The Beaded Necklace.

Koku received the last-minute phone invitation from one of her sisters. She had a lot of them, sisters, because her parents made children together and made children with other partners before and after their marriage. They gave her many sisters and a few brothers. And because she was tired of explaining the abundance of siblings in her life stories and how they connected, she opted to call them simply sisters or brothers, not half-siblings. She only met most of them in her adulthood and went through the usual stages of searching for common ground after the initial introduction. She had more connection to some than others, and she figured that was normal sibling dynamics.

The phone call was from one of the sisters closest to her, Side, inviting her to a wedding. The wedding of her niece Fifi, who was a good two years older than her. Fifi’s mother, Jula, being the eldest of all the sisters and way older than Side who had called.

“There are just so many sisters!” she thought to herself.

There was an entangled rope of siblings and relations, she was right in the deep of it. So many different people, each intertwined to the other, through the other, with different dilutes of the same blood. Old, new and renewed relations. She had to relate to them all, in so many different levels… just thinking of it heated her brain.

Still she sat there after the phone call and wondered why and how to attend the wedding. She had clear instruction to not show up in her preferred trousers which meant looking for a fussy dress.

What was the reason for her to attend? Well, she did like Fifi, her niece, who she had bonded with when they shared a room for a few nights during a family visit. She wondered if marriage was a first choice for Fifi. They were only two years apart and she, Koku herself, was still trying to complete her degree. How does one attend a niece’s wedding as a single aunt in her twenties even though her niece is slightly older than her? Why didn’t the bride’s mother or the bride herself send an invitation?

As she sat doubting and questioning, her grandmother’s voice echoed in her memory;

“…because this is our family, no matter how unconventional, scattered or strange it is…”

She rolled her eyes at the mental picture of her grandmother, went out to rent a sparkly fussy dress, bought a glittering present, packed her bag, grabbed her passport and squeezed her student budget into a bus ticket to another country. 

The wedding was a fussy, blown up affair that included the extended family members, their friends and friends of their friends. Plus, it happened in the church, so all the church members and church friends were there too. It was a principle in the family that same gender relatives were closer in relation. For instance, her being female meant the daughter of her sister is her daughter. Her mother’s sister is not an aunt but rather a second mother, making her children brothers and sisters and not cousins. That distinction therefore identified her as the mother of the bride, and she found herself right at the front of the church next to her sisters Jula and Side. Three mothers to the bride!

The bride walked in, a vision of lace and sash. Looking beautiful and somehow lost in all the makeup and frills. Koku watched her niece, or daughter if you may, walk up to the isle and take her vows holding on to her soon to be husband’s hand. In a shaking voice, Fifi recited her vows. Then her voice cracked as she sobbed through her words. Something pulled on Koku’s chest at that instant, something so deep and natural. A hand reached from across and offered her a tissue making her realize that she was crying, she took it and turned to find her two sisters also crying into their tissues. Their eyes met in a trio of tearful eyes and she finally understood…

She will later wonder what made Fifi sob through her vows. She wondered if it was out of fear of the new and unknown journey. It could have been a love, uncertainty or the typical emotions shown by brides on their wedding days. It could have been anything! No one knows for sure… but Koku was so sure of the chest-pull that had shocked her. Her sister was also so sure that she would be in tears that she had passed the tissue without having to look or confirm. At that moment they had all been sure of something that connected them deep down. She could picture all the scattered members of her family sitting there on that day and they all would have felt it. Especially her grandmother, who would have been on the front row in her favorite kitenge outfit and beaded necklace… oh! she understood then, her family was never a tangled web of threads… it was just like a beaded necklace.

Speak, Child!

This is my story, told by my aunt Lulu who knew me from the day I was born. 

Babies and young children were bathed in basins in my family. Hot water would be poured into the basin, followed by cold water. You then poured a bit of the mixed water on the soft inner skin of your wrist. That is how you know if it’s not too hot for the baby’s skin. Every woman and young girl in my family knew that. 

