Yup, That friend…

There are times in our lives when the people who know us the best are the ones who understand us the least..if that makes sense.

Sometimes you know a friend of yours doesn’t like something but you do it anyway. You know they will pull their hair out slowly if you keep them waiting but either it is beyond you or you think “Surely, what is the worst that can happen. After I say sorry, we shall enjoy the evening.” There are other people who do not even give it much thought.

See, the thing about human nature is that we want what is best for us, to be in our comfort zone to be well, happy. Sometimes, it comes at the cost of hurting other people but well, it is okay..as long us we get what we want. .right? Not.You realise eventually that you can’t expect to receive 90% for every 100% you put in. In fact, you shall be lucky to get a little over 50..but do not despair, you will also give another close person 40% when he is at a comfortable 95% for you. It isn’t tit for tat, but you get my drift.. Sad, isn’t it?

We are all different and thus it is unfair to gauge people based on others and yet it is simply inevitable. Deep down we want to be appreciated the same way we appreciate others…as a matter of fact, we want even more. Selfish,yes. Human? Double yes!

I used to ‘grade’ my friendships based on (mostly) trying times. Have they been there for me? Do they call? Are they interested in listening or simply hearing? Do they care what I am saying or they simply can’t wait to add this to the rumour mill? The list goes on.

It got exhausting.  Love is about accepting each others differences. If it is worth it, you fight for it. If the fights are more than the laughs..erm, no prizes for guessing what happens next. Along the way you get to find out where each of ‘your people’  lie. If you are lucky, you will ‘guess’ right. Sometimes though, you will ‘sleep with the enemy’  whose left hand is holding  a nice sharp dagger under the pillow while her right holds you close.

C’est la vie.

friends

Here is a real life scenario which I didn’t even intend to analyse. It is quite simple but can also be very telling.

I invited some friends over for lunch recently and each of them reacted differently. Here is how;

*Do you see yourself here, once or twice? Do you now which of your friends would sit around, support or simply run? Please share your experiences, I would love to ‘hear’ them.

1. The one who called to RSVP

2. The one who never bothered to respond to invitation

3. The one who said they would come but did not

4. The one who didn’t say they would come but did

5. The friend who called to ask ‘how can I help?’

6. The one who simply called and said “I shall be there early to help,” Didn’t have to ask.

7. The friend who walked in and went straight into the kitchen to cut up some salads

8. The friend who hovered around the kitchen waiting to be given a duty/discover a way to help

9. The one who had somewhere else to be but dropped by to say hello then left

10. The person who made jokes throughout the gathering

11. The one who noticed when her neighbour was ‘going to be sick’  and followed her to the house, just to check then brought her a glass of water

12. The friend who mingled with everyone she found

13. The friend who sat quietly waiting to see someone he is comfortable with

14. The one who called to ask what they should buy on their way

15. The person who didn’t ask but carried some drinks and snacks

16. The friend who kept cleaning up after everyone

17. The friend who called to say he was running late

18. The one who didn’t pick calls because they knew they were late

19. The friend who updated me every step of the way

20. The one who kept asking how many people had come so he only arrives when others are there

21. The ones who stayed after everyone had left just to make sure things were okay

22. The one who stayed to simply…talk

23. The friend who called days later to ask how it went

24. The one who sent the RSVP after a week, because they saw me and had an ‘oops moment’

25. The friend who said he knew I had spent a lot and gave me a contribution when we next met.

Hehe, it goes on and on. What am I trying to say? I do not love each one of them any less.. I accept them as they accept me.We are just different, beautifully so.

F1

MAMA-Phenomenal

Sunday was mother’s day. I have this day engraved in my memory and I ‘suffer’ every year because mother’s day and mum’s birthday are a week apart. She does not ask for much, I know but even if she did, nothing shall ever be enough to reward her. Such is the dilemma of a daughter.

Mum is elegant while remaining conservative.  Saying she is the most difficult person to buy a present for would be putting it mildly.  Lucky for me, I had ordered her gift months ago so I didn’t need to worry. I left it at the breakfast table on Saturday night as I was planning to sleep in the next day.

When I woke up, I sent messages to other mums I thought deserved to be appreciated. I shall add that over the years I have made ‘enemies’ out of my friends. I often sent their mothers texts before they did. Sometimes, the daughters did not even know it was D-day. This time, however, I was amazed when I got out of bed and  mum told me my friends had sent texts ‘first,’ I did not have to be evil any more 🙂

I planned to go to church in the evening so I could thank the Lord for this gem that he blessed us with but somehow, the afternoon nap took longer than it should have 😦 I chose to complete a work assignment and then say a special prayer for her and all mommies just before getting into bed.

