When a man cries

“Yeah… (Pause…) No, no, my daughter just passed.” (Pause…), “Thank you, the one that was in Butere Girls” (Pause…) “Yes that one. We had gotten her results, she had a B+…..”  See I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he was walking right in front of me, and even if I had tried, not that I did, there was no way I could shut my ears and for some reason, I felt myself get involved in a conversation that was not meant for me. He was on the phone. The conversation went on. “We had just rushed her to Nairobi Women’s.” (Pause…) “She was complaining of headache and back ache, she passed before they could find out what was wrong with her.” (Pause…sob…sob…).

He stopped, and I walked past him. I walked slowly, and curiosity got the best of me so I turned back, here was a man that was openly crying on the streets. He seemed to be in his mid fifties, he was dressed ok, black trouser and a grey coat, I didn’t notice the colour of his shirt and neither did I look at his shoes. What I noticed though was the pained expression on his face. He looked like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, like he had totally given up on life, like it didn’t matter to him if the sun ever rose again or if the sky suddenly turned green. He didn’t even care that he was crying in the streets.

He started walking again and I reduced my pace. Yeah, I know, I know, my mother did teach me and I knew better than to eavesdrop on a private conversation. I was trying to mind my own business, but here was a man crying, talking on the phone and crying. He wasn’t screaming, howling or causing a scene, if anything, he seemed totally oblivious of his surroundings. He walked on and the conversation went on.  “No, I am alone right now. There is a shortage of matatus and the ones to Ngong are charging seventy shillings.”  (This was happening somewhere along Ngong road near Uchumi hyper.) It was true, there had been a shortage of matatus that day and I was actually just stalling to see if I would be lucky to get one heading to town and if not, then I would be forced to walk to town. The man too seemed to have decided to walk to town.  He passed me again and I increased my pace, don’t ask me why but I just did.

From his conversation, I learnt that his daughter had just come from Butere the previous Friday. She had fallen ill and had sadly passed on. I did not get to know who was on the other end of the phone, but from what I got to hear, I assumed it was relative.  I also learnt that the man did not have enough fare to take him to Ngong, so he was walking to town to see if he could meet another relative who could hook him up with enough fare to get him to Ngong. I wondered if I should intervene, but this being Nairobi, I hesitated. Why I hesitated? Well, Nairobi is known to be full of con men and women that would go to extreme lengths to exploit the unsuspecting victim. So yeah, I hesitated for just a second. Second.

“Mpsesa? (Pause…) yeah, I think I can find one.” (Pause…) Go to prestige and wait for you there? Ok …thank you.” He hung up and turned back. I got a chance to look at his face again, closely this time because he was just about to walk past me. I smacked myself for the one second I had suspected him to be a con, because his face registered pure misery and the tears hadn’t stopped.

I don’t know what got into me but I stopped him, and when he stopped I didn’t know what to do. What do you tell a stranger who you know nothing about other than what you had accidentally overheard in a conversation that was totally not meant for you? What do you tell a man that is clearly mourning a daughter he just lost? Really, I don’t know why I stopped him. To him, I was a stranger who knew nothing of his pain. None the less, he stopped and he looked at me with a face so pained, I wanted to just hug him and tell him that everything thing would be ok, but I did not know that it would be. So instead, I gave him my condolences, reached into my handbag and gave him one hundred shillings that I hoped would get him to Ngong. He looked at me in amazement, thanked me and asked God to bless me. He then got his phone and as he walked past, I heard him say,” meet me in Ngong, I am going home to tell her mother. She needs to hear it from me first.”

So yeah, maybe I was scummed (forgive me for having beef with Nairobi), but when a man talks like that, when he cries like that, you gotta be touched. Your heart goes out to him. because when a man cries, then you know he is truly hurting so you feel a little of his pain, and for his sake, you pray he is not just a good actor. I hate to see a man cry.






It’s been a while…

‘Been wondering to myself why I haven’t written for so long. And so far, I can’t come up with a reasonable reason/excuse. So before I start giving you excuses as to why my last post was sometime in November last year, let me first apologise for being so lazy.

Now that my apology has been accepted, (I hope) maybe I can now try with the excuses. So I have been busy.  Yeah, I know who hasn’t? Stop rolling your eyes at me and listen first. So, I signed a contract for a job that involves me going to primary schools around Eastern talking to girls about hygiene, sanitation, menstruation and the works while handing out free sanitary towels. My job tile you ask, Field nurse. I didn’t in a million years think that this was the job for me. It took a little cajoling from my dad, and a lot of being broke for me to even consider it.

