8th Blog Anniversary

It’s eight years since this blog was registered on WordPress, and we are still going strong. ‘We’, because like I have previously said, a writer without readers has no difference with someone who scribbles things on a personal journal, then stashes it away. That’s the person I was before starting this blog. I would write a lot, but everything I wrote was only meant for my eyes … Until I realized, I wanted to share what I wrote with anyone who cared to read.

Though nowadays I rarely get time to write as much as I would want, or visit other blogs for hours on end, I appreciate the few posts I share, and even more, everyone who spares valuable minutes of their precious time to read them. I am cognisant of the fact that, my readers make my posts fun writing, and worth sharing… I immensely appreciate each one of you. Thank you!

Lately I’ve been thinking, if my blog was a child, and if it could talk, it would fault me for being an absentee mother. Reason being that, nowadays I struggle to share even one post a month. Honestly, given how busy/crazy my schedule usually is, making time to write just one post feels like a herculean task. Thank God I love writing because I might have given up on writing entirely.

Furthermore, what keeps me going is the thought that one post could save someone somewhere. You know that feeling someone has when they’re somewhere thinking they are all alone in the world, and no one else understands what they are going through? I have been in that situation severally…and I know how lonely it feels. That’s one of the reasons which encourage me to keep writing.

Someone could be somewhere, literally seconds away from taking drastic measures to end their suffering, but then they meet someone who assures them their problem is not unique, and there is actually a solution. That is the amazing feeling I got when I started reading other blogs, and subsequently realized my anxiety disorder was not unique.

It was that feeling where you think you’re alone, then you take a walk interact with some people… and realize there are so many people in that same situation, only that no one had shared their problem. That is one of the relief I desire to grant my readers. To remind them they are not alone, and a problem shared is a problem halved.

Through my blog, I desire to encourage you, my readers… to help people see the world through my eyes; and since none of us is perfect, to see the world through your eyes as well; for instance, in relationships, there could be many misunderstandings…and anger/hurt makes us relatively short-sighted. Sometimes I write complaining about something hurtful which happened, then I receive very uplifting comments. That is the joy of blogging.

As I celebrate this milestone, I celebrate you my readers as well. I know this far I’ve come, it is because of your support. I am profoundly grateful. Therefore, as this blog turns eight, I raise my glass… to many more years ahead. HAPPY BLOGGING!

Heal the World

“I love you!” Pretty much each one of us has uttered these words at some point in our lives. Question is, how many of us actually understand what these words mean?

The world is ailing… and the way I see it, love can at the very least, assuage the pangs of the maladies afflicting us. In 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 Paul says, “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.

I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned, but if I have no love, this does me no good”.

So question is, what is love? Paul tells us, “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal”.

Hypothetically, if this is the general standard of love, how many of us have loved for real? For the most part, majority of us do the complete opposite of what love entails. We are impatient and unkind; always envious of others who seem to be better than us in one way of the other; those who are in positions of power/authority act all high and mighty, oppressing their juniors and all…

Furthermore, majority of those in power are living by the mantra, “It’s my turn to eat!” Sadly, this egotistical attitude has turned those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the hoi polloi into self-centred maniacs. Instead of looking out for those in need, they are embezzling funds meant for vital functions like acquisition of live-saving medication; and, locking out qualified people from employment positions in favour of their kin; nepotism at its best.

More often than not, we hold grudges against those who wrong us. We keep a record of their wrongs. The way I see it, most of the wars going on around the world would cease if the warring parties could just forgive each other and call a truce. Again it all boils down to love.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this Covid-19 pandemic has exposed some of our worst weaknesses. The frustrations attributed to Covid have made us relatively myopic. We only think about how we can solve our own problems, without taking a moment to consider how our actions/omissions affect others.

When the different Covid-19 vaccines were declared safe for use and effective against the corona virus, one of the emerging issues of concern was the corruption that could possibly arise from the vaccine distribution. Furthermore, some unscrupulous people have been accused of embezzling funds set aside for tackling the pandemic. Ergo, my concern is, why would anyone want to hoard money and medication meant to save people’s lives? Does such a person grasp what love is?

