Do not Fear what you know Will come

Nnwa,

Your people say death is like a robe everyone has to wear. They say that life is the beginning of death. So as it is, my fear is unfounded because what I fear, I live. Yet I still cannot bring myself to think that I will one day lose you; no, you will one day lose me because it is not right for a mother to bury her child. If it tears me inside to lose whom I have not held, I know you can tell to lose who I already have is not twice or thrice that pain. It is a million times that then again.

I do not like to mention death. Even thinking about it I can’t. Unless it is one of these few times such as this that it forces me to look it in the eyes; eyes that demand I understand it is what it is. Even death cannot help itself. I call it a thief, yet I am no longer certain if it steals or it takes.

These have been tough days Nnwa. I find myself thinking if I could shield you from anything, any one thing. It would not be the pain of a broken heart. It would be the sting of death because a heart, we can mend. But the sickness that sting causes to invade a soul even I do not know how to cure, how to stop. They will tell you if you carry the egg basket, do not dance. But what is life without the shaking of shoulders, the swaying of hips, the claps and shouts and stomping of feet? What is life if lived in the fear that it will fall, that it will break. But what is life if it breaks anyway? I do not seek answers from you. Your mother just needed to speak and hear her own voice. To ease one door open and calm the voices in her head.

It is strange, this cycle of life. It is happiness, it is space, it is drifting to a better place. It is madness, it is joy, it is fear, and it is a pain. It is understanding, and then it is not. It is birth, it is bliss, it is death. I can only hope that God will grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. And that He will grant you immortality or give you a heart like your father so you may not fear what you know will come. Perhaps this fear, will for me, become a thick shroud, shielding me from the end.

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Move some of that Clutter Around

I read today that a teenage instagram celebrity had quit social media but/and launched a website to raise awareness on how much it can take its toll on you (if I remember correctly). Beyond her article, video and frankness on some of the captions she edited to show what was really going on behind the scenes with all the pressure she was under to paint these perfect pictures, the commentaries made an interesting read. I think what tickled and surprised me in equal measure was the seeming shock that came as a result of her brave announcement. It made me recall this picture where there’s someone reading, lost in an actual book in a plane and everyone around her taking photos because that is how swimming against the current looks now.  It had not occurred to me that being ‘live’ has become a thing (I had also not known we have instagram models or celebrities, now I do) but that this is not really about Essena  (you can catch up on her story here.) Its about how she made me think of what else I have not thought about as ‘a thing’ that has now crowded the space that is my life.

Living alone has its perks but one of the downsides are that after long days, when you are too tired to talk or text (yes, that is a thing), you catch up with people by following what they have been sharing all day. On a good day, there’s some interesting stuff in there. Not just the new car selfies or the fashion and foody pics or the relationship trails. Some days we learn you finally got that promotion or that you just watched a movie we all should (and hope that your review will not cost us  a fifty and hours we can never get back) or that you had a really awesome experience to share. Some days we laugh at the hilarious memes you share – where do you get those? Or sober up for a couple of minutes, thump our chests and soak in the encouragement when we read that quote you posted from pinterest on making it through the darkness or hanging in there because something good is in the making and what not. Then there are those days that we cry because we learn you lost someone or you’re going through a really rough patch or you just got out of surgery and we want to be there to cry and walk it out with you. We are not sad that we learnt of it online, we just want to be there. On those days, no matter how tired we are, we call, we text, we talk. So yes, I can understand how our online presence run parallel to our actual lives and sometimes even seem to take over more ground than we care to admit. I can only imagine how much more for a teenager born at the height of the info-age – it must be crazy.

I realized then that I understand why her announcement was that – an announcement and why it sent ripples across her world. She had it all but was choosing outside of the norm and right then, I wished her Godspeed. She might want to keep off the website part and detox for a little while but then again, she might not. Bottom line – we need more people that remember they can always make that daring turn to head upstream. No matter what poison you picked, it is worth it – that shot at getting away from it all.

