When a child is not ready …

It was my mother who predicted it one day. She looked at my feet which were swollen beyond recognition and watched my shallow breathing. Then with a strange look in her eyes, she stated,

“There’s more than one child in that belly of yours.”

I didn’t want to believe her because life was hard for us farmers. The thought of just one new child was difficult. Still, I collected a few extra items from the second-hand market as a precaution. I also tore two pieces from my best kitenge as if unconsciously preparing for two babies. Contrary to the saying, “A poor man’s cow never bears calves”, I came back from the birthing place with not two but three babies. Their father with a mixture of fear and pride in his eyes named them by the order that they arrived;

Kulwa the one that came first, Doto the second surprise guest, and Doi who was least expected.

Kulwa’s birth was similar to his character. He arrived with a strong, lustful cry and hungry mouth. His limbs kicking as if he couldn’t wait to take his place in the world. Doto seemed mild. He announced his arrival with a sharp cry and then contented himself with peacefully sucking his fingers. It almost felt like he wanted to prove that he can make a sound and once was enough evidence. Doi arrived oblivious of the surprise and wonder that accompanied his birth. He arrived quiet and small compared to his brothers. The midwife moved and poked at him to make sure he was alive. He was very much so but didn’t announce his presence. He came as a quiet, little bundle with a heartbeat.

It was my mother again who carried each of her grandsons and proclaimed,

“The youngest wasn’t ready, Mwana.”

And I remember my throat contracting as I waited for her to explain. This is the story she told me:

I am not sure where children come from, Mwana. The priest man said a Holy Man who is also the father of Yesu gives them to us. My Bibi told me they come from those who left this world and are now walking another. Maybe they are all right. Maybe the holy man lives there too. The point is, the essence of life sometimes chooses to come and be with us again. So when a woman is ready and welcoming, she will carry the essence and give it form. After nine months of growing, the child is born to continue the circle of life. But you see, Mwana, some essence may get to a woman when it’s not ready. If the essence realizes this quickly, that’s when a woman loses a child before it takes form. Sometimes it waits too long and will be born, but maybe lifeless upon birth or with deformity. Because the unsure spirit was too restless to form all that it needs for this life.

I then pointed out that Doi did not seem to have any evident disability, she just shook her head and said,

“There were three of them in your womb, Mwana. He just wasn’t ready but had to travel with his brothers.”

Mama meant well but that story haunted my entire motherhood. I raised the boys with a gnawing worry as they claimed their spots on earth. Kulwa always the leader with a thirst for knowledge and power. He studied far and held important jobs. Always ambitious and authoritative. It is Kulwa who build this envious house for his father and me. It is thanks to him that we do not have to break our backs on the farm anymore.

Doto grew up without his brother’s evident aspirations but he learned well and was easily contented. He has a good modest life and raises polite, well-dressed children with a sweet wife. He is just enough and happy with being in a nearby town.

Doi remained quiet and dreamy with a smile of a small child. He struggled to fit in and just understand basic life components. He made few friends because when other boys played with the nylon ball in the dirt, he sat for hours by the anthill watching the ants crawl. Then he would come to me and tell me all about the ants collecting crumbs. While his brothers built families, found jobs, and ventured out, Doi was telling me how the sugarcane in the neighbor’s farm would not be as sweet because the soil was unhappy.

I spent a lot of time worrying about Doi as only a mother could. I pushed, shoved, nudged him towards his own path but he seemed content just to be. And now my strength is gone, just like their father. I live in this big house and spend my days daydreaming of the past and looking forward to meeting those that left us. My back won’t stretch anymore and I tire from a simple conversation.

On a few occasions, all three of my boys come to me. I see Kulwa, still thirsty and in a hurry. He listens to me with effort as if my words come out too slow. He sits in front of me but his heart is dreaming of new conquests. I see Doto, content with doing exactly what he wants because no one is watching. He looks lost between a scream and a sigh. Like he’s not sure which best expresses him. And then I see Doi, still with a childlike smile. Doi who always seems to know when my legs are too tired to hold my weight. It’s Doi who walks towards me with water before I get the words out to call for it. Doi who knows the exact time for me to sit outside when the sun is sweet to my skin.

