28 July 2011

Here we go again.

School's out. That should bring a ripple of excitement to me as a mother, but does it? Well, it does but alongside too is that I am holding my breath. Literally. So I cleaned out the fridge last weekend in anticipation, preparation maybe. And started to restock on stuff that would interest a person, who has been behind gates for a while. While there, I begun to think back of my days in boarding school.

Those were the days. In class five is when it all begun. Then, I viewed it as torture leaving my warm household to go live with total strangers. I remember so well the first day. I was so small, not even able to wash my clothes well. I will never know what prompted my parents to take me to boarding school then. Perhaps for lack of good schooling nearby.  I would cry myself to sleep the first few weeks, but wake up to the stern reality that I was on my own and there to determine my destiny. I missed my family terribly. There is nothing worse for a child than to sit there spooning a hot bowl of porridge while thinking of mummy's special breakfast back home.

There were all sorts of stuff to scare a little girl there. First, the headmistress was stern. And I mean real stern. She would look your way and you would begin to confess your sins beforehand. Then would come the slap. Memorable, bint-el-sudan scented. The lingering scent(smell) would be a constant reminder for the rest of the day that you had to behave yourself otherwise. And she wore glasses.

The school was a mission one. That means that there was a big catholic church(mandatory), convent, hospital and inevitably a grave yard. That bordered the school fence. And so on some saturdays, we would revelently watch over the fence as people buried the dead. Which would give us nightmares for days. There was even talk of ghosts. And so you can imagine waking up to go to the wash rooms at night, when it's all so quiet, with the tall trees swaying outside and only the security light on.There were no curtains too. Perfect recipe for terror.

With time I learnt to wash my clothes well(even the white blouses) and to put all sweet memories of home back. That was my first lesson on patience and the power of hope. Hope that tomorrow would come and I could go back home to mummy. Hope that after a while I would get out of that place to a better place. I did get out of that school to the secondary school right across the fence, yes. By then I knew enough about getting what it is I wanted and the fight for survival. Tough little cookie.

And my kids complain school life is hard. Even with the special diet, and teachers who make calls to parents if there is an issue, the works. I tried telling them how we grew up once but was met with rolling eyes. And so I am preparing to welcome theme home. That will involve some sacrifice on my part and hubby's too. Like learning afresh how to knock on their bedroom door and ask that the volume be brought down. And hubby will have to reliquish his hold on the remote. We also have to get used to the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't syndrome. How else do you explain the close to empty fridge that you are sure was well stocked just a few days back?

And now for the seven things you dont know about me. OtienoHongo, here goes.

-I am a firm believer of God, depending on divine wisdom to guide my daily walk.

-I cherish promise keepers. If you make a promise please keep it and if you cannot please state the same.

-I love watching Dr phil is no secret. Anything that helps me understand the working of the mind is cool.

-I laugh a lot. Loudly too. If you can make me laugh, then you are close to my heart.

-I feel deeply for issues of atrocities on women and children. I guese I dislike those who push their weight around.

-I love white chocolate.

-I aspire to highlight issues on every day life.

25 July 2011

Weekend with friends

     This past weekend was rather interesting. I made time to visit with my lady friends, one who has a son named van dame. It was a rather interesting visit because at van dames' house I found him, brother and dad watching football.
There is something about men watching football together that I cannot quite put my finger on. Sort of like a 'comrade' kind of feeling. Ever tried making conversation with guys watching a match? Kind of like talking to oneself.
And so yesterday at my friends' house we got to spend about an hour just conversing. Just the two of us. It was there that I learnt a lot about house dressing.
     My friend is a designer of anything house beautiful. And so she took me through photos of stuff that she makes. Simply beautiful. And she does it with a passion. She showed me samples of stuff she makes and I was left in awe. From beautiful curtain dressing to beautiful seat cushions in all shapes (sweets?). At some point we had to enlist the help of a not-so-enthusiastic van dame to help put up some fabric. All this time the football match was on.
     There is something divine about two women going through beautiful stuff together. We spent most of my time there peeling layer after layer of fabric and shared lots of stories in between. Pure girl talk. We castigated men and football and their lack of interest in all things nice. Occassionally we would take a peek at the three men seated watching football, oblivious to all else. We were  in our own world abeit with those three totally football absorbed men.
      A beautiful house is soothing to the soul. It feels good going home to a beautifully decorated house. The interior decor of a house tells a lot about the owners. From the colors used to the way things are put together. I once visited a friend of mine and was amazed to find so much pink in her bathroom. She said it had a soothing effect on her. My bathroom is mainly green. The color of life.
     Coupled with my discovery of the beauty of splashing colors in the house, came the realisation that each one of us is gifted in different ways. We just need to go find out what it is that we enjoy doing effortlessly. And if it makes us money as well, then the better. Just as my friend has found out.