The two biggest commandments are to love God above all things, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Since not everyone is affiliated with religion I’ll refer to the legal definition of neighbour, seeing as love is just a natural inclination we have towards others by virtue of being human, whether we believe in God or not. In that regard, in law, our neighbours are those people who are so closely and directly affected by our acts and/or omissions, that we reasonably ought to have them in mind when conducting our daily affairs.

If we work with that definition, then we have numerous neighbours, because this definition doesn’t just mean our next-door neighbours. In essence, this means if I’m driving, my neighbours are all the pedestrians and drivers along the roads I use; the ones who could potentially get injured if I drove recklessly. If I own a manufacturing company, my neighbours are all the consumers of my products, whether I know them or not. See how numerous our neighbours are?

In light of this, if we are supposed to love our neighbours as we love ourselves; or as the law provides, we should avoid acts/omissions which we can reasonably foresee could harm our neighbours, then we owe that duty of care to very many people. Seeing as there are so many wrong things going on in the world, just imagine, how different the world would be if we applied the aforementioned concept of love, to all our neighbours…

That said, there are numerous things we cannot instantly change, but if we choose to actually love our neighbours, the world will gradually start to heal. If we truly love our neighbours, those in authority won’t hoard Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear, waiting for demand to substantially increase, so the prices can be hiked exorbitantly…

If we love our neighbours, those fuelling wars will realise very many innocent people have unnecessarily and unjustly become collateral damage… If we love our neighbours, we won’t go cutting down trees, because we know the dire impact that will have on the climate, and consequently, future generations.

In addition, employers will not dismiss their employees arbitrarily, callously feigning hardships occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic; because, while this could actually be the case, there are better empathetic ways of letting go of employees.

Therefore, like I said, love heals, and as it is, our world desperately needs healing. Million dollar question is, are we ready to love our neighbours? Are we ready to give love a chance?

Your Expectations Will Not Remain Unfulfilled: Part 2

There is a kind of faith that can become the memory of something once beautiful, now simply to be recalled.  Many people – we too – experience such a “faith of memories,” as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child. A faith made up of habits, things from the past, lovely childhood memories, but no longer a faith that moves me, or challenges me.

Going to Galilee, on the other hand, means realizing that faith, if it is to be alive, must get back on the road. It must daily renew the first steps of the journey, the amazement of the first encounter. And it must continue to trust, not thinking it already knows everything, but embracing the humility of those who let themselves be surprised by God’s ways.

We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are often afraid that God will surprise us. And today the Lord invites us to let ourselves be surprised. Let us go to Galilee, then, to discover that God cannot be filed away among our childhood memories, but is alive and filled with surprises. Risen from the dead, Jesus never ceases to amaze us. 

This, then, is the second message of Easter: faith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation you are experiencing, in every trial you have to endure, in your deepest hopes and dreams.

He opens new doors when you least expect it, he urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, please let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings: he will surely surprise you. 

Going to Galilee also means going to the peripheries. Galilee was an outpost: the people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. Yet that is where Jesus began his mission.

There he brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day, proclaiming this message to the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor. There he brought the face and presence of God, who tirelessly seeks out those who are discouraged or lost, who goes to the very peripheries of existence, since in his eyes no one is least, no one is excluded.

The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even today. He asks us to go to Galilee, to this “real Galilee”. It is the settings of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities. There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties and hopes.

In Galilee we learn that we can find the Risen One in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the  enthusiasm of those who dream and the resignation of those who are discouraged, in the smiles of  those who rejoice and the tears of those who suffer, and above all in the poor and those on the  fringes. We will be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness, how his beauty shines forth in the poor and simple.

And this is the third message of Easter: Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits and is there at every moment of our lives. Having made himself present in the heart of our world, He invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life.

Let us recognize him here present in our Galilees, in everyday life. With him, life will change. For beyond all defeats, evil and violence, beyond all suffering and death, the Risen One lives and the Risen One guides history. 

Sister, brother, if on this night you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered, go open your heart with amazement to the  message of Easter: “Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee”.

Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled… your tears will be dried… your fears will be replaced by hope. For the Lord always goes ahead of you, He always walks before you. And, with Him, life always begins anew”.

