A balloon with no air

Rape.jpg

This was how it felt to unlearn your own life. To be there but never present in your own reality. To walk with a cloud hanging over you never questioning who put it there. This was how it felt to be imprisoned in your thoughts by pain and the unwillingness to forgive. This was how it felt to gaze at the sun never noticing it blinding your eyes. This was what a balloon with no air meant.

She was scared, unwilling to talk about it. The hate had become so palpable she could feel it poisoning her blood. In another world, you could have seen Her blood turn green from all the venom that was slowly sneaking up through Her organs. With every heartbeat, she knew she was sinking deeper and deeper. The poison was too much, and her body could only do so much for her in one lifetime. She had been taught to love yet there was no love given back to her. The world did not owe her anything, after all, survival for the fittest.

She recalls when it happened in tremendous and surreal detail. The memory of the event serves as the only thing she can remember from that period of her life. The air was moist and crisp at the same time. There were no birds in the sky, and the mood was as somber as it could be. She was dressed in plain shorts and was jolly, to say the least. She remembers hiding at the back of the cold washroom. She recalls how safe it felt. How cunning she thought it was, the perfect rabbit hole.

She did not see it coming. Besides, who could have seen it coming? This had always been her hiding spot. No one knew about it until the boy from gate 43 had seen her emerge from its confines a week before. Suddenly a group of boys had rushed into the bathroom also seeking a place to hide. It was called hide and seek for a reason. She could not claim the spot and thus sat there naively waiting for the last call to be announced by the seeker in the game.

The first few minutes of the attack were hazy. She could not understand what was going on. One minute she was in a corner all alone and the next minute someone had pinned her on the floor. She was screaming and crying at the same time. The boys were four in number and the same age group as her thirteen-year-old brother. Someone pulled down her shorts while someone else shoved his fingers down her vagina. The other two stretched out her hands in opposite directions. ” If you want it to feel better, you should hold still,” one of them had blurted out.

Her face lay next to the ground motionless. The rest of the ordeal was felt through the numb body of a six-year-old. She knew no one could have heard her screams. The house she had been hiding in,  lay in ruins aloof from the rest of the housing estate having been abandoned by its owner. It was the perfect hiding place.  She knew the voice of one of them; the boy from gate number 43. His name was Roy. He was her brother’s friend. She had seen him once or twice at their house. She would not see him after that incidence and would only meet him later in life married with two children.

A broken girl walked home that day. The longest and most shameful walk she had ever had. She felt that everyone knew what had happened. That she had allowed four boys to do “bad manners” with her. She was heartbroken, to say the least. Her mother was home when she got there. She saw the shorts and promptly gave her a beating since she had been instructed not to wear her ‘special’ pair of shorts. She wept through the beating. Each stroke of the cane felt deserved not for the shorts but for the act that she had just been engaged in. She kept mum about it afraid of the vilification that would come from speaking.

How is it then that she was supposed to forget? How was it that she was expected to love others and more so love herself. She’s felt responsible for something she had no control over all her life. Forgiving is a choice, but forgetting is a daily habit requiring practice and grand fetes in the form of patience.

 

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The truth

Sad Face

Deep down you know exactly what you are capable of. There are even moments where you get a glimpse of all the potential you have. You can get there, you just have to be willing to sacrifice the habits, things, and situations that are standing in the way of your success”. The social media status update from one of her contacts reads. Easier read than done, she thinks to herself.

Her living room is as would be on any given day. Blinds closed with slight signs of the sun’s rays making their way in, squicky clean carpet and fluffy pillows are strewn on the floor in a pattern of sorts. She is curled up in a blanket quietly sipping the cup of lemon tea in her palms. The tea is laced with sugar instead of honey. She read somewhere that sugar has lesser calories than honey and does not want to fight with calories in the near future. The wall clock chimes sadly from the high table next to her. Its strides cause a sort of depressed calm in her soul. There are no more tears or words left in her breath. No more space in her heart to feel anything else. She wants to go home but is already home, at least that’s what her postal address reads. The younger would have been shocked by who she has become. She used to be the constant light in the room, or so everyone said.