I remember my nephew as a big-eyed, beautiful baby who rarely cried. Those eyes said a lot and grew to different sizes depending on his need or emotions. I dotted on him and loved looking into those big, expressive eyes. Such a delightful baby! I recall walking into the room one evening when his dada (nanny) was getting him ready for a bath. She cooed at him and sat him in the water basin. The baby immediately looked at me with the biggest, glassy eyes and an unknown feeling forced me to lift him off the basin and onto my chest. Only to notice the red, hot scald spreading on his bottom. Dada had forgotten to cool the bathwater! I held the child while Dada made profuse apologetic sounds to him and tearfully ran off to get the cold water. Standing there holding the child trying to sooth him, I suddenly realized he hadn’t cried or whimpered. The two adults in the room, Dada and I, were in tears and a panic but the baby just clung to my chest without making a sound. Is it strange to wish for a baby to cry?

He was six years old this time. A healthy boy running around with his siblings and friends. He learned well, ate well and behaved well. There was nothing for any sensible parent to worry about, but a small part of me did. He loved mangoes. I called the children in one day for mango slices and they could all pick a piece. I watched him walk towards the plate first staring with longing but not making a move to pick one. I saw him watch his favorite pieces disappear into his sibling’s mouths fast. I saved a piece for him and handed it to him where his mischievous sister grabbed it. He looked at her, his resentment and longing evident in his eyes. He made a move as if to grab his mango back but said nothing. The sister paused for a second as if daring him to say something. I held my breath and silently urged him; “Speak, Child…”

He didn’t, and she swiftly popped the fruit into her mouth. 

I watched him go through so much in silence. I am not saying my nephew didn’t speak, he did! my nephew just didn’t speak when it was most important for him to speak. I don’t know why! His silence during these important or urgent moments put him in awkward situations. I silently urged him to speak up for himself, until my age was too advanced for me to hold on to my thoughts. I thus started whispering and later on loudly requesting him to speak up. When his father firmly said he would study Engineering, he stared quietly at the biology leaflet on the table. When his mother introduced him to a good girl, he stared with a frozen smile and threw away letters from his sweetheart. When she later announced their wedding date, he stared long at her sparkling ring. In all these moments, I looked him right in the eye and said,

“Speak, Child”.

He did not.

This is my story told by me, who still doesn’t know himself. 

A lot of things do not make sense to me. I for example, don’t understand why someone can willingly induce hurt. It doesn’t make sense to me that a parent can hurt a child willingly. Or anyone would take what he doesn’t need to deprive someone of it. I just assumed everyone would share this perspective, but life taught me differently. A very big part of me still believed in fairness. I trusted the universe, the forces, the planet, God, to align life into a perfect balance. I had faith…

It however took me a lifetime of regrets and mishaps to realize that faith alone doesn’t stand time. The faith I have in the love between my siblings and I don’t stop them from grabbing my favorite toy and keep it away from me. Faith doesn’t stop pain and misunderstandings; faith just IS and what we do with it moves life into different paths.

I made the mistake of thinking questioning faith is a direct stab that dissolves it into nothing. So, I lived life with limited choices in the name of keeping faith. I wouldn’t dare to question it out loud. My faith in my parents therefore put me in a study I wasn’t passionate about and paved my entire life career. I hid behind faith and let decisions happen to me instead of taking charge of them. On a time of great decision making, I froze and screamed my desire loud within myself, willing faith to take charge and allow it to happen. It didn’t happen often; my life was therefore a collection of everyone’s and everything’s choice but mine.

Those around me accepted it. When deciding on what to eat in a restaurant for example, my fiancée would simply order what she believed was my most likely choice. She was often wrong, no matter how silently I willed her to pick what I wanted. I ate a lot of things I don’t like, for many times. She accepted my silent nods. So did my family, friends and most who knew me. My aunt Lulu however, did not.

