Happy, the movie

Just watched a movie about being happy at PAWA254. Now listening to Eiji Han Shimizu who was part of the team that made the film (he does manga, too!).

It made me happy because I was with Trish โ™ฅ & Nani & I ended up sitting next to an AIESEC friend.

Also, so many things resonated and it spoke to a part of me that’s been feeling like happiness was out of reach.

Cheat sheet: personal growth, close family and friends, & a sense of community. That’s it; that’s what you need for 40% of your happiness portion. Because 50% is down to genetics & 10% is all about exercise and being active.

Also, meditating on compassion and loving-kindness; which is something I struggle with. So, yes, mindfulness.

Watch it, if you can. It was really good.

Death by prose | Sticking your middle finger in its face, you may see the world smile

Yesterday I saw a sign that informed people at the train station that ‘Failure to buy a ticket for a trip will result in prose-cution’ and the only thing I could think of was Prose+execution=prose-cution. Don’t tell me; it’s a random way to emerge from my cocoon.

Here’s my attempt at staying alive:

You say to me

FUCK what the world says about this and that

[excuse your french]

You want to be with me

 

And because of that

[F- to what these and those people

Say about how we should be]

Serenade is a rude word

Talking to another man

-Like that-

Is not kosher

 

But what does the world say?

He’s not that into you

-Does he call you (not?)

-Does he text you (often?)

-Do you love the feel of his lips on yours (so good they are,. So supple?)

 

You’ve got a fast car

But I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the ride

I am of the world

I have not the rectitude your love demands

 

I want-

information

Breath(lessness)

travel partner

Loverfriend

 

I’m as good at silence

As you are at communication

We are good-

We take each other as we are

No newandimproved

Just takeitorleaveit

 

Let’s run off to an island

Where we’ll be together

-Always

No questions, doubts

No worldly expectations

 

I have asked for little

I have not had a surfeit

[how that word sounds like a frothing over]

 

I want more

Friends & Benefits

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘quake’? More of that later.

2BF5 turned 18 yesterday. And W turned 21 on Saturday the 2nd. Welcome to (the much vaunted but really quite ordinary) world of adults, 2BF5; don’t worry if the difference is the same. W, now you can drink legally in even more jurisdictions in the world. Bliss. And the world ages yet again ๐Ÿ™‚ Those two are some of the best friends a girl could ask for. But this post is (surprise! Surprise!) not about them. It’s about what happens when one girl lands a job that involves computers and cigarettes. And the stories that grow from that occurrence. Not necessarily in that order.

@ partners with various entities that support it in one way or another. On Wednesday of last week, I benefited from one of those arrangements. I got to attend an exclusive event that commemorated the awarding of $1million to a Kenyan tech firm for a mobile phone application (read the story here & learn more about the app here). It drew quite an interesting lot. Journalists, techies, dignitaries (yes, I said dignitaries. Like senior government officials & such) and the crowd that keeps Nairobi interesting (sometimes called bloggers) as well as twitterati (don’t I just love such words. In a few years, Oxford University Press shall publish it in an edition of its much-beloved Advanced Learners’ Dictionary. Poor learners.)… I was, quite honestly, just a lackey (with the quaint little title that is ‘usher’) but I earned ca$h moneยฅ and met all sorts of interesting people.

Speaking of interesting people, I joined a UN agency committee that seeks to improve the lot of youth in Kenya and influence national youth policy in the country. Our first meeting was on the same day as the aforementioned job. It proved to be quite a busy day. Now I know how those jet setters who work myriad jobs do it. Sheer planning and determination. I feel blessed. All these opportunities that have been made available to me are cause for celebration. Joy. Rumination.

I would never have got the job (and money) were it not for Lionel (who I spoke of in my last post) and a drinking event that occurred that involved him, our overall boss at our @ chapter and our workmate, a certain MarkTM (that’s tracking manager, not trademark, thanks for asking). He jocularly asked me if I wanted a paying job and next thing we all know, your woman is at an event that rocked. So thanks, Lionel; with friends like you ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ That drinking party resulted in my drinking KK(Kenya King), a Kenyan spirit with 39.5% alcohol content. This being me, the 14% (woohoo!!) wine drinker., it was an experience like no other. A sweetness in my mouth, burning sensation in my throat, and warmth all over my body. But I liked the taste, that I shall not deny. Once I stopped taking it neat and threw in some soda called Krest Bitter Lemon, I was on a roll.

KK made me hyper-active. X, Mo, Marie, and yes, you, Magaribina; stop raising your eyebrows. I am not hyperactive. I went back to my room and did a ton of laundry till 2am. You read right, 2am. Couldn’t sleep. Oh, well, it’s better than being stupid and drunk. So, I guess every so often it’s good to go out of my comfort zone and experience what happens on the other side.

