May 1, 2019
He had the type of face one could easily forget even when looking at it. But he also had a manly demeanor that intrigued her. For the next couple of months after meeting (in no manner that called for tea to tell), she found herself mesmerized by this manly-yet paradoxical-demeanor. He was neither polite nor impolite in his approach, neither too much in giving of his attention nor too thirsty for her attention either, neither express about his intentions with her nor vague in his actions that to any rational human implied his intention. In a nutshell, he was neither here nor there right from the word go. Difficult to read; and a man wrapped in mystery is worth a fantasy trip, no? she thought in awe.
‘…before your father, there was a man who broke her so badly, her sisters gathered, sucking their teeth, healing her with words, feeding her with spoonful of loves…(Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo- Twenty six). And 26 she was then, a lover of literature and books too, this girl Nya!
Theirs was a home devoted to raising children of substance. Mama lived by one single mantra- that ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men’. No rod was spared, no correction ungiven. They turned out just right, all five of them. Wife materials they were called, lucky husbands they would get- the community said. And so they grew up, oblivious of the fact that the reward for being a good woman was not a good man; and naive to the fact that subconsciously, their minds had been tuned to marriage as their end goal… Is it not an open secret now that to this society of ours, the burden of proving that one is a fit for a partner lies on the girls?….do not do this, do not be lazy, you have to learn how to cook; otherwise no one will want to marry you…
Uni came and went and in one way or another they went bad. You know Uni has a way with getting the good girls going bad in this way or the other. But a good girl at heart remains just that…so she turns out as one of those- pretty little bad girls; charming at heart but wild.
And now at 26, Nya is back at it. Love-struck, over her previous heartbreaks and disappointments, in no need of spoonfuls of love from her sisters and in what she thinks is a mature relationship, -with this mysterious man who is neither polite nor impolite in his approach, neither too much in giving his attention nor too thirsty for hers either, neither here nor there. At 26, she has decided that she is now ready for a serious relationship that will lead to marriage, ready to be impatient about the grayness in the relationship but patient enough to appreciate that the shade of grey today is deeper than it was yesterday. Soon, she thinks, it will be a clear black. Because in relationships, it is either black or white, either you are there or here. (Okay- you in a grey zone, hang in there. The black/white vibe is the theoretical part…in reality you may fight battles to be the one who eventually makes it to the alter sissy… )
Their relationship has been doing just fine. Not as good as it appears on social media, but above average. But lately it has been in a furnace, she no longer knows what is right or wrong by his measure. Recently, when they bumped into her classmate of old-way back in their primary school days… she was elated. She cordially introduced him to HIM and continued an animated chat for the next 10 or so minutes with him. So animated was it that she did not notice that he- her boyfriend-had walked ahead to the car and was impatiently throwing glances their way.
She has never seen him like that- the evidence of the level of fury visible on the now pounding veins on his forehead.. His lips remain conflicted between parting ways to flash a deceitful smile or the lower lip submitting to a painful bite from his upper jaw in anger. In an attempt to ease the tension, she gently says that it has been long since she bumped into any one from primary school. But he cuts her short with incoherent words, sounds like something is chocking him. And even though she does not know him for a jealous man, it feels like it is jealousy chocking him. When he finally turns to her, Nya can tell that his eyes are telling the tale of a man who has just swallowed a flame of anger and forgotten to take something cold.
She wakes up with one black eye and one that won’t open. It will not open for the next couple of days. He refused to eat the food she prepared. Later in the night, he lost it. He accused her of showing signs and symptoms of promiscuity through that sly laughter of hers. He demanded to know why a girl would laugh so hard to dry jokes from another man, was he not enough- man enough for her. When words failed him, he started throwing things around; and then out of nowhere, grabbed her by the throat, pinned her against the wall and rained blows. She cannot remember much because she passed out.
She stands by the mirror, trying to listen to her mind but with a heart too overwhelmed. Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.
But ours is a society that has mastered the art of rationalizing the irrational. One that knows that in love, you take the loveable and the unlovable-because no one is perfect. One that will tell you when someone shows you who they are, you ought to believe them the first time; but still ask you to learn and master the art of forgiveness. It’s a society that has taught us that for a person to get to such a level, they must have been provoked. And you-pretty little bad girl- should not provoke a man to such levels. (Let’s give a round of applause to our society).
