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Photo Courtesy: Majdermind

Buzz! Buzz! You check your phone for the fiftieth time. You scroll lazily through the messages; Eid Mubarak, Eid Saeed! Each one more similar than the previous. You create a quick broadcast of all close friends, family and colleagues and forward the last message you just received. Okay done, one less thing to worry about. It is almost midnight but the house couldn’t be livelier. The smell of fresh paint, oud and freshly baked cookies choke your throat. Your elder brother is changing the curtains, your mother is still whining about the slightly burnt cake and your teenage brother has made himself the designated taster, picking the well laid snacks one plate after another. The kitchen is a big mess. The sitting room however, is spick and span. If your nosey neighbours were to come as early as 6 a.m. you’d be proud of your little home. We can worry about the kitchen in the morning, everyone suggests. Yet everyone knows that the morning would be more hectic than the last ten days combined.

You try to sleep but your anxious mind wouldn’t let you close your eyes. Did I return the remaining milk in the fridge? Ah, I forgot to send an Eid message to aunty. I should do that first thing in the morning. Now what will we do about the burnt cake? Your eyes finally shut but your mind is still racing with thoughts. Your back is aching from bending over at the traditional ‘mbuzi’, grating several coconuts to prepare mkate wa sinia. You remember your pretty, flowery dress and smile, satisfied. It doesn’t even last you a minute, your mother knocks at your door. ‘Minal aidin!’ she wakes you up. You have barely slept and you have too many reasons to whine about. But it is Eid isn’t it? It is a big day and plus, there’s no time to ask for more time to sleep. So you jump out of bed and kiss your mother, ‘Minal faizeen’.

The entire family is awake for the dawn prayer. Your father and brothers go to the mosque while you, your mother and sisters pray at home. Everyone thereafter disperses to a corner; your brother is ironing his kanzu for the Eid prayer about to happen in almost two hours. Your younger sister is laying out her entire attire from head to toe, ready for a shower while your younger brother is still ‘tasting’. Your father is watching the Eid celebrations in Makkah while your mother is setting up the table. You are in between cleaning the kitchen, checking social media, sharing Eid messages and taking bites here and there.

The table is a beautiful sight. All kind of food is laid out from your slightly burnt cake, to cookies, to donuts, to samosas, to home-made chocolate, to mkate wa sinia to meat pies. Coffee and dates wouldn’t miss either. No one has the time to sit and eat yet so everyone is picking a bite in between doing other things. The phones keep ringing; aunties, friends, cousins, all calling to wish your family Eid Mubarak. The kitchen is finally clean and one by one, each dresses up for the special occasion.

Oud fragrance fills the air and soon enough, we’re all taking photos. The entire family heads to the open-ground where the Eid prayer would be performed. There’s a lot of laughter, hugs, kisses and merry everywhere. Little children are running around in cute dresses and kanzus, greeting almost every elder they meet. It is a reunion; old friends, relatives, all neighbours are there. A beautiful moment. A memorable time. The takbiras can be heard all over the area, people chanting and chorusing, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Llahu. Wa Llahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahi Lhamd…’ (Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah. And Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.)

The prayers are done and a multitude of people walk home together; many white and coloured kanzus and bright buibuis. There’s a heavy traffic jam, cars hooting and lots of smiles on the road.
Back home, your mother sets aside plates with food for the neighbours and your younger brother is tasked to make the deliveries. You’re not sure if the food will arrive safely without him ‘tasting’ some more but you’ve given him enough warning to scare his ever-hungry stomach. You can’t wait for the plates to be brought back from the neighbours’ because they never come back empty. You’re eyeing for the very sweet ‘mkate wa mayai’ and kebabs that mama Zeinab makes.

You now all sit down to officially feast and taste the fruits of your labour, literally! Children soon come knocking on the door asking for ‘Eidi mbarak’ and your mother has all these coins and sweets prepared for them. After the heavy, palatable breakfast, you now have the energy to go visit your relatives one after another.
You decide with your siblings on the map to follow, from house to house. Everywhere you go, you are fed once more and the juices are enough to last you the entire week. Your baby sister is given ‘eidi’ with your aunties and uncles and you see her boasting to other cousins the amount she has received yet. It makes you nostalgic. Gone were the days when you’d be the one receiving the money. Ironically, aren’t you the one needing the money more than your baby sister?! You sigh. Before you drown in your financial crisis thoughts, your mother pulls your baby sister aside and whispers, ‘let me keep the money safely for you. If you need anything you’ll tell me.’ You laugh. You know the trick but your naïve sister hasn’t learnt yet. So she gives out the money not knowing she’ll never see it again. You can’t wait to do that to your own kids someday…just for the culture!