A few minutes after 11pm as I wrapped up the email, I got this message from a friend ;

“I vote your mum second best mum in the world obviously after mine for the good job done in bringing such a wonderful person like you to this world and nurturing you to be the kind of person you are. It looks like she did that solely for me to get the most amazing friend ever. May God richly bless her for every pain and tear she shared and grant her a long healthy life and prosperity, wish her a happy mother’s day for me.”

I was extremely humbled. It was at this moment that I shut down the computer and got back to that matter I was procrastinating about. I needed to give God the glory he deserves.

It isn’t easy for me to write about my mother, not for lack of words or deeds, but simply because the vocabulary I have accumulated over the years is insignificant when it comes to describing such an extra ordinary person.

Below is an excerpt of a few qualities I shall highlight.

“But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”

Like my friend said, I am who I am because of the way I was raised. Of course,as an adult I have choices to make on my own but years of grooming and yelling come to play. For most of the qualities I possess that are deemed exemplary,I applaud her..for the flaws,well, that is entirely my doing.

See, I never always listened to my mother. I was not a typical rebellious child who broke things to seek attention or jumped over the school fence because of that stupid thing called adolescence..but I was not a very good listener.  I was big headed, always wanting to do things at my own pace. Also I could never lose an argument. how?!  Every situation,however, simple was a ‘crime’ in my mind. I defended myself for hours on end, never knowing when to just keep quiet and say sorry. I defended other people too though even when I didn’t know half the story.She kept saying I should be a lawyer and put my noise to use. As I grew up, I realised, all she wanted was to teach me to apologise. I simply wasn’t ready to apologise for other people’s responsibilities. That’s the thing though, just because it was someone else’ turn to do the dishes didn’t mean I should ignore them while the person is away.

So yes, my story begins with lessons that I began to learn as a little girl and will continue to learn years after mum is gone (which I hope shall be in like 5 more decades)

Faith that literally moves mountains

My mother has more faith than anyone I know and you know what? It is infectious too. She prays and prays then prays some more. When we pray together, I list the people who I am ‘grieving’ with, asking for God to heal them but when her part comes, she practically prays for the entire world, Syria, Somalia,Iraq, Uganda, name it. If you tell her what you are going through, best believe she will take it upon herself as a ‘personal prayer.’

A year or so ago someone we know got an accident and got into coma. We prayed every night until he got out of it several months later. This might sound a tad far fetched but I know mum’s prayers had a link to this recovery.
In fact, most of the blessings that have come our family’s way have been thanks to her relationship with God.

Funny how the Christians who believe they are ‘more christian’ than her and try to convert her have barely enough faith to fill a glass but hey I am not here to judge.

Let me just share a not-so-short tale of faith amidst adversity.

On the eve of my graduation, I was in a lot of pain that could not be explained. I remember that cold rainy night so vividly because I hoped the rain would wipe away my tears and pain. It didn’t.

I lay in my bed, wincing, tossing and turning. Mum came into my room and left whenever it was too much for her. At about 6a.m on D-day, an ambulance picked me up from home. I was semi-conscious. My tummy felt like it was about to explode and no amount of pain relieving injections or sedatives worked on the way to the hospital. The others I was given later didn’t work either when we got there. I just accepted my fate. I would feel every inch of this pain with my eyes wide open.

Doctors worked round the clock but mum kept repeating “We have a graduation to attend.” “She is graduating today, hurry up.” over and over again. * I can still hear her.* She asked the doctors if an ambulance could take me to UCU(my Uni), and then immediately return after I was awarded my degree. They declined. She told them in that case she would just take me herself. They seemed hesitant but mum was determined. *Sigh* She made calls for our clothes and shoes to be brought to the hospital. She called my friend Sharon at ten minute intervals to keep updated so we wouldn’t get late..It was graduation day, remember?

My stomach was on fire, the injections and drip were useless, I could hardly breathe but that is NOT why I kept weeping.

I mourned for a mother whose faith was greater than she knew, for a parent who wasn’t going to attend my graduation after not being able to attend those of her sons before. I cried because I wanted to heal miraculously and walk on the red carpet for her to see but deep down I knew it wasn’t happening that day. No, 29th October 2010 would not be the day she witnessed a graduation, it would be the day God saved me so I could live to give this testimony:)

We had to keep this situation hush hush because we had invited friends and family for a graduation party the next day. I had to pick myself up no matter what. A few close ones visited but others were told it was ‘nothing serious.’ I had to believe this would be over.

