Tag Archives: Happiness

If wishes were horses… Part 1

Sometimes my life makes me question the way things work…for instance, I have this friend who’s been raised by a single mom. Though I never tried prying, I put one and one and together and I sort of figured out how she ended up ‘fatherless’. Her mom’s a staunch Catholic, and her dad’s Muslim. Given that I almost got into a relationship with this Muslim guy I really liked, I understood why such a relationship would be laden with insurmountable hurdles…

Given the nature of both faiths, it would take huge sacrifices by both parties for the relationship to work. Then there’s the pressure from family, where they come with impossible demands, like for children to be raised in their faith and not the other… it could be an impossible relationship. Long and short of it is, my friend ended up without so much as a surname.

Though she normally wears short dresses and skirts, she occasionally dons hijabs, especially during Ramadan. It’s actually one of those instances that had me probing into her wardrobe. Then she went on to explain to me that though she was raised Catholic, she feels more Muslim; and true to that, though her names are Christian, her signature is a Muslim name. The first time I saw it I presumed that would have been her surname had her parents ended up married.

Interestingly, it’s her story that discouraged me from ending up with my Muslim sweetheart. Though at the time we were very close, slowly it dawned on me that in the long run things would get very complex… one of the basic differences in our faiths that posed a challenge from start was that in Islam marriage is a contract, whereas in Catholic it’s a sacrament, where two people are joined together till death.

Additionally, there are other sacraments like baptism, where it’s highly advisable for infants to be baptised, to rid them off of the original sin. So I found myself constantly wondering how we would resolve all the challenges arising from our different faiths if we ended up together… our children would be the ones to bear the brunt because they would be caught up right in the middle.

Then I thought of my friend; she could have been the fruit of a very strong love, but somehow she was caught in the middle, where I get the feeling she really yearns to have a present father in her life. I’m not sure I made the right decision, but I didn’t want to subject my children to all that.

My friend is one of the many people I know who grew up ‘fatherless’ and who seem to feel their lives would have turned out much better if their fathers had stuck around. However, knowing my dad and the life I’ve lived, I would beg to differ with her. Sometimes even when a parent sticks around, it’s not always a guarantee they’ll do good by their kids.

With my sisters and I for instance, we did grow up with our father, but I wouldn’t know where to start if I was to enumerate the pain and anguish he’s put us through.  Earlier today, he got into a heated exchange with my big sis. Thing is, when our small sis was opening school he gave her incomplete school fee, so my big sis made an arrangement with the school to have the money paid in instalments.

However, given how my dad’s mind works we could not tell him the money could be paid in parts because that would make him slack off next time since there would be no pressure to pay. Since she is a research assistant in her Alma Mater, she therefore told him she had a lecturer from her school loan her the money to clear the balance and dad agreed he was going to pay it back.

However, given that he was supposed to pay up today, he said he didn’t have the money. Distraught, my sis told him she was going to get in trouble with her lecturer, and the words that left dad’s mouth had me wishing I had a better dad. “Tell him you don’t have the money. He can have even go ahead and call the police on you”, he barked pitilessly. And I found myself wondering what kind of a father wished for their daughter to get arrested.

Interestingly, when he was arrested last December for drunk driving he was very quick to call mom so she could go bail him out. Then, he was so afraid of being locked up, yet today he didn’t seem to have any issue getting my sister arrested. I genuinely felt let down, because for some unfortunate reason, whenever dad has to come through for us; to act as a loving, protective father, he bails in a heartbeat; without the slightest hesitation.

Advertisements

War, a dream thief: Part 2

The fourth interviewee was a youthful rapper. He explained to the two boys reporting what rap is, since they had never heard of it before. Rolling his jumper’s sleeves up, he explained that someone should be free and at ease. When they got the drift, he asked them if they wanted to join in and he taught them a few lines.

