Balloon Dreams

I am a big dreamer. My mama says I’m just like her. Well, daddy says I’m a lot like him so I’m not sure who is right. I’m that kid who dreams so big my dreams bump the other kids on the playground to dirt ground.

I’ll fly away on my dreams!

Sometimes the people I work with think I am fearless. The truth is, I am afraid. I am afraid of things that could go wrong. I am afraid of things going right and finding me unprepared. I am afraid that my dreams will come true and I will not be worth a single byte of it. I am always afraid.

But I have always looked fear in the face, dared it to come at me, and prepared to hurl all the things that could go wrong right into fear’s path. I know that backing down is an option – I will not throw self-righteous inspirational quotes at you. Backing down is always an option. I just choose to brave myself and do what I have to do.

I am always telling this silly story at the salon when all the mamas bring out their horror stories on the street.

I was going home from work one day. I was also so broke that the only money I had in my cute little rucksack was the exact fare home. So I get to that weirdly crowded space near Development House at the junction of Moi Avenue and Haileselassie Avenue and I am so glad that the Railways Matatu Stage is close – I’d walked all the way from Fire Station in bad shoes.

Suddenly this kid in tattered clothes and a horrid stink steps up in front of me. Matter of factly, he holds up his hand, and I can see that he is holding stinking, dripping faeces.

“Leta hiyo bag.” His voice is raspy, and for a moment I wonder how old he is. And then it sinks in that he is threatening to smear me with the faeces if I don’t hand over my bag. It occurs to me that if Mikey, the mean accountant had paid me on time, I’d…

I take a deep breath, and clutch my rucksack tighter, straightening my back in spite of the pain in my feet.

“Jaribu. Jaribu uone.” I am daring him, calculating that if he smears me with the faeces I’ll go over to my friend’s office in Development House and somehow clean up and then go home and boil myself in bleach.

He blinks. Steps back. Walks away. Breaks into a run and crosses the street.

And then, that is when that nice smelling matatu tout runs over to ask if I am alright and I nearly collapse into his arms.

The women at the salon say nothing when I tell my horror story. In fact, they don’t speak much until I leave, to my relief. The other day, my stylist told me that they all think I’m a badass daughter of a mafia CIA alien 🙂

When I told my mama what happened the day it happened. She told me a story very similar to mine, only hers happened 25 years ago. When I told daddy, he sent me money for bus fare for the rest of the week – It absolutely did not occur to him that buying me a car would be a better solution. (:-P)

The moral of the story: There will always something to be afraid of. There is always something that will go wrong. But things will not go right if you give in to fear and hide.

So think ahead, even when curve balls are thrown at you, teach yourself to visualise solutions to problems and then move on. But do not in the name of wishes, give up before you even try.

And that is the prep talk I am giving myself before I walk on fire this week. See you at the other end.


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