I’m a geek, it seems. That’s the reason I use, and like, Linux. And is that fact, I was asked, a mark of class? I was quite amazed by that question. Class, you say? I think not. I miss my friend L (aka Best Friend). She was around for the summer and we had a sleepover and weekend-over while she was around. It was great seeing her again after so long. Either Canadians have no accent or she didn’t pick one up. I was so happy to hear her voice when she called me the day after she arrived. It was a great summer for me. And she likes Linux, too. My friend Z, whose family so kindly opened its door and heart to me, was also in Kenya. I didn’t get to see her but I spoke to her; too. Did I say earlier that I am blessed? I shall say it again here. These girls remind me of the power of love and friendship. Continents away from me and yet we know that if we pick the phone, the other shall be on the other end ready to speak. Now that is love.

I joined a Bible Study (BS) group last month. I went for the first few meetings with X. I’ve missed only one meeting so far. Which meeting I missed because E & X took me to the students’ clinic as I threw up and had a migraine. The GP thought I was pregnant (only the second time that has happened in less than one month), as had another GP when she saw me knitting. Yes, knitting; how folksy. I’ve tried to get X to let me ask his mum to tutor me but I sense some reticence & being as my BS leader warned me against having relations that were too warm with the mother of my boyfriend, I shall probably never receive any lessons from XM. Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men often come to nought (read Robert Burns’ poem here). The way that came out, my BS sounds like a cult (my leader said not to….) but we are just a motley collection of sinners. Some redeemed and some, such as yours truly, just doing what they can to be on the right side.

The job mentioned above. Myself, the Queen (so named by J because of the stunts he pulls) & a guy whose @ name is Member (who, I have realised, can do quite a good job of excluding one from @ activities and creating a members-only feeling) & D. We all, excluding Member, stood together after the job and smoked D’s cigarettes. What bliss; to be able to partake of cancer sticks among friends. The Queen & I had a chance to speak as the event wound down. He is a most interesting character….and a friend’s friend. Which is always a compliment. And the rest; I got to see new sides to them. Interesting, likeable sides. If @ continues like this-friendship, opportunities and,yes, money-I’ll enjoy the ride. Opportunities, I said. Because of another ushering job, I got to attend an amazing event (granted, I had planned on attending either way<<<‘granted’ is such an X word ๐Ÿ™‚ There goes Miss Girlfriend) where I got to learn all sorts of intriguing things that will help me influence my family and community.

I might get to be a witness at the officiating of my friend’s union sometime next month. I say might because it’s an Islamic ceremony and I might be disqualified by my non-Muslimness. I’m excited for her. It takes guts for someone to make that sort of commitment. And the fact that she’s chosen to make it is a source of hope for me. It is possible to be happy in a marriage even if you are a member of our jaded generation. And I say jaded under advisement. We have seen the marriages of our parents and loved ones descend into chaos or be revealed to be shams and yet we take that risk ourselves. My brother was delighted to hear the news (being as Miss Lady is his big sister’s big sister) and, during our last conversation; asked after her and how the wedding preparations were going.

My brother. He is part of the reason I disappeared from the blogosphere. He had a stack of drama at school. And being like a child of mine, it threw me off-balance. He was out of school for a month during which I spoke to all sorts of people in an effort to reinstate him in school. Do these things only happen in Kenya or are they the scourge of developing countries? A month out of school because of a few teachers’ vendetta against one’s parent is enough to demoralise even the strongest child. But my brother is not just strong. He is the child of my parents. And my father and mother have not surmounted all those odds for their child to be beaten down by injustice. He still maintains his enthusiasm for education (thankfully, he’s known education and school to be divorced for a while) and now that he is back in school, he looks forward to high school with renewed dedication. Alliance High School; here comes The Shaboozle’s brother, T.

