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LESSONS FROM MS. MAYA

image from linkedin

I met Ms. Maya’s work in my early twenties, when I was still full of idealism and brush about aged words, not that I was in anyway anti-learning, just anti listening.

Aged words like aged wine require an appreciation, you need to give your palate time to appreciate the flavor of aged wine, the aroma, the richness, then finally . . . an acceptance and understanding of the taste, finally you can clearly articulate to another what the wine tastes like, how it makes you feel.

When you give in to the kaleidoscope, the riot of flavors, the rich bouquet of aroma and essence then you are better placed to explain and appreciate what you are tasting. Words, aged words, like wine, need time, they can only be fully appreciated over a stretch of seasons.

downloaded from a pinterest acount

Back to my story, I came across her work, and at the time I read it in a rush, trying to catch the flow of her prose as opposed to taking in anything she wrote. I did not want to absorb her meaning, her intent, or maybe my mind was not enlightened enough, my experience mature enough, for me to sit, read and digest her words, in turn developing an appreciation of the words that she wrote. An understanding that they are not to be be used loosely . . .without care, but that her words are a precious trove, a gem of learning, a reminder that nothing is really new, and as such nothing cannot be overcome.

I read one of her poems again recently and found it so relatable, the ability to relate was partly because of the development of my exposure and experience, since I last read it, I’ve hurt a little, fought and won some battles and understood a little better the strength in silence and the victory in humility.

So I begin with an appreciation of one of the greats, a bowing to the lessons of age, experience and time. An appreciation of tragedy, hope, wins and loses. An understanding that in every single experience a lesson can be drawn and an opportunity provided to learn and to grow.

thank you.

Hope.

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Earthly Home


My Farmer, he loves his family, his land, his farm, his friends, his pick-up truck. . . he is loved by God, his community, his church. . .

He has added one more love. . . me!

He is my third love, and he will be my last love. My love for him is different, unlike my previous shaky, anxious loves, the love that grows inside me for him feels strong, well guided and properly placed. . . like a harmonious orchestra.  

I am so happy, the peace he fills me with is Godly, something I cannot explain, watching him makes me determined to be better, to try at the impossible. 

When his serious, gentle, intelligent eyes rest on me, I am inspired, determined, he is the sort of man you want to follow, a man whose legacy you want to add to, to protect, my husband, who is meek at heart, strong and brave inside and out. 

My heart has found her earthly home and my mind has found her partner. 

His love is not loud, anxious or insistent,

His love is gentle, honest, kind, generous. . . a quiet, stable love, a love that exists with the promise of commitment and constancy.

A gracious love founded on Christ, a love that does not inspire an anxious need to please but one that inspires a determination to grow, to be better, to bring value. 

His laugh though is loud, all encompassing, he carries you along with it, a generous full laugh. 

It feels like he has an endless reserve of love and life, a determination, self-awareness, accountability and empathy. He is responsibility, a husband I must be careful with, for I know that God will also hold me accountable, for she who is given much, from her much is expected. 

So I pray and I strive to be a Godly wife, to bring him warmth and order, to help him diminish what is not worthy, and grow what is worthy. To listen to him, so that we can be a cohesive team.

I know his secret, why he is constant, I love to dance around him, it is a dance that flows out from my own reserve of love, it delights him and draws us closer.

He knows his own mind. How he laughed at my detractors, at the malice of those that hated me, at my own sometimes skewed self-portrait, I held my heart in but it flew out in love and tears as he laughed in their faces, took my hand and together we walked away, towards our God ordained sunset.

I am determined to make this work, pouring in all of me that is worthy of praise and surrendering to God what is not, asking God daily for His guidance, His leading, so that I am an exceptional wife to my loving, Godly husband. God continues to strengthen him and build him, his value blooms as his courage is unshakable.

His respect in the community is rightly given, for he is inside as he is outside. A proverbs 31 husband. 

How God has loved us, His gentle leading has led us, loved us. . . protected us. The love of God is our foundation, and my love’s secret to warmth.

Life will be tumultuous but people do not have to be tumultuous. 

He is unshaken by this world, its growing confusion and anarchy, the foundation of his faith and hope is our Lord Jesus Christ, a foundation that is unshakable, he is my love, my God given love. 

A dedication to Christian wives, a reminder of who we are, and who we can be. 

For Faith, Lucy and Ruth; may God guide you and watch over your coming and going, give you wisdom, hope and love, so that your lives are filled with indestructible Godly Joy, and produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The farm truck, Lucia Verdejo

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Changes

ballerina-marcus-arceneaux.jpg (350×400) (fineartamerica.com)

I want to write but I feel I can’t, like words want to tumble out but I’m different, and the new girl won’t let me, my more lyrical thoughts become a mouthful word stuck on a stutterer’s tongue. I want to hack at the words, force them out of my mind and on to paper, but they don’t come out. Through words experiences have been shared, tears have freely flowed, and love was easily expressed. I have bled and I have healed. Yet this time I feel a hardness inside, so the words struggle to tumble out, yet. . .this is not goodbye.
I don’t know yet what this is, there is a newness and a strength that I welcome, yet I miss my butterfly girl, I want to continue pouring out her beauty, her heart on paper, but I can’t. Her heart has changed, her back is straighter, her thoughts not fleeting, her eyes are still gentle, but they are not the same, they burn differently. Her heart is still the same, only forged by different metal. I want my fragile beauty, but she is gone, in her place a new beauty has been formed. . .
I want to be bitter, to scream. . . to be vengeful, to mourn my fragile beauty, yet, she was meant to leave, her time was up. The woman in her place is different, sharper, stronger, a granite beauty. Maybe she was always here, encased by ms. fragile, patiently awaiting her turn. I want to write but words, words. . . I can’t seem to find them. Perhaps it’s because I am still trying to fit fragile’s mind into granite’s spirit. Perhaps I allow granite her own words, her own opinions. Opinions which I find altogether unromantic and too inflaming, not soft or ethereal, opinions that make me uncomfortable. I’m not yet sure what her words are. . . but they will come.