In a logical world, having failed one too many times should be a strong point. In fact, it should make you more resilient since there is nowhere else left to go, no lower low or deeper crevice to find. But that’s not the case for her, she has tried it all and ended up failing. It feels like the universe is intentionally calling her out as the only person available for another dose of failure. Then there is her inner self constantly rebuking her for ‘living in priviledge’ and being so miserable. There is always someone out there who has it worse than she does and yet they seem to have made something out of their circumstance. This breaks her will even further and renders her somewhat useless to the norm of finding life’s meaning. It all started a year ago. She would go to work and get torn down for saying something logical by people who thought it would not favor her. So instead of fighting back, she started being silent, never airing her views despite the magic they bore. A year passed, and she left the job. With no plans at all, she just left. But she did leave with a bruised self-esteem.

Its two months ago and she is seated in the driver’s chair of the driving test provided car. She has a car but has not been able to drive it for months now. Her boyfriend has been calling her out for this, but that has just made her resolve to sink further into the chaotic mess called ‘self-doubt.’ He was teaching her how to drive, but she almost knocked someone over, so she stopped trying after that. She wants to believe that by passing her driving class the sign will be clear enough that she can try in life and actually make it work. Her wrists clench the steering wheel a little too tightly afraid she might swerve the car before she turns the ignition key. Everything depends on this moment, as trivial as it may seem. She needs a win, a single win to move forward. The test is a success, but her boyfriend thinks it was a waste of money since she has not overcome her fear to drive the car alone. Is her fear even legitimate?

Lately, she finds it hard to lift her head from the pillow fearing that the room will have caught fire because her cooking skills and concentration are no longer ‘good enough’. Other times she is afraid of leaving the house, maybe she will do something she is not supposed to do. She could call on God for help, but her trust in him or she died three years ago. Maybe he is punishing her, she often thinks that’s the case but lightly brushes that aside. Anyone who would have told that in a years time getting out of bed would be a problem would have been cast aside as a sadist and bad omen. She remembers how easy it used to be for her to be happy. How easy it used to be to step up to things.

The mood is somber and the tea not soothing enough. She knows she has to face the truth, that she is broken, that people despite their many talents and capacities can become broken. Broken in ways, they would never have fathomed. Being broken makes you afraid if you are not careful. It allows you to subliminally undermine your power to do things. Her tea is over, she does not re-fill the cup. Instead, she takes the car keys and heads downstairs. Her boyfriend is not here to tell her what she can or cannot do. She wants her life back, she needs it.

Making peace

Sunset

” Try, try everything. Everything that can be tried under the sun. You can start by trying to breathe underwater. It may seem meaningless, but the persistence and will required to breathe underwater is everything you may ever need ….”

These words are ingrained in the depths of her soul of souls.  Funny how that phrase sounds, ‘soul of souls.’ In another life, she would probably never have thought to use it. But on this particular day, she is in another life, and it makes more sense than it ever did.

Her frame embodies a skeleton in the once figure crunching dress. It’s her favorite, nothing less than the best for this occasion. The glitter and frills would make a ten year old jealous and yet she seems to be stuck in the illusion of sweet sixteen. Her blush is lightly put, and her hair carefully noted in a bun. Her ancestors would have been proud of her. Imagine that, ancestors smiling down pouring out some wine over her elegance. Everything about today is tranquil save for the rickety old Volkswagen she is about to drive.

In the back sits a camera, her last resort of memories for her future generation. She is going to die today, at least that’s what the doctors said. She has been struggling for twelve years now. The cancer has been on and off. It has even become problematic to keep a track on it. At times its cut her off for months in comas. She has tried everything, and she is tired of it all. Her only companion today is her grandchild while the rest of the family follows in their cars behind. She wanted to die driving the old beauty, but the family would not let her be alone in it. ” You could end up in the ocean. Do you want us to bury you while you’ve started rotting?” The funniest of her children had asked when she made her intentions clear. But no one laughed, it was not funny that she had a death sentence laid out for her by the universe and she was taking it all too well.

