Categories
Faith

Grow!

It’s Sunday. Sunday we preach, or rather, we used to preach when we were in tiptop shape. It has taken me days to build up to this post. Sometimes I think I will come up with a strict schedule, like Kariuki does at Kisauti, you know, drop a post, say, every Sunday. He drops his every Wednesday without fail. Also, his e-book is out, that’s how driven he is. He is that serious. I could do that, you know, write regularly and everyone expects the post at a certain time of day, so that if I miss out, I am accountable. I really could do that. It builds a great culture of discipline and passion cultivation. But I don’t. Why?

Well, today, like I said, is Sunday. And Sunday I preach. For a long time, I have not done so. For a long time, I have not done anything right to my spiritual self. I have not been growing. I have found myself in this routine of sorts every Sunday. I struggle to wake up, I make tea for everyone, do dishes (if I feel like), go back to bed again, wake up again, take a bath, go to church, teach Sunday school, scream my heart out at a 100 below-six-years-old kids then get out wondering why I feel drained. Scratch that. I always know exactly why I am drained. I am not supposed to teach every single Sunday without getting a break to recharge. For a long time, we had many teachers in my class, teachers that would teach on schedule, but along the way, things fell apart and became a matter of begging people to teach. I thought I could do it. I thought it would be selfish of me to just act like everyone else and jump ship, so I didn’t. I hang in there.

Categories
Purpose

Like Stars in the Sky

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m still stuck in teenage. I still delight in books written for teenagers and young adults. Why? Because teenagers in the US do things we only start doing when we’re in our 20s here. Or let me just speak for myself. They do things I am not even doing yet myself.

Why am I thinking this now, of all times? Two of the few books I couldn’t put down this year are specifically written for young adults. One was Paper Towns by John Green. I found it to be mostly stupid but I couldn’t stop reading all the same. The other is the one I just finished a few minutes ago: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I bought it last Sunday, while I was browsing through TBC, quite impressed at how they’d stepped up their stock-recent-books game. Why did I buy it? Because it had been rubberstamped by the Guardian as the next The Fault in Our Stars.

Categories
Faith Kenya

Do Something

I don’t know about you but I can shed tears very easily. Very very easily. I will cry over every movie that is good enough. I will cry when a child sings a song in church or in Sunday school and does not even know the words but keeps on singing very joyfully. I will cry when I see someone in pain or difficult situation. Like a few days ago when friends of our family lost a beloved daughter. I sat at their living room listening to the stories from her friends and family and just couldn’t hold back my tears. I had a headache that night.

This Sunday, I found myself crying on a Metrotrans bus. We were just making that turn around Globe roundabout (can I still call it that?) and I saw him. I saw the little boy coiled into a ball near the huge metal pipe that straddles the Nairobi river.

Categories
Guests

Losing My Childhood

By Miriam Jerotich

Four years ago, I lost my childhood friend. She was twenty. She wore a wedding dress to her funeral; a poignant reminder of one of her cherished dreams. I don’t remember what I wore on the night that I was told we had lost her. I don’t remember the day itself; what I ate, what I was, what I thought before I woke into her absence. I remember falling on my knees and crouching to my ankles. I remember the ache that began gnawing deep inside me, its manifestation in the way I scratched my legs till they bled, a vestigial habit that I would slip into when I did not get what I want, in this case, her healing.

Categories
Kenya

More Kikuyu Songs From My Childhood

I am back with some more Kikuyu songs/rhymes from my childhood years. I noticed lots of you loved them and keep searching. Seriously, that was the life. I made mum and dad sing them and they did, joyfully, to the amusement of my baby bro and sis who have never heard most of them before. Needless to say, I had forgotten some words. I am old, people. You should see the white hairs on my head.

Categories
Kenya

Bad Manners

There are memories I hate to remember. Bad memories. Fortunately or unfortunately, those are the ones I remember. Most of my family members can remember tiny little details from the past but I hardly remember most. What I do remember more than most are the memories that were made behind closed doors. Those memories that were bad and you know were bad even as a six-year-old. Back in the day, it was called bad manners. Maybe you know what I am talking about. If you are Kenyan, you totally do.

We would watch those raunchy scenes on TV where they did not reveal exactly what was happening (unlike today) then we would re-enact them with the kid next door. Or at least what you thought was happening. You would hold on to that boy and do something that would pass as a kiss and weird touching, like you saw on TV, but fully clothed. Then hope you did not get caught. Of course it was not sexual intercourse. We had no idea what that was. And as little as I was, I knew it was wrong. If it wasn’t we would definitely not hide in the store. And yes we were caught and reprimanded by my mum. I remember I peed in my clothing that day as she went on and on about how wrong what we were trying out was. She did not, however, punish me in any way.

Funny enough, it used to happen all the time, even in school. You would hear whispers of so and so being caught ‘doing bad manners’. Then we grew older and wiser and those things were forgotten. But not really. Every once in a while, some random person will remind you. I hate it. Sometimes I wonder why we did it.

Is it perhaps because it was a no-go topic? Is it perhaps because we were very curious to find out what our parents did not think we were trying to explore that early? Do kids do these things today? Can it be avoided? Do kids just want to do what they see adults do? Just like cha mama na baba. I am pretty sure not every child tried to do any form of these silly explorations.