Like Pope Francis said in his homily, if we put our hope and trust in God, our expectations will not remain unfulfilled. It’s easy to forget that when we find ourselves wading through life’s inevitable sufferings. Nonetheless, the trick is to remind ourselves that there is someone greater than our tribulations; and in time, He will save us. We just need to remain hopeful.

Your Expectations Will Not Remain Unfulfilled: Part 1

Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled… your tears will be dried… your fears will be replaced by hope. For the Lord always goes ahead of you, He always walks before you. And, with Him, life always begins anew”.

These are some of the uplifting words we need to hear constantly, so we can be reminded that even though the world is ailing, and most of us are walking around feeling desolate, owing to the challenges brought about by Covid-19, and our own personal hardships, we are not alone; and, all is not lost.

On 3rd April 2021, we were celebrating Holy Saturday (The Saturday before Easter Sunday); and, owing to the restrictions put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19, I had the honour of following the Easter Vigil mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican. In his homily, the holy father shared the words below, and I thought I should share them with you, so you can draw inspiration from them, like I did,

The women thought they would find a body to anoint; instead they found an empty tomb. They went to mourn the dead; instead they heard a proclamation of life. For this reason, the Gospel tells us, the women “were seized with trembling and amazement” (Mk 16:8).

Full of fear, trembling, and full of amazement. A fear mingled with joy that took their hearts by surprise when they saw the great stone before the tomb rolled away and inside a young man in a white robe. Wonder at hearing the words: “Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen.” And a message: “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.”

May we too accept this message, the message of Easter. Let us go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord has gone ahead of us. Yet what does it mean “to go to Galilee?” To go to Galilee means, first, to begin anew. For the disciples it meant going back to the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him. The place of their first encounter and the place of their first love.

From that moment on, leaving their nets behind, they followed Jesus, listening to his preaching and witnessing the miracles he performed. Yet, though they were always with him, they did not fully understand him. Frequently they misunderstood his words and in the face of the cross they abandoned him and fled.

Even so, the Risen Lord once more appears as the one who goes ahead of them to Galilee. He precedes them. He stands before them and constantly calls them to follow him. He says to them: “Let us start over from where we began. Let us begin anew. I want you to be with me again, in spite of everything”. In this Galilee, we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love, which opens new trails along the path of our defeats. He is like this, and he invites us to Galilee to be like this.

This is the first Easter message that I would offer you: it is always possible to begin anew, because there is always a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures.

Even from the rubble of our hearts – each of us- knows, knows the rubble of his own heart. From the rubble of our hearts, God can create a work of art; from the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history.

He never ceases to go ahead of us: in\ the cross of suffering, desolation and death, and in the glory of a life that rises again, a history that changes, a hope that is reborn. In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope.

Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb. The women were looking for Jesus in the tomb; they went to recall what they had experienced with him, which was now gone forever. They went to indulge in their grief”.

The bigger the test, the greater the reward

The test is proportional to the task, and the bigger the test, the greater the reward. Recently in church, we had a sermon based on Abraham’s test to sacrifice his only son. This was God’s way of testing Abraham’s faith. In case anyone’s wondering why that was such a huge deal, Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old when God blessed them with their son, Isaac.

The thought of getting pregnant in her old age felt so absurd to Sarah, that she laughed when the Lord told Abraham she would have a son in nine months (Genesis 18: 10-15). When Sarah gave birth as the Lord had promised, Abraham was one hundred years old (Genesis 21: 1-7).

As it turned out, Abraham passed the test and in return, God blessed him with descendants who would be as many as the stars in the vast sky, or grains of sand along the seashore (Genesis 22: 17-18). This is a perfect illustration of, ‘The bigger the test, the greater the reward’.

There is also, the biblical story of a good man named Job. He suffered a colossal disaster trying to ward off the devil’s temptation to denounce God. His faith was greatly tested. He lost all his children and property, and the culmination of it all was him suffering from a repulsive disease. After his triumph, God blessed the last part of Job’s life, more than He did his first (Job 42: 12-16).

Again, this is a depiction of the great reward God gives those who are steadfast in faith. The truth is, we’re all being tested. Living is synonymous with tests of faith. There are these Way of The Cross reflections I usually meditate on during Lent, and over the years I feel I have learnt a great deal from them.

