Tag Archives: desperation

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…

Trying times… Part 1

‘Tried and tested’…that seems to have been November’s theme. See, the thing about desperation, is that it makes us stoop to levels we wouldn’t ordinarily stoop to…or do things we might normally find absurd. Yeah, this month of November that’s finally coming to an end has been an enlightening one…and I particularly choose the word ‘enlightening’ because even when things go horribly wrong, I usually like to look at the glass as half full.

Now that I’m done with law school, I need to join an advocate’s training programme, at the end of which I’ll be admitted to the bar. So while I haven’t quite found some internship or paying job to keep me busy till next year, I know God willing when next year starts my plate will be so full… I might be deeply craving some breathing space.

However, things haven’t been all rosy for my big sis who’s been jobless pretty much the entire year. Even though I never tell her this for fear of sinking her already sunken spirits, I usually empathize with her when I recall how much she struggled to finish her masters because my dad had cut her off when he felt like she was taking too long in school. I don’t remember seeing anyone work so hard.

Sometimes, even when she had an exam the next day, she’d be burning her midnight oil working on some clients’ research report, in an attempt to beat the deadline. That’s how she managed to put herself through grad school. It was never easy. At the time she was a research assistant at her school and because of her lecturers’ connections and referrals by some of her clients, she always had paying work.

When she was done with her masters she continued paying our small sis’ tuition fees but slowly the projects reduced and before long she wasn’t getting any. Turns out, ‘out of sight out of mind’ is a real life phenomenon…lol! The instant she left campus, the research projects she was getting assigned just stopped coming…and so did her referrals…Given the circumstances, for someone who was always so buried in work, finding themselves idle could be extremely overwhelming…not to mention frustrating!

When kids are struggling so hard to read for exams and do their homework, seldom are they given some heads up about how difficult it is to find jobs. But looking at the bright side, it could be a good thing because no one would ever want to waste their time hunching their backs reading and then for their efforts to be futile.

Due to this, my big sis is almost always in low spirits. She’s even lost weight because of all the stress that has taken away her appetite. Sometimes she’ll stay in bed the whole day but when she gets up she has visible under eye circles…a clear indication that she’s not getting enough sleep. Moreover, she’s become so touchy nowadays so the rest of us have to walk on eggshells while around her for fear of getting her all upset.

On a bad day I’ll snap at her but when I’m all calm I understand what she’s going through. I mean, she graduated with a magna cum laude in her undergrad and in her masters she still got a GPA of 3.75, yet she was hardly getting time to read because of the research work she was doing. And now, all she has to show for her hard work are hours and hours of idle time that are slowly pushing her towards the edge of the precipice.

This hasn’t just taken a toll on her, but also on mom, who’s wondering why God’s taking so long to hear our prayers. I don’t know if I mentioned this in any previous post, but slightly over a year ago mom closed her beauty shop, because it wasn’t making enough money and every month she had to pay the rent. Owing to that, she’s also home nowadays. It’s just depressing!

I never imagined getting a job could be this difficult. In my honest opinion, parents shouldn’t force their kids to stay in school. For the longest time, Arts have always been frowned upon but take it from me, ‘papers’ are not everything. More often than not, for those papers to work, someone needs serious good luck and then to know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone…in a high position.

In her attempt to apply for jobs, my sister has met very many swindlers who promise to give her jobs and so far none have materialised…when not desperate it’s very easy to see some quack coming from a mile away but desperation really makes us myopic. Sometimes, I guess it’s due to the despondency, we refuse to see what’s right in front our eyes…and then when things start going awry, that’s when we snap back to reality, as though rousing from some hypnotic daze.

One of the recent swindlers is a renowned politician whose name I’ll withhold. Mom bumped into him in our estate and eager to find my sis some job she requested him to come over so he could meet her. That was a week ago. After talking with her he promised to get her some job and true to his word, that evening he assigned her the position of project coordinator for some youth project he was running.

When the politician, a former presidential candidate, walked into our house that morning, I was preparing to leave for the bank so even when mom came to tell me she had brought him over I wasn’t moved. In any case, I actually reprimanded her for bringing a total stranger into our house.

Then again, she would never understand me because while she’s very social and outgoing, I’m very introverted and I like to keep strangers out of my personal life; and home is technically the ‘heart’ of personal…

An instrument of peace

Lord make me an instrument of peace

‘These must be the end days talked about by John in the book of Revelations’. This is the thought that comes to mind everytime I hear about some disturbing occurrence in some part of the world: the war between Israel and Gaza, earthquakes and landslides, life threatening diseases…

That thought, which mostly feels like fear is further heightened by the moral decay in the society; most of the things we do today are what led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely, we’re not special than those people who lost their lives in previous Biblical ‘Armageddons’. If we do the things they did, then we’re bound to suffer the same fate.

For this reason, when I hear of people dying in masses I just imagine God is just angry. He is slow to anger but I’m thinking, if we don’t make any effort to correct our bad deeds, He gets angry eventually. He loves us unconditionally and equally (doesn’t have favourites), but that does not mean He is permissive.

God’s greatest desire is for us all to love each other and to live in peace. But the defiant human beings we are, we continue to fight, perpetrating war and hatred; everything God hates. Countless lives have been lost because of wars that could have been prevented.

Not all of us have been to, or live in any of the warring nations I keep hearing about on the news everyday, but we have been involved in at least one fight. Heavy artilleries don’t have to be used for it to be termed a war. It could even be something petty; say picking a fight with a neighbour because their dog backs too loud…etc. Point is we have in one way or another been involved in a fight.

Question is, as an individual, what role do/did you play in that fight? Were you a mediator or a perpetrator? Did you help end the fight or you only added coal to the fire?

‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there’s hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there’s doubt faith,
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant me that I may not so much seek:
To console, as to be consoled
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’

The above is a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which embodies his simplicity and poverty. According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis’ writings, the peace prayer is most certainly not one of the writing of St. Francis.

This prayer, according to Father Schulz, first appeared during the First World War. It was found written on a holy card that had a picture of St. Francis. The prayer bore no name; but because of the card it came to be known as the Peace prayer of St. Francis.

The first time I read this prayer I was around seven years old. But when reading it, in my infantile mind it was just another prayer that had to be recited. At the time, mom was the one who was strictly enforcing our faith, seeing to it that we attended mass and prayed.

At some point, as I grew older, I stopped saying it; I’m not so sure why because I was still saying other prayers. It’s not until two or so years ago that I started saying it again. Unlike the first time I said it, this time I was pondering over every word; taking each word into consideration.

The words did not serve only as a prayer, but as a great piece to meditate on. It made me think about my life; when I’m dealing with other people, do I make them feel happy or do I just make them cry and feel bad about themselves; do I stop a fight or do I only aggravate things? Do I understand people, or I only seek to be understood?

I read each word, examining my conscience, and as I did so, I realized so many faults in my ways. On many occasions I had been selfish. Many are the times I had put my needs before others’; fighting because I only wanted others to understand why I had acted in a particular way; holding grudges because I was reluctant to forgive those who wronged me.

The prayer helps one reflect; what do we inspire in others? Love or hate? Forgiveness or vengeance? Hope or desperation? Sadness or joy? Do we only seek to be loved, rather than love others? Do we forgive, or like the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) we adamantly turn away those who seek our forgiveness? Do we only take without giving back?

Many fights start as small disagreements and eventually they graduate into full-fledged wars, because someone was too unwilling to forgive or understand; because someone was reluctant to love. It’s not too late to do something. We still have a chance to make things better; to prevent more loss of lives. Let’s live in peace.