Tag Archives: love

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.

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.

Heal the World

“I love you!” Pretty much each one of us has uttered these words at some point in our lives. Question is, how many of us actually understand what these words mean?

The world is ailing… and the way I see it, love can at the very least, assuage the pangs of the maladies afflicting us. In 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 Paul says, “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.

I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned, but if I have no love, this does me no good”.

So question is, what is love? Paul tells us, “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal”.

Hypothetically, if this is the general standard of love, how many of us have loved for real? For the most part, majority of us do the complete opposite of what love entails. We are impatient and unkind; always envious of others who seem to be better than us in one way of the other; those who are in positions of power/authority act all high and mighty, oppressing their juniors and all…

Furthermore, majority of those in power are living by the mantra, “It’s my turn to eat!” Sadly, this egotistical attitude has turned those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the hoi polloi into self-centred maniacs. Instead of looking out for those in need, they are embezzling funds meant for vital functions like acquisition of live-saving medication; and, locking out qualified people from employment positions in favour of their kin; nepotism at its best.

More often than not, we hold grudges against those who wrong us. We keep a record of their wrongs. The way I see it, most of the wars going on around the world would cease if the warring parties could just forgive each other and call a truce. Again it all boils down to love.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this Covid-19 pandemic has exposed some of our worst weaknesses. The frustrations attributed to Covid have made us relatively myopic. We only think about how we can solve our own problems, without taking a moment to consider how our actions/omissions affect others.

When the different Covid-19 vaccines were declared safe for use and effective against the corona virus, one of the emerging issues of concern was the corruption that could possibly arise from the vaccine distribution. Furthermore, some unscrupulous people have been accused of embezzling funds set aside for tackling the pandemic. Ergo, my concern is, why would anyone want to hoard money and medication meant to save people’s lives? Does such a person grasp what love is?

The two biggest commandments are to love God above all things, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Since not everyone is affiliated with religion I’ll refer to the legal definition of neighbour, seeing as love is just a natural inclination we have towards others by virtue of being human, whether we believe in God or not. In that regard, in law, our neighbours are those people who are so closely and directly affected by our acts and/or omissions, that we reasonably ought to have them in mind when conducting our daily affairs.

If we work with that definition, then we have numerous neighbours, because this definition doesn’t just mean our next-door neighbours. In essence, this means if I’m driving, my neighbours are all the pedestrians and drivers along the roads I use; the ones who could potentially get injured if I drove recklessly. If I own a manufacturing company, my neighbours are all the consumers of my products, whether I know them or not. See how numerous our neighbours are?

In light of this, if we are supposed to love our neighbours as we love ourselves; or as the law provides, we should avoid acts/omissions which we can reasonably foresee could harm our neighbours, then we owe that duty of care to very many people. Seeing as there are so many wrong things going on in the world, just imagine, how different the world would be if we applied the aforementioned concept of love, to all our neighbours…

That said, there are numerous things we cannot instantly change, but if we choose to actually love our neighbours, the world will gradually start to heal. If we truly love our neighbours, those in authority won’t hoard Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear, waiting for demand to substantially increase, so the prices can be hiked exorbitantly…

If we love our neighbours, those fuelling wars will realise very many innocent people have unnecessarily and unjustly become collateral damage… If we love our neighbours, we won’t go cutting down trees, because we know the dire impact that will have on the climate, and consequently, future generations.

In addition, employers will not dismiss their employees arbitrarily, callously feigning hardships occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic; because, while this could actually be the case, there are better empathetic ways of letting go of employees.

Therefore, like I said, love heals, and as it is, our world desperately needs healing. Million dollar question is, are we ready to love our neighbours? Are we ready to give love a chance?

pressure to get married

I’m staring out at the sky, praying that he will walk in my life…

Where is the man of my dreams…I’ll wait forever how silly it seems

How does he laugh how does he cry, what’s the colour of his eyes;

Does he even realize I’m here…where is he…where is this beautiful guy…

Who is he…who’s gonna take me so high…”

These are the lyrics to Justin Roman and Natalie Soluna’s song, ‘Where is she’. When I was younger I used to sing it word for word, because I loved it (still do). Now it pops randomly as a reminder of what’s going on in my life.

