THE LITTLE COFFEE HOUSE OF KABUL- DEBORAH RODRIGUEZ


Two things made me want this book- the word Kabul and women. 
Khaled Hosseini already opened my mind to Afghanistan and he made me want to read more about the lives of the people there amidst  all those chaos. 
And this one is a page turner. Its been long since I read a sentimental book and this book held my heart in its pages from page 1 to the last page. 

The author is definitely a good story teller. She flows so effortlessly. And the story is gripping too. 
Its the kind of book that gives one food for thought indirectly. Like by the story told I found myself thinking about my life and its journey. What I also love about this kind of fiction books from Afghanistan and Africa is the way their characters are so real. As in, there are no supernatural powers associated with them. They are just like you and me. Just in a more volatile environment. 
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It has made me want to read many more like it. Certainly I will be on the search for more of Deborah Rodriguez books. She’s the kind of a story teller I want exhaust.

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The beauty of life


When I was young, I thought the beauty of life was finding your purpose and living it. Athletics seemed to live their passion. And I admired that. To know what you here on earth for and be it. I thought that was the ultimate goal. I prayed for God to reveal my purpose in life. I observed myself and wondered which of my hobbies would be tied to my destiny. 

However, with time, I have realised that the ultimate beauty of life is to be alive for today. That though big things happen to us; people become cabinet secretaries, others finally start their own businesses, others miscarry, others lose the loves of their life, others marry, others get raped- they don’t define us necessarily. We are not us because of them. 

Its the mundane, everyday life that is the ultimate goal of living a good life. We sleep and make plans for tomorrow. And then tomorrow comes -it either goes as planned or something happens that affects all consequent tomorrows. It changes our todays. And after a while we get used to that change. And on a certain boring day, something else happens that tilts slightly the direction of our lives. And those small tilts sometimes bring way more change to our destinies than the big earthquakes we were expecting. 

I used to look at our local businesspeople and wonder, what satisfaction do they get from selling and buying stuff? Like are they proud of who they turned out to be? I felt bad for them, well kinda. Until I’ve realized, that its my eyes that were closed. Their lives beauty isn’t from what they do. Its from who they are today. The daily interactions with their clients, preparing their kids for school each morning and counting their milestones, attending a neighbour’s funeral, preparing for the wedding next door, politicking all the time, cheating on your husband with that young banker, gossiping about that woman you hate on the outside but envy on the inside, feeling and being a part of your church, and belonging to your community. 

One day I will write about this place- Binyavang’a Wainaina 


I have always wanted to read this book. Not that I heard much about it, rather I heard much about its author. I don’t remember when exactly I encountered the name Binyavang’a, but I recall just always hearing about him. Its like after Ngugi in Kenya came Binyavang’a. That’s why I wanted to read his works. 
Well, I think he writes short stories more often. And I’ve read some of his articles. And they are quite unique. His style of writing shall is unique. Some say he breaks the rules of English eloquently. I hear there is a whole essay he wrote that didn’t have a full stop( or was it one only?)…to say the least, this man has always intrigued me. 
So it was with much delight that I started reading this book. And true to the reports out there, he writes not in the normal way. There is something unique about his flow of work. It took me a chapter or two to get used to it. But once you get it, the book flows. 
I think I could relate with this book on a personal level. Wainaina lives in his mind. You can tell that from the time you read the first page. And I can relate to that. In most times, people who live in their minds are regarded as being aloof and people think something is wrong somewhere. So to see him make a beautiful work out of his life was quite encouraging. 
On history. I’ve been able to learn more about Kenya’s recent political history from this book. I didn’t expect that. You see, most common Kenyan books talk of Moi’s era and Kenyatta’s era, rarely do we see a mixture of that and Kibaki’s era. So it was a pleasant surprise to be moved from Moi to Kibaki to the promulgation of the new constitution. 
Its a beautiful work. With memoirs you move with the pace and tone and rules of the author. After all, this a person opening up their world to you freely. Which is why I couldn’t read it in one sitting. This book demanded my attention. It demanded to be let it and pondered over before ingesting more. Yet I couldn’t stay for too long away from it. It kept calling me. 
Generally- I would say this has been a beautiful piece. The Kenyan kind of beauty.

Beauty


A friend used this line, ” learning patience by being patient “, and it touched my deepest core. Its so simple yet so profound to me. You see of late my life has been one of learning lessons I thought I knew practically. You think you are a patient person until life gives you moments where you have to live out your patience. And its never an easy thing. Practical lessons can be the simplest yet the most difficult. 

In between taking life’s corners, I skidded into this season where I have no control over my life. Not that I’ve ever had control over it anyway, but at least previously I knew or could guess what I would be doing tomorrow. My relationships with God, self and others might not have been the best but they had some sort of consistency in them. While as of now, I’m constantly growing and reevaluating life and relationships . 

