Category Archives: reflections

Take me as I am: Part 1

Three months ago I joined bar school. Even though things are anything but easy, I would say so far the going’s ok. When I got there, the first perceptible difference was the huge number of new faces. That was expected though, because it was an entirely different institution from the one I’d been in for the last four years during my undergrad. Thankfully, in that sea of foreign faces, there were some former colleagues of mine and that was a huge relief, taking my introverted nature into consideration.

Ordinarily, I’m those people who could walk into a room full of people, and after the end of the session, walk out without having spoken to anyone. Depending on the mood I’m in, sometimes it feels ok, but sometimes it makes me feel lonely. Since I was a child, I have always had trouble socializing because it does feel like a task, for the most part at least.

Nonetheless, when I meet someone and I get to know them over time, I could be the chattiest person. In such cases I consider myself an extroverted introvert. My closest friends could attest to this. Sometimes they think I’m just crazy, but in a fun way. In some previous posts I have talked about my introversion.

Therefore, when I saw familiar faces from campus, I felt relieved because I didn’t have to worry about making new friends and all… However, this being a new institution, some things were bound to be different. For instance, in campus I was my class’ president for four years; but when we got to elect our class president in bar school, I did not vie because I felt I needed to take a breather. Being in a position of leadership puts one in the spotlight and I was craving some sense of quiet and invisibility.

The other different thing is that in campus we had the autonomy of forming our own discussion groups. However, in bar school, we were divided into firms long before we even started classes. The effect of this is that in my case for instance, majority of my group members were foreign faces; and, given the bulk of work that is required to be carried out in groups, it meant I would have to familiarise myself with them all.

After our first class, my group members and I met briefly to introduce ourselves and we agreed I would be the firm leader. Given that I had been the president of a class of about one hundred and fifty students, being the firm leader of a group of twelve felt pretty manageable. But as it would turn out, that was a wrong assumption I made.

See, in my former class, my colleagues got to know me and they figured what kind of a person I was, and thankfully, they accepted me for who I was. They did not try to change me. In my firm on the other hand, my colleagues don’t know me and half of the times I feel they treat me with suspicion.

The genesis of this is I told them that currently I’m not on WhatsApp, or any other social media platform for that matter. Given that we’re currently living in an era where almost all social conversations and business negotiations take place on social media, they found it strange. One of my group members asked if it’s because I was trolled, and I told her I wasn’t.

 

Cons of sowing too many seeds

Sure, God did command mankind to multiply and fill the earth. However, there’s the saying about everything having pros and cons. Off of the top of my head, there’s that advantage of parents being able to leave legacies through their children especially where one child doesn’t amount to much, at least one of the progenies will amount to something…

Now to disadvantages; the way I see it, there’s more to parenthood than just donating egg or sperm. Generally speaking, anyone can conceive; but only a few can actually become parents in the real sense of raising their kids.

There is this uncle I have. He’s a well-known serial dater, who practically sires children with every woman he talks to. Last I checked, he had seventeen known ‘wives’… I would say that’s a case of polygamy at its best; and as for the children he’s fathered, well those ones keep popping up like ads when you think there couldn’t possibly be more.

His first ‘legit’ firstborn (the one we all thought was his first born) is just a coupla years older than me, but as days pass by, more children older than him keep appearing. That obviously means he started following God’s order to Adam and Eve, “go forth and multiply”, when everyone clearly thought he was only sharing his life with one woman.

Interestingly, his older children have already started their own families yet he is still siring more children; some of who are now younger than his grandchildren. But that’s hardly a problem. Nonetheless, one of the common factors is that for all his children he’s been an absentee father. Now that’s where the problem lies.

Ordinarily, he lives with a woman for a while and when the children are barely ten, he takes off and moves in with a different woman, leaving a very disgruntled family behind. Such is the life he’s lived since before I’ve known him. Unfortunately, karma is finally catching up with him.

