Category Archives: Lesson learned

Children, who will protect them? Part 2

In part 1 of this post, I delved into the challenges occasioned by parents who fail to protect their children. The pertinent example I gave was on parents who either directly or indirectly molest their children. A typical instance of that would be where a father rapes his child, adopted or biological, and the child’s mother, afraid of the legal and social ramifications of such an atrocity, becomes an accessory to the crime, in an effort to protect the husband; hence the post’s title, ‘Children, who will protect them?’

What some parents, and the society fail to realize at times, is that something as traumatic as rape/sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) could be life-changing. Actually, differently phrased, in most cases, victims of SGBV suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, in an attempt to cope, some survivors resort to a lifestyle that others might not concur with.

When I think of myself, I usually imagine majority of people would treat me differently if they knew half of my story. Ordinarily, I come off as very reserved and closed up. The only two people I open up to freely are my two sisters. That therefore leaves majority of outsiders with many unanswered questions about me.

My truth, is that I grew up in a home marred by domestic violence and socio-economic violence, where my dad would insist my mom stays home instead of going to work. One of the most sinister things my dad did to ensure my mom wouldn’t be able to find a job, was to hide her college certificates.

Seeing as we moved houses a couple of times over the years, mom thought they must have gotten lost in one of those moving instances. She found them last year, when she’s practically hitting retirement age. Words cannot explain how betrayed she felt. He wanted to control her life, and to a large extent he did, because over the years he’s wielded financial control, not just over her, but over my sisters and I.

Owing to that, my sisters and I have grown up dreading marriage, and worse still, getting married when one isn’t financially stable. At the moment, most of our cousins and friends are getting married, and the pressure to follow suit is building up with each passing day. People who don’t know the genesis of my hard-line stance when it comes to marriage think I’m unmarried because I’m too difficult.

I remember before I joined law school, I met a young man, who was six years older than me. He’d already graduated from university, and doubled up as a teacher and painter; he owned his own studio and art gallery. Furthermore, his mom owned a high-end clothing store in a fancy mall, and they lived in some lavish neighbourhood. In short, he was financially stable.

After six months of dating, he asked me to marry him, and I panicked! That evening I did not give him an answer. It was my birthday eve, so he was like, “Now you’re old enough to be my wife”. One day later we met up, and when we got to his house, he welcomed me warmly, telling me to get comfortable because everything in that house was mine.

I should have been ecstatic, that my would-be-husband was, for lack of a better word, rich; however, the thought of getting tied down like mom had me gasping for air. He was wealthy, but growing up in a house where mom’s lack of money was the root cause of hers and our misery, had me thinking, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’. There was no way I was repeating mom’s mistake. I kindly tuned his proposal down, and swore to myself, that I would never get into another relationship, until I was financially stable.

About three years later, in my first semester of law school, I met another guy. His buff chest that had his suit jacket fitting like a glove, had me swooning over him like a hormonal teenager. Thankfully, I had the grace not to be too obvious about it. About a month into the semester, we started talking, and before long he made his intentions clear, “Once I’m all settled, I will marry you”. He had a first degree in political science, and was working on starting a consultancy business.

Instead of getting thrilled at the prospect of getting hitched to my crash, my mind went into overdrive, and all I could see was ‘red’. Dizzying warning alarms went off in my head. Subsequently, I started avoiding him from that day. Whenever I saw his texts or calls, I’d get all nauseous, and my relief came when he deferred the semester.

I tried explaining to him why I couldn’t get into a relationship with him, and seeing as he continued pursuing me, my guess is, he never quite understood the extent of my brokenness. Living through domestic violence altered my perception of love, and marriage. So while my age mates are busy getting married, I’m prioritising my financial independence; not because I’m trying to push some feminist agenda, but because this is my coping mechanism.

My unfortunate childhood experience taught me that my husband’s money will always be his, and if I don’t have mine, the lack of it will have me and my children going through what me, my sisters and mom went through. I really cannot willingly subject myself to that again; not if I can help it.

So you see, someone who doesn’t know my story will comfortably and ignorantly, if I may add, judge me. So far, two of my aunts have made my sisters’ and my unmarried state an issue. When I was a kid crying my eyeballs out, these are still the same people who were oblivious to our plight. Now that the damage is done, they’re on the frontline castigating us. Question is, if they were made privy to our story, would they still judge us? I bet not!