He buys flowers, he apologizes in a thousand charming ways, he seems changed for the better. He will do everything to make it right and keep her around. He will invest his emotions and finances in making it right. On vacation, they will post beautiful photos with cheesy captions. Her peers will scroll endlessly, occasionally pausing to look up to the skies and implore the giver of perfect relationships- Lord, your humble servants are ready for our relationship breakthrough and success story. Those in struggling relationships and situation-ships will inhale their relationship struggles and by the mighty name- exhale relationship goals.
The show will not last long. He will lose his anger over and over again. He will have bouts of extreme liking and exaltation for her: and bouts of extreme dislike and despise for her. He will get annoyed by her action and inaction in equal measure. Sometimes it will be about something she has done, and sometimes about what she has not done. They will somehow work things out and the relationship will defy many odds. She will stay because she prefers the devil she knows, she will stay because he is ‘man enough’ to own up when he errs and apologize. She will stay because at 26, she decided that she was ready for a serious relationship that would lead to marriage. Her ovaries are not getting any younger, her options in life partners not any wider.
Last night, he threw he banged her head against the wall so hard that she remained silent. She will be silent for forever.
A misogynist somewhere will write a phenomenal article, that women should not provoke men to such limits that will push them to react like that. He will find every reason that could have angered a man to murder. Never mind that no one has the right to another’s life.Never mind that she will never tell the side of her story. Many feminists will react angrily and take to social media, cursing any man who does such a heinous act. ‘Stop killing our women/stop killing women for love’…Never mind that they have chosen to objectify the women- like they want to say that it is okay to kill, as long as it’s not our women’. Never mind that this has now been labeled as an act of love-that he killed her, yes, but for love. (Oh what a divine act)
Nya remained silent in life; and she remains silent in death. In hopeful waiting for the reward of marriage, in excitement that she too belonged. But at what cost? Was the tolerance worth it? And how much is too much?
February 18, 2019
Welcome to my small ted talk today. Been feeling a little extra on this love topic lately- call me cupid (ess)*
We do not look for partners to complete us; rather to complement us. How true, and yet how false at the same time. The younger me would object… I would say that we choose partners (whether for relationships or occasional trysts) who make us whole; in the sense that with and around them, we feel ‘more of what we are’, more complete, more accomplished, happier, more alive and everything admirable. The me (now) would concur. I would say that before you know who you wholly are outside of someone else, you will never find any form of completeness from another. That being in any relationship will not make you any happier if you are not already happy with yourself. My point here is that it is only when we are comfortable with who we are that we can truly function independently and in a healthy way in our relationships.
I digress…It’s a year or so ago.Not really, just a couple of months ago, when my elated friend walks over to me.
‘Kim, with whom am I my best version’-she asks.
Aren’t you always at your best, I tease. But deep down I get what she means and the answer she is hoping to get.
‘I ask because for this, I want to be at my best version…I need to be at my best version. She adds.
That was then, and I felt really proud her for acknowledging that she may not always be at her best but she was ready to take the challenge to consciously bring out the best version of her.
But since then, I have thought about the question with much more seriousness. Not in the sense of my best version really: more like the feelings that other people elicit in me- whether or not they bring out the best of me. (And this is not me throwing the burden of bringing the best version of myself to the people around me. Okay that looks like it). Am I excited to be around them or am I am I weary of the idea of spending time with them. Do I feel energized after a meeting with them or do I feel drained. Am I at naturally and unapologetically myself or do I feel the need to keep a certain image. This way, I can choose where and on what to spend my time and invest in relationships and activities that make me a better person.
That is besides the point. In my ted today I ask, so what makes the perfect union? For sure, nothing; because perfection is out of this world. But I do know of elements that comprise healthy unions. Here we go!