A few months ago, his ‘legit’ first born and his wife, welcomed a baby boy and while my uncle hoped the baby would be named after him, my cousin refused. Such was the case when his second born and wife also welcomed a son. Saddest truth, is his children do not want to be associated with him. Furthermore, the women he has been cohabiting with recently, have also sued him for child maintenance.

As if that’s not enough, he’s been sick for a long while and he has got no one to take care of him. None of his women are willing to be associated with him. I find it sad that he’s got so many children but he’s all alone and lonely.

Luckily he was able to get a nurse, who’s now taking care of him…and though it definitely isn’t my place to be saying this, there has been rife speculation that he is already romantically involved with her. So it’s not hard to imagine how that story will end.

Looking at my uncle’s life, I’m more convinced it’s not about the number of children one sires, but the number one raises. Parenting is more than just conceiving and giving birth to babies. Proverbs 5: 15-19 says, “Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone. Children that you have by other women will do you no good. Your children should grow up to help you, not strangers. So be happy with your wife and find your joy with the girl you married”.

Gift of hope

Whatever you do, no matter the circumstances, don’t lose hope. All other virtues are premised on this one and this is in the sense that desperation makes us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do. Desperation makes good people do bad things. For instance, hunger could make a person steal if they do not have better means of obtaining food.

Love as we know it, also stems from hope…A person whose heart has been broken so many times will be afraid of falling in love again because they are afraid of going through the pain that’s already too familiar, if things go awry. On the contrary, where someone has hope, they will embrace a potential love because they are hopeful things will turn out fine.

When things are not going on as well as we may want, what keeps us going? It’s hope; hope of seeing better days. Lately I keep reading stories about people who have come so close to taking their own lives because they were suffering from depression. From my understanding, hopelessness is what triggers suicidal thoughts.

While I may not have gotten to that point where I felt the urge to end my own life, I have battled depression before and I know, only too well, the state someone is usually in…one finds themselves in a situation where no single thought triggers happiness…everything feels bleak, and wherever one tries to comfort themselves that the future will be better, all they see are misery-laden days.

When someone wakes up every morning, feeling like they have nothing else to live for, hopelessness engulfs them and the next thing that prevails over them is the thought of ending their own lives. Hope strengthens our spirit to fight through unpleasant situations.

In life we can’t always be on an upward scale, because failure and pain are just an inevitable part of life; and I bet, this is where the saying, ‘it’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times  you pick yourself up’ arises.

My maternal grandma passed on five years ago, and everytime I think about the months leading to her death, I usually suspect she died a depressed woman. A few months before she died, mom brought her home so we could take her to hospital. She had been unwell for a while and her two sons who she lived with upcountry seemed to have neglected her.

Moreover, the two had been fighting over the ownership of her land. Given how peace-loving grams was, I usually imagine those clashes between her sons sent her to an early grave. She abhorred violence and they wouldn’t resolve their disputes amicably. Sadly, when she fell into depression, they didn’t seem to notice.

When mom learnt she was sick, she went for her and brought her home. I loved her so much, and I even had the honour of being named after her. Looking at her, I could tell all was not well with her. Even while sitted next to her, I would get the impression she was miles away because she had this bleak stare. At night I would sit by her bedside, trying to give her examples of all the good things she could look forward to, so despair wouldn’t suck her into its dark abyss.

As days passed, she got better and she started insisting she wanted to go back home. We didn’t want her to go just yet, but we figured she was feeling disillusioned because she was in a foreign place. Since we wanted her to be happy we agreed to let her go. A few months later mom and I visited her at her place and shortly after, we heard she was sick again.

Before we knew it, she was gone! When she was well, she was very lively. So when I think of hopelessness, she comes to mind and I hate what it does to someone. The way I see it, though grams never jumped off a cliff or stood in front of an oncoming train, she died because she lost the will to live.

She didn’t have the strength to fight illnesses when they ravaged her frail body and eventually when death knocked, she just opened without putting up a fight. I usually feel she could have lived for many more years if she had been happy. Hope would have opened her eyes to the endless possibilities that the future held.

