Newbie

Welcome on-board and once again- congratulations on your new role. Be it a promotion at work, a switch of careers or organizations or you are kick-starting your career. While this can be a very exciting experience, it comes with a lot of anxiety and uncertainties and here’s why…

  1. You will have moments of immense self-doubt.

Between figuring out your new role and getting to master it, there will be moments of unadulterated self-doubt.  On one hand, you want to be the ‘wow’ newbie and on the other hand you are starting to realize that eeerm, green is what you feel: majorly because there is a whole lot of learning, unlearning and relearning ahead of you. You find yourself constantly trading between trying to demonstrate that you are up to the task and figuring out what you are meant to do, how best to do it and how to create your space within the system.

(more…)

Diaries…of social media

socialWhat had started  as a casual relationship with social media became something serious when I started stopping by at least one social media platform once every day at a bare minimum. I was hooked, still am. 

***

In my daily visits, I made a world of virtual friends and idols. I took interest in what they were upto, and I selectively let them know what I was doing too. I liked them and they liked me too; I double tapped, and they double tapped right back. They reacted to my status and posts and I unfailingly returned the favor. I developed a special connection and interest with people I met in this virtual world and I enjoyed popularity in the virtual space. It follows that I developed a  shallow understanding of people’s circumstances that I so blindly believed.

love this girlIt is of such visits that I discovered one trophy couple: Daniel and Dannieller. But then one day I woke up to the news that they had broken up! How? Why? I felt cheated. I had looked at their life and admired it in every way. They looked happy, they went on holidays and publicly displayed their affection. He took time to appreciate her and confess his love for this woman who had taken his heart to a captivity he would gladly live  in for a lifetime. And she said he was loyal, smart, her dream come true and all the sappy sentiments a girl in love possibly could…. (more…)

Nillionaire

There was a time when dreams were hallucinations. Those days when you would wake up wondering if people with salaries used the same purses and wallets that you used, or if their purses were as big as back packs. You were a student surviving on lean budgets then. You questioned if they wore the same kind of linen as students, because you knew for a fact that the money was so much. So much that it could tear your cheap campus linen. There were days you would dream that your first salary would be used to travel the world, and the second one would buy you a car, then you would become a millionaire and billionaire shortly after…  Subsequently, you would buy a big piece of land in the prime South Coast, and another one in the leafy suburbs around the capital city. You would embark on the construction of the century. An  impossibly imperial castle or a chalet bungalow! On the beach piece of land, you would put up a private beach, a royal one. You imagined that the child of the child of Queen Elizabeth would propose to his girlfriend on this land. You would have this proposal scene well figured out in mind, and the royal architects that you would hire to design it would have to get the grand picture right. You cannot have room for disappointing a royal prince, helloo?  All the things money would buy you would be of the century because you used to think that the people of this century did not how to spend their salaries. Who works for a year without building a home? Or buying small toys like cars? Image result for millionaire dream

In your life as a hallucinator, you did not have much respect for people who defiantly refused to upgrade their lifestyles despite being fatly salaried. You often caught yourself wondering what their problem was, and if it was clinically treatable. You sometimes asked silently if they had some forces that stole their money, if their bank accounts had some holes which leaked their money out. Was it possible that they made an agreement at birth that they would pay for all the air they breathed between the second they were born and the second they got their jobs? Must be billions of billions by now!. Or maybe they were repaying ancestral loans for their clans.  As a dreamer, you blacklisted one friend because they confided to you that they had taken leave on the last week of the month because they could not afford fare. Keeping such a friend would mean that you were exposing yourself to the risk of becoming a nillionare. You were born with the blood of a millionare, and as such, you needed people of similar blood and same dose of halucinations around you.

The good Lord was faithful. He granted you that job. In a multinational…in a globally recognized company ! It was a mega shift, from managing pocket change, to managing a salary. A salary that was so much that it had to be confined in the walls of a  24hour secured bank. Imagine that!!!   It was a massive shift! You were becoming a tax payer, you were now eligible to advise the ministry of finance. After all, you had a Finance/ Accounting background, and your taxes would be a material part of the national budget…Back to the jumbo shift.  You were about to become a rent payer or a home owner, an electricity bill payer, a water bill payer, a designer wear buyer, a car owner, and a business class traveller around the world. The paradigm shift was a few days away. As you sat in the job orientation, you deaf listened through the financial management session. You knew what you were waiting for, the etiquette session. This session would tell you how to carry yourself around, as the young millionaire you were just about to become. Gusto and drumrolls! And those people truly knew how to massage your delicate ego and rejuvenate your dreams.  Ray mentioned the kind of suits that the society expected people of your calibre to wear, the kind of shoes and jewerly, the hairdo and the kind of people who were allowed to shampoo your delicate business head… He talked about the kind of perfumes young people of your stature were allowed to use- eau de perfume, not anything less. Eau de toilette for who?? You kept nodding heavily and smiling villagely as you took notes in the global notebook. On that bright day,you forced yourself to sleep in traffic: because that session had touched you somewhere where only a dream could take you back.

