Feeling. Sharing. Learning from pain

Last weekend I attended a small event. I am part of a two year program with a couple of other Ugandans.
I had met two other participants once before and everyone else was either in administration or had completed the program.

After settling down, I shared my experience with those I knew over some bites. We agreed that we had faced similar challenges, except in different doses. Sadly, one of us had not even made it beyond two months of the intense program. Later, I mingled with the ‘experts’ armed with my notebook so as to learn a trick or two.

When we got to the sharing session, I turned to my counterparts, hoping that our joint voice would hold more water. They were completely silent. They only spoke up if it made them look good but otherwise had nothing to comment about the rigorous exercises we had earlier discussed. I was stunned. They are both vocal people actually. I realised it was not because they were timid. It was just easier for them to admit failure to one person (me) than to openly express any kind of discomfort publicly.

I decided to take it upon myself to articulate my issues and those of the people who suddenly could not speak. Frankly, I did not care if I was being judged by the listeners because everything I said out loud became a problem half solved. At least in my mind.
After the session it became evident that they were grateful for the advice received as a result of the candid feedback.

I do not blame them or at least, I would like to think I understand them.
Many a time we make decisions, consciously or sub consciously, solely for the benefit of others, or so we tell ourselves.

‘My father is a respected member of society, what will people say if they find out I am pregnant before marriage? I must terminate this pregnancy.’ ‘I cannot quit my job to start the salon I have always dreamed of. Everyone will think I wasn’t good enough for the promotion I have been talking about endlessly.’ ‘My colleagues can’t know I have family issues. This will be their chance to try and steal my position.’
These pressure groups (read family and friends) have their own issues, a battered spouse here, a rogue teenager there, millions in debt. The only reason you don’t know this is because they have decided to bury it under a rug. You are probably in a better place than half the people whose ridicule you are afraid of.

We live in a hypocritical society, quick to throw labels, remarkably sluggish when challenged to back our words with actions.

The truth is not everybody is capable of sharing their pain. Whether because they believe it is a sign of weakness or  prefer to be discreet and a myriad of other reasons.
We often find it easier to discuss achievements. If there is mention of tragedy, chances are it is occurring in someone else’s life. Here we can sit and give them advice (in their absence) while feeling good about our ‘drama-less’ life.

We are so afraid of what people will think, of pity… of everything that is remotely close to real.

No, our beautiful wedding photos, awards and promotions are not what make a marriage work or a job more meaningful.
I am honestly more interested in the process, the tears and the loneliness at the top. I want to know what keeps a mother up at night, how many closed doors this big shot CEO met before he got where is today.
If I am lucky, I will find it in a biography.
If I do not experience some of things for myself, I might never hear of them even if people I am close to people who have gone through the same. WHY?

I found out Joan was suicidal years after she had started feeling that way. I was ‘lucky’ to see her in a towel that exposed her cuts. Before that, she wore a sweater whether it was 30 degrees or 8. We figured it was ‘her thing’ and simply teased her about her collection of long sleeved clothing.

I had hundreds of questions to ask per minute. She had a practiced comeback for each. The overriding condition was her uneasiness in her skin and the absence of someone to speak to.
She was a star student, bored with books; a perfect daughter, struggling with this façade.
I was broken. Luckily, after finding out I could do something

Perhaps, we to have had similar encounters. Situations when you front a different you, that you think the world will love, only to go home, take the mask off and feel the misery and regret in one large lump.

I admit to being in this place before, many of us have. The saddest part is that even if you succeed in fooling everyone, the person in the mirror knows the truth. That person can’t be fooled.
My 20’s have proved to be a great turning point and you will now find me ‘preaching’ about self-belief, learning from failure and encouraging people to let go and often saying ‘do you.’

This is because I have admitted that my mistakes don’t define me. I have made a joke out of my lowest moments and intend to make it my life mission to share as much as I can about my journey without sugar coating it.

I was speaking to Tina recently and asking her why she had been off the radar. She explained that she had been going through tough times and didn’t want to trouble anyone. I have heard this ‘excuse’ many times and I have also given it to some people. If not out loud, then definitely in my head. We are all superman or superwoman. How dare you fall when you are supposed to fly? How can you let us down with tears when you are our source of strength? How? You traitor!

My reasoning is always the same. Solitude is good and we need to obtain it from time to time. However, in many cases, when you stay there long enough, it sometimes consumes you .Before long you forget who you were and who you want to be.

Speaking up on pain is not a crime or a sign of weakness. You don’t have to walk around with smudged mascara or swollen eyes to show you are hurting inside. You can look perfectly fine but still tap someone close by to say, “I need help.”
It is true that not everyone around you needs or deserves to have insight on all your deepest fears and aches. Nevertheless, a big hug and some shared tears can go a long way. I have learned that there’s almost always a solution but how will you find it if you do not ask?

