Some months back I walked into a clinic together with my sister and her new born baby for his first vaccination. We were the third in the line and the nurse hadn’t arrived yet. We sat patiently waiting for her until she arrived more than half an hour later. She went into her small office and closed the door. We understood she had to clear up the place before she let us in so we continued waiting without a word. Soon enough, she called in the first mother and in no time it was our turn.

The nurse looked through my nephew’s booklet and then asked my sister how many kilos the baby is. My sister didn’t hear her clearly the first time so she moved closer to where the nurse was seated and requested her to repeat her question. Catching us completely off guard, the nurse shouted at her, ‘HOW MANY KILOS IS YOUR BABY?’
I could see the confusion on my sister’s face and I could literally imagine how her mind just went blank in that moment.
‘Isn’t it written in the booklet?’ my sister asked.
‘Had it been written would I have asked?’ she answered rather rudely, “what kind of a mother are you?!”
Right then my sister answered the number of kilos and my nephew was injected.

At this moment I was totally enraged. I was boiling inside and I struggled to stop myself from talking back to this so called nurse.

It was 8 A.M. IN THE MORNING!!! How can a person be so negative, so rude this early? I wanted to shout at her face, “Did someone force you to take up this job?!” I actually had a lot to say to this nurse and I probably still have a lot to say to her, because it being almost 6 months later, I am still bitter with her.

Now what this so called nurse didn’t know is that my sister was born with a partial deafness in one ear and thus couldn’t hear her clearly the first time. She also didn’t know that my sister is an epileptic patient with a partial memory loss and thus couldn’t remember how many kilos the baby is. This statement, ‘what kind of a mother are you?’still rings in my mind. Geez, I can’t imagine someone asking me that question. How much do you think these words affected my sister?

Leaving the clinic, I kept complaining all the way home. I was really really REALLY pissed off. All my sister said was, ‘Sometimes you just need to let the person speak and you just forget about it. I do know what kind of a mother I am and that’s what matters.’ But I was like, ‘NO! Some of these people need to be told off!’ I ranted and ranted and I rant to date about this incident. Honestly i’m not over it yet and mostly it is because I don’t really understand why people go into medical professions if they can’t be empathetic and compassionate. (If you are in any medical field, PLEASE DO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR MATES. The treatment most people get from you guys is so heart-breaking and INHUMAN!)

Fast forward to a few days ago, my sister travelled to Nairobi to get her university certificate and pharmaceutical license. Upon reaching one of the offices, a lady asked for her ID no. My sister sought to her wallet to check her ID no. This lady rolled her eyes and gasped, ‘Hmm, sasa mpaka ID hujui’ or something like that. Mind you, this lady said this statement loud enough such that all her colleagues heard her. My sister responded, ‘Pardon, but I am an epileptic patient with partial memory loss.’ Her voice was already breaking but she too said it loud enough such that the colleagues could hear it too. The lady suddenly shrank and started apologizing. But does that change the embarrassment my sister went through? NO. In her genius mind, she was probably thinking, ‘Now how is this lady a graduate in Pharmacy yet she can’t remember her ID, well hello genius, you don’t really know everyone’s story!

My sister had to re-do her pharmacy exams 3 times because of her partial memory loss before finally succeeding the forth time. If you ask me, I’ll tell you there’s no stronger woman than my sister because MANY would have given up had they gone through the same medical condition.

I have always wanted to talk about this issue because I feel we as human beings are so careless on how we speak and how we treat other people. Does it mean that we can only be kind with people only after they tell us their struggles? Does my sister have to wear a placard with an explanation of her condition so that you can adjust your mood and tone to not spit out words that could destroy someone’s soul?! Does it mean we can’t naturally be compassionate until someone speaks of the things they’d rather not talk about?! Do we have to explain ourselves everywhere we go to get humane treatment? And if someone lacks an explanation, does that make them any less deserving of kindness? What happened to giving people benefit of doubt?

This is not only about my sister. It is about all the people we’ve ever crashed because we never thought over our words, we never filtered them, we just spat out the venom because ‘Hello! It’s a free world. Freedom of speech, yey!’

Dear YOU, you are responsible for your words. Whether you say it in jokes, in straight forward mode or whichever way, if they crash a person then let that sink in your conscious. Keep a mental note that I once killed someone’s esteem. That I someday made someone lose hope in life. That I someday made someone feel useless. That I one day made someone give up what they are passionate about. That I one day made someone give up on their dreams. You might take it lightly in the moment, as you laugh about what you consider a joke, or when your very intelligent mind makes you mock others, do remember that for every ache that person faces because of you, your share of it will eventually get to you, sooner or later.

One thing, people in power, the leaders and influencers, the mentors and teachers should keep in mind is that your words are regarded highly. Most of the times people take your words to be the gospel truth. We crash children’s dreams by telling them they can’t do this; they can only do this other thing. We crash our friends and relatives when we make them feel like their dreams are not valid and impossible. We misguide people into believing they can’t grow into someone greater than they already are. We have people who look up to us and all we do is degrade their work, their efforts and talents as they lose all the morale and belief in themselves. We as a society are our own biggest enemies. We usually joke of how monkeys are our cousins. Perhaps we should start considering the snakes as our closest next of kin from the kind of venom we fill in others.

On my Facebook page ‘Strokes of my pen’ you will find the cover photo is a quote by Kahlil Gibran which says: “Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.” Once you cause a damage in someone else’s spirit then it is done and sometimes irreparable.

*** Now that i’m done with my rant, we can do some meditation to calm down our nerves (for those who are pissed about this like I am 😀 )
Breathe in
Breathe out
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