I snapped out of my sour line of thought to see the woman beckoning for me to follow her. Well, I was in a foul mood and would have walked on if it wasn’t for her demeanour. I couldn’t put my finger on it but she had somehow called me over with no guile. Following her seemed like the most natural reaction. Or was it the fact that she was carrying a child on her back?

For whatever reason, I took a few steps forward and realized that she had a basket of merchandise on the ground in front of her. And she proceeded to ask,

Kaka, naomba unitwishe.”  (“Brother, please help me lift this”)

And I did so without hesitation! She thanked me with a cheerful smile and walked away. I was left standing by the side of the dusty road with a small smile of my own and my melancholic thoughts behind my ears.

Source: Dhana Sena (pexels)

I continued my now short walk home thinking about my assignment. I needed to find a fascinating Kiswahili word and write an essay explaining why. There were many possibilities of course, but nothing I would call fascinating. I was still thinking of that when the woman’s sentence replayed in my head,

Kaka, naomba unitwishe!”

She had used the word TWISHA! I found myself thinking of the word for the rest of my walk.

TWISHA, which can also be alternated as TWIKA is a noun. It means the process of helping someone bear or lift a burden. It is usually done by two (sometimes three) people. The most common form is for people who want to carry something on their head, but the item is too heavy for them to lift it all the way up.

It starts with the two people, (a carrier and a helper), bending to pick the heavy item and here they all bear the same weight.

Then they lift it to the upper abdomen level, after which the helper will bear all the weight briefly so that the carrier can shift positions and lower their heads by slightly bending.

The helper will then place the item upon the carrier’s head, who will slowly straighten and proceed to carry it to its destination.

If done by three people, there will be two helpers and one carrier, the helpers will lift the item and swiftly place it on the carrier’s head.

This is such a simple word that needs a long explanation in a different language! That fact amazed me as I kept contemplating. The person who helps can be said to act out the noun TWISHA or TWIKA, and the one being helped will call the complete tense of the act TWISHWA or TWIKWA. The opposite of it is the word TUA which basically means the reverse, putting down the carried item. Both TWISHA and TUA can also be performed by the carrier alone if the burden isn’t too heavy. A close translation of the two words; Twisha and Tua, would be; burdening and unburdening.

It occurred to me as I neared home that I had found the perfect subject for my upcoming paper! I could use this word to tell a story! I reached my room and could finally kick or peel off the terribly pinching shoes and start writing. My mood was considerably lighter, and I was shocked to realize that it lifted right after I helped the lady with her selling basket…

I was up until meeting her feeling drained and tired from people always wanting something from me. I wondered why that was since she had also wanted something from me. She had asked for my help on the road, and I had obliged with no qualms. I was willing to stop from the moment she called out… why was that?

And the lightbulb! An incredible moment was when I realized that she had simply called out for assistance. And her call was so light and easy to respond to because it had no strings attached. See, when you TWISHA someone, you bear the burden for just a few seconds and then you swiftly set it on the owner’s head. You do not lift their burden and transfer it to your own head, then proceed to ask them where to take it and if they’d like to chat away while you carry it for them. You do not take ownership of other people’s burdens! And that is why of all things that weighed me down that evening, the woman’s basket wasn’t one of them!

I froze with my pen paused when this realization hit me. And I suddenly saw and felt the weight on my own head in all its saddening glory. I don’t TWISHA. I NEVER TWISHA! Instead, I have been lifting other people’s burdens; emotions, finances, opinions…; and placing them all on my own head. The heaviness that extended through my chest all the way to my knees was from walking around with the burdens.

I had carried my uncle’s disappointment for him for as long as I could remember. I’ve been lifting all the responsibilities and expectations of my relations and neatly placing them on top of my head. I have added a pile of heavy bills from a few distant relatives to this burden. Then topped it with the confusion and manipulation I lifted from a pretty girl who didn’t bother to study for her papers. I have been lifting other people’s burdens and piling them on myself instead of helping them carry them on their own. And as a result, I was dwindling into a tired Old-Man-Boy with a prematurely receding hairline and a sour expression. I was so weighed down that there was no space left for my own dreams. I travelled home every evening so heavy; with a swollen brain, heart and even bladder but a hollow empty chest.

I needed, for the first time in my life, to TUA all these burdens from myself. No, actually, I need to find some people and return their burdens! And that very night when my phone vibrated with a call from my uncle and a text from the fruity-scented girl, I picked it up with a smile. I was ready to refuse me some burdens and return old ones that I had unfairly claimed as my own.

TWISHA – Part 1

I was on my way home yesterday when something incredible happened to me.

