Love in Uniform

Watching the frantic and relentless protesters on Monday brought back some surprising memories from the desert.  Memories I thought would never cross my mind since I never really left any footprints on that sand

It wasn’t the loud voices or the loud sirens or even the crying gas that jolted those past memories; it was those men in uniform that took me back in time. How they strategically turn chaos into calm and bring back the peace in our lives, how they wait patiently for hours until they make their move, how they boldly and courageously deal with the hostile while protecting and guarding the innocent passers-by.

This is definitely what ignited my burning love for the guys in uniform and that fire has not died down to date. I respect those guys because even if they can be ruthless, they have sacrificed so much physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. I have a fire for these strong men who know how to cool down chaos with strategic tactics or should I say tear gas water cannons!

May be we should borrow some lessons from these guys in our love situation-ships. The ultimate goal is to live peacefully and to do our best to protect those we love. We sacrifice so much physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially and yet we act like we don’t care when our territory is under attack. But we should care, for we vowed to love and protect and ultimately we’ll have a peaceable and joyful life!

 

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Rural Move on Love

This year I decided to move to a much rural neighborhood. This was a drastic change given that I had lived in urban estates for more than 5 years. So far, I am loving the quiet and relaxing environment; the fresh breeze and the cool air; the beautiful scenery and my friendly neighbors.

Speaking of neighbors, at least now I know about 70% of them. Here ‘nyumba kumi’ works very well unlike Buru where I never really knew my next door neighbor – I interacted with them on very special circumstances; like when their son Tuduus (yes that was his name) decided to lock my back door and I couldn’t get to the house, or when they had loads of laundry and needed my approval to use my clothing line! On the downside however, this ‘shagz’ also comes with certain hardships; the red mud and the unpaved pathways; the dark streets and the uncertain security after 10p.m.

All in all, I am learning to fall in love with it all and so far I am head over heels!
Speaking of love, I am reminded of a question one of my neighbors asked me as we were having little chit chat after work. He asked, “What is love? Does it exist?” Well, given that I am still single, he expected my answer to lean toward negativity and the bitter side of love, quite the contrary, I know what love is and of course it exists. People should stop thinking that we single people are a bitter lot who were heartbroken and never recovered! That we resent love and everything about it!

This question isn’t a simple one to answer but with age, there has come some wisdom stemming from the great number of experiences we had to go through especially when relating with others. We have gotten into all kinds of relationships; the ones that tore us apart; the ones that have built what was torn; the ones that were not too serious; but most importantly the ones that taught us the true meaning of love. Yes, we cannot deny that we have had special people through whom we saw and experienced love. Some are lucky to be married to them while some are unlucky that things never quite worked out.

Love happens when you are able to see beyond who this person is, when you embrace their strengths and also their weaknesses. When you cannot explain why you still have affection for them even when they make you angry or seem to let you down. When all you are is happy that they are around even when silence looms. Love happens when you really enjoy each others’ company even if it’s a walk down the street. When all you long for is to share your successes and even your failures with this one person,…..Love is and love exists and for us still looking we have the experience and know when we are being played!

Holiday Road Blocks

I must say that my most favorite time of the year is the Christmas season. Mainly because am a happy person (..I think I am) and I love how the festivities bring out the hidden smiles on our faces without reason. Of course I also enjoy the end of year sales, speaking of which, my sister just informed me how she’s gotten two pairs of shoes at Seven Hundred Shillings – I’ll be off to get me some soon!

Christmas is that time of the year when you get together with family and friends. The ones who are a very significant part of your life; the ones you are stuck with for the rest of your life – and well, if you are still single, you’re yet to meet them bitter/better half in-laws!

But even as I, (and my fellow single comrades), endeavor to spread the Christmas cheer, we are going to hit a few bumps on the road, so we need to brace ourselves…..The questions will hit hard and fast depending on how old you are. If you are less than 25, you are safe; if you are in your late 20s, the light is amber and if you are in your thirties, well, I need not say more, just be ready to be stopped on your tracks.