At first I did as I have done before when faced with unknown circumstances. I fretted. I worried. I complained. I over thought about it. I fidgeted. And as you already guessed, all that did nothing to help. It only made my stay in this season cumbersome. 

So I did something else, I lost control. Of my life. The one I didn’t have control over in the first place but I acted and thought as if I did. I let go. Of rigidity. My life would go as it wanted to go. And not in a bitter way. In a ‘ I have done all I could think of doing and nothing worked out- its time I let nature take control – and no hard feelings ‘. It was a gradual process this one. Of letting my life be. I had started to learn how to let myself be, so this time, it was just letting my life be. Giving it freedom to go whichever directions with no bad feelings on my side over expectations not met. 

I would be lying if I said my life has been a fairy tales since I let it be. It has not. But as I’m now seated in a garage somewhere, reading an extremely good short story, while single and happily(rather excitedly) waiting for this Valentines and feeling this immense bubble of happiness on my soul- I can say one thing, my life is beautiful right now. 

The kind of beauty I like. I’ve been accused of having weird tastes in almost everything; from clothes to pictures to places I want to travel to , to books. So this is my kind of beauty. Beauty that’s totally imperfect and that is what adds to its allure. Beauty that is drawn in abstract paintings. 

Some days are so difficult to go through, others are too mundane for my liking, other times I find God in the most unlikely places, others days I wake up panicked, others I spend struggling to just survive the day, others I spend on the euphoria clouds- but in all of them; I find myself. All those days are a representation of myself. The glossy sides, the rusty side, the unhealed parts that need some love to be shone in, the crazy parts that make up the wild side of me, the abnormal side that makes me quiet person because speaking out some of my thoughts is kinda illegal( hehe) , the parts that struggle to understand God and Christianity and the white man, the adventurous side that will make an adventure out of a desert; and all of those are wholly and equally me. And I am beautiful. So they are beautiful on their own. 

So I smile, they say there are many ways to be happy, others advice on the many ways to find love, more have preached on how to be at peace with yourself, and for me, as of now, I’ve learnt that the way to a beautiful life is by letting my life be. It will resort to its default settings. And by default, I am beautiful. 

A beneficiary of social media. 

People nowadays discuss social media as if its a bad thing. At least a majority of the discussions I’ve heard. They talk of how its affecting our social behavior. That though it connects people who are far away, it distances those who are physically together due to everyone being glued to their phones. 

While that might be true, or is actually true especially when it comes to family settings , I think for me personally and the people I encounter on social media- it has been of extreme help knowledge wise. 

As a friend I follow on Facebook said yesterday, she’s learnt more things from social media than all she ever learnt in the 8-4-4 system. And I could totally relate to that. I studied a course for 4 years in campus, but for some reason, rarely did we relate what we were learning with our current environment. Things were always abstract except that one or 2 lectures who went out of their way to relate what they were teaching with Kenya as of now. Then I spend an year or so on social media and I end up understanding deeply about issues we glossed over in campus. In simple terms, social media especially platforms that allow long discussions such as Facebook and partly twitter, have been my teacher. One who was way more informed and upto date than any education I got elsewhere. 

Another benefit of social media, has been bringing me closer to people of the same mind as I. Intellectually and even things I’m passionate about or stuff that interests me. Being in a geographical area with human beings doesn’t always mean our minds connect. Especially where I come from. We greet each other and maybe try our hand at small talk. But for the longest time ever, I remember having to act or put up a performance just to fit in with the people around me. Why? We just didn’t connect. Our focus and priorities in life were on different directions which thus influences the kind of discussions we have or want to hold. 

Whereas social media has allowed me to connect to people of the same mind as I. For example, there is a friend of mine who was shocked to learn that those regular travel trips of mine are usually via travel agencies. She had always assumed that the people I take pictures with on top of mountains or in swimming pools were close friends. So on went on the questions, ” how do you meet these people? Do you trust them? How do these travel agencies work? And since they are many how do you choose one? Etc”. 

You see, i have always loved travelling. But for my close friends in campus, it was just that thing that Kenyans love to say they love while not necessarily practising it. Its like Kenyan Christians. So for some time I kept on coming up with plans and inviting them. But they could come up with all sorts of excuses to either postpone it or not come.

However, with time, social media exposed me to these other people; people who loved travelling practically. And some entrepreneurs had found a way of bringing us together in the name of local travel agencies. So nowadays I don’t stress about planning for a trip. Unless its a solo trip or with a friend. I simple go to my favorite travel agency’s page, choose wherever I want to go from the various offers, pay up and wait for the material day. Don’t we just thank God for social media!? 