********

NOW. No car, no house, no land. Not much has changed. You have defiantly refused to upgrade, just like those people you thought needed clinical attention!

There comes a point when a person starts blaming their brains for having the ability to conceive such deceptive dreams. For faithfully making them believe that such a life is of this world, and attainable through months of work. That it is even attainable by a person purely depending on a single salary and no side hustle.

 

139561934314.jpgYou sit in traffic, in a matatu- as a nillionare. You moved out recently, after very many months of working. If your folks had not looked at you badly, if they had not insisted that you needed to take responsibility of your life, if they had not quarrelled you for getting home at 3 in the morning and accused you of treating their home as a bed and breakfast thingy, if you had not realized that were not saving despite staying at home…you would never have moved out. You did not move to a leafy suburb, ( Did you even think you would afford it?!). You moved to a neighbourhood just good enough to accommodate a starter who knows how to operate a budget. A starter who knows the complex math of fixed costs and can clearly differentiate between a luxury and necessity. One who knows how to classify a TV and a home theatre  as a luxury. Those ones will be bought later. Besides, you have a functional phone with earphones to keep you updated on what is happening around the world; and you have a laptop to keep you watching the latest movies released everywhere in the world;  Nollywood and Hollywood alike.  A starter, who now calls themselves a ‘self starter’ …( ‘I started from the bottom kind of vybe) . Needless to say, you do not have a car, at least not yet.

You look through the window, through the rain.Those dreams start haunting you. Your life is not where you used to see it. You feel like you are behind schedule. You have not afforded any holiday so far, and no matter how hard you close your eyes, you cannot see yourself affording one anytime soon. It is the last week of the month. You hate this week.  It is the week of revising your borrowing skills and taking honey to sweeten your voice lest someone decides to pay you for massaging their ears with your sweet voice. This week finds you so broke that  you could almost call your ex demanding for payment for all your time that they wasted.  It is the week where you spend a considerable amount of time refreshing your contacts and breaking the silence with long lost potential financiers. You invest time dropping a few texts here and there to cushion the reception of the borrowing text. You write down and rehearse ways of asking for money  without making your financier think that you are THAT broke. Mostly, you find yourself picking all manner of excuses/ small lies. Sometimes, ati you lost your ATM card, others you lie that you lend a huge amount to a friend and they have not paid you back, or all these other lies you people borrow money with, sometimes you want capital to grab some business opportunity. Any wise person will read through the lies and show some empathy. But you have to butter the right side of the bread so well that you cannot be denied that loan.

 

Capture.PNGIronically, this is the same week your next of kin will call you with all their financial needs. They ask for small money like 15k and over. Did the definition of small money change by the way?! How is 15k small money to a starter who knows mathematics? You cannot disappoint them anyway, you would rather take a loan…you know you are their child, they educated you and you are undeniably doing very well financially. They expect you to have a quarry of money. In fact, your parents believe that you, yes you penniless one, can open a bank for the entire village to provide financial aid to those people who cannot manage their finances at a small interest- if you wanted to. You cannot admit your financial strain lest they suffer a cardiac arrest. Understandably, you are mostly in a bad mood before you are paid, especially when you see your kin calling-calling you. And you cannot even tell them what a luxury is when they ask for money to buy handbags or shoes. Before end month, why oh why?! You are tempted to call that friend you blacklisted in your life as a hallucinator, you want to find out if they finally got their finances right and stopped booking leave strategically.

 

The sun is starting to rise. As you alight the matatu, you start having a constructive monologue, far from halucinations.From today henceforth, you will redeem yourself from this shackle of pay cheque slavery. “Get thee behind me satan” will be your favourite verse in the bible. You will use it when your hands feel like they should pick designer things which are meant for people who throw notes of small value in dustbins. You will use it when these friends who help you celebrate that salary which is as tiny as the small finger of a newborn child call you. You will confidently ask them if they will foot their bill, and meet you halfway in meeting yours. You will also adjust your tongue to appreciate low budget foods, until such a time when you will not know the difference between the salary sunup and salary sundown (Read as payday and end month before payday). You will be comfortable saying that you are comfortable eating life in a small spoon. You will stop living to the societal expectation and create your own bar, based on your financial height. Holidays will be enjoyed during the company holidays so that you can savour every moment. Scarcity creates value, so the fewer, the more valuable! You will create a mental switch. You will switch your mind off when people ask you foolish questions. Like “Kwani where do you take your money?”/ “Did you get a paycut?/ “Why don’t you have a car yet?”Then you will start humming the ‘started from the bottom’ anthem.