See, when my two sisters and I turned 13 (at different times), dad automatically assumed we would give in to the raging hormones teenagers are usually said to suffer from at the onset of puberty. Therefore he always treated us like we were just sleeping around with boys. “I know they’ve done it…either in that bedroom, or that bedroom…”This, he would say during his drunken ramblings, pointing at the bedrooms while standing at the hallway.

As a result, we always avoided inviting guys over because we didn’t want to be judged. Even the ones who came over did so without our consent. Like this one evening my childhood sweetheart popped by on his way home from work. Needless to say, I had not invited him over. When mom got back from work, she found him there but since she knew him since he was a child, and was friends with his mom, she was generally happy to see him.

Only thing she was not privy to was that a couple of years ago he and I had been in a relationship. At the time we had already gone our separate ways and he had visited, hoping we would get back together. However, I had already moved on so that chapter had long been closed.

Then, 25 came and suddenly dating was the implied requirement…if one was not dating and introducing their partner to the family, people thought that person was slacking off. The pressure to get married started. Mom light-heartedly started saying she wanted to see her grandchildren before she turned 50.

One of my cousins got a baby at twenty and the entire family ganged up against her. No one wanted to be associated with her, and I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. I mean, at the least, she was above 18, if age was the issue. She stayed with us for a while and a couple of years later, everyone was doting on her little girl. Nowadays, in family get-togethers, the same people who had ostracised her refer to her daughter as her second degree, her first being her bachelor’s degree.

So question is, is it just in my family or that’s the norm? Where before one turns 25, dating is almost a felony…then after 25, there’s pressure piling from all corners for one to get hitched. Nowadays, all my dad’s drunken ramblings start and end with marriage; but in all honesty, I sort of understand why. Most of our cousins are getting married and having babies.

Dad yearns to be called a grandfather, like his elder brothers. However, he fails to realise marriage is an almost permanent situation, given that it’s usually intended to be, “Till death…” So the way I see it, it’s not a matter of having attained the suitable age for marriage, but about being prepared emotionally, financially…

I really do not want to end up in nuptials because I’m ‘ripe for marriage’. If marriage was merely about age, right now I’d be nursing my own children, and taking care of my husband. Nonetheless, I want to find a man I truly love…someone who completes me in every sense of the word; someone who understands me in all my ‘damagedness’…and that, in my opinion, should not be rushed. It’s not about whether dad and mom are ready to be grandparents, but whether I’m ready to start a family.

Prized possessions

What is your most prized possession? Is it some earthly possession, or God? Whatever it is, if you lost it would you also lose your faith in God because the loss would really take a toll on you? In church, about two weeks ago, the priest said, “If God is not your most prized possession, then you need to pray hard.

The basis of this was a reading we had that Sunday. It was from the Gospel of Mark, where a man approached Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to attain eternal life.

“You know the commandments”, Jesus answered him. “Do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not lie; honour your father and mother; do not covet your neighbour’s wife or property…”

“I have been following all those commandments since I was a child”, the man replied.

Jesus looked at him happily, “That is very good. Now go give out all your possessions and come follow me”.

At that, the man seemed suddenly downcast. He was a very wealthy man. The Bible doesn’t expressly indicate whether the man agreed to give out his wealth, but his expression could give someone a hint.

“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven”, Jesus told His disciples. Furthermore, he told them that anyone who gave up his family and possessions to follow Him would attain eternal life.

That reading might be very discouraging to many people, especially those who are so attached to their material possessions…and most of us are. Pretence aside, I would love to be so wealthy, therefore personally I find the thought of being poor awfully discouraging. It’s even worse for someone who is already wealthy to lose their wealth because being poor really sucks.

Growing up, my family and I have found ourselves in situations where food was barely available, so we’d go hungry for long periods. Funny thing about that is, it was never for lack of money that we slept hungry; but it was because for reasons I’ll never be able to comprehend, dad never prioritized our food.

He’d uncaringly spend his money on beer and his own food, which he ate out. So while we were crying because of how hungry we felt, dad was coming home full, drunk and in a foul mood that had him raising hell on us the entire night.