I remember her intense eyes seeking mine out when I got lost in my internal decision battles. When I was younger, she simply looked me straight in the eyes as if waiting, pushing for me to say something. With time, the intense looks turned into gentle whispers, then grew louder with the years always saying the same little sentence. This same sentence was shouted to me on my wedding day as I stood holding the hand of the bride I barely knew. She looked radiant, smiled at me sweetly as the question rang out: 

“Do you take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife….”

I blinked, with my heart willed the universe to understand that I don’t know this beautiful woman and have no idea why we are getting married. I willed the universe to give me time. I willed it with all my heart…

That’s when aunt Lulu’s voice rang out strong and raspy from old age, “Speak, child!”

I turned, looked at those sharp intense eyes as she looked at me from her seat. And I, for once in my life, spoke…

“I don’t.”

Her name…

I might claim to have known her for my whole life, because I have memories of her from a very young age. I don’t think however that would have been true. So, I say I have known her for as long as I can remember. She popped into my life to fill blank spaces, at least that’s how I see it. For instance, one of the first times I met her was when I was denied what I believed to be my right. My parent might have taken something from me without a good reason. I remember then the blankness that occupied my puzzled mind wondering why I couldn’t have it! Then she showed up, hot and demanding. She filled up the blankness and moved me to action. I threw a mighty tantrum, added some hot tears and shrieks that dissolved my parents into willing givers. Once I got my way, I looked at my new friend with awe and delight. I realized that she was a great friend to have and I made a decision to keep her close.

And thus, our friendship grew with my advancing age. She saw me through my first attempts to social interactions and even my first romance. And every time something went wrong, I could call on her. When I failed my first exam, she stood by me reminding me that I did everything right and the teacher might be threatened by me. When I lost my first best friend after telling her secret, she stood by me and reminded me that I did the right thing. She stood by me through a lot; so much that what started as hurt would dissolve into a solid resolve in my gut. She made me cry sometimes, but not light cleansing tears that clear the knots from your chest. She made me cry red, hot and acidic tears that fell from a tight chest and short breath. She made me scream sometimes, like a wounded beast cursing the universe for its misfortune. She even made me destructive at times, then I would want to spoil everything that happened; throw on walls, rip off fabric, tear through layers of flowers…

After she left to mind her own business, I would find myself surrounded by ruins; words I couldn’t take back, burned souvenirs I couldn’t get back, bleeding knuckles from hitting walls, swollen eyes from hot tears, sourness in my belly… So much destruction in such a short time! I didn’t like the aftermath, but I also didn’t want to lose my friend. Despite all that I broke because of her, her presence gave me strength. She lit a fire inside of me that set my being into motion like an engine. I honored her and gave her a name, ANGER.

Anger and I stayed friends for many, many years. She grew with me, she became a part of me. The longer I lived, the more and heavier tragedies I met. I lost a parent and every part of me deflated. Anger came and stood by me, lighting a fire in my belly so that I screamed and cursed, I cried and stormed. It didn’t feel better, it didn’t even feel good, but it was alive and better than blankness. So much happened, and the two of us grew closer and closer until we were almost one. She didn’t need to light a fire in my belly anymore, she shared it and became my belly. I walked with anger, I brewed inside my chest. I was anger myself.

One day after a strong moment of anger, I woke up in the middle of spoils and evidence of all my destruction. I looked around at the torn connections, wounded souls, destroyed relationships, broken glass, … for the first time I got scared by what I could do with anger. I started wondering why anger and I were friends. I tried to recall how she came to be my friend and a big part of me. Did I meet her through somebody I knew? How were we introduced? Did I find her on the side of the street?

I had so many questions for her and I realized that I didn’t know much about her aside from how I react with her. I realized that she might be with me for a reason. What made her so hot and restless? Why do I react like that with her? It occurred to me that I may have a better chance of finding the right answers if I got to know her better. So, I called her to me and introduced myself;

“Greetings, Anger. My name is Person”.