20 July 2011

Of regrets and the I told-you-so consequences

All of us have regrets. Something that we did well knowing well that we should not have but went ahead and did it. With the expected result. Remorse. It may have been something as minor as taking some pocket change from mum's purse and having to face the consequences on getting caught. Or something big like a husband who out of rage was responsible for killing his wife. Once the deed is done, then the regrets begin. That is unless the person involved is not of sound mind.
I hear these stories all around. They are the stuff magazines are made of. Some even come out as inspirational music serving a warning to others not to go down the same road. All serve to confirm that there are always consequences of not following the rules of life. Whether set by the state or church. I have heard such stories most of my life. Like the one of 20 year old Laban. I knew him way back as young boy. He was a classic case of a normal boy growing up in a city estate with a loving family. His parents worked hard to give him and siblings a noble life. But somewhere along the way Laban lost his track.
At 16, when most boys are in the discovery stage Laban discovered more than was good for his age. That, coupled with the pressure from friends was his undoing. And the start of his family's woes. He could no longer pass for the quiet boy we all knew in the neighborhood. Suddenly he did not care to go to school. Even after countless attempts to resolve the many issues he had with the adminitration which culminated in his getting expelled. And when after his parents tried to talk him into joining another school, he was least interested.
Laban now begun drinking most of the time. His mother would discover empty cans of beer in his room. He was not even trying to hide his bad behaviour. The neighbors begun to complain. Clothes had begun missing on the drying lines. Shoes could no longer be left outside their doors. And Laban's parents understood where all their missing cash ended up. Laban had found a way to service his new hobby. The drama continued for several years. His parents had to step in and bail him out every now and then. That was the norm in their lives for quite a while.
No one knows for sure what happened. Considering that all the threats, talks, then counselling had not helped to change his waywardness. But one day Laban changed. He says it was like he woke up to an  OMG realization. It hit him that he had lost so much. Like time that he should have been at school. That he had become a pain to his folks. It dawned on him that his former peers were now out of school and in college. That is the day last year, that Laban decided to pick up his life. He is lucky that he had supportive parents who agreed to put him back to school. And that is where he is now. Doing what he should have done four years back. And so full of remorse.
Not so many people are lucky to get away with few if any repercussions. Some people regret their actions for the rest of their lives. And end up adding misery to their loved ones too. Some actions have such dire consequences that they haunt a person for the rest of their living days. These are the ones that hurt most. When at a person reaches a point in their lives and they realise that they could have done it different. Better. This becomes a sore thumb in their lives. A constant reminder that maybe, just maybe they wish they had known better.
Makes me wonder why the sound of reason does not appeal until it is too late. Perhaps it is in exercising our free will that we often go offtrack. And with dire consequences that are often times life changing. Just maybe we should all think things over more before taking action. Especially if they are on the not-to-do list.

There are countless stories from people who take rebellion trips every now and then. We see it on the news every day. And different people have different ways of trying to rid themselves of guilt. Some take to drinking to try and momentarily forget their mistakes. But wake up to the same staring them in the face the following day. Or  take it out on others. Perhaps expecting to share their misery. Yet other people take time to look inward and search their very soul. Even turn to God for help. An act of surrender to a higher power to help. That in itself is a step towards recognising that human beings are bent on doing wrong and just their will power is not enough to stop them. Constantly.

