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

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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.

Why Did You Have to Go?

A friend of a friend was to be a bride this past Saturday. Everything was in place, everything. The bridesmaid dresses, the groomsmen suits, the white and the black was set for their day. No one saw it coming. She did not get to marry the man of her dreams. She didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. See, a few days before the D-day, there was this car crash on his way home and he didn’t make it out alive.

Devastated. Anguished. Torn. Crazy. Shock. These are just a few of the words that would describe what followed. She got to hear the news from close friends who’d thankfully got to know of the tragedy before her. But nothing could paint any yellow over that minute she heard that her love was no more.

I do not know her but my heart aches for her. Instead of her wedding, she had to attend his funeral. What more to crush an already shattered heart?

It had taken so long to get there; why did he have to go? I don’t know and when they looked into her eyes, gave her the hugs, talked her mind off things; i’m sure they didn’t either.

This life, this life – the more i seek to understand it, the less i perceive. Listening to her story, I do not know what i would have done in her shoes. Ran away, broken down…what? All i know is i’d be furious at him for leaving me, leaving me without goodbye.Even when i knew he left that day and didn’t know the day would be our last. When she stood up to speak at the funeral, i could only think of strength; the strength she had that i wanted but was unsure i could have.

Life is what life is and for the living, pieces have to be picked up; hearts have to be mended if only so they could beat just for one more day.

Through her eyes, i saw how real pain can be, how far hope can ebb away and how certain the dawn is.

© Ang’asa Malowa

16/7/13

Breathe…and say Thanks

Breathe and say thanks

I don’t know about you but recent trends show an increase in the amount of whining there is. I’m not saying that the economy is as we would want it to be or that security levels are at an optimum coupled with food security everywhere, on the contrary. All I’m saying is for every dip in the economy, for every fracture in our social system, there has to be something else. Something that we look at, but do not see. Something we can be grateful for.

Most recently, the Kenyan political scene has been on the spotlight,if you ask me, mostly for all the wrong reasons. As has been the nation’s moral fabric, what with the unexplainable rise in crime and unmentionable sexual deviations taking front page on air and print. This, not to mention the endless show of greed and power from the country’s top to households where battery, child molestation and planned spouse assassinations are fast becoming norms.

Indeed, a lot of the news served to us doesn’t paint much of a yellow picture. If anything, we should be forgiven for turning into a whiny bunch quick to point fingers at flaws on everyone else but ourselves. Quick to join in the bullying trends on social media and quick to forget that the news segment is given just close to an hour to air and many times what tops the newsworthy list isn’t the leaders that are taking steps towards the nations development, the wives loving their husbands and families, the husbands drinking from their own wells and the children growing up into a generation we’d be proud to say we nurtured. Just because a case of adultery gets front page and that of a marriage built to last gets a column in the midsection, does not mean they do not exist.

 I believe that because of what is thrown at us, our hearts have evolved turning us into unfeeling critics rained to find the spot on the garment even when there is none to find.

I also believe that we can constantly make the choice to see the yellow in the grey. To see the hope in a nation we have been ‘trained’ to fall out of love with.

Yes we made mistakes, we are struggling to set up structures against impunity, we have families facing more challenges than before, we have a generation growing up faster than we’d want them too. But don’t other nations as well? Don’t we also have a constitution for the people, by the people? Don’t we also have a diversity of cultures admired world over, a growing infrastructural system, a noted passion for life and a patriotic heart so fierce, we stand by any brand Kenyan even when it fails? Just think Harambee Stars.

We have our trials, our struggles, our failures, our unmet plans and unfulfilled dreams. We do. But we have so much more.

We are Kenyan. Even in the face of many struggles we’d like to wish away, we are a people with a big heart, great minds and horizons still untapped. We do have families struggling but built to last, we do have a rising generation bursting with talent, strength and hope. Hope for a future we can build together. If for a moment, we’d take a breather and say thanks. Thanks for all that we have, that we look at but do not see. And in that spirit affirm our anthem’s cry;

kenyan=matheka

Oh God of all Creation

Bless this land and nation

Justice be our shield and defender…

 

Let one and all arise

With hearts both strong and true

Service be our earnest endeavor…

 

Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving

Here’s to a thankful week.
Picture courtesy of Mutua Matheka Wallpaper Edition

©Ang’asa Malowa

15/7/13

 

 

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. 