The Hard Conversations – Roe v. Wade: Part 3

In this case, for instance, if ‘no abortion’ is the general rule, then the exceptions to the rule are the varying reasons women have for contemplating abortions. For illustrative purposes, I’ll use Malta. Basically, it’s the only country in the European Union that has a total ban on abortions. This I learnt recently, when I was watching this story on France 24, about a pregnant American woman, who bled profusely when she was on holiday there. She was sixteen weeks pregnant.

The irony of the matter is that she was there with her partner on ‘babymoon’. Before the unfortunate incident, she was actually celebrating the pregnancy. I’m imagining she was ecstatic… anxiously awaiting the birth of her baby. Chances are she even had planned baby names.

Seeing as any pregnant woman would ordinarily be looking forward to holding their little bundle of joy, albeit with a little trepidation because of the birthing process, my lucky guess is that the termination of the pregnancy was the last thing on her mind… least of all, in a foreign country.

The untimely bleeding raptured the amniotic sac, and there was almost no amniotic fluid left. In addition, the placenta was partially detached. This compromised the pregnancy’s viability, with doctors saying there was no chance of the foetus surviving. Shockingly, she was denied a medical emergency abortion, because the foetus still had a heartbeat.

The doctors in Malta were so adamant, that she had to be airlifted to Spain, where abortion is allowed. Though I’m not a medical doctor, I gather her condition made her susceptible to sepsis or haemorrhaging that could lead to death. Then, there is the trauma of knowing she was carrying a foetus that would never develop fully. The anxiety and dread must have been debilitating.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, laws are meant to regulate human behaviour; and seeing as respective states assume the paternalistic role, where rules are imposed on us, in an attempt to promote the greater well-being of the members of society, one could try to understand why we have such controversial laws. Nonetheless, for the simple reason that law does not operate in a vacuum, it is safe to say that any person mandated with the responsibility of making laws, should look at each situation holistically before putting that pen to paper.

I must admit, when I was younger, I thought abortion was about young girls seeking termination of their pregnancies because they got into some sexual relations and unexpectedly got pregnant. At that time, I thought abortions, were a misguided/sinful reaction to an issue that had solutions: use of contraceptives, or plain old abstinence. I thought the solution was to foresee the possible obstacles that could arise and be proactive about it: prevent a pregnancy before it happened.

Furthermore, the gory videos I watched as a teenager in sex education class detailing how the foetus is removed from the uterus, especially when it’s at an advanced stage painted abortion in plain black and white. It was ‘murder’! The defenceless foetus died an undignified death. It just felt wrong. I remember feeling particularly scarred. Worse still, were the health risks I learnt the girl/woman could subsequently suffer.

Now, relatively older me, who’s read on issues revolving around ectopic pregnancies, anencephaly, severe pre-eclampsia… traumatic rapes and incest, and the resulting effects of inbreeding… etc.; and older me, who’s come across heart-wrenching instances of women who’ve suffered the agony of having to lose babies they desperately wanted simply because of health issues, realizes that abortion is not a black and white issue; and as such, it would be a grave mistake to collectively label it as murder.

In any case, it is actually a vast grey area that cannot be put under one ‘no abortion’ umbrella. Doing so would be tantamount to hiding behind a veil of unmitigated ignorance; utter ignorance to the real situations that real women go through in real life. So yes, I support life, because it is sacred; however, when we say life, it is not just about the baby’s life, but the woman’s life as well.

This therefore, in my very humble opinion, calls for all concerned authorities to look at the bigger picture, before repressing women’s right to reproductive health; because while laws are important, they will bring more harm than good if they do not take into consideration the real issues in the society. It is a tricky balance, but one that cannot, in my opinion, be avoided.

The Hard Conversations – Roe v. Wade: Part 2

As this post’s title suggests, this pro-life/pro-choice debate is a hard topic. With me for instance, I am pro-life, not because I do not think women’s right to reproductive health is important, but because I also take into consideration, the unborn baby’s right to life. I believe life begins at conception, and every life is sacred. That said, do I think women should have a right to abort if they so choose? Absolutely!

