TWISHA Part 2

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.

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.