Category Archives: Memoirs

The Love Thief: Part 4

Oddly, he didn’t text or call, and I started getting anxious. I knew I shouldn’t because he probably had a good reason why he didn’t notify me he’d gotten home, but the problem with my mind is that when I start freaking out I’m usually unable to calm myself down until whatever it is that’s making me anxious is resolved.

Since I didn’t want to think too much about it, I took this novel I’ve been reading and continued reading it. I hoped it would distract me and while it did, I could still feel my breaths getting short as the anxiety worked me up. As I’ve been sleeping late talking/chatting with him, and I had to wake up early Sunday morning to attend mass, I decided to seize the moment and go to bed early.

By then I was feeling disappointed, that he had just bailed on me. Wounded, I reminded myself why I don’t like being in relationships; they open me up, leaving me vulnerable to disappointment, and that disappointment triggers my anxiety. I got into bed at around 1.15am Sunday, but just before I lied down, I thought I should check my phone since it had been on silent mode for a while.

I found a couple of texts, where he was apologising for bailing on me. He sounded sincere, and I hated myself for being too quick to judge him. He’d been in some crisis meeting all day to discuss his restaurant’s finances and as he’d skipped lunch, he’d gotten a serious migraine. So when he’d gotten home he’d taken some painkillers and had fallen asleep on his covers.

Seeing as he had not had supper, we texted as he ate and as such, we stopped texting at around 4.40 am. By then my anxiety had subsided and I was even feeling happy. On Sunday we spent a lot of time texting, but I realised something had changed. All my excitement had dissipated, and I was awash with this intense anxiety, which made me feel like I was waiting to sit an exam or something. I was even feeling nauseous.

I was not eager to talk to him anymore, yet his texts exuded this profound warmth. I just found myself dreading to talk to him anymore, and I took a moment to analyse the situation, so I could figure out what was wrong. From my analysis I established a few things: firstly, I like him a lot, and based on the vibes I’ve picked from talking with him, he likes me a lot as well.

Secondly, since I’ve known him for three years now, I’ve figured a lot about him and I’m pretty much ok with who he is, in terms of character and all. Therefore, in the event we decide to get into a relationship, I wouldn’t mind being with him for the long haul. In short, I’m ok with who he is.

Thirdly, I feel I have been disappointed too many times by guys I’ve tried dating; and, that fear of abandonment that subjects me to heartache is what I’m afraid of. So while I like this guy a lot, I’m afraid of him breaking my heart in future, and that’s what’s making me miserable.

Disturbed by the third aspect of my analysis, I Googled ‘relationship anxiety’ to see if there was such a thing; and to my disbelief, it is actually a medical condition. Reading about it made me cry. Everyone hopes to find love somehow, and in rare moments someone nice comes along… but for a few unlucky persons like me, we are unable to embrace that person, and the love they’re offering, because some screwed up part of our minds fills us with this overwhelming fear of all the things that could possibly go wrong in future.

I’ve been sad the whole day, trying to figure out if I should just avoid relationships completely, so I can have peace of mind. My frustration is that this guy is all kinds of sweet… he hasn’t done anything to make me doubt him, yet my fear of him disappointing me in future is already screwing up my mind, to the extent that I feel it would be better to avoid him. That way I will not get attached to him; and that way, he can’t hurt me. Problem is, in my attempt to push him away I might be the one hurting him because I can tell he already likes me.

Before last night, I thought relationships cause me anxiety because of some certain aspects I might not like about someone, seeing as I have one-too-many pet peeves. However, me knowing this particular guy is as kind and awesome as they come has made me realize, that I am the one standing in the way of my own happiness; and the worst part is, I don’t know how to help it.

The Love Thief: Part 3

At the time he was going through some financial constraints, which he hadn’t told me about, so he just pulled away abruptly without warning. For six whole months we did not talk or communicate in any way. I was still smarting over the response he had given me, and unbeknownst to me, he was dealing with financial issues (that he did not want me to know about). He did not reach out, and I did not either.

During our unofficial hiatus, I happened to watch the movie, ‘Not without my daughter’, starring Sally Field, and as anyone who’s watched it might expect, it scared me half to death. If that movie was anything to go by, there was so much to be afraid of, in relation to me forging out a path into the future with my Muslim guy. I missed him so much sometimes, but then the fear would dampen those feelings.

It was only months later (half a year to be precise), that he attempted to reach out to me, acting so casually, like he had never left. Subsequent to my inquiry, he told me he had taken some time off to deal with some financial issues. While I sympathised with him, I couldn’t understand how he had just deemed it wise to disappear without warning.

I tried to walk a mile in his shoes, and while I couldn’t excuse his behaviour, I oddly found myself still so drawn him. The embers of our affection were still burning. Nonetheless, I also noted with concern that my carefree attitude towards our religious differences, and the deep affection that made me feel we could conquer the world and be happy together, was all gone; and in its place was these intense anxiety.

‘He has no qualms marrying three more wives after we’re married’, I told myself. ‘And he will disappear again…’ These thoughts drained all my joy; and talking to the guy I once desired, became the bane of my existence. Every time he texted or called, I’d feel so nauseous, that I had to find a polite way to blow him off. All the excitement I’d once felt was gone.