- Self- awareness. There is more to self-awareness that understanding your strengths and weaknesses and embracing your flaws. It goes to being aware of the stimuli around you and taking charge of your proactive and reactive manner. It’s learning how to give yourself the ‘I know this has offended me, and I need to let my partner know about it in a constructive way. So rather than giving them the silent treatment or getting distructive, I will let my annoyed-self calm down and pick it up from there. It is being aware of the consequence of your actions and words to the people you love and being conscious of their human nature as much as your own.
- Empathy…. Stepping into their shoes and letting yourself experience the situation from their frame of reference. Easier said than done. Like how many times have you looked at your partner in absolute dismay thinking to yourself >>>‘
who does that’<<< 😏😏or …>>>’ what kind of a choice did I make here to be with this one, is this the typa struggle I will deal with now?🤨But at the end of the day, you come to the realization that you are two separate individuals, and your point of view is not necessarily the right or accepted point of view.
- Adaptability… Any great relationship has a degree of compromise and deliberate effort to adapt to your partner’s needs without losing your individualism. The simplest case scenario is tuning yourself to your partners love language and consequently getting to love them the way they would like to be loved. Adaptability is much of finding a fair balance between blending your similarities while respecting your differences.
- Consistency. In my opinion, there is no bigger challenge than consistency. One, because we demand consistency from people who are not even consistent with their own selves. (neither are we consistent with ourselves- how many resolutions have you already broken since the year started?!)….and two, because we do not live in isolation. We meet partners in the course of our ordinary life, probably with running relationships, maybe dealing with previous relationship baggage, mostly in the midst of the chase and the dating haze. At a time when you barely know what you want with your own self, let alone with another. (Btw, in this relationship life, there is no bigger challenge than a third party/divided interest. Yaani, mashida hutokea tu mahali and suddenly you feel like this type of problems cannot be solved…naona tu tuachane). Piece of advice, take your time! No one is chasing you into a relationship, or is there? But once you make that choice, accord them the loyalty that they deserve.
- Check in- fully. Be wary of the ‘almost relationship’ trap. You may or may not be familiar with the almost relationship zone…It could be that you are there, with a partner that you see no future with. Or in that grey area where the relationship never moves to the next level. Or most commonly, either of you wants to keep the options open while the other wants exclusivity…
- Now here, I honestly cannot say much because the balance between a good relationship taking time and the danger of sitting on the unsure edge too long is a concept I personally struggle with. That notwithstanding, be sure to communicate your expectations; and have the grace to know when to hang on or walk on.
That’s all from cupid-ess’ desk today. Ps. There is no greater calling than to love and to be loved-unconditionally…
February 4, 2019
I have (finally) figured my way around the wordpress blocks :-)… And so here I am, making little steps as I try my new knowledge in this maiden post!
Between my last post in October last year and now, I traveled to the moon, passed by hell, got stuck in my own space for a moment and now I am back on earth, back down to earth; no pun intended. (Sips tea). Okay, what I am saying in many words is that a lot happened between then and now; but that is no excuse for my inconsistency. This year, (and I like to keep my word), will see a lot of consistency from me.
Anywho, somewhere in my roller-coaster, I found myself in this heart to heart tête-à-tête. I don’t know how we ended up in the part of what we could have done differently….like if you knew what you know now, what would you have done differently.
Nothing, I said. I think in life, there are no misplaced steps…..we need all of them; I added.
Is it? She asked, obviously underwhelmed
Yeah, my take… (and you can be sure that this was one long conversation)
But to give you my points in the least words possible; I like to lead a regret- free life. I am absolutely aware of the fact we falter and fall, we make incongruous choices, things don’t always go as planned and every now and then we go off the script. But I am also cognizant of the fact that every single choice has consequences which could go either way. The beauty about it is that we are in full control of the choices we make. I have therefore made it a habit to be look at everything I go through from the sunny side.
As 2019 starts, I thought it be nice to share a few tips on how to live on the sunny of life. Here are a few reminders…
- That time and chance happens to all of us. (biblical now, I know 🙂 ). I hope that you will remember that you are not early in your journey; and you are not any late either. The truth of the matter is that no one knows the journey ahead, it is a trial and error sort of thing for all of us, a step at a time, a leap in faith and a gamble in what we hope is the right direction.The secret lies in reminding yourself where you have been and refocusing on where you want to be. Ps. You can start late, be different, be uncertain and still succeed.