So today I am thinking and looking to see what clutter is clogging this life. It is definitely not instagram (not on that pro-lane anyway) but it is something (s) and I need to make my own upstream choices soon; very soon. As it is, the whole superwoman, juggling thing is not working out so well. My system is shutting down alarmingly fast and not even several cups of tea can fix it. I need to find a new working formula to either keep me running for the next couple of months or overhaul the entire system – but then again where is the time (says one of the people in my head). As luck would have it, this months read is all about that focus. I should have figured it out in about the same time it will take to go through it twice. Wish me luck and pause the stalking today, call, text, talk to someone. Catch up. Move some of that clutter around. One of us should.

Move Some of that Clutter Around

I read today that a teenage instagram celebrity had quit social media but/and launched a website to raise awareness about its effects  and how it took a toll on her (if I remember correctly). Beyond her article and frankness on some of the captions she edited to show what was really going on behind the scenes and the pressure she was under at the time, the commentaries made an interesting read. Some called it a crisis of conscience by the teen insta-star. I think what tickled and surprised me in equal measure was the seeming shock levels that came as a result of her brave announcement. (You can find a couple of takes on it here)  It made me recall this picture where there’s someone reading, lost in an actual book in a plane and everyone around her taking photos because that is how swimming against the current looks now. It had not occurred to me that this would become a thing (I had not known we now have instagram models or celebrities, now I do) but that made me think of what else I have not thought about as ‘a thing’ that has now crowded the space that is my life.

Living alone has its perks but one of the downsides are that after long days, when you are too tired to talk or text (yes, that is a thing), you catch up with people by following what they have been sharing all day. On a good day, there’s some interesting stuff in there. Not just the new car selfies or the fashion and foody pics or the relationship trails (I try not to post so much of those because I am thinking of you 😀 ). Some days we learn you finally got that promotion or that you just watched a movie we all should (and hope that your review will not cost us hours we cannot get back) or that you had a really awesome experience to share. Some days we laugh at the hilarious memes you share – where do you get those? Or sober up for a couple of minutes, thump our chests and soak in the encouragement after we read that quote you posted from pinterest on making it through the darkness or hanging in there because something good is in the making and what not. Then there are those days that we cry because we learn you lost someone or you’re going through a really rough patch or you just got out of surgery and we want to be there to cry and walk it out with you. We are not sad that we learnt of it online, we just want to be there. On those days, no matter how tired or disconnected we are, we call, we text, we talk. So yes, I can understand how our online presence run parallel to our actual lives and sometimes even seem to take over more ground than we care to admit. I can only imagine how much more for a teenager born at the peak of the info-age – it must be crazy. I realized then that I understand why her announcement was that – an announcement and why it sent ripples across her world. She had it all but was choosing outside of the norm and I wished her Godspeed. She might want to keep off the website part and detox for a little while but then again, she might not. Bottom line – we need more people that remember they can always make that daring turn to head upstream. No matter what poison you picked, it is worth it – that shot at getting away from it all.

So today I am thinking and looking to see what clutter is clogging this life. It is definitely not instagram (not at that pro-level lane anyway) but it is something (s) and I need to make my own upstream choices soon; very soon. As it is, the whole superwoman, juggling thing is not working out so well. My system is shutting down and no, even tea has not been able to help. So I need to find a new working formula to either keep me running for the next couple of months or overhaul the entire system – but then again where is the time (says one of the people in my head). As luck would have it, this months read is all about that focus. I should have figured it out in about the same time it will take to go through it twice. Wish me luck and pause the stalking today, call, text, talk to someone. Catch up. Move some of that clutter around. One of us should.

avoid crossing roads and grow eyes at the back of your head

Nnwa,

You will come to experience a lot of things. I pray you do not go through pain; the confusion of having to live through seasons you do not understand or the damned feeling of fighting shadows – periods you are told to keep fighting through when really, you no longer know what you are fighting for. This prayer is selfish, for what is life without the black, the white and the in between? At this point, I would say bliss but it is not my place to make that call. Yet still I pray you get to be an exception. Should my prayers fail, you will know at least I tried.

