MOTHER, MOTHER

Mothers’ Day happens to be one of the greatest celebrated days on social media. We all want to show off our mothers and shower them with praise and admiration. For the first time since I joined social media, I did not put up a post or photo of my mom. I logged on to Whatsapp and texted her, with guilt burning my insides. It wasn’t guilt of not putting her up and all. It was guilt of just how much we wait for birthdays and Mothers’ Day to celebrate our mothers. And when we have ran out of WCWs to put up that week.

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It is particularly hard for me to write this. I have battled the pros and cons of uploading this post. But I feel it is time we embraced the truth, confronted the shortcomings at hand and started finding solutions for them. The elephant being, our relationships with our mothers are not as glossy as we want to show the world, and we are doing nothing about it.

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The relationship between our mothers and us is one of the most fulfilling relationships we can have, yet can be the most frustrating most devastating most draining relationship. I do not refuse that we love mothers- no, don’t get me wrong. But if we were to be honest, most of us are struggling in their mother-child relationship.

Growing up, I feared my mother. Greatly. To me, she was a teacher and a trainer. I approached her every time I had trouble with my homework, and she trained me when it came to public speaking. If ever I was struggling with anything, I would approach my dad with hypothetical questions while out watching stars or in his study poring over books until I got answers. But of course, whenever he sensed something was up with me, he’d tell my mom. And she would ask me hypothetical questions in turn.

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My mother is an amazing caregiver. Anyone who knows her would testify to that. I greatly admire her. Raising three daughters she begat between ages 22 and 29 hasn’t been easy. She didn’t know how it is growing up around alcohol and boys and super exposure. To me, I don’t think she even knows how to handle a broken heart right on. She is a very good counselor. But most of those things she did not go through, you know?

So she sheltered the girls. Probably with the thought that if she protected us from the outside world, we wouldn’t need to face some difficulties. Her childhood? She couldn’t talk of boys and sex and alcohol. Oh, such promiscuity! She married her first boyfriend. A pastor who adores the life out of her even to date, 28 years later.

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See, our Kenyan mothers mostly have aspired to be the BEST MOTHERS instead of being the MOTHERS WE NEED. That is the void we are trying to fill. We have overly strict mothers who may make it hard to talk to or to approach when things are wrong or ish ish. In other cases, we have mothers who are just toxic to their kids. (Yes, I said it) But are they the ones who we should blame? Should we even blame anyone for how we were raised?

Our generation is in a time when things are just crazy. We crave for parental figures who can be our friends as well, where we can run to them first before Google and before our friends. The void we have, the void we hope our mothers could have filled is still open. And we walk through life looking for SOMEONE who could fill it.

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I believe that the best gift we could give our mothers this year is reconnecting with them. Quit waiting for the time you need money or you’re travelling home to talk with her. Let it be a relationship you need and wish to nurture as much as you nurture your relationship with your crush. Next year, as you put up that post and call her your best friend, let it be true.

You have a mother or step mother who’s been cruel to you? Forgiveness is key. Easier said than done, but it is crucial. “Ephesians 6:2-3 ‘Honor your father and mother’- which is the first commandment with a promise- ‘that it may GO WELL WITH YOU and that you may ENJOY LONG LIFE on earth’” You don’t have to love them. You only need to honor and obey them.

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For the mothers out there, let us try to care for more than just the physical wellbeing of our kids. They need emotional health too. This year, try reconnect with your kids. “Psalms 127:3 Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him.” Don’t waste this gift.

Photos: Courtesy

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SECRETARY OF THE HOLY GHOST

Mama Lucy Kibaki becomes the first Kikuyu woman to die and leave a rich husband behind. I tried so hard not to laugh at this, but, oh well. That’s beside the point.
After watching a whole lot of Hollywood movies, I am almost convinced that people can turn in their graves, or be delayed from “proceeding to the other world” by others. That a person can just roam about in purgatory, for those who believe in it, happens to be one of the scariest things you could ever encounter. Believe me, the minute you sit down for a marathon of Sleepy Hollow, you will understand what I am saying.
Today, we woke up to the sad news of the untimely death of Mama Lucy Kibaki. Untimely because, we are never prepared for the death of a loved one, even of those who basically live on a hospital bed (no pun intended). Amidst the many condolence messages and jokes about her eyebrows, something caught my eye and mad me really pissed off. Comments and posts about how the family deserves the pain.

