MARRIAGE AND FAMILY (Is it really a lost cause?)

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“Even the ugly things become beautiful with time.”
                                                                              -Anon

I also begin this blog post with a disclaimer. Those who have read my other piece on marriage
where I raised questions on the institution (If you haven’t yet read it make sure you do), you
probably remember where my inspiration came from. Hold up!! Not that I am going to write
another piece from exactly the same source. This time I got my inspiration amid giggles and
laughter. I had the opportunity to finish the comedy series Blackish. If such Tv series are your
thing then you probably know how much laughter was involved (And don’t even get me started
on how many times I had to hit the pause and backward button).

It is a series that follows the day to day life of a black family. The Johnson family. The humor
arises from their daily interactions with each other and with their environment. At the end of the
film it left a positive impression on me.

One scene stood out. Taught me a lesson on life. This scene where the grandfather was narrating
to his grandchildren the history of their family tree. He was painting this picture of their great
grandparents as having been sort of pioneers and heroes in their respective fields back in the day
(Funny how it always seems to be like that?). Interesting part was when anyone attempted to cast
doubt on his story. He would first question them on who the storyteller was. Then in a rare twist
of things he would almost immediately introduce a character who resembled and fit the bill of a
liking of the doubter. And just like that they would suddenly be okay with the story and allow
him to carry on.

The road of life is full of twists and turns. Along the ways you are bound to encounter such kinds
of people. They may necessarily not believe in your dreams but could be simply that they don’t
like the story of your life. Instead of putting up resistance do what the grandfather did. Merely
give them a role in your life that spices up your life and that fits their bill of the things the love
doing. Problem solved. (Pardon me there. I digress, got a little carried away).

The family is under attack. Take a look at the statistics. The divorce rates have hit the ceiling.
Today there is even research into the ages we should specifically get married or otherwise it
spells doom for your marriage (Not that I am trashing such research).

The factors that affect marriage and family are also on the rise. Have you watched the news
lately? The world economic outlook is anything but gloom. What with the oil prices falling?
Some professionals are even predicting that we might be headed for a recession. Today we are
experiencing inflation and tomorrow we will be in a deflation (These cycles?). In the financial
circles they currently have this bad joke where they are claiming that currently there is blood in
the streets and it’s the best time to get into the market (The sheer irony). Then there are careers. We all are involved in one. And aren’t we all struggling to get to the peaks of our careers? At the
end of the day there is no money to sustain a family and no time left to first get into and second
work on that marriage.

The script of the film is not perfect. The creators did not go out on a limb to create a picture of
the perfect family. Far from it. They portrayed a normal family with their both good and bad
days. They laughed on their good days and cried on their bad days. The parents constantly
through dealing with their kids realized that parenting is not something that comes with a how to
manual. And they also realized that each one of their kids had their own special qualities. They
also came to see that their marriage was far from perfect. They also discovered that it takes a lot more than just the love they had for each to keep their thing going. It would take for them to have commitment in their marriage and their family. Marriage is not a bed of roses. How
many times have we heard that statement? (I guess not enough times).

We all naturally want perfection. The perfect husband. The perfect wife. The perfect kids. But
the imperfection of the family in the movie is eye opening to say the least. Instead of working
with what we have at our disposal we sit around waiting for the eureka moment when we will
find perfection. It will never happen. Take the imperfections and work with them through the
tears and laughter and make them your kind of perfect family.

As the first season was coming to a close, amid the laughter, not even sure whether I was still
thinking straight anymore I could not help wondering. Would I want to have my own family like
that one? Probably yes. Not because of anything else but the mere realization that one of the
most fundamental parts that keeps a family together is learning to work with the good and the
bad. The things that go on in the family if nothing else are supposed to reinforce the bottom line
which is the importance of a family.

What kind of family do you want?

DEADLINE (Would you kill?)

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‘You have to pull the plug,’ the look on his face was of  distraught.

‘But honey…,’ her words were lost as she struggled to hold back the tears. She lightly squeezed his frail hand. ‘The doctor said…’

‘The doctor already gave me a deadline,’ he said interrupting her. ‘Please end my agony,’ he said. A tear streamed down his cheek.

‘I just…’

                                      * * *
‘Kyle you have to go get her number,’ Peter said tapping his friend on the shoulder.