Someone said bad things come in three. I think this someone does not know how to count well enough because I would say three is an understatement. A week ago I was doing well. My head was in the right place and I was all set to kick ass. Then right out of nowhere, an okada had to speed right into me. When I was younger, used to fascinate about how it would feel like to faint. I had seen people faint in movies and it had looked cool – well it isn’t. That mix of lightheaded confusion in moments you cannot control your own body is nothing ‘cool’. The guy sped away of course as the throng of spectators watched. The only one that cared enough to help was this one lady who kept insisting on helping me carry my phone and my handbag while offering to take me to hospital. Did I let her? No. I was hurt and angry and half cognizant but I was not stupid. Later I asked God to forgive me if I mistook an angel for a swindler. But I foresaw the lack of energy to mourn the loss of my bag, documents and phone so I clutched them close and declined her offer. Politely I hope. So I hobbled to the nearest shop and sat on those chairs spread outside under wobbly umbrellas. You know, the ones you either pay to ‘hire’ or buy something from the shop. My first thought was that this time, I had busted my leg for sure. I. Even I thought it was my fault when in actuality, I was not the one speeding. I was not the one trying to maneuver through traffic when I should have been patient enough to keep to my lane. I was not the one that saw a car and a pedestrian and decided hitting the latter was the best call. I was only crossing the road, trying to get back to the office so I could file my field visit report.

It had not been a while since I cried. It had been a while since I cried under the gaze of a dozen or more people but I couldn’t help it. I was not crying because of the throbbing pain across my leg and from the bump on my head. I wasn’t crying because the idiot had not even bothered to find out if he had ruined my beauty of a leg. I wasn’t crying because I had such little trust in people and good intentions even when I clearly needed help. I was crying because I sat facing the scene of the accident, realizing there was about a hundred ways that scenario would have played out. None would have ended up with me being able to move, let alone limp my way to that spot. I cried because I was bruised, dusty, happy and relieved. Cried because even when the people in my head worried about broken bones, my spirit sang praises as my heart gave thanks for what I now call my miracle. I cried again when the doctor said there were no broken bones, just muscle/ tissue trauma. I was mad, did the why me whining for a minute and then sat amazed at how there is always a ray of light, even though thin and feeble, in the storm.

The following days were not so easy though. The pain, the fear of leaving the house because perhaps this time, it would be a speeding car and I wouldn’t make it through and the questions. There are always questions. Life happens Nnwa, we cannot control how and most times what you will need to remember is to keep the experiences from tricking your mind into caging you. You will try to avoid everything, try to be safer every way you can. But that is no way to live. For no matter how safe you will think you are, you will still be a prisoner of fate. I have had a rough couple of years and yes, I would change how some scenarios played out but I cannot. Neither can I shape what is to come. But I can commit my ways to the Lord. I can ask for his grace and the cover of He that never sleeps nor slumbers. I can lean on His strength because there are days I cannot even muster enough energy to get out of bed. I can live one day at a time, avoid crossing roads and grow a pair of eyes at the back of my head ☺

This is not the last I will see of pain; the confusion of having to live through seasons I do not understand or the damned feeling of fighting shadows – periods I am told to keep fighting through when really, I longer know what I am fighting for. But I will aspire to get up each day and live. Because I realize it is simple to be the one that locks me in a cage and throws away the keys.

My Engineer #2

Things were simpler when we were younger. We had the one best friend, the one favorite food. We had not seen enough movies to have a favorite one so the tape that didn’t get ‘eaten’ by the VCR became everyone’s go to by default. If you had a normal childhood, you never had clothes that were really yours. Most of them were someone else’s before they were yours. Woe unto you if you were a girl after two brothers and all that came your way were the supersized t-shirts that were all the rage that did not go with anything else you owned. So your favorite clothes were the ones you were only allowed to bring out on Sundays or for visits to your aunts where your mother had to make sure you out dressed your cousins, at least to show you were doing well. And even though you could not play because you knew not to break the commandment ‘thou shall not stain the lace frock’ or could not walk much because those pumps you saved for Christmas and other special occasions pinched all around because they never had the chance to be broken in – they were your favorite.