Then there was the training, weeks and weeks of training. What? You think it is easy to stand in front of pre-adolescent girls who think they know it all, and tell them how and why their bodies are changing? Those girls have a certain kind of attitude that needs you to come down to their level while at the same time being the adult and the nurse for that matter who knows “all” there is to know about their bodies and whatever else there is to know. But worse than the know it all girl is the teacher who feels like you are invading her space and taking the shine.  So yea, the weeks and weeks of training helped.

Now I  talk about the female reproductive system without batting an eyelid, pad underwear (sometimes in front of an audience of eighty plus.) in half a second while at the same time explaining how it is done and why it is done as it is,  I don’t even cringe  as I do it. Just the other day, I was telling a friend that the number of times I have to say vagina in a day is too damn high. But I’m used to it now; I even kind of love it. (it’s my job I love, not saying vagina).

It has been an experience let me tell you. Every school is different and every audience is difference. I have learnt patience, learnt to judge an audience and know what to say and what not to say, I have learnt how to smile and still be tough all at the same time. I have learnt how to answer silly questions with a straight face. To try not to act shocked when a girl tells me what she uses for sanitary protection. Believe me, I have heard all manner of things and to think of some of the things these girls use, in this day and era, I can’t help but be shocked. Most of all, I have learnt to understand the girl child, to love her. I count myself blessed to have been allowed the opportunity of helping usher her into womanhood in the most gentle and nurturing way possible.

Today’s girl is tomorrow’s woman. If she grows knowing how to take care of herself she grows with confidence. If she grows with confidence, she growsempowered; she grows into a woman of substance. Taking whatever the world throws at her in one stride. It takes a village to bring up a child they say. I’m honoured to be a part of that village. Some schools are more fun than others, some more welcoming than others; some appreciate the effort while others don’t even care. There are days I get home and wonder if it is even worth it. But then I remember a girl that was more than grateful for my assistance, and I go to bed knowing that I at least gave back to society even if it was in such a small way.

That’s what I have been up to. Touring Eastern, it’s been fun, but it’s also been exhausting. There are times I get home and don’t remember how I got into the shower or even how I managed to change into my night cloths. There are times when I’m so beat I fall asleep on top of the covers. Maybe now you understand why I’ve been kind of quiet for so long. I’ve been out there trying to change the world. (Put smiley face here). Anyway guys, I will try not to be silent for so long. I will try and write more, give you a detailed version of some of my experiences out in the field. I’ve missed you all and it’s great to be back. Belated Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and happy valentines. Woi! I think I should stop now while I’m still ahead.

Loneliness is…

Right now, I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes, its almost impossible to find the right words. You know exactly what you want to say, but you also know that no matter how hard you try, no words will ever feel right. Some feelings cannot be described. Like love, how would one describe love? love is…I don’t know how best to describe it. But I know for sure that loneliness must be the opposite of love.

Its crazy to love someone that doesn’t love you back, it’s crazy when the person that loves you is one that you don’t love. It’s a lonely place to be. He tells me he loves me…and I can’t find it in my heart to say it back to him. I just can’t. So I look at him and just smile…that sad smile that doesn’t really take away the hurt we both feel. He says I will come along one day, thing is, I don’t think I will. My heart must belong to someone else, or does it? He doesn’t seem to want it that someone else. I asked him if we could talk, he said “sorry not now.” I wanted to just get into my bed and cry, but my pride wouldn’t let me. So I did the next best thing.

I got to talking to all my awesome friends…I asked them to to help me describe loneliness…this feeling that was slowly tearing me apart, this feeling that was making me a walking mess. I wanted to know what it was, i wanted to know how it felt to everybody else. This is what my friends had to say, some of it is pretty interesting;

1. S.O , this is a crazy one, she was also very hangover when I asked her.she made my day when she said “loneliness is Loneliness”, to her, there was no other way to describe it. Made me smile.

2. Ena, said that “Loneliness is a feeling of  missing someone you love.” I’d asked them to think out of the box, I think she just got a dictionary definition. Mad love Ena.

3. Lil, said,”Loneliness is looking a far as people I used to be close to chat and laugh and i’m there wondering what on earth happened to me.” Way to go Lil, I feel you.

4. Hbanjo; “Loneliness is missing the person you are sitting right next to.” Sad isn’t it? her reply was instant, like it was something she knew all too well about.

