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We carry our Prisons with us

They say that we carry our prisons with us. Or in Swahili Wahenga walisema: Kikulacho ki nguoni mwako (Whatever’s eating you is in your clothes).

We need to jettison those prisons and be free. We need to get rid of the Wardens that tell us what to do, when and how to do it. Be they society, religious norms, cultural expectations.

We need to jettison the gangs of inmates that decide how our life progresses. Our styles, our diets, cliques we belong to, who/what we can and cannot like. We need to jettison the screws, the guards, as it were. That mindset that keeps us in line when we veer even a little out of line. Those experiences which stop us from venturing far from what we know, experiencing life out of norm, that screw us on tighter every time we loosen our mindset.

Some people (or things) are anchors in your life. You need to identify those which are keeping you grounded so you dont drift off, and those that are stopping you so you dont move on and for the latter you need to raise anchor and swim away.
We carry our prisons with us. Those high walls you’ve built around yourself to keep yourself safe from outside interference, well, they work both ways.

Those bars that allow people to only see and have access to some parts of you without coming too close? They also stop you from spreading your wings and soaring high.

There are a million things that we do or not do because we have been conditioned to think like that, to act like that. How about we think for ourselves and, like little kids, QUESTION EVERYTHING?

We carry our prison with us. Awolnation sang “Kill your heroes” – How about we jettison our heroes, and make our own heroism, be our own heroes.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Darkness bothers me

Hurricane Sandy is here

The power is out

The cell phones are out.

The nearest cell tower is out

The land line is also out (Cordless phone)

The radio is out

The TV is out

The microwave is out

This computer is working because I had the sense to fully charge the battery before the power went out. That can only last so long. But the Wi-Fi and the Lo-Fi are both out.

The whole neighbourhood is quiet like a mouse – with a car, seeing as those are the only sounds to be heard in the neighbourhood. And sirens. A lot of sirens

They said to stay indoors and stay safe. If you have an aversion to darkness, staying where the darkness is is definitely not the first instinct you have. But baby its dark outside. So I am staying put. Better the devil you know

I can read. By candlelight. But that will come later. Now, I want to write.

Unbelievably I haven’t heard the gale force winds promised. The trees outside are swaying precariously close to the power lines. In fact, one line that connects to this building is somehow under the tree right outside the window. And the tree branch is leaning on it. And it’s tugging. Not good. The fire officers came over earlier with their big trucks and sirens before the lights went out and it was still light out and looked at it. Made a few calls and talked amongst themselves like people with authority do, then went away. That’s the last I saw of them.

At least the cooking is gas. Which means we can have hot meals. Better yet for me it means I can have copious amount of tea. That will keep me sane.

But the darkness still bothers me.

My zombie phone is further saving my sanity because it has an FM radio and I can listen to that. Wi-Fi is out as well so there is not much else I can zombify it with (even zombies are useful for something if you ever watched The Walking Dead). Nothing like a little Alt-Rock to keep everything in perspective.

The darkness still bothers me.

My keyboard is not lighted so I have to squint to make letters out if I move my hands and have to move them back to the QUERTY position. And also the Z button is stuck so I have to keep pressing it really hard when I make a mention of them zombies. So you see how this darkness bothers me.

I should have gone to the store and done a proper disaster preparedness routine. But I entrusted that exercise to my darling husband. Never send a man to do a … you get the drift. We have all the water and food and stuff we need to weather the storm. Only darkness bothers me. And he knew that. And he went out with that in mind. And just brought back those small tea candles. Two boxes of them.  Now we have tea candles strategically placed around the house. I suppose that is fine in itself for an early night, but for an insomniac like me and with the lights having gone out at 1830hrs we do have a problem.