But we grew up and things became different. We made new memories everyday. We were no longer consumed with the unending wait to go to the rich neighbors house, the one with the Nintendo and the bicycle they did not know how to use -because why else would they not ride or play until they could no longer ignore their rumbling stomachs? We no longer had to find ways to dub over video tapes and cassettes so we could have our own channel O video mix or hits from whatever FM stations we listened to then without our mothers realizing that one of their ‘volume one to sixteen’ tapes was missing. We make new memories every day without even breaking a sweat. But still, those were the days.

If I was to pick out just one memory to never lose though, I could not. But then I just had a fifteen-minute conversation with my Engineer today. Fifteen. And I had done nothing wrong! Just a normal father – daughter catch up. I told him I had a massive back ache (because you do not tell your father that you are having cramps) and something close to malaria at the same time. We talked about how I was too young to start complaining about my back. Then he asked me how school was and I told him I was not sure – we complained that it was taking longer than we thought it would. 2 years they had said but now, it looks like it will be three. We talked about those math units from the last semester. The ones I did not think I would pass much. He said did I not know I was his daughter, I had part engineer brains and there was no way I would fail to scratch at least a pass. I laughed, not because I doubted my share of his gene pool but mostly because I remembered I needed to tell him about my friend. The one that keeps betting on sportspesa and has not won anything yet. And how the other day, he really could not sleep because his stomach ran and ran every time he thought that maybe he would lose that money he bet, the money he had told his wife he didn’t have. He is a funny guy my friend. He did not sleep. He did not win either, poor guy. We laughed not because we do not play but because we understood the wait and the disappointment of having that one team ruin your winning streak all too well. Us, we are waiting for the jackpot, we said as we agreed to send the other ‘kakitu’ when the big bucks came through.

Of course we went back to talks of school. It is what a good parent does. Focus on the big things. We talked about how these universities these days want to keep serving units like special diets, never enough to get you where you want to go so you can stay longer and they can make more money. We talked; and when I hung up, I saw the counter. Fifteen minutes.

We have come a long way, my Engineer and I. Today, I made him laugh. It takes technique to make Engineer laugh like that – that hearty chuckle that fades off but you can still picture him eyes closed (because we cannot laugh and open our eyes at the same time) and chest moving as his faded laughter tickles your ear. And I did it. For fifteen minutes. I did it. He called back a minute later and said he had forgotten to ask if I had a spare cable because the one he had for his phone got lost. I had made him forget that he had a question. I was on a roll. Of course I did not have a spare cable but I said yes and that I would send it the next day because why would I want to break our flow with unnecessary jargon?

I was talking about memories and how we make so many now that we can’t really hold on to them like we do those from way back when. Myself, I have decided I do not want to make any so soon. I want to savor this one for a day, or a week. A couple of months at least. You may not understand if your Engineer calls you just because or if you and your Engineer talk everyday for an hour and joke until your phone battery gives in. Me and mine have come a long way. Fifteen minutes. If I was to pick out just one memory to never lose though, I could not. But then, maybe I now can. We talked. I made him laugh. Fifteen minutes. And tomorrow, I will buy a cable. No, I will buy a charging unit and send it to him so that next time we can do twenty, maybe thirty. And I will be sure the battery will not die on us. Then, I will make my next memory.

Of Queer Habits | My Engineer #1

Nnwa,

Over the years I have picked up many queer habits. Or maybe I should start by telling you I have managed to piss off my engineer today. I did not pick up his call because I was in the middle of something. Not something –  a belated surprise birthday treat that…I digress. That is for another day. So I made him mad enough to send a mad text because he was mad. I did not pick up his call, I did not call back immediately. Queer habit number one.