While Tina is quietly struggling with unemployment and not ‘troubling anyone,’ I might know someone in desperate need of an employee with her qualities. It will take some nudging and a bit of telepathy for me to get the truth out of her before I can make any recommendations.

Life is fast. Friends are few. Foes are plenty. We all want to get to this mythical destination as soon as possible. If you do not speak up, we shall simply run over you as we get there. You will stay lonely and bitter, complaining that no one cared. Except they did, until they didn’t.

I am sad that there are Tina’s in my life who don’t know that friends (except fair weather friends and the like) are actually more likely to run towards you when you need help.
I am mad that we would rather stay in dead relationships than admit that things did not work out
I cringe at the thought of lying to my child that everything is fine and it’s the onions that made mommy cry, and sniff. Loudly
I am repulsed by anyone who isn’t a child that still makes decisions and utters views they don’t believe in for the sake of cheap popularity.
I am bothered that we still stay in jobs we don’t like, working for bosses we despise, living lifestyles we can’t afford simply because we are wondering quietly ‘What will people say/think?’
The truth is nobody cares. Whatever we are gossiping about you now shall infinitely be replaced by a bigger scandal before nightfall. Just. Do. You.

I know it is easier said than done but it is not impossible.

I find that real failure occurs when we don’t pursue our dreams, not when they weigh us down to the point of wanting to give up. It’s also true that not all of them will come true. BUT How shall we know if we can only sit and say “hmm, for her she’s lucky at least she had her money” Goodness! How many people have risen above humble backgrounds to get to the top? Try, fail, try, fail…repeat.

What I am advocating for <even to myself as I am also a victim sometimes> is some honest pain.

When you get depressed, ‘Oh it is in your head, those are mzungu problems.’ Counselling? What? No child of mine will be seen going to a counsellor. Never mind that the child’s problems could have stemmed from your parenting skills, or lack thereof.
That’s if you are lucky. In many areas, any mental illness is ‘community diagnosed’ as madness, probably a result of bewitching.

I know of a young man of only 25 years who is locked in the house every day of his life because he abused drugs, right here in Kampala. It is his paid caretaker who told me but I have so many questions for his parents. Visitors are banned from their premises in case the ‘mad man’ strikes. Writing this alone just gives me shivers. Why?!

So yes, a lot of what I had to say must have been lost in translation. If it’s incoherent, it’s only because it is the exact reflection of my thoughts on this matter.
Talk to your children, friends, family and anyone who cares to listen. Don’t allow your loved ones to feel so alone that a suicide note will be their only explanation of their last years of pain.

Do not be fooled by airbrushed photos of everyone livin’ da vida loca.’ If you only share what you think the world wants to know, what makes you think we are any different?
Cry. Fight. Despair.
I will take scars over pretence any day. The latter wears away to expose rot. The former exist to remind us of healing.
I am the first to admit. I am blessed to be in the position that I am right now, playing a small role in transforming lives. However, I am also the first to admit that it would be impossible without sacrifices that many have made to get us to where we are. Ironically, I also know that there is a lot worse ahead but it will be rewarding. When Jane walked up to me and said “Eh, is it fair? You guys are in the papers and t.v every other day!”

I responded “Eh, is it fair that you don’t understand all that work we put in?”

I am honestly happier to discuss the process than newspapers that will wrap a rolex.

Whenever you can, share a lesson from your pain. You’ll be surprised how many people have gone through the same or worse. You might be amazed by how many lives you can touch.

X

lonely man

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Life; Live it-Love it!

I once watched an episode of Grey’s anatomy in which a patient was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She was  against the idea of surgery because she was scared of death.
That was not all, however,she had spent her entire life trying to do right, follow the rules, be good. She had never smoked nor sipped an alcoholic beverage and yet here she was, battling lung cancer.

The possibility of death made her realise she needed to ‘live more.’ She began to eat a lot of junk, drink herself silly and slept with a stranger, among other things, to make up for the years she ‘lost.’

Whereas I have lived a life I am mostly happy with, I could relate with this feeling. *Never mind that she was a fictional character, blonde and what not*

Just this weekend I wished I was an alcoholic or at least a social drinker. I needed a ‘quick fix’ to the disappointment and pain that lurked within my heart. Perhaps a few drinks would give me the ‘forced joy’ I badly needed. However, when you have a conscience as loud as mine, you think about these things, maybe even say them out loud, then you take a bath and go to bed.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” 

You do know what I mean, right? Sometimes you think; ‘There’s gotta be more to life.’ Of course each action has its repercussions but hey, if it is for the right reasons, I guess it is worth a try.

I have been thinking a lot about all the things I have always wanted to do whether simply for fun,adventure or outright curiosity. I can start to consciously ‘chase’ each of those in my power. Why? Because no one else will do it for me.

