Category Archives: Memoirs

The Love Thief: Part 1

Being single seems to be my status quo…not out of choice per se, but out of circumstances. Of the said, ‘circumstances’, the biggest determinant is my anxiety disorder. In previous posts, I have delved into my struggle with anxiety: how I started suffering from it; when I was officially diagnosed; and, the numerous struggles I have experienced courtesy of this energy-draining fiend.

As I go along, monitoring myself and all, I’m gradually and sadly realizing the one thing that causes me the greatest anxiety is romantic relationships. I’m almost always ok, until I start dating. In a nutshell, my anxiety shoots through the roof, that I feel physically sick.

Basically when I meet a guy I like, we chat for a while, meet up… and at that point I’m usually fine. However, as days go by I start realizing the relationship is getting serious, and that’s when my problems begin. I start contemplating all the things that could possibly go wrong… and in my attempt to save myself the heartache, I start pulling away; I become distant.

From my observation, when the relationship is in that early stage where we haven’t defined its nature, in terms of whether we’re just friends or we’re dating, I’m usually ecstatic, as the vibrancy of the new found ‘love’ courses through my body. Sadly, I’m also noticing that the vibrancy doesn’t last long enough for me to savour the relationship. A few weeks into the relationship, my anxiety rears its ugly head, threatening to annihilate my relationship.

Anxiety affects people differently. While in some people the relationship anxiety may trigger untamed jealousy and erratic behaviour, mine makes me hold myself back from the guy I’m with. In the event I anticipate the guy might leave me for whatever baseless reasons, I start pulling away until the relationship is decimated.

Normally, some of the triggers include traits in someone that I may not be very comfortable with. For instance, a couple of years ago I dated this guy who was in every sense of the word, ‘doting’. He was six years older than me, and he seemed ready to settle down.

At some point he even proposed marriage, but knowing how my mom has suffered in her marriage because for the most part she was financially dependent on my dad, I gracefully turned the proposal down, telling him I wanted to make something of myself first before I could settle down in marriage with him.

What I did not tell him was that in addition to me wanting to be financially stable first, I had also seen how he treated women on social media. He was condescending; treating them like they were little pieces of trash that could be bought off, since he was from a wealthy family. According to him, money could fix all problems, and as such, he thought women just loved him for his money.

Though we were happy at the time, I feared that someday we would start fighting about the usual things couples fight about, since no relationship is without flaws, and at that point in time, I would be the one on the receiving end of his arrogant treatment. Needless to say, that realization, coupled with his marriage proposal freaked me out, and I started planning my exit. Thankfully, I used the proposal as an excuse, telling him I needed to work on me first; and that was how we ended things.

Since then, after the realization that I wouldn’t be comfortable getting married if I wasn’t financially stable, I’ve always avoided getting into relationships, because I already know I would only end up disappointing the man I’m dating, when I start pulling away when the relationship feels like it’s headed to marriage.

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.

The Voice Within: Part 2

My friend gave me a detailed account of how her boyfriend had convinced her into skipping work for a week, and how she had her friends loan her money to facilitate their getaway. Consequently, her boss had been calling enquiring about her whereabouts and she was afraid she was going to get fired.

Furthermore, pretty much everything the boyfriend had told her about himself since they met was hot air. He was not even remotely an eighth of the established man he had misrepresented himself to be. He was impecunious, and unemployed.

Owing to this, she did not know how she was going to pay back all the money she had borrowed from friends; and all this, she found out from her parents, who had decided to go digging for information when their daughter went missing.

Worse still, her parents were furious at her for sneaking off with her boyfriend, who in their opinion was as irresponsible as they came. In their opinion, no responsible guy would let a woman he loved get into trouble with all her loved ones, and her employer. It was all so messy, and I felt sorry for my friend, for being caught up in such a quandary. Love had put her in this mess.

For five long hours we just talked on the phone. She cried, poured her heart out, and I interjected occasionally, comforting her. Honestly, heart breaking as her situation was, I was relieved it was not something that would put her in conflict with the law.

Like I said before, I had a feeling the relationship was doomed to fail. There were red signs at every turn, and as such, the writings were very clear on the wall. I just hoped the pain would be bearable for my friend, when the split finally happened.

When she told me how she had broken up with the manipulative boyfriend after finding out about all the lies he’d fed her since they met, I told her I had prayed for God to guide her. I feared she was in danger and love had blinded her, so she could not see the abyss she was walking into. In light of that, I told her I was of the opinion everything that was unfolding was God’s way of guiding her.

One thing I’m gradually learning as I go along, is that God’s Holy Spirit usually talks to us. Nonetheless, most of us usually ignore that voice within. Pope Francis, in his Pentecost Sunday homily on 23rd May 2021, said, “The Paraclete (Holy Spirit) is also the Advocate. In Jesus’ day, advocates did not do what they do today: rather than speaking in the place of defendants, they simply stood next to them and suggested arguments they could use in their defence.

That is what the Paraclete does, for he is ‘the Spirit of truth’. He does not take our place, but defends us from the deceits of evil by inspiring thoughts and feelings. He does so discreetly, without forcing us; He proposes but does not impose. The spirit of deceit, the evil one, does the opposite: he tries to force us; he wants to make us think that we must always yield to the allure and the promptings of the vice”.

In life, we need to listen to the voice within. The red signs we see when dealing with other people, our gut feeling warning us of imminent danger… I believe that’s the Holy Spirit guiding us; because like the Pope said, the Spirit of truth does not impose, He only proposes. Thus, the onus to choose how to proceed in any given situation is on us.

The Voice Within: Part 1

About a fortnight ago, one of my friends called. I had missed her call when she had called earlier, so she texted, asking me to call her back soonest possible. By the time I was seeing her call it was close to eleven o’clock at night, and knowing her, I was pretty sure she was deep in slumber. Furthermore, I could tell from the sense of urgency that something was wrong. Ergo, I texted her apologising for not picking up when she called.

As I had expected, she did not reply my text, until the next morning. She said she was not ok, and in any case, she was barely holding on to her sanity and was afraid she was at the verge of a massive mental break down. Obviously I panicked because every time she calls sounding so frantic, it’s never good. Unfortunately, it was early Sunday morning and I had to prepare for mass, so I asked her if I could call her once mass ended and she agreed.

Our phone calls usually go on for hours and I knew if I got started I would miss out on mass. As agreed, I called her back and she was crying uncontrollably. “Everyone was right,” she sobbed. At that point, I knew what the issue was and I really pitied her. It was about her relationship with her boyfriend. For the longest time, I had warned her the guy she was dating was a walking time bomb.

Though I had never met him, I hated everything I had heard from my friend about him. He cheated on her, and every time he feared she would find out, he would bring up an issue questioning her faithfulness to him, just to try and deflect the blame. My friend was always walking on eggshells, afraid that something would detonate the ticking time bomb he was.

The first time she broke up with him I told her it was for the best, and though she was hurting, she also concurred with me. Sadly, they got back together and I didn’t know what to tell her. She was voluntarily walking into a furnace, and I had no way of stopping her. She would burn, that was discernibly inevitable and much as I worried for her well-being, I could only sit back and pray for the best.

“What did he do?” I asked, dreading what she was going to tell me.

“It’s not what he did,” she sniffled. “But what he made me do”. My heart sank. That statement portended untold horror. Since I was already privy to what that guy was capable of, I took a deep breath, waiting for my friend to drop the bombshell. I knew it wouldn’t be good, but I also knew whatever the case, I would be there for her; because that’s what friends are for.

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!

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.