The worst part about depression is that it’s very easy for one to fall victim, yet it is relatively difficult to get out of. Hope is that priceless shield which protects us from falling into that chasm. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the Bible verse, which says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, but with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

From my own experiences, I know it’s very easy to lose hope; but one thing I’m learning, is to look up to the man of sorrows. Jesus would have despaired in life because He already knew the painful death He was going to be subjected to, yet He didn’t. Everytime we feel despair gnawing at us, we should ask Him to help us. Because we too can be victorious like He was.

 

Emotional scars: Part 2

A few weeks ago on Deutcshe Welle TV, I watched this show about women who, in an attempt to get past horrifying incidents of domestic violence which had left their bodies awfully scarred, had gotten tattoos to cover the scars. Therefore in place of a burn or big scar, one would have a beautiful tattoo. Though I’m not a psychologist, I can say getting ‘rid’ of the marks sought of speeds up the healing process.

Now with regard to that, I found myself wondering, what would happen to people whose scars are not physical but emotional? For instance, last Sunday I was talking to my big sister and she seemed to have this evident revulsion for all matters dad. Late last year she had developed this habit where she’d stay in her room the whole day, in an attempt to stay away from him.

This went on for weeks until dad, in one of his rare glimpses of responsible parenthood, asked mom about her whereabouts. He actually sounded concerned, and that happens rarely. He told mom he didn’t support that because if she went on like that for a while longer, there was no telling what she could do to herself.

Eventually, mom talked to her about it and after seeing how concerned dad was, she stopped ‘locking’ herself in her bedroom and even started talking to him. They didn’t just dive straight away into the buddy-buddy pool but their relationship improved remarkably.

However, to my horror, last week I realised she was sliding back into that habit. When dad’s around she’ll avoid all the places she knows she could bump into him. While I don’t quite think it’s the best solution, I sought of understand why she’s doing it.

I had a talk with her about it and she told me dad is the one person in her life who has ever made her contemplate committing suicide. Therefore avoiding him works for her because if he doesn’t see her, he just might forget she even exists and he won’t have to think of all the hurtful things to say about her when he’s drunk.

See, when dad’s not trying to be a good parent, and that’s who he is most of the time, he makes someone feel very uncomfortable when they are around him. He’ll just sit behind a newspaper, purporting to read it all day, and he might not say a word unless someone starts a conversation. From what I’ve gathered over time, he usually spends that time observing everyone, making his own little condemnatory mental notes.

It’s only when he’s drunk, or has only had a little to drink and is pretending to be drunk that he starts yapping, complaining about everything and everyone. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him and I abhor it.

To be fair, I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe there are times he has meaningful complaints, like this one time we were all busy and didn’t get time to pull down the Christmas decorations until February.

Nonetheless, my problem is how he raises those issues. He’ll go fill up on some dutch courage before he starts venting. Worst part is, he always does wicked things deliberately with the sole intention of hurting us. For instance, two weeks ago he suggested we should visit his mom the next day and we all agreed.

Seeing as we were supposed to leave very early, we thought we would use that Friday evening to prepare for the trip which had been suggested on such short notice. Disappointingly, he went to drink at around five in the evening and he didn’t come back till around three in the morning. By then we had all cancelled the travelling plans since there was no way we’d be going to his mom’s with him drunk.

When he came in at that very ungodly hour, he started shouting as usual but since we were all asleep, he figured he would force mom to have an audience with him. Though his loud monologues had woken her up, she didn’t say anything. When he saw she wasn’t flinching or acting all agitated, he just walked to their bedroom window, opened it, and started shouting, apparently addressing the neighbours who cared to listen.

Though I didn’t hear everything because I willed myself to fall asleep so I wouldn’t hear him, the things he said were very offensive, and not to mention hurtful. In a nutshell, he said mom must be a witch because she spends so much time in prayer… (I’ve always thought praying is a good thing). And regarding my sisters and I, he said he didn’t understand what we were still doing in his house.