And she said;

“Hello dear Person, it’s so nice to finally know you. My name is GRIEF”.

Blossoms.

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I lost a friend while on vacation. This sentence already sounds complicated, I realize, so I will explain. I was on a short holiday at a beautiful place when my friend died. No, she was not with me on vacation. She was thousands of kilometers back home. There I was on a beautiful place, supposed to have a break and enjoy myself after a whole year when the news got to me. I spent the following minutes in absolute disbelief and started reaching out to everyone I could. There’s an explainable emotion that resembles panic and it pulls at the stomach when one is trying to confirm or validate bad news. I went through that as I waited for answers, holding on to my phone and wishing it transferred more than just electromagnetic signals.

The worst was confirmed after a few minutes and my heart sank. There are two sides to this situation; the first is the sadness and frustration of being too far and not able to do anything. The second is the unreality of the situation as one follows the updates through the phone and social media. These two leave your chest empty, gasping for air and dry heaving before the tears arrive.

I cried that day. I cried harder than I had allowed myself to in years and for so many reasons. Regret; all the time lost! I wasn’t very close to the deceased, even though we had every reason to be. Questions like; why? were heavy on my mind. Loss; because that’s exactly what it is and how it feels. I felt the loss of a friend and all those that went before her. Helplessness; because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t mourn with loved ones or friends in common being so far. I couldn’t relive the moments with the departed. I was too far and too late.

Well, time moved and within a few days she was laid to rest and I faced life again. The question is however, how does one resume life? Do I recommence the holiday with gusto and live my best life even though there’s a slight bitterness on my tongue? Do I stay indoors and let grief and sadness run its course? How do I honor somebody’s memory and live? Are those two that different?

But then, life has a way of directing and redirecting itself against all odds. While sight-seeing the next day I started noticing flowering plants. I found them everywhere! Little flowers growing under rocks. Big majestic flowers by a valley. Bright blossoms above thorny cacti. A rose shaped cactus. There were flowers everywhere, in every size, shape and color. Some grew on fertile soil on beautifully cultivated gardens and thrived on the nurturing environment. Others grew on rocky roads, on fallen pots and dry patches of land without any care but their own will to blossom. Some grew wanted and others not, but against all odds they grew. I noticed one clear thing about these plants; they all just grew and regardless of their reason to exist, or how long they will exist, they were all beautiful.

It now dawns on me that we are all like that. Our lives are just like the gorgeous, vulnerable, majestic, colorful, resistant, … flowers. Our lives are meant to just be lived, just as the flowers ARE. We grow from different places and face different challenges and opportunities. And just like flowers we blossom, we bloom, not knowing when we’ll wither and fall dry. We don’t know if we’ll fill some hearts with joy, put smiles on passive faces. We don’t know if our lives will continue on the earth that we grew upon or on decorative vases, dried herbs packets, on hair and clothes as decoration or pressed in a book. We don’t know for how long we grow and bloom. We are not entirely sure if our seeds will spread and grow to continue our lives or start new life. We just ARE, and that could be the whole point. When the time comes for our blossoms to dry, the only thing that matters is; Did we bloom? Did we grow? Did we live?

When I see it this way, maybe there’s more than just pain and regret in loss. There’s also gratitude for life and what it means to us. There’s growth and beauty in our memories and these make us who we are. We are blossoms.

We LOVE, and we learn…

We are born in love. We are born with love. We are born to love. We are love.

I believe love starts with life, or rather life starts with love. It starts from the moment we take our first breathe and we start reflecting the love inside our beings into the life around us. We learn the comfort of a parent’s touch and the satisfaction of milk filling our bellies. We recognize the swooning voices around us and cling to their warmth. This is what slowly accumulate into manifestations of love.  As we grow and make sense of our place in the world, we experience love in different ways. We receive love and learn to give it back. We like hugs and find them soothing, that’s why we learn to give hugs for comfort. We collect love from around us and make it our own. This is how we learn to portray love.
We learn to love so we can love others and love ourselves. We learn to love so we can teach others to love us, after we love ourselves. Because our reflection of love is useless if doesn’t seep into our very own beings and start from within. And thus, we love, and we learn, and we live. Each one of us loving at their own pace and way.