They were chilling on the balcony of hall 8 at the University of Nairobi. It was a boring Tuesday afternoon. Their classes had bounced. It was hot. The temperature had skyrocketed and they were doing their best to catch a breeze.

‘What have I got to gain?’ Kyle asked.

‘You have nothing to lose. Besides, she is a lone wolf and if you do get her number you get bragging rights,’ Peter said shoving his friend forward.

‘She had better not be a false alarm,’ Kyle said pointing at his friend as he ran down the stairs.

                                        * * *
‘Hey! Wait up,’ the voice from behind startled Sheila.

For a second she considered feigning ignorance. She was from a lecture. Her mind was fixated on getting to hall 5, straight to bed. She turned around.

‘I have been running after you for the past kilometer or more,’ said this boy panting.

‘He is faking. But he is cute,’ she was thinking to herself. She watched his lips move too distracted to make up what he was saying.

‘So can I get your number?’ he asked.

I didn’t even get his name. The thought surprised her. Did he even ask for my name. Or have I forgotten telling it to him. Already. Stop focusing on how good looking he is.

‘0…7…2…,’ she said.

Should I lie to him. What have I got to lose. Is there anything to be afraid of. If I give in, what will he think of me. Will he think I am too easy. The thoughts were fleeting. She had to make up her mind. Fast.

He had stopped midway. He was now looking straight at her. The look of expectancy written all over his face.  He was waiting on her.

                                       * * *
‘What is forever?’ Kyle asked.

‘What kind of a question is that?’ Sheila answered with the question. The feeling of irritation creeping up inside her.

‘It’s a simple question,’ he protested.

She eyed him suspiciously. Considering whether to answer his question. She thought against it. She turned to watch the sunset. The trees were swinging in the evening wind. The view was serene.

He was  a new graduate with an engineering degree. She had graduated with a degree in economics a year earlier. They were still together. Years had gone by. Feelings had grown. Love had blossomed. Cliche.

They were seated at the balcony of their rented one bedroom apartment. They had a whole lifetime ahead of them. Dreams yet to be fulfilled. It felt like it was them against the world.

It had been a good day. She was in no mood for a fight.

‘Would you consider being my bride?’ the question was unexpected.

It hit a chord. The tears flowed. Some details after that moment were still hazy.

                                        * * *
‘The results came back positive,’ the doctor said casually.

A ringing in his ear. Fear. Uncertainty. ‘What does that mean doctor?’ Kyle managed to ask.

‘After a series of tests it has been confirmed that you have leukaemia,’the doctor said scribbling something on his a piece of paper on his desk.

‘Is it bad?’ Kyle asked.

‘Unfortunately it is chronic,’ the doctor said.

The world shattered before his eyes. They were just newly wed. It had only been a little over a year since she had accepted his proposal.

The symptoms had only appeared a few months back. He had started feeling fatigued from time to time. He brushed it off as being due to the pressures of his job. Then he got a fever that refused to go away.

Sheila had insisted that he sees a doctor. Here he was. His world crumbling all around him. How will she react to this. Will it devastate her. Will I survive this cancer. The thoughts came flooding in. They only added on to the feeling of hopelessness that had taken over him.

‘We should start chemotherapy as soon as possible…,’ the doctor was saying. He was too distracted to get anything that the doctor was saying.

                                       * * *
‘I just can’t,’ she pleaded.

Six months had passed. The chemotherapy did not help much. He had slowly wasted away. Now what was left was only a shell of his former self. The doctors had said he did not have much time left.

‘Do you love me?’ he asked. He struggled to sit up from his hospital bed. He had no energy left. He soon gave up and fell back on the bed.

‘You know I do,’ Sheila said. She was now trembling. Her tears flowed. Her sobs were now uncontrollable.

‘Don’t make me do it,’ she was pleading. She placed her head on his bony chest trying to feel his heartbeat.

‘Do it for us,’ he said lightly stroking her hair.

‘For us or for you?’ she asked. She did not get up. His heart was beating faintly. It seemed to also be giving up. ‘Please don’t give up on me.’

‘Please…,’ he implored.

She slowly got up. She placed a trembling finger on the switch of the life support machine. He squeezed her other hand.