14 July 2011

I wonder, is it so bad?

It seems our girls are out to catch fun at whatever cost. Seeing as we now have another death under mysterious circumstances of a college girl. Just this month a university student was murdered and by unknown people. The cause of her death has not yet been determined, and now this? Another college student studying journalism was found dead at some lodging in Nairobi. What is similar in both cases is that both these two girls met their death while out having overnight fun with friends.
Interesting to note is the fact that in both cases the girls seem to have been intent on going out abeit in dubious circumstances. In the case of the latest death, the girl in question was out drinking with a foreign friend. And while there, her boyfriend did show up and an argument ensued. Now that in itself tells a lot. Wrong place at the wrong time.
No wonder some people are making business out of relationships. Now in Kenya, one can have their spouse or friend tracked to the last detail with recordings. And it is no cheap task. Interesting to note, people are paying so much for the service. Maybe they just need to know just where they stand in the relationship. Which means that they have reason to doubt their partner. Even among the young.
I watch the program cheaters sometimes. I'd say I always feel for the one that has been cheated on. It is so humiliating to discover that someone that you hold dear to your heart is having it with someone else. What I wonder is how the graphic discovery aids in the person's esteem. I saw one such episode where a lady, married for the last thirty or so years, came out spitting venom at her husband on being caught out. She accused him of not finding time to be with her. And thus justified her having an affair. Now that got me thinking, how many times do married people disregard some complaints from their partner as mere bragging just to suffer the same fate later? Whereas if they actually did hear what it is the partner was saying and took some action a disaster might have been averted. In the case of this couple on cheaters, the husband was actually on set later admitting that he might have caused his wife to stray!
Which brings to fore the damage that occurs when those in a relationship are not listening to their partners. It is obvious that a partner may not provide the all-round needs of the other. In which case then the two need to work at finding an amicable way of letting each one pursue their different interests without suspicion.
The latest girl that died was obviously with someone other than she should have been with. And the dubious circumstances could have led to her death. Obviously, her boyfriend who turned up later felt cheated.
The need for openness in relationships is obvious. This might not go well with the partner but at least they do get the message that they need to work at it. And the partner gets a chance to air their feelings. In which case noone has an excuse to do wrong.
What has changed is that more and more people, now more than ever are willing to give up on their relationships at the slightest disillusionment. It seems that the minute one discovers something they do not like in a partner then off they go. Any relationship comes with a degree of committment. And one does not just get up one day and decide that it's off. Partners need to walk together. But most important listen to what it is the other is telling them. Lest they get the message from less appealing sources.

12 July 2011

No alternatives, just work at it.