Much later in the interview, the rapper performed, joined by the boys, a young girl, who was also a reporter and another young man who sung the chorus. The lyrics were sad because they talked about how no one would pay attention to the music with the ongoing war. Their background only accentuated their plight. They were standing in what seemed to be the remains of what was once a huge building before it collapsed; and, one could barely see the floor beneath them as it was all covered by debris. It was an ominous scene.

The two boys visited a children’s ward in a nearby hospital. If it weren’t for the fact that the wounded occupants of the beds were manifestly young, the first impression one got was that the patients were soldiers who’d been injured during battle.

One patient was a young boy. He explained to the two young brothers that he’d undergone 13 surgeries: 11 to reconstruct his arm and 2 on his thigh. When asked whether he was afraid of airstrikes, he reflexively bended his knees, bringing them up to his chest. He said he was so scared of them that every time he heard them he would cover his ears with his hands. It’s not so hard to understand why he was so petrified… he lost his brother in one of the attacks.

Another boy showed an extensive scar right across the middle of his head, explaining that a flying shard cut him so he had to be stitched up. The scar left a hairless patch on his head. Right next to him was a girl crouched on her wheel chair. She couldn’t walk because her leg was in a cast. Furthermore, she stretched her hand, revealing a missing finger. My heart ached…

As I looked at those children, all I could see was helplessness… how callous the world could be. These were fledgling human beings, who had so much potential… but all their dreams seemed to be going up in smoke… they were not even assured of seeing the next minute, with the constant airstrikes.

The boys’ next stop was a refugee camp. People there were living in very unsanitary conditions after being left homeless by the airstrikes. The children there were not even going to school. It was horrible. Bad as the situation was in Yemen generally, the two brothers realised they were living in much better conditions because they still had a home.

A four year old girl was the last interviewee. She was seated on a swing that was suspended on a tree branch. She was alone, looking so forlorn, which is not typical of a child who’s out playing. The two young brothers were in the company of a girl, who I imagined couldn’t be older than ten. She carried a big beige teddy bear under her arm.

When they got to the little girl, the older girl gave her the teddy bear, just to pep her up. Her interview tugged at my heart strings most. When asked where she lived, she pointed her finger toward the direction of a pile of rubble. Every one of her family members had been killed in the missile attack.

Hidden War in Yemen

She took the three reporters to the debris, showing them what were once her mom’s clothes and cooking pots. One got the feeling she was still trying to comprehend what had happened. Though she was not crying, she seemed robotic, which was very ‘unchildlike’… the war had done that to her.

When asked whether she had anyone to play with, she shook her head, saying she had been waiting for her little brother to grow up. She explained his baby brother had also been killed. The reporters, curious to know how she had survived, she explained to them that she had been out there on the same swing when the missile hit their house. That’s how she narrowly escaped.

She further explained that before her dad died, she heard him calling out, “Nadia”. That was her mom. After everything had calmed down, she went to check what had happened and she saw her mom’s hand dangling from the debris. I was moved to tears.

This four year old girl had, in her very short life, been through what most people only see in horror movies. Her uncle had taken her in… however, after such a traumatic ordeal, I can almost bet life will never be the same for her, no matter how much love and comfort her uncle affords her.

In my very humble opinion, no person, leave alone a child, should have to go through such a traumatic experience, especially taking into consideration that the situation could be avoided. The war in Yemen is not a natural disaster that cannot be prevented.

Most of us take peace for granted. We go to bed at night and wake up to the beautiful sound of birds chirping… however, what I saw in that documentary made me realise that peace is a blessing. The people in Yemen barely sleep, and when they do, they are woken up by deafening explosions. Some never make it out of their houses alive…

When I’m feeling down, the hope of achieving my dreams keeps me psyched up and I get the strength to push on. So it was heart-wrenching to see so many dreams go up in smoke… people were not feeling motivated enough to do things that made them happy, because just as the satirical writer said, it was impossible to be happy when they were surrounded by death.

War, a dream thief: Part 1

Children should be given the space to grow; and playing is a huge part of that. Additionally, as they grow up, they should be encouraged to dream; because truth is, a child can be anything they set their hearts and minds on. This is what every child requires… an environment where their dreams are nurtured.