- That you should not let a bad day make you think that you have a bad life. And this is just that! No one out here has a perfect life, we do not expect a perfect life either. We may be so materially well off yet so psychologically tormented; and vice verser …
- That you should find a vacation every day. I hope that every now and then, you will pause, breath and remind yourself that it is not so much about where you are going but about WHO you are becoming. That you will have a moment in the craziest of days to smile at the masterpiece that your little effort over the days has given birth to.
- That you should remember to look alive out there, to be the kind of energy you want to have around you. To be the right company, in the company of the right people. As, Robin Sharma says and I quote ‘It is a mark of wisdom to spend time in those places that inspire and energize you and associate with those people who elevate and uplift you.
- That you should aspire to live well, to be nice humans and conscious of the world around you. But most importantly, that you will work towards making your life matter. That this will be a year of significance and positive impact.
I wish you all a fruitful 2019!
October 31, 2018
I miss her in big portions. Some days more than others 😦 !
Before our birthdays nowadays, we (generation Y and Z kids) have this thing we call #birthdaymonth and #birthdayweek. I tell you this because July was my birthday month and 9th July 2018 was the beginning of my birthday week. My grandmother took her last breath on this day-9th July 2018.
Our conversations never had any order in particular, but there was the general flow. That she would see me from as far as the gate and call me by name. That we would exchange pleasantries and then out of the blues she would say…
“I am here where you left me waiting for my day, or ‘this my body does not have energy, my eyes can’t see anymore, my feet can no longer take me to the farm”.
It was always hard for me to believe her. It is difficult to believe that the woman who called you by name from miles away could possibly fault her eyesight.
It’s with this same difficulty that I received the news of her demise.
9th July 2018- shortly before the clock hits 1.00 pm.
I have many things running through my mind and on my phone. Holding my phone wondering what to do for my 26th birthday in my mind; with my fingers typing… ‘beautiful ideas for a girl’s birthday’. Delete. Retype… best way to spend a birthday-late twenties. I feel pretty grown up with the late twenties bit. It’s also the hunger-pang hour and the back of my mind is thinking if I should do a decent meal or buy food at the kibandaski I was introduced to last week by Serah missy. I exit google and move to MPESA because I am determined about the decent meal vibe and I need to see if my balance can accomodate my classy hunger.
It’s in this mix that a text comes through- Nathan. First I panic because Nathan and I haven’t talked in a year or so; and because I have previewed the message. I blink pretty fast when I am shocked, and twice as much when I am scared. Right now, I am both! In a span of those few minutes of panic, my body does a full round of goosebumps and my sweaty palms start dripping… Everything stops for a while, my hunger is gone and I suddenly feel like I want to throw up . I start typing but my eyes are misty with tears and my hands are too shaky to type.
So I call him and ask- ‘Mnh?’(That’s the murmur version of what/ati?)…
I know it’s a complete statement because he starts talking. I do not hear much. I remember him saying that the condition was (is) critical, that she had had a really bad attack and that she was possibly gone…
Maybe it is the lump on my throat or maybe it is the rate at which my heart is beating but I just cannot speak. And yet I feel that I have so much to say but at the same time nothing at all.
“Oh”. I say. “Ok-ay”… I add with a broken voice and hang up.
And for the rest of that day, I fought guilt and pain in alternating waves. It occurred to me that maybe the ‘best way to spend my 26th birthday’ that I was earlier googling was possibly going to be at a burial- celebrating the life of this woman that I so much loved and admired but was ever too busy to visit. I had postponed my visit home for the longest time, something always came up. I had not called to ask how she was doing and if she was fine, I had not even told Tina to put her through for a chat. Not once! I counted all the moments that I had the opportunity to check on her or visit her but I always seemed to have more ‘pressing’ things to attend to- Mostly nuptials. I thought about her asthmatic attacks and those nights when we would wake up in the middle of the night to help her with the inhaler because she was too weak to do it on her own. But by morning she would fine and out basking in the sun. And so I had now grown old thinking that she would always have a way of fighting because that’s what she was- a fighter.