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Who are we to judge who deserves pain and who doesn’t? Has Jesus been hiring and I missed the memo? We are up in arms about how Mwai Kibaki was corrupt and took his wife to a bomb shell hospital most of us can’t afford, while our relatives rot on those KNH floors, thus the family deserves such pain. Ranting about how our sins always catch up with us and it’s their turn.
Well, self-proclaimed Secretary of the Holy Ghost, shame on you and take a seat. No one should ever have to be cajoled and ridiculed because of misfortune. The sins of a spouse or a family member should never be intertwined with the life of any of their spouses or family members. So what if Mwai Kibaki was corrupt? So what if he rigged the elections? Let Mama Lucy be!

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You need to point a finger, direct them to the person at fault. Let the others be. If she died as a punishment to Kibaki, that is for God Almighty to decide and know, not for you, self-proclaimed Secretary, to determine.
Mama Lucy deserves to “cross over” and await her day of judgement in peace. But here we are, already turning her over before she’s even in her coffin. Being silent over Kibaki’s alleged sins for all this time and bringing them up in a time of sorrow is plain wrong. Let us stop being so conditioned to celebrating people’s misfortune.


Unless, of course, you already have The Book of Life in your hands? I would love to know my fate.
Rest in eternal peace, Mama Lucy. We will forever remember your boldness.

Photos: Courtesy

THE INTERVIEW…

There’s nothing more intimidating than an interview. I guess interviews are only put in place to shake you up, make you second-guess your self and just experience 19 minutes of anxiety and panic. Right from the time you dress up to leave for the interview, you wonder whether or not you’re ready. “What if they ask me why I talk the way I do?”  Or if my “walking style is befitting of the role I’m applying for!

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Then there you are. Seated and breathing like a STD One child in his first day of school. Wondering why mother dearest had to go to the loo and leave you there. Only this time, mother dearest is not with you. My mother dearest would have to sneak out in the cargo hold of a plane to be here in a day. Do you see?

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I’m sitting at the waiting bay, waiting for my interview. My interviewers are 17 minutes late for me so far. (Bam! Being the terrible timekeeper I am, I’ve waited my whole life to say that?). I made a friend. Yet another life achievement. A Hindu chic with an exotic name my Nyerian self has trouble pronouncing. She’d say she’s 17 and everyone would believe her. Damn. I’m her mother dearest today. She’s an example of the people Saitan sends to disturb the yoga you’re practicing to calm down; Her CV could crash mine like a bedbug. She’s got loads of experience, testimonials that could vote her in as MP and that grace God gave to Hindus and forgot Africans. And I’m here admiring her hair. (Why, oh why?)

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And all I can do is remember what Papa Gitosh always told us girls, “Smile. Take shallow breaths. Act the role.

Photos: Courtesy

BLIND DATE? NO, THANKS!

In this new world of phones mambo yote, SOS messages come in handy. But let’s face it- they’re only useful when you have someone to send them to. Someone who will actually RESPOND to them; not just wonder why you’re sending them an SOS message as they go back to polishing their nails. Remember those stories where people lie to their spouses that they were with their best friends and when called, best friend is like, “When? I haven’t seen him in a week!”

“But he said he was with you?”

“He did? Oh, shoot! Haha. I forgot. We were together. I’m actually looking at him right now.”

“Thank you for lying, Tom. Mark is right here with me,”

Sigh. Tulikosea nani kweli?

About a year ago, I decided to “grab it by the balls” and “jump into the deep end” by doing something I had never thought of doing. I went on a blind date. I need not say it was one of the most stupid decisions I have ever made. And to this day, I get goose-pimples every time I remember that fateful cursed day.