Before the power went out he said that he had gone through storms and hurricanes before. He said everything would be fine and we had nothing to worry about. This is my second storm. Irene was here last year and we had a power outage for two hours or so, in the late afternoon. That wasn’t too bad. The minute the power went out, he looked like a deer caught in headlights .. without the light, of course. He couldn’t understand why the phones didn’t work, or the internet was down, or why it wasn’t fixed in a matter of minutes. I suppose if you were born in a first world country, third world problems seem a foreign concept to you. You forget how much intertwined with technology and electronics and electrical equipment we are that we are powerless .. pun intended .. to do anything without them. I am ok going all “Revolution” on the world, but the darkness bothers me.

The fire department came back outside. I suppose from the most I could see they stood around looking at the dangling power line and decided it wasn’t going to cause that much trouble. We could probably survive a night with candles and piped music and non-microwaved food. What they didn’t count on is the darkness bothering  me.

I suppose there is a brighter side to this – notwithstanding the lack of power rendering the ‘brighter’ kind of ‘dimmer’ but you get the drift – I don’t have to spend the night listening to those talking heads on tv having multiple orgasms explaining how this is the strongest, baddest, worstest, darkest storm they have seen in a decade, using all sorts of colours and phrases and big words only people with meteorological ..er…weather .. degrees can comprehend,  to tell me that, yes, there is a strong wind outside, the power is out, and Oi, try not to wander outside cos a debris or seven might find a target on your head. Only thing they wouldn’t be telling me is that the darkness would bother me this much.

He fell asleep.  Bless him. He needs it. I suppose the only other thing would have been us bickering over the lack of this or that, me telling him to conserve energy and power on certain devices because, believe it or not, irrespective of how many times you prod and poke it, it is not going to suddenly stand up and burst into song. The power is out, mate. The only thing that we can do is figure why this darkness bothers me so.

I have been afraid of the dark since I was little. I suppose the concept of the boogeyman under the bed or in the dark room never really left me.  It bothers me that it still bothers me even when logic dictates that there is nothing there but my imagination. But then again I do have a very fertile imagination and that renders any phobias I have fairly strong, including the fact that even though I knew the power would go out and I would be enveloped in darkness, that I can see my husband next to me and there are candles (albeit tea candles) strategically placed around the house, the darkness still bothers me.

I know we cannot do anything about nature but let it take its course, and I know it’s up to us to prepare ourselves and arm ourselves and all that. But it still bothers me that days before the storm hits, it is advertised everywhere that there will be power outages and the areas likely to be affected. Question is: I can procrastinate getting my supplies and all because it is only going to affect my household, but if I am paying my bills and taxes why is it that those that are in power (even when power is out) cannot do their job to preempt this outage and do something about it? How about if I call them up and go: Hey I know my power bill is due at the end of the month, but you know what, you lot will have to wait for a couple of weeks cos I did not budget for it this month. If a whole town, a whole city, a whole State did that they would pull their asses out of their lighted houses and do something about it instead of sending me an email beforehand telling me that we might experience power outage and the darkness would bother me.

It is still raining out. Hard. The winds are picking up speed. They did promise by 8pm the strength will increase. The power is still out. The husband is still out cold. The phones are back on. Thank God. At least I have a connection to the outside world .. not that they can help me overcome my darkness phobia. Twitter is working but the internet isn’t. I have a 4G connection but I think we are operating on a No-G connection. I think the first lot of the tea candles have given up the will to live. I don’t blame them. The darkness feels tangible at this rate.

Sunrise is at 0700hrs. It is now 2100hrs. I have 10 full hours to read by candlelight, sleep, or until the power comes back up. Or, willpower behold, find a way for this darkness to stop bothering me. I can see there is not light at the end of that tunnel.. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Damn, this darkness bothers me.

The power did come back at 0355hrs – 10hrs after it went out. I had read 100+ pages and used up 6 tea candles and had copious amounts of tea. The husband was still asleep. I have to say it wasn’t an altogether bad experience but I will not want to repeat it in a hurry.

Being in the dark that long bothered me.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

This one is a bit personal and a whole lot upsetting ..

