Aloha 2017

My phone vibrates, a message has come in. What now KCB, I mutter to myself as I reach for the phone. I had received a message from them a few minutes earlier, advising me mteja mpendwa, usimpe mtu yeyote nambari yako ya siri kwa simu, barua pepe, sms au ana kwa ana. KCB haitakuuliza namabari yako ya siri. PIN yako siri yako. We have become a bunch of con artists, gullible folk, we have to be reminded every so often a bank would not ask for your pin.

Anyway so the message. Turns out it is not KCB. It is a certain fellow who has sent me KES 2.00 by mpesa. Wtf Gideon! Who sends you two shillings? What are you trying here Gideon? I cannot fathom. I check because I was not sure, turns out you can actually send 1 – 49 shillings at no cost to a registered/ unregistered user. But what motivates a person not known to you to send you two shillings? What can I possibly do with it? You wanted to know my name? Or were you expecting me to call you back and inquire about this message? Tough luck buddy.

This is the society we currently find ourselves in. People trying to get you at every turn. You are assaulted by these messages on sms, phone calls and email daily, it is relentless. As if that is not enough, retail outlets, restaurants, name them, are also constantly pushing you messages of products and offers. It is crazier for me as my phone is sending me duplicate smses at times. So I can get one message even five times. I have taken the phone to the company service center, apparently several people with the same model have complained, they did a software upgrade, nothing doing. If anyone has a solution please tell me.

OK, I am done making a fuss. So before the message, I was reflecting on this 2016, The Year That Was article I wrote same time last year. I was curious to see what I felt at that time and if the same things held true this year. In similar vein, I regurgitate 2017.

Sonny. Djasiri has really grown, in all senses of the word. Physically, his pants are hanging, his knees have razors or something sharp, so do his toes. It is a good thing distressed jeans are a thing. Socks I just have to keep buying. He is the smartest kid I know. IKEA effect aside, he really is, hahaha. Never fails to, impress, crack me up, gets me curious, I have learnt so many random things as I seek to answer his many questions. I have also learnt that he understands even things I thought he was too young to understand. I am now more aware that kids see through us, when we are sad, when we are stressing, when we are happy, they are aware. Your smiles do not fool them. Be conscious of the environments you create for them at home.

Writing. It has been a year of consistent and not so consistent writing. But it has been great! At times, I just can’t write. And I am OK with that. Then at times, a random message, in this case, by 2 bob Gideon, gets my writing juices flowing. I am so glad I started this blog. Thank you to those who encouraged me to and everyone else who has consistently indulged in my musings.

Books. Reading is one of my favorite avocations. Some titles I enjoyed: The upside of Irrationality and Irrationally yours both by Dan Ariely, Blink – Malcom Gladwell, The subtle art of not giving a f*ck – Mark Manson, Kafka by the shore and 1Q84 both by Haruki Murakami, Modern Romance – Ansari Aziz, Shanghai girls – Lisa See, The book thief by mark Zusak, Grey by E L James, The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling, to name very few. I certainly am looking to reading more next year, at least two books per month, especially African writers, non fictions, Biographies, history, etc. My birthday is soon approaching. I am open to receiving books for gifts, that instead of cake, any day 🙂 You are not limited to January, there are 11 other months.

Change. It has been a year full of it. It has been fantastic! So much growth, mistakes, overcoming fears, worries, getting stronger. I cannot wait to see how 2018 shapes out.

Lessons learnt.

  • Living. As I mentioned in the 2016 post, Life is not logic, life is not philosophy. Life is a dance, a song, a celebration! It is more like love and less like logic – Osho. So I celebrate each day, realising that it is a blessing, that it is God’s mercy that keeps me going, not anything I did, have done or will ever do. It is His mercy and Grace.
  • Doing my best. In whatever it is I am working on, give my all. This is a work in progress as we head into the new year.
  • Dangers of anger. In this matter, I have always lived by the mantra that I can tell someone to go to hell in the morning, never react when angry, take a beat. It is in anger though that you see peoples true colors. Do not ignore these colors.
  • It is all up to me. You chart your on path. You are responsible for yourself, you want something, you go for it. Life is not fair, move on. Everyone is going through something.
  • Self acceptance and love. I am not perfect, but who says I cannot get better? I run my own race.
  • Protect yourself after you find you. There are people who’ll work hard to see you lose that. They’re in your family, your church, your workmates, your neighborhood, people you look up to, those you trust; and sometimes your mind is the enemy. Protect yourself.@Rixpoet

Highlight. Visiting Bermuda. Was such a great time, need to go back, I pray 2018 offers more opportunities, so many places I want to go.

