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.
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?
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?
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…
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 […]
This year I had a different relationship with voter registration. It was a chore that needed to be completed. And only I could do it.
It felt something like when your body says, “you need a bathroom”, you can argue about how frequent and tiring the bathroom visits have been, ignore the urge, but eventually you’ll have to run. It’s nature. It leaves you with no choice.
In the previous years, I had attached lavish and rational reasons, thought about candidates’ vision and the political parties harbouring those imaginations. But this year I did it as a responsible citizen, I did it because it was what I had to do, a natural process in a democratic country. I did it because I have a responsibility, a role in what happens with this country. Because just as with the natural calls to the bathroom, my going to vote or not, won’t stop elections, they’ll happen regardless.
Yes, even I decide to ignore nature’s calls, whatever is knocking will come nevertheless. It will come while I am still seated on my sofa or when I’m already walking towards the bathroom. It will happen. And I would not have the confidence to claim responsibility for anything because I would have failed. I would have been a spectator to the urgings of my body.
Registering for elections, which is the only route to voting, can only be done by bodies, constituents of a country going to the polls. Do they have to have reasons for and emotionally attached to the process? Ideally, yes. But in a normal, everyday life, a lot of what we do, we do because it has to be done.