 

 

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There I was, rushing to meet this seemingly wonderful man who wrote like his life depended on it. Oh, wait, his life does depend on it. He writes for a living. But, yes, you get the point. Someone whose words can turn your body chakras into flute holes? You know the kind, yes?

Bright and early, like it was some job interview. I am on my way to Rongai. Pause. From Embakasi to Rongai! Can you see the effort I even put to this?! And all along, I’m nervous and smiling. Oh, this is going to be so exciting. Seeing him for the first time, hearing his voice for the first time, oh dear heavens, shame on me! But still I went. Vroom vroom here I was alighting at some petrol station in that forbidden land.

I followed the directions sent to the hotel we would be meeting at, before heading to his writing studio (tuwache kudanganya priss). And as the “cautious” person life taught me to be, I text to ask where he’s seated, all the while standing by the door, ready to bolt if what I saw was not pleasing. Too late! Mr Hawk Eye Journalist had seen me! And was standing beside me like the wonderful gentleman he is.

I froze. Literally.

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First of all, he didn’t look ANYTHING like his photo. (I now understand why men complain), didn’t look like he had taken a shower either. He was shabbily dressed for a person meeting someone for the first time. (I don’t mean cheap clothes, that isn’t a problem. I mean you-was-cleaning-and-ran-out-of-soap-so-you-rushed-to-the-shop clothes). He has these chins that make you remember that rough Subaru vroom. And then he spoke… Saitan is real my friends. And he can play kalungu on your destiny with tins.

I don’t remember ever confessing my sins as I did that day. And as I sat and ordered a Coke soda, all I could say was “Jesus, thank you for the weather. Because I am in stockings and I cannot imagine showing my legs to this man.” I had been played. Ten minutes into a monologue of his past and present and future, I took my phone.

To: Gff J

Message: Save me. Now. Code Red.

To: Sam J

Message: Save Me. Now. Code Red. Date going bad.

I have amazing friends. My Gff, Diana, called! Apparently, our “friend” was in an emergency and “needed our help ASAP”. I even adjusted my phone volume to maximum so my amazing date could listen in. (Let’s just say Sam called too. But instead of “saving me”, he called to laugh. SMH. Men.)

 

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And with the little dignity I had left, I stood to leave, apologizing for cutting our date short in such an uncouth manner. Life couldn’t even have chosen a different day, bla bla.

And as a matatu came, he turned to me, “I believe I will be seeing you soon.”

Beliefs are sometimes on steroids, my man. Blind date ni gari za wapi tena?

PHOTOS: COURTESYsteroids

YOUR MYTH, MY LIFE

If you’re African, you are constantly reminded not to sound or act “white”. Truth be told, our fear of “appearing white” has resulted into we Africans burying our heads in the sand and sweeping critical issues under the carpet. Stress and depression is a problem that has been ignored for a long time, and as a result, Africa continues to lose a great number of people through cancer, HIV/AIDS, depression, etc. I have lost a couple of friends through suicide. Having had my encounters with stress and depression, I can tell you it’s not a happy place to be.

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I may not reach the whole world with this post, but I believe that getting to two or three people will be a worthwhile first step. Ripple effect, if you may?1.

  1. S&D don’t mean a person is moody and sad all the time. Being sad and moody may be symptoms of stress and depression, but they are not definite SI Units. If anything, there are many people succumbing to stress and depression yet they appear happy and jovial. For a majority of people suffering from Stress and Depression, they are in a constant state of numbness. They are like a void- with only extreme feelings of anger or pain, and even extreme happiness.
  2. Stress and Depression is not caused by witchcraft. Yeah, I understand that we Africans hold our beliefs sacred, but sometimes, they have resulted in fatal mistakes. As mistaken as the belief that malaria is caused by spirits or that HIV/AIDS can be healed through rape, believing that S&D is an effect of witchcraft is misinformed.
  3. S&D is not a death sentence. Just because someone succumbed to the effects of S&D, in this case, suicide, it doesn’t mean that you will too. Anyone and everyone can recover from S&D, if and when appropriate steps are taken.
  4. Seeking professional help for S&D is not weakness. S&D is not weakness. It is a disease. Seeking professional help isn’t weakness either. Men, especially, get stigmatized for seeking professional help. At the end of the day, is it worthwhile living a troubled tormented life just because we fear what people think or say?
  5. S&D is not a hormonal problem. It’s not because you have flaring emotions, or because your hormones are barely ever in check. No. Even emotionally balanced people can have spouts of S&D.
  6. S&D is not a white-people problem. SIGH. Really. Africa is losing thousands of vibrant people full of potential to this menace. S&D isn’t a respecter of race, color or religion. Everyone is vulnerable. No matter how “African” they may feel.
  7. S&D is not the same for everyone. We all react differently to different stimuli and problems. It is the same for S&D. We will all have different manifestations and different processes. Our time and modes of recovery will also differ. Don’t compare yourself.

