Some years back, I sat in a matatu (public van) next to a lady and a young man who seemed to be her son. He looked fresh in school, most probably a mono. Monos are usually pretty easy to point out in the crowd you know 😀 . So anyway, this lady seemed really agitated about something her son had done. They had some crispy-looking tuskys bags; seemed like they were from shopping. It was the beginning of a new term so it wasn’t really a surprise. This lady kept on ranting, in a strained yet low tone. She was really struggling to control her rage so she doesn’t end up shouting at him. From the complaining, it seemed like the son had given out some school stuff to some friends or so. The young boy sat quietly as the mother continuously pushed him and slapped him on his head. It was quite a private confrontation, none would have noticed apart from us who were right next to them. I felt a bit sad for the boy; his head lowered and his eyes watery. When you think of this scenario, and if you judge only from this event, one could easily jump into conclusion that this was a harsh mother or a bad mother or a mother who simply doesn’t realize that a high school boy is already a grown man. And perhaps, if you met another mother hugging her form one boy before he leaves to boarding school, you’d say, ‘aww, that’s a loving mother’ but perhaps that is the only time she ever hugs him?
I remember looking at the rage on this woman’s face and thinking of many possibilities that made her angry at this moment. Perhaps she was a poor lady barely able to make the needs meet. Perhaps she’s a single mother who carries this burden of raising a young man alone. Perhaps her son has been doing this repeatedly. Perhaps she had to sacrifice getting medication just to provide for his school needs. On the other hand, what if the son was being bullied at school? Maybe he was trying to fit in so he decides saying ‘no’ is not an option? Perhaps he was helping a more needy mate? I mean, who knows what’s the real story apart from the two themselves? We could play and replay a hundred conclusions on this one scenario. Hell, we could even make a whole book or a movie out of this, but we can never know the truth. They all remain to be conclusions and sometimes, they are just irrational or improper.
However much of a genius you are, you can never know what struggle someone is going through unless they decide to let you know. You can never know why they do what they do. Or what sacrifices they had to make to be where they are or be the way they are. I mean, if you saw a teenager into drugs, why would you be so fast to blame the parents? What if the parents are the ones most affected by their child’s behaviour? That baby making tantrums in the airport or supermarket may not be because the parents raised them the wrong way. Sometimes, its just out of anyone’s control. Sometimes these are just tests for the people involved. Sometimes this is NOT the whole story. Just because you saw someone scolding their baby sister, doesn’t mean they love them any less. It doesn’t mean they are bullying them. It just means, you have NO IDEA on how their lives are entirely. Perhaps she scolds her but still plays with her afterwards? I mean really, who are we to judge? Who are we to declare people harsh, bad, evil, rude, just because we met them a couple of times? Or even the other way round; declaring someone to be kind, loving, caring based on one or two events. It’s ridiculous. It is like judging a movie based on the trailer. Well maybe the trailer does give you an impression of what the movies is about, but it doesn’t give you the whole story right? You don’t know what went on behind the scenes. What happened until it got to be where it is. It doesn’t give you the whole picture…the bigger picture…
When you interact with people, always remember that whatever judgment you came up with about this one person, it could have ten, twenty other explanations. You are not God to decide which explanation explains what the person said or did best. Only they know best. Only they and God. Everyone has a story. It may not be pretty and maybe your judgment is correct after all, you still can never understand how they struggle with the situation. Not unless you want to help or support or guide or be there for a person, it is always better to keep your judgments to yourself.
Remember, there is ALWAYS A BIGGER PICTURE.
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Now my happy person is not exactly ‘happy’. He is very naughty, very stubborn, twice a cry baby as me but also very charming. So my typical day is either filled with his excited screams as he plays, jumps, jogs, matches around or violently, hysterically crying; you could hear him cry two blocks away. But he still makes me happy. Like the genuine deep joy you could ever have.
As any loving aunt, the first thing when I get home is search for him. I start calling his name right at the door. ‘Haasssaaaaaannn’ and I would chorus it one step at a time until I reach upstairs. Now my two year old nephew knows i’m the only one who calls him by that name so the moody him would choose whether to rush to the door to meet me or totally ignore me. When he decides to come to the door, he choruses my name back, calling me ‘Abby’. Spoiler though, once he reaches to the door, he extends his hand expecting ‘Chipsi kuku’ (these snacks for kids nowadays smh 😀 ). So recently, I decided I will not buy his love and thus, not getting much of a response.
‘Hassan’ was actually born two days before my graduation day and thus, I always considered him my graduation gift. On his delivery night, I volunteered to be the one sleeping over at the hospital; just to receive him. Picture that. Yet our relationship is a love-hate one or should we call it a one-sided love tale? He is vehemently rejecting me 9.9 out of 10 times. He doesn’t want me carrying him, sitting near him OR his mother or my mother or my father or anyone else in the family. He doesn’t want me touching them, hugging them or having any contact with anyone else. So he doesn’t want me but also, no one should want to be near me either. He doesn’t want me to look at him or even calling his name aimlessly either. Sometimes he pulls me out of the room entirely because ‘Why are you breathing my air?’ I think he considers me the black sheep of the family of some sorts? 😀 So most of the times he is letting out a shrill scream on my face. And I scream back. And he screams back and it ends up being a scream battle and I’d force carrying him and hugging him and he’d fight to get down and run off. Too much noise. He breaks my heart every single day and his tiny little smile just tends to heal me somehow. The irony of it all is that he’s got several personality traits like my own to the extent I feel like his real mother, even my family comments on the similarities. It’s insane I know but it makes me happy how we just get on each other’s nerves for the entire day like what other alternative did he leave me with? 😀
I almost always know what he needs when he actually comes to me or accepts me to carry him. He wants me to do him a favour. He either wants some juice, or some biscuit, or to bathe because he loves playing with water, or that I open a door for him…it just rotates around the list of things he likes or wants time to time. Yet sometimes out of the blue, he comes and hugs me, or kisses me, or just chorus my name for no reason and smile, or lets me bathe him joyfully or sit on my lap for more than one minute. At home we call them historical moments because they rarely happen. It’s like we are in this bad relationship but then sometimes he gets sober and remembers to appreciate. The historical moments are quickly documented; perhaps could even end up in Guinness World book records.
