A lonely road…

I am sad and I am reading sad essays. No. I am not sure these are sad essay. It might be just my sad heart. But I grief through these reads until my head aches from fighting back tears. Still I read, while also arguing with the text.

Yesterday, I read Michell Cruz Gonzales’ essay, ‘Bracing for the Silence of an empty Nest’ and I cried so hard as she retraced the early years of his soon-to-go-to-college-son. Their only child.I thought, this story would be a relieve. A release for my tight emotions . How does it make me cry. I had expected it would nourish and fortify me. Probably, if the conditions were different.

My heart bled.

Her colourful description, enabled me to sit with her as she reminisced the old times, when she would watch her son’s tiny hands, on the piano and his short legs that could not reach the pedals, “still small for his age, he could barely reach the pedals, finessing the sustain pedal with the toe of his heavy black shoe

Our pains stem from different causes. Hers, is a son leaving for college, and mine, struggles and pains of a young family member. It rips my heart, daily. I read the essay and sense Michelle wishing it were possible to return to the past, while also aware, it is time to let go. She admits, she is almost at the end of her life while her son’s life is only beginning. She wants to let go.

I want to take my young and paining, family member back to the early years too. He did not come out of me. But he is a part of me, an intimate part.

Many nights, I want us to walk back, with him fastened on my back while I do chores around the house. I desire to tell him stories and see his careless and sweet giggle. I want to look at his plumb face, his eyes on me, waiting for the next line from my made up stories. But more than anything, like Michelle, I want him, “sitting next to me on the couch, [I want to ] inhale deep, as if to breathe him back inside me. I want to wrap him in my arms, tussle his hair”.

I want to ease his pain, to comfort and reassure him.I am never able to say anything, when we meet. I pain, in silence, from his struggles. He’ll pull through. I know. But until then I might live with this prolonged labour pains. It is the cost, of love, I won’t mind paying. If need be.

We will hold you, whole again. I tell myself, often. And we will.

Pain heals pain, I think. Otherwise why am I drawn, to Psalms like, ‘why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”. And I stop there, afraid to proceed with the Psalm to “…hope you in God”. I am scared to continue with it, when my heart still questions. Desiring to hope, but afraid.I dare, rather cautiously, Bible verses like, “when i am afraid, I will trust in you”, but the heaviness of heart chokes me.

I remind myself, nevertheless, that just as night and day both make a complete day, peace and pain, sleep together, every so often.

My heavy heart also seems to misrepresent songs, it distorts their meanings, probably for commonality, or for healing. Song lyrics like “o na le maatla a go re thusa, o na le maatla a go re lwela” (God is able to help us and equally able to fight our wars ) ,from my all time favourite song “o mogolo, o mogolo…” ( He is a big God), create, in my mind’s eye, the picture of the young me, orphaned and alone – and not expecting or trusting any human help.

I am walking on barren land, no visible vegetation or wildlife, in sight. The vast emptiness of the pans, dwarfs my stature. My eyes, blurred from incessant crying, are fixed on the horizon, miles ahead.

Whatever lies beyond the horizon, my young heart hopes, holds the power to help me, to heal my young friend; to restore us; to come through for me and on behalf of those close enough to hear my heart and can relate. I encourage my young self, her eyes still fixed on the distance.

There is hope.

A subtle smile cracks through the cheeks, which are now hardened from dried tears. But the smile dies as quickly as it had tried to form. Eyes on the horizon, loud frightened heart beats, tears can’t be fought back this time.

I run to silences, self talk – and prayer in this season. But, I still fear | trust | get anxious|read | sleep | over work | doubt | self talk | over exert |cry |I laugh.

My thoughts wonder away easily. But this sad season, will end.

My heart will be lighter tomorrow. and maybe stronger than today. I don’t know. But no two days are ever the same.

This is a journey we did not choose, but are braving.

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What is love?

Is love a heart drenched in juicy, thick sweetness?

Is it a tender touch around the waist?
Or soft kisses on the cheek

Is love a kiss on your forehead, when you arrive home from work?