That night God sent an angel to the hospital in form of my friend David who gave my mum company till after 12 a.m. The meds started to kick in. My only prayer was that if God gave me sleep, he would have to ensure I wake up the next day.

Wake up I did and shocked the doctors when I  asked to be discharged. They thought I was mad. I thought I was mad. The party happened and on Sunday morning at about 7.30 am as my friends and I got into the house after a night of dancing like we were being paid, some relatives who had travelled for the party seemed like they had seen a ghost. Just the night before it seemed like a hopeless situation but you know faith; the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.

“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” 

One of the things I love the most about my mother is that she is a mother to many. From the students at her place of work to my friends who come over, relatives and pretty much everyone who crosses her path. When she retires, it will be nice if she can start her own counselling service. She’s a natural that one. Mum is the kind of person whom  you can tell your secrets when your initial plan was to ask for a bowl of sugar. Many a time my friends have visited when I am away or asleep and upon there departures, she is asking questions about them that even I have no clue about! They find it easy to talk to her.

Her advice on parenting, etiquette, friendship and life is impeccable. The only problem is that if a situation is too sad, she will be giving it with a handkerchief and tears running down her face. Over the years I have learnt to ‘sieve’ some of these stories, for the sake of her heart of course.

Did I mention she reads minds too? You might want to lay off on the lies if you had any such plans 😉

When you share your problem, she is listening and coming up with several solutions in her mind before you even complete the entire script. I must warn you though, she shall interrupt you at least 20 times so that she can get the facts straight. Stay calm, sip some water. It helps.

An example that easily comes to mind is a conversation I had with her some months ago. I told her about a friend who wanted to go back to school but didn’t quite have the means. She began to work behind my back  soon after that and even started communicating with the said friend.

Her explanation later  was that she didn’t want to get me excited and then fail hence the secrets. My reaction was that I would probably not meet a kinder soul along my life’s path.

P.s: The education plan did work out. Duh. She is super mom 🙂

“…she rejoiced as only mothers can in the good fortunes of their children.”

If you have been successful at anything, no matter how small, best believe mum shall whip out a bag full of praises until you want to disappear for months. She makes you feel like a hero even for the tiniest things!! If she had the means, she would probably throw a party for your first day at day care,Primary, high school and Uni. Yes, it is that bad!

Almost seven years ago, my first by line appeared in the Sunday Vision. Best believe mum told everyone she knows and carried the article every where she went. Half the people did not care and  I was constantly getting embarassed thinking “sssshhh, it isn’t a big deal.” She never stopped her antics to this day.

Yesterday I got dressed for work and she started raving about my outfit(which is about a year old) and I smiled to myself.  I usually tell her she loves me so she has to like what I wear. Whether it is for our esteem or motherly sentiments, it works.

She tells her friends when her ‘kids’ are ill like they are 5 years old and have caught a terrible cold. When  I am within earshot, I am always in disbelief but I know she loves us and is proud. More often than not, children fail to either hear this or see it in their parent’s actions.

I could go on and on.

These praises are not limited to family. She recently told a friend of mine whom she had hitherto never seen in a ‘tight’ outfit how smashing she looked. “Hope I do not see you in those baggy things again, she added” I hope this friend listened because it was all true. She just had the courage to air it.

“I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful.”

Mum’s smile is great, pretty big too.. her laugh even more awesome! I shall probably get a recording of it soon so I  can share it with the world. Her laughter comes from within her soul. It can’t be replicated. In fact, when you laugh with her you seem like you are acting or didn’t quite get the joke. eh! The pressure!

“I always wondered why God was supposed to be a father,” she whispers. Fathers always want you to measure up to something. Mothers are the ones who love you unconditionally, don’t you think? Jodi Picoult.

Wow! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Dad was(is) all about the grades, the ambition and all those other ‘serious’ things, with good reason. Mom on the other hand wants you to excel but be happy while at it.

I took some days off work some time back and told her my mind and soul where at peace for the first time in a while. She replied “Why don’t you just do the things you love, dance,sing,write..?”  Me, doing these things for money? Heh! *To be continued…

I strongly believe that even if I was a video vixen(dressed in long outfits perhaps) and that is what I truly wanted to do with my life, she would support me any way.

