The Long Wait

To say that I was extremely exhausted would be a super understatement. The person I was waiting for at the airport had apparently forgotten that the country he was departing from was in a different time zone! His terrible mistake had caused me to arrive at the airport two hours earlier! I was therefore forced to imbibe on excessively overpriced juice (you  know how unreasonably expensive restaurants stationed inside an airport can be) while thinking of better ways the money I had spent on the miniature glass of juice could have been put into use. That money would have fed the whole world and there would be still some left over. I haven’t even mentioned the exorbitant packing fees.

No matter how slowly you drink a glass of juice, you will still finish it. What would have taken a gulp to be finished managed to take thirty minutes. Ahem, round of applause. Taking atom after atom of juice so that you are not kicked out of the restaurant is no mean feat. I was determined to finish off the dregs, but to no avail. I had no choice but to vacate my safe haven.

I joined other people who were waiting, hope and anticipation written all over their faces. The sweltering heat of the sun did not seem to deter them. Occasionally, planes would land and after several minutes smiling people would descend to the waiting area, dragging their big suitcases. 

“Hey! Mary! Lucy! Dad has arrived!” a middle aged woman standing behind behind me shrieked with glee. Before she even finished her statement the two children had already started running to their father without a care in the world. One almost knocked him down. 

There was still no sign of the man I was waiting for. I was reduced to mere observer, observing other people’s joys. I saw happy reunions everywhere I looked. Running with arms stretched wide seemed to be the signature dance move for people in the airport. My eyes however caught a man who seemed distraught. He was bald and considerably overweight. I could not  quite see his face. Clutching at his suitcases, he was scanning the airport. No one was running to him, no one seemed particularly excited to see him. In the midst of all these joyous reunions was a man who could not trace a familiar soul. Maybe he thought that his family didn’t care about him, that they had forgotten him, that they had lied that they would be waiting…

Opposite me were people who, just like me, were tired of waiting. Some were even raising placards that contained the names of the people they were expecting, but none seemed to approach them. On one side, some people, including the bald man, never found anyone waiting while on the other side, some were getting weary of waiting for people who didn’t seem to come. The irony of life has never been more apparent.

I don’t know what led me to approach the man, but I found myself walking towards him.I wanted to see how I could help him. I wasn’t prepared for the pleasantly rude shock that awaited me. He was the man I was waiting for.

“Michael! Is that you? You’ve changed! Oh my gosh!  You’re losing hair, you’ve gained…”

“Shhh…” he interrupted and reached out to hug me.

We were locked in deep embrace. Tears of joy streamed down my face. I had finally gotten the chance to see him after so long. He was alive. He had arrived safely. Nothing else mattered at that moment. 

My Love Affair With Books

Though I have a faint recollection of that day, some details are ever so clear. I was in class five. The tuition program we were to attend had backfired so we were told to borrow books for our holiday reading. I picked ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’. Like any 10 year old, I was enchanted by the images on the cover: a man who was blowing a pipe was being followed by a ‘delegation’ of rats. The book was begging to be read, itching to tell its story. 

I couldn’t resist the charms regardless of the fact that 1. I had read it before. 2. I was perhaps too old for such books. 

So I confidently took the book to the classteacher to have her indicate that I was borrowing the book. 

To cut the story short, she never let me take that book, saying that it was too short. She had me borrow a copy of ‘The Boxcar Children’, a novel. For one accustomed to reading storybooks, this was very overwhelming. How was I supposed to read that giant of a book? I took it  heavy heartedly and commenced the herculean task of reading it. I was excruciatingly bored within the first few pages, to be honest. My mum encouraged me to read on, saying that a time will come when I would not be able to put the book down. 

True to her word, I was hooked once I reached the middle. What I had previously termed as a herculean task turned out to be very easy and aggressively entertaining. You should have seen how dejected I was when I finished reading it. 