So much is changing in our society. I read the Saturday Standard with awe. So now women, both married and single are freely seeking for options when they do not get fulfillment in their relationships. And these options come in all sizes and shapes.Was even more amazed to read a follow up article that was in agreement with this. That makes me wonder, what has gone wrong with the marriage institution nowadays.
Growing up, we were taught to believe that marriage was for as long a both partners were alive. I grew up seeing couples who were not-so-perfect struggle to make their marriages work. And yes I believe that their patience bore fruit. And some happy children too.
I think that people are giving up too soon on their partners. Given, it cannot be easy, two entirely different individuals coming together and expecting harmony from day one. Obviously this calls for work. It means that anyone who is open to commit should be ready to shoulder responsibility as well. By that I mean that even when what one gets is not exactly what they expected, they should not throw in the towel. Maybe everyone should pay more attention to the vows they make at the marriage altar. For better or for worse.  This might mean that you marry this handsome hunk who makes your heart flip every time you look into his eyes who gets involved in an accident and is not as appealing as before. Or this beautiful girl you cannot wait to take to meet mother who you discover is more keen on her friends than she is to be with  you. Could be even worse.
What then, do you seek other ways of finding happiness although still remaining with your partner?
One thing that is for sure is that there is no way of working out a relationship if the word alternative jumps to mind at every disappointment. If I am getting fulfillment elsewhere, why bother with what does not work for me. And that marks the down way for any relationship. I believe we all need to be constantly reminded that relationships are lots of work. That was well catered for within the African culture. Take this for instance.
A girl has just turned nine. She is encouraged to visit with her grandmother more. Or her paternal auntie. On such visits, the girl is groomed to do major house hold chores. She knows to fetch essentials for the family needs. She learns to cook the traditional foods too. She sees auntie prepare food that is full of energy and not necessarily appealing. In the evening, she gets to help out serving uncle with the evening meal. She watches him heartily enjoying the meal and thank auntie for the wonderful cooking. Soon uncle is sleepy but still manages to catch up on the day's happenings with auntie. Little girl learns that a satisfied man is a happy man.
Mary, for that is the girls' name turns twelve. It is time to learn about birds and bees. Auntie takes up the role effortlessly any time Mary comes to visit her. She talks to her about men. Tells her what makes a man happy. She tells Mary how important it is for a man to get acknowledgement from his wife. Mary learns to make food that is worth to be served to a hungry hard working man. She watches her auntie keep her mouth shut on the occasions that her husband comes home in a foul mood. It appears to her that her auntie, just like mother back home knows how to appease an angry man.  Auntie goes on with her chores. Mary learns that silence is golden sometimes.
At 21 Mary is all grown up and ready to start her own family. She has with her a wealth of knowledge on what she is about to step into. She is well ready for the good and the bad times. After all, she has seen instances like these before and knows how to go about it. This does not guarantee that her marriage will be problem free but she knows how to go about issues. After all, auntie and mum still uphold their marriages even when things get tough.
Mary is well adjusted in her marriage. Though she is a modern woman, with a job of her own she knows that her happiness comes from a firm marriage. She will do all that she can to make it work. She is well adjusted for the task. There is no turning back and no way of letting the marriage fail. Mary knows from experience that when she makes her husband happy she will be happy herself. You can only get what you give.
In today's life, we lack real and down -to-earth models for the girls. Today's woman learns about relationships from watching television. She lacks the experience of actually watching someone struggle to make their relationship work. And so the girl grows up lacking the necessary skills to uphold a relationship. And she is not to be blamed for that. After all, with the changing times, what time is there to even go visit and learn from others.
The cracks begin to show soon. Unlike Mary, today's girl believes in finding a home ready for occupation. With minimum effort from her. She believes that happiness awaits her in a relationship. With minimum effort. And so when that does not happen she is fast to go seeking it elsewhere. After all, isn't she responsible for her own? Thus the influx of foreign ideologies to happiness. Today's woman is going roundabout looking for happiness. Forgetting that happiness takes effort. Just like everything else in life.
2:41:00 PMby tulip

07 July 2011

Don't sweat the small stuff?


