertain that we would meet again. I almost fainted when I got a call from Tino, telling me that she was in town, and inviting me to a conference, where she would be making a presentation. Not wanting to miss a single minute of her presentation, I got there in time to listen to her speak. I took out my note book and my pen, popped up my ears alert ready to listen to every word that Tino had to say. I knew Tino would have just the right words, leaving the entire room energised and inspired.

They say, great expectations make frustrated (wo)men, and I was to learn the meaning of that saying on that day. Tino was not her usual self. I attributed it to fatigue, given that she had just arrived the day before. Even then, I knew that she would deliver, and I waited anxiously. Contrary to what I expected, Tino was flat, dull and even annoying. Her passion was missing, and her radical ideas had been replaced with the conventional. The poor, the homeless, the dead and the dying, were no longer people, but objects of statistics and intervention. Rather than feel energised, I started to feel lethargic as energy was slowly sapped out of me.

As I listened to Tino, I began to experience waves of emotions. First came the shock, at the transformation, then denial, followed by anger, and a sense of betrayal to the cause that we stood for. We had taken on an unspoken oath to defend and fight for equality, justice and truth. At that point, I wanted to stand up and protest, but the ‘dignity’ that masked the room, and perhaps my own uncertainty, held me back.

As she continued to speak, I realised that Tino was no longer with us, but had joined the living-dead; her soul was dead, and she was not even aware. She was like a tree with decaying roots, seemingly alive, but could not bear fruit.

At that moment, I could not stand it anymore. I walked out of the room, my throat choking, as I held back tears, my mind going insane with thoughts, my heart filled with emotions. As I got into a taxi, I asked myself, what had killed Tino’s soul. I reflected at a time when my soul had died. I cried as I remembered the pain of carrying a dead soul. I cried in empathy, at the thought of Tino experiencing the same pain.

My heart bleeds for Tino’s soul. The dilemma I am in is enormous. Where do I find answers to the questions that have been running through my mind? I lay sleepless at night pondering how to awaken a dead soul. I fear for the security and stability of my own soul. I wonder if I am up to the task to resuscitate the soul of a woman that I once looked up to.

My phone is ringing now. It is Tino…”hallo”…..


Comments on: "Tino’s soul is dead" (8)

  1. d'Arthez said:

    The themes you touch upon are common in great pieces of literature. From Gogol and Dostoyevski, through Ibsen, Kafka and Boon to mention but a few authors from wildly different traditions. Voices as divergent as Fanon and Biko, humanist scholars, inspiring religious leaders have commented on such a sorry state of affairs.

    Crying in solitude, as cathartic as it may be, sadly won’t help you to save Tino’s soul. For people like Tino, the observable joy she may notice in kids when one of the observed interventions takes place, may be nothing more than a good photo opportunity.

    Maybe it is too late for her, for no one but herself can reignite the passion for life, no one but her can overcome the mental prison you describe, that she has inflicted upon herself.

    The question is, not so much one of diagnosing the various social ills, as what can be done, to retain our humanity, for ourselves, the less fortunate, and future generations?


    • Thank you for reading, and for the very detailed analysis of my work. I am flattered, deeply honoured and humbled to be compared to such great writers. I see my blog as an opportunity to transform the complex philosophical theories of great revolutionary writers and scholars into easy digestible arguments, where I can.

      I agree with you that only Tino has the power to rescue herself, but I wonder if I her soul would have stayed alive had I been my sisters’ keeper. As such, perhaps my tears are also tears of guilt. I am not sure she has really inflicted this on herself as you suggest, maybe she failed to realise how easy it easy to lose one self, and that it requires greater effort and consciousness to retain our humanity.


      • d'Arthez said:

        Whether she has inflicted it on herself, is probably impossible to know. It is certainly not a conscious choice on the part of Tino.

        What I suspect is that it is nothing dramatic, nothing life-altering like, say a near fatal car accident, that happened to her. But that slowly over time, she lost focus of her ideals; that experience has tempered her idealism, and lowered her expectations.

        Life happens, if you don’t take control over it. Obligations come, expectations have to be negotiated, sometimes from young ages onward, when we’re hardly aware that such things even exist. That is certainly not as easy as people often make it out to be.

        It takes a strong person to stay true to themselves.


  2. Your last sentence captures the message perfectly. That it takes a strong person to stay true to themselves; which I think begins with understanding what one stands for, and as you say, taking control to stay true and committed to those ideals.


  3. This I can relate to in more ways than one.


    • Hi Shadrack. Thank you for reading. It would be interesting to hear how you relate to this. Do you mind elaborating a bit?


      • How you believe in something strongly and then over time it wears off until you no longer believe in it any more. Then you have people that believed in you because of what you believe in and you let them down.


      • Often expectations and desires stand in the way of truly expressing ourselves. We’re often caught in a web of what other people desire us to believe. Most people keep up the pretense, and it takes great personal courage to break through that – the fear of being ostracized, is a powerful deterrent – and that is already assuming that people are in the position in which announcing such a decision does not lead to immediate ruin.


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