My brother. A delightful child who once drew X aside to advise him to treat me well, with respect, and not to cheat on me. T at 9. Indeed. I reminded X of that the other day. That infidelity would mean the end of whatever we have at the time at which it happened. He said, later, that my statement sounded like a dare. To cheat, to leave, to whatever. Honestly. I thought it was just a statement of fact. And after Tuesday of this week, I think it’s stretching it a bit to not want me to make such a statement. Tuesday, when I went to this opening where my friend J was showing one of her pieces. Before I lose focus, please go see it if you can. Tuesday, when X stood me up. Tuesday, when I [stupidly] called him to fish out an apology (sometimes I behave like an abused woman). Tuesday when he told me a story where all he kept doing was digging his own grave. He & my friend had taken over his cousin’s Facebook status update. This is a common happening, something I have done in the past myself. Then they had proceeded to talk of something he owed her with him explaining to his cousin (remember him?) that he knew her through ‘a friend’ (that would be yours truly). Ahem. I was explaining to 2BF5 today what really irritated me about that incident. In the conversation where he gives me an apology that the Swahili would describe as ‘shingo upande’ (literally; from the side of the neck to mean done grudgingly), he describes how he charms a girl in a public forum in which I am referred to as a ‘friend’. I have seen, in my life, the way a cheating spouse usually doesn’t lie from day 1. He may tell you all the story but as the story grows elements are removed to protect one or whatever notion crosses his mind. He has it in him to perpetuate a conversation with the friend of his ‘friend’ in a public forum where he sometimes does not deign to speak to the said ‘friend’. He repeats this story to me after telling me the reason why he didn’t even think to call me to cancel was because he had been derailed by his @ team. Well, thanks for making me see how the land lies; Mr Man. As I have said before; part of the reason I’m in college is because I’m smart. I get it.

I was bought a wonderful book by 2BF5 called ‘Notes from an Exhibition‘ last week. Hence the question at the beginning of this post. The story revolves around the loves, lives and losses of a group of people who are all influenced by a woman who dies at the beginning of the book who has bipolar disorder. It hit really close to home because my maternal grandmother was put in a mental institution several times in her lifetime before her death when I was 6. Like the central character in the book, she was quite a character. And strong. I laughed and cried in equal measure as I read that book. Never before has the content of a book spoken my truth so clearly. And it showed what I have always believed-that the human experience is universal. The differences are just those of location, names, race. But fundamentally, we are all the same. And I want to thank X for giving me the courage to say the words I have just said. In this post, he speaks his truth and in this one I speak mine. A lady in the book expresses her fear of pregnancy because her child may be mentally unstable. But the lady’s death gives her courage. Pregnancy, childbirth, rearing a human being; these are acts of courage. And the book also affirmed my admiration for my grandparents. My grandmother for living with a disease that has none of the glamour of most chronic diseases and raising well-balanced children who are adults anyone would be proud of and my grandfather for being a great dad and having the courage to live with her and stick by her side.

The book spurred me to attend a meeting of The Religious Society of Friends. Sometimes called Quakers. A group of people who, in the book, were calm and loving and welcoming. Sitting together in silence, contemplating God. No creeds, no chants, no hard and fast rules. I spoke to 2BF5 about the group and we ended up going for the meeting together this last Sunday, bless his multicoloured socks. Both our mothers were quite flummoxed by our choice of experimental religious group. His, especially. In Kenya, each church assumes a tribal profile, and that of Quakers in Kenya is a Luhya one. My mother, married to a Luhya, was quite aware of the Friends Church. Awareness doesn’t mean she took the decision to attend lightly; I have been known to have attended a church that, it later emerged, was a cult. 2BF5’s mother, on the other hand, was concerned but her concerns were similar to my mother’s: What draws you there? And our answers were similar: This group seems to have what we, as young people, so greatly desire. At this point, I want to thank my friend L for helping me know meeting times so 2BF5 & I could attend and 2BF5 for coming along with me. X was not impressed by 2BF5’s presence; saying he’d go with me to the next meeting. This is to be seen. Though in this one instance, I can’t be said to be choosing 2BF5 over X who has always declared his allegiance to his preferred church…

I was attacked last week but one. The only people I have told bar you are X, 2BF5, E & my Twin. E was the first I told as I went to her room after the occurrence to regroup. The Twin was not impressed by the fact that I didn’t tell her till the next day (religion and varied interests have pulled us apart, you can’t blame me…) The man was walking towards me one minute and the next thing I knew, there I was, on the ground with your woman being muzzled. Wrong move, buster…. I screamed my heart out. I had these thoughts running through my mind during that time: >I am being attacked >>I shall be raped by this man. These thoughts coalesced into >This man attacking me shall rape me<. Which made me scream so loudly that the cars that were on the road next to the scene (this was a major junction, close to midnight) stopped and my assailant fled. A man opened his door, asked if I had been robbed (no), hurt (no, again) and advised me to run home. Which admonition I obeyed readily. I have never been so afraid of the sight of a man that when one asked me if I had been the one screaming, I couldn’t get the voice to say; yes. I have become fearless; but maybe I need to be afraid. Had I not been fearless, I would not have been in that situation. Isn’t this what always happens? The victim blaming herself? I did not ask for it; I am stronger than the coward who tried to scare me into fearfulness.