My engineer and I are not friends. We had no time for that. So he would not know that I do this sometimes, maybe many times. This postponing of talking. If we were friends, perhaps he would know that it is not just with him or that it means something apart from ‘Please, I will call you later’ or ‘Can’t talk now’ or ‘Had a day from hell, need to breathe’. But he does not know, so he thinks it is something that it is not and that is okay, because he does not know and I did not tell him.

Because of this queer habit, sometimes I do not call back for a day or two; or even until you call back and then I realise that was supposed to be something I did. It varies because it depends on the why. There are days that are longer than others and I cannot find my voice at the end. Then there are those that cover you with too many thoughts that you cannot even find yourself. Sometimes I just fell asleep too early – there are many things. Sometimes it is just because this queer habit has caused my mind to believe that you will know it is not a you-thing.  But sometimes later is not soon enough. Sometimes, they do not understand this thing that my mind does when it needs to breathe. I do not have many friends.

Those that understand this queer habit have somehow become those that I talk to very often. I don’t know, maybe it is because with their understanding they have made friends with my mind. Because when it gets back afloat it remembers who reached out. Only that sometimes they have moved on and can no longer be found.

I hope I find a way to break this habit soon. I do not want to cross my engineer’s path this way again. I do not want you to learn this from me. I don’t want you to pick it because not everyone will be your friend, not everyone will understand how it works – this queerness. This world moves fast Nnwa, too fast. Sometimes the moments you lose you do not get back. Do not have queer habits. Pick up your phone. Because you will have your Engineer, perhaps you will be friends but if you won’t be, he will not understand. So I will need you to pick your phone and I will start to learn how not to make this queerness make people mad because in my head, I did not mean to.

Red Dust

They are not hiring today.

That it what they said. It took them four hours to decide while we waited outside, hopeful souls in the yellow sun too afraid to think of what ifs. Now they tell us they are not hiring, maybe tomorrow. I can see others dragging away but myself, my feet are planted. Where will I drag them to anyway if I leave here now? Its too late to go queuing at the red gate, they must have taken whatever they needed by now. It must be closed by now. Nothing to sell, no work. What next?

At the front one man is arguing with the gate man, throwing big words around and when they seem not to work, even bigger tears, begging to go in even if just for today. He would take half pay, he says. Anything, just as long as they don’t let him go home empty. I did not know men could cry, beg even, and my eyes look away in what I think is respect in this his one-time show of weakness.

Is the sun getting hotter or is it just me? There is no one close enough to ask so I have no answer. The feet will not move, the mouth is beginning to feel cracked yet I am afraid that motion of any form will cause me drop the little hope I feel I am holding onto. Have faith, she had said. Today will be different, she said. Well maybe it was. This time I was standing at the green gate with the security what-not all around and not the other one two streets away. I wonder if this was the bright future mama had said her children would grow up to. I feel something in my eye. A tear? No, it is the wind playing tricks on me. Once I heard my father said men that cry will die. I do not know if he meant they will lose their breath when they allowed a tear drop or that they will die someday as all men would but baba was a bright enough man. I believed him anyway and now did not seem a good time to die, just in case he had meant the former. Not with the baby on the way, not with mama’s death still so fresh. I cannot cry, I am a man; and so I move.

There is no thud when I walk, no shuffling. Nothing anymore. Mother would have said I let the voices eat up everything inside. Whatever weight I hold is that of the clothes on my back and even those are thin and frail, not much. It is almost as if they are bidding just enough time for me to get work and get something else before their threads break.

Heh, this life. I am afraid if it insists on going on this way, I might have no choice but to cry. Maybe if I shed enough tears it will take me and keep my baby from coming, it is safer for her in heaven. It is safer for her I think. The red dust settles on my feet so comfortably, I notice it less and less everyday. It is almost as if my feet are bleeding from tarmacking too long. Maybe I will cry, but not today.

