Taking Stock

Christmas is done. Whoa. Feels like this year is in a hurry to leave and so before it does,i must give it a proper send off 🙂

In many ways, i feel like this has been the longest year i have had to live through (seriously, it should probably end already haha). This was one tough series. There are many impossible things that have been, i would probably need to keep you here a while if i went through them all. I could tell you of the ‘valleys of the shadows of death’ or the sunny days i did not want to end; they all brought with them what i consider great lessons – even for those i seem to need repeat classes 🙂 . Perhaps those will make a better read, i’ll stick to 10 written/selected in no particular order 🙂

1. Life is like a never ending poker shuffle, you never know what you will be dealt but somehow, you will still have to use them to play the game. And what do you know, sometimes you win.
It still sucks that i cannot know what the future holds. You still have to wing it though, use whatever you have to get through whatever you face. Would be great to get a heads up sometimes, no? Anyone with a crystal ball?

2. People are people. Expecting them to be anything more is unfair.
In many ways, i am an idealist and for the longest time, i have expected people to adhere to a certain code – it rarely works. I am learning to remember that people are people and expecting them to be a certain way is unfair to us all. Would be a better world if they did things my way though… at least half the time 😀

3. Friends can be family but family is family
I like to think that i have a lot of friends yet perhaps for the same reason, i have very few. These very few have been through most of it with me – the crappy days, the venting, they stayed even when i went AWOL for weeks or when i did not call them or text them back (due to frequent brain black outs :D) and i hope to go through it all with them again, i cannot be thankful enough. For a while, my friends were my friends and my family; it happens sometimes – when they seem to be closer and easier to reach but as i have come to learn, there is a place for family than can be filled by no one else. I am grateful to have realised that, very grateful.

4. Not my circus not my monkeys
A very, very wise and useful Polish proverb i must say.

5. It gets better…and other half truths are half truths
Well, not to be pessimistic but even my yellow self has come to understand that we have been fed a lot of half truths as solids. It really is much better to understand that anything without a definite time period allocation and a million variables at play should not be held so close because there is always the possibility of depression if said something does not pan out as we expect. Let half truths be half truths is what i have learnt, much less heartache. Conclusion? One day at a time, live one day at a time.

6. Choose to be happy
There are very few things that can beat down a happy soul. So whatever makes you happy, do that – everyday. We need it more that we know. And yeah, being happy really is a choice.

7. Savour the moments
‘A star shines but for a while’…its pretty easy to go through life without actually living it. Remember to remember to live a little, savour the moments – in the end, its the little big things that really count. I’m not at the end yet but i can tell 😉

8. Don’t hold back
This, currently on replay >
‘I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, and something that I left behind
Brought someone to happiness
Left this world a little better just because
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here’
#4

9. Remember when they said we should pray more, they were right. It HELPS.
I have found that few things keep me sane – Prayer, GOOD internet, GOOD music, sleep and sugar. (Okay, its quite the list so i thought o stop there hehe) So i try to keep my supplies as lush as i possibly can. So if you’re trying to hold on to your sanity, i would recommend my no 1 – pray. And as a bonus, its really very effective, budget friendly therapy 😉

and lastly 10: Hold on to people
Disclaimer : Not everyone, some you need to literally kick out haha but seriously, when you find kindred souls:a) if you can – marry one of them and b) hold on to the rest. Its a long journey we’re on and it helps to have some good company along the way.
Also, we never know how much time we have left to share – i am learning to give more, which is hard for one with hermit/hoarder-ish tendencies 😀 but try i will!

Am i happy this year is done, yes. Am i looking forward to the next? perhaps-maybe, its too early to tell – i am still trying to get some inside information, a crystal ball maybe before i throw in my verdict 😉

Here’s to a year well lived, here’s to family, here’s to friends. Here’s to life and the unfolding of another unwritten script.

Happy holidays everyone, Happy holidays.

© Ang’asa Malowa

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Pages of a Journal #1

Day 1

Dear Mark,

How are you? I’m sorry, that may sound unlike me but it’s the only way I know how to start.

It has been a while,

I am well.

Day 2

You always said I talked better when I wrote. With so little time, it still amazes me how much has changed. I haven’t had much time to write. Not just to you, to everyone. I fear my followers imagine we’re still at your auntys’ place by the beach. Remember that small, breezy house we called home the month after we got married? She was such a darling your aunt, giving us her home for so long. Money was hard to come by then, especially for holidays but she said we should have a proper honeymoon. And we did.

Day 3

I wish you could write back. Its getting harder to think of what you would say, when you would laugh. Its getting harder to see your face in my head. It is not because I have forgotten. It is because I feel I would rather not remember.

Day 4

Love, i… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t call you that anymore. The counselor said it would be easier if I used your name, Mark. I wanted to ask easier for whom? For me, it is harder calling you by a name I seldom used.