Thankful. To my family,  true friends, music. What would I have done without you three?

Next year, God willing, I aim for the same things I did 2017, see the featured image.

I wish you kindness, love, peace, joy, laughter, you deserve them all.

Vicky.

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Like A Child

Been a while. I guess like in everything, there are seasons. Seasons where I am itching to write and seasons where I struggle to. I hope you have been keeping well.

This morning Sonny proudly brings to my attention that he has broken wind. He even gave me his score, “Mommy, I just made three farts.” I say I know. How? He asks. It’s in the air, I tell him. I further say to him that this is not information we share publicly, that you should not even do this in the midst of people. The things I have to teach him; do not fart in class, excuse yourself, chew with your mouth closed, wipe your bum properly… I digress.

He looks at me puzzled. “But mommy, I do not like to keep secrets” he says. I am struck by this simple uncomplicated thinking. In that instance, I want to be a child. That my biggest worry would be that I have broken wind and I need to own up. So innocent. So curious too. Take for instance some questions he asks:

Him: Have you ever finished 500 kilograms of doughnuts?

Me: First of all how do you come up with this? But no, I have never finished 500 kgs of doughnuts. I cannot even figure out how we would carry them from the bakery and where we would keep them in the house.

Him:When we all go to heaven, who will remain here on earth?

Me: I honestly don’t know papa. My understanding is there will be no earth left.

Him: In church they said we came from soil. But I was in your stomach?

Me: Thinking to myself, how do I start, from Adam, Eve to him?… I do not know how to simplify.

Him: That is a half moon mommy. Where is the other half?

Me: I have a headache

I think we need to learn how to simplify, we make things hard for ourselves plenty if not all the time. Probably till when we get old, that age where we simply do not give a hoot about peoples thoughts or views of us. Let us remember, man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. Heraclitus. Now trust me, I am completey aware that as adults we have to make desicions, tough choices. But even as we are making these, let us not overthink. It is from mistakes that we learn.

Speaking of play, Djasiri like any other child, loves to play. He plays with kids from the various regions of this country and outside of it, at home, in school, in church, kids he meets in the mall, in a hotel, by the road. He does not stop to ask them, where do you come from? He does know there are different tribes. He however does not know anything about hating because of differences in tribe. They are just his friends. The only difference he is aware of is gender. And this is limited to the fact that there are girls and boys. Because they are taught to use different bathrooms. He is not even aware of the different anatomy. He thinks I stand while peeing. You should see him urging me to stand next to him and pee, that he does not mind sharing.

What is this nonsense adults have, that this one is from this part of Kenya and I am from this other one and therefore, solely by this fact, I hate them? I tell someone my name and they say no, I am asking for your second name. I am floored. I am disgusted. I am angered, especially by those parents who are teaching their children this hate.

Some of us have heard of weddings being cancelled because one party cannot see how their son/ daughter would skip all these tribes and land at the only one that they cannot agree to marry him/ her off to. Parents, whose happiness are you focusing on here? You do not understand, you might be saying to me. You are right. I do not understand. I am convinced there are bigger things you should worry about; a persons values, character, for instance. They could be from your tribe of choice but they are mean, disrespectful, violent. You would rather this?

The amout of hate going around is beyond me. I read comments in social media and cannot comprehend if some of us are thinking at all when responding. That we can manage to miss the point of the post, a blood appeal for instance, and focus on this persons tribe instead.

Is there hope? Can we learn something from our children? May God help us.

Fear

I am not sure where I am going with this post to be honest. I started thinking about it in August, it has been a draft for almost two months. Just imagine what can happen in two months; babies have been born, people we never imagined could ever hold offices are, a school term is almost over, someone exercising by walking one hour every day could have lost around 9 kilograms by now. But here I am, stubbornly trying to put what is in my head into words since I can’t stop thinking about it. And also, maybe largely, OK maybe entirely, because I really can’t stand seeing it marked as a draft, and I lack the stomach to delete it after reading it so many times as I tried figuring the direction I was going to go with it.

It is almost two months after the August elections, and weeks after the announcement that we are going back to the polls next month. Everything is back to normal, only in the sense that we are back to work, the central business district is not the deserted ghost town it was. Everything else is not back to normal. There is a lot of uncertainty, there are travel advisories already issued, business has visibly slowed down in most if not all economic sectors.