From the reflections, I have learnt that during Jesus’ passion on the Cross, He suffered, not because He had to really, but to encourage us when we find ourselves in different tribulations:

Reflection

My Jesus, even with the help of Simon You fell a third time. Were You telling me that there may be times in my life that I will fall again and again despite the help of friends and loved ones? There are times when the crosses You permit in my life are more than I can bear. It is as if all the sufferings of a life are suddenly compressed into the present moment and it is more than I can stand.

Though it grieves my heart to see You so weak and helpless, it is a comfort to my soul to know that You understand my sufferings from Your own experience. Your love for me made You want to experience every kind of pain just so I could have someone to look to for example and courage.

Prayer

When I cry out from the depths of my soul, “This suffering is more than I can bear.”

Do You whisper, “Yes, I understand”? When I’m discouraged after many falls, do You say in my innermost being, “keep going, I know how hard it is to rise”?

Reflection

I see injustice and am frustrated; and when my plan to alleviate it seems futile, I despair. When I see those burdened with poverty suffer ever more and cross is added to cross, my heart is far from serene. I utterly fail to see the dignity of the cross as it is carried with love. I would so much rather be without it.

Prayer

My worldly concept is that suffering, like food, should be shared equally. How ridiculous I am, dear Lord. Just as we do not all need the same amount of material food, neither do we need the same amount of spiritual food and that is what the cross is in my life, isn’t it? Spiritual food proportional to my needs. Amen.

The suffering is inevitable, so the trick is to look up to the ‘Man of sorrows’ for strength and consolation.

Good Friday is in the offing. While Covid-19 has redesigned how most of us celebrate Easter, we are still called upon to reflect on the Gospel, in relation to how we live. Our human nature makes us prone to sin, and God knows that. Nonetheless, every time we err, we need to ask God to give us that grace to repent and commit ourselves do doing what is right.

Like I have said severally, that is easier said than done. However, once we make that personal commitment to abstain from wrong, we will find the strength in us to do what is right. Even when things feel like they are spiralling out of control, we just need to master the strength to do what’s right and to trust in God. He will never fail us if we put our trust in Him.

Women are their Own Worst Enemies

A couple of years ago I went for mass on a Saturday evening, and while I don’t remember much about that mass, two things stuck in my mind: the priest who celebrated that mass, and what he said. The reason I remember that priest, is because a few months after that Saturday, he got kicked out of priesthood by the Pope because of involving himself in some very shady business.

That notwithstanding, I remember the theme of his sermon that evening, because though his personal conduct said otherwise, his words made so much sense. “The Holy Spirit speaks to each one of us,” he’d said. “The only difference is, not all of us choose to listen”.

“Today is Saturday, yet you’re here, when you could be out there doing something else, like watching a game or relaxing after a busy week. Why did you come to church?” He’d asked.

He went on to explain how God talks to every one of us. “That nagging voice in your head telling you not to do something because it’s wrong…or the persistent voice telling you do to something because it’s the right thing, however hesitant you feel about it? That’s God talking to you, through your conscience. Difference is, some of us choose to ignore that voice”.

As he continued talking, I realized how right he was. I hear that voice too, and while sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. Lately I have been thinking an awful lot about that. This rumination has been brought on by an unpleasant encounter my big sister has had with one of her former lecturers.

Three years ago, my sister graduated with a Masters degree, then this year she decided to further her studies and she went on to identify the university she wanted to do her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies in. One of the application requirements is that two referees submit letters of recommendation in her favour.

Given how active she was in school, it didn’t take her long to identify her two referees. She talked to both of them, and they were glad to write her the recommendation. As procedure demands, she went on to submit the names of her two referees, and the university sent them the submission links.

However, something interesting happened. Of the two lecturers, one of them ‘got cold feet’, and decided to bail on my sister. We’ve tried coming up with some rational explanations as to why she’d bail last minute, but we haven’t been able to come up with anything reasonable.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m attributing her hesitance to one unsightly reason; jealousy. See this lecturer is a doctor (PhD) herself, and up until recently, she was so fond of my sister. She even referred to her with very sweet endearments. She came off as motherly.

She always told my sister how smart she was, then this one time she found my sister in class reading and she was like, “I wish my children read as much as you do”. My sister was one of her favourite students. Then going by the date the other referee rung my sis confirming he’d received the link from the University, this one turned hostile.