Nonetheless, I cannot also ignore the fact that there are competing rights in every situation that calls for abortion. Essentially, it comes down to making a choice between the mother’s overall health, and the unborn baby’s life. Now regarding the latter, question is, what if the mother’s life is not necessarily at risk, neither is the baby’s per se, for the entire pregnancy term; but, tests show the baby will be born with a serious congenital defect, such as anencephaly (a condition where a baby is born with part of the brain underdeveloped, and an incomplete skull)?

Studies have shown that an anencephalic baby might be stillborn; and, if they survive, they only remain alive for a few hours or days after birth. When faced with a similar predicament, some parents have chosen to have their baby, regardless of the high risk of death, whereas some choose to terminate the pregnancy, and understandably so. In light of this, it is impossible to have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standard, to determine when to choose life.

As a practicing lawyer, the line of work I chose puts me at a crossroads; I’m a human rights lawyer, who is very passionate about the rights of children, women, and the vulnerable categories of people in general. Therefore when faced with a situation where I need to advise on the need for abortions, I would highly discourage it if it’s not a medical emergency. That said, I am of the firm belief, the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not, should be an available option to anyone who finds themselves in that predicament.

Arguably, when it comes to the pro-life debate, most people’s arguments are premised on the notion of induced abortions resulting from unplanned pregnancies, instead of looking at the ‘bigger picture’, which includes medical abortions and other issues such as rape… That is why I find it perilous to maintain a hard-line stance on the restriction of abortions; because there are numerous intervening factors.

In my thinking, the ban on abortions should not be an umbrella ban. In law, when it comes to tendering evidence before court, there are relatively strict rules of evidence, which determine what is relevant, admissible or inadmissible… etc. However, one key thing I learnt in my evidence law class, is that ‘to every general rule, there is an exception’… and that, I’m realizing, isn’t just a legal concept, but a principle that cuts across all facets of life.

In this case, for instance, if ‘no abortion’ is the general rule, then the exceptions to the rule are the reasons women have for contemplating abortions. It is easy to judge women who seek abortions, but unless we walk a mile in their shoes, their plight might be lost on us. Some of us castigate others, until a similar predicament befalls us, or a close relative/friend. We do not have to experience the pain, to understand someone else’s pain.

Happy Mother’s Day!

It is easy to trivialize the role mothers play, until one actually walks a mile in their shoes. Last weekend, my cousin and her seven year old daughter visited. Need I say, the adorable little thing was a handful!

Given that I’m not used to having kids around, it just felt too tasking to be looking over my shoulder every two seconds to ensure she wasn’t running around in the kitchen when the burners were on… or locked up in the bathroom just washing her hands under the running water like a thousand times because she loves playing with soap and water, literally!

Every time she went out to play, I knew trouble could come knocking at any time because she’s very feisty. If she doesn’t agree with other kids on certain issues, she resorts to beating them up; either with her bare fists, or with whatever she can lay her tiny hands on. This latter issue is what has her mother almost petrified. She doesn’t know how to reign her sweet angel in.

She told me at some point she’d gotten so frustrated, that she had decided to quit her job; that way she would be able to keep an eye on my niece whenever she was out playing, because every time the girl went out to play, angry parents would be knocking on her door incessantly, complaining that her child had roughed up theirs.

I understood her frustration; she is giving motherhood her best shot, trying to keep her little angel in check, but somehow, like children manage to do, the girl is still reeling out of control. Interestingly, my cousin’s reputation as a ‘strict mom’ precedes her. From my observation, even my niece is afraid of her. In light of that, I am still unable to comprehend how my niece gets the guts to do everything her mom tells her not to.

I couldn’t help sympathizing with her. Anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see her raising her child would fault her for being a bad parent, courtesy of the mischief her child gets into; and how wrong they would be. If my little niece is acting up, doing everything she’s told not to do, it’s not because my cousin isn’t doing her job as a parent.

Truth is, children are not robots that can be automatically controlled to act a certain way; they have minds of their own. I don’t know much about parenting to be honest since I don’t have any children yet, but one thing I’m almost certain about is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ parenting style. Chances are my niece is going through a phase that she will eventually outgrow.