But imagine this: a world where a child is happily riding on his bike, and as he enjoys the cool breeze on his face, a missile hits a nearby building, sending shards of glasses into the air. Some shards fly right into his head, injuring him severely.

In pain and panicking, the child cycles back home, trying to save dear life. He’s almost out of breath…When he gets back home, he finds a pile of debris where their beautiful home once stood. Death is in the air… Horror-struck, he jumps off his bike rushing towards the rubble… hoping to find at least a family member… but as he slowly realises, when the house caved in, it came down on everyone who was inside, killing them all. He’s all alone now, in the big scary world…

Sounds horrifying, right? Well there’s this documentary I watched on Deutcshe Welle News last week. It was highlighting the plight of civilians in Yemen, and their experiences were harrowing. It had me thinking, most of the time we take peace for granted…

In the documentary, the reporters were two young boys, possibly around the ages of ten and seven. They were interviewing some people, asking them if they wanted to send a video message to the European Union, to request them to help avert the war in Yemen.

War in yemen

The first interviewee was a woman, branded “Miss War”. When asked about the origin of her name, she explained that there’s usually a photo of her where she’s carrying a bundle of firewood on her head, holding it in place with one hand. In the other hand she’s seen holding a yellow water jerrycan. She depicted the resilience of the Yemeni woman.

The second interviewee was a satirical writer, who said he doesn’t write anymore because it is hard to make jokes when people are surrounded by death. His young son, who seemed six or seven joined him. The two young reporters asked him if he was afraid of the constant bombings, and he said he was not afraid anymore, explaining that where they used to live before was far much worse. So now he’s sort of used to it.

The dad explained further that he has a bike, which he rides even when there are ongoing bomb blasts. Whilst admiring the boy’s courage, I couldn’t help pitying him; he’s gotten accustomed to the feeling of imminent death, that could rob him of his family and everything else he holds dear; including his own life.

That reminded me how much I hated watching news when I was a child, because they brought stories of various places ravaged by war… and that was just too much grief for my fragile mind to absorb. Sadly, these children were living in the actual war, their surroundings, so macabre… and they couldn’t escape it…

In his video message to the EU, the satirical writer was filmed dribbling a football. He said that in Yemen there are good people who’ve been caught up in the war and who are losing their lives every day. Furthermore, he said that Yemen is made up of three things: people, earth and history… But with the ongoing war, it’s losing all of the three and if the war doesn’t cease, there will be nothing left.

The person taking the video panned their surrounding; there were many collapsed buildings around them, plus there was this massive hole on one part of the tarmacked road. The scene seemed like it was cut from an Avengers movie, where the city’s destroyed after a gruelling battle between the superheroes and an almost invincible villain of the piece.

The satirical writer further said that Yemen needed theatres and stadiums. These to him were uniting factors, where people could come together and have fun instead of turning against each other. Asked, by the two young reporters what the cause of the war was, he said no one knew exactly. Even the attackers did not know why they were slaying people.

The third interviewee was a female painter. Most of her paintings were images of the bombings and their casualties. One of them was an eleven year old girl. She was lying on the ground, dead. The painter explained to the two boys that the young girl was heading to school, where she had an exam at eight, when a missile hit a nearby building. Some flying shard hit her, injuring her fatally.

My heart bled for that young girl… maybe she was nervous about having to sit an exam, but at the back of her head, she was encouraged by the thought that she was edging closer to achieving her dreams… she could have been anything she wanted to be…but just like that, her life was ended prematurely. And worst part is, the one who fired that missile might never even know what they did… they killed an innocent child…to them, she’ll just be part of the huge, unidentified collateral damage.

 

Kissing Frogs

‘So many frogs you’ll kiss before you eventually find a prince’. That’s a cliché I’ve been hearing since forever. Growing up, I loved reading stories, so it kinda goes without saying that the Princess and the frog is one of those delightful fairy tales I read. In a nutshell, the moral of the story is that in trying to find a good thing, a good partner for instance, one will bump into undesirable versions first. I hold this assertion true.