Lunch hour, the extended family gathers at the eldest uncle’s house for his famous biryani. The house is full, the stomachs are fuller and the hearts are fullest. The elders sit together at the sitting room conversing endlessly and laughing loudly. The children are running around. The young adults are confused as usual, trying to be everywhere with everyone.

The afternoon sets in and Eid is never complete without the gwaride. Drums and trumpets blowing loudly within the Old town. The team moves from one household to another in their red, blue and black uniforms and ugly masks. Children and adults altogether following the troupe as the kids jump up and down, singing and chorusing along, ‘twataka leo leo!’ When they’ve had enough of the singing and the troupe has gone further way from home, the children come back.

Your baby sister comes and whispers in your mother’s ears while the other children wait at the door anxiously. They want to go ‘bembeani’ at the famous Makadara grounds. As usual, you and your other cousin who’s your age mate are the allocated baby sitters. You are given some money to spend on your baby sister’s games, play and food. Off you set with your group of naughty kids, babysitting them at home is hectic enough let alone in a public, crowded space. However, you and your age mate have plans to have fun too because who said swings have an age limit?! You just have cross your fingers that you don’t lose any of your ‘ducklings’!

Eid Mubaraaaak!

***

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This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 5/7/2019

Do you remember that one family that you stayed with and you decided to never ever stay at someone’s home again? Or perhaps that one warm family that treated you too well this one time you visited, you now have a permanent suitcase at their home ‘in case’ you need a bed for the night. I bet we all have memories of the places we’ve been to and the different kinds of hosts we’ve met. Some are pretty lovely, some are weird, disgusting, and entertaining…the list is endless. Here are a few examples of the kind of hosts you’re most likely to meet:

1. PANIC MODE:

From the moment you make that phone call on your visit, they become on a panic mode. An emergency general clean-up of the house will be done even when the house was already clean enough. They will over-stock the fridge with all kind of groceries because ‘how will I know what they love?’ They will stress over the ‘master piece’ drawings on the walls done by the children. They will worry about the seemingly old bed sheets. They will overcook for your entire stay. Ask you a hundred times in the least if ‘you need anything’. They will be on their feet as early as 4 a.m. in the morning to ensure breakfast is ready by the time you’re up. It doesn’t matter if you’re a very close family member, a friend or even a colleague, they’ll still overstretch themselves to ensure you have a comfortable stay.

2. VISITORS MEANS FEASTING:

They are the literal example of ‘mgeni aje, mwenyeji apone’ because now that we have visitors, we have the perfect reason to over-spend and over-eat. They will break their piggy banks, pull out the hidden money under the mattress, and withdraw all their savings from the bank just to make the best out of the situation. They will put a pause to their diet and FEAST on all that they couldn’t eat in the past year because now ‘I can’t leave the visitor eat different food. It doesn’t seem good.’ They will go for fancy shopping sprees, spoil the visitor thoroughly while spoiling themselves too. ‘You Only Live Once’ becomes their new daily mantra till the stay is over and they’re left with an empty pocket, debts and some extra kilos of body fat. ‘Welcome back to reality pal!’

3. YOU ARE NOT A VISITOR:

It doesn’t matter what your relationship is with the host or how long you plan to stay but you must play a role in the house chores. They will ensure you help around whether it is by washing the dishes after meals or even picking their child from the day-care in the evening. So long as you eat and sleep in this house, you won’t be favoured in any way. Keep working!

4. THE INTRUDER:

Don’t leave your phone for a second and they’re already deep in the photo gallery, or even worse, replying your messages. They will randomly open your suitcase to peep at your clothes, or use your laptop without your permission. They have no idea whatsoever on how to give one their personal space.

5. THE WARM HOME:

They will make you feel very welcome and ensure that you have the best time at their home. They will entertain you and feed you well. They will sacrifice their time and energy to give you company whenever they can. They ensure you’re comfortable enough to feel free and do as you please in their house.