Question: Why, in the 21st Century, when women have jobs and homes and cars and “equal rights”, do we still have women who are having the shit kicked out of them by their husbands, boyfriends, significant others, mpango wa kando etc? What makes an otherwise independent, beautiful, smart, together woman choose to stay with a guy who beats them up and when someone tells them they should kick him to the curb, or kick themselves to the curb and keep moving, they treat said people like the enemy and shun and shut them out?

Please do not for the life of anyone else, use love as an excuse cos I will be the one kicking the shite out of the first person to say so.

A little background:

My eldest sibling got married when I was 10yrs old. To me that was an exciting time cos apart from future groom coming over and taking us out to places and buying us gifts, we also got to be flower girls at the wedding and everything that that involves for a young girl. I didn’t know that much about love and romance but I thought it all looked like something I would want to do when I grew up.

My sister was already pregnant when she got married. Her groom was a handsome man who was fairly well off, an international jet setter with his own home and cars and all that epitomes success. My sister, to anyone looking, was the luckiest girl alive. She was happy and sassy and sexy –  I cannot remember ever seeing my sister without tight jeans and high heels – makeup and accessories even when she was just hanging out with her friends. For a young girl that was much to look up to.

Not long after my sister had her baby girl, it was during school holidays and I happened to go over to her house to visit. One day we had to go to a friends’ wedding and during the reception the husband disappeared for a while and because the baby was getting antsy my sister asked me to look after it while she got the hubby so we could go home. When she returned she looked flustered and the husband was following none too happy. We got into the car and went home quietly. Once there, my sister gave the maid the baby and she and the husband went into the bedroom where what followed was nothing a young girl should ever be allowed to listen to, or witness. All I know is my sister came out of that room bleeding and swollen and the husband left and went back to the party. Apparently she had found him in a compromising situation with one of the guests at the wedding.

This was not the only time this happened.. In fact, 3 children and 10+ years of marriage it was still going on. Citing Love and God and Commitment and Kids is a cop-out. I will not hear any excuse why you would live with a monster like that. Money, or lack thereof is just another excuse. Get the fuck out of there and go make your own money and take care of yourself. You sacrifice both your life and your soul for an ideal? Seriously? To her credit and not too late she did get out eventually and leave the country, but he is still hounding her with phone calls claiming he still loves her and wants her back. She is still pretty battle-scarred and wary of relationships, and I don’t blame her.

Needless to say, that shaped my idea of love and relationships and marriage. Watching my sister go from a sassy self-confident smart young lady to a husk of herself who had every iota of herself sucked out was hard to witness. At 11yrs old I was telling her to bail out, and even now I am still of the same opinion. I remember thinking that I would never get married if this is what happened. Don’t get it twisted, my parents have been married for 45 yrs this year, and  in all this time we as kids keep saying we have never heard them verbally arguing with each other, and there was no physical violence even to us kids (my mum used to pinch us, which was worse than a beating – I can’t take pinching to this day without wanting to commit murder – and the worst part of our punishment routine was when mum wouldn’t pinch you but give you a msomo (lecture) – being a teacher, she had this down pat, and trust me we all agreed it was easier to get a thrashing and keep it moving). So when I see violence visited upon a person, irrespective of who they are or why, I am confused and scared. I am confused and scared by extreme anger and raised voices. You scream at me my brain shuts down and all I hear is screaming. I am married to a half Italian half Black person who is an American… That makes him very demonstrative and loud and entitled and confident and any extremes of anger and pleasure and passion are all represented. I still sometimes find myself looking at him like: really? Seeing as I am even tempered and drama-less and love words, our fights are quite interesting where I let him vent out his frustrations and when he has calmed down I start with my lecture lol. I cringe.