Everyone is anxious in the living room. She smiles at them, mocking the fear on their faces. Its just death, she thinks, not out loud though. She wouldn’t want them to feel that she was being sarcastic. She wanted to be with all of them when it happened. She also wanted some morphine and the beautiful sun rising above the beach horizon she had grown to love. It was after one of those coma induced sleeps that she decided to make peace with everything. She had, after all, fought a good fight. Sadly, it was the last fight.

Life had not been easy, but she had never thought it would be. Instead, she had made her  way through the ups and downs with the bravest of faces. The first few years of her marriage were not happy and had continuously been rocked by the threat of divorce due to childlessness. She still remembers how the resolve to get divorced had freed her off societal expectations. Instead of waiting on miracles, she had become a miracle by adopting six children who had been in her life for over fifty years. How time flew by.

The beach shimmers with a welcoming warmth of sorts.  She removes her shoes and feels the soil beneath her feet. Glorious! She takes a walk and hums out a song that has been bugging her since she woke up. The vast water mass makes her feel smaller than she had anticipated, owwhhh how overwhelming it all seems. She can swear that this is the perfect way to die, maybe too perfect.

She returns to her sad family. They all have tears in their eyes. She wants to hug them and tell them they will meet in the next life but does not know how to. It all seems so far fetched that their ‘momma,’ ‘fav aunty’ and best ‘nana’ is going away forever. Her great-grandchildren are sad too, they seem to also be aware of what is going on. She did not wish this for the little ones. She is starting to feel very sad. Not because she may be dying today, but her family looks like they are dead already.

The fold-able chairs form a lovely semi-circle. At that moment, she can swear that it is the most beautiful semi-circle she has ever seen. Her six children are all present together with their children. She could not have had it any better. The air is moist from the water, and the mood is magical. She is at peace. She takes the camera from the car and starts making memories. These are their memories, not hers. She will probably be watching them all their lives. Or so she thinks. The thought of an afterlife baffles and at the same time tires her out. Her intrigue lies in the unrealistic nature of it all while her age demands that she rests in peace.

The sun is about to rise, everyone is in their chairs. Silently taking in every moment. She postpones the morphine drip. It might blur her final moments. She needs to enjoy everything under the sun. One last ray is all she needs, all she wants at this moment. This is heaven. Or at least a piece of heaven she thinks. She needs to make peace.

Mother’s Day

Off forgiveness and tales

There is blood everywhere, its in the footsteps she has just made on the white sand and on the ornamental gypsum that hugs her multi-colored sandals. Its trickling down her peach brown thighs making a trail of bloody symbolism of what is going on at that particular moment. The trail can be seen just below her thighs where her skirts’ hem stops at. Why did she even wear  a skirt today? Every step she makes seems to make it worse, she can feel the life in her ebbing away slowly.

The motorcycle owner standing a few meters from her seems too shocked to make a sound or even ride her to the hospital. There is no pain at all, just a constantly rising sense of fear in her stomach and mind and unheard off panic. Everything was going on all so well. Or wasn’t it? This was supposed to be a good day, it was Mother’s day for crying out loud. Didn’t that count as good riddance? The blood stops and for a single moment she thinks that everything will be okay.

She had decided to keep the baby despite the warning from her doctor. In her mind, the child would symbolize a new beginning for her. Conceived out of  the most heart wrenching circumstance. Also, she had decided that the baby did not do any harm and thus had to be left alive. The past eight months had been the most life threatening moments in her entire life. With her blood pressure sky rocketing every once in a while, she had seen the inside of ER rooms more than she had wanted to.

Her feet suddenly become motionless, the spontaneity of her loss dawns on her. She stands there, fearless yet extremely broken. Life is something she would have loved to birth, it does not seem that way though. She gathers all her strength and walks to the nearby dispensary. No one helps her, she tries to explain herself but they think its intentional. Her face is pale and her heart’s beat is slowly ebbing away. She closes her eyes as everything dims away. She knows its over, she knows this is the beginning of a new journey, a journey full of regret and untold of memories. Its simply that, another mother’s day spent without the bliss of being a mother.

