Earthlings, gather all your drums and percussions because we are going to clap for me. I got into the swimming pool! I did! In the baby section. I did not swim but hey, it is a step towards the right direction right, right?
So I am in some really awesome spot, and it is feeding my energy with creativity I just got inspired to blog about something personal, that I know most of us, if not all, go through… wow that was a long sentence. I should probably crack a joke that because I am Luo, I have a taste for fine things in life. I am the real deal, you are looking at it baby ahahaha. What I do know is that after travelling and being blessed with the opportunity to dine and wine with some very refined and wealthy people—journalism is not that bad folk— nothing has ever come close to sweet potatoes served with African tea, brewed on the traditional three-stone stoves and served on a huge plastic cup where you can see traces of firewood in the cup. True story! I am those girls who would ask for corn flour (ugali) and Omena in a five-star hotel in the middle of Nairobi and not blink an eye. I mean it. Well, the waiters always come smiling with “whatever you want is in the house”. So why would I not ask for the damn delicacy?
These are the perks—or curse? — of growing up in a rural set up.Once, in campus, I did not know how Weetabix and milk are eaten, so I drank all the milk and then my host was looking at me like Lazarus just woke up from his beauty sleep in the tomb. Let me not get started with how I used talcum powder meant for the feet on my face… we thank God for Arimis milking jelly my friends as a dermatological intervention
Why is this story even important? Stay with me. As I think about my culinary peculiarities, in this place that I am in, I feel a subtle nudge to eat something that I know would make my tummy summersault. I do not want to tell my host that I have acidity issues because I do not want to appear ungrateful. I do not want to tell him that what I am used to, and would love to have, plain old cornflour (ugali) and skuma (kales). As I smile at him, I run my thoughts through several mental programs to establish why this situation is shaking my energy so much, and I realise it reminds me of what I am and how that affects the way I relate with people.
Like very many of us, I work so hard not to be vulnerable-you know like I could not admit I did not know what Weetabix is. Last week, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook with whom we went to college and even attended Christian Union together and she told me “You always seem to have it together” I wanted to laugh because she couldn’t have been further from the truth. Like many people, I am heartbroken when those I care about walk out, but I would never give anybody the satisfaction of seeing that they have that much power over me so I hold the door for them. Towards December, I was nursing my psychological and physical wounds at the home of my friend and philosopher Professor Father Charles Oduke in Bondo. He and I love books and are curious human beings we are always questioning stuff in life. So we can talk for 48 hours non-stop about why he is taller than I!
This time he told me “Verah you must be exhausted trying to control the world and outcomes of everything in it”. Of course, I was defensive and I dismissed his observations and then a week later I stumbled on those TD Jakes’ half hour sermons talking about the same thing, talking deep to my soul I was shocked. Maybe it is the past we came from that teaches us to be masters of disguise. The last time you opened up to people, showed them who you really are, they rejected or ridiculed you. You told him you had had an abortion in your teenage and he called off the engagement. You asked her to pray for you about your finances and she shared that with the whole prayer group of strangers. You told her about your insecurities at work and she used those against you in an unrelated disagreement. Believe me, there is nothing as scary and galling as being set up for the kill with the very weapons that you know you would not survive against, your Achilles heel. So we put reinforcements to shield ourselves from that kind of pain which we cannot go to the doctor for. Then we walk around life, looking like perfect people, desiring relationships that would shake our worlds and make us better people but afraid of paying the price for it.
Have you stood before unconditional love and let it look you right in the eye? There is no feeling in the world that can compare to that. Then the only thing standing between you and it would be “unverbalised” questions of If you knew who I really am, would you still love me? Do you think you could overlook all these wounds and let me…feel like I am able to stay here with you, marry you, be your friend? So the fear of getting an unpleasant answer to these questions we wear a persona that we think the other person will love, a fake, a perfect person that always has an answer for everything. We, I included, become manipulative beings who have a certain look for that disagreement, a perfume for that insult. Sadly, as Prof Oduke told me, in avoiding pain, I miss out on the joy too. It is okay to say I am broke and I need your help, friend…I am hurt that you fired me, boss… I am confused and I need you to guide me because you have been here, sister…Personally, I think the privilege of being alive needs to be crowned with being present and feel every blessing that I could have gotten it. Do not want to work so hard to be perfect that I seize doing the lie that I become lie itself so much that I wouldn’t recognise the real thing when I stumbled upon it. I want to gather the courage to be real because it is only then will I want to be present in my life.
I want to love aggressively, violently even if imperfectly. I want to be the employee who comes to work and her employer knows her mind is here, regardless of whether she is hungry or not (By the way sometimes I emotional blackmail my boss to bring me snacks so that I can deliver the assignment). I want to be lover who would come home and her partner will feel she has arrived with her madness, happiness but whatever is in there, she is present. Live. In the Now. When Life calls for the register, show and say “Present”
“You would be shocked at the people who come home every night but never come home…who show up for work every day and never show up who live with and love with you and sleep with you abut are not there with you” …TD Jakes