“…No– but ours is a journey into ourselves, a walk with God every day! Ours is a book that we write, a smile, a love, a tear, a lust, an awakening, a learning, a joy, a laughter, a memory, a dream, a vision, a love, a love, a love and a love. Our life is now. And Heaven is always there, but this life isn’t always there, but this life isn’t always here. Heaven is always there for us but this life is a gift to us!

When I quit my job three months ago, I completely had no plan. I mentally gave myself till December to decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was a bold and perhaps stupid move, but it was my decision.

I have always believed in making my own mistakes. For example, I would rather get a job on my own where I am paid peanuts, rather than have a hook up by a brother to my friend’s dad. In the event that I mess up, or excel for that matter, the boss should be able to blame/praise me not whoever was the middle man.

It was this conviction that made it easy for me to respond adequately when ‘concerned parties’ asked “What next, How can you quit without a plan?” and other related queries. Those who understood, however, knew that for me to walk away from something, I must have good reason.

I digress.

All these months later, I have managed to somehow survive. I am pretty sure if I put my mind to it, I can last several more months.

My point? If you have an option, do not stay in an unhappy relationship, sad work place or failing business. Work towards a plan to walk out, to survive after you move on, to be happy with your choice, and ensure the life you are living is yours; not so  your spouse, boss or family can be happy but so you can be happy.

Everyday really is an opportunity to start over.

“Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and there’s always a chance for something better.”

I have a list of those things I want to do, some have timelines others don’t. In case yours is somewhere at the back of the mind, try and write/type it out.  Tell a close friend or two. Once you are done, begin to organise it; what can be done now, what should wait, which one needs savings, company etc. It helps.

I will use an example from my life. This year I did not make resolutions, just a few goals and promises to myself.

Not all of them became reality but some did plus I have one month to tray and fulfill the rest.

I love to travel, I have several dream destinations. I ‘live them’ through photographs, movies or my friends who have been there. Maybe I will visit them one day, maybe I won’t but in the mean time, why not tour my very own Uganda?

It is as easy as navigating google, having a few conversations or even reading travel pieces/guides.

This year I have taken a few mini holidays on a tight budget. Even after everyone said Gulu was such an expensive town, I found my unemployed self managing to stay over for several days and not being imprisoned for failing to pay for drinks and a meal.

There have been weekend getaways with friends to Jinja and Entebbe, oh plus Bule island off Ggaba. Small and affordable but they brought me so much joy.

I know people who earn three times what I used to earn that are envious when I share tales of these escapades. This is simply because they have not tried.

Some individuals and companies have made it their business to make travelling a whole lot more convenient and accessible in and around Uganda. See Sabili and Roundbob. These are just the ones I know.

Don’t be afraid to ask or indulge 🙂

“What’s the good of being alive if you don’t do anything?”

In semi-related news,I am skeptical about receiving ‘gifts’ in  form of grand gestures, heck I even raise my brows at small ones, especially if they are directly ‘for me.’ Although I am comfortable when it doesn’t benefit me. Once I see it coming, I sometimes think, ‘What is this person’s motive?’ ‘ How will I repay them?’ It is wrong but you know, I can’t help it.

The irony is that I am often in people’s business, trying to know how and when to help/jump in or whatever it is called. Yes, it is a flaw that I am aware of.

So, in a bid to practice what I preach, I am going to try and be more welcoming of these displays of affection, whether small or otherwise and just..you know, ‘go with the flow.’

“You could continue to repress and think about the life you could have had or you can take what you want from life and see that the world finds that person infinitely more irresistible…

If it is a new expensive phone(that you can afford) which will make you more cheery and keep you busy, walk to that shop and buy it without remorse, If the girl you have had a crush on for years is in a failing relationship, go ahead and tell her how you feel. She might never leave the douche, and you may not get a chance but what good is keeping this info bottled up when you are not certain about tomorrow?

“I don’t want to be that kind of person…so afraid of making a wave that I never swim at all.”

 This reminds me, must swim too! 😉

ocean

I have always been terrible with taking risks, in a way, I still am.. However, this year has taught me to follow my heart even when I know it will get bruised..but then again, to also have the wisdom to withstand a small cut on myself instead of inflicting a full-bloody wound on someone else.

The trouble with life is not that it ends too soon, it is that we take so long to begin it.

Oh and before I go, I urge you to use your skill, it might not be direct like a beautiful singing voice or magic with the paint brush. Maybe your laughter is infectious so you need to continue lightening up the mood of those around you. Perhaps you are great at bargaining and can use this to be a shopping buddy to those that need it or better still become a personal shopper for them..Maybe you make great business decisions and yet tonnes of people around you have money saved up without proper direction..<Insert relevant skill/talent> The list is endless and you know what? The time is now!

“Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of the reins.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life-Precious (Part 1)

At exactly this time last week I was doing what seemed like fighting for my life. It is for this reason that I have since put myself on pressure to get busy and be completely occupied at all hours for fear that still moments shall create an avenue for an episode..

How?