The other day I was talking with a friend about how tricky it is to find a good guy/girl nowadays. My contention was that sex has become the primary threshold in relationships, where two people jump in bed so casually without necessarily having an informed understanding of each other’s background.

Speaking from a lady’s perspective, I find that nowadays it is almost impossible to talk with someone one could be attracted to (currently or much later), without the issue of sex springing up. From most of my interactions with guys, I find that on average most of them will bring it up within the first or second day of meeting.

Some will hint at it subtly, while the daring ones will just jump in with both feet… That’s why, in my very humble opinion, it is very easy to roll in the hay with a new acquaintance, whose names we might not even remember/know…

The problem with this approach is that so many important prerequisites are overlooked. For instance, if one wants to have a meaningful relationship, a firm foundation needs to be laid. And essentially, this would be friendship. The way I see it, a lasting relationship is one where two people have taken time to know each other.

This is even more advisable because in the quest to know the other person, their undesirable traits might be spotted earlier so one can cut loose and ran for the hills before it’s too late. However, starting off a potential relationship in bed with someone is like putting a cart before the horse. There might be a few exceptions where such relations lead to a lasting relationship. However, from what I’ve gathered, in most cases such relationships are usually short-lived.

So in my opinion, humdrum as it may be, when it comes to matters relationships, it might be preferable to go with the tested conventional way of getting to know each other before jumping each other’s bones.

My friend’s contention on the other hand, was that girls have become so materialistic, that it becomes awfully difficult for a young man who’s not yet established to find love. They want guys who drive posh cars and live in fancy houses, rock designer wear; so if a guy can’t afford all these, dating becomes a herculean task.

He gave me a few examples of some nasty encounters he’s had with girls and I actually found myself sympathising with him. Finding love shouldn’t be that hard. In my bid to comfort him, I told him he was going to kiss a couple of frogs before he finally found his special someone… and he light-heartedly asked me how many frogs we were talking about.

“These sayings mislead people”, he told me. His argument was, someone might go out with so many people they don’t like, hoping they will find their prince (ss), who actually might never come. I’m cognisant of the fact that when it comes to love, not everyone is lucky; so some people settle for partners they might not have chosen if they had a choice.

Nonetheless, I told him I did not find the particular saying misleading as it was attempting to give some sort of heads-up about the rough road one might find themselves on in their quest to find love. From my own experience, I would advise someone not to be afraid of kissing ‘frogs’. They will come in many shapes and sizes, but if someone is willing to learn, they will notice that these frogs will help them treasure their true love when they finally pop up.

Personally, what I’ve learned from kissing frogs is that if you never hang out with the wrong guys/girls, you might never truly appreciate your Mr/Ms Right. This is because, if you don’t go out enough and meet the wrong people, you might never realise just how flawed people are because truth is, no one is perfect. Mr/Ms perfect will not be perfect either.

Difference is that, by seeing other people’s faults, you’ll realise what flaws you can put up with and the ones you can’t. Mr/Ms right’s flaws will be ones you can live with. Furthermore, the wrong people will also help you realise how being treated right feels like.

This is because, whereas the ‘frogs’ will be with you for the various benefits/value you add to their lives, the right one will acknowledge your worth and treat you as a desired treasure. They will love you for who you are; and, handle you with care and utmost respect because they also know that good things don’t come easy.

In short, get to know someone first because that way it will be easier to identify the things you don’t like about them before things get too complicated; and before you invest so much in a relationship that is bound to fail sooner than later.

Christmas Eve

Tomorrow is Christmas! How cool is that? I don’t know if it’s just me, but there’s this very beautiful feeling about Christmas that spices up the general aura; everything feels better. I guess this is what is commonly referred to as the Christmas Spirit. To my family and I, This Christmas isn’t like last year in so many ways, and this is one of the primary reasons I’m profoundly telling God thank you.