The biggest joke we have at home is that when he starts school, I’ll be the one to take him there because there’s a high probability he won’t cry for me 😀 Evil yeah? I wanna cry right now. But just last weekend I was in Nairobi and I got a detailed report of how he kept moving from one room to another, calling out my name. When I video-called later that night, he had a big frown on his face. I kept calling his name but he turned his face away. Trust me, I had a lot of convincing and sweet-talking to do when I came back.
One day during my normal tag of war with him, my dad told me, ‘Just leave him alone. You can’t force love… but he’ll come to appreciate you someday.’ And I think that really sank in. Like so many times in our lives we force people to acknowledge our presence, to care for us, to love us back and it never happens. But when love is genuine, it doesn’t necessarily have to be mutual. Yet it will still be appreciated; sooner or later. Or maybe 16/18 years from now in shaa Allah, he’ll come read this and bring me converse and a Khaled Hosseini book (yes, I have my priorities right) with a sweet note who knows? 😀 So for now I’m okay with this hostile almost violent relationship we have. He is just two anyway. He hasn’t even started talking proper words apart from the gibberish noise and some Chinese sorta words he speaks. Otherwise, he’s this cute, very charming and kind baby. Totally adorable. So i’m planning to still keep him as my happy person because really, it is these little moments with him that really make my world. Alhamdulilah.
If you want to be amused, amazed, shocked, perplexed, inspired, totally disgusted on how human beings are and can be, please go to the campus, university or even to a college. By the end of your first semester, your mind lies to you that you’ve seen it all, yet, you haven’t. These characters are increasingly surprising; you just never know when to get your next bombshell. I am sure you will relate to some extent to the following characters. Perhaps the time for self reflection as well?
1.The Manipulator: You may or may not be friends with this person. You may never have talked despite being classmates. But since it is within a class of over a hundred students, it is all cool. Well it is cool, until this stranger-classmate suddenly recognizes you as a classmate and a dear friend and they casually decide to ask you for a ‘loan’. The kind you will easily (or maybe not) fall into their act of ‘something very urgent’ and you decide to help this fellow with what can be a weeks’ time pocket money. They will be very apologetic for asking, be very sweet and grateful for your help. They will promise to pay you back soon and even apologize for the delay until slowly and gradually they totally avoid you everywhere. In class, your phone calls, your text messages. You will remind him of your debt until you get frustrated and let it go. Then they prey on the next person. The manipulator may not necessarily be your classmate. Could be a hostel neighbour or a friend of a friend or a union colleague. They are everywhere.
2.The Manipulated: Is usually a peoples’ person; a charming fellow with a large network. Or the total opposite; just a timid introvert somewhere who is known to have a problem saying no. Everyone recognizes you for your friendship and willingness to help. They fish your pockets in the name of friendship. They will always include you in outing plans, lunches, parties, shopping sprees because they expect you to be the one paying the bill. Sadly, your friends are not your friends. They are your pocket’s friend. You go dry, they go missing.
3.Food Visitors: They know you like cooking or perhaps that your room always has something to bite. They may not even be your friends. Well, we all love visitors don’t we? But sometimes we all know we are just being used. They invite themselves to your room’ mostly during your cooking/eating hours. Always pretending to be apologetic for coming ‘at the wrong time’. It is not the wrong time, it was the intended time. Where there is free food, there is free-ndship.
4.The complainer: The one always complaining that they lack something. It could be food, money or even hair oil. They hope for your sympathy so as you can keep sharing your stuff with them. It is all good, fine, let us share. But unfortunately, they only want you to share and not the vice versa.
5.The selfish: This one is always a pest on his/her mates while he/she saves what she has. They could be rich, working or having enough yet they still opt to store what they have for other luxuries which most of the times are unnecessary. They could survive an entire semester depending on others.
6.The prying one: Always too inquisitive about other peoples’ lives. What you ate last night, where you slept last week, whom you went out with, where you buy your clothes. They enter your room, open your wardrobe without permission, log into your laptop etc…well, curiosity did kill the cat, don’t they know?
7.Keeping up with the rich: They could be coming from struggling families, but they yearn to have a high lifestyle. They go beyond to achieve this which most of the times involves manipulating friends and partners. They associate themselves with rich groups of friends and hang out in places beyond their budget.
8.The focused one: This one knows where they are coming from. Is content with the life they lead and has goals. They are serious about their campus life because they have a vision and avoid too much interactions.
9.The religious one: They uphold high values of their religion and despite the crazy campus life, they strive to become better individuals and avoid the temptations.
10.The bookworm: Mostly found in the library or in some quiet corner, reading. It could be anything really; a course book, a novel book or even a cooking book. They feel safer in that world than the wildness around.
11.One leading a balanced life: They know when to study and when to have fun with friends. They have limits and spend their time wisely.
12.Spendthrift & spending influencer: They spend a lot and sometimes, unnecessarily. But they make sure they are not alone. They always invite other friends along and they encourage their friends persistently and with so much determination to spend extra too…or sometimes, to spend on them. ‘If I am getting bankrupt, we should get bankrupt together’.
13.The hustlers: They multi-task, a lot! They study while working, sometimes more than one job. They are hard working and go out of their way to make ends meet and to achieve their goals. They are in several groups, clubs and unions and taking part in several extra-curriculum activities.
14.Study distractors: They don’t study and they don’t like studying so it always bothers them to see you studying. They will distract you in any way possible or mock how you are leading a boring life of books only. And sometimes, they could be ones that study yet they wouldn’t want you to study more than them. They just try to bring you down in one way or another.
If there is anything I learnt from my University life is that, people are so different. This barely covers it all. There are other more positive characters and the vice versa too. You need to know whom you are allowing into your life. You need to be careful, to be keen and alert, to be humble, to be empathetic. You never know where someone is coming from or what troubles they have or how much sacrifice was made until they reached that place. Be considerate. Be kind. Have limits, because too much of anything is poisonous. This is the place you either change yourself for the better, build healthy bonds and personal growth or it is the place that you entirely lose yourself. Reflect.