Watching my niece reminded me of someone I know; yours truly! At her age, I was also roughing kids up. My mom was summoned by my class teacher a couple of times because I’d fought with kids in school. Then I went to boarding school, and since my mom was far, the kids I roughed up would report me to the headmistress.

Funny thing is, I never bullied kids. My aggression was usually me defending myself if some kid attempted to bully me. It was usually the older kids picking on me, but to their surprise, I was a little firecracker; anyone who messed with me got hurt. Eventually I got tired of the violence and resolved to avoid getting into petty fights, seeing as violence only aggravated the issue.

Needless to say, my cousin heaved a huge sigh of relief when I shared my childhood experiences with her. She’d been visibly worried about her child becoming a recluse. I bet that’s what majority of parents go through; they want to raise ‘perfect’ kids, but kids end up failing them miserably.

Watching my little niece had me wondering if I’m ready to become a mother. The way I see it, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on earth. There is no educational course on motherhood, therefore one has to learn on the job. Furthermore, it is one of those jobs where one tries to put their best foot forward, but any miniscule ‘error’ (as perceived by society) attracts so much unwarranted criticism.

Mothers bear the brunt of their children’s faults, regardless of how old that ‘child’ is. “Your mother never raised you right”, is a common phrase people throw around when displeased by one’s actions/omissions. Unbeknownst to them, some mothers die trying to be the best moms, but their kids fail them.

It’s in light of this that I acknowledge mothers for the great work they do, but hardly ever get enough credit for. I can attest to the fact that raising a child is anything but easy. So as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I wish my cousin, my mom, and all the moms a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Kids have never failed to imitate: Part 3

Now back to these girls with the makeup, my sis and I started discussing two different scenarios of how the issue would possibly end up when they retired to their respective homes later in the evening:

First scenario: after asking their parents to buy them makeup, their parents would readily oblige, since they wouldn’t want their kids to suffer any embarrassment among their friends. Better yet, they wouldn’t want their children to find other alternative means of acquiring the same; say stealing, or trading in sexual favours with older guys so they can get money… etc.

Second scenario: After asking their parents to buy them makeup, some parents would refuse; since not all parents would consent to buying their children makeup owing to their young age. It could also be because they do not have money to spend on such ‘cosmetic’ things, as my dad would bluntly have referred to such, implying that there are more important things in life.

In such a case, depending on how desperate a girl is, she will find alternative means of acquiring that make up. The parents will be lucky if their daughters are complacent like my sisters and I were. We always wanted things that felt basic like bikes, but our dad was too stingy to buy them, and our mom too impecunious to afford such.

We also contemplated how much power and influence that ‘cool girl’ with the lip glosses wielded, over her younger friends. Seeing how awed they were by her, they would take everything she said as ‘Bible truth’. If she told them it was cool to take drugs, they would do just that just so they can also seem cool. Furthermore, if she said it was cool to have sex, that’s what most of the girls would aspire to do.

The way I see it, it takes a certain level of maturity for someone to realize being ‘cool’ isn’t ‘all that’… and as it is, most kids haven’t gotten to that level of realization. Who can blame them? That’s just how the cookie crumbles.

The thing with children, is that they may not listen to what older people say, but they will surely imitate what they see around them. For instance, I wanted to become a nun because I grew up around them. In the same vein, if a child grows up watching a sexual worker who is very successful, that’s what they will want to be.

Like I mentioned previously, children are essentially very innocent. For the most part, they will only see the best in people. While majority of us might be here judging people because of the lifestyles they live that do not conform to our ‘moral norms’, children will see the good-hearted nature of the person, and as such will want to be just like that person.

Such was the case in the movie, ‘The Executor’ starring Markiss Mcfadden and Mischa Burton, where a young boy and his mom are in a shop, when a young man bombs the shop, subsequently killing the woman. His troubled conscience prompts him to adopt the orphaned boy.

As the little boy is growing up, he chooses to become an assassin as well. Clearly, this boy opts to follow in his adoptive guardian’s footsteps, not because he doesn’t understand the nature of his job, but because he likes the guy. This is what happens with children; they imitate what older people do, and as such, it is the people they interact with, who play that vital role of shaping their destiny.