I look at the three boys with a ripe, aged eye. And from this perspective, a part of me is now unsure. A part of me wonders if I have spent my motherhood worried for the wrong child.

Sparkling Clean Pots

She is scrubbing her cooking pots…,

… which is something she has done for a large part of her life. The soft scuffle of the steel wool on the aluminum surface. The slight heat caused by the friction of her hand moving back and forth on a stubborn dark spot. The sweat that will eventually accumulate on her forehead. And the satisfaction of rinsing the shinning clean pot out. These were rhythms so familiar that they could have been soundtracks to her life.

“You can tell a lot about a woman by the state of her cooking pots”, her grandmama used to say.

Grandmama had grown up in a close-knit village where privacy was an alien word. She had told them stories of her girlhood where she rose with the sun and met the other village girls by the small road near the graveyard. The girls then walked together to the lake and filled their buckets with clear water before the boys disturbed the surface with their swimming. They would then walk back home balancing the water on their heads and continue their morning chores. They cleaned, washed, and cooked. After a family meal, the girls would wash their dishes and hang them outside on a kichanja to dry. The kichanja standing outside could be seen by every passerby. And thus, the careless girls who spared their pans a scrubbing would be judged by the lack of sparkle on the drying pans.


 “A girl should never choose her own hands over her reputation, you see!”

And Grandmama had the shiniest pots in her village, she said. She took it upon herself to make sure her daughters and granddaughters paid attention to their cooking pots. And so, as years moved, life changed so much that no house had a kichanja to show and only a few households used basins and buckets to wash. When her daughters got married, built houses with running water and washing sinks. When dishes were now set to dry in the privacy of the kitchen. The daughters still taught their daughters to scrub their pots and keep them shiny. Even when they started using gas and electric burners that left no soot cover on the pans.

This is why Staha is now standing on the sink scrubbing her cooking pots.

She scrubs as she remembers the house she grew up in and her grandmama’s insistence on the girls waking up with the sun even though there was no need to fetch water and collect firewood. She recalls the many womanhood talks about being a good woman and ideal wife which included all the women in her mother’s family. These talks gave her guidelines on what womanhood entails. And even after leaving her mother’s house, long after grandmama died, she remembered to clean her pots. She carried her sparkling pots all through living alone in a new world where boys mopped the floor and women carried bricks. She went ahead to study far and wide. She learned to express herself, she learned to lead. She earned the respect of her peers and above all the men she had served her whole life. She was a successful, bright, promising, modern woman.

With time she met him who will become her husband. And they lived through the blissful first years of marriage as equal partners. She marvelled at this newfound freedom and saw a new world where her children will be free to be whoever they wanted. She almost forgot the womanhood talks and lessons, until small instances would remind her of her previous spot. These reminders haunted her even after she’d learned to look big, important men in the eye in business meetings while shaking their hands firmly. She did that with the shadow of a little girl who was once told to lower her gaze when addressed.

She would succeed and would learn new ways until something popped up. The misalignment of her childbearing with her career path compared to that of her partner for example. Or when she learned that a clean house alone will not keep her man satisfied and that newly awakened part of her wondered why it was up to her to keep the house clean. She struggled to hold two ends of ropes that seemed to pull towards opposite directions.

And so, months pile into years where she worries about the questions that are yet to come from her daughters. She wonders what use scrubbing would be to non-stick, ceramic pots that her daughters will opt to cook with. Her daughters, who may even opt for dishwashers. The daughters who will not need to memorize grandmama’s recipes because they will have YouTube tutorials and takeout. The daughters who may even decide cooking is not their “thing” and God knows what their thing will be when their time comes. She sees her misgivings and insecurities shadowing her and wonders what she can give to them to hold on to when their stand is shaken.