Like I’ve said before, maybe sometimes he has genuine concerns, but the way he brings it all up is what really hurts. I’ve never told him, but my reluctance to get married stems from this overwhelming fear I have of ending up with someone like him. He’s subjected us to so much misery, and though he’s clearly oblivious to it, I have an anxiety disorder to show for it… I have suffered from depression…and peptic ulcers…

Since I do not like dwelling so much on the past, I always try to find things which will cheer me up so I don’t get sucked into my own negative thoughts, which have become a constant companion. That’s what living in constant anxiety does to someone…Always waiting for something to go wrong…

If someone was to judge my sisters and I from our physical appearance, we look healthy and ‘normal’, because we don’t have physical scars to show for the pain and anguish we’ve been through. However deep down, we’ve so many emotional scars. That’s why I find dad’s sentiments awfully erroneous; physical scars are not the only indicators of suffering.

Emotional Scars: Part 1

How do you tell someone who’s been through hell in their life? Do they always have open scars to show for it, and does it mean if someone doesn’t have physical scars to show for the misery they might have gone through in life they haven’t suffered at all? In my very humble opinion, only a myopic person would expect to see physical scars as proof of suffering.

See Saturday night, dad was on the phone with one of his sister-in-laws, and while I can’t say if they have a solid friendship or it’s just one of the ‘fair-weather’ kind, he has this penchant for revealing our ‘family secrets’ to her when he’s drunk. Interestingly, they never talk when he’s sober; but when he’s in a drunken stupor, he’ll call her, even past midnight just to ‘check on her’.

When they talked, dad seemed to insinuate my sisters and I were ungrateful to her for all the assistance she’s allegedly given us so we could finish school because we never call her. To be honest, I found everything wrong with that statement.

For starters, unless there’s any assistance she’s ever given dad, financial or otherwise, behind our backs, I am not privy to such arrangements. In any case, over the years, my sisters and I tried remaining in good terms with her, even granting her the honour of being our ‘favourite aunt, until we realised she might not be very happy about our personal milestones.

When we’re not too concerned about interpreting her actions and reading between the lines, she actually comes off as sweet. It’s only when someone looks at things with unprejudiced eyes that one sees the malice behind her every ‘kind’ gesture. I’ll have to dedicate a whole post for that for it to all make sense…

Anyhu, dad called her Saturday night, complaining about how he had not seen my sisters and I since he came home a few hours before then. In our defence, he had come home so drunk and over time we’ve learned to avoid him because he says really nasty stuff. I cannot sum up the number of times I’ve contemplated hitting him…God-forbid! Or even throwing a bucket of ice cold water on him so he can sober up…God-forbid! That’s how infuriated he gets me…

His complaints ended with, “But you know kids, when they’re in trouble they’ll always come back to the parents”. I couldn’t agree with him more. Children will always need their parents; no matter how old they are. My only problem with that sentiment is, that’s the logic dad has always used to punish us.

Ever since I can remember, he’s always had this habit where he hurts us, physically and mostly emotionally. Then my sisters and I will resolve to never talk to him again…but given that he’s our sole breadwinner, after a while we’ll swallow our pride (if that’s what it is), and we’ll go back to talking to him. So yeah, he’s right…problems will always make children go back to their parents.

However, he fails to understand that such relations are like the houses built by a riverside; eventually they get washed away. I have mentioned it in earlier posts, that our relationship with dad is just purely financial. We have absolutely no emotional ties. Due to this, I usually fear once my sisters and I are financially stable, we won’t want anything to do with him.

After that part of his rumblings, he started talking about mom, telling our aunt that since he married her, he had never inflicted any scars on her. He meant physical ones, and he even sounded very pleased with himself. That’s when it occurred to me how narrow-minded that type of thinking is. True to his words, mom’s body could attest to his words because she doesn’t have any scars per se, that could be attributed to him.

Nonetheless, I know if emotional scars could manifest themselves on someone’s body, mom’s would give Michael Scofield’s tattooed body (Played by Wentworth Miller in TV series Prison Break) a run for its money. She has emotional scars that run deep. It’s only her love for us and for him, strangely, that makes her forget them, albeit pro tem. Sadly, dad seems oblivious to that glaring fact.