Everyone’s situation is different. We all grew up in different environments and saw different ways of living and learnt from different books through nature and nurture. But I do believe that we all more or less know what’s right and wrong and someone kicking the shit out of you because you questioned them over why they didn’t come home last night is on the extreme and unacceptable side of wrong. I don’t care who they are or what you said. You wanted to shut her up, tell her to shut up. Walk away. Take a walk. Go to the other room and close the door. Stay in a h/motel for the night. Just don’t go there because its one place you can’t come back from. You cannot undo a slap, a kick, a shove, a broken jaw/tooth, a black eye. You break confidence, you break hearts, you break souls, you break trusts, you break love, you break friendships, you break families, you break securities, you break self-belief.

Its not your job to punish/discipline your wife/girlfriend/partner. If she is not disciplined enough for you then you shouldn’t be with her.

What’s even worse is the taboo attached to domestic violence. No one wants to talk about it and when they do they call it domez and leave it at that – as in its none of your business but the fighting couple’s. I have even heard Kenyans refer to women who call the cops on their spouses who beat them up as behaving like “black american women” . Being troublemakers. And woe unto the guy if he happens not to have his status in order and gets his ass kicked out of the country, then it is the woman’s fault for all eternity especially to the guy’s friends and family. NO NO NO, you are victimising a victim because you are all too idiotic to recognise someone who has had enough and at the end of their tether decided to save their life, irrespective of who she takes with her in her quest for said. I am sure in all of these there are women who call cops on a guy and cry wolf for their own selfish motives and shame on them – but this is not about that.

If as a man you cannot settle your domestic issues with your partner without resorting to violence, that does not make you a man, irrespective of what your father/grandfather/brother/uncle told you or did. It makes you a bully, a coward, a monster. It does not make you a man.

If as a woman you know someone who is facing domestic violence, do not call it domez and walk away. Inside that woman is someone who is trying/crying to get out and cannot because of her own insecurities and doubts, and probably because of a misguided notion of love of/from the abusive partner, not knowing that that love ended ages ago, if it ever existed, and was replaced by control and manipulation and disgust – all shrouded in violence to keep her in check in case she ever peers over the veil and realises that there is a better way out there, a better man, better love, a better situation, even though it means being alone and ‘unloved’, a better life. A better HER.

What’s amazing is that these women are the most loyal, the most loving, the most supportive to their partner. They will do, and do do, anything for him. They will even go above and beyond to make sure that he is comfortable and happy –  giving him everything they can possibly give him – in some way probably to make him see that they love him even though deep inside said man is disgusted by his actions and doesn’t understand why she won’t leave him – or as a coping mechanism to convince themselves that he is worth it, or to appease him so he doesn’t do it again. All this is a vicious cycle that keeps on feeding and growing in size. It is heartbreaking to watch especially when it is someone that you care about, and someone who should know better, but they refuse to see it and refuse to entertain open dialogue about it.

So if you are a mother, a parent to a daughter, please please don’t ever get tired of telling your child about self worth, loving yourself above all else, taking care of yourself, being independent, being financially independent irrespective of who or what your partner/husband/father is or is worth because when shit hits the fan, you need to be able to stand on your own two feet. Always know that you can rely on yourself and be ready to do that no matter what. Always have a backup plan financially, save money, no matter how little, save it and keep it for yourself. This is not selfish or being cunning, or maybe it is, but its called survival and it favours the fittest.

I know there are also instances of men facing domestic abuse. I haven’t written about it because I was concentrating on my personal experience, but the same verdict applies. I do not condone a woman hitting a man, in fact I always say that as a woman, if you are stupid enough to hit a man, you should be ready to get your ass kicked like a man – because it will be.

A kiss here, a kick there

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

About a bog

Guessaurus 2.0, if you will. The madness is still there, don’t know about the flow of, or the sense to be made thereof.

Welcome.

We all know what a bog is – we’ve been in one, obviously, severally, in fact. Consciously, invariably. Definitely. If you still need help, here’s some (use wisely)

- toilet

- loo

- bathroom

- washroom

- water closet (w/c)

- choo

The one I am referring to, although meets the needs of the names above, does not have their refinement, refreshment, class, style, substance.. In fact you’re more likely to find the ‘I’ missing in Toilet to read as two words –  To let (and you really dont want to know what is being let, and where it is being let). More likely to find a missing ‘L’ in Loo to go ‘oo’ for the stench that emanates from said. The only bathing/washing done in that room is one in smells best not imagined, or respired. And lastly, there is likely to be no water in sight (that you really want to see), and to closet one inside one, you may wanna have to first read the terms and conditions.