One day I met you, darling. I met you and saw love dripping from your being so thickly. You have loved and learned abundantly. You loved yourself as fiercely as a human possibly can. So, I love you so much. We decide to love together and share life. It is beautiful and easy. I find it easy to love you because you already love yourself enough to teach me. You take my hand and show me how to love you. But, alas…love! My heart is breaking.

I love you, I live you but my heart breaks with every love serving you poor into me. My heart breaks for you, because I do not love myself yet. I loved and learned to love everything but myself. I love the rain. I love my friends. I love trains. I love you. Everyone believes me to be a loving person! The expression is, “Having a big heart”. I may be having a big heart, and I fill it with love for everything but myself. I didn’t learn to love myself enough. I reflect my love to many parts of life but cannot find the same within my very own self. I left myself torn and exhausted while I loved others. And my big heart is hollow and pale.
This is why my heart breaks when I see you trying to love me. You may think you have enough love for the both, but this is never true. Having love and being love are different things. And we need them both. I see you trying, and I’m very thankful. But you can never love me enough or right because I never loved myself enough to teach you how to love me. And I love you enough to not allow you to fight an invisible wall.

I shall retreat into a far place. I may have to leave you, darling. This may break both our hearts, mine twice for the both of us. Still, I will leave and go find myself. I am going to learn and love myself. I’m going to look into my darkest parts and secrets. I’m going to face my imperfections. I’m going to face the raw honesty of my ugly side. I’m going to learn to love my fears, regrets and shame. I’m going to love all of me. And when I finally have enough love for myself. I will come back to you. If you’ll have me, I’ll teach you how to love me. And learn how to love you some more. We’ll love and we’ll learn, Darling.


 

I Fell in Love with the Ocean!

It was like a soft kick in my gut, the first time I saw her! Soft enough to not cause pain, but solid enough to rattle my organs and leave me breathless. She is beautiful!

At first it was the wind and the sounds from her that caught my attention. I stood ashore and marveled at the feeling of the wind on my skin. It was gentle sometimes, and harsh when she was temperamental. The same with the soothing sounds that came with lazy waves rippling on its surface or gently nudging the ocean side. These same sounds would turn from a caress to a whiplash of rolling anger that lashed and punished the sand, rocks and trees near the shore. The same anger that would penalize an unfortunate fisherman or traveler on water and form destruction.

Once my attention was captivated, I stared at the ocean and took a long, lung-puffing breath. She smelled of secrets! If secrets could smell, that would be it. Smell might be the wrong word for it, but my nose surely caught all forms of it. I smelled musk and wetness with a hint of salt. Then I smelled sea-life and growth, but then I thought I smelled rust or maybe warm ice. All these danced in a slow mingling circle around my senses, not strong enough to be smells but subtle and persistent enough to not be called smells.

My chest was alight with delight and in my excitement, I ran to her. I realized as I got closer how small and insignificant I could be next to her enormous presence. The introvert in me embraced that like a warm fluid blanket as I slowly walked into the water. It was cool to my skin in contrast to the blazing sun above. I walked further immersing my body in the cooling sensation and marveling at the vast beauty around me. She hugged me then, and it felt like home. I realized then that I had been homesick, for a place where I hadn’t been before. This felt like it and I didn’t want to miss it anymore.

So, I went back to the ocean every time. I would walk towards it and fill my lungs with its smell of secrets, look into its vast layout, open my arms wide and walk into its cooling embrace where I could stay for a while and be home. It was love! I loved being with her and missed her when life pulled me away.