Change is like the wind, it cannot be touched, and it cannot be stopped, it comes, turns the wind vanes and goes, I cannot cling to a person I`ve grown out of, she was cherished. . . she cannot be forgotten, growth has happened, and I`m learning to make peace with the new. To accept the disruption. The wind of growth has done its rounds, it came and silently took my fragile beauty, and left a granite princess in its place.


https://za.pinterest.com/pin/47639708533507830/ – Kalahari sunset, Rika de klerk art studios
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We lived

We run across the bridge, rain pouring, horns blaring from frustrated drivers stuck in traffic.

We were young, full of love, full of hope, in total trust of each other, nothing could dim the heady space we occupied, we were one. Our love was simple, easy, true. We were young.

And so we ran, laughing at the angry drivers, daring into the road, running faster, our hands interlocked, our feet wet, our clothes caught in the wind. . . Our happiness complete.

We crossed the bridge and headed towards the less crowded alley still running, still laughing. . . soaking wet. I was your love and you were my sunshine, your laugh was my hope, your eyes my dreams, we were alive, we could do anything, we could do it all.

We turned the corner and headed towards the beach, hearts palpitating. It felt dangerous and dreamy at the same time. Escaping into the sunset to see the ocean at night. The wind was howling, lifting my white dress up in a halo at my thighs.

Sunset painting by Leeza Beth; Saatchi art downloaded from google images.

You held on to my hand tighter, determined to bring a silly idea I had voiced earlier in class to life. We moved forward, I finally saw the white sand, and joy swirled inside me like a heady light of gold and silver, I was so happy, you turned my fantasy into a reality.

I stop and look up, hold your face in my hands, excited.
I can see the ship! not sure if it’s still moving towards the port or not. It looks unmoving, a giant hulk of red and rusty brown, that is all I can make out in the fading sunset light.

You tilt your forehead closer, touch mine with yours and smile into my face, I shyly smile back, then pull your hand forward, towards the water. We now don’t need to run, the wind picked up the rain clouds and glided away with them, away from us and the beach.

Image downloaded from google subject to copyright

You lay down the shawl you had carried on the sand, now soaking wet, I laugh at the irony of keeping warm in wet garments, you laugh back and pull me down onto your lap. I cuddle into you, taking in your warm gentle breath and now warming embrace. I plant my cheek on your wet shirt and smile. . . I am safe.

The wind is howling, the beach is almost empty and at the cusp of the shoreline, the waves are rolling in. I sit still and breathe, nestling further into your chest, my thoughts finally calming down. All the angst that hang about me all week is melting away, my joy stabilizing. . . I feel safe.

We were young . . . and now we are older, the peace that you emit has matured, you are firmer and I am less dependent. We still hold hands tightly, our roots have grown deeper, our love older, matured and still warm, still full of life. Your passion is more contained and I am less reckless. We both radiate a quiet joy in the silence of the evening, only the precious sounds of the wind and the waves surround us.

We have lived and continue to live, though today we are clothed in heavy warm jackets, shielded from the wind, we have to be practical. 😊 Yet your embrace is still my warmest and most safest place. My love, we lived and even in our sunset we continue to live. . .

Image downloaded from google images

love,

Ruth.

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LOVE THROUGH MY GLASSES

Image downloaded from google images.

In the end I am alone, alone, the isolation has sunk into my bones. I have fought with shadows, with dark shapeless ominous shadows. Creatures I believe mean me evil, creatures that chase away the light I fight so hard to hold on to. Shadows in my mind, shadows that are vanquished by light every day, every morning, but I have to do my part, I must summon light, for only light dispels the darkness.
I capture the light, hold on to it tightly, refuse to let go. When I finally think I have a good grip on it, I realize I’m sinking, and worse, is the isolation, is that they all left.
The silence is an internal wound, the rejection a grey memory, awful, but welcome. At least I know their hearts, they were always going to leave, no matter what. I would be left alone no matter what so rather this isolated reality than living in an artificial haze of conditional love.
Affection that needs to be feed, when my spirit is spent, and I have nothing left to give, they go. Laughing at my imperfections, determined to justify leaving, rejoicing in the flaws that they saw, the flaws that they now parade like a shield, to justify leaving.
Love is love, it is a privilege, an opportunity to look into someone else’s heart and mind, an opportunity to share, to build and be built.
Takers cannot understand love. Their love is conditional, a trade off, a barter of sorts. I am tired, is not business, trade and study a trade? Why transfer conditions into so sacred a space, why corrupt love with callousness?
All around me people are talking about money, wondering whether I have it or not, those that think I have it dive in. Those that know I have little scatter. . .I am so tired. My own understanding of value is challenged by the worldly isolation.
I have spent so long looking for my love I am tired, I never find him or her, even when I think I finally know him, he only loves the woman he thinks I am, it feels like deception, existing in this fetish love of sorts, a love that will change my hair, hide my voice, silence my spirit. A love that will constrict me into my lover’s preferred box. I can’t, I won’t let myself conform, constrict, be bound, so I leave.
When I meet another love, I find that he is manipulative at his worst, a maverick at his best, he is addictive and still wrong, for him I would drown, but he exerts a high price, that I abandon my belief, my foundation, my hope. . . again I leave. . .this time leaving a piece of myself on him, I cry, I mourn, I obsess, yet I am resolved to not look back, to grow stronger and to stop those ever leaking tears.
I wish we chose vulnerability rather than tricks, vulnerability over a wall of negative speculation, vulnerability over winning, vulnerability over isolation. I understand though, that sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes lust, sometimes selfishness, sometimes desperation, sometimes ambition, sometimes escapism. . . it’s not always love.