What does she bring to the next generation of women? She wonders… maybe womanhood talks? Still, she wonders what the womanhood talks with her nieces who want to have long acrylic nails and drink hard liquor before 5 pm would entail. She feels a slight knot of discomfort in her stomach until nothing makes sense anymore. And that’s why when her husband walks in from a long day at work, he finds her barefoot on the kitchen sink, with her work jacket still buttoned. her hands were moving with furious determination. she was muttering about freedom and mothers, her front soaking wet:

She is scrubbing her cooking pots.

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Tracing Chalk Doors

O, hello there stranger! Hello, you fascinating passerby who so randomly wandered by my home. It’s incredible how life brought you here today of all days. I also find it remarkable how among millions and millions of paths and courses, yours and mine connect at this point. This point where I stand inside my home staring out through the window and seeing you. Hello, bright eyes. Hello, friendly smile.
I want to get to know you. So, we talk to each other. We stare at each other and share our stories. And as typical to us humans, we share a lot in a short while of finding a connection. In the little time since you walked by my home, we have shared smiles and laughter. Our smiles shy and secretive at first, then slowly broadening to bright acknowledgments of each other. Our laughter before controlled and secretive is now a burst of mirth that throws our heads back and waters our eyes. We are connected, we are kindred spirits. We want more…
I reach out through my window and grasp your reaching arm. We stare, smile, laugh, and touch. We both wonder if there could be more. Could we dance to the same music, for instance? Or, would we walk with equal steps? Also, would our silences be light if we sat in a quiet room together? There must be more to a connection, don’t you think? We need to make a move to broaden this connection…

Let me tell you what I’m going to do:
I’m going to excuse myself and run to search in my home. There I will find my welcoming chalk. The same chalk I used to trace the boundaries of my home. Then I will walk back to the window and wave it gleefully. I’ll proceed to trace a door large enough for your form, right next to the window. And then with a warm, hopeful smile, I will welcome you into my home. You will walk right through my chalk door and join me. Oh! What a joy!
We’ll sing, we’ll dance and we’ll be as merry as can be. And with time we’ll want to know and feel more. So, we’ll share much more than smiles and laughter. We will share our tears, pain, sadness, and much more of the deeper complexities of ourselves. We’ll learn that we cry when our happiness bubbles through our chests and sometimes we smile when it’s too sad to cry and too hard to fight. And being true to our nature, we choose a name for this connection among the many nouns for linked beings. We’ll call it something like: friendship, love, family, kinship. And we may start describing each other as friends, sisters, brothers, lovers.

We can go anywhere from here, dear stranger:
You could find belonging in my home and me in your being. And you would then decide to get your chalk and trace the boundaries of your own home within mine or right by it. and together we’ll have a home and be.
You could miss your wandering because you are a floating being who carries your home with you. And so, you would invite me to carry my chalk, walk away with you, wander with you and maybe someday we will trace our home together in a fantastic new place and build it there together.
You may also find the solid brick of my home too heavy for your wanderlust and bid me a sad but much-needed goodbye. And I will watch you walk away and wonder what great adventures await you.
You could also enter my home with muddy shoes and leave dirty traces all over my clean floor. And then proceed to dance and make such reckless merry that you broke my treasures and shook my home. You wouldn’t even be considerate enough to try and replace the chalk door with a permanent structure. So, one day I would realize that you are a threat to my home. That you did not come to build with me. That you are a fleeting wreck who sees not the value of my home boundaries. Then I shall remind you that you do not belong here. I will escort you to the chalk door and let you out. Then I will thoroughly wipe the traced door so that you would only hurt your forehead if you tried to walk back in. After storing my chalk and duster, I will walk back to the window and watch… and wait… and hope…
But you see, all these are just musings of what I am going to do and what may come out of it. just thoughts from this person tracing the boundaries and creating space for a home. I stand here with my chalk hoping that you know I have the absolute power to let you into my home, and the complete authority to let you or even push you, right out. At the same time, I hope you also understand that you have complete freedom on whether you want to come in, stand by the window, or walk right by. I truly wonder what your stand is in all this, oh, dear stranger.
So, go on and tell me:
What sets you wandering and venturing? What did you do to set fate upon our paths crossing? Do you carry your home with you? Will you dare to pause and see this world with me? Do you intend to live in goodness and be human?
Hello, there stranger! Hello, there bright eyes! It’s incredible to see you here… Don’t you think so?

