A Place of Broken Beauty [Part I]

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Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.      

Confucius

In that moment, he only saw his reflection shrink into nothingness. How at first everything seemed so small while she had been part of his life. Now the very tiniest part of his soul felt big. Big in a small way. Big but empty. He might have carried this idea in his mind, that despite what they had both been through; suffice it to say the least, they would be room for another chance. Even in the disgrace of a broken relationship, stitched a thousand times, now beyond repair. Ashira was not in position to let go. 

I eyed him with disapproval at first. Amidst whatever it was that makes one hurt another, consequently, throwing all caution to the wind. I wondered how he would even lock eyes with Aisha and tell her he loved her. Deep down I knew it was possible to love again, but just how possible is it , to love the main source of your pain? Something about  broken love and trust makes people shudder at its breath , a force that pulls away the depths of your flesh, and exhales the maturity you have known; the 20 years you have been in the face of this universe. 

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Take this perspective. 

Admission day. College. HEAVY STAMP. Admitted into one of the high end universities in Kenya after hammering straight As in the University entry examination. BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (PHARMACY). You are from a staunch religious background, and in fact the village has bestowed upon you the trust of propelling its flag of progress. 

Progress for future prosperity and posterity. It doesn’t even scare your strict father that his son is going to inhale the mixed lifestyle of the city; and get adopted into ratchet gangs. Nothing could go wrong. Not if religious elders at your local church did not show up for a prayer session, lay hands on their son and command the gods. Command the gods and feel good. 

Because that’s what loving fathers do for their sons. 

Anyway.

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It’s funny how college life consumes people and what could be punctuated into an innocent tale; takes a narrow winding into the murky depths of influence. So for a few days, you are hesitant. Hesitant to talk or exchange contact with anyone. Hesitant because for the better part of the hiatus you took, after completing your high school, to your admission day; your village prepared you in advance. Those that came before you were not selfish to point out that peer pressure is the death of a village boy. Sorry.

Any boy. Any girl.

So this very word makes you tremble, despite the fact that you’re sure – nothing could shake you. Not ram, not Opium. Nothing. Not even the night birds singing out in the dark. 

But you have a roommate. Of course , a room mate, the party of your life. Nothing you’ve ever wanted in such a mongrel and you wonder how in the world you ended up being roommates. It only takes you two weeks of suffering exiles, suffocating in the cold of sacrificing for your ragged room mate; so that he can lay down any girl that lands prey of his seduction. Worse, the seniors keep stressing the story of one Moldova Kifulusi – the son of a popular pastor that ended up selling local liquor; in one of the corridor shacks within weeks of admission into campus. 

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In fact, you don’t even understand how love functions because you’ve never fell in love. Probably, somewhere in your high school days; you might have seen a girl and liked her. Sadly, it never occurred to you making a move because for 20 years your staunch father has warned you against being too close with girls. A good son listens to his father, right? However, somewhere along the way, the magnetic lifestyle of your roommate gets into you. He doesn’t say a word. Not a word of influence. In fact, he calls you ‘deity’ ; when in good moods, perhaps when he hasn’t heartbroken one of his many girlfriends, he calls you ‘high priest.’ A good roommate would never stash his roomy into careless lifestyles, because he needs him to be there when the carelessness runs out of hand. Right. For instance, when an assignment deadline is closing in and you might need a hand from the ‘high priest’.  

But the high priest craves attention. The village boy sees beautiful girls and he notices them. Even as he suffers disappointment at the sight of his friends boasting about the women they have laid; he doesn’t stop wondering why in the world will these good-for-nothing brats not boast about their grades. Didn’t he score a clean 28 out of 30 in the Biochemistry CAT? None of them feels good or bad for their grades.

Grades are just there, like the wind, to compliment the sun or the rain. But the girls, the women, opposite sex forms the basis of their life. It’s their beer. 

Such was Ashira’s life in his pursuit for high education. By the end of the third week, he’d attended three birthday parties, one sex party and a lavish visit to BAT 44, a stripper’s club in Westlands. Occasionally, his room mate Misheni would pull him and few others to the epicentre of it all, Juja or Thika. They would smoke opium and sometimes drink their lives away. Assignments and missed CATS piled up the table, missed classes plus mixed examinations, nothing could bail them out of the mound of dirt they had put themselves; From the look of things, there was no going back for Ashira. 

Deity turned hombre. A catchy headline to say the least. 