Eventually, I realised I couldn’t keep dodging him, so I figured I had to be frank and tell him what was bugging me. I told him after analysing our situation, I did not have the emotional capacity to be more than friends with him, so we hit reset and went back to being friends. Just like with majority of my relationships, I was ecstatic when we broke up. I felt I could breathe again.

To date, three years later, we are still friends; and while he usually tries to convince me to be more than friends, I usually decline politely. Hard as I try, I cannot see beyond the anxiety I felt when I was with him; and that is usually the dilemma I face in relationships. Hardly do my interactions bloom into full-fledged love, because for some reason, I always feel too anxious to stay with someone.

Due to this overwhelming anxiety, I’m just learning to avoid relationships. The loneliness is overwhelming, but at the same time it affords me a reasonable amount of peace, since I don’t get to deal with issues which could trigger my anxiety.

Just two months ago, I reconnected with a friend. Since then we’ve been talking every day, and just for a short while, I actually felt alive. Since he runs a restaurant, we don’t talk much during the day, so we usually talk in the evening when he gets back home. Normally we talk from around 10pm until one of us says they’re sleepy. Because of this, I’ve been trying to clear my schedule for the day, so that by the time we start talking I won’t have any work pending.

This past Saturday we texted in the morning before he left for work, and we didn’t text again the whole day. I just assumed we’d talk again as usual in the evening when he got off work. By the time the clock was striking 10.00 o’clock, I was already full of anticipation, because I’ve really been enjoying his company.

The Love Thief: Part 2

While I realized I wasn’t ready to get married because I was not ready to depend on a guy financially, I also realized it was particularly difficult to avoid relationships altogether; seeing as there’s always that fascinating curiosity that draws one to someone they have recently met. That right there, is what has seen me try to date a couple of times; but due to my crippling anxiety, I’m always failing miserably.

The curiosity only gets me through the dating door, but my anxiety pulls me out of that situation just as fast. For instance, I once dated this Muslim guy, who was in so many ways my ‘dream guy’. He was physically attractive, had a great sense of humour and was very caring. Funny thing is, when we started talking we, or at least I, did not have any intentions of getting romantically involved with him.

In any case, since I knew he was Muslim, and I’m Catholic, I tried keeping him at arm’s length. This is because I knew even if we started dating somehow, our respective religions would present a great obstacle at some point. Case in point: in Islam, marriage is a contract that can be terminated at any time, while in the Catholic Church, it is a sacrament which can only be terminated by death.

As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church does not recognise the civil divorce. Therefore, if any of the parties want their marriage fully terminated, they can only seek an annulment by the church. Ideally what this means is that under civil law Catholics divorce all the time; a substantial number of divorce petitions are filed by parties married in the Catholic Church.

I remember getting shocked, when during my court clinicals in the second year of my legal studies, I came across divorce petitions filed by Catholics at the court registry. In my understanding at the time, Catholics never divorced. It is then I understood how it all works. Essentially, state law allows Catholics to divorce.

Nonetheless, this is just a procedural issue because with regard to the Catholic doctrine (Canon law), the couple is still married in God’s eyes, and as such, have no freedom to remarry. Ergo, a divorced Catholic purporting to remarry is only perceived to be committing adultery.

In light of this, I knew if I got involved with this guy, we would hit an iceberg at some point. In my thinking therefore, it was better to avoid that situation in the first place. Every time he brought up the idea of us dating, I would jokingly remind him that as a Muslim man he was allowed to marry up to four wives; something I would never be comfortable with.

However, we found ourselves chatting each day and before long we were already getting emotionally attached. Gradually we realised we were getting out of the ‘friend zone’ and into the dating zone. By then. I already liked him too much to care about his religion. Furthermore, since us dating wasn’t something preconceived, I had not had the time to engage my mind about all the things that could possibly go wrong. My anxiety was still in hibernation and I was really happy.

As months passed by, I became increasingly aware of the fact that our relationship was starting to feel every bit serious, and it’s at that point I started researching on Islam generally, just to get an idea of what I was getting myself into.

I even researched on mixed religion marriages just to get a feel of how they work, and if they are sustainable. I think he usually felt my apprehensiveness because he would constantly reassure me that he would do everything in his power to protect our relationship. His words were calming, and I think that put me at ease.

Over the months, we became so ok with each other’s religion, that he would refer to me as ‘my Catholic girl’. I, on the other hand, would remind him to say his prayers if the praying time reached while we were chatting. If we had questions about each other’s religion we would discuss them. It was just so interesting.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out if eventually we chose to get married at some point, owing to the aforementioned religious differences; but every time I would just silence the tiny voice in my head telling me I was building myself up for an epic disappointment. I was so upbeat about our relationship working.

However, one evening while we were chatting I asked him if in the event we got married he would contemplate marrying another wife, given that Islam allows it. “I’m not sure”, was his nonchalant reply. Needless to say, that response broke my heart into tiny little shards. I felt that if he loved me for real, he wouldn’t contemplate marrying another woman.

That moment awakened my anxiety, and it sucked me in voraciously, like a fierce tornado. It’s at that point it hit me hard, that our relationship had no future. Even if I fell head-over-heels in love with him, we could never marry. As far as I was concerned, our halcyon days were over.

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.