How will I deal with all the road blocks ahead? First and foremost, I have to accept my; ‘I am single and awesome slogan’; no need to create an imaginary prince-charming. That clearly won’t work because my cousins will be pestering for a sneak peak of his profile picture, and my aunties will be requesting that I invite my handsome knight over! So yes, I will arrive single and awesome; all I need are just a few tricks in my bag.

So, if my cousins ask why am still single, I will just change the topic gradually to focus on my nephews and nieces. How awesome and fast they have grown. Parents cannot resist talking about parenthood; its challenges and of course its rewards. And then shift the topic to their marriages and their spouses; the good, the bad and maybe the ugly. Am sure they’ll eventually tell me to take my time. That’s how I will get a green light from Cousins’ road block !

For my uncles, it may just be a little tougher! These guys are wondering when the Nimo Eurobond will mature. But not too tough for me either. All I need is to be up-to- date with the state of our nation – The politics; the economic outlook; the war on graft and some general sports knowledge. In addition, my mind needs to roll out awesome business ideas and new farming strategies. That is sure to keep them talking and they’ll eventually tell me to take my time because there are some scary monsters and fraudsters out there!!

Now my aunties are the toughest ones of them all. These one are in dire need of a family wedding! It’s been way too long since they were VIPs at a wedding. I will need to trigger their emotional side; Bring up all the happy memories from when I was a small girl; Remind them how often I got to see them back in the day; and then ask why they do not call or visit any more. I will mention the graduation party and the church baptism they missed some time back. That will definitely touch a nerve and shift their minds from wedding VIP to cute adorable niece! Eventually, their minds will be too preoccupied and I’ll be home-free.

But there is one road block I cannot trick my way out of; my one and only grandmother. She actually called earlier to ask when I will be going to see her. She is one tough but also very wise woman. She will lay the trap by tricking me with her delicious ‘mukimo’. Then, crown it all by sitting me down and serving me the best ever cup of hot ‘chai’ with some sweet  ‘mandazi’. Then she will start; looking at me straight in the eye and if by any chance I twitch, she’ll know am playing her. So, I will be honest with her; I will let her know how I am doing; I will tell her that I am awesome and sometimes not so awesome (making sure I do not mention any Shazulu tales!).  And she will listen; carefully listen as we sip our hot ‘chai’. Then, she’ll give me her piece of mind, citing her experience and knowledge; so much wisdom and understanding – an insightful talk it will be. Finally, she will tell me that it’s not a crime to be ‘still single and awesome’ and that what lies ahead is also so amazing!

 

Just Hard Feelings

With every new day, as we go about our business, minding our own business-es, our eyes get to see hundreds or even thousands of unfamiliar faces. These faces we see as we make our way along the busy streets; some as we walk briskly in the building hallways; others as we wait in line in the banks or in food stores. With time however, some of these unfamiliar people slowly become all too familiar. The neighbor you bump into as you leave your house in the morning; the news paper vendor making his early morning sales as you rush to catch the bus; the watchman on shift at the gate outside your office/house building; the employee whose schedule collides with yours and you have the privilege of riding the same lift every morning or even that enthusiastic business person you meet at the cafeteria as you grab your breakfast.

These people now become part of your day to day life and soon enough you start exchanging a smile, which later graduates into a ‘hello‘ and with time you get to engage in a friendly and decent conversation about the neighborhood, the news headlines, the delayed El Nino rains, food, career and the like, I’m sure you get the drift. These strangers now become significant people who expand your social network, open your eyes to great opportunities and the few who get to open the door for a lifelong friendship; however, others just become “uncalled for” enemies or let us call them as “sworn” enemies.

Just after I had finished an intense training for work in the desert (story for another day!), I met this gentleman so eager to show me the ropes of this new adventurous job. He outlined the do’s and the dont’s for this new environment, the whats and the ifs of this amazing adventure and most importantly, he showed me the whos and the hows in getting things done; I had found a great acquaintance in this very strange land. As I reported to work, my registration was all smooth and easy as compared to my fellow freshmen, he had given me all the tips and notes on getting a smooth sailing and to top it all landed on very good accommodation, indeed good people do exist!