Unlike last year when we put up the Christmas decorations on a day like today (Christmas Eve) and almost missed Christmas because everyone in the house was held up, this year we put them up relatively early; at the start of the month. It’s been awesome really. Furthermore, some cousins from the countryside visited so we have a full house; and you know what they say, “the more the merrier’.

Even nature conspired to make this Christmas a success; Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, so for those who like attending the Christmas vigil mass, they will attend two masses today: the normal morning mass, which marks the last Sunday of Advent; and the evening mass, which marks the birth of Christ.

Christmas signifies different things to people. Some value it as a religious feast, where the world celebrates the greatest gift of God to mankind; His only begotten child. To others it’s about the gifts and the celebrations; spending the holiday with loved ones… For whatever reason we cherish Christmas, it’s imperative that we spread the Christmas cheer, and we don’t need to reach out to people who are so far from us. It could even be to those around us; whether friends or foes.

Depending on one’s age, one may have celebrated a couple of Christmases so far. Question is, what’s been different with those Christmases? Have you met anyone, or encountered a situation which made a particular Christmas feel exceptionally good? This Christmas we have a chance to make someone else’s holidays good. We’re therefore called to remember those who are needy at this time.

Now that we’re celebrating Christmas tomorrow, the implication is that the year is drawing to a close. 2017 is almost over. It’s that time of the year when we evaluate the New Year resolutions we fulfilled, and the ones we didn’t. It’s also that time of the year when we make new resolutions for the new year.

As we evaluate the progress we’ve made this year, we shouldn’t get discouraged if there were set goals we didn’t achieve. All we need to always remember is that God makes all things possible. Every new day, is another opportunity He presents to us to make good on those plans, so we shouldn’t get discouraged.

Furthermore, we need to remember that though we may have dreams, God has plans for us and those plans will override our own desires. When David wanted to build a temple for God, he didn’t realise that dream because God’s plan was for his son Solomon to do it instead.

In addition to that, when the Virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit, she was betrothed to Joseph. They were both afraid of the Immaculate Conception for various reasons: Joseph was reluctant to marry a woman who was pregnant by ‘another man’, and Mary was afraid she would be stoned to death for ‘adultery’, which at the time was like a capital offence.

They were both afraid, and things were not going according to how they had planned but they trusted in God. That’s what we need to do; trust in Him. We need to give Him space to work in our lives; and if Mary’s story is anything to go by, He will make it worth our while. Thousands of years later, we still celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary, because Her Son Jesus Christ is the reason for this season!

So as we do our countdown to the commemoration of the birth of Christ, we need to remember that His birth is a symbol of hope. Therefore, we need to cross over to the New Year with tonnes and tonnes of hope, because God is in control. Bottom line is, whatever you do, keep believing…

May the new born Christ fill your hearts with unending joy… I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, and a Happy and prosperous Year 2018!

Happy holidays!

 

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 2

Where I’m at now, it feels like the sky is not the limit anymore…sad as that may sound… As it is, I’m all grown up so my dreams do not begin with, “When I grow up…” Nowadays, most of them start with, “God willing, when I get money…” In addition to that, even as I dream, I’ve slowly learned that not all dreams are viable; so again, unlike when I was a child, I try to be a bit pragmatic when I’m setting my own goals.

Now as I turn a year older, every birthday becomes a point of reflection, where I analyse the milestones I’ve made so far, and the dreams, which like my childhood sweetheart, have fallen by the way side. Anxiety sets in, when I feel like I’m growing older and I haven’t gotten where I want to be yet.

One interesting thing I’m starting to note about matters age is that where someone has achieved so many things… climbed great heights and all, they’re mostly termed, ‘young’. However, where one hasn’t achieved much, society perceives them as ‘old’. For instance, where one becomes a company’s CEO, say at 26, society views them as very young. On the other hand, where a person of the same age is working but hasn’t moved out of their parents’ house, they’re said to be ‘too old’.