Kids have never failed to imitate: Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, which I published a couple of years ago, I delved into the issue of how impressionable kids are. They learn through imitation, and as it is, they have never failed to imitate. For instance, growing up, I wanted to become a nun. Reason being, I grew up around them. Mom was a devoted member of the church, heading small Christian community groups, and other key church groups. Furthermore, she was as a certified catechist at some point.

Due to this, we interacted with priests, deacons, seminarians and nuns a lot; and one thing I admired about them was their humble demeanour. I admired their way of life generally. The way they carried themselves, lived in fancy houses…

When it was my birthday, or my sisters’, they would bring us gifts. In addition, they visited us at home, and we also got to visit their houses a lot; accompanied them on spiritual retreats that would last for a whole day… If there was an ordination we would be invited. Consequently, I desired to become a nun when I grew up.

Overtime, as I grew up I interacting with them on a more personal level, I ended up realizing that so many of them were very hypocritical, only masquerading as saints. They were mean and bullying; the kind you go to when you’re in need and they turn you away without a care. While some were good, the relatively bad ones made a lasting impression on me. That’s how my desire to become a nun faded away.

Yesterday evening when my sister was going to draw the curtains, she saw a couple of girls gathered together, in what seemed like a small girls’ meeting. Upon careful scrutiny, she realized it was one older girl surrounded by much younger ones.

The oldest of them couldn’t be older than eleven, as majority of them seemed to be between ages six and nine.. Interestingly, she was in possession of a variety of lip glosses, which she kept pulling out of her pocket, and interchanging with other ones. She seemed like the coolest kid of the pack.

Obviously the rest of the girls were fascinated by the variety of the lip glosses because they took turns to apply them on their lips. It was just hard to believe the level of trust kids have in each other, especially during this Covid time. None of them seemed bothered that one of them could potentially be sick; but then again, that’s the beauty of being a child. Raised in the right environment, very little seems to trouble their innocent hearts.

When my sis told me what she had seen, we started dissecting and analysing that situation. Sometimes, parents can make or break their children’s dreams; for instance, these young girls might have run back to their parents asking them to buy them makeup.

I say that based on previous experience. A couple of years ago, I got a pair of in-line skates and started skating around our neighbourhood. Then I made friends with some guys who were already so good at the sport. I was the only girl skating at the time, and it seemed like such a huge deal. When skating alone I wouldn’t go too far, but when in the company of my friends we’d go relatively far, staying out late.

During those instances I was skating alone, the kids from my neighbourhood would ask me to lend them my skates, and even though they were a couple of sizes bigger, I would adjust them to the smallest size and then fasten them, so they could move around in them. Within a couple of weeks, most of the kids had gotten their own skates, so we started skating together. Most of them got really good at it; and as would be expected, I got really popular in our neighbourhood.

At the time I had a phone, but owing to their relatively young age, the kids did not have phones. Then one evening when we were just seated catching our breaths after doing a few rounds of skating, some girls started telling me how one of our little friends, who was five years old at the time, had threatened to commit suicide when her parents refused to buy her a phone.

Thankfully she adored me at the time, because I was the ‘cool kid’, so when I told her not to do such a horrendous thing, she listened. Though they moved a few months later, I reckon now she’s in her early teenage years. Point is, it is at that time I realised kids are very easy to manipulate. If they like you, they will want to be like you, whether you’re good or bad.

To be… or not to be aggressive

My profession puts me in a situation where I’m required to be ‘aggressive’. Most people seem to have this misguided notion that the more aggressive a lawyer is, the higher their chances of winning a case. Million dollar question is, is that the reality or is it just a mere fallacy? I vouch for the latter.

A couple of years ago, when I was in my second year of law school, I was seated in court following proceedings during my clinical attachment. There was this ongoing personal injury case, where the plaintiff was seeking compensation for injuries he had sustained in a car accident. The defendant’s lawyer was a young energetic man, who had this awfully intimidating tactic…

So intimidating was he, that the plaintiff kept contradicting himself during his cross-examination, because he was incoherent with fear. I imagined if he was calm, he wouldn’t have kept fumbling over his words… Ordinarily, the court setting is extremely unnerving. Therefore it goes without saying that if the lawyers are too harsh on the witnesses, their trepidation is aggravated and as such, their testimony might be a tad compromised.