Firstly, she never called to confirm she had received the link; and secondly, when my sis called to ask about it a few days later because the submission deadline was fast approaching, she said she had not received the link and she frostily asked my sis to stop nagging her.

My guess is, it had not occurred to her what university my sister was applying to, but when she received a link from the acclaimed prestigious university, it dawned on her that my sister wouldn’t just be getting her PhD from any local university, but from an internationally renowned institution. Like I said before, maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just my mind working overtime.

Frustrated, my sis sought further directions from the University and they said they don’t resend links, but they kindly gave her an alternative email address where the letter of recommendation can be sent. Subsequently, she texted the lecturer, asking if it was ok to call because she figured the lecturer could be having a class. Obviously, the lecturer did not reply.

Later in the evening, my sis called her, hoping she would pick up at least. She did. Nonetheless, she only shouted icily, “I’m in class!” And that was the end of it. Now my sis is stranded… Time’s ticking…every item on the application list has been checked, except that lecturer’s recommendation letter. Worse still, now we’re worried what kind of recommendation she would make, given how she seems to abhor my sister; for reasons best known to her.

This had me thinking… it is true what people say, “Women are their own worst enemies”. The way I see it, this lecturer would have been so ready to write a letter of recommendation if it was not being addressed to some fancy institution. However, it appears she just can’t stand the thought of someone else going to possibly a better institution than she did, and to get a PhD, like her.

Furthermore, this has me wondering whether her conscience is ok with what she is doing. Is she suppressing that inner voice telling her what she’s doing to my sister is wrong? When my sister called, why didn’t she call back later if she knew she was genuinely held up? If she really is telling the truth about not having received the link, wouldn’t she be the one asking my sister for alternatives if she really wanted to help?

From a lawyer’s perspective, her actions are screaming, ‘Consciousness of guilt!’ That’s a concept in criminal law where, someone runs when they see police officers even if the officers are not necessarily after them because deep down they know they are doing something unlawful, so they might get arrested. It is tacit self-incrimination.

There’s that saying, “A candle does not lose its light by lighting another candle”. I couldn’t agree more. We don’t lose anything by helping others.

Being Herod: Part 2

Months down the line, my young cousin unknowingly enrolled into the same university as my big sister. They bumped into each other one day as they were heading to their respective classes. Boy was she gobsmacked! They had not thought we could afford being in such a prestigious institution.

I suppose that’s why we are told to think the best of others. Clearly she went home and told her mother, who was not so pleased about it because she stopped making her routine calls in a futile attempt to figure out what we were up to.

Couple of years later, she called my sister one evening, asking for directions to our house because she and my cousin were ‘in the neighbourhood’, and wanted to say hi. Obviously we figured they had purposed to visit because our homes are numerous miles apart.

Given that they had not visited in close to five years, when they came they found we had done a couple of renovations, replaced most of the furniture. Unknown to her, my big sister had been doing some research job, which was bringing in some good money.

I don’t know what they expected to find…maybe they had thought we were living in deplorable conditions since they had not heard from us for a long time; and, members of my family are known to brag when they are making achievements in life…rubbing it in people’s faces.

They only stayed for twenty minutes tops, and each of those passing minutes was characterized by forced smiles, fake giggles…feigned pleasantries…but for the most part, it felt like we had just sat through an impromptu interview: what have you been doing? Are you guys dating? And judging by my aunt’s facial reactions, all our answers rubbed her off the wrong way…

We were not rude to them…nor were we snobbish or anything of the sort. However, it was unmistakably clear; all the raw disdain patent on her face. She had thought we were suffering, but to her utter dismay, we were actually doing alright. The one thing she had dreaded all through.

Since my aunt paid us that unannounced visit, she dropped her charade about loving us to bits and all. To her we were adversaries, who should be plunged into the chasm of desolation. All ties with us were unofficially severed, and it’s not until recently we bumped into her at my uncle’s wake. Even then, she was unable to mask her displeasure with us behind her characteristic ‘charming’ façade.

As usual, our conversation with her was more like an interrogation: whether we finished school; whether we found jobs; were we dating… To a third party, those questions might feel relatively harmless. Nonetheless, in this case, they are usually meant to gauge how my sisters and I are doing, and whether we are doing better than her children.