6. FOOD AND ROOF ONLY:

It is like you’re in a hotel but only difference is you have some ‘company’. They’re present but it’s like you’re non-existent to them. Everyone in the house is busy doing something of their own and the only time anyone talks to you is to call you for a painfully silent meal. Pretty much like those boring hostel roommates at college. You can’t expect anything more from them apart from food and roof. But at least you have that, can you complain really?!

7. AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY

These people will not pretend to be jolly when they’re not. They won’t wear plastered smiles to please you. As long as you’re in the house, you’re in it. You will hear them shouting to each other, throwing abusive words, as you stand by your room door with your mouth agape. You will hear something heavy fall. Someone screaming. Perhaps a chair or the small wooden stool has been thrown. Becomes even worse when it is not just a couple but a family and now everyone is throwing words at everyone and you have absolutely no idea what to do. Should you stay in your room and pretend you see nothing, you hear nothing? Or should you walk out and try calming them down? What do you do at the dinner table when it is all tense and extremely quiet? You have an entire two weeks to figure that out. All the best with your stay though!

8. HINT DROPPER:

‘So when are you planning to go to the City?’
‘When did you say your friend will be picking you up?’
‘My sister has been waiting for me so we travel to Dubai together. I am just here because of you. Ni sawa lakini.’
Your hosts will not fail to drop you hints that it is high time you leave because well, isn’t it high time? They say ‘akufukuzaye hakuambii toka’. So please get the hints and find another place to crash in.

Reflecting back, what kind of host are you? Have you ever thought whether your visitors would ever want to stay with you again or are you the nightmare that made someone’s child despise visiting any home entirely?!

When I was a child, I wanted to be like the Palestinian kid. I sympathized with them a lot but more than that, I adored them. Their resilience, their bravery, their courage to come face to face with death, with the enemy. To stand up for what they truly believe in. I think they are phenomenal. These were my heroes; these kids. Then when I grew up with a faint heart, I decided maybe the next best thing is to adopt one of them someday; a Palestinian or Syrian child. It still is a dream.

When the Ethiopian plane crash happened, I really really tried not to write about it. Because everyone was. It was all over the social media. It still is. And with my faint heart, I thought, we need a breathing moment. Just a second to breathe. So I tried to avoid the media as much as I could. Yet still, the same night I dreamt I was in the plane crash. See? Faint heart. Before I could let that incident sink in, the New Zealand bombing happened. This definitely was a worse blow because it was an act of cruel, ruthless human beings. It was agitating and heartbreaking. So again, I actively avoided my laptop. I didn’t want to rant about how depressing and agonizing this world is. Because well, who doesn’t know it already?

So I’ve been having this comforting thought that I clinged on a drowning man holding onto a straw. Jannah. Paradise. You know, most times we dwell on how terrifying this world is (which it truly is), we forget of Allah’s promise to us. What’s yet to come if we believe and are patient.

I find it comforting to think of a day when we’ll meet our loved ones who departed and left this world before us. Imagine the first moment you see one another; the joy, the excitement, the thrill. Unbelievable, we all made it! You start updating them of all that happened in their absence. You hug and rejoice. You talk at length. You hug more.

Here are your besties seated with you under the largest, most beautiful tree you can ever imagine, its branches swinging swiftly, filling your lungs with fresh air. You are laughing than you ever did in your previous life. Laughing until your stomach aches. All of you are reminiscing of the moments you had in this life. Moments when you wanted to give up on life, on God, on people. Moments when you just wanted to die because what’s the point? But here you are?! And there is food of course. All kinds of food you are so confused what to eat and what not. But it’s the good kind of confusion. Not the one where you are unsure where to eat a rotten cow’s flesh or the leftovers in the trash bin. The exhilarating kind of confusion. You are seeing food you never knew existed. The taste is too sweet to be true. You are so overwhelmed with joy you want to scream ‘foooooooddddd.’

Across the garden is your mother and father seated on huge seats that befit the royalties. They are happy. You can see it from how your mother’s face is glowing and how your father is smiling. Tears form in your eyes because it is like a dream. You always wanted this for them. This kind of bliss. This kind of peace. And there they are, earning what they truly deserve by the Mercy of Allah.

You remember a friend of yours that you haven’t yet met in Paradise so an angel directs you to another garden where you’d find them. And there they are, seated next to sahabas listening to their stories while they laugh. A river passes next to them and tiny green birds fly above them. You see their palace. You are almost jealous. They are in a different level of paradise than you are. The good kind of jealous though. Your friend sees you and you embrace tightly. You take a moment to feel the embrace.
‘What more did you do than I did?!’ You whisper in their ears as you smile.
‘What’s the fun in telling you? The suspense is more fun,’ they laugh. And then you both laugh.
‘But you are always welcome you know. No one will stop you,’ they tease you some more. You embrace again and they invite you to join their seating and listen to the real heroes.