Day 5

Dear Mark,

(I think she will say I am now making progress. I think she thinks too much.)

There has been more kicking. I fear they would soon have no room to play. And what will happen then? I asked the doctor. She laughed. The kind of laugh that told you it was a question not new to her. The kind of laugh that had me question whether I was ready or have just convinced myself that I am.

I met a lady at the waiting bay. She said she will have only one. From what I saw, I think she’s in for a surprise.

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

I am sorry, I don’t think this is working. I do not.

Why should I write when I know you will never write back? Why should i talk to you when you will never be back?
She is a doctor, it even says so on her door. But I don’t thin hers is the kind of medicine that will work in Africa.

Day 9

She said I cannot have any more pills. Not this far along. I wanted to pull her braids out. They always look too tight anyway. She would have been glad. I told her I wouldn’t be able to sleep, I had tried it before I started seeing her, it did not work. ‘For their sake, you have to try. You have to.’

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

You are a coward. You should never have left.

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

I went to see her again. I think someone is stuck above my right leg and I couldn’t move well. So I asked my sister to take me. I live with her now. Just until.

She kneaded and rubbed and someone moved. Now someone is sitting on my bladder but at least now I can walk better. That is good for my increasing trips across halls to the closest bathrooms. I am not so picky now. You would make fun of me but you would be proud.

Day 21

I need to stop writing for a while. I think I am mad at you. You left. Now who will support me? There’s two of them you know and I think one of them will be as stubborn as you because I cannot sleep an hour before someone sticks out a singer or is it a foot? And then I have to kneel down, get on all fours so I can turn.

It is not easy.

People say there are options. That there are others who can better care for them. Or maybe just one of them so I can keep the other. ‘it would be best’, they say is solemn, concerned tones. Best for who? I want to ask but I cannot. They are older, I cannot talk back.

I am scared love. So scared. I cannot think of your children in other peoples homes. Calling them mama. I cannot. But for how long can I make it if I keep them alone?

You would say that this is the longest letter because it is the last. I would say it is the last because it is the hardest.

Soon I will pack a bag. I don’t think I will wail dramatically as your mother said she did when the pains came before she had you. Soon I will be one with two at my breast. I think they make it sound harder that it will be. I have convinced myself so.

My sister says I can stay with her even after. She would not mind three more people. She says no one will lack room.

Your mother comes every Friday. We should never have told her that we drink those twigs she asks us to boil. She brings more and my sister laughs every time I take them gratefully saying ‘I will brew some later mama, they are very helpful’. I think she suspects I throw them. That must be why she insists on helping when they come. I say we have it covered, but perhaps your small sister would help? She lights up again and says she is doing nothing for now, her results are not yet out. We agree. I am glad. More so because I think she would have fed them the boiled herbs and they would never forgive me.

I must go. I will try and write back when I can sit for longer. It will be hard without you but they are our own. They belong with us…me. But since you are closer to the Big Man’s ear, maybe you could ask him to send good Samaritans along our way. Not the ones that will pray for us and with us. My mothers’ chama have that front. I want the ones that will visit with full hands and brown envelopes. It would be good for them to know at an early age there are still good people with good money and big hearts out there. How else will they learn, no?

Goodbye Mark. Pray for me. I know that will be hard because I have read all people do in heaven is sing and dance – you may not get the time. But you must sleep or rest at least? When you do, think of us, pray for us and we will know because someone will get the hiccups because someone is talking about them. I am only assuming you found your way into heaven because you would not be of any help to us elsewhere. So please, if you are not yet there, I have less than a month before we are three and the moneyed Samaritans should start locating us. My sister is a good woman, I do not want to be the one that breaks her back and turn her heart sour you hear? Of course your prayers too will be good.

I hope you will laugh when you read this. Or are you reading it now? Because I meant to remember your face, your laughter one last time before life moves too fast and there will be less time to remember.

Goodbye love….Goodbye Mark.

And yes, I know if you could, you meant to say you were sorry for leaving so fast, so soon. You were not driving the other car, the one that rammed into yours on your way home that day. I cannot blame you any longer. I forgive you.

© Ang’asa Malowa

A is the kind of woman you hit it off with as soon as you see her talk. She has lived in the city for as long as she can remember but she is not of it – you can tell if you listen. A freak accident took her husband. They were still newly wed. She blamed him for leaving. she did not know till later she was pregnant – twins. ‘For a while it was too much, it still is. So i went into therapy because my mother thought i should. It was in church. It was not free but she would pay.’ She was asked to do this exercise, a form of therapy where you wrote, instead of spoke, your feelings. She tried it out. ‘In retrospect, it helped. I didn’t think much of the method or the doctor then but i had a lot to say that just wasn’t coming out because it was expected i be strong. It helped me process my grief, my anger. I still live with my sister, the kids are two now and i have a part-time job. Good samaritans came and there was a lot of hiccups. I think he’s in the right place 🙂 ‘ – A.