I can bet all my money she would sabotage us if she knew how. The way I see it, my aunt and people of her ilk are no different from the Biblical King Herod; people who use their power and influence to cripple others; people who would go to the ends of the earth to ensure others’ downfall.

As this year was starting, a recently ordained deacon in our church gave a beautiful homily. “In this new year, do not be someone’s Herod”, he said. “Do not do things or make omissions that will put others at a disadvantage. For instance, if you know someone who’s struggling with alcoholism, do not buy them alcohol, lest you’re faulted for derailing them. Build other people, inspire them”,

He went on to preach about the Magi. King Herod had instructed them to go back to him with news of the whereabouts of the new-born child once they saw him. No one would have guessed what his intentions were…but deep down he wanted to kill the baby, afraid he would dethrone him.

Our human nature predisposes us to the green-eyed monster; to envy. If we’re not too careful we get carried away and act on it, hurting the people we are envious of. We are called to be like the three Wise men. Once they saw the Star of Bethlehem, they did not go back the same way they had come. They used a different route. This is symbolic of people not sinning once they accept Jesus Christ.

Like the deacon preached, we should all aspire to build others, not destroy; our religious affiliations notwithstanding. If we are offering to assist others, let it be the type of help that arises from compassion; from empathy.

There is really no need of helping a hungry person with food, in the hope that the same food will kill them or incapacitate them. People can do without such kind of help. If the desire to help a person does not stem from love, do not do it.

Being Herod: Part 1

Sometimes we come across people who seem so kind and caring…they offer to help us out of whatever predicament we might be going through. However, unknown to us, their assistance/good deeds are nothing more than a ploy to set a greater stage for our downfall.

A story is told about a king, who sought to dim a newly born child’s dreams. He wanted to have the baby killed because he knew the baby was destined to become king; and that, made him pretty apprehensive. Kinda reminds me of some male animals, which kill young ones of their kind, as a way of taking out competition for the role of the pack/pride leader in future.

King Herod and the three Wise men

Personally, I have met such people who pretend to help someone out but it is never with good intentions. For instance, I have this aunt, who for the longest time, when my sisters and I were growing up seemed to have our best interests at heart. I remember this one time when we were struggling financially. My mom was unemployed and she offered to help her get a job.

Eventually she got her a temporary job at their office; one my mom would not have taken under normal circumstances, but which at the time felt better than staying home penniless, and at the mercy of my stingy dad. Needless to say, my mom was grateful for the job.

After high school, my big sister took a short business course in college, while waiting admission into university because at the time my dad said he did not have money to pay her tuition fees. My aunt was quick to jump to her rescue. She offered to find her a data collection job in one of those neighbourhoods where a caring parent would not let their daughter set foot in, for fear they could get mugged or raped…

My sister was so desperate to get a job, but after taking everything into consideration, we figured her going to collect research data in an unsafe neighbourhood was extremely risky, thus worse than her staying home. Subsequently, she turned down the job.

Over the years, my aunt tried getting us jobs, all of them relatively modest. We did not think much about it until much later when her own children, who are slightly younger than us, finished high school. Whether it was just their good luck or not, I cannot say for sure…but her connections got them very good jobs. When we realized she was deliberately trying to put us in a situation where we would not be more successful than her children, we started avoiding her.

Eager to keep tabs on us, she would call often to find out what we were doing…and we, having figured her out, would withhold all the pertinent information. However, as the saying goes, ‘A team is only as strong as its weakest link”, my dad, who tends to be a loose cannon when inebriated would call her, giving her every intricate detail about us. That is how, my aunt has managed to stay informed about us over the years.

We did not know what dad was doing behind our backs, until my aunt started calling, gloating about how privy she was to our personal affairs, courtesy of dad. Consequently, we started withholding personal information from him since we knew he would share it with anyone who asked. It is even worse that generally my sisters and I are very private people. We felt unsafe, knowing dad was our weakest link.

Like we had imagined, once we stopped briefing dad on our progress in school (we are not very tight with him therefore we don’t share much with him regarding our social lives), everyone was submerged in the dark, such that whoever wanted to know what we were doing would have to find out from us.