Image downloaded from google images, painter’s name signed on the picture.
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THE SEEING LADY JUSTICE

Image downloaded from google images

She is tall, taller than any human, even the tallest of them all. She took off her cloth blinders, and her gaze is brilliant. She possesses a multicolored Iris, sometimes a hot, molten gold sometimes azure sometimes a clear grey and predominantly a stormy black. She is dignified and graceful, her long gown formless and wide at the bottom, covering her legs. She always looks like she is floating through the air. On one of her hands she bears the heavy burden of her precious scales.

She stands watching the masses, looking at them with her tireless, sharp, frustrated eyes, trying to un tangle the horrid mess that can be the existence of man. Man has been overrun by his nature, she does not understand the hopeless desperation that she sees, the confusion, isolation, apathy and greed. The strong build their towers, sheltering themselves and keeping out the weak, yet even in their towers the struggle continues, the fight unending. Ripping each other apart in their struggle for that elusive dominance.

She does not understand it, that vicious struggle, she only sees how fragile their existence is, how hollow they make it, fighting for recognition when what they really hunger for is identity, longevity and control. She does not understand their determination to break each other just to be on top. On top of what? Brokenness and pain. She does not understand this myopic escapism. A people tooled and gifted with the capacity to build and add value, yet they focus on destruction through envy and exclusivity. She does not understand the paradox of a people that crave community, thrive in community, yet can be so prejudiced and hostile to one another.

The paradoxes of man’s actions and inner desires always plague her. Man craves peace, yet he creates implements of war, desires love but is hostile towards vulnerability, wants security yet he destroys the fundamentals of community with pride and selfishness.  

With her piercing sometimes cruel gaze, she peers at the man, a medusa of sorts, with the hunger to turn the unjust to stone, yet they never catch her gaze, they stay wary of her. She leans in and stares into the very heart of a man, discerning the depths of his soul, she frowns, shakes her head and adds a number to his file which she then stores within her voluminous gown, awaiting action by her human agents, not perfect!

She holds up her long pure white gown, it is sometimes black, a deep, matchless black, elegant and uncompromisingly pure. She NEVER does creams, or greys, or browns. There is no in between for her.

She continues gliding into the masses, looking into their eyes, her frustration at her un attended files and ever growing list of the unjust, un pure and corrupt growing ever deeper, she continues to look though, compelled by her very own nature to not stop. Her frustration reaches fever pitch, she starts to shriek not perfect! not perfect! not perfect! At her un seeing and deaf audience. They cannot see or hear her, and for some, even if they had the ability to access the vision to see her, they would prefer their known blindness.

What is wrong with the human race, they exhibit a blindness like she has not seen, a people easily seduced by broken, innate, temporary vessels. A people taken in by their pleasures. She fears for them, fears that they will not stand when they are finally overrun by the forces beyond the door. Even the ones that can see are too cowardly to act, preferring their escapist broken bubbles of safety, completely out of touch with the reality at hand.

She is angry now, those are her only two feelings, anger and frustration. The third. . . satisfaction, has long been forgotten. Dissatisfaction has a death grip on her. She pulls at her scales, gliding between the masses openly unhinged by the despair of those she cannot help, frustrated at her own incapacity to touch the realm of men.

Her own nature starts to feel tedious to her, why does she even bother any more, why not retreat to her high tower of justice, passing judgement from a distance. This proximity to the masses only amplifies her feelings of impotence, seeing, knowing, judging, yet still having to rely on her broken human servants, men and women who are no longer erudite, clear vessels but willingly impugned creatures, creatures that sell her mercy for a price.

She watches them sell away on earth, on her high tower the bonds of justice are severely eroded. The door of life is almost unhinged, held together by the kind, righteous, bold and outspoken. She watches them like a helicopter parent, appreciating the practical and loving the stubborn. She desperately tries to shield them from corruption, holding hope that their depleted ranks will be filled. For now, they are few, yet their task is heavy. The almost open door heightens her fear, leading her to keep on coming back to the land of men, to keep on trying to enforce justice even through her hopeless agents.

She knows what lies beyond the door, and fears that the realm of men will not survive an assault from such darkness. A darkness that will amplify their weaknesses and destroy them from within. So she continues her daily journeys among men, all while dragging her precious, ever heavier scales behind her.

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Stories

Me at the beach 😁😁

I have always loved stories. I created imaginary friends when I was a child, and spent most of my time searching for adventures. Creating fascinating fiction from the most mundane, dull things. My mother found my stories amusing, I think she was the first person I ever heard laughing at my stories and with that encouragement, I would often be found running my mouth around her. She would entertain me, and at the same time strictly caution against speaking lies, the bane of a storyteller she would say. I was to always be careful. Too many stories would lead to fibbing and white lies she would caution. 😉

Image downloaded from google images

In contrast, my father was not always amused. According to him, I spent too much time in the clouds. He would constantly remind us all, his children, that respect and provision would only come from education and hard work. He was not wrong my father, indeed, he understood the realities of our environment a lot better than a pre-teen would.