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However, it is while walking beneath the shadows of his careless infection , that he met another one like him. An adorable calf, with the eyes of the moon. A flower that shines, while it blooms. A beautiful cherry that went by the name, Aisha. While he’d consumed all his hope as the once adorable son of his father, he now mashed up his hopes on this one girl. He wanted to impress her. And because the goon in him had turned romantic, and there is something about hooligans that makes good girls  fall for them; she fell for his charm. Just like Ashira, Aisha had never tasted love. They were both Asian calves dropped in the middle of an African nowhere. And for the life of them, a path would just curve itself and hopefully the world would not fall above their love. 

Another perspective. 

At this point of time. The village boy in you has been washed away by life in the city. A once standing ovation has been inhaled into an emotionally unavailable rehab. You can’t fight for your education and its the kind of pursuit  that has been your heart. But the city knows no heart. Campus life reaps apart your sanity. Father calls, everything is alright, the going is tight but am still trying. Father sends shots through M-pesa. Mother prays for you and you keep telling your friends how with your mom’s prayers ; not even Juju  can stand in your way. Your mother loves you. Your parents love you and they are playing their part. They are not absent parents. 

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But you don’t love them. If you loved them, you’d actually listen and abide by your father’s hundreds of pieces of advice; Advice that only ends with you saying, am good dad, I’m now grown and can take good care of myself. Sadly, you Chose friends over family, your drinking mates over books and somewhere this deeply explicit life gladly chooses you. It finds a home in you and you become the life of the party. The life of your friends, you become their hero. 

A little difference to this perspective however, is you have found love at last. She gives you goosebumps and her charm manages to keep the African man in you – at bay. You don’t choose another one. You are loyal to death. You would rather die than watch yourself cheat the relationship. It’s not bondage, you say. Its love and love is meant to be for two. Not three. Not four. No third parties. You and her. Aisha and Ashira.

By the sixth month of being in a relationship, Ashira and Aisha had lost count of the times they had slept together. What good is a relationship without ‘Lungula.’ An affair without sex is just like a ship without a captain. Both of them were 19 years and for those six months had stripped each other’s virginity to the core. Then star ships began to shoot their way into the affair. A moment in time for every relationship, where partners deem sacrifices worth to save a sinking ship. You become strangers, fighters and deadly lovers. She becomes your worst mistake and you become her pain in the ass. It’s life. 

Within no time, Aisha began to notice the imperfections. However, slight they seemed, she borrowed a magnifying glass from the depths of her soul and sunk into a hard to impress queen. 

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She had seen Ashira and what he was capable of. He wasn’t someone she was ready to stake her life with. Although Ashira did almost anything to his abilities to prove his love and trust to Aisha. There was nothing. Nothing beyond a one night stand leading to another. Nothing beyond daily parties, sex and times spent behind smoking and drinking dens. No future. No plans. No progress. What kind of life was that ? Boring, right? Not really. 

It wasn’t boring, only that Aisha had realized earlier on that they were in a sinking ship. A looming fall. But she didn’t know how to say it, but one thing kept coming back to her mind. Her mother’s words, ‘in any situation, put yourself and your own first.’ Above all, she did not feel the thrill of being with someone she knew in and out. Aisha craved the chase and she was surely going to find it. Bathing in momentarily  thoughts, and fumes of finding herself; and finding more love than what was at the table; Aisha decided to break her silence that night.

*****************Watch this space for the next and final part, Part II******************

I haven’t been posting for quite a while, its been two weeks and I’m really sorry to my readers. I have no excuse, Its not pure writers block since I have been pursuing other writing projects. I won’t provide a lame excuse – Just know it won’t happen again.

The above piece, I will admit diverts away from my normal writing style – its a long form flash fiction, which I rimmed down into two parts, to fit a word count that favours my Friday readers.

 

10 Effective Ways of Overcoming Guilt and How to Forgive Yourself

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The tragedy of Macbeth tells the story of a Scottish General. Thane of Glamis. After a prophecy by three witches that he will one day be King. Thanes Kills the King and takes over to be  King of Scotland. Events that follow throughout the plot of Shakespeare’s masterpiece document the role of guilt in Thane’s subsequent actions. His murderous act haunts him throughout the play. The remorse, paranoia and regret of his blood stained hands stand in his way of enjoying his ill-fated kingship. 

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Guilt is neither simple nor nice. In fact, there is no easy way to escape the haunting of guilt. But like so many other emotional responses, guilt also possess healthy psychological developments. However, the overarching finality when it comes to remorse; is to take action or suffer in silence.