She closed her eyes as she heard the click of the switch.

TIME FRAME…(how far are you willing to go?)

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Saturday, February 20, 2016, at 4:09 pm.
‘Are you James Peters?’
The husky voice shook him from his reverie. He looked up from his desk. These two huge guys were there hovering like vultures over a wounded lion. He suddenly felt  boxed in.

5:25 am.
‘Please spare me,’ he pleaded.
James was kneeling down on the cold hard pavement. The muzzle of the gun was pressed hard against his temple.

It was dark. He tried to make out the face of his attacker but all he could see was that he was in jeans.

How he got himself in such a predicament was still a mystery. He tried to move. It was futile. He was numb all over and it was like he was glued there on the ground. His heart was on overdrive. Fear gripped him. Damn. Shit happens.

5:30 am.
A sharp ring.
A flash of bright white light. ‘Don’t walk into the light,’ that little voice in his head warned him.
‘Am I dead?’ he asked himself trying to catch his breath. It was like he was being choked. He gasped for air.
That sharp ring again.
He jolted out of that nightmare in time to catch the ending of the second ring of his alarm. He was drenched in sweat. His chest heavy. He felt like he had just crossed the finish line of a marathon.
‘These damn dreams,’ he said throwing his hands towards the ceiling.

12 noon.
This was one of those slow days. Time seems to be just crawling by. It seemed like he had been at the office for centuries now.

He fidgeted with his pen. Being in the tropics at this time of the year was like being in an oven. The temperatures had soared. The inefficient air conditioning only made things worse. How he wished for winter at such moments.

He adjusted his tie lower. Unbuttoning the his shirt. He had hung his coat a few hours back. The sweating had not stopped. The boredom was getting worse.

He was getting hungry now. He should have accepted that offer for breakfast. Poor decisions.

5:35 am.
Lying face up he stared blankly at the ceiling. His one bedroom apartment was modest for a bachelor. The neighborhood in Mwiki, Kasarani was nothing affluent. But what else was expected of a guy on his first gig as a P.A.

The house needs new furniture. A television would go a long way in providing some entertainment. The warmth of woman would also be welcome. Home cooked meals probably. Thoughts racing through his mind.

He slowly dragged himself out of bed. Another day in the endless rat race.

6:55 am.
‘Boss, ongeza pesa,’ the tout was arguing with an old man.

‘Kwani si ulisema gari ni fifty?’ the old man asked.

‘Zae gari ni seventy,’ the tout answered.

The old man was seated a few seats in front of him. The white hair on his head was clearly visible from where he was seated. He chose to ignore the ensuing scuffle. He looked outside his window.

‘Mshukishe gari kama hana pesa,’ some of the passengers shouted angrily.

The traffic jam was building. The pace the bus was snaking through the jam getting slower with each inch.

‘What is wrong with our society today?’ He could not help but wonder remembering the old man. ‘Are we all just too individualistic?’ ‘Effects of capitalism, for sure.’ Man eat man society. ‘Or did that guy think his age would allow him to get away with it?’

The hooting of a car and the sudden stop of the bus took him back to the activities outside. The number of cars had built up. It was now a snail pace forward.

They had said that this Thika Superhighway would ease up traffic snarl ups. It was hard to really tell if things were any better now. ‘Fuck bureaucracy,’ he said in a murmur.

2:00 pm.
‘Are you done with the paperwork?’ His boss asked a little agitated.

‘No sir,’ he answered.

‘Hope you have not forgotten that the deadline is this coming monday,’ his boss said.

‘I am well aware of it,’ James replied.

‘I would really love if you made it a priority,’ his boss said. He made a hand gesture to signal he was dismissed.

‘Should I do it or not? What if we get caught?’ He asked himself as he headed back to his desk.

10:30 am.
‘Would you like anything for breakfast?’ Sheila asked from across the office.

‘No, I am fine, thank you,’ he answered looking up from the paperwork he was sifting through.

‘Okay, fine’ she said walking out.

He stared at her behind. ‘I should hit that sometime,’ he could not help but think. No set time frame.

4.10 pm.
He sized them up for a brief moment.

‘Yes I am. Who would like to know,’ he answered.