Coincidentally, father also loved stories. I remember how he loved the old man and the sea,- by Ernest Hemingway . The perilous tale of an old fisherman and his marlin. A story about the expansive ocean, determination in loss, sharks and harpoons! The book did not have pictures like bible stories for kids did, and I never really understood father’s fascination with the tale.

Lo! but when he narrated it, you were there, right there in the rocking boat, struggling with a big fish, heading further into the stormy sea- the sea was always stormy in all of father’s stories. 🙂 The only difference I fear was that instead of being Cuban, Santiago was suspiciously black in my imagination, with dark spots on his forehead and a gap between his teeth.

Image downloaded from google images

Father had a note book where he would write down accounts of almost everything in the house. He was and probably still is the best record keeper in the family. He used to title all his notebooks and diaries oldman, a nod to his favorite book character. He still loves to call himself oldman to date, much to mother’s chagrin, and laughs whenever mother admonishes him against using the name sasa umekuwa ukituitia uzee’ she would tell him.

I never understood his objection to my story telling though, maybe it was fear for me. Fear that the imaginary world would fully seduce me. Or fear that it would somehow rob me of social awareness. ‘Bread is not baked by stories eeh’ and ‘trouble follows a talkative mouth’ were his anthem during our many disagreements. I think he feared for my survival. Survival in a world that he already knew would tear me apart if I did not posses an ounce of pride or value that was commerciable.

What my mind was interested in were stories, mythical adventures and well, love. I valued love, colors, beauty, life . . .not in a hedonistic way, but in a dreamy optimistic way. On the other hand father knew that these values were not practical in the environment we were in.
Well I was sheltered and unaware of the forces my father contended with on a daily basis to create a bubble around us. I deeply value and appreciate his sacrifices, but I love his stories, always will.

FATHER’S STORIES:

My love for history come from father. He made stories from the past take on a fantastic sheen. He told me stories about his journeys around Kenya while working with the department of civil aviation. How him together with his colleagues were once stranded in Somalia during the Ogaden War because the pilot of their small aircraft miscalculated the coordinates to Wajir.

They were to fly to Wajir and service some air traffic control machines. Instead, they flew into hostile territory during war and were kept captive for 10 days. He says they were not mistreated though, as at the time, President Mohamed Said Barre was still in control of the Somali Democratic Republic, the Somali government then, according to father’s observation was organized and the evaluation of their illegal entry by the grace of God was done fairly.

He told me that the pilot was the first to realize that they were lost. They could no longer communicate with Kenya’s air traffic control. So they found a place to land so as not to waste fuel. Then re-group, re-position and find their way to Wajir. They located an airstrip and when they landed, they were met by a band of Somali soldiers. At the time, the soldiers thought that their plane was a soviet plane that was scheduled to fly in carrying ammunition. Father has always wondered how differently they would have been treated had there not already been a plane scheduled to land, perhaps they would have been shot at whilst still in the air. Perhaps he would have passed on, young and un married.

image downloaded from google images

They were immediately detained on suspicion of espionage, though father said it was an assumption on their part. The person who interrogated them never expressly accused them of spying. Their plane was searched and father believes that they probably found nothing to indicate hostile intent. Their plane was clearly civilian.

Father remembers how afraid they were. He recounted how the young British pilot who had flown their aircraft had knelt down while they were in captivity and began reciting bits of the Lord’s Prayer that he could remember. Father also told me of how they were all interrogated. The army was civil towards them, they were given vikoi to wrap around themselves due to the sweltering heat. He told of how they were fed canned soup and spaghetti and on Friday, on the government’s official day off, they were given goat meat. He recounted how the pious Somali soldiers prayed on their prayer mats whilst holding long guns with their hands.
The spaghetti was a legacy of Italian colonization over Somalia. The Kenyan government finally negotiated their release.

Image downloaded from google images

Father also remembers operation Entebbe, how the then president Kenyatta allowed the rescue mission access to Jomo Kenyatta airport for refueling. The excitement that followed the revelation of the clandestine night events that morning.
Operation Entebbe, also named operation thunderbolt, was a mission by Israeli troops commanded by Yonatan Netanyahu to rescue passengers and crew of Air France Airbus A300 jet airliner. The plane was flying from Tel Aviv destination Paris and had been diverted to Entebbe airport, Uganda by hijackers at odds politically with Israel. Uganda was then under the leadership of Idi Amin.
(There are several documentaries out there on the subject)

I got interested in these historical incidences because of Father’s masterful story telling.

He told be about Gen. Daudi Tonje, a general who brought major reforms into the Kenyan military and finally major. Gen Mahmoud Mohammed. An individual who’s actions he always told me gave this country stability.
Father admired how Gen Mahmoud had risen ranks without any advantage. He is a testament to how anyone can rise on the merit of their character.

The attempted Kenyan coup was a story I heard at school on several occasions, and it was just another historical event to me, until it was personalized through father’s eyes. Father remembered the announcement on Voice of Kenya by Leonard Mambo Mbotela, a charismatic broadcaster. The uncertainty and fear that followed the announcement. How people looted shops, the ensuing curfew and disorder. Father has since always appreciated having a stable government.

He told of how General Mahmoud swept in like a hero and restored order into the country. The general is a hero to my father, he represented a Kenyan man who took the uncertainty of a chaotic situation and gave the country back stability.

We remind ourselves from stories that we have the resilience to stand. That God has endowed us with the internal tenacity to withstand the traverse trials of disappointment, negativity, hate or deception.

That we can use our uniqueness to rise. That we are all created with unique power and strength to add value to our environment.

The uniqueness put inside us on creation is our strength. It will help us stand even when our environment is telling us to sit. Remember adversity can only quiet you down, it can never take from you who you are.