And even when I broke the news later that evening, I struggled to keep a flat face or an even tone. I felt thrown out of balance for days, spoke less, visited my gallery for our selfies more often, smiled less, deactivated my social media accounts and pressed a pause button on the birthday week/birthday month tumult. I attended an allabastron session, and I created a little bit more time with God. I felt all sorts of fear, guilt and pain in this week. Why, you ask, would a girl two generations down be so shook by the death of a woman she cannot say that she was close to- without flinching an eyelid? I also do not know but it petrified me. Maybe it is because this is the woman who I was named after, my last grandparent living and the woman that I have 80% taken after physically. Maybe it’s because it was a surreal reminder that no one knoweth the hour!
Her Eulogy was everything nice. I tend to think that she led her best life and achieved her purpose.It was by the way that she led her life, and anyone who had the honour of knowing her at a personal level can attest, that she imparted life’s most important lessons. She remained impartial in disputes and quietly distanced herself from chaos lovers. And when I marvelled out loud how a woman could stay so undisturbed by obvious wrongs and fracas surrounding her she said- ‘Of what value is a battle from which you gain nothing?’…
There was something idyllic about her interest in technology. She questioned stuff…How her face was inside the phone whenever we took selfies or how the voice of someone so far could sound so near whenever she spoke on the phone. On some days, we would cross over to catch something on Teli. The walks were slow, with me holding her hand trying too hard to slow my pace to match her baby steps- and God knows she would complain the entire journey about her legs. But they were pleasant walks, I enjoyed holding her hands and watching her steps more than anything else. She appreciated all these small gestures with a warm smile or on good days, with words of blessings. I miss how she thanked me for stuff I thought was ordinary, how she never spared a positive word or the smile that ran from the sides of her (mostly tightly closed) lips through to the edges of her eyes.
Something else I enjoyed was how she would ask me questions about everyone who appeared on T.V- where they lived, what they did, if they were my friends back in the city😂… Oh did I not feel like a legend answering those questions- truthfully and liefully in equal confidence?!
On the day that I asked her about her arranged marriage at such a tender age, whether she was happy and if she grew into loving him; she said that she was happy. (She was a woman of few words and selective responses as you can see). As long as you submit and do what you must, she said, you will find peace in yourself and in your marriage. The submission part was pushed to the back of my mind for the future, but in my mental notebook I jotted that peace with yourself precedes any other peace/happiness that you will ever get.
But if there was anything that pissed me off to the last nerve with her, it was her tireless reminders that I was and I quote- ‘embarrassingly thin’. We never had one single conversation where my weight issue did not come up. With time, I resigned to the fact that we would always have this conversation and I would have to find a way of understanding that it was her beautiful way of saying that cared about me-wholesomely. No one seems bothered about about my weight nowadays and I miss those days that I would look away from her in dismay thinking- oh don’t start already….
Fondly remembered ❤ ❤
August 16, 2018
The experiences here may be personal, but the truths are universal.
For the girls waiting on their men, the girlfriends trying to keep their men, the married women tolerating their men, the divorcees who got fed up with their men; and the hopelessly enamored who can’t get enough of their men… For our men, the ones exhausted of trying too hard to please their women, the clueless ones riding in the tide trying to figure it out and the ones who found their perfectly imperfect match…this is to you!
The six stages of relationships…
July 7, 2018
In the village where I was born and raised, being 25 was synonymous to ‘when I grow up’. After 25, therefore, the script was meant to change from ‘when I grow up I want to be XYZ’ to ‘I am that person I used to dream about’. There is the general delusion that between 25 and 30, life is about breakthrough after breakthrough, gaining identity (Both individually and by extension), happiness, success and every dream come true.
Nothing close. This age bracket is about excelling in your side hustle as the chief-chef of wrong choices and about perfecting the art of serving yourself with humble pies. Remember those childhood/campus days of ‘who? Me? I can never do that, my pride cannot even let me think of such a thing and stuff like that? This phase makes you a master/mistress in the art of eating that pride with quiet manners.
Quarter life crisis…
Dating: If you are not already married or dealing with baby daddy/baby mama issues; you are most likely stuck in your love life.