The lessons

  • She has taught us to be hardworking and I have watched her wake up at 5.30 am and work from Monday to Sunday so really what excuse do I have?
  • She has encouraged us to be responsible and as  a mother and first born of her family I have seen her take care of everyone but herself for more years than I can count
  • Mum treats everyone as an equal and probably got some etiquette training from “Mrs. Bucket (Read Bouquet of Keeping up appearances)I can’t walk into a room and not say hello to the person/people I have found there. In fact, when I am with her and someone finds us seated somewhere but just sneers and looks away, we save them for gossip later. Each time I want to sip my drink as I eat, I just have to think of mum and put the glass down. Gosh there are so many! Mum makes sure you serve every plumber, electrician, night guard(etc) the same meal you are having (unlike many Ugandans)  when you are having it.

Speaking of meals, any time is meal time at home. As a matter of fact, my guests have had to sit through evening tea and supper within the same hour on certain occasions because mum insists. If you leave the food on the plate, that is another story. Sadly, none of her children are ‘eaters’ so forgive her if she feeds you too much, she means well;)

  • And the greatest of all is love. I realised I would probably go on for ages so let me summarise with this last lesson  LOVE. It encompasses everything for if you love one another then there is no reason to cause harm. She has taught us to love everyone, to forgive and actually give back to those that hurt you the most. These Christ-like lessons have not come in only words but they have been executed from our early years.  If we forget everything else, I hope this stays with us till death do us part.

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

Really, what more can I say?

A friend, doctor, confidant, mentor, sister, rock, comforter,chef,guardian,clown,  teacher …(insert roles that apply) and so much more!!

She smiles when she wants to cry, tells you it will be okay because she believes and loves you unconditionally no matter how many times you mess up.. what is she if not an angel?

I would like to say that turning out into half or three quarters of what my mother is shall essentially make up for the blessings she has brought to my life and many others but it probably won’t be enough. Instead, I want to make the next years of her life the best years of her life, to support her as she brings joy to all those around her. What I really want to hear is her laughter more and more and…..yes more!

She is phenomenal and the best part is that she isn’t just mine and my siblings’…she has spread out her arms to lots of other lives and that is enough for me 🙂

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  Abraham Lincoln

With love undefined, inexplicable, bursting within me,

Esther,

Mon Cherie :)

Mon Cherie 🙂

XOXO

Rap Baking Queen :)

I knew a guy once. I suppose I still know him but we have been separated by distance and time. I will call him Bruno.

We were in school together and at that point I would say we were nothing more than classmates. He sat at the back of the class and made jokes, he could rhyme pretty well too. We exchanged pleasantries now and then. One of the songs I remember him singing was Beautiful- Bobby Brown featuring Damian Marley. He rapped my favourite part of the song like he had written it himself. I knew most of it but I am certain my words were incorrect. It was fun. Look what I found? The right lyrics. Mine were close, I insist. Okay close-ish 😛

And I remember when we met and we began dating
And everything was copacet’ and we began mating
And then the way mi love her good, she gimme don ratings
Because mi style dem plentiful and ah nuh one way thing
And she get belly full and ah nuh pot scrapings
And the closer we become the more she gravitating
Until we buckle down and there is no escaping
Now it typically became an everyday thing….

*Lalalala..it goes on…*

You get the drift. Anyway, High school ended and we all went our separate ways, but facebook happened.  Bruno realised we had some similarities, love for poetry and music and thus we actually became ‘friends,’ cyber friends more like and not just former classmates. We ‘talked’ from time to time and he seemed like an interesting lad.

One day he sent me an ‘SOS,’ it was his girlfriend’s birthday and he was all the way in Europe. Wouldn’t I be a darling and talk to a lady he recommended, make the cake order and then pay? He would reimburse in the next few days and be forever grateful.

Naturally I said yes. I didn’t even think about it. I am all for love and if I can make life easy for two love birds,why not? Being in Kampala meant I was closer to her so I followed the instructions.

At the time, I was working for an organisation that not only wasn’t paying us, they weren’t planning too either. I had no money but I had to pay a 50% deposit via mobile money in order for the cake booking to be ‘legit’  so that baking could begin. Looking for that money was a trick,a story for another day.

I was picking someone from the airport that day and had to look out for mobile money outlets on the Highway so that the plan could be put in motion. I made this ‘project’ my sole mission at the time, had to perform my duty to perfection. I did not even have Bruno’s number and all our communication was via facebook so between seas and time zones, a small favour had become quite the journey.

Long story short, said girlfriend got the cake, fell deeper in love with Bruno and got my number from the lovely lady who baked the cake then called to say an excited thank you. I told her it was  her thoughtful man who was responsible. Facebook later told  me they had a reunion in those outside countries soon after.