That is how my love affair with books started. Little did I know that in this part of the world, most people conclude that you are a very boring person when you tell them you are a reader. How can you read during your free time? Don’t you have a life? 

That became very apparent in high school. Not wanting to be associated with boredom, I stopped reading. I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I did not regret this. This, in fact, is my biggest regret. 

I was determined to get back to reading after high school. It was a struggle at first, but I got back on track. I vowed never to let people’s opinions dissuade me from doing what I really love. 

Books have really helped me in a lot. They helped in my grammar, opened my mind, allowed me to have a better understanding of areas that I was not familiar with before. It is always refreshing to read books whose characters you can relate to. The advantages of reading are just so many. 

Next time I say I enjoy dancing and you tell me ‘To books?’ ‘To poetry? ‘ I will proudly tell you I wish I could, and that I adore books. 😂Try reading too. You never know, you too might fall in love with books. ☺

Flo-Rida Teeth

One day they brought a feature on TV that I could very much resonate with. They were showing the plight of people of Baringo who were suffering from dental fluorosis. Brown teeth. Though I only have a faint recollection of the feature, I remember one lady’s story very well. 

“Urembo anao, umbo analo lakini ni kitu kimoja tu ambacho kinamfanya akose mchumba…”

The reporter’s voice bellowed as they showed us a very beautiful woman with  perfect figure. Until. Until she smiled and revealed her set of teeth. Discoloured. Brown. Her teeth were the bane of her life, the only impediment to getting a boyfriend, she said.

There’s usually that excitement when your permanent teeth start growing, right? I, like many children, watched permanent teeth fill the gaping holes left by milk teeth with so much excitement. My excitement quickly turned to sadness when I noticed that my teeth were getting discoloured. My two front teeth were particularly affected, while the rest were a pale shadow of their former colour, white. 

What do you do when you notice that? You start covering your mouth when you laugh. You smile without showing your teeth. Your photos would do well without any evidence of brown teeth, you tell yourself. You are tempted to cover your mouth whenever you talk, but then you tell yourself that it would be too much work for the hand. The only time people get a glimpse of your teeth is when you talk. 

Little did I know that my mum was not going to give me an easy time. There was no way she would let me cover my teeth. 

“Laugh freely,” she said, “your teeth are perfect the way they are. Why are you making you complicating your life? It is not your fault that your teeth got discoloured. Don’t let people’s comments and looks make you deny yourself a chance of having a good laugh.” 

And so I stopped covering my teeth. Most of the people around me in primary school had brown teeth, so I didn’t stand out. In fact, few people had white teeth. The intensity of the brown colour was different in different people. Others were lucky to have an almost invisible mark at the corner of one of their tooth, while others teeth were deeply discolored. 

One day people came to talk to us about fluorosis, and what causes it. They told us that it is the water in that area that was responsible, it had high amounts of fluoride. While fluoride in itself is an important element and helps in the strengthening of teeth and bones, excessive amounts lead to discolouration of teeth, they added. 

All hope was not lost though, they said. They showed us a water filter, which worked by filtering the excessive amounts of fluorine and hence made the water very good for drinking. Whoever drank the filtered water would not get fluorosis. 

One pupil’s hand shot up. “What if your teeth are already discoloured? Can the filtered water help to restore the white colour?” 

We all waited for the answer with hopprehension (hope and apprehension). 

“Unfortunately no. The damage has already been done. However, we can  prevent dental fluorosis is other people, now that we are armed with the information.”

We were disappointed, but at least we were salvaged from our ignorance. 

Fast forward to high school, when I noticed that I was one of the three people in class with brown teeth. Most of the people there had white teeth. Exact opposite of primary school. Insecurities crept in again, but I reminded myself of my  mother’s words. I had to love my perfect imperfections. Whenever I felt like laughing, I laughed until my last tooth was seen. After all, people only notice the difference in your teeth the first time they see you, and then they get used to it, and they don’t seem to notice it anymore. 