 

Somewhere between the financial plan, friends happen, and unplanned-for events and other small emergencies. You resolve month after month to have your finances in check, unsuccessfully.:-( Sometimes, the pressure to catch up with peers mounts and you end up spending unnecessarily, trying too hard to measure up to the profile that the society has set for you. As time goes by, end month draws further and further. Reason? You pay off debts and settle bills as soon as that salary kicks in. By the end of the first week, you are broke. Like properly broke/broke!! Loans shift from soft loans to long-term ones. Eventually, you realize that you are tangled up in loans and lifestyles beyond your reach.  But you have an image to protect, you have a way you want people to view you. Because of this want, you end up broke while trying to look rich.  Problem with our generation is that we want instant success… we want to live large without a back up plan. We want to enjoy our youth to the fullest and get the finest of experiences now’now. I stand to be corrected, but the way to wealth is simple. Spend less than you earn, and invest the difference wisely. In the grand scheme of life, we will all get there. Of course, with the right financial decisions  now. So SAVE and INVEST! The golden rule is that you spend what remains after you have saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teen love

He broke my heart into a million pieces.

untitledI was thirteen, fresh into the teen world. I could feel my breasts fighting for that small space to protrude, and my ovaries dancing in excitement. He was a new comer. And when I first saw him, I knew I was in love. He was the cutest thing I had ever seen. He had as smile to die for, and  pair of dimples to match the picture perfect face. TWO FREAKING DIMPLES! And I discovered I was a woman with feelings. I wanted him all for myself. I said a silent prayer, that the good lord would make him my desk mate. Then, Teacher Agnes disobeyed the will of God and put him behind me. My ‘back deskmate’. But I was okay, we could still build a home from there.

Then we did our first exam in class seven. I did not care what position he would secure, it did not matter to me whether he would be top from the bottom or last from the front…But then, he was second from the top! Whoa! My husband was all brawns, all brains. What more could a girl possibly ask for. Surely

I spend half of my time in class seven and 8 turning back to ask him the difference between the leeward side and windward side, about windsocks and windvanes, GCDs and LCMs… and all. And every time I looked back, getting right answers from him over and over, I could tell how brilliant our kids would be. How cute they would be, and the masterpiece honeymoon his brain would craft. I wedded him a million times in my head. And I changed my name to Mrs. Him. I would unconsciously write his name on my books, on my locker, on my metallic box, on my palms: everywhere. My deskmate noticed.

“Ha ha, umeandika andika hiyo jina kila mahali… if you want him, just send me” She teased

Class 8, third term. Year 2004.

Farewell books. He gave his book to write stuff. I, Dorothy Taitumu, wrote…’ I will miss you because I love you

And that statement right there, that statement cost me my marriage! He did not speak to me again. (Oh boy, such a guy…so typical of modern men to go mute at the mention of that word, LOVE). I wish I never revealed my feelings.

2005, form 1.

I was still stuck on my marriage. I had refused to sign the unspoken and unwritten divorce papers. And while my new desk mate Aggie spoke about her boyfriend Yang, I chipped in that I too had a husband. And he was in Bush, and bush was THAT school. I never gave up on trying to savage our marriage. I wrote him letters in very beautiful writing pads, perfumed them, had his name in jaw-dropping calligraphy: and kept them safe. I never got the courage to send them, my bad. Then Lucifer happened, I carried one of the letters home. And it landed on my mother’s hands.  Whatever happened with my mother that day! I stopped loving my pretty boy, divorced him even.

2009 February

endI bump into him. Haha, Karma is so righteous. Adolescence had taken such a toll on him. The dimples that were once a turn on, were covered in that bi*c* acne. Puberty can be unfriendly. He is aware of how his rejection and divorce affected me…and how they  bruised my ego. There has been a coffee date that has been happening since 2010, and an apology from him.

I am back in the city now, so where are we having that coffee? Sanibel island maybe? Tell me Bry.

********

Gakii Taitumu

Death beyond death

death“I heard gun shots and fled. We jumped over the fence. The police are here, they are taking us to a safe place in groups of five…”

That was yester morning, Holy Thursday Morning. I was just waking up and still snuggling with my duvet in the chilly dewy morning. Getting out of bed gets really hard in mornings like these, and so I stayed on. Half asleep, quarter in my usual morning fantasies, and quarter listening to the loud news broadcast.

That was what I heard. For all I remember, she sounded calm and composed. From her strong voice, fleeing sounded easy, she sounded calm, and the police were there too. And so I brushed it off with a sigh, they’ll be fine, it’s all well. At that point, I was unaware that the massacre was happening to a University, to students beaming with potential and with a fire so intense to succeed. I did not imagine for a moment that behind the silent voice, were waves of trepidation from a death so close: escaped by a whisker.