I can testify that love comes in many forms because she loves me back. I know she does because I have felt her warmth around me and the cool salve of her water on my hot skin. I know because she loved me enough to be her own self with me and allowed me to learn more about her. I got to learn that just like a manifestation of her complicated smells, she sways in strong all-consuming emotions. Once in a while the storm comes, and one never knows where it comes from, how long it’ll last or even who and what it’ll drown. When the storms caught me in her embrace, I would hold on and ride through them. Sometimes my presence calmed the storm and brought us back to a peaceful embrace. Sometimes the storm brew and grew so thunderous that it carried me in a violent whirl. I would get lost in it and wake up bruised and beaten floating in the once-again calm water of the aftermath. The water cooled my bruises and I closed my eyes in relief ignoring the destruction floating by my side. Or occasionally, I would try to save some bruised beings or entities near me.

Such was love ___ such was my love for the ocean. I want to stay and love her! The cooling hugs afterwards were worth the storms and even the ocean elements that could end my immortal life. It felt like my home, complete with its chaos. It felt like home even when though I couldn’t breathe under water. Even when the salty water burned my eyes to swollen-red slits. Home, ___, where I floated on secrets, cooling water and fear of the next storm.

I fell in love with the ocean and went through storms and brokenness to realize that it cannot be my home. I, being a small being incapable of taming a temper goddess. I, being a land dweller who cannot live and breathe in water. I, who needs fresh water to live. I, who mistook temporary comfort for home. I, who clung to that illusion of home for so long and forgot to build my very own home. I, who is a mere human.

I fell in love with the ocean. And one day, I walked away never to return. I will get a whiff of the musky smell of secrets and long for the mystery of her. I will see her near my path and get a tug of longing so strong. I will shed a tear or a lot more when I think of her. But I know for sure that I will stay on land and make my own home, because the ocean and I cannot love each other to life.

Ocean2

Pouring, and everything liquid…

               You used to walk around as a full being. Full of life, full of love, full of anger, full of yourself and full in any possible meaning of it, in your own way. Those near you felt it and walked next to you also full. Once in a while, someone would get a little empty, and your being would overflow and fill them up again. And you would get your fill from overflowing ones near you when it got empty. It is good and peaceful, and it is natural. So natural that you do not recognize the process. Just like the way you don’t recognize your own breathing or the beating of your heart. Or even the flow of your blood. You just lived and you were FULL.
The one day, you met empty souls. You met those whose beings missed something. Those who had unquenchable thirsts and hungers. Those whose needs are never really satisfied no matter how much they receive. There are people whose cups are never full, because somehow they accumulated holes under them and may never discover that. They keep tirelessly trying to fill their cups to no success. Some have empty cups simply because they never learned to fill them up. Or they don’t meet those who can walk with them and learn the fulfilling process together.
You met those souls. You who so naturally and unconsciously lived in pouring what was overflowing from yourself into others and receiving other’s overflow. So, you naturally poured your overflow onto the empty souls, and they rejoiced in it. They enjoyed it so much that they asked for more, and you poured just a little more. Suddenly you start tilting to pour from yourself. You are not overflowing anymore. You give all the overflow and receive nothing in return. Because empty souls don’t know how to share. They don’t have what to give back. They wouldn’t even know how to pour if they accumulate excess. Empty souls need refill, and you will never have enough to refill them when you don’t know why they are empty. So, you tilt and pour, bend a little more and pour, and before long you get down to your knees to pour…

You now have an almost empty being, and it’s taking a toll on you. You feel the pains of bending too low to pour. You feel the empty thirst in your chest and do not know what to do. You are almost flat on the ground trying to pour more into them, but you don’t have much left. They notice your diminishing flow, and ask for more. They wonder why you don’t pour that much anymore. They ask, and ask, ask. You have a few drops left and are flat on your tummy. That last pour may be your bridge to becoming an empty soul yourself.