X lost his grandfather less than a month ago. He spoke of his sorrow and his loss. And wrote about it (read his reaction here) and showed me new sides of himself. Such as the fact that he thinks of loss as a private thing. That he acknowledged my attempts to be there for him, stand by him at the funeral but politely declined. The fact that he wants to speak and yet your woman is always talking, talking, talking. If I just, well, shut up; he’d say his truth. The fact that he takes his role as the strong man seriously. That family really does mean a lot to him (this is nothing new but he reaffirmed his devotion to family); his love for his mother. What his grandfather meant to him and how men mourn. Differently from women; privately. That I count for something. Yes, I know what I said up there. But the fact that he spoke of his loss said something about how he feels for me. I remember how I pushed him away when my uncle passed away earlier this year. And yet the one person I wanted to hug me, to touch me, to tell me we would all survive….was him. I looked at my parents and how my father comforted my mother and I thought to myself, โ€œI wish I had that.โ€ And yet I did-he had offered to be there for me and I had said no. Because that is how I mourn; almost like self-flagellation. And so seeing him reach out to me said he loved and trusted me enough to believe I would be there for him. I care about him, I admit. And while, as I said, I may sometimes act like an abused woman; I have seen sides to this man that remind me why I stay with him…

Benefits: my assailant thought I was male. This happens to me a lot. I don’t wear gender-defining clothes and don’t have a very shall we say, female body. So I, in a sense, disarmed him when I started screaming like a girl (ha!) when he attacked me. It’s always been unnerving to be thought of as a boy. But because he was confused, I took advantage of the situation to defend myself. I don’t want to think about what would have happened to me if I had been visibly female. Rape? Death? I don’t want to fear walking the streets, being alive. I want to not have to think of my womanhood all the time; factoring it into every decision I make. I want to think of myself first and foremost as a person and secondly as a female person. Why, I wonder, did I think of rape so fast? Maybe all those messages I have received growing up (never from my parents) about how my husband will ‘wonder where my virginity went’ on our nuptial night have gone to my head. My hymen has risen so high in my list of important things that it has acquired a life all of its own and floated to a place where it has lodged itself in the part of my brain that reacts to danger.

Benefits: the strength of women. E was there to listen to me as I told the story of my attack and as I reacted to the book by going to a Quaker meeting. My twin was glad to allow me to join her BS to be able to claim a fellowship of friends and like-minded people. L aka Best Friend allowed me to see parts of my country I had never seen and to meet her sister. I am blessed. L going the extra mile to let 2BF5 & I know when the Quaker meetings were. My aunt L who has been there for me. And especially my mum who taught me the virtue of drawing from the strength of women; a lesson so well learnt from her mother. I am a stronger person for all the women whose presence has been felt in my life.

For all these and much more, may I always be grateful ๐Ÿ™‚ <<Such a Rotaract thing to say (I got inducted last week, yay!) but so true, too.

I am a Nairobian | I choose to write

Yesterday I went for a public reading organised by the Young Writers Project in Nairobi & met lots of awesome people who I only knew from Twitter…good times.

And on Saturday & Sunday, I was going through a phase. It was called, “My body is mine…it’s my choice, ergo I want to lose my virginity…” can’t find a taker, though. Being as I can’t walk up to a guy Madonna-style (I’m nowhere near the Material Girl in very many senses…) and express this desire. That sort of leaves one person, X.

About the reading….I went because of a wonderful AIESECer called Lionel Oduol who was going to read an excerpt of his work (read the full version here) who told me about it at the AIESEC (from this point onwards referred to by the symbol @) office at my school (yes, I joined @, don’t ask…). Going to the event page on the Facebook revealed that an high school mate of mine would also be reading some of her work (read it here) & gave me that much more motivation to go to the event. I guess my conversation with this girl who was in my year at my school who claimed that we are inarguably the most disloyal bunch of ex-school mates…so I was going against the grain…with much enjoyment on my part. Good times…

My body is my own, I decided over the weekend. All those people in my life who have an opinion on it that I factor so greatly in my body-related decisions? They count only as much as I let them…and I choose to have myself as the #1 body decision-maker in my life. So my body is my own. To treat well, to share with a person or people, to have all to myself. So I decided that I want to lose my virginity. Because my body is my own & I want to get rid of the thing around my neckย the thing that…ah, you know what I mean.

Little problem: one needs an accomplice & to keep quiet when one makes a decision of that sort. I failed on both counts. I told my twin, and E & L….get a grip, sister. Take it easy…you are LIBERATED. The lines I have not used on myself. To think that guys try to convince girls to go to bed with them; this girl was doing quite a job all by her lonesome… I talked to all these people because I wanted to make a safe, smart decision…..but I failed to consider the implications of this question I was asked by my friend L on telling her I wanted to lose my virginity:

“And who do you want to lose it to?”

What?? I was stupefied by her question. The one and only, I said. Talk is cheap, and so is your body if not much thought is being put into the actions you plan. My biggest issue….that I may get pregnant….so ย how to stay un-pregnant.