At your next stop you meet nabii Yunus and you are so curious to ask him about the view inside the whale’s stomach but instead you just greet him and stand there so tongue-tied; not from intimidation but from disbelief. You meet nabii Ibrahim and you want to ask him about his feeling when he was about to be thrown into the fire. You meet nabii Yusuf and you are utterly flabbergasted by his beauty. Ah unbelievable! Nabii Ayub is right there and you are in awe because he was your role model on earth when it came to patience. You can’t believe you are meeting all these people you only read about and admired all your life long.

Hurul ains are walking graciously around and you nod in agreement; they are a spectacle. You could spend your entire day just watching them move about. And their eyes!! Wow. What a sight. The worldly description that you heard of them could never suffice describing their real beauty.

You speed up now because you really want to get a glimpse of prophet Muhammad. You want to see his Majesty. You want to sit next to him and talk to him and listen to him and and…You just never thought of the day this would be possible. You seated right opposite him having a one on one chat with him. And you know what’s the best part? You won’t be talking about the enemies that are about to attack or the plots of the hypocrites. Pure, good talks. Happy conversations. Joyful moments.

No tears anymore. No sadness. No loss. No sickness. No death. No pain. No fake connections. No jealousy. You have all you need and no one can take it away from you. Just bliss. Pure bliss.

I for one can’t imagine a life without crying. I am a cry baby so there is barely any earthly day that passes by without me crying; whether its out of happiness or not. So I wonder what I’d be crying about in Jannah. Maybe eating all the things I couldn’t in this world and I’d be so overwhelmed with joy and I’d be crying. Hey! No allergiessss anymorrreeee!!

I want to sleep on my mother’s laps as she pats my hair, as we lie down watching the stars. I want to have my siblings seated next to us as they tease me for being a spoilt child. I want to watch my father enter his own palace that he prayed and worked for really hard. Mama two would be right there with us, chit chatting excitedly as she always was on Earth. I want to have my husband and my children surrounding me like a queen as they try to feed me fruits of paradise. My family scattered in different parts of Jannah like cute butterflies.

I would definitely go around looking for my best friends and we’d go explore the huge paradise with them. Find secret, undiscovered corners and make it our meet-up point. Climb on the paradise horses and go for adventures. Have brunch picnics at the rooftop of the highest palace and go visiting our other friends.

I would go find the prophet’s wives; Khadija (May peace be upon her). I want to meet this magnificent woman who defined real womanhood for me. Oh myyy!! I want to meet Aisha (may peace be upon her too!) I really think I would click with her because I’m the jealous type too. I would tell her, ‘You know,,that time you broke your co-wife’s plates when she brought food for your husband while it was your day? I totally get that! I would do the same!’ Then she’d say, ‘Really?!’ I’d say, ‘Totally!’ Then she’d like me immediately and we’d become friends. Then I’d remind her of the incident when she stalked the prophet when he left home one night all of a sudden. Then we’d laugh. It would probably be like an immediate connection and we’d sound like old buddies huhuhu! (Please note I am in no way encouraging being jealous and breaking the plates of your co-wives 😀 )

Then I’d find Khawlah bint Al Awzar, the warrior who fought in battles during the times of the prophet. Maaaan, I admire brave women and she’s totally among the first I want to meet. Then there’s Khansa, the greatest poet of her times, and we’d compare notes and maybe she’d even be kind enough to share her poetry tips who knows? Then there’s Fatimah and Maryam, the mother of Issa. The women’s list is so long. But who cares? There will be alllll the time to find them all. Because no jobs remember?! No Monday blues and evening exhaustion! No angry bosses and annoying workmates! Huh! How awesome is that!

Then there’s the sahabas; the likes of Umar ibn Khattab and Salman Al Farisy and Abubakar Assidiq and Sa’d ibn Muaadh (radi Allahu anhu) who had seventy thousand angels attended his funeral. Then there are all those sheikhs and scholars you adored so much and never got a chance to meet them and converse with them. In short, there’ll be a lot of Meet & Greet events to be done. Only this won’t be like the Insta ones. This is Jannah kind. You know what I mean?!