Or is it the sound of your name, in the softness of your daughter’s voice, and on the husky voice of your teenage son or is it what you hear in the carefree fondness of the last?

Is love, praises about your body curves? Or stories, silently said, in those stares, about the plumpness of your lips? Is love found in the lean and masculine structure?

Or is it the African heat, penetrating the coarseness of your hair? Is it when you are drenched in sweat – and it drips down your back, following the formation of your back bone – then parting, tracking the creases and curves, to where it desires.

Or is love uncensored conversations with your inner circle. Talking in hushed tones on a subject only you can talk about, together.

Do you equate love to trust, to the feeling of being naked but un-mortified? Is it when you bare it all, drop out your skeletons and feel no judgment?

Or are you a child of words, yearning poetic resonance? Do you love intimate nothingness whispered in your ear? Or do random, anonymous notes, on your table, bed or windshield satisfy you?

Do you want music under candle light, hand in hand, face to face, no words said, but tears down the cheeks saying it for you?

Or is love, work? Is it getting your hands dirty? Is love walking barefooted in the gardens, cutting through grown scrubs and daring rose thorns, to pick and shape buds and bushes. Do you find yourself drawn to the smell of soggy soil, desiring to work with and on it? Do you find love in the works of your hands, your creation?

Or is love in the pit of your belly, butterflies in your stomach? Is love tight long hugs, refusing to let go? Looking intently into each other’s eyes?

What is it?

Choosing Forgiveness

Today, I’m thinking forgiveness. Beyond mending relations, forgiveness also helps our health and is an acknowledgement of our fallible nature. When we forgive, we accept our imperfections that we have erred before and that as long as we live in this body of flesh, we will rub others the wrong way.

In forgiving we acknowledge our imperfect nature, that yes we are good people, living at peace with all nature, but we are still just vulnerable humans. We have, in us, the ability to, unbeknown to us at times, hurt our friends, family and even strangers.

Good intentions can be misread mixed and messed up to result in painful encounters. That is why all of us have a moral and spiritual responsibility to forgive.

Is it easy? Not always. Sometimes it is indeed a ‘sacrifice’ of forgiving, it demands deliberate hard choices, it can require self talking, ‘I forgive Kgogomodumo because that is a principle I believe in. He swallowed my goats and their young, but you know what, i forgive him.’

Personally, the challenge with defending and justifying why I cannot forgive is, I get stuck there, not moving forward and any opportunity I get, I rehearse the injustice and in a way, seek pity from the listener. But practising daily, through self talk (if it is a hard one) I also in the process release myself from Kgogomodumo’s grip. I take back my power and claim back how I want to live. I get back to the principle I believe in. I forgive you Kgogomodumo, because in not forgiving you, I compromise who I am.

The process might not feel good. It might take deep hurting and crying. But nobody is worth your heart missing a beat. Nobody is worth adjusting your behaviour because of what they did or did not do.

Unforgiveness, is visible. It has the tendency to show its ugly head when least expected, often from how you talk about the person who hurt you and your behaviour towards them. I think, if left unchecked, unforgivess can adjust one’s character, changing a kind human being into an uncontrollably angry and impatient being – hurting and alienating people in the process.

Nobody wants to be around a angry and grumbling person.

Unforgiveness can wear one out. Sometimes, conscious or not, you can live to prove a point, living a highly conscious life to show the people or person who hurt you, that you ‘made it in life’.

That is not living, right?

To forgive, is a choice, still, available to all humans. it is a marker of maturity, a visible presence of our principles.

I choose to forgive. Sometimes it will hurt, it has hurt before. But never again will i justify and defend unforgivess.

What do you choose?

My business journey

I want to do it with a soul…

My relationship with entrepreneurship is maiden. I had travelled to Tanzania in October – and I was not looking, but would, during free time, allow myself to experience Dar es Salaam. It was during those interactions that it came lurking, the lure of capital wrapped in entrepreneurship.