Still, we did not want to come off as unfriendly, so if my aunt invited us over to her place we would decline politely, citing financial hardship or any reason that would sound believable. The thought of our constant impecunious state seemed to bring her great comfort and as such, she wouldn’t insist. The less we had, the more she loved us…

Out with the old and bad…

Seeing as today is 30th December 2020, it means this dreadful ‘Corona year’ is finally coming to an end. Did I hear a sigh of relief somewhere? Yeah, this year has been an exasperating one. People have been tried…and tested… I can almost bet, as this year comes to a close and the New Year dawns on us, some of the things most of us want to turn our backs to are the hard times that have characterised this year.

However, I am of the humble opinion that it is not just the pain, anguish and hardship occasioned to us by Covid-19 that we need to let go off… Come to think of it, I would say Covid has taught us, or rather reminded us of some key things; for instance, how to be humane. One of the things I have found so poignant is the ability of people from different walks of life, to come together for a noble cause; to help those in need; those hardest hit by Covid.

As we usher in the New Year, we could purpose to ditch the deleterious habits we’ve been indulging in. For instance, I realize that in this era of social media, many people want to be famous/popular; and, that’s the hardly the problem. The issue herein, is that as it turns out, majority do not seem to mind how they get the likes/follows…

It is with great concern that I note, that slowly we’re forgetting how to be ‘human’. What I mean by this is that humanity is expressed through compassion for one other, empathy, acts of kindness… However, all this is being overshadowed by the desire to be famous/popular.

Nowadays a person will see another tripping and, instead of rushing to help they will be busy pulling out their phones to take pictures, so they can share them online. Sometimes I see pictures online and I wonder, who took that pic?

I remember once I saw this video of a man battering a woman on some deserted road, and I couldn’t help but wonder, who had the time to record it because ideally, empathy would have dictated that the woman be rescued first. Assuming whoever took it had good intentions, they could have helped the woman first, then continued to take photos, or a video of the perpetrator.

Later on I saw photos of the woman and she was badly bruised. That had me thinking, had she been rescued sooner, the injuries would not have been that extensive. By choosing to help instead of recording such sorrowful incidents, one might miss the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ moment to share some trending photo/clip, but helping a person in need could be much more beneficial.

That aside, ‘netizens’ have been branded, ‘social media in-laws’, because it appears one’s followers will have a say in everything the person does. The ‘in-laws’ have an opinion about the clothes one wears…the food one eats…the people one dates… Worse still, couples pretend to fight so they can attract their follower’s sympathy.

In some cases, the cited breakups are real but the ‘in-laws’ seem so heavily invested in one’s personal affairs that they get to call the shots, with regard to whether a couple should reconcile or not. Last I checked a couple of weeks ago, celebrated singer, Cardi B, had fallen victim to this. She had to deactivate her twitter account just to keep meddling fans away when she decided to get back with Offset.

Privacy is a guaranteed right in various international legal instruments, but the instant one goes sharing their personal information willingly, they waive the chance to claim infringement of that same right. While I understand why/how people end up sharing so much information on social media, I also find it an unnecessary risk. Not every intricate detail about someone’s life should be publicised.

That said, I’m of the humble opinion we should evaluate our choices so far, see the things we need to do away with, because even without Covid, there are things we engage in that are injurious; either to ourselves…or to our loved ones…or to someone somewhere; whether we know it or not, because social media has made this vast universe a global village.

Moreover, seeing as this year has been so hard on most of us we should not let the hard moments weigh us down… This coming year gives us another chance to dream again…a chance to work on our resolutions.

I had this conversation a short while ago with my big sis, where I was expressing my frustrations about writing down New Year’s resolutions. Nowadays I don’t bother writing them down. I get so discouraged looking at my unachieved resolutions because they are a reminder of unachieved dreams.

Therefore, I just do a mental note of the things I want to achieve… all through the year I try to achieve them… and in the event I don’t achieve them, I won’t have a written note to remind me of my ‘failure’. However, my sister pointed out something I had not thought of. Even if I don’t achieve all those set goals within the year I had planned, I might achieve them later God willing. At that point, my resolutions’ notes won’t be a reminder of failure, but lists of achieved goals.