I have never doubted mom’s love for my sisters and I. She’s the one person I know who has single-handedly sacrificed so much so we could be where we are today. When we were starving and she couldn’t feed us because she wasn’t working at the time, I saw how dejected she was. So while I’m all for going to heaven, I also know it’s very difficult to function on an empty stomach… or to just survive without basic needs. It is hard!

Hunger and poverty are the primary reasons some people from very humble backgrounds get into all sorts of unimaginable evils, because man’s inherent instinct is that of survival. While in reality there are people who commit crimes purely for the basis of satisfying their own selfish interests, I also know there are some people, with good intentions, who do wrong things out of desperation for themselves or their loved ones; for instance, a jobless parent who steals money to take their sick child to hospital. While this is still wrong, it is also not hard to understand what drove them to commit such transgressions.

In light of this, I wouldn’t imagine Jesus was condemning possession of wealth. The way I see it, He was condemning the acquisition and hoarding of so much wealth when there are others suffering. I usually imagine how beautiful the world would be if the haves would benevolently donate just a small percentage of their wealth to those who don’t have.

Every time I come across a child or person living on the streets, my heart breaks. It feels especially distressing when there’s nothing I can do to alleviate their suffering. I imagine this is what Jesus was trying to address.

Given how the world works, there will always be people who have, and those who don’t have. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that all affluent people will go to hell while the pecuniary ones happily walk through heaven’s golden gates.

It’s all about our intentions, which God is already privy to. All we need to do is follow the precepts of Christ, and be humble and kind. This is the surest way to go to heaven. After all, the two greatest commandments are to love God above all else, and to love one another. That’s how we go to heaven. It’s not simple, but it’s not impossible to accomplish either.

If wishes were horses… Part 2

Seeing dad bail on my big sis in a heartbeat reminded me of this very cool dad I met during my judicial attachment two years ago. He was the second witness in a civil case, where his daughter had been the victim of a hit-and-run. Since they were claiming damages, the defendant’s counsel was trying to prove to the court how the expenses cited under special damages had not been necessary.

One of the items in contention was a wheelchair, where the man had purchased one for his daughter after seeing how she was struggling to walk with crutches. The defence argued that the wheelchair had not been prescribed by the doctor and therefore wasn’t necessary; furthermore, they argued that, it had really been needless for him to hire a nurse and three personal tutors for his daughter.

I don’ know if my better judgement was clouded by the tender loving care this man seemed to have for his daughter, but I was of the opinion everything he got her was a necessity. The accident had her physically incapacitated for a year and because of that she missed a whole year of school. The way I see it, any loving parent would incur all those costs and more for their child, whether it was prescribed by a doctor or not.

“I do not need a doctor to tell me what to do for my daughter”, he argued unapologetically. “I’m a parent, and it’s my duty to ensure my daughter has her needs taken care of”. My heart melted. There I was, all grown up, but wishing I could have had such a dad. A dad who would always make my sisters and I feel loved and protected.

All through, dad has always made us feel like he got us accidentally. I always doubt he was ever ready to become a parent. Looking back at the things he’s done, I usually feel he’s never had what it takes to be a dad. For instance, when each of my sisters and I turned thirteen, he started regarding us with so much suspicion, always insinuating we were sleeping around.

Funny thing is we’d never given him any reason to think of us that way. Consequently, we stopped bringing male friends home because then he would erroneously assume those were the ones warming our beds.

Even in his constant drunken rumblings, he expressed his disappointment that we didn’t get knocked up before finishing school, as that would be the surest way for him to kick us out, so he wouldn’t have to put up with us anymore. Given a choice, I’m pretty sure he would have opted to not have us.

In addition to this, he’s always said he wouldn’t want us back in his house once we’re married…and seeing as he’s never been a loving husband to mom, we’ve always been afraid of getting married because if God-forbid we ended up with someone like him, we’d end up feeling trapped again, and for good this time.

Based on this sad life dad has subjected us to, I hate to think there are people out there leading miserable lives because they don’t know who their parents are. Sometimes I usually imagine, if I didn’t know who my dad was, I would be living a very troubled life, thinking how better my life had been if I knew him.

Well here’s the thing, sometimes our parents might turn out to be a huge disappointment, and a far cry from what we imagine they might be like. Take it from me. My dad’s always been around when my sisters and I were growing up, but he was never the kind, loving dad we hoped he would be.