Continued weeks later:

Not how to stay un-hurt. Or how to act when I was reeling in shock at X’s response: NO.

I went to Mathare Valley (a slum in Nairobi) almost 2 weeks ago. I am a changed woman. It is good to be an @er…..but I am not an @er. I know, I flummox myself, too, and I’m the one speaking. Mathare changed me & made me realise a few things. Such as what, you may ask?

I am a RICH GIRL. So what my bank balance was once 11KES? At least I have never looked around me and seen misery everywhere. I had to use a bathroom and so was led to the lone one at one end of the slum. To say I was traumatised would be the understatement of the year. My first thought when I left the facility was, “I would never give birth to a daughter in this environment.” The irony that is life, twisted and ugly; a lady that didn’t know me gave me water with which to wash my hands. Her child’s sex? Female.

Africa shall never develop as long as we think some white man will come to sort us out….yet the said white man is the only one that dares venture into the slums. If it hadn’t been for these 3 @er interns, I would probably never have ventured into the valley (which is, quite honestly, an abandoned quarry). 10KES away on a matatu, a world of differences away. The white man has a colourful story of African poverty to tell on his return home and what do I, a Kenyan, have? I thank them, though, for opening my eyes to my city. And I want to say here: Jan, thanks a mil ๐Ÿ™‚

The generosity of the poor. Here’s a cup, offers the girl’s mother, clean your hands with this water and soap. You may be a stranger but I shall help you. The chances that that would have happened in my old neighbourhood, right. What spurs these people who have so little to give? Lessons to learn, I guess.

Amazing graffiti. On the walls around Mathare that were not made of mud. It put a lot of the things I have seen on the side of town in which I live to shame. The vibrance of the colours, the artistic voice of the young people who had pointed those walls. These people the city has cast aside are alive, and well…..and creative. And they are telling their stories on their walls.

I have amazing strength. I can haul timber as well as any boy. I can speak Kikuyu, inarguably the language of business in Kenya, to the benefit of those I’m with. I went to Mathare with an @ intern I had picked alone at the airport. He has opened my eyes to myself. I, it turns out, know lots of people-this is something I can harness. I am capable of so much… Thank you Mathare ๐Ÿ™‚

Clarity. I place X on a pedestal. But there are things that are more important. Friends, family, love. And not the sort of love I have for him, the sort that my brother feels for me…. X has a life of his own, why don’t I? Why do I find it hard to say, “This far is enough”? “This is what I want”? Why do we go back and forth and say things in a convoluted fashion? Why do I agree so easily to be beaten down about my body? Part of it came from me mis-hearing his ‘mentor meeting’ as ‘Mensa meeting’… Thinking to myself, “I’m smart, too..” had crazy results.

I met someone on the night of the day I went to Mathare. Smart, interesting, not X. I projected all the things I want on him, then I remembered I have X. Except I realised I want to be with X because there is so much to gain being with him, than to lose without him. Sometimes he feels so inaccessible. And yet…. So what are these things I projected? Desire (yes, I said the D word, so shoot me), openness…this guy I had just met, he was telling me so much, expressiveness…the feeling that I didn’t have to push him to a corner to hear his voice ring clear and true.

I am a Nairobian. I shall return to Mathare. I choose to write. I shall post an entry at least once a week. I choose to write; I have no plans of letting all those who habour this or that opinion of me rule my life. I am a Nairobian who chooses to write…

Just pull the trigger

That video is characteristic of this blog sometimes….so way off topic that it’s sensible [maybe]

I went to my uncle’s funeral on the 30th of last month. Hence the title…as it was a police funeral…

My trigger is Psalm 23…the priest [my (maternal) family is Anglican] read it out and all my sadness came spilling out. All the tears I hadn’t cried since the ones I had cried when I called my mum across the country on the day he died (March 24) and cried as I walked in a mall…

Psalm 23ย (New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His nameโ€™s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the LORD
Forever.

Loss, ag. Loss is hard, it’s painful, it’s like that itch you can’t scratch but you can’t stop thinking of. Loss is listening to words of condolence & not hearing them. Loss. Loss is wanting the person you love to call you so you have someone to cry to and not being able to call them yourself because you don’t know what to say when they pick the phone.