I had been feeling ill on and off for weeks but I simply took medication and carried on like everything was normal while my system silently crashed. It eventually gave in.

The Irony

On October 29th I received a Vocational service award from Rotaract for work done with 40-40.

Needless to say, I was surprised and excited before, during and after. I knew that this would do a lot for the team’s morale and also serve as a reminder that we are on the right track. I hope it did because on my part, I am still amazed.

Anyone who saw me that day realised I was as bubbly as always but perhaps a little more laid back because this experience humbled me even more.

Coincidentally, three years ago on that exact date, I was hospitalised and missed my graduation. This time, I was receiving an award. Weird,right?

I told a friend later that night something within me did not feel right. I later felt selfish for ‘whining’ when I should have been celebrating. After a silent prayer, I ‘forced’ sleep. I was to wake up at 4 a.m with the mother of all stomach pains. This was the beginning of a week long series of not-so-exciting-events.

The worst bit about experiencing pain over and over again is that sometimes you begin to think you deserve it and that it is ‘normal.’ This dim thinking is what got me to spend the day at home ignoring the fact that I was weak, nauseated and generally far from fine; this and the fact that my parents were unavailable and I had no ‘safe’ means to leave home.

When mum called later that afternoon, I told her I was ‘a bit sick’ but would await her return.

She got home and we drove to the hospital. Hardly had we arrived when I was drenched in drips and medication. I did not sleep that night.

Let’s get back to Thursday. I did not want my friends to know. In fact, I am still getting angry messages and calls from those that got the news after the ‘drama’ was over. It is difficult to explain, but once you have lived a certain life, you stop alarming people each time you have an ache. In many cases, they are fighting a different battle and you just want to let it be. Sometimes though, you want them to keep the image of ‘smiley you’ in their memory while you take care of the fight on the other side.

The friends who made it to hospital that afternoon did not head back to their offices.Two even left but found me in a bad state then decided to camp with me a little longer. I know that my condition scared them and if I could rewrite the script, I would have them sit in  a beautiful room as I battled with the devil alongside medical personnel who see such hurting often.

On the other hand though, I am glad they held the mantle as mum rested because she was to experience many other troubled nights that week on my account. Their presence made it all easier.

The Wonder

Through all my pain and anguish, these guys sat and prayed for and with me, sacrificed time and threw in a few anecdotes that just kept me going.

At some point I broke down not only because of the pain within but also as a result of stupid self pity, self loathe and several other emotions that I can’t quite expound in writing. It was not a new experience. In that moment though, I felt I had had enough.

I eventually calmed down.

Throughout my stay at the hospital I got no less than 20 drips and about 15 injections. I did not eat for 4 days and had to get supplements through the drips. When I would see the doctors cringe, I would think ‘Please smile so I can get some reassurance,’ but their reactions were simply natural. It is this stuff that moulds you munange. One day I will be a rock inside, oba diamond? 😉

Light moments

I had to search for sleep amidst sounds of Radio and Weasel, Mafiki zolo and Konshens at nearby bars between Thursday and Saturday. I often laughed at myself.

On Friday night, I actually heard a lady scream ‘woooooo’ when ‘her’ jam played. That could very easily have been me on any given day. I often scream or sing along when songs I love play. Instead, I was trying to stay in one position so that the drip would not move. It was a sad kind of funny.

Other dramatic events gave us hosptal peeps good laughs, from random guest’s conversation, ‘made up’ tales to mum’s laughter. I got me some good memories in there 😉

Each night I prayed to sleep, then prayed to wake up. My prayer was answered every time.

Now

I got discharged on Sunday morning. I had been told I would leave from Friday but each time, I got worse and had to stay. This time, together with my friend Zindzi, we began to pack the ‘migugu’ and take it to her car even before we were told. We forced LOUD laughter each time the doctor came in so he would see how FINE I was.

Eventually, it worked 😀

As soon as I got into the car, the lyrics ‘Though I ain’t good <Lord> HE still loves me’ welcomed me. I sang happily. Mum joked about me seeing the outside for the first time. I was genuinely glad to be out of that room.

Just before we got home R.Kelly’s ‘storm is over’ was on radio. How timely! How perfect! “I can see the sunshine; somewhere beyond the clouds….heaven is over me….” As in!!! Sound tracks to my life.

So here I am, running around to ensure the Charity bazaar is a success..but every moment I get, I sit and thank the Lord. He saved me and I shall use all the energy I have and don’t have to praise and glorify his name.

I have to thank my amazing friends who stayed with me and those that kept ‘the secret’ so I would not worry others; those that insisted on visiting anyways, the ones that called and sent messages even if I had mini phone fasts so I could recover, my family, the staff of AAR that constantly popped in and withstood the thousands of questions from my friends and I when the drips had honestly become TOO much. I am eternally grateful and can only ‘revenge’ with prayer.

I encountered a few other testimonies while I was in hospital but I shall save them for a part two.