Adversity only makes us desperate enough to find ourselves, burst free and rise. We need adversity to call out and amplify our own self, our own voice and our own mind. Adversity is not for us to fear or give up, it is for us to lose our options and rise in our own unique color.

As always,

love,

Ruthie.

😊😁
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Today and everyday

Ruthie pics

I choose love, I choose life and I choose truth. Not reflective of my own perfection but looking up to the perfect love, through whom we are saved and redeemed for this life and the next.
❤️❤️

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OVERLOOKED HERO

She is petite. . .small boned, with a delicate structure and a fragile demeanor that makes me afraid of her. . .I sat next to her today in the bus, she must have been tired because she slept on my shoulder. . . The whole time I did not move, I simply sat still and let her sleep. She is my mother

I know her, I used to see her around the estate many times, back when I lived with my parents. Sometimes hauling market produce on her head. On Sundays I saw her in pretty clothes rushing to go to church. Sometimes alone, other times with her husband. She is my mother

Today she is sited right next to me. She has a gold watch on her wrist and a soft cotton crème shawl placed around her shoulders. She said that she was feeling cold, something I found astonishing given how hot I am feeling. I am slightly irritated at her for closing the window, but I swallow the irritation and watch her some more. She is my mother

She has a remarkably smooth face, chocolate brown complexion. . .on the darker side, very smooth and soft looking. Everything about her looks soft and fragile. . .I can’t help but marvel at how she was ever able to carry such heavy loads from the market. She is my mother

The hair on her head is curly and cotton like, with grey discretely visible at the side. She starts to wake up, I am still looking at her and I notice the slightly rheumy eyes. I watch her wrinkly, childlike hands as she rummages in her handbag stopping once she finds what she is looking for. She lifts her hand out of her bag and on it she is clutching a white handkerchief. She raises it to her eyes and roughly cleans them. With the forcefulness of one who already expects them to need cleaning. She is my mother

She looks at me shyly then turns away.
Hers has not been an easy life. It never is for those of her disposition. They too readily accept the cards dished out to them by life. She has always been accepting of her situation. She works with what she has without a pinch of ambition. An air of contentment hangs around her. I do not know whether this is part of what irritates me about her. How genuinely accepting and almost naïve she is. She is my mother

You see I know her better than she is aware. I have watched her for many years . . . masking my curiosity towards her quite well. She taught me in school. I was not a student that stood out, so I’m not surprised that she does not remember me. I was a silent, rebellious, average student, that sat at the back of the class and was always in search of new exciting things do outside the classroom. I liked her though. She was a patient teacher and not judgmental, she cared about us more than she should have bothered. The bunch of rascals we were. We never missed her classes but ran away from most of the rest. I think I stayed for her lessons because I liked watching her, and because she would definitely follow up on us if we dared to miss any of her lessons. She is my mother

We were neighbors, I knew her five sons and husband. She worshipped the ground her husband walked on. I could always tell from how she rushed home to cook for him daily and how well kept he and his sons looked. Even when she looked a bit shabby and winded, they were always perfect. I don’t know how she raised five boys and taught a class full of hormonal teenagers at the same time. I can’t stand even one teen for too long, I’m always giving my nephew and niece money to get away from them. She is my mother

I remember the rumors around the neighborhood about her, that she gave her full salary to her husband and had to ask him for money for her necessities . . . That he sometimes neglected them for his other wife. I’m sure that was when I began hating the man. Not that she would ever look angry though. . . Just tired and sometimes sad. She frustrated my nosey self to no end. I wanted her to fight for herself. She never did. . .

She remained with him, having the tools to be independent but never the heart to break free, shutting out her thoughts for his. I know she is an intelligent woman, I know she is kind and generous . . . But I don’t know her. . . I have never seen her beyond her kindness and her nurturing nature, beyond her outward sense of organization and propriety, I know nothing else.
Does she love the smell of rain? does she love chapatis ?. . . Is she afraid of the dark?. . . After her husband there is nothing, nothing, but the patient nurturer, who does not get angry and turns a blind eye to things that would upset her husband. She is my mother

Even now as I watch her I can sense her hidden depth. I do not kid myself however, her depth is only hers, maybe she shares it with those very close to her but I doubt it. Save for her sons and husband I never saw her around friends. . . Maybe her sons know her. As for the husband. . . Does he even have the capacity to see anything? She only ever shares the bits of herself that she has allowed herself to . . . That she dares to. The rest of her she has kept to herself, her humor, her sense of style, her passion, these only unexpectedly show up, on rare occasions. I wonder if she even really knows who she is beyond the nurturer. She has done much, much. . . but I have always seen that hidden capacity for more. . . The more she chose to bury for the sake of her husband. A husband that does not let her be anything more than his good wife. She is my mother

*———-/———————-/————————*


We are halfway through our journey, the bus makes a quick stop at a petrol station. She asks me to excuse her, she wants to alight, after a brief feeling of panic I also alight, this is not my stop and I am probably an idiot for doing this . . . Well, I guess I’ll be one today. I approach her, my lanky self towering above her, I am smiling in what I hope is a non threatening way and ask to help her with her bags.

At first she looks skeptical, but she finally agrees to let me carry them after I go on a tale of how I live close by and my mother would not stand any discourtesy shown towards anyone from me. I don’t think she bought my story but she decides to let me carry one of her bags.
We start to walk in silence and the whole while I am wondering if I should tell her that she was once my teacher. . . Do I really want her to start recollecting my colorful teen years. . . I think not. She is my mother

We approach a kiosk and I offer to buy her a soda, I actually insist on it. ‘Mami hiyo jua ni kali, ka soda baridi tu alafu tuende?’