5. E.N; “Loneliness is being alone in a mammoth crowd.” Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to comment.

6. Ndele, my bro Ndele had this to say, “Loneliness is, me without you,well that’s true like the numbing void irreplaceable with any breath of life or matter in view.” Always trying to be poetic this one. Needless to say, I didn’t really get it, but loneliness like pain is subjective.

7. Mama T; To her, ” loneliness is not realizing your full potential.” You can tell that this is a woman with Goals to be met and so on…

8. Jay had this to say ; ” loneliness is when you think you are committed to someone when she/he is mteja. the person you are calling is not available we have notified them u tried to call….. if you wish to leave a voice message.”

9. R.K  said, ” Loneliness is also being stuck with someone who has all the reasons to prove that you are not meant to be. ” This one hit so close to home I almost doubled over!!!

10. Fay said, “Loneliness is watching the person you love, love somebody else.”

11. Jollybella, ” Loneliness is wanting to pour something where there is nothing left to pour.”

12. T from Canada summed it up for me when she said that “loneliness is temporary.” and I believed her.

To love somebody you know would never love you back is lonely. To love somebody that takes you for granted is lonely. To love somebody you know truly well you shouldn’t love is lonely. To love somebody that doesn’t even acknowledge your existence is lonely. To love someone that is miles and miles away is lonely. The dreadful emptiness that is not caused by hunger deep in the pits of your stomach is loneliness. To bear your soul out only to have it’s contents thrown  back to your face is loneliness.

Three thousand, six hundred and eighty three characters, seven hundred and thirteen words, fifty two sentences later, and I still don’t feel like I did this post any justice. I still don’t feel like I can ever find the right words to describe Loneliness so i’m done trying, but I can rest assured, knowing that at least I tried.

Everything that could possibly go wrong…

You go to bed at 10:34 pm. Early? Not if you had a long day, and especially not if you walked home from town. Ati why did you walk? Well, just coz…and plus si you can save that ka 70/- and at the same time catch a few minutes of exercise?  Good idea huh? Wrong! By the time you get home, you are just about to collapse this walking home thing, bad idea. Bad bad idea. You promise yourself to never do it again. You get home and find the breakfast dishes staring at you faithfully from the sink, you decide to multitask, wash the dishes as you whip up a quick meal for super. By the time you are done, it’s time to watch the nine o’clock news.

So yeah, you go to bed hoping for  a long night filled with sweet dreams. You don’t know about the sweet dreams because you black out two seconds after you hit the bed. You can definitely say something about the night being long because you wake up thirty minutes later than you normally do. Damn it! You are going to be late for work!!! From there, everything just goes down hill.

You rush to the kitchen to warm water for bathing but soon realize that using the kettle will take too long, so what now?use gas? No, you’l just take a cold shower, after all, The sun is shining, the water must be warm. You have never been so wrong about anything in your life, the water is freezing cold. Good thing though, it means you will shower faster. You get out of the shower and realize that in your haste, you went to the bathroom without your slippers, whatever, you will just run to your room barefoot. You slip and miss breaking your neck by a fraction. Wet feet and tiles, Maji na mafuta.

NO NO no nooooooo, you were too tired last night to set out your clothes for the day and needless to say, you can’t find anything to wear, you take a peek at your phone, it’s quarter to eight. You are not late. No, you are LATE. Those unironed clothes will just have to do. Won’t they? No problem, you’l make up for it by wearing  your cutest sandals. You are in such a hurry, you don’t remember just how delicate the straps on your scandals are. You break one. Ok, so forget  the sandals, you slip on the nearest pair of shoes. No one will even notice your shoes anyway, yeah?

You manage to get to the stage, catch a bus and lucky for you Jam ni kiasi, and although to you it feels like forever, you get to the clinic. You sigh in relief and smile as you get in, only thirty minutes late, you congratulate yourself and conclude that today might not be such a bad day after all. Too soon, you meet the manager at the door and is that a purple shirt he is wearing? of course it is, whatever made you think it would be a good day. Everybody knows what the purple shirt means.Manager is in a rotten mood. It’s going to be a long day. Morning greetings from him, “You are late, don’t let it happen again.” You nod and hurry to the nurses station.

