Monday, 28 November 2011

I have learned...

I'm turning a year older in a week or so *Excitement*... Ok, not really, and it has nothing to do with my age. I'm not one of those ladies who fret about their age, maybe its because I have never had someone call me old. Plus I blend in well with just about any age group. I can be whoever you want me to be, or at least I try.

A couple of weeks back, one of the most gifted writers I know, Bikozulu, wrote a post "What I have learned." This was by far one of the best pieces I have ever read, not because it was him who wrote it (no offence) but because of the sincerity and wisdom that came from that post. I am a true believer on the saying: "Learn from other people's experiences." If it was upto me, I would derive all of life lessons from other people. The down side of that would be that I am not living my life thus have nothing to learn. My life would not have any mistakes, which means I would not have taken any risks. I would rid myself of the opportunity to experience immense pain, exciting moments, indescribable joy... My life would be such a bore. Last week, perhaps influenced/inspired by Biko's post, I had one of those moments where I somewhat questioned the purpose of living/ existing. Don't get me wrong... I was not suicidal or having sinister thoughts on how I should take my own life. Far from it. I was having a pre-quarter evaluation of my life and thinking to myself, so now... Where do I go from here... At some point I wondered, where I had come from, figuratively speaking anyway.

So the conclusions of my thoughts:

I have learned that life will deal you anything and everything, irrespective of your age... That strength to go through life's hurdles does not come with age or time, it is innate; you either have it or you don't. I have learned that you can write learned or you can write learnt and you will still be grammatically correct. I have learned that it is not that hard to stand your ground in the midst of peer pressure. I have also learned that peer pressure, never ends (my folks have taught me that). I have learned that people who think you are better than them will always have something negative to say about you or a reason to prevent you from shinning. I have learned, very recently, that just because someone is your boss/older than you, it doesn't mean they are smarter than you... and most of the time there is nothing you can do about it! I have learned to be a (wo)MAN and SUCK IT UP when things are not within my control... On that same note, I have also learned that you can only "SUCK IT UP" for so long. It is ok to be selfish and it is ok to want to be happy, even if it doesn't make the people around you happy... I can assure you, there shall never be a time in this world when all the 7 Billion people in the world will be happy at the same time; so quit trying to make others happy at your expense.

I have learned that friendships are as complicated as relationships. I have learned to let go of friends, the crap about friends for a reason & season is true! I have learned that blood is not always thicker than water. I have learned that when they say family will always be there for you, they mean immediate family... Aunties, Cousins, Uncles... will not always be there. I have learned the truth in quote by Martin Luther King Jnr:  In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. This has been the hardest and most painful lesson to learn. Nothing sucks more than that. I have learned the God is everything in this world. He will do it, whatever you want, for you... Exceedingly, beyond more than we can ask or imagine! He is IT!!!! He will get you through whatever, whenever. I have also learned that God likes it when we give thanks to Him... I have learned that people are not always what they seem... They show you the side they want you to see then when they demolish your house, :-) you know their true colors. Lol! The problem with two-faced people is that you don't know which side to slap when you actually know them. I have learned that the government's objective is not to make our lives better but worse. I have learned to HATE Nairobi City Council and Kasarani Police Station. *Screw them* I have learned that Kenya does have untouchables and that money talks!

My father has taught me what the true character of a man is about. He has taught me the value of education (No, it's not overrated). He has taught me that it is ok to have a golden heart. He has taught me that you cannot fail to trust people because someone else hurt you/screwed you over. He has taught me that it is ok to spoil your children, in their old age. He has also taught me that men are not perfect, but he is just the right amount of perfect and imperfect for me! :-) My mother has taught me what it means to be a friend, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a mother. She has taught me what it means to be a WOMAN in a patriarchal society, how to keep your head up and your tears behind your eyelids and above how to always trust in God. My grandma, Esther, has taught me how I should love my children and grand-children, she has taught me to say much in few words (this post doesn't count).

Sandra has taught me that writing is the best thing that ever happened to me. Christine & my sister have taught me that it's never that serious and that parents will seldom approve of your relationship but at the end of the day, it's your choice.

I have learned to count up to 10 when I am angry. I have learned to think before I talk. I have learned that no experience in life comes without a lesson. I have learned how to love even when I am still angry... I have learned not to be fooled by a kiss or words from a man. I have learned that a man who wants to be with you will do or say just about anything to get you. I have learned that, though uncongenial, it is ok to date a guy your friend dated - at least if it's genuine and not out of malice.

I have learned to control my alcohol. I have learned that just because I am not where I want to be, at this point in my life, it doesn't mean I will never get there. I have learned to judge people by how the treat people less superior to them. I have learned that the jokes I laugh at reflect on my character- if you want to know the true character of a man, look at the jokes they laugh at. I have learned that I am stubborn and proper :-)

I have learned that sexual abusers should not define who you turn out to be. And this post has taught me: I still have a lot to learn from this thing called life!

A toast to: Love, True Friendships, Family and Life! :-)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Conclusion

The sight of Macharia disgusted me; it literally made me sick. My stomach hurt a little, my feet grew weak and my mind came up with 1001 ways to kill him. I wished death on him. I prayed that God would cause him as much pain as he had caused us. It was natural to feel this way anyway; so I let myself bask in my anger, my hatred and contempt for him and his entire family. 