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Was this helpful? Do you know of persons suffering from S&D? Do you know of anyone willing to share their story? Why not share and help spread awareness? One person at a time.

 

Photos: Courtesy

OUR TRUTH

 

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How’re you?” Is most probably the greatest sentence we misuse. It has become so routine, so much a greeting, that we have forgotten to actually pause and think about the weight of those three simple words. Do we really want to know how that person is? Do we have the time to listen? Do we even care?

And just like that, we answer “I’m fine“. Because that’s what we should answer when asked how we are. We have learned that that is the appropriate answer: even when we don’t mean it. So we crush and suffer and rot inside because we cannot bear to let the world in on how we are. Shame, pride, even fear… these have become more important than truth.

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We are all liars. We ask questions we don’t want answers to. We answer questions in ways that mask the truth. We mustn’t lose our image, we remind ourselves. People must see that we are social and caring enough to ask how people are doing. They must see we are strong enough to keep our lives in good order and have everything fine.
So what happens to that person who wants to actually tell you how they are? What happens to that loved one who wants to let somebody -you- in to their story? Their pain… their fear… What happens? Are you ready to hear them? Are you ready to listen to their story? Are you ready for their truth?

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My name is Shredded Innocence. And I know for a fact that none of us is okay.

BUT HE BOUGHT ME FLOWERS

 

 

 

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Last week was bad

He was very drunk and

His backhanded blow knocked me

Hard against the wall

My ribs hurt and

My ace is bruised and swollen

But I know he is sorry because

He’s brought me flowers

 

He broke a tooth

When he hit me Saturday

My eldest tried to shield me

They’re fighting for me but

I don’t want them to hate him;

I want them to understand it’s

Just his temper; he doesn’t mean it-

And he’s bought me flowers!

 

 

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Yesterday he hurt me so bad

I had to go to hospital

But I didn’t tell them how it happened

He’s my man and I

Married him for better or worse

He’s the father of my children

And I know he’s sorry because

He’s brought me flowers.

 

My mother wants me to leave him

But, if I leave, where can I go?

How will I take care of my children?

What will I do for money?

I’m afraid of him

But I’m too scared to go

And I know he needs me- look;

He’s bought me flowers!

 

Photos: Courtesy

CRAZE OF 2015

There was just something about 2015. Maybe it’s just me, but this year was so damn overwhelming. Nothing about 2015 came in limits or small scale; somehow it was either exaggerated or over the top. Am I glad it’s about to end? I do not know.

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My friends got engaged, got babies, got jobs and other life milestones this year, and I stood there congratulating them. Only after celebrating my parents’ 26th wedding anniversary- oops, it’s 27th- did it hit me just how fast life is moving. And I am just here barely committing to what I want to eat for lunch. I turned 23 two months ago. I completed my 8-4-4 last week. Haha. But how much have I to show for it?
The other day someone asked me why I’m not dating. “You’re cut out for relationships,” she said in part. Don’t ask me what “cut out for relationships” means. All my 54-kg body could do was laugh. Because the only reply my beautiful brain came up with was, “Bad karma, my friend. I did not forward those chain messages and here I am. Or maybe it’s my star quality; it’s so bright it is blinding all potential suitors.” I couldn’t say that out loud now, could I?