Since he was the only person I knew, we would have lunch together, chat about the crazy and not so crazy Kenyans back at home and this was what I call the honeymoon phase. However, one afternoon, the scotching desert sun turned him into a blazing William Shakespeare; there he was declaring his undying love for me. “My angel, he said, I have loved you since the first time I saw you”! That line to me is clearly the biggest lie one can ever tell. The only love at first glance is a love for that new food that melts your taste buds away, you taste it and you immediately fall in love.

He was very sure I felt the same way; my guess was that the hot sun had given him some really strong hallucinations or do I call them mirages; and he couldn’t believe that I wasn’t into him. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but in my case a ‘man’ scorned. The angel now turned into a vampire and Romeo was ready to devour terrified Juliet. I happen to be a very peaceable person but this just tickled my aggression. He threw all kind of insults and allegations my way that made me think I had an evil twin out there who was defaming my character. But I had to walk away because that midday sun was burning my soft skin, plus I had just had some very delicious chicken wings and didn’t want any bad taste near me.

But as I walked away, I asked myself whether I had done something wrong and the only thing ringing in my head was that weird topic in Biology called Binomial nomenclature (that latin was wrong; it made me hate that subject forever)! Other than that, I had done nothing wrong. I simply owed this guy nothing. I had never asked for his help but clearly he saw me as the wicked Witch of Oz. What is most shocking is that even to date, my good friend still holds a grudge. I bump into this guy almost on a daily basis, and it’s amazing to see him use so much energy just to avoid me. I walk by, and he turns away; I say hi, but he shrugs away; I stand by and he walks away! It is like we never met and we never will, his focus is to look busy and distracted whenever fate brings our paths together. But it is just sad, that after such a long time the hatchet remains un-buried. Life is simple, no need to complicate by giving humans some binomial latin rule!

Cafe XYZ

Ever been to these cafeterias where at some point there’s a huge influx of people flooding in just for a meal and you are forced to share a table with total strangers? May be there was this time you were peacefully enjoying a sumptuous meal then this strange person walked over and asked (with the biggest smile on their face) whether they could join you. It sought of ruined the taste of that juicy steak or the delicious chicken you had on your plate. Even worse, the solemn peace you were enjoying while taking a bite and getting lost in the tasty delicacy was quickly snatched from under your nose. But since you were still hungry, you could not just take off and leave. You had just had three awesome bites of your food, paid some reasonable amount for that steak so indeed, that plate needed to be cleaned out.

That’s something I experienced firsthand a while ago. There I was digging in, a very tasty meal during lunch and a stranger just had to ruin the moment. Best thing is that the food was too good for my mood to be ruined so I didn’t mind; worst thing though was that this stranger decided to take the opposite seat; facing me. Why wasn’t he sensible enough to take the one beside, get rid of the awkward eye locking whenever I looked up to grasp some air after a healthy bite! With time I got to realize the reason was that this stranger actually wanted to chat. I was determined that nothing could ruin my delicious fried chicken and so I went with the flow. General talk; the weather, occupation, the food, politics (yuck!), relationships (cool), culture (awesome), I could go on and on but you get the drift. I was surprised I could hold a conversation with this person who’d rudely interrupted my yummy meal. But eventually I managed to clean out my plate and so it was TTL (Time to leave).

Am sure you all know how these scenarios play out most of the times. He plays the gentleman card by walking you out, says all these sentimental thank-you’s and then finally gets to the point where he asks for your number. Okay, don’t get me wrong but we’d just talked about everything, even politics! His line of work somehow doesn’t rhyme with mine so let me just put him on the spot; why do you want my number? oh my! you should have seen his reaction…..wow! his gentleman aura suddenly disappeared. That is not such a hard question; plus am the kind of girl who doesn’t like filling in the gaps – that I did a lot in those 8-4-4 Continuous Assessment Tests – am more of the kind who likes going straight to the point.