She needs more convincing, she tells me her family is waiting for her, she cannot wait, but she agrees to a take away, warm fanta orange, and buys apple juice for her husband, telling me quite understandably that she wouldn’t want to enjoy her drink alone. We are approaching her home and reason almost wins out leading me to introduce myself . . . But I don’t. I hand her back her bag and stand aside. . .

As she moves towards her gate, she turns to me, fixing her calm eyes on my face,

‘I always knew you were a good boy Almasi’

There is a twinkle in her eye as she smiles at me then turns to knock on her gate. I turn to leave, speechless as I hear somebody opening the gate on the inside. I turn to look, she simply waves at me and disappears into the structure. I walk back to the bus station, full of mixed feelings, wondering at my actions, and feeling more enamored by her. . . She was my teacher at school and my mother in my heart. . . throughout my troubled youth she was my patient selfless instructor, who saved my life with her belief in me. She is my unsung hero.

Unsung hero by King and Country

Disclaimer: this piece is not about my actual mother, some physical features of the character do mimic my real mother’s but the rest of the persona of the character is a collective of stories from people I love and my imagination

❤️ This character felt suppressed, all through the process of writing about her. I kept on wondering when to incorporate her own responsibility to break free, whether I should make that her hero arch. I decided not too, giving it somewhat more a neutral progression, there was reason for this, I wanted to see the light in an obscure character. To try and show that the path of consistency, compassion, and quietness in adversity, requires just as much mental fortitude, as the more popular ‘breaking free or even’ story arch. I know it felt claustrophobic 😅😊. It was meant to, she maintains consistency, showing empathy towards her students, drawing them into learning. She finds a way to let her light shine. That is her hero arch. Adversity failed to steal her light from her, and she has instead, with quiet courage, passed on her light to her students.

Love,

Ruth.

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ERA OF THE STRONG MAN

Image downloaded from Wikipedia

I have always held a fascination for the late President Moi. My earliest memories of Him were from the year 2000, when he came to Mombasa. At the time I was in primary school. The school was situated right next to the Nyali bridge, next to a major highway. Drivers tend to speed up at this particular spot, maybe because it is at the cusp of a bridge, and a subconscious human instinct to survive triggers the speedy driving. . .Or maybe it is simply the awareness that one is driving above a massive water mass, that freaks people out, the several tons of concrete between your car and the ocean be damned. On that particular day however there was no traffic, the road was as clear as the horizon of the ocean at dusk. Massive, deep, blue and everlasting.

To give context, at the time of his excellency’s presidency, whenever he visited a city, the roads were cleared out for him hours before his arrival. On the day of his arrival and the day of his departure, you would be sure that motorists would be stuck in unmoving, terrible traffic. On this particular day, roads had been cleared out hours before the president arrived as was the tradition. Our teachers however, only released us from our classes a few minutes before the presidents arrival.

The air was of excitement, the teachers were excited, the students, glad to be outside the classroom for once. For my young mind that romanticized even the most mundane of situations, this was a treat! My imagination took over and painted a plethora of colorful scenes, weaving them into a fantastic, thrilling, adventure.

Everything I saw and experienced on that day took on a momentous sheen. Everything looked proper, an air of importance had taken over and given meaning to the activities of that day. The sky was as always a deep rich blue, the sun a bright yellow, the breeze gentle enough and the deep blue of the ocean called to me as it regularly did. . .

Oh how seriously I took Kenya Kenya inchi yetu on that day. My little face contorted in seriousness as we practiced the song last minute. Pushing my little arms to my right side then to my left in a simple routine we practiced for the song. It was a last minute call by our music teacher. Just so we would have a song to present to the President, should the need arise. He had not been scheduled to make any stops. As such, no serious consideration had been given to presentations and the usual fanfare that accompanied a visit from an important guest at the school. Kenya Kenya inchi yetu was practiced just in case. It was a good pick, most students were familiar with the song, given that it was always heard on radio on Independence day, and the stanzas of the song were repetitive, catchy, easy to learn and follow.

I will never forget how we were lined up on the pavement of the Mombasa-Malindi highway, waiting for the arrival of the president. We were quite the sight. Arranged in a straight line from the lower primary junior classes to the upper primary senior classes. Our white and red uniforms reflecting the bright sun.

A last minute instruction was given by our teachers that as the president passed we were to wave our handkerchiefs at him, for those of us who had handkerchiefs. Given that some of us were lower primary students, our teachers did not expect coordination I now believe. The lack of coordination went unnoticed however, for our childish, open, excitement fully made up for it. The mood was electric almost euphoric, and when the first of the presidential escort vehicles was noticed, the place erupted in a loud cheer. So vibrant, loud and lively were our cheers. When the president’s vehicle finally appeared, it immediately slowed down, and the distinguished, elderly man who I remember had a remarkably strong grip on his ivory, white looking fimbo, turned to us and raised it in acknowledgement. . .iconic.

The president did not stop for an improntu speech as he sometimes did, but he had his handlers slow his vehicle down for him to wave and acknowledge the young coastal citizens. I still remember how excited I was, later in the day when my mother picked me up from school, I narrated the day to her in detail, giving every word a magical hue. Mum bought me ice cream on our way home, and honestly that just cemented the fantastical events of that day in my mind, my little heart was full.

These are my memories of the late former president, embellished by my then baby mind. Untainted by politics or the economic realities of the time. Later on, as I grew older, I got a better understanding of what was really going on in the country. The optimistic air of the year 2002 and the fervor for change created a disingenuity with the fantastic image from my childhood. . .though I sometimes wondered, why people did not like the tall grey haired gentleman who held the white rungu.