It is 3 days to Eid…My aunt says it is okay to go out to check out stuff in the shops at night. There’s music and loads of people outside. I mean that’s an understatement in Amu. We’ve made our rounds, have sat at the sea front and ate our ice-creams, and now are heading back home. We have passed the ‘main road’ and are walking towards the narrow path that’s going to lead us home and two guys are cat calling behind us. Actually, they have been ever since we met them out side a shop but we just ignored them. One was carrying these metallic curtain poles or whatever…and the other, holding the plastic material that was covering them. I assume they either fell off or seemed too slippery for the other guy to be carrying the poles. We’ve ignored them for a while and the guy carrying the plastics, walks too closely and rubs the plastics against each other making weird sounds at us. I stop, abruptly and turn towards him. ‘Didn’t expect that mufaka, did you?’ (No, I didn’t tell him this…it is what came to mind when I saw the horror on his face) He halts and is clearly stunned.
“Haya sasa niambie…kule likua siezi smama sabu kuna watu wengi. Wataka nini?” I tell him.
He is out of words. The expression on his face, I’d pay a thousand dimes to look at again. He is quiet. The other guy laughs at him. I stand my ground still staring at him and he says “Staki kitu”
” Basi acha kuita watu njiani kama paka wa babako,” and we continue walking and he stops his weird hauls.
That was bitchy? Or that was bravery?
Boys,-and yeah I’m saying boys because no grown, matured man in his right mind would do that kinda nonsense- what is it that you want from girls that whenever they pass around a group of you, you definitely have to talk weird shit about/to them? To whom exactly do you want to prove that you’re a guy and she a girl? With whom exactly are you trying to have a cheap and weird conversation? And most of all, why is it that as a girl I cannot be left alone to walk in silence or without my heart skipping a beat like ‘Oh boy here comes the catcalls’ as I play in mind what to or what not to reply back? I have replied on one occasion when some dude went on like ‘Salamu haitii mimba’ with ‘Hii yako yatia mimba ya upepo…takiani kuzaa mashuzi mimi’ while I walked away.
Onto another scenario. A girl is dressed nicely, or skimpily for that matter. Does that mean they are calling for you to attack them with weird comments about their body features? I mean where on the world’s record was it mentioned that whenever I dress, its a guy I wanna impress? That aside. So you meet a girl, all hijabed up and all, you make a pass at her. She ignores it, clearly indicating that she isn’t at all interested. What gives you the right to insult her? Or even worse insist. Listen boo-boo…I am not interested and there is nothing you can say that will change my mind. I will ignore you and when you can’t seem to shut up, I will slap you with a single comeback which will either make you feel as small as you literally are, or will make you Slap/Hit me. (That’s a case for another day). The same goes for online sexual bullying. The number of times girls have felt insecure and always always self-conscious about what to expect from dudes is alarming. What makes you think that just because I am replying or reacting to your comment mean I want anything personal to do with you? Why can it not be all joking and fun and you just had to bring feelings into this whole thing making it weird?!
This isn’t all. And this is so unfair. I read one time on tumblr, a post where a girl said her sister was doing some research, and she wanted to see if say we are walking towards each other (I mean girl and guy). Who is supposed to let who pass first. The girl concluded with ‘So far, she( the sister) has collided with 20 men.’ I tried to do this once on the road towards Sawa Centre. It is so crowded with people and tuktuks and you’re right…I did have to put up my hands in front so guys don’t bump on me. Don’t worry religious freaks, I know you’re all ready to hit me with ‘This is why Rasoul (S.A.W) forbade women from going to the markets.’ Which is all okay until you realize you don’t have a male in the house and have to go to the ‘market’ by yourself. My point is, why is it that just because I am the girl, I am always the one to be on the sideline? To always be on the look out. When Rasoul talked of hayaa and lowering of gaze, did he at any point restrict it to females only? IDK, educate me.
I have gone to class with boys, I have taken the same exam as them and I might say even topped the exams. I am in a faculty, one that has men in it. Lets say it’s Corporate Business or Media. Why is it that every other aspect of me is stepped on and looked down upon and only my feminine nature pops up and gets your attention? Why is it that I,- a hardworking and so very potential and awesome woman- will be subjected to sexual harassment or asked for sexual favors before I am promoted. Or why is it that I cannot be treated fairly to a male workmate, just because I am a female, and that the equal treatment is made to look to me as a favor someone is pulling for me…and yeah I have to return the favor, sexually? I think its what they call it ‘Sleeping your way to Success’.
Why is it that guys, who are well off in some way or another think they’re the real deal, and that just because of that, they have the audacity to make a woman feel less of a person? Why is it that we are all treating it as normal for a guy to demand or make passes at girls-yeah several-just because they’re male? Why is it that it is always my fault as a girl for being too free to be out there thus calling for weird attention? Why is it that it is the girl who should stop a weird pass made at her, otherwise it will send a message that she wants it and is totally okay with it. Like why is it that its okay for boys to do all that and they get away with the notion ‘Boys will always be Boys?’ and as a girl have to justify myself. Why is it that y’all people don’t address this and make it clear that females are humans and for once don’t look at what she’s wearing and instead look at what she’s bringing to the goddamn table because ‘damn! half her beauty is her brains’? And most of all, why is it that y’all think being made weird passes at or getting uncalled for sexual advances is the rent a girl has to pay to exist on earth as a female?
The kind of lives we lead nowadays is quite sickening, disgusting and most of all, heartbreaking. Indeed this world is full of trials. All universal religions believe that we are here to be tested and on a mission to prove our faith. That aside, there are many many disappointing situations that could be avoided entirely if only we are mature enough. If only we are thoughtful, empathetic, patient and truthful to ourselves and others.
And honestly, I don’t get it. I don’t get it how our conscious is still so intact even when we know we have ruined someone’s life. How we intentionally and very soberly, mastermind the downfall of our very own friends and people who trust us. Doesn’t it bite you inside? Doesn’t it pinch you deep inside that someone somewhere cries for the difficulty you put them through? For the money you borrowed and intentionally refuse to return? For the trust they gave you before stepping on it like a used cigarette? For the times they awaited you to take responsibility for the role you play? Doesn’t it eat you up that someone wakes up in the deadliest of nights to cry to God about you. About what YOU did to them? About how you tore their hearts and how their souls ache for you or because of you? Doesn’t it bother you that you are the reason your mother no longer smiles? That someone slept hungry today? That someone gave up on life? That someone is contemplating suicide just because you have been so reckless with your words?