April 28, 2018
The news that I had decided to buy a car caught Mom Tina more by disbelief than delight. She looked at me disapprovingly and asked if I was ready, already😏. ‘Is that how someone, your own mother, should react to big news like this?’ I thought in disappointment.
“I think I am, I have been planning for it for some time now”. I said cautiously, with a considerable emphasis on planning- to pass the message that I had thought about it; and slightly less emphasis on think- to leave some room for her opinion. But Tina is not a woman to leave you in the ‘I think’ zone. In an attempt to convince me otherwise, she tabled all the other options where I could use my money, challenged me to consider investing the cash instead and maybe get the car when I had a stream of other incomes, presented the challenges that come with owning a car and started telling me the story of how her own husband had only gotten his yellow Peugeot when they were at a comfortable place financially. I zoned out; with my left palm unable to make a choice between presenting itself to my mouth for nail-biting or scratching my now itchy forehead. They say that the two types of people that you cannot advise are 1. ‘A woman in love’ and 2. ‘a man with his money’…But have they met a woman with money who thinks she is already in love with how she intends to spend that money? I doubt it!
Eventually, when I could not pretend anymore, I took a long breath and cut her short…”Moooom, I was just telling you that I am buying a car…not asking you if I can buy it’! And that ended there- with a shocked mother who had just discovered that it is like she had lost a daughter to financial shortsightedness and a daughter who felt that she knew better.
January 19, 2018
Welcome on board, I am more than glad to have you.
I have just finished transferring ALL my posts from the other side. Earlier today I gave myself a ted talk on attachment issues, letting go; and about being open and willing to start all over again. To step out of the comfort zone and start something new…
When I first stepped to the blogosphere, I worried if I would strike my readers as an intelligent enough newbie, worthy enough of the online space, driven enough and with content solid enough to get a community in a world that was crowded with wordsmiths, orators, brilliant writers, professional ranters, love doctors: People who sound better on pen than on voice… I worried if I would find my niche and if I would ever find my voice in a space where I was one in a million, billions possibly. I second guessed myself on so many occasions, put virtual stop signs on uncountable instances and warned myself enough times. I started the journey only certain of my uncertainty. And then one day I came across this brainy quote that ‘great people do things before they are ready. They do things before they know that they can even do it’… So I stepped to the blogging world anyway. I did!
January 2, 2018
My intention to write this is as old as time! (How cheesy!).
I have typed and deleted this post not less than sixteen times in the last three years… Unsure, unprepared, feeling ‘not good enough’ and afraid of letting the world tread into my own battles. I go through tough times and think that I should let my daughter know that this path leads nowhere, she should try another route. I go through thought provoking sessions with a nod, occasionally smiling to myself and thinking ‘Wow, I’d love my daughter to know this; it would help her’. And for every wrong turn I make as a daughter, I take a mental note for my future daughter. I somehow have always found myself in this state: of taking notes and making hushed wishes for a child unborn. But with a life as flawed as mine, I have always held my thoughts for the fear of sounding like a botch too conversant with the script, obviously trying to make up for her mistakes by defining the path for her daughter: which would be utterly unfair.
But I feel ready today, more like I feel ready now!
December 31, 2017
Confession! Number 8 was reserved. But I have taken it for me. Not myself really, let’s call it a note from the editor in chief-ess.
When I heard the first Christmas Carole on the last day of November, it hit me that the baby in 2017 had grown to old age real quick and would soon be down, possibly in a grandiosely attended requiem mass to celebrate a life well lived…How time flies!
The gratitude challenge is my way of saying thank you.
To the people who add value in my life, whose presence makes me better every day and whose work continues to make the world a better in the own special ways. To the people who journey with me in my daily life, through the highs and lows, the pain and the gain; and have believed in me in immense ways. To associations and institutions which have trusted me enough to accord me responsibility in one field or another.This is me taking a challenge to let people see themselves in my eyes, and to take the back to moments in time when their actions or words made a whole of a difference. To let them know that I bookmarked those moments and once in a while, I revisit them; with nothing but a grateful heart. This is me telling you that if I ever stood at the pulpit for you, ‘this is what I would say’.
(8 of 31- About the challenge)