I got an opportunity to contrast my experience, after 2002, same setting, different president, and less time spent closing of the road. This time round most motorists were happy, the new president changed the tradition of blocking off roads for hours. Traffic build up was at a minimum. The new president at the time never slowed his vehicle down, never opened his window, but he waved at us from inside his vehicle. . . I think. . .on second thought he probably did slow down, just not for a long a time as the former president. There had been no fanfare, little grandiose but the expectant euphoria was the same. Power must come with its own charismatic pull.

I don’t remember being quite as overtaken with excitement. I was older, and the event no longer benefited from the excitement of being my first, so that might have been the reason for my calmer feelings that day. He felt. . . efficient, borderline cold, lacking the fantastic grandeur and charisma of the former president. I remember telling my mum later that day that the new president hadn`t feel like a president . . .

My mother responded to my assertion with a laugh, and gently reminded me that the two were different people. My mother likely disagreed with me, given the fact that there was the promise of economic growth and hope of a better government with the new president. In her heart, mother, like many other Kenyans at the time, probably felt a lot more hope in the new dispensation. Hope that the economy would do better, corruption would be dealt with, infrastructure would develop, and opportunities would be in the offing for her growing children.

This piece is not about the politics of the late former president, but his strong man legacy. Good or bad, corrupt or not. Given that I later become staunchly anti establishment, sold out for the politics of independent thinking, de-centralization of power and lowering government recurrent expenditure. Critical of the ballooning wage bill and luxury spending on senior civil servants. . . I was never one with the late former president in spirit, and definitely not a supporter of the darker parts of his legacy.

image downloaded from google, archives of Kenya.

As I relived that fantastic memory through older, maybe jaded eyes I realized something about the late former president. The undeniable fact that he wielded a lot of influence over his party and most of government when he was president. I do not think that any of the presidents that were elected after him have been able to match the energy he gave off. In truth, he single handedly carried the political party KANU which he belonged to with his charisma and personality. I wouldn’t call him likeable or even popular, but the fact that he wielded influence and power over the government and the people, is undeniable.

The people that chose him, chose him for who he was. He is a politician whose influence has outlasted his candidature, age, even death. There was always a feeling of firmness about him, like what you saw was what you would get, the good and the bad. I have come to genuinely believe that this firmness was what made this president outlast the wind populism, the masses, whose loyalty and love was unpredictable and fickle. The masses who now feed predominantly on the fickle politics of prejudice (read tribalism) and crowd euphoria.

Today’s class of politician is a word technician, lacking any particular proclivity towards any path, any in built firmness. They are creatures of opportunity, smooth on the outside and rudderless on the inside. Instinctually sniffing the politics of the time, and morphing themselves with every election. To quote Sansa Stark- ‘Bloody wind vanes.’

True, some may say that his influence was borderline coercive and authoritarian. It probably was, no Authoritarian leader can be properly authoritarian without instilling some fear. I do not however believe that fear was his only currency of influence as president. He also had an inexplicable je ne sais quoi about him. . . and a fatherly aura. I believe he embodied the African idea of a father of that generation. Fathers were strong, distant and effervescent figures of wisdom and power. Rocks of Gibraltor, unyielding, active and enduring.

He was no liar, he believed a one political party state was wise and good to him and so he vocally advocated for it. Whether a chunk of the western powers would agree with him or not, even when it was not a popular stance in his own country. You truly knew the devil at hand. Better him in some way over the oily, rudderless Kenyan politician of the new, who speaks in double tongues, whose chief interest is to plunder the country and sow air and nothingness. Whose underlying goal will always be lining his pockets, all else be damned.

Most of the politicians, men and women of the late former president’s generation, had been brought up by fathers who were either men of war; freedom fighters or shrewd deal cutters; the home guard. Both these classes of men did not have the space to be anything but hard men. They were likely ‘strong men’ and that would explain why their children and grandchildren would later intrinsically look to the late former president for leadership.

I am not applauding the idea of ‘strong men’ I instead acknowledge that they served their purpose when they were needed the most. The birth of our nation from the dredge of colonialism required a level of violence and aggression that created the men of that time.

Whether we still need hardened men and women now. . .I do not know. That I miss that reliable sort of leadership, I do. Knowing exactly what a leader stands for, good or bad is missed.

The concept of democracy is truly populist, if the dominant parts of society are just, selflessly motivated and fair minded, then the leadership is truly democratic, in upholding the rule of law and justice.

A country can only be democratic if the leaders in its executive, its legislature and its judiciary truly uphold the rule of law. Depraved, selfish leaders create depraved systems of governance and succession.

Maybe the problem is not the masses. I’ve always thought that better attitude and understanding within the masses would lead to electing better leaders and good governance.

You cannot trust the masses to be prudent and just, these are qualities for a reason. . .they are rare. You can trust the masses to be colored by prejudices and fear. Bad leadership aggravates the vices of society while good leadership brings out the best in people.

People will not stop being people, but the prudent in society must rise and be dominant. The inception of good leadership only requires one seed, seed that is stubborn in its prudence, un afraid of its virtues and vices. . . ready to expose both, in its fight to create a better society.

An indomitable fighter, who clings to his or her cause is a good leader. Leadership is not about perfection. . . perfection is a myth. . .Good leadership is fighting to remain in the fray, and being bold enough while at it, to raise your voice, high like blind Bartimaeus, above all the forces that would attempt to silence your light. Good leadership is also creating space for succession, being a good leader is mentoring those that follow you in order to ensure a legacy is maintained, hopefully, a good legacy.