Beautiful December

December just came and has flown by so fast, I’m having trouble accepting 2018’s almost over. I had been waiting for this year’s Christmas since last year but how it just came and passed quietly has really astounded me. We’re practically doing the countdown to the ushering in of the New Year and I’m here wondering how the Christmas festivities eluded me…We have a half-decorated tree to show for it.

However, the Grinch is not to blame for our failure to have a ‘proper’ Christmas. On the contrary, this month has been a beehive of activities…and good ones at that. The month basically started off with my birthday celebration. Then while we were still feasting on the birthday cake, we started preparing for my graduation. Last Friday, I was conferred the degree of Bachelor of Laws. In light of this, this is my first post as a lawyer. It still feels so surreal.

With my graduation behind us, Christmas was at the doorstep, waiting to be let in. By then, my family and I were recovering from the graduation fatigue. Given how much time we spent on the preparations, by the time I was graduating I hadn’t been sleeping enough; and my family hadn’t either. As Friday approached, we were eagerly waiting for the day to pass so we could go back home and rest. Therefore, when we got back home later in the day, we just slept.

Since then we’ve been squeezing in time for siestas in between meals, after mass…pretty much while transitioning from one activity to the other. For the first time in almost forever, I slept on the afternoon of 24th December. I hadn’t planned on that but when sleep came knocking I couldn’t resist. That day I had woken up early, made buttermilk pancakes for the family and shortly after, I was counting the Z’s.

I slept through lunch and later that evening I got up, prepared supper for the family and it was Christmas Eve. By then, we hadn’t found the time to put up our decorations. Though we’d attempted to a couple of times, we hadn’t quite gotten to do it. We had tried putting them up on 23rd. However, we found out our Christmas lights had stopped working and therefore needed to be replaced.

That evening mom and dad went to buy new ones but as is common with late shopping when things are on high demand, the lights were out of stock everywhere they checked. Before then, it had never occurred to me that the Christmas lights might be impossible to find. That’s why our tree ended up half decorated, because once we realised it wouldn’t be glowing like it should, the psych for decorating went out the window.

For the last four years I hardly celebrated the holidays because I was too busy reading for exams or trying to complete some assignment. Since I finished law school, I had imagined this would be the best Christmas. Little did I know it would just be overshadowed by school-related stuff, again!

Now with 2019 edging closer, I’m thinking about all the expectations I had for this Christmas. While most of them only remain dreams, I’m still thanking God for helping my family and I celebrate this one. It wasn’t what I had in mind…but the phrase, ‘count your blessings’ comes to mind. Though I know this Christmas could have turned out better, I also know given the circumstances, it was actually the best.

A day after my graduation, one of my lecturers called to congratulate me and I was just lamenting about how my Christmas had just slipped through my fingers since we didn’t have any plans for the festive season; and he comfortingly told me in life we need to do what needs to be done. Christmas comes every year but graduations only happen rarely. I saw the sense in his words.

Most of December was spent preparing for my graduation and even though that wasn’t what I had anticipated, I’m still so grateful because my mere graduation was a colossal blessing to start with. God made everything fall into place. So all factors considered, December has been a very beautiful month… I turned a year older, became a lawyer and got to celebrate the best holiday of my life, Christmas.

One major thing I’ve learned is that though things may not always go as anticipated, God makes everything alright. Like a jigsaw puzzle, every little piece just falls into place gradually. We only need to be very patient and open-minded…to love and appreciate things as they happen according to God’s will, because His plans are the best.

Given that we’re still celebrating the holidays, I wish you the happiest…

And a very Happy & Prosperous Year 2019!

 

Trying times… Part 2

Owing to the ‘ambush’, I said I wasn’t going to talk to the politician. I’d just say hi on my way out. However, mom said she’d already told him we were in the house because that was the whole point of dragging him over. Ergo, out of respect I went to greet him.

Surprisingly, when my sisters and I talked to him he seemed very interesting. Though I have never voted for him, I’ve always admired his nonconformist attitude towards societal beliefs and practices. He does things differently and has no apologies for it.