I should start by clarifying that, “HOME” is too ambitious of a word for the place I live. It’s what I call the shared room with two mattresses on the floor and a basin for a kitchen. I live here with my friend who owns a small shop nearby. It is nothing much, we have our sleeping spots and the basin we fill with plates, pans, cups and spoons. We cook outside on our trusted single gas burner and only iron our clothes on Sunday. We also charge our phones once a day to save on our power bill.

I know that it’s not much, but the dream is to work hard on this degree, publish a great book of my village stories then build it into a series of cultural awareness books for schools and young adults. I can see it all so clearly although it seemed so far away as I walked home yesterday.

My phone buzzed noisily with a call as I walked. I ignored it after seeing my uncle’s name on the caller ID. See, my uncle disapproves of many of my choices and maybe even me as a person. He disapproved of my “girly” preference of reading storybooks to tree climbing and racing. He made it very clear that I used too many words for a boy-child and was just too soft for his liking. Real boys and men, raced each other, wrestled, got in the dust and mud, spoke briefly and gruffly. They did not, according to him, sit under trees and write short stories.

It is easy to be a disappointment to someone who disapproves of everything that you are. But I kept reading, I kept writing under the tree. And as a result, I passed my A-level exams and got accepted for a study loan. I chose to study Kiswahili literature, which my uncle thought was a waste of education, and that I would never dream of getting a respectable job with this degree. He was sure to call me and express his sentiments once I had packed and left my village. He went ahead to offer manly advice for me to “man up” and at least study accounting or finance.

So, there I was, after almost two years of studying, barely affording to feed myself as I applied for one internship or part-time job after the other and feeling all the sting of a broke student. There I was walking home on a stiflingly hot and dusty day after fighting for a seat in the crowded bus that takes almost two hours to get to my stop. From there I would have to walk at least thirty more minutes to my place because cheaper accommodation is always furthest from the main road.

I shoved my phone back into my pocket with an irritated groan as I walked on. My mood was sour, from my empty stomach, the pinch on my feet (because the bargain shoes I bought last month are a size too small but make me presentable during interviews), and just bone tiredness. I was tired from spending the night preparing to meet the professor who needed an assistant but turned me down after two hours of sorting his papers.

I was tired from the late afternoon job as a supermarket cashier that pays for my room, food, and transport. I was tired because despite expressing their disappointment in my choices, my uncle and relations still constantly call me for support. It’s always someone’s illness, project, or school uniform that I needed to pay for. And I must scrape every cent I can spare to send home for my peace of mind. Still, my peace of mind is a myth because if I don’t send anything, there would be endless nagging. And if I do, even though it’s all I have, it’s received with dissatisfaction, and I end up feeling robbed. Now that I think of it, my issue is that I’m just so tired.

I am even tired of the pretty girl from my class. The one that smells like foreign fruits. She says we are friends and organizes our study sessions together. I could not believe my luck when she called me asking to meet after our first semester. She declared us study-buddies and gets me to go through all her essays. I don’t mind correcting or even rewriting most of them. Although she did score two points higher than me on a paper I had mostly written for her. That’s probably because I only got to work on mine the night before the deadline after finishing hers.

She usually disappears when we don’t have assignments. There’s another paper due this week and she has been calling me. She even started referring to me as, “Boo”. I know she doesn’t mean that in any intimate way. She clearly wants another A and not to hang out with me or visit my place with my shopkeeper roommate.

“Oh, I am just tired of people always asking, always taking and wanting something from me!”

I was thinking this exact thought when the woman blocked my path calling out to me,

“Kaka, could you please HELP ME?”

And I thought,

“Please God. Please somebody,… anybody…make it STOP!!”

———————————————————————— to be continued

Pride, and a Gilded cage.

This is what happens when a self-assured human meets a colorful proud bird:

Imagine this: A man who is so assured of his place on the planet comes by a beautiful flutter of color and feathers. That being a gorgeous, bold bird of color and song. The colorful bird turns out to be proud as well. And is so assured of its swiftness of flight, powerful wings, and the strength of its shrill whistle. Man will stop to admire the sight. Bird will fly nearby in a dance the man will find daunting and flirtatious.

In his pride and high opinion of himself, the man will watch the bird’s graceful flight and listen to its inborn melody. After getting over his awe, the vanity that is so characteristic of man will deem him worthy of more than admiring beauty. He will consider himself deserving of possessing that beauty. He will call it, taming. And he will set forth to capture the bird who was too confident in its swift flight and powerful wings and was therefore too slow for the clever trap set by man.

The next part of the encounter sees the man standing by a gilded cage that contains the bird. He is quite pleased with himself for having captured beauty and satisfied that he now has the bird for himself. He might even congratulate himself for supplying such beauty to the eye, forgetting that he did not create it. The bird upon realizing its new position shrieks its outrage and flies upon the cage battling for its freedom. But the strong wings and sharp beak that were shields of confidence and might in a jungle are useless against metal. The bird will only come to accept this reality after painful collisions. What started as cries of outrage slowly turn into pleas and even prayers sent to the heavens for release.