The best action to take in such occasions is accept the transgression and seek forgiveness. Until then will you have the ability to cleanse your wrongdoing and forgive yourself. Perhaps in his portrayal of guilt in Macbeth, Shakespeare attempts to suggest that no matter how hard we try to hide the remorse of our wrongdoings – the effects are only ill-fated.

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Macbeth premiering  at the Edinburgh International Festival

Nevertheless, Lady Macbeth who is the major driving force behind Macbeth’s murderous plot tries to convince him that;- although the implications of their bloody action might not be hidden the blood can easily be washed away. The following lines reveal Macbeth’s desperate plea to escape his sense of guilt with a grand dramaturgy that implies his action will forever make him a changed man. 

‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather’

There are many reasons why we feel guilty. The fear that we are not living up to our standards and the expectations of society is also a possible cause of guilt. An instance of wrongdoing might not necessarily grant guilt and remorse. Additionally,  guilt might be psychological discomfort against actions we have no control of. Your daughter might feel guilty that she took music in college while you wanted her to become an aeronaut. My friend feels guilty because they broke up with his girlfriend. Sarah felt guilty because she had made no effort to tell her deceased granny how much she loved her.[Read the story of Sarah on what makes us feel guilty].

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From my perspective, I find my friend’s sense of guilt to be rather than a failure to live up to his values but as a lack of connection; that had once been nurtured between him and his girlfriend. After the break-up, the effect of loss plus the regrets that had he treated her better; often than not remain to be the fuel of guilt.

The sudden loss of a loved one might  not necessarily create remorse. In fact, according to a 2018 statistics about Post heartbreak pain, the feeling of unworthiness to connection creates shame – which eventually if not acted upon causes guilt.

To act upon such emotional responses demands of us to understand the related case of our guilt. The following are different cases of guilt. I compiled the entire list from Goodtherapy.org. 

Chronic Guilt

Occasionally, chronic guilt is attached to resentment and anger. It is the guilt we feel once we can’t reach to what is not available to us. For instance someone we love, or something we desperately want, maybe a job. The damned dream of a distraught child trying to reach out to their dream only to realize its futile.

Between ages 17-18 I myself suffered from the resentment of a strict upbringing. The conditions I had set myself for life didn’t seem to tick. While I chased my dreams, it felt painfully valueless to live in the face of disappointment after disappointment.   

Post Assault/abuse/trauma linked Guilt

A meta analysis by the BBC reveals that 60% of women or girls, aged 14 years and above; and who had obtained non consensual sex through threat, incapacitation or force, did not immediately acknowledge that they had been raped. Surprisingly, these numbers collected from upto 28 studies reveal a shocking reality of the major reason why most cases of sexual assault are not reported right away.

The varying debate in the subconscious part of the victim is whether they might have contributed to their victimization. Often, people with a post assault guilt will find it difficult to accept that their fate wasn’t their fault. You might deem it worth to fact check the essay on why most rape victims never acknowledge what happened.

Meanwhile, Trauma therapy could be important in assisting a post assault victim in re-framing the event; and help them understand that they were not worth of the action and did nothing wrong to contribute to the case of assault. 

Mistake/Choice Linked Guilt

This type of guilt is linked to empathy or admittance of a wrongdoing. It is the only type of guilt attached to some level of positive psychological development. Admittance of a wrong will probably prompt a person to be sensitive of their later choices. However, one’s morality and their sense of guilt are the only attribute that will balance the positivity of later choices.

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Macbeth’s guilt is so strong that it engulfed his daily doings. Nevertheless, the guilt does not prevent him from carrying out another murderous act. The killing of Banquo. Macbeth murders Banquo so as to hide his secret- of killing King Duncan. Therefore, it seems the detachment of morality from guilt might be the root of more insensitive actions – hence resulting to more guilt-causing actions. 

Mental Health Linked Guilt

Implications of mental health complications may take the form of withdrawal, suicidal behavior, avoidance, attacking and violent mannerisms.  This usually affects how a person relates with other people, especially those close to them.

Helen couldn’t help feeling guilty after noticing how her state of depression was affecting those around her.

This will probably affect the love they have forged for themselves; and only counselling can easily get them back on fit.  

10 Ways to Overcome Guilt 

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To prevent your productivity becoming completely thrown out of balance. I have dug the surface of guilt and depression linked remorse to provide you 10 tips on how to overcome guilt. 