Of course it would be wondeeerful to meet anyone you knew in this world. It is utmost privilege knowing you and your crowd were among the chosen ones. We’d congratulate one another and embrace.

Here we are! We almost thought the world would never end. But here we are! At the best of places with the best of people with the best of nature with the best of food. What more would we need? Nothing. Nothing more. Cause we’d have made it. We have made it!! Imagine it. Just imagine it.

***

Ooops! Sorry to burst the dreaming bubble. It was a beautiful, soothing moment wasn’t it? I bet it was. Let’s pray and work towards attaining it. When this world seems so suffocating, remember the reward awaiting us. May Allah forgive us and have mercy on us. May He grant us the patience and make us and our families and all our loved ones meet in Jannah ya Rab! Ameeeeen. Let’s remember to pray for one another and for the world.

***
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*This was in the traffic jam 😀 *

Sunday, 4th November

I thought I was calm and composed about this trip. I wasn’t telling the world about it nor was I counting down the hours to the minute I board the plane. However, yesterday night I woke up thrice, went and put on the lights then went back to sleep. Woke up again and went back and put off the lights. The third time I put on the lights again. It was a very restless night. I woke hours later checked my phone, it read 5:33 a.m. I hurried to wake my dad’s room and informed him he is late for the morning prayer. My mother asks, “How comes we are not hearing the prayer going on in the mosque?”

“Perhaps they are done.”

My father wakes up and checks his phone.

“It is 3:33 a.m. not 5:33”

“Really?! But I HEARD the prayer going on in the mosque! And my phone confirmed that!”

“It is 5:33. Go back to sleep.”

I go back to my room and check the phone. It is truly 3 a.m. I sigh.

Anxiety Mahn 😀 I should have known that staying calm for me is impossible. But would you blame me really?

This was my first time being invited for an international writing workshop. A publishing fellowship by African Writers Trust (AWT).

First time meeting writers from different parts of Africa.

First time going to Uganda.

First time meeting the writing/publishing gurus.

First time boarding the plane.

Keep calm? Not a word in my dictionary.

The flight was amazing apart from the dizziness whenever the plane bumped a bit. My mother said I’ll be fine during my second flight. I wasn’t. During both the flights I was still holding onto the chair, thinking of all the things that could go wrong yet still, I loved it. I realized how underrated the clouds are because I couldn’t stop wondering how nice it would be to touch them and feel them.

We arrive at Country Lake Resort Garuga in Entebbe around lunch hour. I quickly go to my room to drop off my things. The room is big. The bed is bigger; I could have five mini-mes sleeping on the same bed. It has a small, lovely balcony that faces some tall trees and smaller plants. Perfect place for a cup of coffee. Only that I don’t drink coffee and I am scared of being alone in this room and in this balcony precisely. The silence is deafening and the trees seem to be whispering. I don’t know to whom precisely but they are definitely creepy.

I take a walk around the big resort and it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. This place is the definition of art and nature. Definitely the best place to bring writers to, and family, and your friends and everyone else. Everyone should see this place. It faces the majestic and grand lake Victoria and words can’t explain how breath-taking it is. Someone should sponsor me a ‘vacation’ to write a book over here. The air just clears your head and that obviously makes it the best place to think, contemplate and come up with the best ideas. I salute the one who chose this location for this workshop. And the owner is definitely a genius!

I go back into my room as soon as the sun set.

Now here’s the thing, I come from a big family so there was never a time I was ever alone by myself. Almost never. At first I was excited about experiencing this but dark has set in and sleep doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon despite my exhaustion. My heart keeps racing and I am a nervous wreckage right now like a character in a thrilling story. So much suspense with no climax. So I’m just here staring around in all corners, saying lots of duas and breathing deeply while under my blanket. Qur’an is playing from my laptop at the background. The lights are on. I want to sleep now.

Monday, 5th November

Last night I dreamt of some people breaking into my room. My big, lovely, beautiful room. The room that should see no harm yet people still found a way to break into my room out of the many rooms in this big resort. Only it was a dream; a long one nonetheless. I curse anxiety. Wouldn’t let me enjoy the serenity even.