You may pour to the last drop and start your life as another empty soul searching for drops from others. This may take a lifetime. You may hopefully meet an overflowing individual who is conscious of the process and take you through the journey to refill. You may even discover the meaning of it all and stop the last pour, and start the work on refilling yourself up again. You may go into all possible directions with your being! One thing is for sure, only you can refill that cup before anyone else can even try to do it. Nobody else can restart the flow for you.

               My dear readers, we have all been overflowing or empty souls at one point or another in life. We have met givers, receivers and users in life. Some of us ask for too much and feel deprived when those near us fail to deliver. We walk around hungry for more, attention, possessions, memories… this hunger preys on those near us. They feel the burden of never being enough, they feel our dissatisfaction. On the other hand, some of us give too much to those around us. It may be due to the need to feel irreplaceable, or accepted. It may be for many other reasons out of my limited understanding. However, giving without receiving (as is receiving without giving) is sad and unfulfilling. And those receiving from us get accustomed to it and may even start expecting or demanding more. Leading to a regrettable circle of disappointment and resentment.

No matter where you belong in this narrative at the moment, the answer to a more fulfilled life isn’t in everybody else around you. It is within yourself. Ask yourself why you don’t feel like you are ENOUGH. Ask yourself why you don’t feel like you get ENOUGH? Find yourself. Fill yourself. Do that before you overflow onto or drink from others.

How are you?

It has been a while, readers! This title seems appropriate after the long silence. I write today wondering how everyone is. How is 2018 looking so far? Are there any major changes in your life? Did anyone’s hair grow? New pet? Back pains? …?

I’m always curious about the people around me or those that interact with my life in one way or another. And even end up making up stories about them when I need entertainment. Like, the man I sat next to in the bus could be a primary school teacher with a wife and a little seven-year-old girl. Or the moto-guy could be trying to date the girl who tends to the grocery store in his neighborhood. Basically, I’m interested in people and have been meeting a lot of them recently after moving back to my old town.

I notice something every time I meet a new person these days. After the usual introduction, there’s a question that comes almost instantly. For example, after the initial: “Hi Dada. Pleasure meeting you” part, there’s a good chance that the next sentence is: “And what do you do, Dada”? Which I usually need a few seconds to answer. What do I do? Is it acceptable to say I cook? Or I wake up and use the bathroom? I crochet occasionally?

The person obviously wants to know what I do for a living aka my job or whatever project/source of income that pays my bills. If it is in a corporate event, that person wants to know what gives me the right or legitimacy to be there. And sometimes the answer would determine exactly how much attention or decency the person should invest in me. Am I an interesting contact, potential client, potential employer or investor? Our interaction will now be determined by that question. And this goes so far that even simple flirting or friendliness will depend on the answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question.

We are in societies and situations where, “what do you do?” has replaced, “how do you do?” and “who are you?” comes before “How are you?”. This is a sobering realization for me. It’s sad to think that I have to know who you are before how you are matters to me. And we try to explain it away with logical, practical reasons. “I obviously can’t care about everybody”. “It IS a corporate event! I’m not here to find a new best friend”.  “Eerm, hello! I have bills to pay and a job to do…”. “You save yourself a lot of time when you mind your own business”.
Those are all valid reasons, or not. I don’t write today asking people to walk around throwing rose petals and marshmallows. I don’t ask you to start robotic “how are you, today?” conversations with everyone you bump noses with. I am not telling you to throw away practical reasoning and go give free hugs at the town offices (which could actually be fun). I am writing today asking how you are.

Did you take a moment to think of how you really are? How does it feel being you today? How do you feel with your human interactions?  How is your neighbor? How is your sibling? How is your boss? How is your driver? How is the noisy kid in your street? How is your maid? It may be a good idea to look into yourself and around you and ask. Who knows? This could be the answer to keeping in touch with ourselves and being happy.

So, my dear readers, “HOW ARE YOU?”.