I remember though, that as my body texture and heart feelings kept adjusting in response to the years of life, I would, occasionally, rebuke myself for allowing the capitalist market gulp all my salary while I got nothing worthwhile, from it. I would argue that if education had any impact on me, it should be the ability to create business outside formal employment, then and only then would I proudly declare that I indeed spent time in school.

My argument is, if I cannot create a small enterprise that can at least pay for utilities and maybe for my children’s school lunch, then either education or me, failed.  It is only wise that while the market sucks life from my wages, I should also make some money from it.

The lingering desire was to start a business that resonates with me; something that would allow me to make money while also pursuing passion. I wanted an extension of my personality, what I would do with a smile, even when woken up in the middle of a cold winter night.

But who do I know myself to be?

I am artistic. I work, effortlessly with and in my surroundings. My beautiful garden bares testimony. The desire to garden happened at the sight of a naked patch of land. I bought tools and went to work. I am now convinced that keeping a garden is a visible expression of gratitude for the piece of bare ground, rented or owned.

I am also a minimalist.  My curtain free-living and negligible interior decorations are my witnesses. I enjoy the feeling and look of an empty room. I want to come back home, after a long and often routine day and not feel like the furniture wants me out; occupying every breathing space, giving me a ‘we don’t want you here’ look.

I love light. I am certain that is why we have windows, to allow light into our homes. And until now, my family and I have embraced the letter and spirit behind the creation of windows and have lived, for years now, in a house without curtains, except for bedrooms.

Tanzania introduced me to beautiful jewellery and tough Masai sandals; colourful beads armoured in leather to create beautiful and hardy sandals. It is the work of the great Masai of Arusha. I fell in love with colour ahead of everything else. The Masai jewellery and sandals, the Tanzanian Chitenge fabric, and others on the way to joining my collection, is what selling from my personality means. Pictures of beautifully adorned women warm my heart. I am especially drawn to those in love with bright and colourful apparel.

I’ll be going to other African cities in pursuit of passion. I am coming to Addis Ababa for her beautiful leather bags, to Ghana for the richness of kente and Gonja cloths.  The Egyptian linen is another big pull, the luring combed softness of your bed sheets. Your linen cloths that demand to stay worn forever. This is how I want to relate with the capitalist market, visiting open markets around Africa, interacting with and submerging into their stories – and bringing home memories, in ink and fabric.

It has been a month now. I am happy I started and am on the way to answering my part of “what do you have in your hand?”, refusing to bury my passion, multiplying what I have, while shaving off bits and pieces from the greedy and ever hoarding capitalist market. I will however, do it with caution, lest I get trapped into its indifferent brutality.

I want to still have a soul…

COME TO MY PARTY! BLOG PARTY!! — Becoming His Tapestry

Hello friends, how are you today? Well guess what happened? We got snow! I mean real snow; you know the kind that has to be plowed and driveways have to be shoveled and schools are closed. Yep! That kind of snow and it is beautiful, I love the snow. Of course it would be wonderful […]

via COME TO MY PARTY! BLOG PARTY!! — Becoming His Tapestry

To my husband, my calm, my anchor…

Dear B’kho Thothe,

I hope this finds you well. I am well, thank you. Although, I can’t sleep tonight and I catch myself thinking about how much of an amazing husband you are – and even interestingly, how different we are.

You’re organised and calm, I am disorganised and loud, almost too spontaneous. You calculate and are cautious, a realist; while my my optimism is sometimes ill informed.

You like a quiet home, with just your wife and kids, I live for hosting and entertaining.

I see time as abundant, you view it as scarce, not enough. Hence you leave for work, quite early, while I stagger behind. As such our children prefer you over me for morning school runs.

I am a night crawler, you retire early. You are an early bird, I want to wake up at 11am.

What else?

Our children prefer to ask for favours from you, they believe I always say ‘no’. But I have read Shonda’s, ‘Year of Yes’. Ha ha ha!