Beloved cactus

I am a creature of the shade.
I thrive in a place of gentleness and care. I live under the shade where I can access nourishment and water. I live in the quiet warmth of moderation where the heat is mild, and the cold doesn’t bite. Where there’s enough sound to ward off loneliness but not too loud to overwhelm the senses. I live in a simple sheltered world and all is well.

I am, however, a curious creature who ventures out of my shade searching for new experiences and sights. I met you during one of my explorations and my simple being was struck!
You who stands as a symbol of strength and resilience. You who grows against all odds. You who requires no gardener to tend to you with irrigation and pruning. You who decided that you’ll need only that which is freely given to grow, the sunlight. You who adorn yourself in prickly thorns and rare blossoms that fruit — My dear, dear Cactus, I was in awe of you!

You seemed so self-sufficient. You needed little, gave little and asked for little. I stood before you and watched the elements rage at you. You stood alone and exposed, on a harsh spot where the sand storms are frequent. The heat of the sun unforgivingly shone upon you. You didn’t wilt, you didn’t bend. You just stood with your thorns stretched towards the world as if daring anyone or anything to come at you.

I walked towards you closer, and closer, with my hands, stretched wide. You stood before me proud and unyielding. You gave me nothing much but the acknowledgment that I was allowed to approach you. I found that enough… I moved forward until we were face to face, on the brink of an embrace.

Then we made contact, and my whole being was lit with sensations! My skin burned as your sharp thorns pierced their way through me. My self-preservation warning me to let go of the pain but a weaker part of me marveled at the strength and strange comfort of standing with your support. I made a decision that I loved the stability more than I feared the pain, and so I moved closer, and closer until we formed a tight hug. I felt the thorns piercing deep and sure, but the pain was numbed by relief. I had found such a strong stand with you that I could slump and relax but remain upright. I didn’t want to stand alone anymore and so, I moved and covered the last distance between us wrapping my arms around you. We then stood as one. I was you, you were me. You were strength, pride, and resilience, and I was softness and warmth. We made sense together.
we faced it all; the rain, the stormy winds, the unforgiving scorch of the sun…We faced it all in our stronghold of each other. The elements couldn’t tear us apart.

Us being creatures from different places, however, was a sobering reality. I missed the shade. I thirsted for cool water, but you could only give a sap when your strong bark chipped. This sap burned and had me wiggling for relief. The wiggling twisted the thorns lodged into my skin and together they formed a hot dance of pain. I willed myself to stay still, breathe softly until the burning stopped. This would have been easy if you bled from one chipped spot. You, however, accumulated chips with time, and what once was a drop of burning pain turned into a trickle, then a shower of agony.

I couldn’t control my yelps while I yanked myself off of you.
My skin protested the sudden separation. I stood on weak limbs that were accustomed to your support. The thorns left open gushes on my skin that were now bleeding while my skin burned still.

In my blind struggle, I convinced myself that: I want your embrace back. I want the support and the cover to my open wounds even though they’d be covered by the same thorns that created them. I want to stand with you, strong and proud with a burning skin. I prefer that to standing alone, bleeding, weak and still burning.