I have this friend who lost her dad when she was around nine, and she told me she usually feels their lives would have been better if he hadn’t passed on. I remember feeling like she was looking at the grass on the other side and thinking it was greener. Sometimes it is…but sometimes it’s not. I guess if wishes were horses I’d have a loving dad…

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.

Of finishing law school and dreaded goodbyes: Part 2

That evening I teared up all the way home. When my small sis opened the door she noticed how puffy my eyes were. “Did someone hurt you?” She turned my face sideways, scrutinizing it for slap marks or something of the sort. “I’m gonna cut a b*@!h,” she cursed. She was too concerned I might have gotten hurt to notice what I was carrying. Then I laughed, and she relaxed a bit.

Stealthily, I placed the gift bag on the nearest couch and thankfully, she headed to the kitchen to check on the food. A while later, my big sis came and I told them what had happened. By then the tears had stopped, though I could tell it wouldn’t take much for them to start again, since that sluice-gate had been officially opened.

Their reactions when they saw my portrait were not so different from mine. Though they didn’t cry, I could tell they were as moved as I was. “You have amazing classmates,” my big sis remarked. “Now we forgive them, for everything they put you through”.

Like I had told my classmates earlier, being nice is a choice we constantly make, even when we find ourselves pushed to the corner. Serving my class for four years had not been an easy task. Sometimes I had to deal with malevolent lecturers, and sometimes, it was just some difficult colleagues giving me a hard time…sometimes I came so close to throwing in the towel… and my family was there to see me through the motions.

One of the gifts I received was a custom made ‘thank you’ card. It had thank you notes from several colleagues and as I read the sweet messages, the tears that were already welling up in my eyes started flowing again. My class had made me feel so appreciated on such a grand scale… and the feeling was inexplicable.

I’ve gifted people severally, and I know how much time and effort it takes to find the perfect gift. One has to understand someone’s tastes, and preferences… and my classmates did that for me. That thought made me feel like I’d never stop crying.

“We gave you that portrait, so that everytime you look at it, you’ll remember how awesome you are,” my friend who had organised the surprise had told me. I knew I would never be able to thank them enough… and that saying about family, ‘Family’s not always blood. It’s the people in your life who make you feel loved and cherished’, came to mind… from law school, I had also acquired a new family. I went there, not knowing anyone, except for one friend, who was the school’s student leader… and as I left, I knew hundreds of students, who were now my family. I sincerely felt blessed.

The last few classes before we went to sit our final exams felt like our last bonding moments, and I couldn’t help the wave of nostalgia that engulfed me. I’ve always hated goodbyes… and after the surprise my classmates had treated me to, I knew when the time finally came, I would have the hardest of times saying goodbye to these people who I’d spent the last four years of my life with. Thankfully I had exams to keep my mind preoccupied, so I never got much time to think about the looming goodbye.

Eventually, we sat our last paper, but before we did, guys were reminded to hang around for a while because we were going to have a cake fest. Our professor, whose paper we had last, was invited and as he was about to cut the cake, he requested that I join him and my co-rep. Guys clapped and cheered, and as they dug in, that sad feeling that this would be the last time we were gathered in one class together hit me…

There was so much cake, and on a normal day I would have had a ball eating to my fill; however, nostalgia capped my appetite… I just had a tiny piece. Eventually, my friends and I left… on my way back home, I knew I should be happy that I had finished ‘the’ law school.

The workload over the years had been intense. I didn’t have a social life, and almost all my Christmases I spent reading… so this was an achievement to triumph over… Nonetheless, my feelings seemed to suggest the contrary. I felt happy and sad… excited and anxious… and the ‘not so happy’ feelings felt dominant.

The morning after, didn’t feel any different. I was still feeling pretty nostalgic. When I checked my phone, I found a very sweet text from my co-rep. He has never been the mushy type, so getting such a text from him, wasn’t an ordinary occurrence. He was thanking me for always having his back… his sentiments tugged at my heartstrings and I got all mushy. But I wasn’t gonna cry again… I cautioned myself.

When I checked my email, I found another sentimental mail from this classmate who was very quiet and laidback. He was also thanking me for making their life in law school simpler…before I could talk myself out of tearing up, tears were already flowing down my cheeks. That is how Saturday ended… with my classmates calling, texting and sending mail to thank me for being the best class president ever.