One of the two nurses is off so there are just two of you. You dispense medication, take vital signs, dress wounds, give medication , you are swamped  in the midst of all that, you forget you have a lunch break. Serves you right for being late in the first place. Half of Nairobi is sick today, and for some reason, they chose to be seen at this particular clinic. Yeah that’s great, bring it on. By four o’clock,Hypoglycemia is killing you, are on the verge of fainting. Somebody hands you a banana and a cup of tea, bless her soul.

You leave the clinic and your phone rings on your way to kencom, ( you are taking the bus today, lesson learnt yesterday). So the phone call, remember that place you worked a few weeks ago? Yeah its’s them. You hold your breath and cross your fingers, hoping its good news. They still haven’t paid you so this might be it, hahaha!!! Joke on you, that cash you were expecting sometime this week, well that’s not happening, there is a problem with one of your numbers. You know the ones you  queued for hours to get?  At least If you want to get paid, You have to go through those queues again coz one of the numbers seems to be invalid.(Somebody needs to get fired somewhere. Invalid number your toe). Arrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!! And now is when they are telling you! Five o’clock when all the government offices are closed.

You get into the bus and are frisked by someone who seems to have had a worse day than you. Easy boss, that’s way too high for your comfort. You irritably ask her not to touch/frisk you there, Nkt!! You are so busy seething you almost miss your stop, but you don’t. You alight and decide not to use the fly over, ( a stupid decision) but you will just cross, kwani? By the time you get across you have about thirty drivers hooting at you. Eish, they should cut you some slack. No?

You get another phone call, you are a little skeptical since the calls for the day haven’t been all that encouraging, You ignore it but the caller is persistent, he wont let your conscience rest. So you answer the phone. Oh! it’s that guy… the one that  has liked you for years. You smile and although you haven’t seen him in years given that he is out of the country,(ati long distance relationships? hahaha, you are funny!) either way, it’s a little sunshine into your otherwise gloomy day. So you start talking, you are almost home, you are oblivious of your surrounding engrossed in conversation. Then you hear your name shouted with such enthusiasm, you stop dead on your tracts, look around, you don’t see anyone you might know around. You brush it off and keep walking, then you hear it again, your name, and this time its your middle name, Ok, that’s interesting, not alot of people know your middle name. Its followed by a hoot! You look around, oh the blue car, the guy is actually rolling down his window. Curiosity gets the best of you although you proceed with caution.

Its your old flame (for lack of a better word). lol. You know the one where you both liked each other but the timing was never right? The one you kinda had a thing with but never really got to define the “thing”? yeah him.  You excuse yourself to the guy n the phone. So he (old flame) goes like oh, I didn’t know you got back! All you can think of is your unironed clothes and your “whatever” shoes. You curse yourself mentally and keep the smile plastered on your face. You give him an awkward hug through the car window, remind him that he is holding traffic, and he goes like “oh?” Then he says he will call you. you tell him he doesn’t have your number but its ok. He says he will leave you an inbox. On facebook you assume. You get back to your phone call and try to explain that you just met a friend of yours, the guy on the other end is not amused, the conversation does not end well. Sigh.

You get home, slump n the couch and wish you could just take a break from everything for a day. You are home alone, No breakfast dishes. You are too tired to cook so you eat the breakfast you didn’t take this morning for supper. You go to bed earlier than the previous night, only to wake up at three am. Nothing to do so you decide to take the time and go through your mail…nothing interesting, wait, Waht?something n facebook catches your attention. No, old flame has not left you an inbox. On the contrary, he has posted photos of him and his new “flame”. Lots and Lots of photos. Like really man? Why you gonna go and do that? You shake your head and let it pass.

You decide to go back and catch maybe an hour of sleep. Its still to early to be awake. Your alarm doesn’t go off and you wake up with a jolt. You check your phone and try to figure out why the alarm didn’t go off,for some reason the phone is off and it wont waka. Damn you phone, you rush to the wall clock in the sitting room. You are not late for  work today, did I just say work? scratch that, I meant this place you volunteer, you are not late for that. But then again, although you connect your stupid phone to the charger, it still won’t waka. Reality that your phone has died hits you and sinks in slowly. you have had that phone forever, you loved that phone, and anyway, Nokias are not supposed to just die on you. So now, you are phoneless, and this is how you tell your friends not to call you on your airtel line. Phone won’t waka…but it could be worse.

You smile and hope that at least today will be a better day.