Essentially, he went all defensive and told me how that was such a put off. “You can’t just go asking guys the why question, who said they are interested in you that way? “…well, daah! why are you standing there asking for my number?. I could see his frustration, but in my head I was thinking, you asked for my number, so at least you can afford to put in words the why. The way I see it, you need to tell someone straight on your intentions, so that you are at least on the same page. They might actually just want to get together another time because apparently you are great company, and would make a cool friend; or may be just want to know you better because you fascinated them in some weird way; or just want to hook up because they found you so damn sexy and thought you two should explore that Chemistry!

So my take is, rather than spend precious time adding contacts to later delete them; because you finally got to know the why: after a series of boring dates, long phone conversations and never ending whatsapp messages, and you weren’t on the same chapter let alone page; Just be direct and do the necessary put offs. Save yourself the trouble of adding contacts like “café xyz dude” that just disorganize your phone book;   your contact list deserves better than that.

Let’s be honest, we all know what we want/like after that one interaction. No need to draw and scale maps when Google maps is one click of a button away!

And this my opinion is why a friend of mine recently shared this forward: Dating after 30 is like: ARE WE DOING THIS OR NOT I GOT SH*T TO DO!

 

It is worth the Keep

Last week I found myself getting back to the house quite late. Every day I got home, I took a look at the clock, and every time the hour hand would always be way past 9. It almost seemed like a routine and to be honest I am not a big fan of routine – a colleague of mine tells me that it’s one of the best ways to remain mysterious in Nairobi; no one can ever plan your kidnap!

My being late to get home wasn’t from the fact that I had a huge bag of heavy workload, quite the contrary; I was having it quite easy at the office but I chose to spend my after hours catching up with friends and loved ones.

I caught the bus quite late that Wednesday night and to make matters worse, the only seat vacant was at the very tail of the bus. Those of you with experience in riding the crazy Eastlands matatus in the back seat know why I say matters were worse. Back there is where you’ll get a taste of every single pothole and bump on the road and once in a while get the not so yummy feel of a pavement or walk path. Your major concern however is the weight/size of those that will sit next to you because if not lucky, you might end up sitting on the very edge of your seat with no allowance to lean back leaving you with this terrible back ache once you alight.

I didn’t have a choice, I had to sit at the very back bench since it was getting late and I needed to get home. But as I sat, I noticed that behind me was a lady carrying a child on her back. With the little space between the seats, it was a great struggle for her to get all the way to the back. And there I thought to myself, all gentlemen must have gotten home very early today because no one, even the young ladies bothered to offer her their much comfortable seats. Nevertheless, she did make it, she managed to get the baby off her back to her front side and squeezed in with us back benchers. Almost instantly, there was this very awful smell, very much disturbing and quite chocking. It was a cocktail of all smells unpleasant; sweat, rotten cabbage, booze, the sewage, spoilt milk, compost manure and other miscellaneous uncomfortable smells.

At this point you needed no rocket scientist to deduce just how irritated we felt, because our faces could tell it all. In my mind I was wondering whether it were possible for me to hold my breath for just 20 minutes. Just for those minutes it would take to get home and I started entertaining the possibility of that impossibility. Oh well ‘….. weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning…’ so I had to try an adapt to this smelly welly environment. I turned and took another look at her, and at that very moment, I felt sad yet all so proud. My mind just flooded with images and thoughts of her life story and daily struggles;

Beautiful Anela so young and innocent, growing up in a too abusive household,
Never to get a taste of love but to constantly get fists and major blows,
Her heart swelling up with much hate never a smile her mouth to hold.

Her education ended way too soon of which no one seemed to care much,
Never managed to get a well paying job, just merchandise to sell on the streets
The struggle was never ending her life just seemed too harsh.

All she got was a plate full of rejection with relationship nightmares on the side,
Never even getting close to landing the prince charming of her life’s fairy tale,
But deadly promises and lies that took all her joy and  pride.

Before she knew it, she was living just for the sake until she made her first mistake,
That fella had promised her heaven but hell he took her as she broke the news
She chose not to see it as a burden but as a second chance for her to take.