The long and short of this is that, once a person leaves high school, everything they do will in one way or another be weighed on the ‘too old for…’ or ‘too young for…’ scale by society. And that’s just how it is, in my humble opinion.

Some of the very depressing movies I’ve watched in relation to age are ‘Ass Backwards’ and ‘Lifeguard’, starring Kristen Bell. For a young person growing up, these movies remind one that dreams might just be that, dreams! But God-forbid!

Looking back at the far I’ve come, I’m not sure what I would do differently if I could move back the hands of time… and this is not to mean that I have achieved everything I would have wanted so far. It’s just because, most things in my past were shaped by people who at the time wielded authority over me, say my parents… so it wasn’t about me making choices.

However, if I met my younger self, I would tell her not to worry too much because God’s always in control; and when you give Him time and room to work, He’ll take you, right where you need to be. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a very long time, and this is the one part of me I would wish was different. Nonetheless, I believe God doesn’t err. He made me this way for a reason.

For all the experiences that have caused me so much pain and anguish, I celebrate them. Because as they say, ‘We can’t have a rainbow without a little rain’… So as I turn a year older, I’ll continue to dream, because one thing I’ve learned these past few years is that God answers prayers. Furthermore, when you seek His guidance, He’ll align your will with His, so all dreams will be like great visions of what is to come.

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 1

In slightly over a week I turn a year older. Yaaay! Funny thing is I’m feeling excited, but mostly anxious about it. Excited, because birthdays are that one day in our lives, when we annually celebrate the anniversary of our births and for most people it’s a day that’s arguably characterised by festivities, big or small; and anxious because nowadays birthdays to me, don’t just mean cake and fun.

When I was growing up, I waited for my birthdays eagerly. All I had to worry about was whether I’d get a new dress or not; mom had made it a tradition to buy my sisters and I dresses to celebrate our birthdays. I remember this one time I fell and sprained my ankle on the eve of my birthday… just hours to my big day. Thankfully, the special treatment I received for being the ‘birthday girl’ far outshined every ounce of pain I felt.

As birthdays come and go, I feel I’ve reached a point where, each year sort of signals an evaluation point. See, thing is, when I was a child, I had dreams…so many dreams, which were always introduced by the phrase, “When I grow up I want to/I will… and to be honest, it was fun. The sky, as they say, was the limit. All I had to do was dream it… the rest I would leave to God, and only time would tell whether those dreams would materialize.

Some dreams as I’m realizing, fell by the way side; for one reason or another, they are unattainable. My childhood sweetheart for instance; this far I’ve come, I don’t quite remember loving a guy as much as I did him. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in a relationship I would term ‘serious’ per se. For an entire decade, he’s the only guy my heart beat for…even on a dull day, thoughts of him would give me that warm, fuzzy feeling and the dark clouds would scud away.

His mom adored me, and she was hopeful I’d be married to her son someday. That’s the beauty of childhood. All dreams are valid. At the time we were around eight years old since he’s only one week older than me. As we grew up though, we started forging out our own different paths and a year after we finished high school, my sister invited him for lunch one afternoon when she bumped into him on her way to school.

At the time we had moved to a different neighbourhood so we didn’t see each other much; not to mention all the adventurous spirits brought to life by teenage hood. It’s usually a time of trying out new things…actually come to think of it, it’s like shopping; trying out all things to see which fit better. It’s all about self-discovery. Therefore, we had not gotten an opportunity to sort of synchronise our dreams.

That afternoon, when he came over for lunch we talked a lot, and somehow it felt we were going to rekindle things. The chemistry between us was intense. However, the next time he came over it was unannounced; and after spending some time together that day it dawned on me, we were never going to be an item again. He had changed, and I had changed as well. Simply put, we were incompatible.

That evening as I saw him off, all the fire that had burned in my heart for years died abruptly. It was then I realized I needed to move on. Interestingly, we have never ended our relationship formally. So just like that, a dream I had held onto for ten whole years went up in smoke. That, is just one of the many beautiful dreams I had as a child that with time proved unfeasible.