He sent a couple of messages several days later saying he would send the money the next week, then the week after and and……  Well, that money transfer did not ever come to life.

I had already regarded it as a bad debt so when I saw him going on about his daily routine, I let it go. I might have been broke but I wasn’t going to stalk someone for a couple of thousands of shillings.

Well, this post isn’t about him. It is about the cake guru. Bruno might have ran off with a few shillings/pounds/Euros but he sent me an angel and this is her(our) story.

Soon after this incident, I began to give Cleo’s number to anyone who mentioned cakes or pastries. Sometimes they made orders, other days they did not but I still passed it on anyway. When I had my own friend’s birthdays or anniversaries, she was the first person I thought of. I did not know what she looked like but she got good reviews and later I tasted the cakes myself and realised she was indeed worth the hype.

She casually asked me when my birthday was a few months later. I didn’t think much of it and told her. Believe it or not,on my birthday,  she arrived at my office doorstep with a cake for……me!!!

I was elated!! Naturally I had friends who forgot the date or expectations that weren’t met but I shall remember that day in 2011; a near stranger sat(or stood) and baked a cake for plain ol’  me 🙂

bd cake

It was such a heart warming gesture, I spoke about it till people got tired of the story. Still, it was my day and my cake so….:P

Cleo, yes, her name finally comes out..doesn’t seem like a lady of many words and I am quite the opposite. I believe if we had gone to school together, she would have shifted seats and left my ‘noisy neighbourhood.’Maybe I am wrong, see I am just beginning to actually ‘know’ her.  In fact, until recently, I simply knew that she is a talented baker, lover of hip hop and a closeted rapper herself. Most of which was from stalking her a bit on facebook since she is a friend on the social network. Not much else.  I have since tried to get a few other confessions out of her because her kindness is truly humbling. Yes, there is more!

Soon after I started the 40-40 project, she told me she would bake cakes for our events for free. No, not at a subsidised cost. FREEEE!!!

It melted my heart. We have monthly breakfasts for the little ones and celebrate the birthday babies of that month. This means all year round, each child gets to have a chance cutting the cake. Not a single breakfast has gone by without cake! The kids are over 100 in total and when they are short, we lift them onto a chair so they can cut cake. She has always delivered and seldom do I need to remind her.

We made a year recently and without any coercion, Cleo prepared a wonderful surprise for us.

I want to keep it in my pocket and carry it around :)

I want to keep it in my pocket and carry it around 🙂

A few weeks ago, we made an order for a cake to mark two of our friends’ birthdays’. A guy and a girl, with specifications to suit what they both like. As you can see, the task was executed to perfection.

benjy cake_2

I can’t get enough of Cleo’s cake. Maybe my sweet tooth(teeth?) is the problem or the fact that she is meticulous and yet still humble. All I know is I could eat this cake forever, literally.

Last week she sent me a package just because (stalkers can sometimes be useful too) Her latest product. Delicious cupcakes. At first I thought it was a joke when she mentioned it but then her delivery guy called and asked where I was. I squealed!!! He delivered!

Okay, the box was full but I remembered to take the photo after you know, nibbling a few :P

Okay, the box was full but I remembered to take the photo after you know, nibbling a few 😛

The cakes were such a delight! I hid them in a separate compartment in the fridge but trust curious eyes to search.

Red velvet in its final hours, sob

Red velvet in its final hours, sob

I could go on and on but I have to stop somewhere. That saying about some people being in your life for a season, a reason and others for a lifetime is so true. “Bruno” and his slippery ways led me to Cleo who has not only made a huge impact on my life, but on the kid’s lives as well.

Recently as we chatted, she told me I was one of her first clients and that when more orders kept coming in, she decided to do this baking thing full time.

If I was a practicing journalist, I would definitely do a piece on her. Perhaps I shall do an interview just for this blog about what makes her tick.*thinking aloud*

I am intrigued by people who make careers out of their passion, more-so if they are young, motivated and selfless too.

The sky isn’t the limit for this lady, and I shall be here watching as she becomes a millionaire.

Wait, maybe she already is 🙂

*Contact me if you need to order cake(s), I didn’t exactly ask for permission to share her contact* Plus, you never know, if you put n a good word for me, she might just hire me to become her official cake taster 😉

Food for thought: Find your passion and nurture it, even better use it to help others..and if someone in your life is taking more than they are giving, look closer, they just might be a blessing after all.