Still, from a novice lawyer’s perspective, if aggressiveness helps win a case, who cares whether the witnesses were too freaked out to be coherent? Every competent lawyer’s hope is for the court to rule in their client’s favour, and sadly, seldom does it matter how that case is won.

I remember a lecturer during an evidence law class telling us that a lawyer has the power to convince the court that a white board is actually black. That furthermore, it is not the truth that helps a client win a case, but about who of the lawyers is crafty enough to convince the court their client is the victim.

This was the concept in the ‘Justice’ legal drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, starring Victor Garber and Kerr Smith. In the show, an incident would occur, then the parties concerned would get legal counsels, who would battle the matter out in court.

After the court’s verdict was given at the end of the show, they would reveal what actually transpired, and if justice was served. As one would imagine, the actual victims were not always the ones winning cases. This is what happens in real life. Sometimes the offenders are the ones who get away with their wrongful acts.

Growing up, I thought the harsher a lawyer was, banging tables and all, the more effective they were. I still had the same notion in law school because that is how successful lawyers are portrayed on tv… This went on, until I actually started my pupillage and interacted with real people. Now I know, that aggressiveness doesn’t win a case; humility and preparedness does.

When I was doing my pupillage, one of our clients called, saying his cousin had been arrested for assault. At the time everyone at the law firm was engaged, so I was asked to go bail him out. I had met our client only once before in a different matter, but thankfully when I saw him he remembered me, and so did I.

Interestingly, before I got there, he had already warned everyone who cared to listen that his lawyer would really deal with them. He had issued numerous threats based on what he imagined I would do… However, when I finally arrived I started talking to him, and the police officers just to get an idea of what had transpired.

At the time our client’s cousin was already behind bars, so I requested to be allowed to talk to him as well. Unlike his cousin who was championing for a ‘smack down’ between me and the police officers, he just wanted the matter to end there. Therefore I talked to the complainant, asked what had happened and what he expected to achieve from filing the complaint, so I could get his side of the story…

Turns out it was just a relationship between a landlord (our client’s cousin) and his tenant (complainant) gone awry… The landlord wanted to exert his dominance over his tenant, who owing to hard times had defaulted on payment… and consequently, the tenant wanted ‘justice’ for the assault occasioned to him.

By the time I was leaving the police station hours later, the complainant had agreed to drop the charges, and we had come up with a payment plan to cover the rent arrears. Everyone, except our client (landlord’s cousin), walked away happy. See he had hoped I would deal with the matter aggressively… but in my quest to find an amicable solution between the warring parties, I had poured cold water over his wild expectations.

Before I arrived he had been such a bother, that no officer at the station wanted to deal with him. Eventually, when we posted bail and his cousin was released, he seemed happy. However, when my pupil master called to commend me for my good job, he added, “But I was told you were not aggressive”.

That had me wondering, “If being aggressive means ones barks out threats mindlessly, and subsequently widening the chasm between the parties, isn’t it better to solve matters diplomatically?” That incident helped me realize I don’t need to be aggressive to succeed as a lawyer; and neither do I need to employ hard-line bargaining tactics to win cases.

I just need to be humble, yet assertive. That way I’ll bridge barriers without stepping on people’s toes. There’s no harm in resolving matters peacefully… In bar school, one lecturer posed a hard question: “Can a good lawyer be a good person?” I think, yes! Maybe it’s my inexperience misguiding me, but I truly believe a good lawyer, who’s skilled and successful, can also be a morally straight person; one who does not win by sharp practice.

Rejected and Alone: Part 3

One thing I have learnt about human beings generally, is that when people need something from you, they will keep chasing after you…but once you get to a point where you have nothing to offer, you become almost non-existent. No one remembers you, or needs you for that matter.

The way I see it, human relations are so fickle. It’s just a matter of ‘scratch my back, I scratch yours’. So what happens when you’re not in a position to scratch someone’s back? You become irrelevant. To date, there are people who only call/text when they need something from me.