I told X these things on Saturday (the 10th) but I’ll say them here:

My uncle was my mum’s older brother and he was there for me from the time I was little…including listening to my advice as a 2 year old: ‘Mama — wendo wa cash money ni hatari'<<Kikuyu phrase I’d picked up on radio that roughly translates to ‘The love of cash money is dangerous’, ‘Mama’ being the Kikuyu word for Uncle, specifically maternal uncle, as a paternal one is called ‘Baba'(father)ย  like you would call your own. The things I didn’t listen to as a child…. ๐Ÿ˜€ Or believing in my ability to be a great driver…and praising my skills to anyone who’d care to listen…even when I needed his help to go up a hill in my manual transmission car…

My uncle…who let his children drift away from him for ages till my mum practically strong-armed his ex-wife into suing for child support…and who, surprisingly, took up the task like he had been waiting to be prodded. My uncle who had big dreams for his sons. My cousin who was informed of his father’s death by a motorcycle taxi rider because his mother, my uncle’s first wife, was waiting for him at home….waiting to tell him face to face. My cousin who’s now fatherless, bereft of the father that was my uncle.

The man who was HIV+ (I shall not sweep matters under the carpet for a second longer) and told no-one. NO-one….when we would have been here to support him. He died from menengitis, an almost-always definite killer for those with the virus. Oh, what for lack of telling we suffer. The man who my uncle, his last born brother, was scared to tell, “Go get tested,” because he was always larger than life….even when he was ravaged by the virus.

This man who went back to Police College to get promoted, who made an idiot of all those who stereotype the Kenya Police. He read books (‘The Constant Gardener’ at his death), he never stole (and trust me, not for lack of opportunity)… This man who put family first even though he faltered sometimes.

My uncle who I thought I knew yet who made me realise that in death your not-knowing is that much greater. My uncle who sacrificed to make sure his siblings went to school at a time when my grandfather was going through a rough patch. He that looked, and acted, so much like his father, my grandfather. A man of honour, a resilient man, a man of quiet strength.

The man who, even though it would have been easy to resent my mother for her child-support machinations, always treated her with respect. So much respect that he was one of the first of my mother’s people to embrace my father; a man from another tribe who had put his sister in the family way…because he saw my father’s honour would not allow him to let me grow up fatherless.

My uncle who saw the end coming and called his first and second wives to his bedside-to make peace. My uncle whose first wife used to peel my cousin (his first son) and I plums during plum season & pears during pear season when I lived at my grandfather’s place as a child. My aunt, his first wife, who was the first person who was an aunt to me; my mother having been brought up, like me, sisterless. My aunt who made me a doll with buttons and cloth that I swiftly discarded at the birth of her first son…because I preferred a real baby ๐Ÿ™‚ My aunt who has always loved me like her own…who would never have come into my life without my uncle.

My uncle who showed me and my mother how much he loved us in his distinctly African way. With actions, actions, actions. Who looked out for my aunt L & her family even though they were not his kin (by blood, or choice-as they are mine), who looked out for us during post-election violence; who spirited his sons to safety during that period.

I could go on forever….but this is my tribute to a great man. I hope no uncle of mine dies on me in this fashion again…with me having been silent on him…not letting him know I love him in words; not knowing all the dimensions to him. My uncle who showed me how fleeting life is…who didn’t live to be 50, or see his son go to college. Who made me rethink the way I treat the people I love [Ah, you know I love you], who made me realise how isolating death and loss are. My uncle whose death has made me more forgiving of others (like my friend whose father died on the 5th of this month and was buried today, who had not told me he was dying of cancer….before my uncle’s death, I’d have been wounded by her not-telling….but when I think back to MY not-talking about his illness…..) who died to make me love people more fiercely.

My first police funeral was of a man I deeply respected. As I leave you with this song by The Script, all I can say is….as the song says…..the truth of these words is terribly immense:

When your heart breaks, it doesn’t break even

There are all these little bits to put together….but we shall survive.

Functional Dysfunction

(Or ‘How to stay chaste in an oversexed world’)

So I’ve realised I’m a nag. Really, I am. I have the ability to talk about, and pursue, one topic past the point where anyone is interested. I’m turning into my mother…not a source of mirth but hey, it’s better than turning into say, a troll (amongst other things) Scratch that, my mum’s pretty awesome so…..but I digress.

Now, my favourite nagopic (nag meets topic to create) is communication. I can talk about it forever with Mr Man, aka X. The poor guy has heard so many versions of the same thing till he probably recites what I say (my repertoire of lines is that limited) but I found a new one over the weekend. It’s not going to be good for him…especially considering what I’m going on about… [Edit 24.3.10 I spoke to X yesterday and promised him I’d stop with the nagging…a long-term birthday gift, if you will, being as it was his big day]

Now, to stay chaste in an oversexed world, I recommend:

#1 Staying away from your preferred gender (I’m being inclusive here): Em, once you start, you can’t stop… Not that I would know but humour me..