I walked back to you, braced myself for the piercing thorns…

We now make contact, my senses scream, too loud for me to ignore them. I take a step back. You stare at me, strong and proud. You don’t take even the tiniest step towards me. I know you miss my warmth, my softness and how it compliments your strength and acid sap. But you stare at me proud, unyielding and ungiving. Your posture speaks of no compromise, no sacrifices. You are what you are and are not about to change for a soft creature from the water and shade. I realize now that I have to take the steps, I have to hold on to you, I have to embody you and bear you. Even if that takes my being away…

I take another step back; your thorns painfully release my skin. I take another step back; my open wounds start to bleed. I take another step back; my limbs start shaking from the weight they had forgotten to carry. I keep taking these steps back and each one of them is pure agony. I keep taking these steps until I find my shade again. Until I find the water and green trees that nourish my existence. There, I sit and slowly will learn to heal myself. There I will learn to have faith in the creature that I am and stand on my own. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to bleed, but it’s the only way to myself. Memories of you are bitter-sweet. I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m relieved, I’m grateful. But one thing I’m pretty sure of is this:

You are a beautiful lesson, dear Cactus.


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”.

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.


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.

Dada the Babysitter!

This is what usually happens in my mind every time I see a baby:
“Oh My God! Why are you shoooooo cuuuuttee??? Just look at those big pweety eyes and shoft cheekies for me to smoonch!”

And these are things that usually come to my mind every time I think of babies; soft bums, giggles, heart-melting grins, tiny adorable clothes in so many cute colors, bows (I don’t know why!), that gentle unique baby smell, mushy feelings, butterflies and all that. You get the idea. I do also think of the other stuff like dirty diapers, burps, screaming toddlers and sleepless nights, but not as often.

My experience with babies is not limited at all. I am such an “auntie”! I mean show me a baby and I will stick to your life like a leech. After stamping the “Baby Lover” seal on myself therefore, I settled to daydreaming of the time I will also be a mother with a smile on my face. I mean, with all this love for babies, being a mom felt pretty awesome. I could even picture my womb sitting on a plush couch, sipping an unidentified brew and smiling at me in peaceful anticipation of the coming adventure. Well, that was until I, for the very first time, had to stay with a baby for a whole weekend!

I was pretty excited when I got the request to babysit for a whole weekend. I already love the little muffin and we were going to have lots of fun together. We did have fun, for exactly two hours, after which I learned that babies cry when hungry and cry some more when you try to feed them. Then pause to dance to a random song on TV, only to cry again because… I don’t know. They probably remembered why they were crying in the first place. But the first day went on pretty well. The first night had me waking up every hour to check on the baby who turned out to be a pretty good sleeper. Yet somehow, I couldn’t sleep in peace.
By day two, I was rather sleepy and chipping off a little from my cheerful auntie armor. The baby then decided that I was her very best friend and my arms were officially her personal space. I was then to walk around the house singing as she occasionally backed me up and screamed her displeasure if I tried to sit or stop the march. I walked the house for what felt like hours before madam decided to fall asleep and I in my full grown-up glory and wisdom gave the nanny clear instructions to watch over the baby as I ran out of the house. I’m not proud to announce that I went back five hours later, took up my pacing while singing with the baby until she slept then took my sore back to bed for another sleepless night. Needless to say, the baby’s mom’s face was the best sight ever for me at the end of that weekend.

The three days with madam Cutie-with-the-Talent-to-Scream-Down-a-Generation made me see my life in a very different way. For starters, my womb is no longer a content goddess looking calmly at me, it has now taken the face of my boarding school matron, looking at me with slight disapproval and a good dose of judgement as she tsks and shakes her head. The thought of a future motherhood seems less dreamy now, though still quite attractive. My Baby-Thoughts-Package now also includes; feeding wars, sore back, a very, very high pitched soprano of baby screams, mid-day escapes to a childless place for sanity, and a lot of puree smudges.  All in all, baby-keeping, parenthood, or whatever its termed is not like chewing gum, everybody can do that, duh! So, as we start this week Lovies, I hope we really pause to think before making some tiny humans. I mean it IS hectic.