Interestingly, those from uni call/text when they need revision materials from undergrad, since I always had my books and other reading materials in order. Then those from bar school call/text because they need some samples of legal documents. Some will even skip the “Hi…” part, and delve straight into the crux of the matter… “D’you have a sample of a petition…?” etc.

In the wake of this blatant rejection by my acquaintances, I’ve had enough time to ruminate an awful lot about relationships generally. When you have nothing to offer people, or when they do not need anything from you, only the truest will stand by you.

Popularity is like water on your palms. One minute you have it, and the next it’s all trickled away. When you’re popular, you’ll attract all types of people; both the genuine and the fake. With me for instance, I had to ward off flagrant sexual advances from my fellow students and lecturers.

I remember this one time on Valentine’s Day, a married guy in my class asked me out and I turned him down. “We need to enjoy these bodies we have because at some point they’ll just turn to dust,” he scoffed. My personal principles wouldn’t let me entertain his advances, knowing he was married.

Nonetheless, we still remained friends, and he never stopped pursuing me. He was just one of many admirers, whose advances I had to turn down. I got the feeling those who hit on me were doing it for all the wrong reasons; some thought my position made me easy to get.

I suppose that was the same reason even married lecturers came after me, and with them, since they had the ‘power’, when I turned them down some gave me bad grades just to prove a point. It was implied duress, and it hurt, but that didn’t weaken my resolve. My position, wouldn’t compromise my principles.

At some point I even dreaded interacting with male lecturers because I had realised my straight A’s came from lecturers I rarely interacted with. Eventually, I graduated with a Second Upper, and while I personally wanted a First Class, that was still good enough for me.

Deep down, I hoped people would see me for me, and not the popular class president I was, but I doubt anyone ever did. At least no one I know so far. My classmates had all the best words in the dictionary to describe me: “charismatic, diligent, kind, the purest soul, selfless…” etc., yet all that was easily forgotten when we finished school.

When I needed an internship after finishing undergrad, a few months before getting into bar school, the ones I contacted did not come through for me. It was my turn to seek their assistance, but the few ones I sort assistance from turned their backs on me. The other day I was going through my contacts, and out of over four hundred contacts, there was not a single person I could comfortably call.

Currently, my close contacts are a wavering five or seven… and even out of these, I am not sure there’s anyone I’d ask for assistance if I needed any. The relationships I’ve had so far have made me sceptical about seeking people’s assistance because the rejection is too much to bear.

As an introvert, I feel more inclined to retreat into my cocoon; my personal space, where I don’t let people in. I’m afraid of letting people in because experience has taught me most people will stick around until they have nothing to take from you. So yeah, right now I feel rejected, and alone… but at the same time, I feel peaceful, and at ease.

I’m not troubled by the thought of disappointing someone when I turn down their invitation to a casual night-stand; or stomach-churning anxiety, as I wait for people I texted/called to reply my texts/calls. It’s awfully lonely, but also very peaceful.

I miss having normal conversations with someone because they just missed me, not because they need something from me. At this point in time, I’m not even sure who my friends are… One thing I’m gradually learning though, is that it’s during these low moments when we know who our true friends are.

Positions of power/authority might delude someone into thinking they are loved, but that love is truly tested when one has nothing to offer… money, connections… etc.; ‘friends’ disappear when that money/power disappears.

Of importance, is that true friends are as rare as diamonds. When you find someone who treasures you for you, not because of what they expect from you, or what they think you might offer them, hold them close; because those are the true gems, and they are extremely rare.

Rejected and Alone: Part 2

Fast forward to three years later… As I had feared, I have not met or talked to most of my classmates. I was lucky enough to meet a handful in bar school, but since everyone was obsessed with passing the extremely difficult bar exams, very little time was left for socialization.

We exchanged brief hellos and hugs on the corridors, and soon after each one of us would proceed to our different destinations. If we happened to ride home together, we would spend the entire time discussing legal issues. When we sat our bar exams we parted ways again, only bumping into each other intermittently at the courts during our pupillage.

Again, like with the brief meetings in bar school, our random encounters at the courts were brief, and it was even worse than before because we had court timelines to meet, lest the matters we were attending to were called out before we got to court. We could not afford to appear incompetent in our pupil masters/mistresses’ eyes.

