Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Sunday, 11 April 2021
I can’t say I remember my suckling or cooing days. Neither can I claim to know for sure if I was a terrible toddler or not. What I can vouch for are the marks tattooed on my legs and forehead. Mama tells me they are monuments of the many falls sustained during my tender years. She has recounted to my horror, my audacious attempts at clambering the tall mango tree in our backyard at three! And how I slapped other children across their cheeks and watched them wail, unfazed, devoid of emotion. I am also told I once chortled and tried to reach for the slithery viper that crept into our living room. Thank God, Mama was always there to save me from me.
There is a phase my memory has not
deceived me. The time the upbeat, patriotic songs blared on the street corners
and lyrics of Michael Jackson and Grace Jones thumped through open windows and
muffled gramophones. I remember reciting every verse of Nothing is
Gonna Stop Us Now and painting my diary pages with every word. My
interests were innocuous at first. But as the music took on a new meaning, I
was no longer just chanting, scribbling and dancing to the rhythm. To the boy
who sent my pulses racing, I professed I Will Always Love You. When
he shattered my heart into a thousand pieces, I begged him to Come Back
to Me. I was just another Broken-Hearted Girl. Each
melody, each beat, every phrase, became poignant, sacred and meaningful. An
allegory for my life.
Those in the know say I was just a teenager with raging hormones.
But I swear the world was conspiring
against me. How else could I explain other girls having superior coiffures? Or
that my bulging thighs were an eyesore even in steeply priced habiliments
father bought with his hard-earned cash? By now, I had sassed what calls for
flattery and roused the opposite sex, and it was nothing I possessed. Nothing I
could pin down. Is it any wonder jealousy, self-doubt, and paranoia consumed
Then I took a stab at engineering my transformation. Skin lightening creams, hot combs and Palazzos came to the rescue. I am thankful there was no Snapchat and Instagram to increase the torture. Looking back now, I cringe at the things I did. What was I thinking? It was inevitable, I suppose, that gradually I would embrace who I was. It turns out, being me is okay. My looks do not define me. There is more to me than my hoarse voice and knobbly knees. My intelligence matters. I could shift my focus towards greater heights. Reach for the stars. Become the so-called woman of substance.
There are things I wish I had, want to have like yesterday, but I try not to dwell on what I cannot change or control. I am learning to trust the process. Friends and the need to belong are essential to me. But I am also at peace in my own company. When I experience defeat, my mantra is to try, try, try again. I pride myself on my resilience. My ability to bounce back. For how can I grow if I do not fall?
Somewhere within me lies a passion for igniting. I have something to offer, not only to my family or my immediate surroundings, but the world. It’s funny how an appetite develops into insatiable hunger. The realisation that there is an entire world to explore. Something else. I derive satisfaction from motherhood, wifehood, occupation, and all that which makes me a grounded being, I suppose, but should I suffer for wanting more? Striving for more? Geography and responsibilities do not a hindrance make. Personal expansion is mine for the taking. But first, I must know - what is my purpose?
With each season, I become my own philosopher, pondering, searching and demanding answers to life's tough questions. I know little, but I have heard and read the success stories. The distinguished men and women inventors. The DaVincis of our time. Writers and performers, and those whose names are not visible among the stars but have changed the world all the same. Who am I to stand in my way? I could write the world's most celebrated novel or find a cure for cancer. This fire is past kindling. Perhaps one day, like the cleansing furnace, it will rid me of the disquieting voice. That constant whisper that nudges me towards greatness and prompts me to find a reason to live. My purpose. Meaning.
Inevitably, I will enter my twilight years. Without a shred of doubt, I know that when the time comes, it will be the cacophony of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren's whines and feet that will afford me the most pleasure. I will treasure the feel of their tiny hands, exploring the contours of my wrinkled face. I will attend to their questions, showing as much zeal as the desire I have to make sense of it all now. I shall drown in their stunned, twinkly eyes when they listen to my tales. I will chuckle when they gasp at my ancient words. For it matters not if they get it or not. Because in the years to come, they will.
When the time comes for me to slow down, cross over to the other side, I want to reflect, inhale and exhale, knowing I did all I could. That I swam with the sharks and survived. That I swung for the fence, reached my full potential and fulfilled my destiny. Or at least gave it a whirl.
Hey, come back soon!
Saturday, 13 March 2021
Don’t scatter roses, so the song goes.
I do not mean to rain on your parade
And I don't doubt your merits as a daughter or son
All I’m saying is,
If I had a mother.
Her grave has long been cold and hard.
Life’s pitted terrain nothing but a cliché.
My victories hollow without her.
If I had a mother,
I would savour the sound of her footsteps,
clobbering our cobra waxed floors.
Run towards her
And not scamper to my room,
to avoid her incessant stories
About the women at the marketplace
For no song trumped the rhythm of her traipsing,
and airy, wishful gait.
If I had a mother
I would rub her weary flesh after a blistering day at the market.
Really take the time to pop her blisters.
Observe every crack of her heels,
Pour soothing oil on her bruised knuckles.
And iron the creases on her forehead,
Until what’s left is nothing but cackles.