Her body carried this rare treasure that daily transformed her swollen heart,
A new found feeling giving her hope to now dream and live again.She saw a new world filled with chances, full of acceptance and void of all the hurt.

It was as though Anela had wings to fly; she could touch the beauty in the skies and marvel at the beauty of this world.
This was more than a precious gift, it was her second chance to life. And when the gift finally stepped into life, she knew her life would turn around. A turn to a new road and a journey worth every step.
This truly is a gift from above and even if today Anela struggles, she is filled with hope for a better tomorrow. No one can take these feelings and gift from her, she has tied them round her heart and they keep her moving forward.

And that is why I am sad but all so proud of this beautiful queen. Sad because she struggles to survive, with her little bundle of joy looking up to her as she fights life’s battles. But also proud that she chose to keep her gift even when they all thought of it as a burden. It is life and it’s worth the keep.

Past Trends

Best thing about life is that we are so many of us in this journey. A diverse humanity spread throughout the world; all of us journeying through life and paving our own path of destiny. I like that. Can you imagine if we were a limited population where it would just take you several years to meet everyone else on this earth? I like the fact that no one will ever exhaust the number of people they meet in their lifetime. I myself do like interacting with all kinds of people because you get to learn one or two things about the world and about yourself.

And that’s why I want to talk about that one person who crossed your path and they taught you the hard lessons and truths about relationships. The one who took the naïve perception you had about love in the first place. The one who might have broken your heart or just maybe ripped it apart. The one who gave you a major life’s blow of which you might never forget.  Am sure by now you have them in mind; that ex who disappointed and left you high and dry at the corner of Mama Ngina and Kimathi Streets. The one who brought out that unfamiliar side of you. That one who made you a hard head/core and opened your eyes to the reality of soap operas; they are just but fantasies.

One thing I have come to realize is that this person deserves some bit of credit. You might not agree but they sought of turned your life around. You were there having a smoothie and all they could think of was adding some salt! Smoothie instantly ruined and in your head you actually thought they’d confused the label with that of sugar. You were there thinking to order another one and all they could say was ‘let’s gerrarahia’. That smoothie you thought to enjoy was now a mere mirage that you could never touch. They gave you a good dose of how sometimes a rosy relationship can take a turn and become a thorny thicket that pricks, hurts and sometimes bleeds.

My take is that this ex is more like a trending topic – this idea I got from the fact that yesterday I was trying really hard to understand this #Mollis trend and I just couldn’t, may be my sense of humor is more like the Kidero grass when it comes to some things! But if you just take some time and think about it, this person was top of your list back in the day; you could say they were very popular in your world. Everything just revolved around them; discussions you had related to this trend, you followed music that was specific to this trend, I mean even your fashion watch was tailored to this trend.

What you never realized then is that trends aren’t always good for you, ask CNN or our dear Ugandans – those crazy things can kill you! They can be extremely viral, spreading to every single aspect of your life and before you know it, they have taken over. And there you are, loving the thrill and attention, being top in the world where no other topic seems to matter, thinking how the two of you can rule the world and how amazing that would be. Still trending and still being relevant.

Then one fine day the sun sets and with it go all the trending activities, all related hashtags, most of the photoshop-ed images and all those new followers. It all comes to an end, it’s as if nothing had ever happened. The world you both ruled ceases to exist. All attention suddenly vanishes and your discussions seem to be all filtered out. But you still wanted to hang on, to hold on and to cling on to the not so trendy trend. But we all know that once a trending topic is gone, there’s no bringing it back.

So in the end you learnt the very lesson no book nor any experienced life coach can ever teach you. Those trending topics were just but for some time. They were very enjoyable and just as disastrous. Photoshop-ed images may remain for a while, making you laugh and some welling up your eyes with tears. As for the followers, well, good ones will remain but some will disregard, others will mute or delist you, then a huge bunch will unfollow, unfriend, untrend…..you know, all those un’s.

And eventually that trending topic becomes just but a past that passed. Remembered yes, but never to top the trends in your present world.