See, during the August election week, I had been indoors, along with majority of residents here in Nairobi. As a precaution, most people had been advised to stay away from their offices and work from home. You could taste the anxiety as we waited for the election results announcement to be made. Many of us following keenly to see what happens, trying to read the mood from the safety of our homes. At the end of the day, I am usually almost running home, after a week of indoors, all I wanted was to get out, the house had stopped being a place I could not wait to get to, want to be in, and morphed into a prison of sorts.

I got to thinking; was I giving in to fear, or just looking out for myself and my family? Common sense. Was it selfish to want all this uncertainty over with so that we could carry on with our day to day, despite other parties feeling aggrieved? I mean, everyone deserves to be heard right? This, the election and its aftermath, is such a complex issue, with many angles, I will not even begin to unpack it.

One of the things I have been thinking about as a result though is; standing for what we believe is right and the way we go about it. And at what cost? This in the sense that standing up for ourselves and what we believe in is important, something I would most certainly want my son to know and do. But I also want him to know that as he is standing up for himself, he should consider what effects that has on other people.

I guess this leads to the question of instances when one should be selfish and put their interests first and when one should consider the common good. Because, I am convinced there are times when there is no option but to think of self, and it is important to be able to know when such a response is called for. Similarly, when our actions have far reaching implications, when they involve masses, does one sacrifice self?

Another thing I have been thinking about; how do we react when we find ourselves in situations we cannot control? Prior to the election, there was for instance mass exodus from Nairobi to domestic as well as destinations abroad, we shopped and stocked our houses, manuals were given on how to stay safe and so forth. I just wonder then, why, when faced with other situations we should run away from, we do not. Why for instance, do people stay in bad, or even worse, abusive relationships? Why do we not employ the same precautions we took during the election time? Put our well-being first and take off?

In his book blink: The power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell looks at those instances when our instincts betray us. When we have a feeling something is not right but we stay put because probably we desperately want it to work, or we are paralysed by fear of the unknown. He further states that our unconscious is powerful but it can be thrown off, distracted, has to compete with all kinds of interests, emotions. Maybe this explains why our sense of flight at times fails to launch even when we know its best to take to the skies. I digress, back to the subject…

Fear is how you lose your life, a little at a time. What we give to fear, we take away from faith, said Mitch Albom in his book the first phone call from heaven. So come October 26th, go out and vote, again. And as much as we should be cautious in our movements, let our lives not grind to a halt, surely life has to go on.

Much love.

 

 

 

 

Smart

Couple of Sundays ago. We are at the security check getting into church when I realise I forgot to give Djasiri his back pack. It contains his bible, a notebook and pencil. For a moment I consider not mentioning, it will hit him when he lands in class as the other kids are scribbling away and all he can do is fiddle with his fingers. But I am in church, I know God is omnipresent, I figure He is more present here, it is in my best interest to own up.

So I act like I just realized and say, darling, we forgot your bag. We. I am including him in this most definitely, he too could have remembered, he is all of six years, surely that should also be his responsibility, yes? Then comes the kicker, “but mommies are supposed to be smart, how can you forget?” I know, the nerve. There are too many witnesses for the kind of response I have in mind, we will address this later.

He survives the lesson minus his tools and on the way home I cannot resist displaying to him that this mum is smart, more than he can comprehend. I not only know how many zeros one million has, I even know how many a trillion has! That gets him, hahaha. I also remind him that he did not know how to hold a spoon until yours truly taught him. You think i am overreacting? Come on, I could have gone on and on on things i have taught him.

Couple of Mondays ago, I started working for a different outfit. It has been a really great time, settling in. But it is change none the less. I am still getting my bearings. My system is adjusting. Explains my absence here for a while too. Done so many trainings, my spare time is spent regurgitating this information.

There are times that, at my new place of work, I feel inadequate, like i felt when i forgot my sons bag at home. When you are a rookie and you need to do mundane things like go for a number one, or even a number two – nerves can make your bowels get a mind of their own, your hormones go haywire- you will need to ask for directions to the bathroom. You get lost in the corridors, you are meeting so many new people you develop new appreciation for name tags since you can barely remember your name let alone theirs. It is very humbling admitting that I do not know, because only then can I ask and learn.

Being a mother has a way of making me feel like it is my first day of work at times too. But as someone mentioned to me, and I think this is applicable to everything we do, you trudge on irrespective, and it works in the end. Keep working, keep striving to be better.

In the words of one of my favorites,Osho: Go on seeking, searching, finding. There may be many errors, but there is no other way to grow. Trial and error is the only way. By and by, you go on eliminating the errors. Less and less errors happen and more and more purity becomes available. Don’t stop in the middle.