If I had a mother
I would swallow her insipid grits.
And gobble her dull collard greens.
Munch every crumb of her greasy buns
For every serving was a testament to steadfast love
If I had a mother
I would gaze into her glassy eyes
Trace the contours of her jaw
Really understand the arch of her mouth.
And every smile behind her tears,
For that is the shrine in which she interred her story and mine.
If I had a mother
I would not wail so loud,
The birds would scramble from their trees.
I would not bear testimony,
To the adulation of my kindred and strangers alike
Instead, I would take the time.
Really take the time.
Because life, as we've learned, is all but fleeting.
Thursday, 31 December 2020
I'm thinking of that fateful day in May, when the world watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The incident, referred by some as a modern-day lynching, came to light when a witness posted the horrific scene on social media. Within hours, a widespread furore had spread across the world.
I recall George's dying words, 'I can't breathe'.
'I can't breathe later became the Black Lives Matter movement slogan as they took to the streets to protest across the United States of America and indeed, the world.
Here, in the United Kingdom, people of every race, colour, creed, also took to the streets in solidarity of the cause.
'I am sick and tired of being sick and tired', I tweeted as anger rippled through me.
I could not; still cannot fathom how another human being could do that to another.
For me, it is not just the Africa in African American I could not ignore, but the victim could have easily have been a black man I know and love.
As the events unfolded, I gravitated towards historical documentaries. I lived and breathed the civil rights movements, the emancipation of slaves and notable figures such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr and the others. I learnt more about history in the space of two weeks than I did during my days in school - I wanted to understand.
Regrettably, the world is an unjust place.
If only humanity could grasp that you cannot purposely sow seeds of hatred and create an enemy and expect to live in perfect peace. Things do not work that way.
I'm thinking of the rage.
The solidarity I witnessed among people of all races, colour and creed gives me hope. Hope that racism will, one day, lose its traction and become a thing of the past.
Without a doubt, 2020 gave me something upon which to ponder.
Amidst the gloom, and with no sunny beaches to escape to, I was forced to confront myself and look to the little things for joy and comfort.
Fleeting moments that, due to the hustle and bustle of life, often go unnoticed.
With no plans to travel, visit friends or go to the cinema, I could sit still at the end of my working week and take stock, reflecting as I dig deep into my deepest fears, desires, hopes and dreams.
I learnt to delight in minor pleasures - going for a stroll in my neighbourhood ad exercising within my four walls' confines.
Who would have thought the day would come when I got to drive to work in the absence of the dreaded rush-hour traffic?
With each day that God allows me to breathe, I affirm what really matters and fill my heart with gratitude.
Each day has been about gratitude. With each day that God allows me to breathe, I affirm what really matters and fill my heart with gratitude. Appreciation for another dawn, another saved life, another chance to try.
2020 has been a year of virtual dates. The year I saw a boy band perform in perfect harmony online in different parts of the world.
It's incredible what we could unlock through technology. Where would we be without Zoom, WhatsApp, Teams and various social media channels?
Lockdown gave me the gift of spending more time with my daughter.
If, like me, you were fortunate enough to spend Christmas in the bosom of your family, then you will know what a blessing that was.
The discovery of vaccines has brought us hope. It is too soon to tell what the future holds, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Here's to a hopeful New Year, 2021!
It is stunning how twelve months can flash by in an uneventful second. 2020 not that uneventful. It has been a year of mixed emotions for me. I have smiled, laughed, cried and felt absolute rage.
Being able to sit still, reflecting on the significant moments, good, bad, big or subtle, is always good for the soul. For it is during these contemplative minutes that I can assimilate all my encounters. Encounters which, as I move through this life, shape and define who I become.
Gratitude washes over me as I prepare to hail the new year on this crisp, winter day: I am alive and well, and so are my loved ones. Need I say more?
I had hoped by the time I pen this blog, 'rona' would have relented. Unfortunately, our invisible enemy still rages.
The disease has me ruminating over the moment when, as a frontline healthcare professional, it dawned on me, that I had to don my PPE kit and get on with it.
As nurses, we are trained to handle medical emergencies. This was a medical emergency like no other. The shift was sudden, and the fear of the unknown had my stomach, churning.
But COVID 19 had declared war on the population, and there was a job to be done. I was not being punished but merely assuming my position.
I recall the dragon ride and some of my colleagues' sentiments: 'The first morning, I had the shits. Went four times and in the end, I had to tell myself come on now. It was hard to sleep. I kept waking up and looking at the time. I felt like a corona animal,' one of them said.
I burst out laughing. Not funny. Not funny at all.
'But it was alright,' he continued. 'It's not all doom and gloom; many patients recover.'
Another felt embarrassed at first because 'I was thrown into the fire, and wasn't sure what I was doing. Also, it's a new environment, new people, everything is strange. But I always wish the patient to improve and hope my hands do something for them.'
'When I think about a shift that's going to happen tomorrow, I'm drained of energy. It's not about the work; I can work like a buffalo. It's the environment. But when I look around, I feel like I'm not alone. Everybody is there, and it's not like I'm working 24 hours,' said another.