Man will watch the bird’s fight in the cage and find the noise unpleasant. So, he will think of what to appease the bird with or at least get it to cease the endless flutter that’s denying him peace to observe the colorful view he covets. So, he will decide to limit the bird’s struggles by snipping the tips of the feathered wings. He will also find nuts, fruits, and seeds to appease the bird and control the screeching and the scratching. And he will call this discipline. He will call this teaching. And he will be pleased with himself.

The bird after consoling itself with the treats will understand the bribe. It will notice that the treats come to appease its cries. So that the cries that were once of outrage and prayer turn to demanding shrieks. It will soon teach the man what treats are pleasing by cawing in anger when the least favorite ones are given. The proud bird will tell itself that it still makes the choices on what it wants to eat and when.  It will now crack away on the nuts and hop around the cage under an imaginative vapor of its glory days. And it will call that freedom. It will be pleased with itself.

We’ll reach a point that man and bird face each other.

Man is now bent by the spine feeding a bird just to keep it quiet and peaceful. He looks at the now docile bird and wonders why he can’t see those beautiful colors and graceful movements anymore. It sometimes occurs to him that the colors are hidden under the flightless wings. And sadly still, the graceful swings of the bird are rusty from restricted hops and limps within the cage. He will search his memory to reconcile the fascinating creature he met with the now defeated but still proud one in the cage. He will feel wistful, but we don’t know if the man could one day set his self-importance and pride aside. We don’t know also if he will come to admit and understand that there’s no beauty in a confined bird but just the responsibility to feed it. Or if he’d come to the humbling conclusion that beauty is not his to tame or possess to begin with.

Bird is now crippled, ill-tempered, and entitled. After consoling itself with being in the cage by thinking it was being served and pampered, its plight reveals itself with time.  We don’t know if the bird remembers the days when it had true freedom. Or if it’ll convince itself that it had a better view and provisions that outweigh its choices. We don’t know if it bothers to caw for its treats anymore. We don’t know if songs burst from its breast from the lightness of its flight and rising of the sun.

It is at this point that man and bird face each other. Their pride stares on the surface mingled with slight regret, morose, and nostalgia. Man looks at bird, bird looks at man and this goes on and on until we don’t know where man ends and bird starts. We don’t know anymore which is bird and which is man. We don’t even know that they are two entities anymore as their demise swirls and coils into one messy structure.

And this, my dear, is what happens when a self-righteousness man encounters a colorful proud bird.

Brother, cry…

Mama dear, my brothers don’t cry, neither do my uncles and fathers… and I’m not sure I know why…

I remember a shamefully beautiful, sunny day that also happened to be the day we lost a lady we loved. As you know, funerals in our home are big and sad affairs that go on for days. He was present from the beginning; organizing the family meeting, drafting the budget, and even lifting heavy material to erect temporary structures. I noticed him because he paused next to my hiding place under the shade, stretched his painful back and reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. He then proceeded to wipe hid sweaty brow, then quickly removed his dark sunglasses and wiped the tears from his eyes. He did this fast and discreetly before anyone could notice him crying. I did.

My own sniffing and silent sobs were interrupted by the few seconds that I saw this man allowing himself to wipe away hidden tears. I gazed at him as he burst around the place making sure everything was handled. This hidden sorrow that reminded me of my own brothers paused my mourning.

This man could have been like my brothers whose tears I have forgotten the sight of. They cried when they were young children, I recall them crying in pain after a fall. Sometimes, they cried in anger and frustration. Other times they cried when hungry or scared. They even cried when I poured cold water on their heads when washing them. And sometimes they cried for no good reason to manipulate or just be fussy. Little boys just cry.

There’s an invisible line that one crosses from one stage of life to another, I think. We woke up one day and these boys had crossed a line towards, not adults, but children too old to cry. I’m not sure when exactly that is, but one day the child would drop his favorite snack and cry, then a nearby figure would admonish;

“Stop crying like a baby! You are a big boy now!”

This same sentence will alter until it one day becomes;

“Be a man!”

And just like that, that small boy gradually transfigures into a man whose tears are warned to not fall and label him weak and out of control. This small boy turns into a man who holds his tears until his eyes burn. This man who had just lost the woman who raised him as her own was now single-handedly organizing her funeral. He will work tirelessly and we will all praise him. We will think of what a great, strong man we have in the family. We will even feel quite thankful for his manly presence and authority. But this man hides his sorrows, just like my brothers.

And this brings me back to that shamefully beautiful day where the man planned and planned. And with everything fixed, he took himself to the pub and sat with his friends with a big bottle. They talked, laughed and made loud jokes about everything and nothing. They downed the good liquor until it was early the next morning, then they drunk a little more. His friends did not give him lingering hugs, or arm squeezes. His friends didn’t ask how he was feeling and if he wanted to talk about it. They didn’t dare to ask if he wanted to talk about the loss of someone so dear to him. His friends just commented on the football scores and joked about their growing bellies and shrinking hairlines. They were handling everything like MEN.