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2015 has opened my eyes to so much. Like how much I have begun making excuses to run away from responsibility. It’s scary at this age. Any small mistake I make could translate into years of misery and regret. And I know the sting of regret all too well. I do not want to go back there.

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I may write down 15 Lessons Of 2015, but I will state one; what is happening on the inside is far more important than what appears on the outside. We have taken too much time focusing on the perception of people… fitting into a status quo of “what’s-expected-at-this-age” that we fail to work on the inside.
The changes happening on the inside will always find their way to the surface. Will they bring forth a flower or some worm-infested bud? Oh, and Negusse, The Black African Man, perhaps Eric and yourself can whisk me away to Ethiopia. It is still 2003, I hope? My life is skidding too fast for me.

I’M THAT GIRL

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I am that girl.
I am the shy girl
At the party
Who fakes smiles
At all who come her way,
just to be polite
The one who will be on her phone
For almost the entire evening
Because it’s a good distraction
Somehow

I am that girl
Whose life looks coined
From some old fable
That teaches girls
To be cultured
The one everyone calls perfect
Just because her life appears so
As no one is yet to notice
Her frustrating wade
Under the surface

 

And I’m the girl
Who sees her life
In a multiple of colors
Whose order is found
In having things in specific colors
Her friends gasp and admire
Oh, you’re so neat
Without realizing
It’s OCD

I’m that girl
Who has lived a thousand lives
Travelled to the ends of the earth
In the literature
She loses herself into
Finding comfort in the characters
Lost and confused and shattered
Longing to be understood
Like her

I’m that girl
Drawn to music and art and literature
Not for the tune or jibe
Not for the words
But for the emotions
The feel behind the many words
The torment and peace
Carved so artistically
In each piece

And I am that girl
Who has been to prison
Been a slave to her thoughts
Been bound by heavy chains of heartbreak
Who understands all too well
The emptiness of loneliness
And that still small recurrent voice
Convincing you it’s okay
It’s okay to give up
To give up on oneself
On love
On hope
On life

I’m that girl
Who will rather texts to calls
Because it’s a great torment
Trying to express herself
To a world that doesn’t understand women
Who love football and old movies
And whose idea of an ideal gift
Is not a dress or shoe, however nice
But a book

I’m still that girl
Who has been knocked down
But still keeps pressing on
Pressing on to something unknown
Hopeful that she will love
And be loved again
Someday
Not in some old-time fairy tale of love
But in some deeper way

See, I’m that girl
Who has seen it all
I wouldn’t try to hurt you
even if you did
I want you to see that
I would open up and love and say IT
If I had the courage and words to use on you
But the demons dancing in my head
Will not allow it.

TOUGH SHUT

He crawls at the most convenient of times. Like a serial killer in pursuit waiting for the lights go off and see his victim alone, he waits patiently. Calculating… building in anxiety and excitement.
You get into bed- happy at the comfort your pillows offer, letting out a sigh of relief at how your blankets envelop you. It’s like a hug that needs no response, needs no speech, and lasts for more than two minutes. “Today was okay. Tomorrow must be better.” You promise yourself as you shut your eyes.
Then he comes in. Pounding on your chest and growing with each heart throb. The lump eating and swelling on your throat… The small know-it-all voice that floods your mind, throwing all questions and “what if’s” at you…

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Reality hits you. Every wrong thing going on in your life plays and replays in your mind. That is how he works; he wants you to remember each detail, each word, each move, every wrong thing happening. That is his signature. He demands attention. He demands to be felt. He wants to remind you that he holds the reigns now. He needs you to remember that no matter how much you try to block him out, he will not leave before his time is up. He wants you not to forget just how powerful he is.
“He” is emotional pain. And he can get to the best of us.

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So what to do? Pain demands to be felt- and feel him we must. Sometimes, the only way to escape fire is to go through it. Stepping into the flames, getting scathed, and despite the choking and coughing, getting to the other side without being consumed. And, by Jove, when you’re get to the safe side, don’t look back and sulk; look back and smile.

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Oh, it isn’t tough shut. Thank auto-predict.

Photos: Courtesy