Note : All ‘Pages of a Journal’ entries are entirely fictional works by the author. No reference is made to actual/particular persons, places and time by mention of name or other though inspiration is drawn from the authors life experiences.

Only you Can Choose

I read an interesting article on child plastic surgery the other day. It talked about this mother whose daughter  took ballet classes and since she had to put her hair up in a bun, the other kids noticed her ears stuck out and made fun of her every day after. The little girl went back home every day crying and begging her mother to help her out (I don’t think she meant by surgery though) but the mum took her in to see a doctor and had her ears pinned back. That was the end of the bullying. I kept thinking child cosmetic surgery? End of bullying? Really? Till when, they realise she has something else they find weird?

When I said I found it interesting, I didn’t mean in a ‘whoa!!!cool!!!’ kind of way. It was more toward the ‘huh???!!!’.  I couldn’t help picture her years later crying about her boobs being to small and being taken off to shop for implants.

 

Fact : child cosmetic surgery (I didn’t even know this was happening till I read that) is on the rise. Is it because there are more children who don’t like something about how they look than there was when we were growing up? i think not.

 

I cannot say that this mother didn’t love her child, or that that little girl didn’t deserve to be picked on every day because I believe both to be true. She loves her child and she did not deserve to be picked on. However, I refuse to believe that teaching a child there’s a magic wand that can change fortunes which is what to turn to when there’s something to be worked out is the best possible sustainable approach.

 

Growing up, I was taller than the other kids my age. I thought I had an expansive (read huge) forehead and that my teeth were too big. I thought I was fat, not so much cool to hang out with as witty and get this – I thought my ears were too small. Where did I get most of this ‘valuable’ input you ask? From the other kids – mostly. Yeah, I thought a lot J  Did I cry about it when I got home? Yep. Did I ask God why he had to give me big teeth, a big forehead and all this body mass? YES!!! Did I tell my mom I laughed with my mouth closed or covered, because I had super sized teeth that didn’t look pretty, AVOIDED putting my hair up because I thought it made my forehead and cheeks pop out? Oh yes, I did…A LOT.

 

Did she hug me and book an appointment with a dentist to have my teeth resized and with a doctor to see what to do with my forehead? Hell no! And though I thought her unable to fully understand then, I thank God every day she didn’t feed my insecurities or my ‘flaws’. She talked them down instead, way down.

 

My mother didn’t get me help repackaging my body, she help me repackage my mind, how i looked and dealt with things. You might say that ours is a different culture or that surgical intervention wasn’t really something we’d spend money on but; I know my mum. Even given the chance, she’d have done the same thing. She talked up my strengths and talked down my weaknesses.  She taught me that there were many voices in this world all wanting to shape who I am and that only I could chose which ones did.

 

Was it tough to keep ignoring the comments and smirks? Yep. It actually picked up along the way when the voices multiplied and got stronger – teenage. When I lost a few pounds then gained them back. When I dashed home one day after sports in my games kit only to come back the next day and find my school dress hung out because no one thought it belonged to any one in class because it was just too big. It was tough but I learned how to deal with it. How to be myself, accept every part of who I was half the time and enjoy life. I learned how to deal because I had someone to teach me how. If she had taken that chance away from me, I’d have grown up knowing issues were meant to be shot down, not faced.

 

This is not just another ranting of a little girl that got her share of insecurities growing up. It’s a plea to the mothers that are and the mothers that will be : love your children. LOVE them fiercely. But don’t let that love turn them, or you, stupid. Don’t let that love be the force that shelters them so hard, it forgets to teach them because someday, they’ll be old enough to fly. And they’ll drop to their deaths when that time finds they know not how.

 

I will love my children, I will – despite my better judgment- want to shield them from a lot of things that I felt I wasn’t shielded from, feel I should keep them from. But in so doing, I just might smother them to death. So everyday I will make a conscious decision to love them as they come and to teach them that God loves them, I love them and they should love themselves too. I pray everyday that I will remember to tell them that there are many voices in this world, and only they can choose which ones will shape them. 

© Ang’asa Malowa

New Pages, New Scripts

If you’d told me I’d be working with farmers, their families and school kids two years ago I would probably have un-friended you on Facebook and not talked to you for a while. My 21 year old self would have marked you as an ‘enemy of progress’ and strongly so. If you’d told me the same thing when I was eighteen, I would have told you I really didn’t see that happening. Back then I was in love with the culinary art and would do anything to be a chef. Had my whole life planned out and everything. But if you’d told me the same story when I was just getting into high school, I would have told you a different story. Back then I wanted to be a medic. Never mind that I was already freaked by the sight of blood (having never actually seen a bloody scene, I trusted my ER episodes to suffice) and take an injection to save my life.  That was me then. Young, ambitious and having no idea what physics and chemistry classes were actually like.