I don’t get how a man carries himself, step by step, full of confidence and promises, full of charm and over-stretched smiles to a lady’s home. He marries this woman and takes her away from her loving family, from her comfortable life, from her king-sized bed, from her cute kitchen, from her tiny library that has been her source of bliss of years, just to turn her life into hell. I don’t get it, because even if this woman was having a miserable, tough life in her own home, you have no business giving her hope just to transfer her from one hell to another. I don’t get it. Were you forced to marry her? Did anyone hold a knife on your neck to take her to your home? And even if you were pushed to marry her, does she have to pay her entire life for a mistake your father, mother or grandparents did to you??
I don’t get it when parents are so irresponsible, so thoughtless, so immature, when they make their children pay for their failed marriages. I don’t get it, how you even allow yourself be the reason your child falls into depression, why your child has insomnia, why your child wants to end their life before it has even started. Why do we assign ourselves these duties if we are not ready for them? I don’t get it how we allow ourselves be the reason our children justify their depression with,’I come from a divorced family.’
I know you don’t care. Most of us don’t. We are busy faking our happiness we forget how much we damage other people. But you know what’s the scariest yet still the beauty of life? Whatever you give out is what comes back to you. Give out love and compassion and it comes back to you. Give out misery and tears and you’ll remain wondering ‘where did I go wrong?’ You want to know where you went wrong? It was that person you hurt and broke. It was that person you stole from. It was that person you oppressed. It is the prayers of that person you mistreated being answered. You are wondering why you are never succeeding in whatever you do? How misery engulfs you like charcoal on fire? Find out who you hurt; could be intentionally or even unintentionally. Their heart ache is perhaps the reason you won’t be able to smile for the next few years. Indeed, what goes around comes around. It’s all a matter of time.
And you know people think anxiety is a joke. This thing is real. I mean how do you explain how I poured myself hot water instead of tea for breakfast, how I almost served my brother with hot chilli instead of stew, how I made my entire family search for my lost cash that was just in my wallet even though I had rechecked almost ten times for the same money. Miscalculations, don’t blame me. Anxiety makes me forget passwords. On this day, somehow my watch was even one hour ahead which had me up and in town one hour earlier. I call two friends, my best friend tells me, ‘Woman relax. It’s not yet time.’ and another says,’Are you the one putting up the tents?’ All that for just a speech. Thank God I wasn’t born in a war-torn zone. We all know how that would have gone down.
For me, giving a speech is like making me in-charge of setting out a drone. It is pushing me off the cliff. It is asking me to confront a terrorist which in this case would be my anxiety. My best friend says I have to get out of my comfort zone. So I did give the speech after all. It was hilarious; okay maybe not exactly but I ashamed myself by breaking down in front of the tired crowd who had just returned from the ‘world Polio Day’ walk. I could hear them clapping for me perhaps pitying this small human in front of them or perhaps some could understand what it means to have your book published. I didn’t invite anyone because I wasn’t sure how friendly my anxiety would be that day. So y’all please save me the blame 🙂
Nine years ago, at the age of fourteen when I started writing my first small book, I never thought this day would come. It has been a very long journey of repeated failure on my writing career. It was filled with criticisms and ‘not good enough’ statements over and over again. So when Nafisa (God bless her soul for this) trusted my ability and allowed me to write her story, I was moved. Of course it wasn’t the first book I expected to publish and perhaps its not my best work yet, it is a milestone for me alhamdulilah. And I keep sharing bits of my story on failure and triumph so that no one could ever think that achieving goals was ever going to be easy. Sometimes you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and you somehow have to learn how to do it well enough.
I wouldn’t be here hadn’t it been for God’s grace, for my own persistence, for the tremendous support from my family especially, from my close friends, for mama two; my mentor (may Allah rest her soul in peace), those who helped me a lot editing the pieces and all the readers who give me a reason to write every other day. This is me admitting that I am not yet where I want to be and that I won’t stop here. That i’ll keep pushing myself to face my fears and tackle them. Better things to come in shaa Allah.
I’ll also like to thank Mayfair Bank for sponsoring the publishing of the book.
To reserve your copy kindly contact me at: 0704 731 560. The book goes at 700. For those who want to know what the book is about, kindly search here in the blog for Unbroken Wings; the first three chapters are available. I will also appreciate any opinions and positive criticisms on the book once you’ve had your copy.
It is 3:47 a.m. I am lying in a twist such that my upper body is facing a different direction from my lower part. Yogis would call that the supine twist. I am staring at the shadow of the circling fan on the right wall. I am gazing into the nothingness; blank space. It reminds me of my own brain; tabula rasa. A clean slate. Back to square one. I pick up my phone and reply some messages. In the morning, one would ask, ‘But what keeps you awake at 3:47?’ Uncertainty… This part of my life is called, uncertainty.
I have been here before; this uncertainty phase. It always finds a way to catch up with me. But maybe this is what makes my life interesting. The uncertainty. The not knowing of where you are headed to or even what you want. It reminds me of this famous gif on uncertainty. I smile.
My boss had said, ‘We are caging this bird. We need to let her fly and grow her own wings’ referring to me. This is the only permanent workplace I have worked for nine months. If it was a marriage, I would be having a baby. But I don’t have a baby. It was a comfortable place, perhaps too comfortable for me to have any baby by the end of it all. Then the other day, just on an impulse, I walked in to my boss and said, “I feel confined. I need to grow.” I am not good with confined spaces. Must be the claustrophobia. But I can’t really say I just acted on a whim, I had thought about it for almost two months yet it still feels like a reckless move. My manager sat me down for that ‘goodbye pep talk’ and I asked, ‘so how long do I have?’ She said, ‘One week.’
One week. I remember when it got to the seventh month, I thought to myself, ‘wow…am I really doing this?’
‘I have no plan.’ I was talking to myself more than I was, to her.