I leave the room around 6:30 a.m. to watch the sunrise. A divine scene. Stunning. Spectacular. *Inserts all the synonyms of breath-taking* It is so beautiful I want to cry. I want to cry because I haven’t felt this kind of warmth in a very long time. Just chirping of the birds, the calm sea, the silence, the peace. And no people!! Oh the peace! I couldn’t get enough of it. But today was the day. The D-day. The start of the workshop and I had to fully prepare for it.

It is not every day you meet legends especially all in one place. Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, founding publisher of Indigo Press from the UK, Demere Kitunga, a publisher, mentor and translator from Tanzania and Catherine Mark, a writer and a poet from the UK as well. Mama Goretti who is the founder of AWT. All these fellows from Africa. All with very valuable experience and knowledge and mistakes to learn from.

We had 18 fellows from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania. I was among the 3 Kenyans selected and the youngest, or at least among the youngest. This calls for a celebration.

Everyone introduces themselves and what brought them to the workshop. We have publishers in the room, editors, writers, poets and trainers. I am overwhelmed with all the stories from everyone. No one’s had it easy. No one just woke up and had an empire ready. It is really REALLY inspiring and definitely makes me more hopeful for the future and the future of my group in Mombasa ‘Creative Writers League’.

The Magnificent Ellah Wakatama starts off on the editors role and the different kinds of editors in the publishing world. I am amazed. So many things I had NO idea of. For example, I never knew there were so many different editors each with their own specific role. Or that even in poetry, there’s a specific way of arranging the poems such that they be in sync with each other and flow perfectly. The group works are mind-blowing and eye-opening. We go on with the life cycle of the book and many other interesting issues about bringing a book to life. The food is tasty. The interactions are hilarious and lovely!

I am exhausted but what I’ve learnt in this single day is more than I ever taught myself in all these years as a writer.

Tuesday, 6th November

It rained heavily last night and there was thunder too. I was scared of course. Is that even a question?! When one of our sweet facilitators mentioned how she hid under the bed and was praying desperately when she heard the thunder because they don’t have thunder where she lives, I was relieved 😀 I am not the only scared freak.

Today we critically analyzed some short stories and it was so remarkable how you notice a lot more things when you read a story out loud and break it down into chunks and pieces. Even more interesting is how each one of us view the same things in very different ways and how one’s favourite story turns out to be the least liked for someone else.

We learn a lot more on roles, structuring, responsibilities, planning and several other important aspects of editing.

Wednesday, 7th November

I am a regular morning walker now, plus I got a partner to watch the sunrise with. It was the only thing I kept asking everyone about. Have you seen the sunrise?! Oh you don’t know what you’re missing out on! So Rachel, the program organizer joined me. Then she joined me for the evening walks. And all the time walks. It wasn’t just about the walks though. It was more about the deep talks we’d have any time we were together. Rachel and I connected immediately and I really appreciated it because I rarely have such profound bonds with people.

The learning is going on. A lot of questions, discussions and comments. Every creative needs such a space honestly. This is like meeting your long lost family because you automatically belong. You find your people and you understand one another. How beautiful is that?!

Thursday, 8th November

Mama sent me an email via my sister because she was worried, she couldn’t find me on phone the whole day. This is despite me informing her upfront that the wifi is poor and I have little access to the internet. But I get it. I am highly likely going to do the same to my children. I am my mother’s daughter and anxiety runs in the family 😀 But I am also daddy’s girl because he is very patient and understanding. I mean, when I woke him up at 3 a.m. he wasn’t angry despite him loving his sleep a lot. He said ‘You were anxious’ when I wanted to apologize the next morning. I think I’m the perfect combination of my parents. An anxious wreck with a lot of understanding. The most patient, impatient person on earth. 😀 I am a living paradox.

Today, I come to the realization that we, as creatives, have the same similar struggles despite living in different countries and having different backgrounds. One of the fellows mentioned he would charge 1 $ for a full-day training yet only five people came. And I was like, ‘Same here bro. Same here.’ Another lady also mentioned on the same struggle of acquiring trainees for writing. It is such a shame that we have so much talent within us yet still choose to sit on it because the training ‘is expensive.’ It is mostly a matter of priority and we choose to keep our talents out of the priority lists entirely. How sad.

In the afternoon we meet another creatives’ group sponsored by British council at a different resort. It was nice since they had visual artists and graphic designers that we didn’t have in our group. A great network opportunity for everyone. Lots of laughter, pictures and sharing of contacts.