And finally, one of things I’m really grateful for from social media is the kind of dialogues and discussions I find in there. I love picking people’s mind. I end up understanding where people with a different opinion are coming from, why people hold the views they do, why they do the things they do, and how we can generally improve our selves. This discussions enrich my life. Like in the morning some Kenyan was wondering why Kenyans celebrate black history month yet it isn’t part of our story. And from the discussion that ensued, I ended up knowing the history of black history month, its impact on Americans and the negative and positive side of that celebration existing in the first place. This are things that don’t affect my daily life, but at least I’m now more knowledgeable from simply reading a few comments. Maybe had I googled it, it wouldn’t have been put in such a simple way and certainly it wouldn’t have had that personal touch to it. 

The discussions on feminism, politics, environmental conservation, uthamaki, vulnerability, love, the church, African cultures and indigenous practices, entrepreneurship, friendships, books, sex, food, travel, that I have participated in or followed on Facebook and twitter have enriched me and improved the quality of my understanding and removed a large chunk of the ignorance I carried around. I am a better human being -thanks to social media. 

But I admit it wasn’t always that rosy and informative. 3 years ago and before, my social media experience was nothing to brag home about. It was filled with pictures and quotes that didn’t make sense. Twitter was that place people were hyping about while I didn’t see anything good or interesting in there. It was that place I could live for a month without visiting and I would be missing nothing. 

But I started being intentional about the kind of things I wanted to see. So slowly by slowly I started unfollowing the nonsense people and interacting with minds I liked. It has taken a while to build the kind of a world I wanted to log into. I may not be there yet, but its slowly becoming a place I feel at home in, where I’m inspired, challenged, accepted, involved, admonished and grown in. 

So for those people who look down upon the characters like me who enjoy social media; maybe its because you haven’t found a way of getting the best out of it. Maybe its the kind of interactions that you are having in there that make you wonder why some of us would be proud of being social media users. Or maybe its because you don’t want to get addicted. 

Well as much as I agree people do get addicted to social media, I think it depends on why you are in there in the first place. If its majorly for news purposes and to follow how so and so’s life is faring on, then certainly, as sure as the sun rises, you shall get addicted. Why? Because any day or time you miss from a certain platform, you shall suffer from the fear of being left out. Your mind shall remind you that you don’t know how Kenya is going on because you didn’t log in, or you don’t know what Kui ate for breakfast and that’s a bad thing. 

For me, I think when I stay for 2 days without social media, I don’t panic because the discussions I shall find will be more richer than had I seen them immediately they are posted. So I think addiction to social media is majorly dependent on the why you are in there in the first place. 

Of late I’ve been trying to appreciate the good things in my life, and social media is among the top things I’m really grateful for. I don’t know what kind of a human being i would be without it; and I sincerely don’t want to find out because I fear ignorance. I might be among the few culprits to immensely benefit from social media, but I am grateful to all those spaces people have created on their pages and threads that have enriched my life and made me a better being. Thank you. 

The elusive light


I’ve lived my whole life thinking that the world is dark. I fought in the dark. I fought the darkness. Then I  got used to the darkness. I made lemonades out of the darkness by learning how to see in the dark. I succeeded in the darkness. 

But there is only as much as one can see and do in the darkness. So I asked for help. Just for the deity to open my eyes. My world wasn’t dark. Its just that I had my eyes closed. 

Sounds simple? Well, that’s how my last few months have been. Specifically how my January has been. I heard someone say, that illiteracy among adults isn’t being unable to read a, b,c ,d but being unable to unlearn ,learn and relearn. 

Its sounds easy. And it is in a way. What is hard is giving myself the permission to start unlearning, learning and relearning. 

And its been an interesting journey. For someone like me who was forever chasing after life, pausing to reset and refill has been the most tranquil thing I ever did. I’ve realised that it wasn’t life I was chasing after, it was myself that I was chasing after. 

I thought I would find me in my career. Or in my profession. And as much as I love what i’m skilled at, I didn’t find her there. I thought I would me in my family. I got lost in other’s lives in the process. Then I thought, surely , I would find me in the eyes of a lover. Love is the greatest. Love can’t be overemphasized. Just to find strangers in the eyes of my lovers. I never found me. And the worst part is, I didn’t know what I was looking for. 

I just had this void in me that didn’t seem to be filled by anyone. I had this thirst that wasn’t allowing me to chase life the way I wanted. I had this heavy heart that wanted what I didn’t know, but it wasn’t agreeing to beat until I brought it what it wanted . I had this mind that was restless, that was fidgeting. It lacked a foundation. Somewhere to stand on. I was in lack. I needed something. What it was, I didn’t know. 