‘I absolutely have no plan.’ And suddenly, I could feel the heat at the pit of my stomach. For the first time I was terrified of my action. How was I going to learn how to start flying within a week without leading myself to starvation? Uncertainty.
It is also just two days ago that I realized my side business was an NGO in disguise. We were doing charity instead of business. I need to go back to the drawing board…this means back to square one. Did I just throw away my last straw keeping me afloat on a stormy night? I curl up in my bed. Uncertainty.
A mentor recently told me, ‘You are already successful, you just haven’t realized it yet.’ And I said, ‘There’s something i’m looking for that I haven’t found. I don’t know what it is but when I find it i’ll recognize it. I still lack utmost satisfaction in me.’ Then he said, ‘That’s where our different definitions of success comes in. Everyone has their own.’
I now lie flat staring at the ceiling. I am not sure whether I am abnormal, too ambitious or simply living an illusion.A friend told me, ‘You can’t just make an abrupt decision. You need a contingency plan.’ But a contingency plan never existed in my dictionary. So ironic for an over-thinker I know but then not having a plan always pushed me to the edge. So the plan has always been ‘not having a plan’ and i’d just spend hours over-thinking my lack of a plan. Nonetheless, this made me explore all fields I could get myself into. It seems like an adventure and I love adventures. There’s the thrill and excitement that comes with it every time I tried something new. It’s terrifying. So terrifying. The uncertainty. Not knowing where life is pushing you into.
Sigh. Perhaps i’m in the wrong planet or perhaps i’m taking longer strides than my legs can stretch?
I have known failure far too many times to not know the feeling of uncertainty that comes with it. But I never regretted any impulsive action I ever took. Like the times I cancelled contracts just because my clients or bosses were crushing my self-esteem . Who does that really? But my peace of mind is my priority and I just decided i’ll stick to that even when i’m starving to death. If you can trust me with your vision then you might as well trust my abilities. Or the times I started new courses without really thinking ahead or even whether I had the time and resources to do it. My best friend says I’m becoming a risk taker. Risk taker sounds good. I’ll gladly take the title.
I’m uncertain of what i’m doing, or what I want or where i’m headed to. I just know I have big dreams and goals bigger than myself. I am back at the starting point and doing this all over again but what’s the worse that could happen? Me staring at the ceiling at 3:47 a.m. Not so bad. This too shall pass.
I am still staring at the white ceiling and for a moment, I assume the wall is life. And I say, ‘Surprise Me.’ Life has never disappointed with surprises and the electric shocks that awaken us. But so does God. He never disappoints. My eyes are getting heavier now. I slowly drift back to slumber land. I still have one more week to plan my new adventure…
I still haven’t found what i’m looking for…
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I came across this meme the other day, it was actually a tweet of someone asking something like, “What motivates you to live?” and someone replies, “Suicide is haraam.” And you know it sounds funny but we all know there is so much truth and pain behind most of the memes. Maybe it is because they are quite relatable and you think, “Oh, at least i’m not the only miserable one.” so we just laugh it off even when are writhing in pain deep inside.
I am not sure how things got to the state we are in right now, the current generation that is. I, for one, know that several people would attempt suicide hadn’t it been illegal and an abomination in almost all cultures and religions. At this instance, many have thought of suicide, some have contemplated it, some have attempted it and some went ahead and committed it. What is so wrong about us? Is it that we are too soft or is it that we are just impatient beings who want bliss on a silver platter.
From what I always hear about the previous generations, our parents and grandparents went through a whole lot of hardship too. They would walk for hours to get education, they too suffered due to unemployment, from forced marriages, from ugly divorces, from death of parents and what not…They too suffered but it is important to note that they survived and that suicide was almost unheard of except for the abnormal or mentally ill patients or in very rare cases, the normal people. Were their hearts made from harder and metallic content different from what we are? Or are we simply the spoilt generation?… I am still trying to figure this out yet on the other hand, I do have an idea of where this springs from.
Before I go on. Wait, did you see where that famous vlogger, lady X, had lunch yesterday? Breathtaking right?!! Such a beautiful place and the food looked so delicious! After that she went for a spa…you know, those self-love stuffs we keep talking about. And Mr Y, that instagrammer with 20k followers posted this epic image of himself. He wasn’t doing anything really, but he looks so savage just how he ‘lives’ you know. Its like some people are paid for just existing. Ah, but that’s not even the who we should be talking about. There’s this fashionista who was showcasing her new wardrobe, I almost cried at how gorgeous the artistic prints are. But she is too pretty herself you know, we have to give her the due credit. My God, where are these young people getting all this money to just enjoy life? I mean, I have a job and I earn a salary yet I can’t even afford to be as happy. Sigh. Never mind. Where were we before talking about these seemingly perfect humans?
Aha. Suicide. Have you ever contemplated it? Do you feel miserable because your age mates seem to have everything figured out so well? Your age mates are going for adventures, they are getting married to these ‘perfect humans like themselves’, they are having cute babies, they go to the beach…and you? What do you do? probably nothing compared to what they do right? And that ends up messing you all the time isn’t it? Like why can’t I have any of that? Don’t I deserve it? I know for sure, if suicide wasn’t haraam, many would have tried it.
I think the current generation, my generation, are living in a complete illusion. We are soo engrossed in portraying how our lives are okay, no, in fact, we are more than okay. We are doing too good. We want our ‘haters’ to know that we are doing quite fine even when our haters are probably just people prettier than us or perhaps more successful. We want to be fancied, to be famous, to be noticed everywhere we go. We want to be able to afford any hotel in town and so we do anything to afford that. We want to be savage, to be envied and be seen like hot chocolate. But we all know in reality what goes down in our lives don’t we? We know what we show off and all that ‘awww thank you boo’, is a lot of pretense, sadness and pain. We pressure ourselves a lot and use so much of our energy in proving that we matter, meanwhile, losing the shreds of true peace and happiness within us. For the rest who are not obsessed with being ‘somebody’, we get carried away with what we hear and see about our friends, or these very happy couples and all these famous young people and we push ourselves way too hard to at least lead a ‘good life’ like theirs.