The day was far from over. Minutes after I got home, my sister told me that Police Officers from Kasarani Police Station had come to stop the construction workers whom had been hired to put up a temporary fence from going on with their work. The Police Officers said they had received information that the construction workers were ARMED Mungiki youths. It really was unbelievable at the time that all this was happening! When we put the officers to task to produce the alleged weapons the construction workers had, they dismissed us. It was obvious who was responsible for this. What irked us more was the fact that the same Police Officers had been called by my cousin before the demolition began requesting for help because our property was about to be demolished illegally - we had not been served any notice by the court or City Council. That call had been made at midday. It was now 1600hrs. We live no more than seven minutes from Kasarani Police Station yet they showed up five hours later and NOT to help us but to attack us as the idiot who had lied and/or paid his way through City Council to have our homes demolished stood by watching.

The back and forth with the Police Officers turned into a heated argument. One officer, Mr. Abdi Elmoge thought we were being too emotional about the house being demolished. He was of the opinion that indulging us in a conversation was only making their throats dry. At some point, he roughed up and cuffed my brother for calling Macharia a fool... WOW!!! Was the bastard a god of sorts? Since when did Police Officers beat up and arrest someone for calling another person a fool? Effing fools! *Sigh* The sight of watching my brother getting cuffed drained all the strength I had left and I went to the house and broke down in front of my 2 year old nephew. I cried uncontrollably until he asked me: "Aunty ni nini mbaya?" *Sigh* I cried some more.

Finally, at around 1800hrs, the Police Officers left. The news of the demolition had reached most of our family and friends. They would begin arriving in a few minutes to console us... Tell us SORRY, again as though death had befallen our family... Fact is, ours was a loss, a loss which did not come with the finality of death.

It was 1900hrs when I saw a Police car driving towards our home. The vehicle parked outside my aunt's property. Armed Police Officers walked out of the vehicles. I was excited because I thought, in all my naivety, that they had come to help us (read arrest Macharia)... After all, the demolition was illegal right? WRONG! The next thing I heard was my brother (oh yeah, he wasn’t arrested after all… Abdi was all talk, hence a fool) on the phone asking a friend for help. Most of the guests rushed outside. All of a sudden, there were loud banging noises coming from the demolished area. It turns out the damage was not as bad as I had expected because the demolition was far from over... it was five hours from over.

This is how the demolition exercise was completed:
Macharia hired about 50-60 young men (Mungiki) to come and finish the demolition… As we sat in the house! I don’t know how to explain those five hours... The agony, the cries, the shock, the pain, the fear; it was a rollercoaster of emotions. For five hours, we sat in the house and listening to the walls of one end of the house crumble down with loud noises. We listened helplessly as the men hit stone by stone. We listened as our house was demolished. For five hours, everyone in the house was on their phone calling everyone and anyone… Media houses, Police Offices etc for help. Any kind of help would have been like a drop of water for someone burning in hell. For five hours we called for help and no one in Kenya could help us. It was by far the worst thing I have ever had to go through… It was the worst thing we went through. We were helplessly yet our house was full of help. We were desperate and we called strangers too. At some point, we stopped calling and sat in silence… The silence amplified the noise of our falling house... Our home for over two decades! 
The armed police officers, 8 of them, had not come to help us but to make sure that we do not interfere with the demolition at such ridiculous hours of the night. Eight armed police officers from Kasarani – one of them Abdi the fool! I cried at some point that night when I called a friend who works at a media house. I cried because I was scared, because I was angry, because I was hurting. I cried for my dad, for my mum and for my brother, because they seemed to be the most affected. I remember at some point my mum grew so weak, when she tried to stand up, her legs gave in and she fell back. A friend supported her. She couldn't seat. She couldn't stand. She held her chin and the sadness in her eyes was heart-breaking. I eventually holed myself up in my mom’s room with my sister to cry. My sister was stronger than I. I never saw her cry although I know she did – her eyes gave her away. She prayed when I was crying.
Eventually I "accepted" that we were helpless and that Macharia had won… He had had his way! But there are some things that you can never really accept. I hated Macharia and I cursed him. How would we live with this man as our next door neighbor? Love thy neighbor as you love yourself; the good book commands. How? Is it humanly possible?
One and a half weeks later, a lawyer, A.N. Ngunjiri (God rest his soul) was murdered – police say - shot dead (“mistaken identity”) as he tried to serve a court order to Mr. Macharia refraining him from using or trespassing on the land (read drive way) he had unlawfully acquired. The death of Ngunjiri was the coffee that woke us up. Was this ever about the land? Who was this man? A man who attended my graduation, who came home on more than one occasion and broke bread with the family? Why had he caused us so much pain? Why had he spent so much money to cause us so much grief?
Later that night, when my dad returned home I told him: “I can’t believe this has happened. I especially can’t believe that tomorrow the world will go on as if nothing happened…” I expected the world to stop. A part of me expected Obama to speak up against the level of impunity in this country. I laughed in my head for having such thoughts, but I was so desperate for help, any kind of help. *Sigh*
What happened to us was unbelievable, to say the very least. Writing about it doesn’t liberate me from the pain as I thought it would, it only opens wounds that are bandaged because they are far from healing. September 9th 2011. It was such a painful experience… one I cannot wait for time to heal!

I suppose what is left of my patriotic juices hopes that the court will ensure justice is served to Mr. Macharia, Nairobi City Council and Kasarani Police Station… I used to be so proud to be Kenya but I was in a bubble and experience burst my bubble.