My Chartreuse Blouse

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I am wearing a chartreuse blouse today. No, that’s not a designer’s name. It’s a color- a green yellow color that’s so bright, it’s blinding me. Basically, today I look like I’m wearing a reflector jacket. The kind nduthi guys or policemen wear. I can stand in the middle of the highway and hold my hand up and cars will come to a stop. Only, it’s a basic blouse. A fucking bright blouse. A fucking bright blouse that cost Ksh 50.

I hate bright colors. They make me dizzy. And they make me stand out. As if my nose doesn’t already do enough of that. I don’t like standing out. It makes people want to approach me, and people assume I am chatty and helpful and have the answers for everything. The brightest color I wear is beige. It’s relaxed. It helps me retain my composure. It even calms my stupid brain that keeps talking even when my mouth is shut. Such a helpful color. I can be pretend to be poised and relaxed and ladylike even when I am plotting a murder.

But today, today I wore chartreuse. Name as shouty as the color. For those looking for “cute baby names from colors”, here’s an idea; chartreuse. Don’t use it if you’re Kikuyu. You could as well call your child Charcoal. Back to my blouse. Every time I turn my head, the color pops in my face. I am so alert today my tiny ears can hear a whisper from across the room. Part of my mission has been accomplished- to be so alert of my surroundings… alert of myself; my inner self. I have been numb to all emotion for a while now. I think it is because I am scared. Scared of myself- of my reality… But most of all, scared of my feelings.

It has made me aware of the clothes I have on. This has made me aware of my body- my very uncomfortable body, trickled to being aware of my surroundings, and given birth to that dreadful ashy feeling of anxiety. Am I walking alright? Am I stuttering in my speech? Is my hair styled well enough? Is my makeup too much? Damn, he’s staring at me. Must be my forehead. Bigger than the cup he’s holding. But the happy sad thing is, anxiety, anxiety and fear, are better than being numb.

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But will anyone but me see my silent cry? Will anyone see my trembling hands folded across my bosom? Or the fearful dashing my eyes do across the room? Will anyone notice the way my voice gets stuck in my throat, or the numerous times I clear my throat when someone talks to me? I want someone to reach out. Speak to me. Ask me how I really am, underneath the layers of foundation and lipstick and eyeliner… underneath the chartreuse.

I am drowning, but no one seems to notice. But I am too afraid to speak up. How will people see me? What will they think? Or have they already declared me a gone case- the thin girl who always wears black.

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Nobody notices the pain behind their loved ones’ eyes anymore. We have become too focused on just the outside. Oh, look at her wig! Damn, his wristwatch is dope! Losing weight has become “getting in shape” and gaining weight has become “getting that flesh”. Going MIA has become “they’re too busy”. In any case, you have your problems, and you ain’t sharing them, why should you bother with mine?

But a few months from now, you’ll all flood my timeline. Asking WHY I had to leave so soon. Flabbergasted that I am no more. Pouring messages of how much you loved me. Trying so hard to force intimacy “I remember when you answered that question in class. I knew you and I would be friends”. as if you didn’t have time to ask or say any of that when I was alive. Then you will gather round my grave. Crying or just shaking your heads. Wondering when I “lost it” this much. And you will take selfies with my coffin or family or outside my grandmother’s house, captioned #LifeIsShort #EternallyRemembered #LoveYouForever but no. The only hashtags you should use are #KuufDead #SheTookHerLife #iForgotHerWhenAlive #TeamHypocrites

My chartreuse blouse is a flag. It’s that reflector you see on the highway in front of you; telling you to slow down. Yes, please slow down on your highway in life and look to the side. There I am by the roadside, waving frantically. Will you reach out, or will you wait till I slit my wrists? I am your sister, your brother, your child, your friend…

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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