  1. Understand the purpose and the cause of the guilt. Identify whether the kind of guilt your are experiencing is unproductive. Remind yourself that there’s no need of being overly critical. 
  2. Journal about your feelings. Courtney Ackerman in ‘Using Pen and Paper to enhance Personal Growth’ tells about the therapeutic nature of writing. The writer claims that expressive writing has significant healing benefits to trauma victims. Writing therapy is a form of expressive therapy that eases feelings of emotional trauma.
  3. If your guilt is a result of a wrongdoing, find it worth to apologise. Ensure that your apology is sincere and dont make sorry just a sorry word
  4. Reflect on the situation, investigate the root of the guilt and attempt to find a way of preventing a similar occurrence. 
  5. Learn to forgive yourself.
  6. Transform feelings of guilt into gratitude and as a way of changing things.
  7. Realize each day is a new beginning, move on from the guilt and be mindful of other things in your life.
  8. Do not withdraw from your social circle, meet new people, implement new spiritual practices, listen to religious teachings, commune with others to pray and discuss important matters, spend time in nature, hike, swim, go skateboarding and if possible get into meditation or yoga. 
  9. Embrace imperfection – Its not for humans to be perfect.
  10. If you are unable to move on past your guilt, seek help from a therapist. Feelings of guilt might be implications of mental health conditions and a therapist would provide significant assistance.

Bottomline

Thank You for Coming this Far. 

Are you struggling with mental health conditions? Find additional resources from https://13reasonswhy.info – The site provides a list  of mental health services and advocacy groups for all countries. 

 

Photo Credits: 

My Kenyan Obsessions

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Part I

Hand making the V sign, Kenya flag painted

Matters of a Contemporary Kenya

All is well, usually before weaving into the Kenyan contemporary narrative; until my peers and I are nudged to commit to an identity tag. The working tag on such occasions is the ever tempting subjugation of my very own self. A self that I have wanted to belong and in doing so, submit to the meaning of life. The dilemma in this case, and which forms the better part of this essay, is somewhat an ideal to conform. To fit in, and easily-comfortably retreat into the Kenyan rhetoric as a whole and without pretending. In any case, fitting in might entail initiation into certain non-conducive aspects of society – that should apparently appear as insensitive and with the most possible light ever.

Yet, to sink in back to who I really am and out of the self-creation that I have identified as for years. It is a tempting pressure to shed off the observe of my society, everything that society has cultivated in me and I deem wrong. Wrong not in my eyes but in the eyes of Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’s seminal text ‘Decolonizing the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature.’ In which Ngũgĩ claims ‘I shall look at the African realities as they are affected by the great struggle between the two mutually opposed forces in Africa today: an imperialist tradition on one hand, and a resistance tradition on the other.’

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What remains today of the Kenyan Identity are an insipid redemption from imperialism, the crux of foreign assimilation and the cleansing of our African soul. The concept of slavery and colonialism might be an entirely odd topic to convey in these times; but inwardly to state that despite 1964, despite independence – we are still battling a persistent disease to remain afloat. The standard expectation, even as malignant as it would be, imposes upon you to be shameful of your roots, your language and in conforming to this choking alienation of what rightfully belongs to us – language ; we somewhat have drunk away our intellectual thoughts and dug away the soul of our African spirit; to the extent of raising a bushy tailed strain of African so –called – intellects who cannot speak a word from their ethnic language.

Ngũgĩ decries this cultural isolation of our own language, as ‘linguicide’, a form of atrocity that destroys memories and kills culture. In writing, I usually fall into a dilemma. One that I have to contend with in order to create an image of art that represents my true identity. Whilst in this contention, I try to envision a subject matter with which I think from my roots (My mother tongue) and outline it in English. Even as I have done this for years, I haven’t recognized the sensitivity of this lone activity, as it often undermines my Kenyan individuality. If I can think in my mother tongue, then what actually holds me back from writing in my mother tongue? Today’s western ideologies challenge my African particularity; whether, at the least expectations, can we even exist outside the box of western integrities?  Whether we Kenyans can exist in the skins of our own personality? It is in the context of this subject that I grant myself the artistic license to challenge whatever that is not African, which is not Kenyan, and which is not conservatist. Education, fashion, religion, entertainment and the political idiocy included that we are forced into every single day in our lives.