My biggest Fan

He sits on the bleachers and cheers me on. Regardless of whatever it is I am doing. He cheers the loudest, he doesn’t care who is watching, or listening, he is always there. Through life’s tough races and even though sometimes I loose he is still there with me, encouraging me to pick myself up and try again. When I do I win, and he is right there besides me letting me bask in the glory of my triumph not taking any credit for all the cheering that encouraged me on when I thought I couldn’t make it.

We go way back, he probably doesn’t remember this, but I remember him defending me from bullies in school. I cried when I went to boarding school and left him behind, he made me promise not to cry as I watched him leave the country for what would be years and years. I kept my promise, I didn’t cry, but I remember going to the bathroom and retching my guts out.

He gets a little over protective and while he wouldn’t put his foot down to tell me what I can or can’t do, from him, I know the “gentleness” that is tough love. He doesn’t shy away from telling me exactly what he thinks. He disproves of some of my choices and although I have disappointed him a couple of times, I am yet to hear the “I told you so’s” .  I’m all grown,but for some reason he still thinks i’m his responsibility. He took me back to school and did his best to see that I remained there even when things were tough. (And for that, I will forever be grateful). He spoils me they say, (don’t ask who they know themselves) but only a little, or not.( Put cheeky smiley here.)

He is no angel this brother of mine, sometimes he pisses me off I have smoke coming out of my ears…No, it’s never been that bad and I don’t even remember the last time we got into a fight. (ok I remember but who cares?) I only have one of him and  my life wouldn’t be the same without him. I pray that every girl would have a big brother like mine.

I called him to wish him a “happy birthday” and the conversation ended up being about me and how I was about to start a new chapter in my life. ( No, i’m not getting married, at least not yet. Hold the “congratulations” for  just a little bit and stop with the pressure. Patience people, patience! soon though.) He doesn’t like the attention and this post would have him blushing from here to mars. But I don’t care, I will take this opportunity to wish my big brother a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You are way too kind, you are way too modest, so on this special day, lets make it all about you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kingosh (lol remember that one?).

The utter selfishness…

Self·ish- adjective \ˈsel-fish\ : Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.

Still don’t get it? I’ll break it down for you.

Flushing your VIP status to my face while i’m attending to a patient that is bleeding out and expecting me to stop and attend to your non urgent case is being selfish. Never gonna happen, wait like everybody else, if not, there is the door. Go in peace and while at it, take your VIP-ness with you. Thank you.

Taking hospital linen while on night duty, spreading it on the floor to take naps while there are patients out there freezing in the cold is  being selfish. Bring a shawl or blanket from home. Hospital linen is for the patients, not the stuff. Shame on you.

Making the student nurses do all the dirty work while you sit and chat with your friends is being selfish. Not only does it endanger the patient who by the way is your number one priority, it doesn’t help the student whose sole purpose is to learn under your guidance. Life’s karma will get you. It always does.

Now, men, Brothers, Cousins, Husbands, Boyfriends, or whatever, sitting in front of the computer all day surfing the net while all the time piling up dishes, cups, glasses, plates, jugs, juice boxes (you get the picture) on the table and not cleaning after yourselves is being selfish. You expect her to come home from work, clean up your mess, make you supper, and for husbands and boyfriends, you expect her to put on a show for you when you finally get to the bedroom. How now? A woman knows her place in the home, you don’t have to cook, damn you don’t even have to wash the dishes (although once in a while wouldn’t kill you.) but would you please clean up after yourself? Such are the things that differentiate a boy from a man. Grow up if you expect to be treated as men.

Daughters,sons, students, lying to your parents, guardians or sponsors just to get some extra cash is being selfish. Do you not see how these people toil day in day out, just so that your basic needs are met, then you will lie to them? That is just wrong. Wrong on so many levels.

Drivers and especially those of matatus, driving recklessly and changing lanes whenever you feel like is being selfish. Not only does it cause crazy crazy jam, it also endangers the lives of the passengers. If you don’t care for your own life, please  understand that your passengers are people with families, responsibilities and goals they want to achieve. Don’t end their lives prematurely with your haste to get I don’t know where.

Neighbours, playing loud loud music over the weekend when your neighbours baby is sleeping is not only being selfish it is rude. So is using your neighbours passwordless wi-fi to download stuff, outrageously slowing their connection and worse still is the guy who password locked his neighbours wi-fi ensuring that his neighbour, (the owner) could not access his own internet. The guts on people is amazing and not in a good way.

Dear Government of Kenya, refusing to pay the teachers their July salary because they went on strike, even after they returned to work  is….should I even go there?… with all due respect, I rest my case.