Friday, 9th November

Adrenaline. There’s something about adrenaline that I love. The thrill of it. The shouting-on-a-roller-coaster feeling. The sky-diving feeling. That makes me an adrenaline junkie I guess. But I’m also a stress junkie so you see the irony there 😀 More of a dilemma on what really makes me who I am.

Two of our fellows are ahead of us, Hiwot from Ethipia and Lucky Grace from Rwanda. Its their first time on the bodaboda and you can see it on their faces the tension. I laugh. I laugh because I have been on the bodaboda before, several times and i’m still scared; of it. But I’m seated with Fatma from Sudan who has also never boarded one. I feel like the hero in this case. Behind us is Rachel and Abu Amirah who are used to bodabodas but then they shouldn’t ruin my feeling of being the hero here. So I tap the bodaboda guy and ask him to go past our fellows ahead of us. I keep nagging him to go faster. Fatma laughs, “Do you want to kill us?!” just as we go past them and I am shouting to them ‘Byeeee.’

“This is the moment you shout ‘wohoooo'”

She just laughs. We are in the interior side of Entebbe with so many trees around us and barely anyone passing by.

“Seriously…” I tell her.

“You start,” she says.

I have never been an influence in my life. At least not on the silly stuff. I just do it myself.

“I do it then you do it,” I tell her and she nods.

So I scream ‘Wohoooo’ as my sound disappears into the bushes, air kissing our faces. She just laughs.

I am disappointed. “You are supposed to be my partner in crime.”

“Okay let’s do it again. On the count of three. I…2…3…wohooooo”

We both shout but I can only hear her voice under her breath. I am probably the bad influence here because Fatma is extremely quiet and introverted like Hiwot. They both smile so sweetly, very lovely souls and it is very evident with how they carry out themselves.

I always thought I was an introvert until I met them. The other night we sat by the sunset deck watching the stars and I was talking a lot until I realized how quiet the two of them were. Each was just staring into the horizon, each in their own world. I was the noise maker and I’ve never really been a noise maker with anyone except people i’m really comfortable with. Man, I need a different identity. I am not introvert.

Anyway so Fatma asks me we do the titanic pose as the bodaboda speeds on and we stretch our arms open. She is learning 😀

We are heading to Kampala and the journey is so long. Rachel, who is Ugandan, volunteered to be our tour guide and took us for shopping. Kampala pretty much looks like Nairobi. From the crowds to the chaos to the jam. The JAM! Took us two hours to get back to Entebbe. The Jam was so bad the driver would frequently put off the engine as we wait.

This was our last day of the training. The week went so fast or maybe it was just too wonderful it should have lasted a month?! It was sad parting ways with fierce individuals, lovely souls and very hardworking people. The Ugandans checked out the same day, leaving the international visitors who are to check out the next day.

Saturday, 10th November

We (the Kenyans) are leaving this morning together with the Tanzanians. Hiwot, Rachel and Lucky Grace came to say goodbye and Fatma was overtaken by her sleep so we didn’t get to say our farewell.

I wish I could stay at this place longer. The solace you feel here is tremendous. Psychiatrists and psychologists should prescribe a visit to this place as part of the therapy sessions. Like ‘Mandatory vacation at the Country Lake resort Garuga-Uganda. Failure to do so may lead to increment of number of days at the resort.’ Plus it will be lovely if they sponsor the vacations. Can we get an ‘ameen?’ 😀

I have learnt a lot from our great facilitators and honestly from all the fellows. I was quite moved by everyone’s passion to make a difference and especially for the facilitators who come from far just to give back to the society. Mama Goretti and her AWT team did everything so perfectly, no one could complain. I mean, this is the most organized and timely event/workshop I’ve ever attended, special thanks to Rachel for ensuring the anxious me has nothing to worry about 😀

Our trip to the airport is rather quiet. I remember when we were first coming to Entebbe and the three of us (Kenyans) had EVERYTHING to talk about. We were so excited and thrilled, we talked the whole way. KK (Kingwa) comments on how silent we are in contrast with how we came. We all laugh. We are already feeling nostalgic of the place and all the people we met. Most importantly, there’s a lot of restructuring, planning and changes to be made in our writing careers. A lot to think about.

This will be quite a tiring journey since we have to stop by Nairobi first before going to Mombasa but I can’t wait to be home. I missed my nephews A LOT and everyone else of course. Plus my mum is waiting for all the details of the entire trip. She loves details. I love details. Did I say I am my mother’s daughter?