Saturday, 30 July 2016

.....of Life and Reflections....

Kilifi Dawn July 2016

Its a day before my birthday and waking up to a chesty cough but otherwise glad to be here and mostly alive…I have always been a sucker for birthdays a childish habit I have not grown out of. Nowadays though, I spend time reflecting on stuff; the past and speculating about the future quite a bit.

This year I want to share three reflections that have been on my mind:

1.     Sometimes we are so self-absorbed and focused and inanely obsessed with people around us and what they are doing to us that we forget to pause, breathe and live. I remember one particularly bad time for me circa 2003 when I was going through so many misfortunes and so much angst. I had a handful of good friends who patiently listened to my non-stop rants about all the injustice around me.

One day a friend interrupted me and asked in a quiet voice, 

"Is this person you keep going on and on about your oxygen because you cant seem to get by a minute without complaining about them. Do you need them to breathe?"

Wow I smarted for a second absorbing the words. I searched my friend's facial expressions and did not see any unkindness, but rather exasperation and fatigue wondering how to help me get past the dark sullen stormy self I transformed into.

 This question seemed to snap me out of my reverie and realise just how difficult it would have been to be my friend and love me then; I was an angry ball of fire, souring every one and everything around me. If I felt particularly down and I needed to share I would and go on and on about it without consideration of others or any preamble. It occurred to me how many friends I lost along the way because I was so focused on ME-ME-ME...  I was so disconnected that I never bothered to check in and reciprocate the relationship.

So, back to my tête-à-tête. We had fallen to a prolonged awkward silence. My buddy worried if they went to far, but I looked up reassuringly and smiled through teary eyes. I drew a long deep breath and let everything out. As I exhaled, I let out the anger, the frustrations and the bitterness and felt a weight lift off my whole being.

Surely I am more than this!

"Nobody is my oxygen…you are right of course and no matter how much people work at being hurtful, I need to let things go and move on with life."

I gradually began to let go of all the bile in my heart and started to feel really at peace. I am often reminded of this exchange from time to time when people are particularly mean-spirited...and I am eternally grateful for the few individuals in my life who stick it with me as though to assure me that there is some worth in being my friend.

2. My second reflection is about the last conversations I had with my parents.

On 5 July 2000, at the ward in Kenyatta Hospital while sponge bathing mum and trying not to worry at how in a span of one week she was hardly recognisable, we talked about a new job at a mobile company I was to begin that Friday. She was pleased and wondered if a mobile company in Kenya would be viable asking why anyone in their right minds would need to carry a phone everywhere. I shrugged quite unsure of this myself, but since I was not in the sales department and only needed to worry about customers who had already signed up, I didn’t give it much thought.

And frankly I was more preoccupied with the fact that the doctor was yet to come and review mum that day more than anything. Suddenly, our conversation shifted gears; she got really sad and I could see a flicker of fear in her eyes.

You see, mum has been sick since she was three months pregnant with me, so I was born and grew up watching her battle with her body pretty much all of my life. I remember nights when she needed to be rushed to the Emergency Room worrying if it was the last time I would see her alive. 

You see, mum had good and bad days. Good days she was warm and kind and did my hair, taught me to knit, crotchet...she could draw and sketch...and was always trying her hand at some new business or idea. Bad days were tough.. she locked herself in her room a lot, got really angry and said very cutting hurtful things to lash out. She never raised her voice but you could see the anger in her eyes. I remember seeing where she hid Baba's vodka, under the cushion of a set of green twin seats they had in their bedroom. Vodka made her mean. I pretended not to notice and never really talked about it. At the club by the poolside I knew she sneaked a bit of vodka into her tomato juice. It was easier to pretend not to see and I learnt not to ask. I crammed my dad's direct line at the office at a young age because he would some times need to rush home to mum when we could not rouse her and rush her to hospital. 

Often in the thick of things, I was forgotten and left in the big house to my own devices at times through the night. I must have been about nine or ten. My siblings who were a bit older were in boarding school or college and saved from most of this drama. I learnt to get by painfully slow hours of the night and loneliness with the company of my overactive imagination. In spite this, I loved mum in good and in bad times...and some of my most restful sleep as a child was spooned in her embrace when I could hear her breath....

So flash-forward - mum had a look that I could not quite fathom, and I had seen all kinds of sides of her over the years. But visiting time was over and it was time to leave the wards. The askaris were chasing us out. I could tell she did not want me to leave...