The man then went home with only enough time to shower and change into a somber black suit for the burial. The burial where he and his brothers will carry their beloved to her final resting place. I find it ironic that they will carry the weight of their lost loved one above the weight of all the tears they were taught to hold in. The man will go through the funeral with red eyes that his friends and family will attribute to the previous night of heavy MANLY drinking. And a dripping sweat that they’ll call a hangover. Mama dear, that is the same sweat the man will use as an excuse to wipe away his tears with a handkerchief before fixing his dark glasses on as the last song is sung for his beloved.

Oh, mama! My brothers don’t cry, neither do my uncles and fathers… do you have any idea why?



Remember the beautiful, crystal vase that stood in our home?
It was such a pretty sight! It stood on a raised platform on the best-lit spot in the house. Everyone who visited our home saw it and complimented its beauty and grandeur. We all adored it and made a family goal to keep it well polished and shiny. We took it upon ourselves to keep it safe and warned anyone who danced near it. No one shook the raised platform that the vase stood on. Even our pets knew better than to play near that spot. And so, there stood a beautiful, delicate crystal vase in our home.

Mama, do you remember the vase, that you so proudly displayed to your friends and family? The one you made sure we all took turns polishing? It was your dignity and delight!

Papa, do you remember pointing it out to your colleagues when they visited and talking long and boastfully to everyone who could listen about it? Do you remember the threats you made to anyone who came too close to breaking it?

Brother, do you remember stopping on your tracks just in time to not touch the platform and shake the vase? Do you remember never banging the door in your anger, in case it rattled the walls and toppled the vase over?

Sister, do you remember your silence? Do you remember swallowing your screams when angry because you somehow feared that loud noises would shake the delicate vase? Do you remember when you stopped dancing because your merry lightness let you so close to the raised platform that you shook the vase?

Aunts, uncles, neighbors! Do you all remember our quiet household with no tantrums, no raised voices, no banged doors or dancing feet? Do you remember admiring the tranquility?

I remember taking turns with everyone in the family to polish the vase. I also remember covering my nose every time I stood close to the vase because it stank! That beautiful crystal smelled like lifelessness. From deep inside its soft, shiny mold came the smell of rot! The smell of an accumulation of decomposed matter. Only we who stood close enough could smell the stench, and it grew stronger, spread wider with time. I sensed that the neighbors and frequent visitors started smelling it too. But everyone ignored that dead-matter smell because it was coming from such a beautiful, delicate vase!

I remember one day standing next to the vase with my duster and polisher ready to give it a good shine. I started polishing with dread in my gut and my breath held. When I allowed myself a lungful of air, I inhaled a foul stench! This time the decay of so much had brewed into a marvelous lung-piercing stench. My gut couldn’t hold itself together; and so, I turned and watched you all going about your subtle activities with shallow breaths, I moved my hand to give the vase a mighty shove and watched it crash with a satisfying sound…
I expected your unbelieving, shocked faces… I didn’t expect the glorious relief in my belly.

We stand now staring at the shattered pieces as an ugly smell rises from the floor and spreads throughout the house:

Mama, that’s the smell of accumulated secrets. That’s the smell of the many times you warned your daughters to cover their legs while welcoming predators into your house. Smells of also the many times you swallowed dams of tears for the sake of keeping the family together.

Papa, that’s the smell of your dissatisfaction for marrying, for settling and shrinking your dreams into fatherhood. The smell of your resentment that reminded her she was never enough. That’s the smell of the pride you strapped so tightly around your core that you wouldn’t let your son be a mere boy.

Brother, that’s the smell of your lost childhood. That’s the smell of your anger and insecurities buried so deep that you will miss them when you finally let go. That’s the smell of your manliness that doesn’t allow you to cry or ask for help.

Sister, that’s the smell of your stifled sobs from the nights that you cried yourself to sleep because the burden your mothers asked you to bear wasn’t yours. That’s the smell of your confusion and sense of betrayal. It’s also a smell of your resolve to carry this burden to your children so you may finally sleep.

These dear family, are the smells of the secrets we kept even though everyone knew about them but chose to look away. This smell is the reality of our lives behind the mask of perfection and still waters. And as we stand looking down at the shattered hypocrisy on our feet, the smells rise and wisp towards every room in the house. It’s hard to breathe. Someone better open a window and let in some fresh air. And I’m pretty sure someone is about to scream at me for deciding to break this vase. This beautiful, delicate, crystal vase that stank of dead matter… Somebody is going to do something. And to that I say; let there be noise.


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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.


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!