#2 Running (yes, I know I said running) away from erotic dancers. Here I can speak with authority… On Saturday I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend I’ll call 2BF5 (ask not..OK, ask later) who is one raunchy dancer. But, as I have a little, umm, shall we say, ‘situation’, the dancing was terribly unsettling. A girl has urges….don’t stoke them!! I should have run, but he’s so much fun (woop! woop! we had us a rhyme there) so I stayed through the torture, the pain, the agony, and the shaking pelvis (grinding is more like it but let’s not even go there) Torture!!!

#3 Not talking about ‘It’ in any form. Really, it works. As long as you don’t discuss how your boyfriend is the last person that would be your baby’s father were you to fall pregnant (this is not to say I have had this conversation with anyone….) you’re almost home dry. It’s as easy as it sounds, except for the exclusion. The exclusion only succeeds at making the said boyfriend sound umm, incapable ๐Ÿ˜‰

#4 Read the Bible or similar religious book (but let’s speak of the Bible for the purpose of this post):ย  Really!! Think of all the punishment that awaits you, ignore any offers of forgiveness from God and keep your legs clamped. It may take some effort (reading the Bible in my case) and you might end up like Shoshannah (not real name, to protect the privacy of the (now) long dead) but TOUGH! Man up! Or the female equivalent of manning up…

It’s been long, my next post will be longer…

I hope…but take my advice ๐Ÿ˜€

Nishike pole pole mimi ni bibi ya wenyewe

Which loosely translates to: Hold me slowly, I am the wife of others

I turned 21 on Saturday, 30th January.

I had an interesting day….Or rather, an interesting 3 days ๐Ÿ™‚

January 29th: I begged a phone off my friend E, saw a Facebook post by my friend that’s usually referred to as SSS (Sole Soul Sister) and called her. Yes, I would have wine and chocolate with her (yes, my non-drinking self would have wine and chocolate, stop staring ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and yes, she could sleep in my room as part of that ritual called ‘The Sleepover’. Signpost in my head: This Way To Fun Times. I met her and her friend Charles, an amiable guy, after her boyfriend of 2 years (time is important, just keep reading) left her in my care. We went to the food court at the mall we were at, I told them a funny X-related story, and we bought wine after unsuccessfully trying to buy soda. Translation: We left the soda in the trolley for so long, the guys at the supermarket (wisely) decided we didn’t want it ๐Ÿ˜€ We met Jay & Co, went back to the supermarket….and the 2 of us ended up in my room ๐Ÿ˜‰ he he he

It was interesting… Around her I am not reticent…at all. I didn’t need the tongue-loosening powers of wine to get me talking. About how down I had been in the 1.5 years we had been apart. About X. I’ve known her for the last 7 years and in a sense she is me…I can trust her. That, for me, counts for a lot. And she let me speak about how the absence of [intense] physical displays of affection in my relationship with X had got me confused, should we say bewildered. That >6 months into it, all we had done is hold hands…And here was a person saying that which I had wanted so badly to hear: Let it be…don’t rush it and look back and think to yourself: This, not that, is the right moment [though I momentarily forgot her advice the next day]. Everyone around me, minus my twin, has created the impression that the absence of a make-out session up to this point signals the presence of a malfunction in my sentiments for this boy, a quirk on his part….[not that my virginity pledge doesn’t complicate issues]… I was happy to know she has been happy. Because as the person I could always trust to pull me out of the doldrums, I wanted; need, actually; her happy. And she is. I’m not playing catch-up again ๐Ÿ™‚

January 30th: I woke up on the morning of the birthday to the presence of SSS, A gift I have not received since she transferred schools when she was 16 & I 15. It was a better gift than any I could have asked for. Having X call me to meet him close to my hall of residence [“Meet me Halfway”]

and meeting him… E and SSS had met the day before [during the time at the mall] so when E came, they had time to bond after SSS had had time to speak to X. X & I were left in my room, I snoozed, E & SSS waited for almost an hour and IT happened.

IT: My roommate’s best friend walking in on me sleeping with X lying next to me. We looked so chaste; almost like 6 year old cousins having their Sunday nap on the same bed. My 4 year old cousin & I have had scenes like that, my 9 year old brother…no biggie. I had my eyes closed [not least because I was asleep], he didn’t…no cause for her reaction. Effusive apologies, almost like she had found us doing SOMETHING [your mind is now allowed to wander…] and the humour of the situation not being lost ๐Ÿ™‚ย  SSS & E called me post-bonding and I went off to the city (all of 10 minutes away) to get drinks for my party-let as well as meet Marie & our mutual friend I.