8/8/15

Nnwa,

From the time you will be born, people will want to shape your mind. At first, it will be because you cannot walk on your own. Because you will need to learn how to be. Later, it may be because they would like you to become a certain way or remain a given way; or even none of the above. There are many reasons people do the things they do. I cannot think of all of them now; but people will always have a reason. It is not always easy to tell what these reasons are. The kindest intentions have led many down wicked paths, so i cannot tell you which is which. That would be for you to determine. I only pray that you o this one thing for me – colonise your mind. Explore every edge of who you are, understand it and conquer it. Not for me, not for anyone but yourself. It is the knowledge of yourself that will help you decide what hands to let mould you. It is the understanding of who you are that will help you choose your paths.

It is every mother’s wish to plan their child’s life for them. It is not because we are possessive – that is a myth, it is because we have seen enough to know what you would want and even though I will forget, I know it would be wrong for me to pen your own story for you. So listen to me, colonise your own self. You do not need to take in what you do not need; you do not need to alter yourself to fit to any mould, walk away when your gut tells you to and remember that no one can discover what is already your own better than you would. Even your mother may sometimes not understand your vision. It is your course to chart. I will meddle but you will chose. Chose yourself. Many times, chose yourself. You will want to live your life and be who you were made to be. It is not selfish, it is necessary.

It will not be easy to watch you make mistakes. But because it would be harder to watch who you are die under too much direction, I will be there to dust you when you fall, cheer you on when you start again. May God grant me the grace to let you grow and may he grant you the strength to find your own voice and to fight for who you will be meant to be.

Some Notes on Letting Go

This ‘ So, let it rain. Decide that you’re done with whining, complaining and wishing for a change in the weather. Let it rain and look at the dark clouds knowing that they’re serving you far more good than harm. It might keep coming down, but it’s not going to sweep you away. You won’t drown, just know that.’

ASHLIN HORNE

It has been that kind of month.

The kind where your insurance gets randomly deactivated. The kind where you get a migraine so bad that your head is in the trash can. The kind where someone changes their mind faster than you can catch your breath.

The kind where you are stuck having conversations that you swore you’d never get close to having again.

Let it rain.

Put your palms out and throw your head back and stop trying to build makeshift umbrellas.

Welcome to the there’s-nowhere-else-to-run club. I am the ring leader and I’m here to tell you this: you are where you are and the faster you accept that, the easier you’ll start to breathe.

I was nine years old the year that Matthew Mcconaughey’s southern drawl became the nighttime lullaby for young girls everywhere. All my friends kept The Wedding Planner in their DVD player and let it play as they fell asleep.

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Something for ‘When You Want to Quit’

Even the ones with the corner office walk along this path sometimes so yes, you are okay and no, you may not need therapy for this. What you need is a few days in, a rerun of The Office and perhaps this:

q5

Warning : Dosage indicated varies per case. If symptoms persist, remember – everyone is moving into graphics and web design, photography etc So you need to be sure your idea has what it takes and then some – the world does not need another t-shirt making enterprise…or maybe it does?

q2

Okay – maybe you do have the t-shirt enterprise that will blow every other t-shirt making, photo taking, graphic designing start up out of the water – great! Now get your mind, your spirit and your bank account in line because it will probably take a while before it breaks even, maybe not. But in those first few months you will need to remember abs are built in a day said no one ever.

q1

You may walk down this road and maybe learn it wasn’t really for you or you may discover there is more beyond the cubicle and that’s the stuff you were made for. Truth is, you can never really know which side of the coin you will get until you’re looking at it. Whatever it is, whatever decision you finally make after the day you want to quit, own it. There are only a few things more worthwhile than making the best out of everything. So while you’re at it:

walled

Repeat dosage as often as required. The key is to discover and live out your life’s passion(s) well before you are 65 and realise you need to start living when what you really ought to be doing, is taking it all in.