That is how my relations with my classmates became almost non-existent. Funny thing is, even when I was doing my undergraduate studies, I kind of knew the ‘friendships’ were only short-term. Given my introverted nature, I was always guarded and consequently, my ‘inner circle’ was very small. Deep down I knew most of my classmates were mere acquaintances, who would disappear from my life once we parted ways.

I usually think of those relations as functional work relations. We were working towards a common goal, and each person had to play their part cohesively. That way, we would be successful in our endeavours. Throughout my undergrad, my phone was always ringing off the hook, because there was always something my fellow students wanted to enquire about regarding classes; and as such, I was always at their beck and call.

Nonetheless, there were red flags along the way with regard to the transient nature of our relations. As I’ve mentioned, my phone was always ringing when we were in session. However, that was never the case when we went on holiday; only a dozen students would try to call/text to check on me.

Owing to this, I tamed my expectations, since I did not want to let the thought of my popularity fool me. I was only popular because somehow my classmates needed my services, but minus that, I did not have a personal relationship with majority of them.

Therefore, it was somewhat obvious that the popularity would only last until I was out of that institution. Funny thing is, when I ‘rarely’ bump into any of my classmates, we usually regard each other with so much respect and warmth. There is still that lingering camaraderie, but it’s usually a classic example of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

When this year was starting, I decided to reach out to some of my old acquaintances, seeing as years were just passing by and we were just growing distant. I was kind of fifty-fifty, anticipating most would ignore my texts since they did not really need anything from me… Turns out I was right, sadly! Majority did not bother to acknowledge my texts. Needless to say, that did not come as a surprise.

Rejected and Alone: Part 1

Difficult moments bring a lot to the surface. The hidden truth is revealed; the good and the bad, but mostly the bad. At least in my opinion. Lately I have been reminiscing an awful lot, possibly because I recently finished my pupillage, and now I’m in that ‘professional limbo’ where I am technically not a student anymore, yet I have not been admitted to the bar.

Ideally I should have found a holding over (post-internship) position to work while I await my admission to the bar, but as it turns out, finding a job nowadays is anything but easy. Ergo, I have more than enough idle time on my hands. It is this ‘interesting’ predicament that has seen me spend more than enough time strolling down memory lane.

See, during my undergraduate studies, I was my class’ president for the entire duration of our law course. I remember this one time, one lecturer who had taught us in our second year walked into our class two years later, and was surprised to find I was still the class president. “She is still the class president?” He asked, patently surprised. “You guys did not pick someone else?”

“She’s very nice…” “We love her…” “She’s very competent…responsible…” multiple voices rent the air simultaneously.

“I cannot hear what you’re saying if you all speak at the same time,” he interjected.

One of my classmates, who was seated at the front, raised her hand; and seeing as she was already known to the lecturer from our previous interactions, he picked her. “We did not see the need to elect someone else because she is very good at her job,” she said, and the rest of the students said “Yeah,” in agreement.

I suppose the lecturer did not have much to say because he just smiled and said, “I see”.

Every now and then, some of my classmates would come up to me and tell me that if I wanted to run for any political seat they would vote for me, but since politics has never been my cup of tea, I would just tell them politely that I was not into active politics. My sentiments notwithstanding, they would tell me they would still back me up if I ever changed my mind.

In a nutshell, my relationship with my classmates was very cordial. I served them diligently, and they never missed a moment to let me know how grateful they were for my services. A few days before sitting our final exams, they organized a small ‘surprise’ session, where they gave me gifts, among them being a pencil drawn portrait of myself. I loved it.

Their kind gesture caught me so off guard, because most of the times I’m the one who does things for people, never expecting anything in return…so this was definitely very unexpected, and as such, a breath of fresh air. The noble act moved me to tears, and much as I hate crying in public, I could not help it. Next day some teased me, calling me a cry baby.

Less than a month later, we finished our exams and it was time to bid each other adieu. While I was extremely excited to be done with law school, I was awash with nostalgia and sadness. Going by my past experiences, I knew some, if not most, goodbyes were forever. For four years we had all been working towards one common goal; to finish law school. Now that we had done that, our diverse dreams would take us to different directions… and that, is what made me sad.