Then she just said it, "Chiqy, I do not want to die.  There are so many things I still need to do..." 

My heart sank.

Words failed me, I murmured something like ‘of course you are not going anywhere..’ and caressed her hair which was still jet black and beautiful even then.  I kissed her on the forehead and promised to visit the next day. We held hands and lingered and she calmed down almost resigned. I kissed her soft cheeks once more time and left with a lump on my throat.

Little did I know that it was the last time we would ever speak … Two days later and on the day I started the new job she died. 16 years and 24 days later I am still numb from that loss. And I do not like vodka, or alcohol for that matter.

With Baba, our last conversation was early July 2011. He had seen a press advert about some Ministry asking for bids to sell off some grounded cars and trucks. He spotted a land cruiser and needed it for parts. He called me on my cell and asked me to type up a bid for him and send it to the Ministry on his behalf. Baba was a fusspot so he kept reiterating how I should follow all the stipulations or risk disqualification for the bid. I rolled my eyes as he spoke real slow and shouted into the phone asking for the umpteenth time if I could hear him and if I got all the details right. He was hilarious and I indulged him a lot. So bid dropped successfully, I told him as much and he thanked me and sounded pleased.

Two or so days later, I received Mpesa of Kshs. 1,000 from him with an accompanying message;

"Chique (that’s how he spelt my name some times!) Just remembered to send u some lunch for all ua help in running my errand. Babs."

I wrote back and said thanks Baba it was not necessary but I am very grateful. I smiled.

Baba was a cool cat.

The following week, our son was hospitalized for a really case bad tonsillitis and while at the ward.

I got a call that Babs was unwell and bed ridden, after a whirlwind few days of seeking treatment we realized he suffered a massive stroke and without the life support machine he could not breathe on his own. The doctors were kind and gentle as they recommended DNR Do Not Resuscitate - breaking that news to family was one of the hardest things I had to do. That was 5 years 21 days ago.

I keep my conversations with my parents, both good and bad, in a treasure chest under lock and key.

There are a few times I open it up, remember and sometimes even talk about it. But many moments still remain unspoken....

3. My last reflection appreciating the moment, creativity and beauty around us. There is as much of this as there is evil in this world... I have a bounty of favourites; from sites, to colours, to stories, to art and many kinds of music. I change these around from time to time and actively seek to discover what else can go on the list of things I relish. I have been known to swap around my favourite colours, at the moment its purple. 

Life is too short to be so unbending, so aloof, so difficult….

And so, those are my reflections this year. 
A toast to exhaling real deep, to letting go but never forgetting and to finding and enjoying whatever gives you pleasure! Remember life is too short just a blink and its past you by....



Wanja Muguongo said...

Really beautiful and sad post Chiqy. Thank you for sharing.

Laha Mag said...

فى الخدمة شركة تنظيف منازل
تقدم لك خدمة تنظيف منازل بالرياض وبكافة المدن السعودية بأفضل الأساليب المتخصصة فى التنظيف على مستوى العالم من خلال فريق مدرب وذو خبرة فى التعامل مع المساحات المختلفة وكافة أنواع الأثاث و الأرضيات مستخدما أدوات عالية الجودة وفعالة فى تنظيف المنازل بشكل كامل

فى الخدمة تقدم لكم أفضل خدمة نظافة بالرياض :-
شركة فى الخدمة شركة نظافة بالرياض
من أفضل الشركات في هذا المجال لأننا متميزون ومنفردون في جودة الخدمة التي نقدمها لنوفر لك عزيزي العميل مستوي النظافة والجودة التي تفوق توقعاتك لأننا نهتم بأدق التفاصيل و أول همنا هو خدمة العمل وكسب ثقة العميل , كما ان لدينا طاقم عمل متكامل مدرب علي أعلي درجة من الأحترافية والأتقان في مجال التنظيف كما تنفرد شركتنا بأستخدام مجموعة أدوات ومعدات وتقنيات التنظيف حيث التطور والتقدم في أستخدام التكنولوجيا الحديثة كما أننا نستخدم مجموعة مميزة وفعالة من المواد المنظفه التي تساعد في عمليات التنظيف .
فى الخدمة شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض
و بكافة المدن السعودية بأفضل الأساليب المتخصصة فى تسليك المجارى والتخلص من المواد المترسبة فى مواسير الصرف الصحى مستوى العالم من خلال فريق مدرب وذو خبرة فى التعامل مع كافة أنواع الإنسدادات فى مواسير المجارى