I know for sure that my mum learnt a thing or two from this firstborn and proceeded to always sensitize my siblings after me against it. I also know that I would have turned into a very wayward girl if it were not for my mum. Mum gave me all the information that most parents shy away from right on. In fact, at some point, I remember telling some girls what periods were in class three. In whispers. Because speaking about such things in school was taboo. It would spark ‘a case’ where you’d be paraded in front of the whole school and caned for speaking about bad things.

A bit later on in upper primary, there were more ‘cases’ that make neither head nor tail in retrospective. Most were about kids coupling in theory. Some keyholders that had Jack and Rose pictures were actually banned in the school. Lol. Others were about drawings in the urinal. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?

You see, sexuality is a topic you can never avoid. You cannot afford to pretend that a child has no private parts and expect them not to find out soon from someone else. Kwanza I have a problem with the way they are not even shown in those ‘Parts of the Body’ topics in books and charts. You know that child knows there’s something we are all trying to hide from that point on. I know it would be weird to point them out, right? Why is that? Probably because they are private, Shiku.

Even if you do not tell the child the big name for her vagina or penis, whatever you choose to call it, tell her that no one should touch it. (You should, however, call it what it is. I was taught to call these parts ridiculous names back in the day. Funny names.) Tell him all the time when you give him a bath. And later when she is a bit older, tell her what it is really called and why it’s private. And why it should be private till she is old enough (and married in my book). This will prevent friends from talking him into touching. Or even worse messed up grownups like that househelp who infected a kid with STIs. Lord!

I am not one to shy away from this topic because I know better. Even if I hate the memories, I need to talk about it. Innocent and harmless as they were, some kids were not as lucky. They went through real sexual abuse from grownups and still labelled it as bad manners, never to tell anyone till later in life. The stories on newspapers are evidence. There’s nothing to hide. I am not a parent yet but I have first-hand observer experience on how to handle it. Approach with care but do not pretend sexual curiosity does not exist in the young. Answer them when they ask or someone else will.

Memories

(By the way, my WordPress had ‘refused’ to publish this post until Sasahost helped me out. I guess it was wondering what’s gotten into me. 😀 )

Categories
Love

Like a child

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights before the dark hour of reason grows.

These words, by John Betjeman, ushered me into the movie The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Instantly, I knew that it was going be a movie about the innocence of a child. Then out of the blue, the infamous swastika sign is thrown at you. And it all dawned on me that the movie was going to be about a child during the Holocaust. I braced myself for the inevitable.

At the risk of spoiling everything for one who has never watched the movie, the movie revolves around eight-year-old Bruno. (The role is played by the stunning Asa Butterfield. That boy always gets me whether it’s in Merlin or Hugo. I guess it’s the blue eyes.)

Bruno is forced to move away from his home to a new one in the countryside as his father is a high-ranking soldier in the Nazi government. He has no choice but to move. The first thing he notices when he looks out the window of his new bedroom is a ‘farm’ where children wear ‘pyjamas’. He asks his mum and dad about it, but no one tells him it is a concentration camp and that the ‘strange people’ are Jews.

He meets a desolate boy called Shmuel who is unfortunate enough to be a Jew and on the other side of that electric fence. In a strange turn of events, Bruno ends up in the concentration camp in a gas chamber with his dear friend Shmuel.

Fiction or not, Bruno would not have ended up in that gas chamber if dad and mum had answered his questions. One time, he asked what the horrid smell that filled the air every now and then was and his dad told him that people at the camp were burning rubbish.

On another occasion, his elder sister tells him that what he thinks is a farm, is in fact, a camp for Jews; because they were bad people who needed to be contained. Bruno cannot, for the life of him, understand how there did not exist a good Jew. Shmuel was good! Surely!

I am not a parent yet. I am also of the opinion that I have a long way to go, but I live with kids every single day when I am not in school. (And that is saying a lot, now that I am bound to be home for seven months. I am still hoping it will turn out to be a bad rumour.)

When you hide things from children, they find out sooner or later. And what they find out may or may not be the truth. Bruno peeped into a room where his father and colleagues were watching a propaganda film, painting concentration camps as happy places for Jews. And he believed it.

We try to mask reality from children because we think they are safe without the truth. While that may be logical, it is one thing to tell a child that he or she was purchased in a market and it is another to tell him that he will learn about reproduction when he grows a little older.

Is something is indeed ok, why hide it from a child? When you think about it, the reason you hide most things from a child is because deep inside, you know it’s downright wrong. If something is bad for a child, isn’t it bad for you too?

If you read Billy Collins poem, The History Teacher, the folly of keeping children from the truth becomes clearer. While the teacher struggles to paint the dark parts of History pretty, the world teaches his students reality when they get out of class.

I know some situations may not necessarily fit into this argument. Nevertheless, think about it. While I cannot think like a child any more, I can learn from them. And so can you. A child will cry because of something you did and the next minute come sit on your lap. Because children are still looking up to you and becoming what you make them.

Like a child, do not hold grudges. And like a child, love. Love without letting reason and stereotypes jumble things up, so much so, that it is no longer reasonable.