Ruth

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Mr. Disillusion and comrade Ego

I met a man at the corner of newness and traditions. . . at the edge of confidence and self-assuredness. . .he stood on this edge, looking on to it with trepidation. . .He takes a step forward, sweat breaking out of his forehead, he thinks intently. . . but I watch hopelessly as he turns the corner to traditions, shoulders slumped. . .I feel an acute sadness for him . . .yet I can`t help it. . . I still hope that his next decision will lead him back to this precipice . . .and maybe then his choice will be different. . .

He is a fully formed man . . .

His ears large, his eyes bright and his mind, oh that mind. . .

His mind is a capable tool, logic, pragmatic in all things, linear. . .straightforward and tidy. In the known principles, none is his equal. Yet he is unable to account for humanity, the random and uncontrollable are incomprehensible to him . . . He cannot reconcile with the nature of man, yet he is himself also a man . . . in every way human. . . I hesitate to call him self-serving for he is not always this, neither is he entirely selfish, no . . . his selfishness comes from a place of mental rigidity, he only allows himself grace. . .only himself. . . the rest of humanity he criticizes both aloud and in silence. There is always a quiet malevolence that hangs around him, you are never too sure when it will raise its head. . .this malevolence is dissociated mentally from him, he does not believe himself capable of wrong. . .  no . . .worse, is that he holds on to the appearance of fairness. . .yet he is only fair to his pride, where fairness calls him to step away from his pride, he stops. . .nothing else matters . . .  only his own mind, what it adjudges as fair, to him is fair.

. . .I have not met anyone that fully trusts his mind like he does. . . his decidedness convinces even me sometimes, and I can become doubtful of even what I was previously sure was truth. . . I almost stop seeing the grainy dark dots in his thinking when I immerse myself too readily into his utterances, when I do not carry that `pinch of salt` and apply it to his words. When I take it all in. Both the truth . . .  and the self-preservation.

Yes, self-preservation is what warps his mind into the confusing twists. That invisible fear for ego, we must protect ego, yes we must, regardless of how useless he is, yes, protect him. He enjoys occupying the recesses of Mr. Disillusion`s mind, he hovers in it, a mental parasite that convinces him that it is useful, all the while draining all hope of peace and love from his mind. Ego has somehow convinced him that he can do without the joys of love, . . . yet the inner hopeful man still tugs at him, trying to lead him towards a lighter, more hopeful state of mind, into a place of possibility . . .not ego though, in these lucid moments of hope, when ego`s encampment is threatened and its hold shaken, it holds on ever tighter, convincing the man that he is in mortal danger. . .

An idea cannot kill the man, it is abstract, and has little hold over his physical reality. . . yet that is when the battle truly begins . . . one between ego versus truth, hope and newness. It does not walk alone the ego, it often dispatches it`s trusty henchmen fear and `tradition`? yes tradition, how things `ought to be` according to Mr. Disillusion . . .his comfort zone of thought, what he has come to be convinced is his truth, his bastion of protection when anything contrary chances his way.

Image downloaded from Pinterest

It is not obvious, this mental rigidity in Mr. Disillusion, for he wears all the tropes of open mindedness, he speaks like a man enlightened and sophisticated, reasons like one. . . at least, to the extent that ego allows. You see, it is not that Mr. Disillusion does not have a capable mind, except he is in a mental prison and believes his jailor is his friend, protecting him, when all it does is create a mental barrier to progress. The parasitic ego drains all hope from Mr. disillusion, leaving him with a paper confidence, brittle and unworthy of his potential, so strong is the infection in his mind he is simply unable to transcend to his true position.  

Image downloaded from google images

At Mr. Disillusioned side I saw Ms. Misplaced Empathy, they love each other. . . they do. . . yet, a parasite lives in the mind of Ms. Misplaced Empathy . . . it mimics ego and it`s hold on her runs symbiotic to ego . . . it is confusion. Confusion maintains a grand presence in Ms. Misplaced Empathy`s mind. . .often, in attempting to decipher ego`s hand in Mr. Disillusions actions, she relies on confusion, who often dispatches emotions . . .Emotions is a double edged sword, she brings her joy, but she also gives her doubts, pain and hopelessness. What she does not realize is that ego and confusion are on a mission to take away their love. They are partners in contriving mischief between the two and convoluting the truth. Emotion is also used by ego, everything wears the possibility of truth when coated in emotions. Ego often wields emotion on Mr. Disillusion to strike actions from him that push Ms. Misplaced Empathy further away from him.

Theirs is another love thrown into the litter bin of hopelessness by their own individual choices to rely on ego and confusion.

Maybe a love that is not fought for does not deserve to bloom. Maybe the continued refusal by Disillusion and Misplaced Empathy to transcend the mediocrity that is the false safety of emotional stagnation,. . .their refusal to question their held belief systems, their traditions. . .still leads them down the same path of pain they so determinedly avoid. . . the only difference between the eventual pain and difficulty from not challenging the ego and the expected pain from challenging it, is that, the pain from courage comes with the inner satisfaction and joy that you tried and whether you can see it or not, progress has been made . . . while emotional pacifism only gives a false sense of reassurance. . .more like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, a route of dull pain and dissatisfaction.

Image downloaded from Pinterest

Heey! a slightly serious piece today. . . this is the first of what I hope will be a series on `mental bastions`, abstract strongholds that capture us hostage in our minds whose relevance I question.

This piece was on the ego, whatever thoughts you have on the ego. . .these a mine. . .

Thank you!

Love,

Ruthie