Marie, X, I & I all headed to the Nairobi National Museum [a great place to have any sort of event…] where J, her boyfriend K [no jokes], her friend S, and our friend B were waiting for us…Getting high on soda is a plan; as X and my previous run-ins with Coca Cola products have shown.ย  We drank litres of the stuff, played random games, got to know each other, talked, made fun of each other & made up for lost (friendship) time. I was told, by J, how after a series of arguments she had urged K to ‘court her’ a romantic notion that included chasing her like the past months hadn’t happened. X & I clocked 7 months on my birthday and J was tired 2 months into her relationship & SSS had logged 2 years in one relationship. Time is so fleeting and yet we attach so much to it…

We all walked (I joke not, past 1800) to the city centre-ish with Marie & I walking in front of us. J asked me for more than a year if X and I were going out and the answer never changed: No. But our body language, mirrored so clearly in my friends’, said it all. We liked each other….a lot ๐Ÿ˜‰ J had asked me what the deal was but being as I had asked the girl half and it had said pretty much nothing,ย  I wasn’t pushing it. Oh, but after we had walked into the city & were about to order dinner, they decided to leave. There’s never been a moment, surrounded by friends, as awkward as J asking them if they were dating…and them saying yes….*cue jaw drop*

How now? when I had tried subtly? But being as the guys (X & I) had hit it off at an earlier meeting, I got to pry [If J can, why can’t I…J/K] and asked the question that had such heat in myย  brainย  I could almost feel its searing effect: When did this happen? Or was I always blind (Yes)? X & I walked them to the corner, dinner was had & we went to a club. This after Jay, happily gay, had come over and had conversation & strangeness with J & K (who X & I have beaten at the awesomeness that is ‘vogueing’, thank you very much) being all over each other. Jay was hard-pressed to understand how our straight selves were going to go to a club that attracts the gay crowd sans him… But go we did.

Post K having a talk with me about ‘taking care of J’ before he left, we went to the club. On our way there it was revealed that one of X’s friends [a member of AIESEC, the organisation that he is-I did not stutter] tended bar there. Before I forget, X became President of his AIESEC chapter (coincidentally, the code for the organisation within the organisation is the letter X) and I almost died-of pride. Seriously…Which some people would say is a good thing ๐Ÿ™‚ She was so happy to meet me, his friend, saying that it felt good to finally meet me post-X’s conversations about me. And she was pleasantly surprised to realised he has friends outside AIESEC [remember, earlier, I did not stutter?] and we had an interesting time that included me getting a call from my mum & jokily telling her I was out with X getting drunk (“take care of yourself”) [that was the night before :D]. This didn’t last long as the crowd sought by J & B was elsewhere & so J’s friend K, her boyfriend J & the rest of us left.

X left us at the entrance of the 2nd club [we would later sing ‘Another one bites the dust” when Kate’s J left]ย  and we went and had unbelievable fun. Which included guys hitting on K after her boyfriend left & not single B. Which was an improvement on the joke that was the last time we had gone out together when, with my relationship with X now declared to J, she had repeatedly fended off the men that tried hitting on me by insisting that I had a boyfriend [though stated as, “Yeye ana bwana”-she has a husband :D]. We left that club because of J’s insistence.

The one we went to had an age limit that the lady at the door imagined up at the sight of us [23 & over-who ever heard of that?] and we ended up at the club we had gone to for B’s 22nd on the night of the 8th/9th. We-J & I- (you have to believe this) fell asleep & in the end J went to her hostel (my & B’s former residence) & I put B up for the night. Thankfully, my roommate hadn’t been in on those 2 days, sparing all the parties involved the awkwardness of a shared bed…

Sunday January 31st: I woke up to lock the door after B left, lay on my bed and showered & ate in time to look calm when X came to watch Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’, the first of his films we are (were?-English is confusing…) to watch together. We were originally meant to watch ‘Sherlock Holmes’ at the theatre but a conglomeration of factors meant that we started on our list… The twin & X had an awkward moment when I left him to get VCB & she went to my room to pick her book without my informing her of his presence. But it was OK in the end…with X remarking on the film’s ‘European’ qualities…

This past weekend rocked…the CAT I had today, that I aced, couldn’t cast a shadow on it… The small moments (my uncle-who calls me his ‘niece & friend’-calling me, my friend & I planning a post-birthday lunch in lieu of her presence) the ones that made the day what it was, the time spent with X (so hard to get since I became a First Lady ๐Ÿ˜‰ )….I had a great time…

And about X & I not being physical…I couldn’t have said it better than SSS did… I want something to happen,ย  I’d like for something to happen…but I have the sense to know that rushing matters won’t make for a great ride and so while I wait [need I say ‘hopefully’?], I shall enjoy all the beauty of my life & the joy of my love ๐Ÿ™‚

PS Mo, I wish you’d been around…it would have been like the Ribena ad with the blackcurrant that can no longer contain itself…its goodness just overwhelms it… We miss you…