Here is a short story within a story though. I like to send ‘Happy new month’ messages but this time 1st November found me indisposed. The funny bit is some people sent texts to ask why I hadn’t wished them a good month, and others happily ‘beat’ me to it. I didn’t let most of them in on ‘the reason’ but it was funny.

I can’t end this without some mushy clichés even if I know the lessons have been evident from reading it already.

However, I just need anyone reading to actually believe ‘Life is short’ because it is, however subjective this said length is. In essence, a 90 year old loved one is still mourned after his/her departure. That said, may we always remember to show those we love that we do and take care of them and ourselves. Goodbyes don’t quite come with a timeline but when you are ‘threatened’ with one, you begin to realise how precious this ‘unfair’ thing called life is.

 heaven

Each second is a new lease on our existence.  Mehn-let’s make it count!!

See you on Saturday at The 40-40 Charity bazaar and family day, I will be the girl looking like nothing ever happened because star ta fa! 😉

xoxo

 

For when I am weak, then I am strong

About two weekends ago, I visited one of my aunt’s so I could spend time with her and her children.

She had recently been diagnosed with a back problem and we had lost a relative who was staying with her. I thought tea,(we both love tea) cake and some ‘kaboozi’ would go a long way in brightening her mood.

We did just that. I played with the kids, had some laughs and then moved on to the serious stuff.

She told me it would cost about UGX 40million to take care of the surgery she needed. Coincidentally, three years ago, she accompanied my mum for the same surgery in India.

Knowing how anxious we had all been when we found out mum needed an operation; I was particularly disturbed because her children are much younger. In fact, her last born was still a breast feeding baby when she sacrificed to leave her behind and stay by my mum’s side. Such acts of kindness cannot quite be repaid. I can only pray for her.

This aunt has struggled with migraines and other illnesses just like me all her life so we started to exchange tales.

The one that stood out was one incident in her post teen years when her best friend shared a ‘secret’ with her. Her friends had been gossiping that she must have HIV, otherwise why else was she always sick.

When the best friend told her this, my aunt got so mad and attacked the accusers for pretending to be her friends whilst spreading such malicious rumours. Her best friend stopped talking to her. (although they eventually made up)

I listened to all this quietly, mostly pensive because I was bursting with emotions at the time.

See, I was only in primary school when I started to battle wth migraines. Tests showed I neither had an eye defect nor brain tumour so it meant that I would be sentenced to a life of pain killers when they occurred.

I have always been of a certain weight but there is judgement that comes with it..as I will soon explain.

When I joined boarding school, my size, tribe and general appearance came with the stereotype that I could not ‘handle’ housework or sports among other things.

I know my limits and once I put my mind to something, I can pretty much handle the same amount of pressure as someone three times my size but I wasn’t going to get into this argument so I let it be.

I joined the basketball team for a few weeks. Before I knew it, a rumour had begun that the coach had eyes for me and therefore favoured me during training. In F.1, as a newbie, such a thing can torment you. Needless to say, I did not engage in that sport again.

I went through school with pain killers and doctor’s appointments that were so regular, I acquired a high threshold for pain.

The few times I was punished by caning, the one thing that would run through my mind was “Is this it?” while others were screaming and calling out their ancestors.

By F.6, the mother was convinced I would be more productive and she could keep an eye on me better if I was in a day school. I grudgingly obliged.

Funny enough, I did not get much trouble with the migraines and kept a low profile as much as I could. I wanted to go by unnoticed.

Unfortunately for me, I excelled in a paper which most people had failed at the time. Maybe I should point out that I was the only girl offering Geography then.
Soon after we received our papers I overheard a conversation between my classmates in a language they did not know I understood. One ‘jokingly’ said he would confuse me so that I fall for him and flunk. The other said he wished something would happen to me so that I would fail my finals.

Superstition aside, I was admitted with a bad case of malaria about a fortnight to my final exams. Isn’t life just grand? :0

Between the migraines, duodenitis that was diagnosed a year ago and any other ailments that choose to attack my strong (yes strong 😉 ) structure, I have definitely become tougher.

I over work myself when I have the energy because I know that when I am down, I am unable to run around as I would like. I will still try to do things behind the scenes though it can’t be the same.

A couple of days after I left my aunt’s home, doctors added diabetes to her list of things to worry about. I sat there trying not to question God. I do know though, that she is going to beat this because God tests his strongest soldiers and gives them the wisdom and courage to come out at the top 🙂

angel 1

These experiences have made me a mini-expert on health matters or at least more cautious. If you tell me what is bothering you, chances are I will hound you till you seek medical advice or give bits of my own recommendations .

I have learnt not to take anything for granted and of course I drag my friends in this just so that there are no surprises. You will be shocked to find that a ‘simple’ joint pain is actually a symptom of a condition that may lead to amputation.

It used to bother me, you know. Someone checks on you twice in five months and coincidentally those two times you are indisposed and unable to help them. They make a comment like ‘But you are always sick, or ‘Are you sure it is just malaria?’