For the doctors and nurses, and other healthcare professionals, it was an emotional rollercoaster. Still, we had an understanding: the job at hand was bigger than our trepidation.
I'm outraged by the conspiracy theories on social media. The preposterous assertion that COVID 19 is a hoax.
I hope you never have to live through the nightmare of not being able to hug or kiss your loved one (s) goodbye or attend their burial.
Your thoughtlessness is an insult to those who stood by the roadside to clap and salute departed colleagues as they took their final journey. Oh, the rage!
My heart swells with pride as I reflect on the courage with which we coped with our new reality. In addition to our undeterred spirit, the show of gratitude and constant reminders of our good deeds propelled us.
'I never want to see another pizza again. There is food everywhere,' a colleague quipped. I had never seen so many presents in my life.
The #clapforthenhs soon became a ritual. All done as a way of saying, 'thank you.'
The occasional I-don't-eat-the-clapping-I-will-still-have-peanuts-in-my-bank account outburst could be heard in the hallway. (Human beings got needs, I suppose.)
'Still, it's nice That they are doing that. It's not always about money,' said the voice of reason.
I'm reflecting, how in our workplace, messages of hope and goodwill poured, via social media and the intranet. How as colleagues, we cheered and praised one another more than we had ever done before. It was this sense of camaraderie that nourished our courage and determination.
I would have wanted my COVID reflection to be a thing of the past, but alas, this enemy won't yield. Still, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are being rolled out to the population, and something tells we will soon breathe a sigh of relief.
Soon, we will be able to make plans, travel and reunite with our loved ones. Soon, we won't have to live in constant fear. Soon, we will tell the story of how we overcame.
Without hope, what else is there?!
Wednesday, 7 October 2020
What a ride 2020 has been, and we still got a few more weeks to go yet!
I hope you have all been keeping safe. To those who have lost loved ones to ongoing pandemic, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. As a nurse, I have seen the amount of suffering first-hand, and all I can say is, 'This too shall pass.' Let us remain strong and hopeful, doing the best we can to keep ourselves, our loved ones and fellow men safe.
I know it has been a minute since I updated this blog. But I have not been sitting on my laurels.
As you all know, I am a nurse, which means COVID-19 has kept me, the other first responders and all those on the frontline, busy. During the first peak, I did not have much headspace to write but picked up again once things got settled, if that is even a thing, considering the current status.
Since my last blog entry, I have been able to pen the first draft of a romance (fiction) manuscript and am currently editing it. And I have to say that I am feeling excited about this project. Not only have I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, but I have also been able to discover things about myself during the process. Writing, after all, is a way of self exploring. Many a great love stories have been written, and with lots of similar themes, but what makes writing special is that there are stories that only YOU can write. To me, the project is exactly what the doctor ordered.
When will it be published? I do not yet know. You cannot rush a work of art, right? But keep an eye out. An announcement may be coming sooner than we think!
Meanwhile, keep reading. Keep writing. Stay safe. COVID-19 is still very much with us.
Come back soon!
Sunday, 19 April 2020
I remember a time when I could
not get enough of disaster movies. Watching the world on the verge of utter
destruction, due to an unknown disease or nuclear attack, and watching someone
race against time to save humanity gave me quite an adrenaline rush. And never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself playing a role in such a 'movie'.
Aboard Kenya Airways
|Aboard Kenya Airways|
Coronavirus is real. It is happening, and lives are perishing before our very eyes.
I remember the moment the fireworks tore the atmosphere, ushering me into the year, 2020. New year. New me. Great decade.
|New year. New me. Great decade - yeah right!|
I had already mapped out my plans, starting with my travel bucket list - Spain, Italy and Greece, but not in that order. But when an advert popped up showing cheap flying deals to South Africa as I was browsing the internet, I ditched the Europe plans and immediately booked a flight to Johannesburg. You see, it is not very often that I get to travel to Africa for half the usual price for the time of the year. Perhaps I just missed my family.
|Corona under the microscope|
|Tools to fight coronavirus|
|On the way to the airport|
|The mask felt uncomfortable to wear|
During transit, the sight of passengers wrapping scarfs around their mouths and noses and donning all kinds of masks, the empty seats between passengers, the lack of casual conversation, the intermittent coronavirus announcements via the intercom and the temperature checks offered a constant reminder that the world was under attack. Who would have thought that the day would come when flight attendants would greet passengers while hiding their smiles behind masks? But it was happening right in front of my eyes.
|I guess you could say I had plenty of legroom|
And yet, despite, all the beauty and splendour, I was overshadowed by a sense of dread.
The United Kingdom had just become a hot spot for Corona Virus, and there I was, a frontline NHS nurse making this journey to Africa, a continent not yet crippled by the virus at that time. What if I was carrying the virus to infect my family? What if someone on the flight gave it to me? What was the use of wrecking my brain with worry? If this nasty disease were going to get me, it would no matter what.
There is something about Africa that makes me want to
sit on a rock,
the mbira, a musical instrument which is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe,
strike a conversation with a stranger, a beggar by the roadside,
or buy a special gift
|If you know, you know|