A Tribute to Her

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She stands tall among all those present. They are lowering down her flesh and blood. Her last born daughter. She wants to cry but has to be brave for her other two little ones. Besides, she never taught them how to deal with death. Her baby has only been gone for one day, and it feels like forever. Who knew she would need the “how to survive burying an year and half old child” course?

Her body is there, but her soul is in the coffin with her child. She is holding her. Telling her not to be scared because heaven is not that far off. The thought of a better place disgusts her. She thinks it’s ironical that a child would be taken before her parent. The sight of her burnt body makes tears come to her eyes; her bruises had just begun to heal. They had thought she would pull through. The pain she must have felt, it’s amazing how much the human body can take.

She is in her late twenties, but you would think she is older, maybe forty-ish. Life has had a way to deal with her, a thorn in every part of her flesh you could say. Her arms are full and have built up the strength of a horse from all the hard labour. Her palms, on the other hand, are something to marvel about, they are soft and gentle. Her daughter always wanted to be clasped in those palms. The rest of her body is arguably a skeleton. Her back is bent, and she does not seem to know it while her hair is scanty and tells tales of malnutrition. She is standing next to her children. They seem aloof from all that is happening. Too pensive you could say.

She remembers how each child had brought joy to her despite the circumstances. Julia was born in July. She was a healthy baby, bubbly and couldn’t stop waking everyone up in the wee hours of the night. Her eyes bore the innocence of a child and the vibrancy of a kitten. Right, when she had held her at birth, she knew it was love at first impulse. The first few weeks had been so intense filled with compulsive thinking and falling head over heels for the baby. She was happy. All good things have a subtle but defiant ending. Her joy was cut short by the death of Julia’s father. That was the end for her. The end of her marriage and goodbye to the love of her life. Julia, however, eased her back to some rays of joy.

Justina came in January, a month later than she should have. She had the shrill cry of a calf and its agility in abundance. She run through her infancy. Literally, run through it, made life her wings and flew as far as she could. She was a brilliant baby. Her speech was perfect by one and a half years and her walk wobbly but sure. She was the inquisitive one. No one liked to be left talking with Justina. Her voice had the naivety of a baby, yet she asked the most embarrassing questions. People would always joke around and say she would be the end of her parents. She kept the family happy and alive. Her sister Julia was her rock of armour. She guarded her instinctively and taught her everything though later Justina would become the teacher. Just before she turned two, Justina’s father became abusive. He would come home drunk and make the silliest excuses for the battery of both the kids and his wife. The final stroke came one dark evening when she found him on top of four-year-old Julia. That was it, she reported him, and he got detained but never charged. She did not care though; she was far away from him.

Days got longer and every hour seemed to move at a snail’s pace. The promise of light at the end of the tunnel seemed to twinkle in a dimmer shine every single morning. She would wake up and walk around with the world on her shoulders, literally. Her posture gradually turned into a hunchbacks tale, and her once jovial demeanour was now just a bag of walking bones. Peter changed that though, he met her at the market. She was arguing with a customer regarding how much her potatoes were worth. The customer was offering way too little for the heavy toil that had come with planting those potatoes, she knew it, and he knew it also. Her dirty children by her side only made her look more desperate, which she was. Peter came to her aide by telling the customer to buy or leave. She had been won over by his charisma and his hunger to make her laugh. Within a few months, they had moved in together and were expecting a baby girl. Her last born, she had told the delivery aide when it was time for Jata to come to the land of the living. Things were finally falling into place, she was happy and had almost forgotten her past, and well, the children were healthy and in a loving family. What else could she ask for?

Everything that begins has to come to an end, this was just a saying, but to her, it meant the world. She had found peace in that statement and would reside in the veil it placed over all the hurt she had had to go through. Jata, Jata just had to go, very early, a year and a half. She had just articulated a full sentence, and everyone had wanted their name to be in the next sentence. She was angry, that her last born would be taken like that. She was infuriated that life had made her its rag, to step on and plunder constantly. She was devastated that such a loved little girl would die in the arms of her mother. Was there a more unfair punishment to come? She did not cry though; tears were futile in this case. People did die every day, even if those people are toddlers. Maybe there was a reason for such things; maybe after all this, she would lie still in the night and forgive herself for putting every single tragedy in motion, perhaps she could even tell it as a tale later on in her life, just maybe. This was what it meant to love unconditionally, how it felt when the life is taken from your breath, and you survive, she had to pay her a tribute. She had a million words to say, but nothing could come close to the way she felt. So instead, she took a bow for her daughter, a sign of miraculous respect for the battle she had not won. It was everything for her, for Jata, the last star.

