It is noon. I should not be on my blog because it is company time and I give to my employer what belongs to him which is my productivity. Yesterday I was unable to sleep for 90 per cent of the night. That is hardly newsworthy because journalists are neurotic walking insomniac zombies. Otherwise how do you explain those WhatsApp messages to your boss at 1a.m beginning with “Sir we need to have an intimate conversation about how you mutilate my stories from 2,000 words to 800”? So because of this deprivation, which is usual but is always surprising to me all the time, I look and feel like crap.
So I let my mind wander a bit and it takes me to my late father. Damn I loved that man my breath is laboured whenever I think about him. This is that part where I should sniff and blow my nose miserably but I am such an ugly crier I don’t want to add that to the crappy look I have. Charles Okeyo, my his soul rest in eternal peace,was a man with a heart so big it could not fit his rib cage. Fuck death. So yesterday, a man, a good man texted me “Verah, what do you want in relationships? Nothing seems to be good enough for you”. I was about to answer him and tell him a little about my father and his ideals about compassion, altruism and relating to people. Then I figured he, just like many people before him, would not have understood.
I wanted to tell him: “I want many things, and nothing at all when I run my checklist against the consumerist society that we live in”. I wanted to ask him whether he had ever been at that point in life where he asked himself “Why am I alive?” I have been there. Many times. In my line of work, we sometimes arrive at a crime or an accident scene before the police. Ask my colleague Stella Cherono who covered the Huruma tragedy. After the bodies had been moved, press statements issued by the county government, she stayed there to talk to women whose children would live without a father. Then, it dawns on you that you could have easily been that widow whose children were orphaned and there is not much precaution you could have taken to prevent that. You were just lucky to have left your kids at home, kissed them goodbye and come back to hug them again. Others never have that last chance in that pattern.
Stay with me baby, I know it is a long read, but don’t go yet.
Once, in Nakuru where I began my career, I stood beside a gangster whose chest had been sprayed with bullets. Next to him “dear wife” was calling incessantly. Even for this thug, whose life the police and the society had judged and decided was not worth sparing, a woman cared for him was worried sick that he was not home. Maybe they had children who jumped into his arms whenever he came home and called him “dad”. When you have been there, you appreciate every second given to you as a healthy human being and you live for little moments.
My little moments is a man taking time off work to come go out for lunch with me. I don’t care if it is a dingy joint—although we will have a blog post about hygiene and food borne diseases later— or a five star hotel. These moments are not having a plan, a set of rules to govern how I relate to him. I do not want to guard myself around a man I love. When and if I want to tell him “I love you” I should say it godamned it! I don’t have to worry about “ooo it is too soon, you should say this after two years, and you will look vulnerable and needy”. When I want to see him, there shouldn’t be a ceremony about it because I don’t have to worry about makeup and looking like Naomi Campbell off the runway. My need and ache for him should overwhelm him that he won’t notice that my dreadlocks have not been to John’s Salon for a month.
I am a strong woman, and I am not talking about “strong will” or those sentimental bastardy shit people hide behind when they are just being plain nasty. I am talking about I-can-challenge-you-to-a-physical-fight kind of strength. Be that as I may, I am still a woman by the end of the day. I have things I am afraid of that are beyond my control. Like failure. Like losing people I love to disease. I should be able to tell you about that shit too and not feel like you will use that against me at some point. These funny rules of hiding this portion of you, and that portion of you and when you twitch your mouth like that it communicates ABC… That fuckery is a futile full time job I should be paid when I engage in it. So, I want to hear all about your worries, weaknesses, warts and all. I should know, and connect with, him that when his tummy is aching in Timbuktu I would feel it when I am across the Atlantic Ocean. And that is not Nigerian witchcraft oh
I love outdoors. Take me home to your parents, then we can spend the whole weekend there milking disgruntled surprised cows who will be wondering “hey is there something different with these hands and the ones that usually touch our tits?” There are needy children in Mandera, we should go there, put our money into working with a community organisation to help them build a makeshift classroom in that harsh cruel climate. While we are driving to that place we would be singing loudly, perhaps off key to Glee’s version of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain .These modest choices are not made out of lack but a preference over the norm, a chance in which you can learn about people without the convenient link of technology where messages are edited before being sent.
What I am describing, is my understanding of what being real is. Sadly, this is what is frowned upon today yet for getting off this natural path of relationship, people are tired of unions after two years. For seeking this kind of connection, people like me have been pilloried with all manner of mean descriptions. She is always weird, her man went to the UK and when he asked her what gift she wanted, she asked for the UK flag instead of an iPhone… that man is shady, he told me we are going for a romantic gateway over the weekend and then he took me to a faraway isolated place with no TV and made me eat seated on a mat on the grass… He is so funny he asked me to switch off my phone and then we spend an hour looking into each other’s eyes.
To get to this point where you take delight in and derive fulfillment from little things especially when they come from a person with whom you have that kind of connection takes time, honesty, selflessness and genuine concern for the other person. It is easy because when you meet those people you will feel it, and it will flow you won’t have to fight for it. I hate that statement “I am fighting for my man/woman”. But this is also hard because it demands that embrace what we are easily compensating for with money and material things: openness, a willingness to be vulnerable and tell the person “hey, I am giving you a loaded gun but I am trusting you not to shoot me”. The journey to get here is laborious and everyone goes through it is just that some learn from it and become stronger.
You needed to have experienced life in a manner that shook you to the core and made you realise just how small you are. You need to have been betrayed, hurt and trampled upon by people you trusted and family that the money they offered did not heal you. After that you realised the best you could ever get from any relationship, be it a marriage or a friendship, is that person in their true honest self. Not the money or the status that they may bring to the table. That is a life lesson you cannot coach someone on. After you have gone through it, and survived enough to take all the scars as lessons, you cannot waste that unconditional love on an entitled vainglorious shallow prick who misinterprets a deep me for a charlatan. So for that reason, some of us wait for our weird, awkward prince(ss) charming because… there is nowhere else we would rather be.
Now y’all can email all those concerns and thoughts about this to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp me +254732324609. Can I go back to banging copy? Burrofcourse