‘We are officers from the anti-fraud unit. We would like to ask you some questions. Please come with us,’ one of them said, flashing his badge.

Tension.

HEARTBREAKS (To those we have lost)

“When I’m gone just carry on don’t mourn just rejoice”
                                                                              -Eminem.

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‘From dust we came to dust we…,’ those words have stuck with Chloe all these years. The sound the casket made still echoes in her head as the first handful of soil landed on it. These thoughts caused a searing pain that tore through her very existence. That day was many years ago when she bid farewell to the mother she never came to know.

Today, she holds on to snippets of memory of the woman life robbed her of. She had come to paint her own picture of the mother she would have wanted. She imagined she would have been the most caring and loving woman. On other instances she pictured her with superhuman abilities.

Staring at her picture, she smiles. It is the only one she has left. A black and white picture of her seated down. ‘I have her smile,’ she cannot help but think that. She places it on her chest, closing her eyes and breathing in softly. She savors the moment.

Deep down she found it hard to fight this nagging feelings and thoughts. ‘Who would she be?’ ‘How would she look like?’ ‘Would she still love me the same?’  ‘Would she be proud of the woman I have turned out to be?’ ‘Would she approve of the things I have done?’ These ceaseless thoughts just refused to go away.

‘Till we meet again,’ she said in a murmur. A single teardrop fell from her jawbone to be forever lost.

HALL OF FAME (My exclusive list)

‘I got mad flow…so don’t mess wit me…my rhyme skills are sicker than the flu,’ (‘You seriously think that would sell?’ he inquires.
‘Why not? Isn’t that the kind of stuff every top rapper is spitting these days,’ he fires back with a sneer.
‘Oh! Please, could you just go back to telling stories,’ the earlier answers back with contempt.) That is the conversation in my head after listening to a rap mix. I start getting crazy thoughts that I could also come up with rhyme schemes and make hits. Wishes! (Eye roll). Maybe end up on the hall of fame alongside the greats?

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According to the Wikipedia, a hall of fame is a list of individuals who are considered to be outstanding (illustrious) in a particular field or sport. Simply put its a list of names of those through their deeds even impact some change.

Today, I am also going to compile my own personal hall of fame (as a precursor before my name ends up on one). I’ll call it The Neophyte Hall of Fame.

Before you get ahead of yourself and submit your name to feature on my hall of fame (Hold up!!). There is a twist. My list is going to be one of a kind. After much consideration and some soul searching (and I even came across skeletons in my own closet that also scared me personally). I came up with a list. What or Who is on that list? (Frowns).

I recently got inspiration from one of Drake’s song ( Do I personally think he is one the best? Of course ). In one of his lines he says, ‘scream out my failures, whisper my accomplishments.’ Hope by now you getting the drill? I did an audit of my supposed successes and failures thus far.
My failures actually topped the final draft I came up with. Why? You may ask.

That opportunity that I let slip by. That endeavor that I failed at. That project that I never started or gave up midway. That relationship that did not work out because of a myriad of reasons. And the list goes on. The above constitute my alleged failures. My successes only do so much as stroke my ego and make me sloppy by filling my head with thoughts of owing the world. On the other hand my failures leave a bruised ego and alongside that a lesson to take with me. Important lessons of what or what not to do the next time around. This holy grail is the reason why my failures feature prominently in my hall of fame.

What would your hall of fame include?

VALENTINE SPECIAL

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It’s that time of the year again. Aaarrgghhh!!!. Love is in the air. The ladies are ecstatic and full of expectations. The men are torn. So much hanging on the balance. Make or break situations. It is so easy to drop the ball when you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

But why would ladies wait a whole year just for a single day to be treated special. Why not just demand every day of the year to be a Valentine? ( beats me).

Gifts and flowers will be bought all throughout this week. Girls dreams will come true. They will feel like queens and princesses. Ever thought about the flip side? Handkerchiefs will also be bought in equal measure. The number of broken hearts is also on the rise. It must be hard to try and love yourself that one day of the year when the love is supposed to come from someone else.

There are also the renegades. They have denounced the day as being of no significance to them. Either from being single too long or from their waned belief in love. They vow it’s better to spend the day alone compared to being  snuggled in another’s arms.

Take a moment to leave a comment wishing everyone a good one.

Happy Valentine.

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