 

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Flash forward to the here and now. I’m counting down sixteen days till I’m 24, I am doing nothing close to what I’d dreamed I would…and I’m loving it! I still think I would have made an awesome chef though despite the fact that there have been claims that I couldn’t stand cooking that often seeing as I grab what I can while at work so I don’t really have to cook most evenings. I blame that on something, can’t quite recall what at the moment 🙂

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I get to travel, I get to meet people with as much diversities as I could think, I get to work with kids adults, the youth…and I get to take an insane amount of photos just like this one. Beat that! 😀

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I tend to think a little too much and if I’d seen this in the cards, I’d have frozen over and did all I could to alter what would be. Why? Because just like you, I fear the unknown and if you’d told me then, that is what it would be.

In just a little over a year I have moved out and away from everything I knew to be home, moved into a totally new (and a little… okay a lot 😀 strange) place, started out at a new job with the closest friends being  towns away. I must have doubted and second guessed myself a million times before I took a step. I have lost friends, I have made some and kept some; I have learned that family is what you got at the end of the day, good friends make life worth living and that if you find love, bask in it because sometimes, sometimes it’s not meant to last…

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I have learnt that I would be nowhere without my faith in the unseen and I have learnt that I may not be the woman that has it all, but I will be the woman that loves every little bit of what she gets.

So I smile, tonight I smile because growing up isn’t as hard as I thought it would be; it’s harder! 😀 its also fun and tricky and exasperating at times, its sunshine and rain and stormy nights – its life. And I’m learning to love every unplanned minute of it. So let the drum-rolls begin and 24 get here already; new pages, new scripts 🙂

 © Ang’asa Malowa

*pictures, except shot of the lake, not my own

 

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© Ang’asa Malowa

Dear Imani…

Dear Imani,

That would have been your name you know. Beautiful, isn’t it? I wanted you to have faith in God, yellow days, true love, real friendships and family even when everything and everyone around you said otherwise. I wanted you to have faith as strong as your mama’s and her mama before.

I miss you…I miss you.

You have a brother and a sister now you know. She loves sunny days and candy and he loves her fiercely; I fear for the child that will ever pick on his little sister. Every time I see them play, I can almost see you playing with them. I can’t help but think of how you’d look in your pressed clothes everytime I get them ready for school or dress them up in their ‘church clothes’. I told that to your father and he gave me the sweetest look; but even that could not hide the fear I saw creep into his eyes. He’s afraid of many things your father. Currently, that he will lose my love to one we never had time to love, he says. I loved you. He did too, I know he did.

I think about you less these days, I dream of you less and I feel the need to apologize for it. I know its been seven years since but moving on doesn’t work with time as we know it I guess. The way you left sill burns me inside. I don’t even know who to blame anymore. The doctors that didn’t detect the problem with your fragile heart, the traffic jam that held us back or me; the mother that couldn’t tell her discomfort was a sign of troubled waters.

I can’t be angry anymore, it’s draining the yellow out of my days but I’m afraid to let go of the anger. What if I do and with it, remember you no more? No, I’m not thinking too much, I guess it’s just that It’s been pent up for so long.

I love you. Now I need to love your brother and sister, you’re father just as much before I lose them too. I need to lift the anchor holding me in these dark waters. I’m letting go of the hurt, of the pain but baby, my heart will always hold on to your pure soul.

I know I’ll see you someday and when that day comes, I want you to be the glue that held us together; not the fire that burnt us down.

I love you Imani, I always will.

Mummy.

©Ang’asa Malowa

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Loss of a loved one can draw one into depths of darkness once thought imaginable. The loss of a child for a mother, even worse. Sad thing is, many women have gone through this in silence, in solitude, in anguish because they didn’t know how to deal with it any other way. Many father’s need to be the strength in situations where their own knees won’t hold them up. Even more the children who don’t understand why their baby brother/sister is no longer with them, who don’t understand why their parents seem trapped somewhere, who have no idea what to do to help because they too are just kids. The pain can break you, even tear the remaining family apart or it can build you, make you stronger. I know it’s dark where you are but there are yellow days ahead, if only you can walk towards them. Seek out a support group – you are not alone, speak it out, take time to hurt so you can heal. Your family needs you, you need them – talk to them. Heal so you don’t lose what you still have because you held on to what passed away.
Till the yellow days are here, till the black turns to grey, till the light at the end of the tunnel drawn near; hold on. It may not seem like it but there will be yellow days. Trust me, there will be brighter days. 