The truth is, what we see online is not even half the truth about what our lives or anyone’s life is about. There are so many fake smiles, fake laughter and fake lives plastered up on our walls to show the world we are doing great. But in reality, everyone is struggling. Each and every human being is struggling in some way. They may not show it but before obsessing over someone’s seemingly perfect life, always keep that in mind. And I know this has been said so many times even with the celebrities themselves, but maybe we should remind one another more often.
Keep in mind that each one of us has their own special journey, their own timeline and their own milestones. Concentrate on yourself, your special self and your special journey. Be patient and love yourself. So if you are thinking of suicide, or contemplate it from time to time, do know that the world is bigger than your struggles. You shall overcome them and you will be happy by God’s will. Life has never been a straight line. No one has gone through misery throoouughout and no one has ever been entirely happy forever. There are ups and downs, so with every low remember that your high is not so far away. Be kind to one another, you never know who needs it. And always remember that when God made suicide illegal, it was because He knew he created you with enough strength within you to tackle your battles. Have faith please and pray a lot.
I know there are a lot other factors that contribute to the increment of suicidal attempts, but I thought to discuss about this first. If your struggles are overwhelming you way too much, please seek help. Please don’t feel ashamed to be helped. If you need a counselor, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, i’ll link you to one. You never have to go through the storms alone.
To end this, i’ll just drop this forward I received this morning. It was written by one lovely counsellor:
“In the counseling session last night, the sister, after committing 100% to starting her journey of healing and self-care took a step back and asked very sorrowfully,
“But Sr. Bela, what about the years and years of damage, isn’t it going to effect my future?”
So, after taking her through a few more therapeutic processes to answer this question, I added – the example of a man who faced years and years of damage.
He was thrown into the well by his own brothers. Wasn’t it enough to inculcate fear in him and make him lose trust in relationships? Damage. He was sold in a market. Wasn’t it enough to ruin his confidence and sabotage his self-esteem? Damage. He was invited to do an immoral act by a woman. Wasn’t it enough to make him lose his chastity? Damage. He was imprisoned for many years. Wasn’t it enough to give him the liberty of playing victim for the rest of his life? Damage.
But what happened as a result of all these damages?
He stood confidently in the court of a King convincing the king to make him – what we can understand as – a Finance Minister. The years of damage made him – PURE GOLD.
Our beloved – Yusuf A.S.
After years of trauma upon trauma, he emerged the victor.
Lesson: Your past only does to you what you allow it to do. This is the reason Prophets never dwelt on their past and remained persistently positive – came what may.
The damages and trauma come in our lives to
1- erase our sins 2- elevate our ranks 3- teach us what happiness and an easy life could never teach us. 4- make us PURE GOLD.
Take lesson. Learn. Implement and move on.
The victor inside you is waiting for it’s awakening.” – Bela Khan.
If suicide wasn’t haraam, I hope you’d be strong enough you still wouldn’t try it.
One thing for sure, I really admire women empowerment, girl power, girl-child education, women working together across boundaries and beyond all limits to make a difference and the kind of powerful vibe successful women send off. It’s a beauty really. I mean, for once we don’t have to hate on each other on who’s got longer hair or a better husband, right? Trust me, all women relate to these scenarios, especially the times they almost had cat fights with their frenemies. You know, those ladies who go to work out at the same gym because its the trending thing, give each other those big ‘aaawww nice to see you’ hugs yet wanting to stab one another anyway. Don’t worry, we women have weird relationships. So, I mean for a change we get to hear women working peacefully for more than 24 hours. That’s close to a miracle yo! Okay, maybe a miracle is such a hard word. We do have several aggressive, intelligent women who do work together in a civilized manner and collaborate perfectly, its amazing. And at first, to me, this is what feminism was all about; creating the best out of women; beating stereotypes, elevating one another, appreciating one another, helping one another and of course, being successful together. But then ladies got too excited about it, things escalated and feminists started being radical. It became a competition.
Suddenly we wanted to prove to the world that women are better than men, that we can do without the men, that men are literally useless in our lives, and that yes, women have a right to be an equal to man. Now feminism is quite a wide concept and many feminists are inclined to different definitions of it. I’ll just talk about this one that amuses me; the one where ladies use up a lot of their energy to prove their worth being above the man. The idea which shifted their entire priority from what they should do to what they want to show the world they can do.
Someone once said that women were not created to do what a man can do, rather, what he couldn’t do. I mean, wasn’t our mother Hawa (Eve) created to give company to our father Adam and not the vice versa? Doesn’t that show that a man actually does need a woman after all. He needs her a lot. It can be a mother, a sister, a wife…whichever female role she owns, a man needs her and that’s undeniable. Just let these men live alone for a week without any woman at all and see how he loses his calm and become the male version of Harley Quinn.
When the prophet p.b.u.h got his first revelation, whom did he run to if not his wife Khadija (R.A.A) to give her comfort? Why then would a woman go beyond limits to prove her worth and status yet the religion already puts her in a very high place?
The ayah in surat Nisaa goes like this, “Men have authority (are protectors and maintainers) over women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard.”
Also in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Umar, the Prophet (saws) said, “Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible (for those under your ward). A ruler is a guardian and is responsible (for his subjects); a man is a guardian of his family and responsible (for them); a wife is a guardian of her husband’s house and she is responsible (for it), a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible (for that). Beware! All of you are guardians and are responsible (for those your wards).”
Our religion hasn’t made us equal because we can never be. Each of the sexes was designated with specific power and roles yet it never made a woman any less valuable than a man. In fact, she was raised in status more than she ever was in the pre-Islamic societies.
The Qur’an’s basic stance is that Muslim women are first and foremost Muslims, the religious equals of men (e.g., Q. 33:73).i.e.in regards to punishment and reward for their deeds, no one will be favoured. It refers to women and men as one another’s “protectors.” (Q. 9:71). Muslim marriage is described in terms of love and mercy (Q. 7:189; 30:21), and the Qur’an describes spouses as “garments” for one another (Q. 2:187).
A woman and a man were meant to partners, associates, each other’s better half. And don’t get it wrong, women are allowed to be vocal, to stand up for their rights, and to be as strong as they desire so long as it doesn’t go beyond the limits of religion.