Small stuff matters. It is those things that are supposed to happen automatically but sometimes do not. And everyone assumes they are obvious. It might be something as obvious as covering one's mouth when they sneeze or asking to be excused from the lunch table to go take a call. While no one gets hurt if this does not happen, someone will obviously loose some credibility when they do not do these things.
Social gatherings are a perfect place to watch out for this. Weddings are specially good. There was this one that provided an ideal spot. I arrived early and had quite some time to stay at the background and watch. A good way to while away time, you might say. The bride was a colleague of mine. And so I was there when people begun to arrive. Soon a van arrived. The people in it  had spent many hours on the road to get there. As expected, they stepped out of the vehicle tired and in dire need of some refreshments.
The younger of the group were courteous enough to help out the elder ones. And even show them where they could rest. And the ladies came dressed as they always will for weddings. In colorful regalia and all wearing smiles. In all it was  beautiful to watch all the happy people chatting and laughing together. At the venue were some ushers assigned to welcome and show guests to their sitting place. There was this particular lady who was very enthusiastic on this role. Very friendly and warm. I had taken an instant liking to her and also noticed that she was the very model of a modern town girl.
The minute she saw the newly arrived group, she walked up to them, welcoming them heartily. But that was not well reciprocated. I did not have the benefit of understanding their dialect but the looks were rather telling. The young people were glaring at the usher as the older women whispered amongst themselves. The elderly of the group actually looked away. Those who could were actually all looking at her with obvious disdain.
It was obvious that these people who had just arrived from the village were beholding something new. One lady in the group spoke out loudly and I managed to get the contentious issue. You see, the usher was dressed in what these people considered an indecent dress. It was way too short their liking. At least by their standards. She could have worn something longer, they said. What appeared usual to the town people was not so to these people from the village. And it nearly spoilt the mood of the wedding.
Small stuff declares that we mind not just what we think of ourselves but care for others who do not share our mindset. Or do. When someone queue jumps at the banking hall, no one gets hurt but someone does mind. Even when a driver speeds through the green light. And sometimes it does get humorous. Like this time I was going to visit some friends. I boarded a matatu that was all quiet and nice. But not for long. As soon as we were out of town, the loud music begun. And I mean real loud. And everyone was at ease. Even an elderly, respectable lady sitting right in front of me. Grey hair and all. And just when I was beginning to think that the matatu guys could at least spare her hearing, I noticed something. She seemed undisturbed and calm. Like she was in her own world. Then I saw the reason of her calm. She had on these little yellow stoppers in her ears. She must have fixed them on as soon as the music begun. Meaning she carried them in her bag. I begun to laugh. If you've ever tried to laugh politely in a public place, with no visible reason to show for it then you understand. I laughed at the ingenuity of this lady but more at the way she looked with the little yellows sticking out of her ears. It appears she knew better than to disregard the small stuff.
I am told even at interview panels those interviewing look out for the small stuff. Like the way the interviewee walks into the room. Confidence does show. Even  the way one sits up tells a story. The kind of bag they carry. And lately the phone one sports. It is no longer just how well you can express yourself and justify your credentials. And experience or lack of it.

04 July 2011


For the past three weeks I was on leave. I needed to get away from the office so much so that on the day I actually did leave I did not find time to even say goodbye to some. I had it all schemed up. The way I was going to spend my leave lazing around, clearing a backlog of unwatched movies and cooking for my family. And yes I did subject them to some amazing recipes which we all enjoyed trying out. You see, days, even weeks to my leave had seen me research for ways to keep my family happy. Everything from making special meals to spending quality time together. It was actually a very good time to touch base with my loved ones.
The first week was spent compensating for lost sleep and rediscovering the television. It was a good time to catch up with exciting episodes of Dr phil. I did learn a valuable one from one such episode in particular that made me look at life differently.
It was one on mending marriages. He was addressing issues that affect marriages. Several couples were each given a chance to talk out on the issues that make them unhappy in marriage. As usual the ladies went on about their hubbies not having time for them, not reaching out to help them and generally there was a feeling of being taken for granted. The revelations from the men were more of a shocker to me. I sat there, listening to all four of them plead with their wives for more physical loving. One actually had tears in his eyes as he said it. And that's when I realised just how important that part of the deal is to them dudes. And they suffer in silence!
I wondered, why cant men just speak up? I mean, if something is so important to me I will find a way of expressing it to my patner. But then Dr phil made the point that so many ladies withhold love from their spouses without knowing just how much it hurts them. Withholding. It made even more sense when I watched the movie that everyone had talked about but had not had a chance to see. Fire proof. It is a whole eye opener in itself on the way the two sexes express the desire to get close up to each other. Of course the ladies talk to their friends about almost everything  while the men withhold and hurt inside. Until they experience something that shakes them so much they actually come up talking.
I believe it is a stereotype. That men should not show their emotions openly. And I believe that it is not such a bad thing all together. I mean, when I was a new mum and cried when the baby fell sick, I would have been disheartened if hubby actually sat by and cried with me! And so it is not so bad that men withhold their feelings and ladies talk too much about stuff. It is good when both the two learn to read the language of that silence in their partner that holds so much or disregard the emotional wife who afterall just wants to get her hubbys' attention by whatever means she knows how, wrong or right.