A Suicide note and some tea

Cinamon Chai

The alluring and deceiving taste of cinnamon  tea can still be felt on her tongue. She had literally bathed her stomach with it. It was the one thing she would have loved to remember once she was no more.  But, do people really remember? I mean, they tend to be free from thought and are six feet under the ground. The thought of her still body did not spook her out. In fact she had envied dead people over the past few months, she imagined the peace they experienced, no orders to follow, no world to please.

The setting is fresh in her mind. The day of the year is not clear for now, but she remembers it was during the long school holidays in December. She is perched on her bed sipping tea slowly in a manner that denotes arousal. Very slowly, so to speak. Its hot season and Nakuru has no mercy on anyone. The winds are ghastly and dust has found its lost voice. The golden curtains on the huge windows let in just enough light into the room, the perfect crime scene.

Do not get me wrong, she is not a psychopath, or so she thought. Just another soul glancing at the world from an existential point of view. For now, she does not know how she is going to do it. This however does not worry her. She has a great planned laid out. Firstly, entertain her family with the all famous cinnamon tea recipe that she invented, secondly, sit on her bed and write “the note” and finally, lay there in peace. The plan sounds short and straightforward. Not too many details to mess it all up and nothing left to chance either.

Everyone laughs at tea time. Her mother is seated on her favorite chair telling stories that normally would bore them but to her surprise entertains even their house help. Family can be quite deceptive and hypocritical. Everyone sited at that table knows everything is not okay but chooses to drink tea and make merry. She is disgusted but doesn’t say a thing, doesn’t give hints. She wants the last moments of her life to be remembered as happy and full of fun filled family illusions. The rest of her life is already tainted by her aggressive and self spoken self. She could at least try keep her thoughts on a leash, just for today.

The wardrobe is disorganized but she spots something dark and shiny. its an obsidian rock. Have you ever seen a rock, tripped over it and next thing you know, its the love of your life? The jagged edges of the rock and expressionless curves made it even more exquisite. It had tamed her soul a few months ago, she wouldn’t tell why but its abstractness meant more to her than life’s simplicity. This is the moment she has been waiting for, despite the pain it will cause, the rock will be the perfect tool for the ‘vice’.

The note is ready, it reads

Dear people who loved me,

I loved you too but it seems love is never enough sometimes. Do not mourn over me for i have found peace. I have found comfort in knowing that this is my choice. Simple and very delightful i have to say. I know i will be forgotten, but that is okay with me, people die everyday. Bury me in a blue dress, there is something about blue and death that i don’t seem to understand. For your own sake , do not mourn over me, it has been a good fight. 

Yours truly, 

Friend, daughter,lover,sibling and stranger you will never meet

The cut from the obsidian is jagged and her left wrist looks as she would have loved it to, a work of art. The blood trickles slowly and the first drops she uses as a seal for the letter. She has made a deep cut on her left hand and a shallow one on her right. She needs the strength on her right to sip her tea. She made sure to spread blue bedding’s on her bed. The sky from an obsidian’s view is what she wants to see when she gets to the other side.  The tea is sweeter than she has ever tasted, maybe its because of the high that comes from blood loss. She doesn’t really care, its euphoric and intoxicating at the same time. Just as she had anticipated.

A few years have passed now and the taste of cinnamon tea has never been the same. You can tell she has had it all, the good, bad and the ugly. She is twenty five years now and has not understood how death had made so much sense to the sixteen year old self. She remembers the peace she had felt as she walked in and out of consciousness. The thought is mesmerizing and scary at the same time. She had felt death, literally known it for a few minutes. Who knew it was so peaceful, in the end, we define how we conceive death. She is still fighting to be alive, has not really found peace with being alive but tries to live though each day.