There is the incident when Umar (R.A.A), the second khalifa of Islam, one day delivered a sermon against the practice of settling large sums as Mahr (dower-money), it was a woman who stood up and objected, saying: Oh Ameerul Mu’mineen, how dare you oppose the Qur’anic dictate that even a heap of gold may be settled on the wife as dowry? Umar did not resent this, but on the contrary showed appreciation for this woman’s courage of her conviction and right to freedom of speech. He exclaimed: “The woman is right and Umar is wrong.”
Also in the story of Khawla bint Tha’labah and her husband Aws ibn al-Samit as is narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud and quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir at the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah.
“By Allah, concerning me and Aws ibn al-Samit, Allah revealed the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered. One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again. He became angry and said, ‘You are to me as the back of my mother.’ Then he went out and sat for a while in the meeting-place of his people. Then he came back, and wanted to resume marital relations with me. I said, ‘No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwayla (i.e., Khawla), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) decide between us.’ He tried to force himself on me, but I was able to resist because I was a young woman and he was a weak old man. I pushed him away. Then I went to one of my (female) neighbors and borrowed a cloak from her and went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I sat before him, told him what my husband had done to me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband’s bad temper. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘O Khuwayla, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah with regard to him.’ I did not leave him until Qur’an was revealed concerning me. He was overcome as he usually was when Qur’an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he said: ‘O Khuwayla, Allah has revealed Qur’an concerning you and your husband.’ Then he recited to me:
[Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things)….to the end of the ayah (Qur’an 58:1-4)
Again in another instance of Khawlah, She met Umar (R.A.A) one day outside the mosque, when al-Jarud al-‘Abdi was with him. ‘Umar, who was the caliph at that time, greeted her, and she said to him, “O ‘Umar, I remember you when you were called ‘Umayr in the marketplace of ‘Ukaz, taking care of the sheep with your stick. So fear Allah in your role as khalifah taking care of the people, and know that the one who fears the threat of punishment in the Hereafter realizes that it is not far away, and the one who fears death fears missing some opportunity in this life.” Al-Jarud said, “You have spoken too harshly to Amir al-Mu’minin, woman!” ‘Umar said, “Let her be. Do you not know that this is Khawla, to whose words Allah listened from above the seven heavens? By Allah, ‘Umar should by rights listen to her.”
There is so much beauty in a woman being tender, being feminine, being polite and humble, being motherly and caring. It’s for all this a woman is a woman. It’s for this she is regarded as the queen of this universe. Never underestimate a woman who stays at her home taking care of her kids and home. You may call her uneducated, unsophisticated, unclassy but the role she plays in her home is one that is priceless. We can never repay our mothers for the dedication they put on us. Same way we shouldn’t underestimate that ‘housewife’ just because she doesn’t have a well paying job like you do. And if you do have a decent job then go for it honey. Work hard, earn well, help your family, help fellow ladies, treat yourself, own that car you want, go for your dreams, no one will stop you. The religion doesn’t stop you so long as it doesn’t go against Allah (S.W).
We have so many examples to look up to. As one of the few Sahabiyat (female companions) who physically fought in battle in defense of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and an advocate for Muslim woman’s rights, Nusaybah bint Ka’ab was not only renowned for her courageous efforts on the battlefield, but was also as a loving wife and mother. Aishah (R.A.A) for example was an educator and a renown teacher and Khadijah was a famous business woman. Khansā’ bint ‘Amr bin ash-Sharīd as-Sulamiyya, Rady Allāhu ‘Anhā (Tamādir bint ‘Amr in other texts) She came with her tribe to the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam to accept Islām. She was a famous poet whose Diwān (collected poetry) has already been translated into French. The list goes on and on and on.
Being submissive and obedient to your father/husband/brother doesn’t mean you should be a door mat. It doesn’t mean you should accept oppression or violation of your rights. Fight for your rights when need be, otherwise be obedient. Because yes, a man has authority over you. Not unless you want to fight God for that too?
If we look back into history, we see the good example of how men executed authority on their womenfolk.
Al-Aswad reported: I asked Aisha, “What did the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, do when he was with his family?” Aisha said, “The Prophet would do chores for his family and he would go out when it was time for prayer.”
Narrated by Aisha, Allah’s Messenger (saws) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing chores. [Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5822]
“It is reported that a man came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radia Allahu anhu) to complain about his wife’s ill-temper.
While he was waiting for ‘Umar to come out of his house, he heard ‘Umar’s wife scolding him and ‘Umar quietly listening to her, and not answering her back.
The man turned around and started walking away, muttering to himself: “If that is the case with ‘Umar, the leader of the believers, who is famous for his uprightness and toughness, then what about poor me?!”
At that moment, ‘Umar came out of his house and saw the man walking away.
He called him and said, “What is it you want of me, O man?”
The man replied: “O leader of the believers, I came to complain to you about my wife’s bad-temper and how she nags me. Then I heard your wife doing the same to you, so I turned around, muttering to myself, ‘If that is the situation of the leader of the believers,then what about me?’”
‘Umar replied, “O my brother, I bear with her because of her rights over me. She cooks my food, bakes my bread, washes my clothes, breast-feeds my child… and yet none of these are her duty; and then she is a comfort to my heart and keeps me away from forbidden deeds. Consequently, I bear with her.”
The man said,“It is the same with me, O leader of the believers.”‘
Umar said: Then, O my brother, be patient with her, indeed this life is short.
Men is this the kind of authority you have over your women? If indeed men were kind and compassionate enough as our role models were, we wouldn’t even be talking about radical feminism right now. It wouldn’t exist. If indeed men and women collaborated hand in hand as it originally was, if men supported their women achieve their goals and dreams and genuinely appreciate their talents and skills, if they sincerely helped their wives and the vice versa, we wouldn’t be so focused in this tag of war on who can do what better. At the end of the day, we all need one another. Work on being a better you without competing on who is bringing more on the table. Thank God for the table instead.
Hey ladies, keep empowering each other, keep working hard, keep fighting against rape, body-shaming, stereotypes and all the negativity around. Keep working for your rights without having to prove your value. You are enough. You always have been. If the man was a house, you’d be the pillar. If he’s the CEO you’d be the managing director. If he was the body you’d be the spinal cord. You might think you are being left behind the scenes, that you need to stand out for you to be appreciated but really,you always play a major role no one can defy that. So don’t waste up your precious energy trying to out-smart or out-do or be a man-hater. You don’t have to call yourself a ‘S-hero’ for you to actually be one. You are better than doing that.
