I woke up with the strangest thoughts bombarding my brain today. They were more of memories than thoughts really. They seem to have featured in the last dream I had, the one I woke up from, the one I remember, even though the others terrified me more.
January 1998, my grandmother died at 78 years of age. Just a month earlier when I had visited her home in Kinoo, she had given me a note. The note was written in kikuyu, a language my mother had ensured I learn with loving care. I still have the note, but when I woke up, only one phrase stood out from the note. “Unyitie muthuru.”
Grandma and I had had long conversations in her kitchen. She had a fireplace and her trademark recliner, and I would sit on a wooden stool literally at her knees. She would break off from reading her Kirikaniro and listen when I asked her questions. She had said the phrase above many times before. It basically refers to sexuality, respect and control. The idea I got, even though impressions with regards to the phrase might differ, is that we are endowed with sexuality, in varying versions, but we also have the ability to contain it within principles of honesty, integrity and respect not just for other people but also for oneself. This is profound.
January 1999, I ran into, by unfortunate chance, the man who destroyed my childhood and stole my innocence. He dared smile, why shouldn’t he, seeing that he had gotten off with a year in prison for bodily harm, and was now out and free to continue his murderous acts.
It has been asserted that a paedophile will molest more than a hundred children in his natural lifetime, if he is allowed access to children. My family did the best they could legally to try and get him away from the many other children that he has had access to since then. Our country’s legal constitution let us down. How many more since then? How many children are walking around with broken souls since then? How long?
January 2000, I was fresh out of high school, trying to fall in love with life again. Khaled, I salute you now, for all your kindness, and all the lessons you taught me. I was blessed to have known you. Here I say, till we meet in paradise.
January 2001, with stars in my eyes, and the first child I had ever taught looked at me with surprise and joy in his eyes when he finally understood, that multiplying a zero by any number results in a zero because a zero means nothing, and if you stack nothing over nothing it is still nothing. Let us not go too deep into explaining that, the kid understood. Here is why I still teach little kids even when my writing job takes up much of my life.
January 2002, I am in the deepest depths of depression. I still expect my brother to walk through the front door and tell me that it was all a mistake and that he was not really dead. Death seems so final. It isn’t. Death gives birth to strength and hope and new life. I am certain now, because of having tasted the sting of losing a loved one, that every moment is precious, and it should not be wasted hurting the people who matter in our lives. I am more certain that I have better ways to use my breath, than to waste it on petty jealousies, juvenile rivalries, and malicious intent. I am even more certain that I had a brother who loved me, and a few more who love me now. I will love them back while we are alive.
January 2003, I have a serious hormone disorder. Doctors don’t know what it is exactly, and what causes it. I am sick, fatigued and in constant pain. I can’t start university this Fall as mum and I had planned. I hurt so much I want to die. Mum won’t let me go. It is hard work and tears for her, during the sleepless nights when I can’t breathe, when I get sick on the floor, when I can’t be a normal 20 year old kid. She holds on, and holds my hand, and talks to me, and assures me. What can I say? She is my mother. I would never ask for another if I had to relive this lifetime again.
January 2004, I will start my degree studies on an online program because I can’t leave the house. I know I can, because my family has faith in me.
January 2005, he walks into my life with dew eyes, and hidden malice. Why? The explanations come many months later, by which time my heart is broken again and the shards piercing at my soul. 10 years ago, I accused a friend of his family in a court of law. The accusation was coercion, sexual abuse, and rape. 10 years later, it was payback time. I paid dearly.
January 2006, I suffer a serious relapse. This time the doctors have a better idea what I am suffering from. I am imprisoned to a lifetime of medication, possibly chronic nerve pain and fatigue. I want to give up. Mum holds on when I can’t. Gradually I rediscover the art of being alive. I learn to make my choices, to live by my principles, to be the best of who I am.
January 2007, guess who rolls through on a white horse. If it isn’t my father, then I… Where do we go now, now that time has passed by, and I have learnt to be me, without you? Where do we go now? I guess you would lead the way, if you chose, but would you? I wouldn’t if I were you. I’d walk away, too. But I’m not you, am I?
January 2008, I’ll salute, to Daddy, today. You see, choices are made and you made yours. I am a grown girl, after all. I chose to be 12 when I was 6, and I will decide, to be a woman someday. So when I walk down the street with you, or go crazy over a very old historical book in a dusty bookshop with you, or let you show me how to hold the air pistol steady, it’s because we both chose, and I’m glad you chose to give me some space in your heart.
January 2009, will yet come… December is here, and it must be lived through. But just before, I will count five more blessings.
©Juliet Maruru 2008, https://jmaruru.wordpress.com