As for choo  (Swahili for Toilet),  it is really the only word best describing said facilities (and never, NEVER in a good way).

A good English word for it is an Outhouse… More OUT than HOUSE, but you get my drift by now.

 If you grew up in shaggs (farm) like I did, you are likely to have encountered one of these. In fact, you are likely to have been so comfortable using these that when you visited someone/where where this wasn’t the norm, you would find yourself flustered and unsure what the etiquette to said was. I can even go one better and claim that you would probably hold onto whatever you had if it happened to be a number greater than one until you were in more comfortable environs (see picture above, again).

I would also hazard a guess (ahem) that if you had one of these houses in your yard, you also didn’t have electricity which means when you visited said premises in the night, you needed either a torch (flashlight, for those of you whose English is a borrowed language), or one of the numerous versions of lamps (not electric) including gas lamps, kerosene lamps, molotov-cocktail inspired lighting devices made of tin cans and shreds of clothing if wick wasn’t available or affordable. Alternatively, there were matchboxes and newspapers, matchboxes and paper bags that would have previously contained in no particular order – wheat flour, corn flour (a distinction is necessary, be patient), sugar, rice .. or any of the above, and then recycled to contain any other variety of stuff that necessitates a bag. Or matchboxes. Alone. Or no matchboxes. At all.

If you visited a bog in the dark, it had its own challenges, least of which is your ability, or lack thereof, to aim. This renders the term skid marks light in light (or lack thereof) of the results of the aforementioned aim. And, if hit and miss aren’t options cos miss is the only one not taken, well, I would hope no one is around the following morning to rouse you and ask you to do some ‘light’ housekeeping, or worse, somebody else went after you and   skidded (literally) on the fruits (and vegetables, and soup, and dessert) of your labour.

Being afraid of the dark (or female) required that you take someone else with you cos said bogs aren’t exactly in close proximity to the rest of the houses, main reason being smell (and flies and rats, big rats) not privacy. Now, if the escorter is close to you, e.g. sister or the escorted is a younger sibling, it was common to go inside with them to help out, keep company and light and extinguish fires etc, but if they required privacy, e.g. big sister, then you would be required to stay on the outside – which had its own issues especially since if the person visiting the bog is afraid of the dark and all it carries with it, then you, the escorter are left to face said boogeymen/animals – imaginary or otherwise.

Privacy not being number one (that would be the back of the house, beside the shed, by the bushes, in the garden, or the roadside, half-squatting, as women are wont to do, and pretending you aren’t doing anything), the bogs have a tendency to have holes that big rats can pass through (and they do) – any passerby can see you doing your business. And no one can guarantee that the latch actually does close, and stay closed, cos there should be testimonies twice round the world of people who have been surprised by the door just opening and finding somebody, stranger or not, staring back at you as if they are surprised someone else had the audacity to want to use such facilities when they needed them most.

You want to know about the distinction between wheat flour and corn flour I mentioned earlier in relation to bogs, do you? One of them gets rather sticky when it comes into contact with water, or wet, or both – especially if the bag that previously held said flour is used in the stead of toilet paper/tissue.. OK?

A lighter issue about light that I can highlight is that if you put a light source on one side, it creates a shadow on the other dark side. Simple enough, NO? Well, try this for simple. If the person in the bog puts the light in front of them while doing their business, then their actions are shadowed on their back, which means if the shadow is long enough (the bogs have gaps between the floor and the wall for water and ventilation), the person(s) standing outside can see a shadow of the whole action. And everything is elongated. Everything.

One last word on this whole bog-gling business.

SQUATTING

 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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