We are going to the polls tomorrow Tuesday. I urge all of us to go and vote. It is our responsibility. Not voting is not a protest, it is giving up.

Lets us all be instruments of peace.

Love and love, Vicky.

Wanted: Brother and Sister

Djasiri wants a cute little sister and a little brother. He had been away at my sisters for the weekend of 16th so I was seeing him Monday evening when I got back home from work. So I want to hear all about the weekend; what he did, where he went, did he have a good time. We are going on at this then he drops the bomb on me…

Djasiri: I want to tell you something

me: yeah sure

Djasiri: I want two children

me: you already want to adopt? how old are you? because you cannot possibly father children let alone be thinking about having them, two no less.

Djasiri: nooo. I want you to have two children. I want a cute little sister and a brother

me: I cannot do this for you darling, not now. What prompted you to want this?

Djasiri: what is prompt? how many letters does it have? (he has lately been counting how many letters words have. I know, strange, I am not sure what he will be counting tomorrow)

me: what made you to want this? I will explain what prompt is and how many letters it has later.

Djasiri: We were was watching Storks, I think we should get two, not one like in the movie.

me: I need to grab a shower.

Yeah, I ran. But only to get words. Maybe to also battle with the guilt I felt.

I am thinking we are done with this until later I am in his room tucking him in. The routine is bedtime story, prayer, then I sing a lullaby and its lights out. When its time to pray as usual I go first. I finish my prayer and I am holding his hands waiting for him to take over. Then he is whispering, “mummy you forgot to pray for God to give you my sister and brother”. I am tempted to quote and remind him that in the movie that has inspired him, babies were delivered by storks who now work for Cornerstore.com company. Maybe he should write to them too. I open my eyes and tell him we don’t usually speak mid prayer. He continues in a whisper, which is really tickling me, and insists I have to pray for this. I guess he figures God will not hear us talking if he is whispering. So I ask the Lord to bless Djasiri with a brother and sister.

Even though this was all thanks to a movie, it is an issue that I have thought about from time to time. How do I explain to him that may be later on, but at the moment I just cannot see myself having another child? I am just not ready. I have been the subject of so much unsolicited advise, that I need to get him a sibling, that I am already late, that you get your second child for your first not for yourself, that I am being selfish, and it goes on. Maybe I should refer these people to, mind your own womb, a fantastic post by Nadirah Angail.

My reasoning is simple really. I asked myself a couple of questions I felt were core; Am I in agreement with my partner, am I emotionally, physically and financially capable? If there was even one no, then there was reason to pause. I have two amazing sisters, and I do not imagine existing without them. I however refuse to do it again just because of this.  I have after all seen siblings who do not even talk to each other. Is this selfish? Maybe yes. To each their own. I have made my bed, I will sleep on it, or is it in it? Until I get another one (bed) when it is time to. The prejudice against one child homes is here to stay. But I think we should not defined by the number of children we have. The goal should be to raise responsible, respectful and loving humans. I could be wrong.

So what else is new? Plenty. He has a loose tooth that everyone who cares to listen has been told about. We are excited, this is his first. I was running out of answers on why the teeth were refusing to come out while his friends in school have gaps. I told him something about milestones and how each child moves at their own pace. He looked at me strangely. The nanny dug in and said since Djasiri walked when he was pretty young, his milk teeth would delay coming out. Me? I am just happy we have a loose tooth. Hopefully they grow back straight. Maybe I start saving for braces just in case, hehehe. And yes, we will take a picture and share it with everyone in our circles, maybe even those who are not. Should some random person ask me how I am, my response will be, “very fine, my son just got his first tooth removed, see, as I show them the photo.

He has also developed this habit of looking at the fuel gauge of every Uber we take. The drivers then have to tell him why they are driving on empty. Are they sure they will get us to our destination? It’s been educational and hilarious, the explanations. Don’t even get me started on how he urges them to race other drivers. He may have watched some scenes of fast and furious. And yes, I am well aware it is pg rated 13. I have never claimed to be perfect.

He is also keen on looking cool which means that at times we are not in agreement on his outfit choices. I assure him my picks are way cooler than his selection, check in the full length mirror, I tell him. Problem is he at times is fixated on one pair of jeans, or a particular shirt or pair of shoes and will want to wear that all the time. Which may be a good thing, he clearly does not mind putting on the same thing two, three times in a row, which then means I can shop less. Besides, he is growing so fast, therefore outgrowing things at the same speed.

In ending, nothing can totally prepare you for being a mom, being a parent. You do your very best, give it everything, and pray, a lot. I think. I could be wrong.

love, mamadjasiri.