Lucky for me, I saw this early enough and now I simply explain that I will be available after a week without explaining why(for such people). For those whom I know genuinely worry, chances are I will still try to sugar coat the situation as much as I can, lest they also fret more than they should but honesty works as well.

I do not feel sorry for myself because I know this is my cross to carry, like everyone else has their own.
In fact, this blog post is meant to encourage anyone who has gone through this or something similar. It should also help those people who do not know how to react when surrounded by suffering. (For more info call toll free 0414…) 😛

So, the next time someone tells you that they are unwell and you urgently need their time and resources, silently count to three and ask how you can help them. Put them before your ’emergency. I cannot count the number of people I have met who sound sharp but have zero emotional intelligence. It seems trivial but can be a real deal breaker.

If you have been to hospital just a handful of times in your adult life, thank the Lord for it and understand that those who have been victims do not enjoy it either. You are blessed.

I know for a fact that I am more compassionate towards patients, whether mine or parents of friends,friends of friends et al, because I have experienced it firsthand.

It is simple really, take a minute to ‘walk a mile’ in your neighbour’s shoes. It might be more enlightening than any other journey you have taken.

xoxo

Life has to end, love doesn’t

I have been unable to write for a while now, not for lack of time or words but mostly because many events that have unfolded have turned out to be more than I can take. Everything begins with a step so here I am trying to get my ‘groove’ back.

Last week a couple of friends planned to come over and visit mum on Independence day. I was happy when I heard the idea at first but of course I secretly worried about the financial implications that would affect all those concerned, mostly because I have a fairly good idea how the wallets are looking and uhm…it is not very encouraging. When I told ‘Chief Afande’ the plans, she had 21 questions. I asked her to just be available and leave the rest to me. She reluctantly obliged.

Monday morning had me in high spirits as is usually the case for me when a new week or month begins. I went to have breakfast and Monica told me to call mum ASAP. I did. She was sad. We had lost a family friend (who later turned  out to be a relative) and he had passed away shortly after being rushed to hospital that morning.

This Mzee was  my late grandpa’s close ally and I had met him countless times. In fact he was seen as the last remaining male elder on mum’s side of the family. He had lived with my aunt for several weeks but only felt ill in the wee hours on Sunday night. He was rushed to a clinic close by and later moved to Rubaga hospital because the condition was critical. It was there that he breathed his last. Coincidentally, my grandpa had also been ill at our home for so long but also left this world peacefully in the same hospital.

Independence day found us on the road to pay our last respects to this gentleman. I could go into details about the journey or the conversations before and after but I would like to focus on the eulogies.

flowers

His family was(is) mostly estranged so much so that the burial happened at mum’s village. Perhaps the Lord wanted him to be laid a few metres from his confidant. It could also be argued  that the cost implications and complications that would have been involved for the body to  be taken to Rwanda were immense and therefore this made more sense. Either way, it happened as it did for a reason.

The daughter: She tried to hold it together for a while. She explained that she had got a strong sense to check on her father for about a fortnight but kept ‘believing’ he was okay and being taken care of. She shook the feeling aside. She heard about him from the sister, first to explain that he had been admitted and a few minutes later to announce his departure from this world. That is how her story ends.

“Two weeks. Everything you love, own, and cherish, can be gone, liquidated, and lost forever in two weeks. Give or take a day.”
― J. Lincoln FennPoe

The son: He lives in Rwanda and came for the burial as soon as he heard. I had noticed from the moment I reached the village that he was shaken and needed support. In fact, I doubted that he could speak. The MC even gave him the option not to. Obviously broken, he profusely thanked my aunt and husband who had taken care of the deceased and the family for extending their welcome so his father’s celebration of life would be memorable.

What struck me the most, however, was his next statement. He had planned to take a trip and let his dad know he had found his soul mate and planned to spend the rest of his life with her. Sadly, he did not get to share this News.

My own father was sitting next to me in all this. I wept for a family that lost their superman but mostly, my heart went out to children who had left so much unsaid and were now empty and unable to turn back the clock.

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.”
― Mitch AlbomFor One More Day

So here I am, a few days later, contemplating life and all its intricacies. More questions than answers, praying for those with us and those that have departed, I guess all I can say is, live when you can. No differences should be so strong as to be left un forgiven, for to hold a grudge is to die slowly.

“Life has to end,’ she said. ‘Love doesn’t.”
― Mitch Albom

Behind the Scenes; The power of friendship

I took a nap on Wednesday afternoon and kept the phone in silent mode as I usually do. When I woke up, I found about 8 missed calls, 3 text messages and endless whatsapp interactions.Logged onto facebook and even more buzz in the inbox.