Respect the men. They’ll respect you back. At least some do.
I am not sure if this relates to all women but at least for Muslim women, take note of this: Islam has always uplifted the status of the woman and given her the elevation she needs. P.S Women were never caged in the first place for them to need freedom. Don’t get it twisted honey.
Throughout history, empires were erected, revolutions were staged and science flowered. Yet, the colossal mould of these events, in our minds, could have easily dissolved the sheer fact that they were orchestrated by specific people. It is easy to forget the Tunisian whose self immolation coupled with zealous activism by influential citizens, spawned what would later be the Arab spring. By the same token significant incidents that ever happened gathered momentum through relationships built by leaders . Relationships lubricated fulfillment of their interests. And on a closer look influence was at their nexus. It is a constant that stretches its tentacles into various relationships existing in organizations from corporations to social movements. What strategies can one use to gain influence, better still how can one wield it effectively?
Studying Law was a rather insipid experience for the young Hungarian, Ignaz Semmelweis. His distaste for the subject culminated into a switch to medicine, a field that indulged his passion eventually leading him to a job at the obstetrics department in the University of Vienna in 1846. Working as an assistant at that department meant tackling the challenge of childbed fever which was prevalent in maternity wards in Europe at that time. Dissecting corpses of patients that died from the disease, doctors would find puss and large amount of putrid flesh. Some Medical practitioners believed childbed fever was caused by “polluted air” known as miasma while others thought it was a result of pus, which they mistook for milk. Breast milk was then thought to be a product of menstrual blood under the belief that there was an anatomical relationship between the upper uterus and the breast. It would not be long before Semmelweis discovered that mortality rates were higher in the clinic attended by medical interns compared to the second one attended by midwives within the department. What was even more startling was that women who gave birth in the streets never caught the disease. He suspected that interns spread the disease during childbirth after handling corpses. His suspicions were confirmed when his colleague died of the illness after accidentally pricking himself with a scalpel while conducting a postmortem on a woman who had childbed fever.
Without haste, Semmelweis commanded those in his ward to wash their hands with chlorinated water before attending to mothers giving birth, a practice that significantly reduced mortality rates. It was now clear that there was only one cause of the disease which he termed as “cadaveric contamination”. As soon as he revealed this theory to his senior, Johann Klein , it was refuted. The idea was radical and went against the medical zeitgeist at the time. Rather than carrying out experiments and publishing his findings, Semmelweis became entrenched in political battles with Klein. His battles with Klein almost resembled those of Thomas stockmann and Peter Stockmann in Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the people; where Thomas was the politically inept scientific genius battling Peter, a shrewd politician with clout and a knack for manipulation. Simmilweiz’s close friends urged him to write papers on the discovery, he would hear none. In fact he had an such an aversive attitude towards writing that would later cripple his career. Consequently Semmelweis lost his job , the medical community in Vienna turned against him. He subsequently left Vienna for Budapest where he got a job at the University of Pest. There too his seniors disbelieved his theory. As a last resort, the vexing swamp of skepticism compelled him to write the only report on his findings, Die Ätiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfieber (The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever). Unfortunately it did not fully explain the logic behind his theory and attracted even more vehemence. Semmelweis’s behaviour grew aberrant and his wife thought he was insane, he would eventually die miserably from blood poisoning after incurring a gangrenous wound in 13th August 1865 at the age 47. It was several years later that Louis pasteur promulgated what we know today as the germ theory. A discovery that could largely be credited to Ignaz Semmelweis.
Many a times we find ourselves in circumstances that command voicing suggestions or instituting executive decisions that may not settle well with our colleagues. Just like Semmelweis most of us choose the quick path of shoving instructions at subordinates if we happen to be in a position of power, or rebelling with a panache that borders tyranny if we are not. Yet others will altogether swallow back their reservations to avoid conflicts at all costs. Solving this classical problem commands that we understand the primary ways through which we generally gain influence. The first path to influence is power which often involves control of resources while the second path is status which derives from positive social judgements of others. Ignaz Semmelweis could only implement his findings in the ward that he had control over. His position at the ward gave him power. On the other hand convincing those beyond his reach of power would require that he earned status.Social psychologist Edwin Hollander formulated a an insightful process through which we earn status. He promulgated the concept of idiosyncrasy credits, the freedom to differ from a group’s expectations. Idiosyncrasy credits are earned whenever a person contributes towards a group’s goals. Subsequently, one earns enough idiosyncrasy credits to the point that deviating from the crowd expectations does not trigger any negative reactions. Had Semmelweis properly conducted experiments and formally published his findings, he would have earned credits that would have seen him earn status amongst his peers making them more receptive to his findings.
Likewise, it is always prudent to place yourself in positions that allow you to exercise your strengths. This way, you will be able to make contributions and consequently earn status among your peers. Semmelweis’s profession required him to carry out experiments and consequently publish research papers on his findings. Sadly, writing wasn’t his strength as he abhorred it to the core of his being. As a result he could not bring himself to influence his superiors and peers alike because the germ theory was too novel in that era. It smashed the expectations of those in the medical field which vastly rested on misinformed theories. He never earned enough idiosyncrasy credits to deviate from his colleagues’ expectations.
As a manager, you will be tempted to use your powers on a frequent basis but this approach quickly breeds resentment and may hurt productivity in the long run. Instead you must coalesce the exercise of power with status building. In fact studies conducted by organizational behavior researcher Adam galinsky and colleagues have shown that individuals occupying high power roles with relatively low status end up having more conflicts with their colleagues in lower ranks. This in effect results into a vicious cycle where those with power frustrate those under them because of their resentment and vice versa escalating conflicts further. Thus you might want to earn the highest qualifications in your field or even occasionally take part in basic technical work as your juniors to demonstrate your capabilities as some executives do which yields massive respect in the long term. With hope that Einstein will not have been offended, we can safely conclude status without power is blind and power without status is lame.