 

Home…

Home…

The sign clearly reads with its magnificence and awe. You would think it was announcing the approach of a mythical land where the earth has been replaced by milk and honey. She has no home, she knows no home, home isn’t a word she hopes to use, at least not today.Home has been dead to her for the past fifteen years. Its murderers still roam the planet freely and seemingly unaware of the offence they committed. They even dare call her and ask how she is fairing on. How is she expected to be fairing on anyway?

The year is 2000, the beginning of a new century and possibly new opportunities. She is seven years old. Quite the lass so to speak. Her cheekbones form most of her face and her hair daintily hangs from her scalp. Her mouth sits perfectly at the center of her face in a way that tells you she always has something to say for herself. The future her whispers that she will turn out just perfect. Her name is Wanjera. She lives with her younger brother, mother and father. Life is perfect, she has everything a seven year old could ask for.

Year 2001, Wanjera starts seeing the signs. Her mum always has a pack of ice on either of her eyes. She does not seem to notice her children’s presence anymore. They are ghosts to her. Wanjera knows what is happening to their mother. She lacks the courage to ask what an eight year old is supposed to do in such moments. So as is her routine whenever this happens, she pats her mother on the back and takes her lunch box, walks out of the door and later tells her class teacher of her mums black eye.

Year 2002, evening comes and Wanjera does not want to go back home. The thought in itself makes makes her nauseated. She knows that her mother wont be home that night or the next. She knows that her father will take herself and her brother to eat out  as an act of retribution. She knows that he will try and bribe their affection by buying whatever they ask for. She also knows that when her mother is back home she wont try and explain what had happened. She wont try and say that she needed time off and wasnt abandoning them. She wont let them know that she wanted it to stop for a while. She is trying to protect them forgetting that children see. So when the schoolbus pulls up infront of their gate, the bus conductor literally has to kick her out. She bears the burden of having grown up too fast. The burden of being a first born. The burden of having to know things that are hidden from nine year olds.Her mum shows up as she had expwcted. She says nothing. NOTHING. Just a flat out HI. No, how was the past week or what did you guys eat? Nothing is to be said in this house. No one is to ask questions least they be battered to a pulp.

Year 2003, the divorce is not a shock for her. She actually anticipates it, actually feels relief that it has happened. She wants to rid herself of any string to this thing called “HOME” and FAMILY. She is tired. Too tired. She becomes a child of the world, without a place to call home. The first year after the divorce is spent trying to find someone to take care of her brother and herself. Her few month old baby sister is too young to be with willing relatives. They become the spoils of a war they never chose to participate in.

Year 2008, she joins the best girls high school there is in the country. This is courtesy of her strong will to break free from homelessness. She is living with her step mum and father. She doesnt speak to him anymore. What is there to speak about? The randomness of the situation makes it all look like a scene from a Hollywood movie. Girls at school ask her about her family once in a while, she has nothing to say to them. Its a broken family full of people who rob the right to love from one anothee.

Year 2014, she is almost done with campus and speaks freely of her family. Growth is very well notable on her spirit. Her father has recently aquired another wife. There are rumours of a pregnancy within circles in the family. Talk about karma, her first step mum always thought she was the one. Her mother left the country three years ago in search of greener pastures. She has no place to go to during the holidays other than her shared space at school. She decides to stay at school most of the holidays. Her two siblings are being shared between the wives. She starts to feel the need for a home. A place to call home or even a someone to go back to.

Year 2016, shes all grown up now. Shes been dating everyone and anyone. She loves life and life loves her. Shes taken on everything thrown at her. All the random madness and mundane hysteria life has to offer. She walks tall but seems to stand aloof from everything else. Doesnt complain much but still has a chatterbox for a mouth.

Year 2017, her days are fully occupied. Shes moved in with her boyfriend. Living large, you could say. On different nights she goes out with her friends for coffee dates. Shes finding home again. Shes learning to forgive herself for not letting herself be happy. For not letting go of things that did not define her. Like a place to call home. After all, she is a child of the world. So as she walks into the bar “Home”, her mind is clear. She does not have a home, maybe she will never really have one. Shes decided to find home in others, home is where the heart is….