I thought nothing of it (It is when you are away from the phone that it usually goes crazy so I know better than to be moved by that) until I started to read the messages. There actually was a mini-emergency regarding our Saturday event Hoops for Grace IV. I had to get up, get dressed and find a mobile money outlet that had enough ‘float’ for at least 1,000,000 shillings so that a couple of service providers could actually begin to work. One friend sent a message ” It is not like you to go quiet for this long without letting us know.” I replied and explained to him that I had taken a nap and asked if I should be informing people that I am going to sleep.  Believe it or not, he said yes!! I laughed and realised that sometimes 24 hours are indeed not long enough! Life has to move on whether one has an ache, sleep debt, emergency et al.

Fast forward to Saturday, D-day. We had done our best regarding planning and marketing the event, we prayed  about the weather and everything else, surely things were going to go according to plan, right? Wrong!

I hardly slept the night before and just as I was beginning to find peace, morning was upon us. I got up, took care of a few chores and then loaded mum’s car with merchandise to use at the event, left space for one person I was to pick and then got in to start the car.

Alas, it had no plans of moving! I could hear it sing “No, no,no!” (Amy Whinehouse voice) The battery had gone to sleep. I laughed! After doing everything on time, this is what fate had decided? Obviously ‘star ta fa’ but only because of the amazing team that I belong to. In ten minutes, some friends who were heading to the event to ‘work’ passed by, we pushed the car, jump started it and then it was ready to move 🙂 Phukes!!

When we got to Bush Court, it was difficult to do anything, the first few minutes were characterised by an argument that ‘we were late for.’ After standing around staring-trying to make sense, of it and failing, we started to off load the materials and set up. We were doing great on time, *see the positives*

Then suddenly everything was ready but the players were only strolling in casually in ones and twos, not the complete team. Looking around there was even a team that had branded shirts, with their name and hoops for grace written at the bottom, eh, people can be prepared!!

Eventually, the games began and things were running ‘smoothly’ but you know it can never be perfect, at least not behind the scenes.

 

Several things still needed to be bought and while I was lamenting that I needed a ‘loose 200k’ (albeit half serious) to take care of some bills, my friend said she had something to give me. Believe it or not, it was 200,000UGX!!

Suddenly our ‘ poor gate collectors’ were being bullied by over 6ft tall muscular beings who did not want to pay a measly 3,000sh for entrance, then those who said they were actually players got to registration point and decided they weren’t ready to part with the 10,000sh for players. In fact, some pretended they would not play then somehow sneaked onto the court (God is seeing you) It was so frustrating but the 40-40 team still managed to keep calm. It stopped making sense to remind people that it was for charity not our benefit.

I joined my friends at the drinks section and we began to switch the cold drinks to the top and warm ones to the bottom. Some not-so-gentleman found me and yelled “Stop laughing and give me a mirinda!” I was speechless and gave him his Mirinda..all the while thinking, just because we are asking for help does not mean people should be rude. I had to be fine. Turns out several other arrogant customers haunted the poor girlies (and later guy too) who were at the ‘bar’ especially when change ran out or the ‘fresh’ drinks took a while to get delivered. They still stood strong

You still had to smile and act like it was all okay. Voices were raised when the delays occurred especially amongst the team but we are all human you know. If yelling is how one deals then so be it.

As if that was not enough, the car key decided to disappear yet the DJ’s laptop and turn table were ‘chilling’ in there.
I was afraid to call and stress the mother for a spare key so instead I made myself busy. MC’s announced the missing item but still nothing. I decided to keep myself occupied so I would forget but every two minutes someone innocently asked ‘Did you find the keys?,’ #Fail.

I decided to accept the reality and make that call. I could tell that I had woken her up and the response seemed to suggest mum didn’t know where her spare key was so I had to either find this one or…find it!

My friend’s 8 year old cousin asked me what was wrong. When I told her she gave me a big hug and said “Don’t worry, you will find the key.” I fell in love with her all over again. Bless her.

I later went to sit by the merchandise table and think of a break in or plan C, only to have another member of the team tell me she was going to hunt the key down.

Five minutes later, she was holding it up after finding it ‘hiding’ in a random polythene bag (kavera) that I must have carried at some point.
Ululations happened 🙂 (We are set to marry in December :D)

My mood lightened up and suddenly, nothing could make it bad again.. or could it?

Expenses kept coming out of nowhere to the extent I had to go and ask members of my team for 10,20,50,000 because I did not want to ‘touch’ the event money . None of them asked how or when I would pay them back, they just gave it to me, one even checked her wallet to give me 10,000 and only found 3,000 🙂 Team work is a beautiful thing!

Everyone was fighting some sort of battle to make it work- carrying,counting,climbing to put up the screen, driving back and forth to purchase items,pay service providers, insisting friends should come e.t.c and make it work they did!

People left after the movie ended at about 9.00 pm and the team still stayed to clean up,pack and up and deliver property that wasn’t ours. By 1.00 a.m we were home, exhausted to bits but still, happy!