I never feel safe when you’re away, when I am home alone with the kids. And to help ease the tension, I leave all the lights, in all the rooms, on. I am sorry for this waste. But otherwise I just can’t sleep even with all the security gadgets flicking all around the house.

You’re my stability.

We are home safe when you’re home. And home is worth coming back to, after a day’s work, when you’re there.

You don’t know what it means to me, when I arrive and your car is already parked.

He is home and I relax already.

Thank you husband and love. Thank you that you are in the house with me and not up in the roof.

Thanks for allowing me to follow my heart, to start all that I started, some remaining at ‘start’ and never really going anywhere. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to explore my talents and hobbies.

I love you

I miss you

You see where this spontaneous behaviour has gotten me? I had Tanzanian coffee too late, now I am here looking at the clock ticking away, zero sleep.

Wena ruri,

Mosadi wa gago,

Oesi.

 

My thrilling trip to Dar es Salaam

I like the way Tanzanians pronounce Dar es Salaam.  It is organic and respectful, almost sacred, probably like how I would say my grandfather’s first name, when he is in an adjacent room, reverent whisper in awe of his greatness. They say it like their tongues were first immersed in oil, slithering out unperturbed.

It maybe be the tenderness of the Swahili language that makes a speaker sound like a poet reciting intimate narratives, while also conscious of the delicate text.

Swahili must be a language cooked in love. If languages were tangible commercial commodities, displayed in designer shops, Swahili would be wrapped in white silk, sealed in dark purple ribbons. It would be packaged in chocolate brown wood, scented in Egyptian oils. Swahili has the authenticity, only real wood can symbolise. It is validity wrapped in delicacy.

The people I met in Dar es Salaam are just as tender, soft spoken with the tendency to speak in a near whisper. I can’t recall the number of times I asked them to ‘please speak louder’, in those two weeks. One of our drivers attributes their calmness to the frustrating traffic. He says the time they spend in the cars is a boot camp. They have thus given up on being angry and anxious, he says.

Tanzania is a big country of about 57 million people, and about 4 million of them live in Dar es Salaam. It is a busy city, with people everywhere, selling, lifting and balancing heavy loads on their heads, vending hot coffees on street corners. They have abundant food, you encounter informal eating places on every street, grilling fish on open fire. Their fish will most likely be served with Ugali, a type of maize porridge from East and Central Africa that is similar but not as refined as Southern Africa maize meal, and this would be washed down with Coconut water.

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The people fill up all the public spaces, they are there, living their lives, making a living.  They are tough, kind people, walking to their commercial stalls somewhere along the road, or calling out to a passers-by, from their makeshift shop. They citizens are busy, doing one thing or the other, they don’t seem to worry about what the next person would say or think. There is life to make, families to feed and clothe, children to educate and aging parents to nurse.

You arrive here and it suddenly feels like the end of our world is nearer than you had thought. It is an urgent place. The people are focused, busy negotiating businesses, convincing passers-by to buy from them, against other competitors, with similar products. Every other person seems alert to either the imminent end of the world, or the reality of their mortality. They seem too mindful of their responsibility to leave an inheritance for their children. The city centre is a big market place, people are calling out to each, whistling, cars and boda-bodas blowing horns. In fact, I have not been anywhere, where people use a horn like they do in Dar es Salaam. And this makes it one of the noisiest places I have ever been to.

Dar es Salaam does not to sleep. It is probably the African version of a ‘city that never sleeps’. Vendors seem to work on shifts, when some retire to bed, others take up the stall for the overnight shift.

Dar es Salaam surprised and thrilled me.

The people who visited her before me, and had tried to create a picture of the place, missed it. But I understand, it is a city that needs to be experienced, it cannot be visualised in absentia. Even as I write, I feel inadequate to capture Dar es Salaam. In retrospect, I understand their struggle in helping visualise the place. It is hard, even now, to find words, in my vocabulary, succinct enough to do justice to the place.

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And since my return home, my answer to ‘how is Tanzania’, has been short; ‘it is different, amazingly different’.

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