I travelled. I read books. I did what I thought I loved. After all, they said if you do what you love you’ll feel better. And I did feel better. Just not for a long while. All pleasures were temporary. All satisfactions only lasted me till the next thirst. 

Then I thought, why not go to the water of life? He must be able to ensure that I thirsted no more. And on top of that, the bread of life would fill me for life. 

So I gathered my now broken heart, my disoriented mind, my shattered soul, my heaving body and took them to God. Surely, my creator would know what to do with his creation. How, I didn’t know. But somehow I trusted this guy. Somehow I knew He was able. 

So I immersed myself in His word. I even preached His word. I believed His word. I fellowshipped with His people. I hang around them. I agreed with His people’s version of what is wrong and right. I tried my level best to be His good person. An example to be looked upon. I did my level best in what I thought I was to do. God knows I tried. 

What I expected in return, was for my thirst to be no more. For my mind to find a foundation. For my heart to be light. For my soul to be mended. For what I was looking for to be brought to me. It was like a bargain. I do God’s business, He’ll do mine- that’s what they told me. And I believed them. After all, they  looked like they had their thirst quenched. 

But no. Not even God gave me me. I didn’t get what I was looking for in Him. By then I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I felt shortchanged. This God who gives people mansions through faith and makes barren woman sing in joy, didn’t give me what I wanted. Yet I wasn’t even asking for much. Just for my thirst to be quenched. For my void to be filled. 

And after a restless search of looking for what I didn’t know, I finally found it. But it was the other way round. Instead of finding the everlasting water to my thirst, I found the source of thirst. 

All along, I had been looking for me. All those years man! All those marathons I did chasing after satisfaction. All those hikes I did, looking for peace. All those books I read, searching for rest. All those people I shared my heart with, looking for happiness. 

Yet, I had been looking for me. I was missing in action. And my being couldn’t survive without me. Who am I? That person is who I was looking for in God, family and lovers. And instead of finding me in them, I found me in me. 

The me that I’ve found is badly malnourished. She was on the verge of death. She’s sick. Tired. Unlearned. Filled with some toxic things in some areas. Beautiful. Broken. Scarred. Empty. Happy. Melancholic. Intense. Difficult. Stubborn. Interesting. Weird. Amazing. Strong. Frail. She is all that and a lot more. 

So nowadays, instead of chasing life, I nurse me. I laugh at my sister confusing that verse on being unequally yoked with unbelievers to mean the yoke of an egg. I teach myself how to find pleasure in life. I go out of my way to ensure that I have no way that can be said to be mine. I am free. I can be anything and anyone. I watch people’s stories on Engage Talk Kenya and I relate to stories that are way different than mine. 

I look into my world nowadays. That dark world that I was once a pro in. And I can’t recognize anything. Everything is the same yet so new. The cups I thought were cups have now turned to bells. What I used as rags were the most beautiful clothes around. And while I thought I was fully clothed, I was stark naked.

So I unlearn, learn and relearn. And its the most amazing journey I’ve ever been in. Every single day a burden gets lifted. And in its place are beautiful things. My heart is enthusiastic. It isn’t light yet, but we seem to have hit the right spots this time round. My mind is busy working, not to set a foundation, but to demolish the buildings we had made to survive in a dark world. Sometimes the light illuminates dirty corners. And me, myself and I arm ourselves and clean them up. 

I have been in the land of the living for two decades now. At some point I saw no point of living. I have died inside there. And I have been in comas and semi consciousness. I have prayed to the Almighty to not let me die but to live. I have tried all kinds of life giving things I could think of. 

And for the first time in my entire life, I am alive, I feel alive, I want to live and I fear death. 

Some people reach this point automatically in their lives( they’ve just always been alive and in touch with themselves), others reach it after countless decades and experiences, while others like me are forced by circumstances to come into life. I just hope that you get there if you aren’t there already. If you don’t know what i’m talking about, just like me a while ago, your eyes are closed, but you think the world is dark. And if you are already there, I have nothing for you..after all you are already enjoying life in its ups and downs. 

I thought my world was dark, while I was the one with my eyes closed. Now I see the light. 

To love me is to allow me to be


To love me is to allow me to be;

To be that little girl who doesn’t always know the way-

but is willing to try it out anyway

To be the little girl who though seems as if she has it all- 

needs to be taken care of

To be vulnerable- 

though the world is unfair, I can count on you for a greater share of fairness

To love me is to allow me to be

To be unconstant- 

anchored on your constant love

To be free-

knowing that its you i’ll choose either way

To be my own woman-

not that standard of women you have in your head

To be alive in my own being-

For I can’t be contained in another being
To love me is to allow me to be.