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In the opening paragraph of Decolonizing the Mind, Ngũgĩ draws the image of an African in a continued ceaseless struggle to free him/herself, from the pitiless imperialism of Euro-American based politics, economics and culture. It is in fact a struggle, a rebellious war of liberation from the shackles of neo-colonialism but one that Africans, Kenyans have given up on. And like post trauma stressed victims of a lost walk, they resort to foreign culture, as if it’s the drug that heals their pain of loss.

The exclusive use of foreign language in schools and the extent of lashing a few scholars in elementary that do not comfort to this linguifuckery; has projected what Ngũgĩ describes as a language famine in the continent. In today’s Kenya, would parents only hope of having an enlightened kid is a suppression to only speak in English and not their mother tongue? And if you haven’t noticed the voluble clarity of your peers refer to another as mzungu (White Man) when they spoke with a foreign twang in their voices.

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Award Winning Literature Guru: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo

As if this blatant idiocy is not enough, we have seen such mzungus become the object of attention and praise because they appear more civilized and learned than their counterparts. I see you counteract to this, free yourself from the guilt and besides smack the hell bitter aggravation to my face. Now you want to argue and claim that it’s a matter of society and society prides in what is good. So what is good, and If any, and in what context and in comparison to what? The conservatist meru in me that hasn’t left out the ‘M’ in M-bush for you to know am talking about a bush?

I wouldn’t write that way, no way and I’m not encouraging affection towards highly accented articulation; and even if I would, there is no way I would acknowledge, a social transformation of wordings and spellings in the   Oxford dictionary to fit my Kenyannesse. Nevertheless, this would give writers like me more head ache when getting published in the New Yorker. What I’m trying to say, is could we at least appreciate our roots and love our languages. For what’s the need for your son dear parent to learn English, French, German and Mandarin when your Luo ascent has a more dramatic cadence at the Kenya National Theater?

 

Photo Credits:

Roxanne Shewchuk

Jimmy Jimmy

Daniel A Anderson

 

Mending My Walls

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Toxicity

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Over the years, I have stretched some loosely hanging dimensions way too far and overwhelmed myself with a feeling of impossibility. A feeling that doesn’t escape me for one second. Sometimes when I’m not busy I try to check on it.

The ego. The heart. The soul.

Whether it  hurts and for quite an iniquitous moment of time, I hold on to my chest and  feel if it’s there.

It’s there. 

The pain hasn’t gone away. It has eaten into the cribs of my emotions and dragged with it my hopes and possibilities. Pushed me into a corner.

A corner  I hardly can push back because what lies in the dark is scary and cold. 

Cold in every dimension. 

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A few minutes before hitting to class. She hits back. Your brain tunes back to life and your heart jingles. You are moved and in all honestly – you think your love story is punctuating it’s flow. You hang both hands around your face, sliding an old school Infinix  across your nose. A mumble forms on your lips and your heaving breaths life into your longing. The long ubiquitous mumble forms into a prayer. The prayer you whisper to your God brings with it tears you can’t hold back. 

While you rush to press the read button. Sorry. You stop there. The earth trembles, your eyes close and the truth smacks your face.pexels-photo-2345374

 

For days you waited for her damn reply. Patiently and –  slowly glorifying that ‘kafeeling’ that perhaps this chick you are so crazy about is busy doing something constructive. And that tiny optimistic voice at the back of your mind cries out that you are being an ugly impatient jerk. Is it just you or everyone is endowed with the art of waiting. That feeling convinces you that the voices you hear are only doubts. You have got esteem, right? Then why the doubts. It’s worth. You tell yourself. 

The hurt, the pain and the doubts.  For they are all a means to a happy end. In fact, that’s what it takes to not die a painfully lonely life. The sacrifices, right?  Its fucking you up and you feel it inside your soul in trembles. Your blood rushes. Your heart beats. 

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Whenever you text her a slew of conversations. She falls back into a corner. Your minds rushes again. You wait that the tick will turn blue long before you lose your patient. But it’s a lie. You’ve never lost your cool.

It’s been this way for 6 months. 

How in the world would you lose your patience today? Maybe she will change and the magic will spark once more. After days of waiting. The tick turns blue and she comforts you with a twist of niceties. Monster-ed toxicity lotioned in nice love till you forget; 

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Forget what you’ve been through while you waited for her response.

The lover will say  was busy and you will find your validation. This message will kiss your emptiness and your skin will melt away into comfort. But deep down you realize she will go again. She will disappear into her slumber and you will remain to dance the jingle. The jingle of despair and unrequited love.  

The jingle of her toxicity. 

Toxicity that makes you feel unwanted. 

The mother of all paranoia.