One thing I told one of my friends when he texted me was that, it’s true what they say, ‘Kindness begets kindness’. Therefore, if my classmates felt I was so humble and kind, it’s because they had been kind to me. I simply gave back, what they gave me.

So now that I’m done with Law school, I thank God profoundly, for the four years I’ve been there. Other than the legal knowledge I’ve acquired, I’ve made friends… acquired a whole new family… and above all, I have learned first-hand, the value of kindness and humility…

Of finishing law school and dreaded goodbyes: Part 1

These past couple of years I have been chasing after my law degree. It has been a real rollercoaster of emotions; anger, excitement and desperation, especially when trying to beat extremely tight deadlines. It has been a real struggle. However, last week Friday marked the end of all that, since I sat my last exam.

That said, these past few weeks have been very nostalgic for me. I have been interacting with the same people, most of whom have become my very close friends, for four long years. So it would go without saying that having to part ways with them was not the best of feelings. When my mind was not too preoccupied with the exam revision, I would find myself dreading the thought of having to say goodbye, when we finally sat our final paper.

Interestingly, the weeks leading to the finals didn’t make the looming goodbye less nostalgic. A week before we started our exams, my classmates decided to surprise me. A few days before, one of my friends requested to take my pic, explaining that she was creating an autograph book… sort of a personal year book. Hesitating, I accepted telling her how much I wanted to see the book when it was ready.

A couple of days later after class, the same friend made a quick announcement that guys shouldn’t leave just yet. At the time I didn’t know what was happening… so I watched as she made her way to the front of the class, a big gift bag in hand.

By then the entire class was watching, obviously with a touch of dramatic irony as I figured out later, since everyone was in on it. My friend proceeded to request me to step forward, which I did. A frown creased my forehead, my eyes a little squinted, as I tried to comprehend what was going on. Thankfully I found out a few seconds later.

As it turned out, the class had decided to express their gratitude for the role I had served as the class president since first year. I had not seen that coming, and the emotions that came with the realization were overwhelming.

Since I was elected class president, I did everything in my power to help anyone who needed my assistance. I didn’t ask for reward or any form of gratitude because deep down I felt very happy knowing I was helping someone. To me, the thought of seeing others happy made whatever sacrifices I had to make feel all worth it.

Therefore when I realized what my classmates were doing, the first thing that came to mind was how unnecessary it all was. I did not want them to feel like they owed me anything because every little thing I did, I did without expecting anything in return.

After giving a brief speech, my friend reached for the gift bag which she had placed on the floor, and she pulled out a gift that was nicely wrapped and handed it to me. At that point I had started getting really mushy and I could tell it wasn’t going to be long before my tears started… before I could open it, some classmates came, hugging me and telling me thank you.

However, majority of the class insisted I open the gift first, so I started unwrapping it. I could tell it was either a big photo frame, or a book… As I tore the last of the wrapper, guys went quiet… I figured everyone was eager to see my reaction. When I managed to open the gift, the first thing I saw was the back part of what seemed like a picture frame… just as I had guessed.

But lo, and behold! When I upturned it, the tears I had tried so hard to hold back gushed over my cheeks. Right in front of me, was a portrait of me… and the million thoughts triggered by that very personalised gift had me crying nicely… and at that point I didn’t care to stop them anymore. This was the same photo my friend had requested to take… only that someone had used it to make a pencil portrait of me…

My mind remotely registered people clapping and cheering; and before I could get over the surprise, guys were hugging and handing me more gifts. I think that was the best surprise of my life. After the first three gifts I stopped opening them. It was all so surreal.

Then when I had received all the gifts, I was asked to give a brief speech. It was all impromptu but I just spoke from my heart… “This was really unnecessary, because I have never expected anything in return. You usually say I’m so nice, but in all honesty, being nice is not always easy. It’s a choice we make. And with me, my desire has always been to make people happy… to make people’s lives easy in my own small way. Thank you so much. May God bless you all, so so much.”

My close friends were asked by some classmates to ensure I got home safe… and with everything intact. That only made me cry some more… Funny thing is that, a few days before, I’d been telling my two closest friends how I hate crying in public… guess I’d spoken too soon.