What makes all the difference is our ability to remain hopeful and resilient; our ability to see our glasses as half-full. Year 2020’s resolutions might have been frustrated by Covid, but let’s not despair. 2021 is nigh…and with it comes a chance to rewrite our goals, and work towards achieving them. With 2021, it’s out with the old and bad… and, in with the new and good. Believe it!

I wish you a Happy New Year 2021; a year full of joy, peace, good health, love and success in all your endeavors!

Don’t despair… There’s hope!

When this year started, I had so many dreams… Dreams of getting admitted to the bar…moving out (can’t wait for the day)… I could see the light at the end of the tunnel…and I was so excited, like a child anxiously waiting for Christmas morning so they can unwrap their gifts.

Then Covid-19 happened! Next thing I knew, the World Health Organization was declaring it a global pandemic. I remember feeling a shiver run down my spine. I’d watched enough news to know what cataclysm Covid portended. It was like one of those horror movies where there’s an inexplicable wave killing people, and the best one can do is pray and hope that God will contain the situation soon.

This year has been one of a kind; a dreadful kind no one would have foreseen. The phrase, ‘The world is just a global village’, could not have felt more spot-on than it does now; for the first time in my lifetime, everyone, everywhere, in every continent has to walk around wearing a mask. Working from home has become the order of the day. States across the globe are imposing one lock-down after another in an attempt to break the transmission cycle of the virus.

When we’re about to celebrate because infections have gone down and the harsh containment measures can be relaxed, infection rates spike again and we have to revert to the containment measures. Everyone I know is suffering from ‘Covid-fatigue’.

Most people have grown weary of wearing masks every time they are in public places…and this whole business of sanitizing hands every two seconds is tiresome… Furthermore, nowadays one has to take a moment to consider the pros and cons of getting into physical contact with people, especially the close ones whom we would instinctively hug/kiss before. Covid has made us grow sceptical of our dear ones… and basic handshakes have become a dreaded thing of the past.

Now we’re all contending with what has been dubbed, the ‘new normal’. A ‘normal’ which has crippled businesses…led to mass lay-offs and reduced wages/salaries… This ‘new normal’ is hard. I miss the days I could comfortably get into a commuter bus, or walk into a crowded place without fear of contracting some deadly virus…

I miss the days when I could sneeze or cough without a care in the world…or hear someone else cough/sneeze and not think that could be Covid… So much has changed these last couple of months. Still, I believe there is hope… All is not lost!

The other day I saw this quote, “When you see babies being born, just know God has not given up on mankind”. It made me think a lot about the situation the world is in today. If God has not given up on us, why did He allow Covid to ravage the earth?

I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago… Normally he’s very funny because he will make jokes out of every situation. However, that evening he sounded downcast… I tried probing and he told me he felt alone, and empty inside. because he’s had very many losses over the years…

My normal reaction was to tell him to trust in God because He knows why things happen the way they do., and his reply was, “I gave up on that shit!” That kinda shocked me, because I’ve always known him to be Catholic, although last year he’d told me he’d not been going to church for the last couple of years.

Honestly, I got concerned. His problems had pushed him over the precipice of faith. I didn’t know what to tell him. I felt he’d made a drastic move, but at the same time I tried walking a mile in his shoes. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God when one has lost so much. Then, I remembered the Biblical story of Job. He lost everything!

And when he was at the verge of giving up on God, God came through for him, and He gave him back everything he’d lost in double. Given the hard times we’re living in, it is easy to despair. Like my friend lamented, “I’ve lost so much, yet I believed in God”.

I know there are so many people like my friend, who gave up on God because He’s let them go through untold suffering. And just like I told my friend, do not give up on God, because He will never give up on you. When we’re suffering we tend to think we’ve hit rock bottom, and there’s no hope of getting back up. That is not true.

Jesus died on the cross to give us hope. If we see how he suffered, we will be encouraged to persevere, when we’re going through tough times. Count your blessings…every small one…starting with the gift of life…and by doing so you’ll realize just how much God is present in your life.

Most importantly, Pray! The Bible (Philippians 4: 6-9) says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers, ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe, in union with Christ Jesus”.

Don’t get tired of praying…and don’t give up on God. He has not given up on you…and He never will. Believe it!