As the minutes ticked away, I actually let myself enjoy the thought that a politician I only saw on TV was just sitted across from me…in our own house. It all felt surreal and the thought was thrilling. It’s surprising how some of our simple childhood delights stay with us even in adulthood.

“I have no money”, he’d warned us. And that obviously was the least of our worries. We’ve never been interested in receiving hand-outs.

“In this house, we’re not interested in getting money”, my big sister assured him.

“We prefer being given a fishing net to fish”, I added. That has always been one of the principles we live by. If someone gives us money to satisfy our immediate needs, what about tomorrow? Will they be there to provide for us still? Funny thing is, most of the people we meet prefer giving someone money…

Close to an hour later we’d discussed very many things with the politician and he filled us with so much hope. He was going to help our big sis get a job and all our problems would be over…or so we thought. Little did we know he was possibly worse than all the other hot-air-blowing charlatans we had previously encountered.

Eventually he took my big sis’ phone number, promising to contact her if any job openings came up. Later when I got back home, I found my sisters all excited. Since I’d been gone, he had assigned my big sis the role of project coordinator in some youth project he was running. He had requested her to recruit some 50 young people who would assist with the research project.

Excitedly, she had brought on board one of our cousins to help with the recruitment…and all was going on great. It had been a while since I’d seen her looking so jovial. That evening he called, telling her he’d be flying abroad; and since he’d realised she would be a great asset in his team, he wanted her to accompany him. We didn’t see any harm in that so we told her it was ok.

Since he didn’t have her personal details, he requested her to send him a copy of her passport because he had to fill out some papers in preparations for the flight and that had to be done before midnight. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t send such personal details to someone we’d just met, especially with the rising cases of identity theft…But as I mentioned earlier, desperation makes people myopic.

Enthusiastically, she scanned the first page of her passport and emailed it to him. We were all on cloud nine. We had finally met some ‘big fish’ like we’ve always hoped and things couldn’t be better. Later in the night he called her making some very ‘unconventional’ requests. He particularly told her he would prefer she dressed more ‘modestly’; that she didn’t have any hair extensions and instead covered her head with a veil…

With regard to modesty, he made reference to how Mary, the Holy Mother of Jesus dressed, adding that, she (my sister) would be better placed to understand why that was important because we’re Catholic. Furthermore, he referred her to 1st Timothy Chapter 2. He expressly said he liked working with ‘religious people’. I found that baffling.

I know my family and I are not saints, but when it comes to religion, we’re very tight with God. With all these problems we’re constantly facing, it would be practically impossible to live without God. He’s been our refuge all through. So needless to say, it felt deeply insulting for someone to throw ‘religiousness’…or the lack of it in our faces.

When he’d visited earlier, he’d found my sister saying the rosary so my mom had to request him to wait a bit; and, by his own admission he’d found that very intriguing because young people do many things, with praying being at the bottom of the list. Additionally, he’d found her in a pair of loose jeans (because she’s lost some weight) and a very decent top. But we understood what he was hinting at…it’s the Mother Mary look.

“I have no issues with dressing modestly, but what you’re asking for is a bit too much. I have my own principles too”, she contended.

“I don’t know what made me think I could trust someone I just met for thirty minutes”, he retorted. He hang up, and after that, all the promises he made vanished just like that as he covertly rescinded them all. He didn’t pick her calls nor call her.

After doing a quick search on Google, we found the person in-charge of the youth project was a fraudster, who the authorities were searching for. He was using an alias and the email address my sister had sent names and contacts of her recruits to wasn’t valid.

It had all been a hoax. Then we realised we couldn’t report the matter to the police because of the politician’s connections. He had the power to annihilate us. At that moment, all our problems felt dwarfed by this potential disaster we were staring at. Helplessness engulfed us!

Two days later since meeting the ‘big fish’ it evidently dawned on us that we’d been duped. Given that the research assignment had turned out to be a ruse, my sister had to personally reimburse some of the recruits for the expenses incurred. Now we know better…