Festive Oddities

Happy new year everybody!! It’s 2018!! The year flew by so fast and before I could wrap my head around it, away it went. Like many people I know, the end of the year caught me in a haze. This is when people pause to reflect on milestones, memories and time. I had my good share of the festivities, including that blank space between Christmas and new year where everyone seems to lose sense of time. And occasionally, when my brain came back from all its festive occupations, I would get thoughtful (as Usual). I got quizzical about Christmas, for example. The lights, décor, the good cheer, the presents and the lights again. My sodded brain just wondered, why all that. Why the lights, Santa Claus, and all these oddities?

A quick and lazy search taught me that long ago in countries that experience winter, (which was severe due to the absence of electricity, heating systems and Netflix), plants and trees that retained their green color during winter were deemed special. People hung evergreen boughs in their homes, with the belief that they could drive away evil and illness.

In the northern hemisphere, they believed that the sun god would fall sick during winter. And by hanging green wreaths of hope and celebrating the summer, he would get well and shine again. Like the Egyptian belief of the sun god Ra.

And thus, through the years, the evergreen wreaths evolved into four feet long or even floor to ceiling decorated fir trees. And now, the size, color, and splendor of the Christmas tree is only limited to the imagination.

So, at last we have an explanation to that huge tree that pops up on the roundabout every December. I still don’t know where Santa came in, but I deducted that for children, he is symbol of giving. A desire to spread joy and good cheer. I didn’t until recently know that there is Santa Claus and Sinterklaas and maybe others. But that’s a whole new talk and my brain is on vacation.

When I was a child, Santa was the jolly plump guy with a white beard brought to realization by toys in stores, Coca-Cola adverts and watching movies like ‘Home Alone’. Christmas until recently comprised of going to church in brand new clothes (Or just your best clothes), singing to the joyful birth of Christ, then head back home for a special meal or visit friends, family or places.

Presently however, cultural diversity allows a mixture of all these in one. And trying to paint a simple picture of Christmas may cause a migraine. There are just so many ways, beliefs, cultures that all work together. Maybe that’s just it! Everyone should just do what they want.

Well, this was a lot of thinking for someone in a holiday I should say. And it wouldn’t matter that much if I crack my head thinking of it. So, finally I came to reconcile with this; it was indeed Christmas! And that was all that matters. Whether you were a Christian celebrating the birth of the savior, a descendant of the sun goddess believers, or a mere citizen just in need of holiday cheer, I said let’s all go for it! It was the end of the year. A time to sit back with our legs stretched. Look back at the year before. The good, the bad and the horrific parts of it. The struggles we have been through. The achievements, the losses, the tears and the joy. The simple moments that gave meaning to our entire lives. The critical moments that almost drained our last drop of faith. The stab that almost killed our will to live.

Then think of all that we could improve. And all those things we wouldn’t want to change. The festive season has been a long break. Like a tall drink of water after a long race. What does it matter how you celebrated it or who you celebrated is as? If lights work for you, decorate every part of your house, including the soup pans and gardening tools. If not, switch it all off. Or even better, skip your bill and let your energy provider cut the power for you and enjoy the dark my friend! Visit with loved ones or lock yourself in! Or just do the typical getting super wasted for half of the holiday. Just be your own kind of festive!

So, salute! Merry (Three weeks late) Christmas everybody! And a very happy new year! 2018, here we come!

Find Me!

I don’t know how I am these days,
The sun shines and I watch the rays,
But somehow this confusion remains,
And I keep racking my cold brains.

I guess somehow my self-entity got lost,
And I became unstable than most,
Life moved so fast with a blurry haze,
I got lost in that scary craze.

Looking back at my life this day,
I don’t really know what to say,
Where did I lose these parts of me?
In busy schedules? Or things I can’t see?

What happened to that bright awake person?
One who lived with fire, freedom and reason,
Which side of the road did I drop her?
How do I get her back right now or after?

This will be a journey, sure and slow,
How I travel through it, I don’t know,
Yet somehow, I will face it all through,
Hoping to find me, slightly broken, but true.