I went on with my usual morning fantasies, turning a deaf ear to the worrying news! I was determined not to worry about things I was not in control over, and excited that Easter was finally here. That by his death, he redeemed us. As a child, I had always fancied that my death bed come by somewhere during Easter, so that people would commemorate my death with that of Jesus. Scary, I know! But that was me as a child. Mommie had taught me that death was not bad, it was what happened to good people who needed to rest, eternally. I look back and wonder how I was so calm about the thought of death back then.

Today, I dread it whenever someone walks up to me to break the awful news that they have lost a loved one. I almost always want to run away from being the one comforting them. I lost my childhood friend Dorah to an accident two years ago. Sad!… I still remember the somber conversation with her Mom days after the news were broken… “I always thought my children would be the ones to bury me, she was the warmth here, she was that child I couldn’t wait to see her future, she was my girl, still my small bubbly girl and you know, she was so close to the finish line, it hurts… I stood there listening to the Mom, unsure of how to react. She tried to keep the talk on her bubbly little girl but anguish overcame her. She broke down for the umpteenth time. Dorah was everywhere in her memories, in her call log, in the family photos, in her siblings and all over their home. She was a final year student in the University, they had big dreams for her. It broke us all, her parents being the most affected. Only then did I know the pain of losing a child, an even more, losing a child in the University. It’s a death beyond the normal death, because you will look at their peers progressing through life, making it big in the charts of fame, and wonder what your child would have turned out to be had she lived longer. You will hear of opportunities and wish your baby was there to grab them. Every parent hopes that their child will live to accomplish the dreams that they themselves did not achieve in their youthful days.

The news of the attack at Garissa went on and on. Another terror attack. My whatsapp was flooded with all sorts of condolence messages in the groups, I can’t be too sure how many of us have their loved ones in this massacre. Some angry posts on the alshabaab trickled in, and some cold threats to the Alshabaab if they were responsible. I read through them all, feeling helpless. I am a University student, and this was happening students just like us, perfectly in the same age bracket as us, in the same lecture halls, and in hostels as our hostels here.

The hostels have become our safest homes, and our fondest places to rest. Every day is an excitement to do something new, to catch up with our friends and exchange never ending pleasantries. On a normal day, we wake up to our peers in the corridors, to interactions in the sinks and knocks at your door. A friend just dropping by to wake you up for an early morning class. We wake up and prepare breakfast for two, because you are sure another friend will pop in with hunger pangs, and you will be glad to be the hospitable savior. On your lazy days, you simply walk in next door and delay your chit chat until lunch is ready. We are all full of life. We talk about latest series,movies and bucket lists as though there is an exam for them… In all my years of study, these years here have been the most spectacular. At this point in time, our shared excitement as the next cream of graduates is transition… The aptitudes, interviews and planning for what next after school with your peers is an exciting experience…

Not a single day have I ever woken up scared for my life, or scared that I would walk to the next room only to be greeted by lifeless bodies.The closest I have been to being worried are the days that I doubted myself, days when I got jittery of what next or when I was disappointed. But not a single day did I ever wake up scared that death was a close reality. I plan for tomorrow as though it’s a right, I know I will wake up safe and sound. I cannot even remember the last time I had my Easter death fantasies.

Today is Friday, Good Friday. I woke up to the sad news, 147 people lost their lives. I am worried about their families; it is absolute pain and anguish for them. Chiromo Mortuary is crowded with families unable to contain their ache for the loss of their dear ones.cry I wonder what disturbs them more, the fact that their children were so close to the finish line, or the manner in which they were killed. Are they still trying to call them with baited breath, and at the last ring, going down on their knees in prayer that they will return their call later? Hoping that somehow they survived? Are they looking out at other University students and getting jealous that they are still alive? Envious that their slain sons and daughters would still be walking around with glee and beaming with potential? Are they going to walk the streets a few years from now, and see young people in suits…and immediately start thinking about their children, and the legendary marks they would have made had they lived longer?

I might not know how best to put my condolence in words, I may not even utter any word that will fail to remind the affected families of the gap left behind. The lights of glory will truly welcome the victims to heaven… But to the country, to the citizens so keen to point out hypocrisy in leadership by comparing the westgate attack to the Garissa attack, and to the world that is so quick to judge Kenyans and the government…No amount of criticism and venting will bring the innocent souls back to life. No amount of judgment will save the situation. So, rather than flooding social media with complains and angry vents, take a moment and pray for the country, for insecurity and for the families. Make donations as faithfully as you did during the westgate attack without complaining that the media and the government are not giving the attack the attention it deserves. Because whether we like it or not, we can never be all the same, and all situations can never be given exactly the same degree of attention. The wounds are still so open that any word spoken to fuel the anger only serves as an addition to the open wound.And a nation that violates human rights in the name of fighting terrorism has already joined the terrorists. I leave it at that.