 

Well, it even seems more worthwhile now with a surplus of  5,204,000 going to dormitory construction (our main goal) after investing 2,840,000  and making 8,044,200 at the event, one can only say the efforts really paid off!!

P.s; I deliberately left out the names because each and everyone played a huge role and it was team effort indeed!

To say I am proud and honoured to be part of team 40-40 would be a huge understatement.

:)

🙂

 

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in our success no matter how small.

God bless you forever and a day more 🙂

To love, hold and lose..

Growing up means many things, maturity, responsibility and several wrong decisions plus lessons that you may or may not take from all the experiences you encounter.

Your elders will warn you about what to expect and recount their stories as many times as they can but none of it saves you from the reality and  neither does it prepare you. Once in a while you shall echo their thoughts and mirror their reactions but the more likely option is that you will fall flat before you ever have the chance to sit and think “I made the wrong decision.” Either way, you have to do it your way to realise.

It is great to put your heart on the line, to give till it hurts and leave no room for remorse but the repercussions can take away all the joy of trying and bring you to a point where you wish you hadn’t bothered in the first place.

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” ― Charles Bukowski

Loss comes in many forms from distance to denial and the ultimate, death. Come to think of it, why do they all begin with ‘d?’ I digress.

I believe to lose something or someone who you shall never see again is perhaps easier than the tormenting loss of a friend, former lover, member of the family who is so near yet so far.

It could even be a job you gave up everything for and had to leave under unclear circumstances or a place you called home suddenly transforming into a prison that you cannot bear.

Denise dated James for 5 years. She knew very well that her parents did not approve of their union but somewhere in her heart she knew she would fight for him and win. Little did she know that his own family was orchestrating a ‘master plan’ of their own behind her back. Before either of them could comprehend the situation, James was betrothed to Liz. A few weeks later, a traditional wedding was organised.

Denise was devastated and James, well, he was helpless. He tried to explain that it was beyond him but she was too broken to even listen. “He should have tried harder,” she thought.  As such, there is one more unhappy couple in this city and a mad black woman on the loose who is not only incapable of commitment at the moment but also lacks the passion and excitement for life that she once had.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”
― Paulo Coelho

Lately, I have been trying to deal with a special kind of loss myself. The kind where you can almost see, feel, touch and smell that which has been taken away from you but you can’t.  This loss is almost inexplicable to an untrained mind and perhaps beyond consolation even by those near and dear.

“Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering.”
― Roland Barthes

It is one thing to hear that ‘Everything will be okay.” but actually believing it can seem like mystic universe yet to be discovered by the world. The sad reality is that when people notice you are grieving, their immediate reaction is to reach out to you and yet sometimes the questions, advice and comforting phrases take you back to the same place you are trying to run away from, the picture you are trying to erase…the shadow that you can’t avoid.

You want to sit still, alone, shut yourself from the world, except you can’t. The world won’t stop for your pain. Music will play on and new lives shall emerge. You have to make a choice to suck it up or get sucked in. Sometimes it is both, other days the distinction is clear.

Loneliness makes it worse yet being around people is just a ‘more crowded’  kind of lonely. You feign laughter and exchange hugs, share an old joke or a meal but the reality whispers “You can’t pretend forever.” and indeed after a few odd hours of beautiful lies, you are coiled in your bed, with only your mind and heart each racing and prancing about in your system, oscillating between whispers and shouts  of voices,images you can’t exactly make out and pain that you don’t question.

Yes, your body has caught on too. If its blood is boiling, the mind pacing and the heart unstable, surely you don’t expect it to function ‘normally.’

You know that dawn is a few hours away and that you can’t really bother anyone at such a time, but even if you could, what will you say? They want to believe you are healing. You want them to believe you are healing but since none of that is happening, perhaps it is better to share your feelings with your pillow for it can neither judge nor respond.

Finally the morning comes and you promise yourself a new journey, a happier ending. You even believe it for a bit but secretly you know that you shall disappoint yourself once more. You can’t utter such negative thoughts! “Be positive, you tell yourself.” The cycle continues….

Here I am contemplating the beauty of ignorance from that which we have never experienced versus the bliss of enlightenment that comes and changes your life but is later stolen  away in the dead of the night.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

―  John Steinbeck

It is one thing to give your utmost love, care and devotion to a person,job,project and the like but an entirely different thing for it to be reciprocated in the same measure or even anywhere close.

Loss does things to people, it transforms them. You might be lucky and come out stronger but deep within lies that hole that only you can see and feel.

Some people do not recover, they can’t see the world in the same way anymore. They remain numb with the hope that they shall relive the last moment when they could have held on to a love so dear but sadly, the clock never really turns back, only memories remain.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Who knows how it will all end or which people you shall meet that will get into that broken heart and try to make it whole?

You don’t. The future has an unwritten story but first, you need to open up the book of your soul to the first page so the story can be written or rewritten.

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.” ― Haruki Murakami

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xoxo