If you have brown teeth, don’t worry. You can afford a white smile though, if you can afford it (terrible pun). If you go to a dentist, they can cover your teeth with a layer of filling (if there is any dentist reading this, forgive my utter ignorance of terminologies). They can also use other methods such as microabrasion where they scrap off a thin layer of enamel. You are spoilt for choice. 

Of course there are those people who go the herbal way. The said herbalists use a mixture of herbs to scrub your teeth. Well, I hear that those people scrap off a large layer of enamel and your teeth become very sensitive. I have not heard any story first hand though, so there is a chance that the herbalists are very efficient. 

You know how dentists are expected  to have flawless teeth; white and perfectly arranged? There is one dentist I saw on TV who is challenging the status quo. His teeth are discoloured. Being a dentist, he obviously can afford to get his teeth whitened but he chooses not to. Isn’t that the quintessence of loving your imperfections perfectly? He inspires a lot of people. When was the last time you were treated  by a dentist with brown teeth? I bet never. Unfortunately, his name escapes me but I salute him for being brave. 

Let’s go back to where I started from, to the woman who claimed that she cannot get a boyfriend because of her teeth. How many people with brown teeth are married? You see how a terrible mindset can put one in perils of their own making? 

Whoever has read this to the end, thank you. I hope you shed all the misconceptions you had before about brown teeth. No they are not rotten, they are just discoloured. Do not assume that people who have them do not brush their teeth. 🙂 

Haha, I’ve just remembered that in high school someone asked  me why I don’t use Colgate. In university too, someone told me that they thought I smoked cigarettes. I have gotten to a point where I can just laugh off these comments. 

Did you know? People with fluorosis are relatively resistant to dental carries. 

ALONE

via Daily Prompt: Desire

Image result for sad lady drinking tea and reading a book alone

She relished in her guilty pleasure; imbibing highly caffeinated coffee while reading a book. Books were her safe haven, her friends, her family. They were a hiding place from reality, the bitter monster that refused vehemently to leave her side. Reading had become more than a hobby, it was her life. She was all alone at a restaurant table but that was the least of her worries at the moment. Her book had immersed her in a completely different world.

As she reached out to grab her cup of coffee for yet another sip, Bianca could not help but stare at her freshly-manicured nails. A YouTube video, dubbed ‘How To Love Yourself’ had convinced her to go get her nails painted. It was an act of showing appreciation to oneself, the feisty YouTuber had said. She beheld the tiny nails, now coated with red nail polish. They seemed to be drowning in a sea of meat. She had imagined that the manicure would make fragile as an adjective qualify to describe her fingers. To her dismay, they had only exaggerated the stubbiness of her fingers. She chuckled and sighed inwardly.

Out of the blues, laughter erupted in a table next to hers. On other days, she would not have bothered, let alone heard any sound. However, on that day, her nails had bewitched her into leaving the books world and entering the real world. She found herself throwing a glance at the table. An extremely beautiful woman was seated facing a man whose face Bianca could not quite see. The woman’s eyes never left the man’s face. Giggles punctuated all her sentences. A couple in love. The sight of that couple left Bianca with an overwhelming sadness. To her, love was a sensation cursed into oblivion. The feeling of loving and being loved had become completely alien to her.

She had to force herself to look elsewhere. The picture of the happy couple had become too much to bear. She tried reentering her favourite world, the books world, to no avail. Her eyes were left to dart from table to table within her vicinity. All she saw were happy couples, amazing families and great friends. Everyone was having a time of their lives. No one was seated alone.

She was the only person in this world shackled with loneliness, she concluded. She was engulfed in a fervent desire for good things in life, yet continually slapped by bitter reality. There was not a single soul she could call a friend, not a single person she could call family. Her only companion was lack, not luck.

Still reeling from the fresh wounds reality had afflicted upon her, she left some money beside the unfinished cup of coffee, and stomped out of the restaurant. As soon as she left the restaurant she broke into a run, tears streaming down her face. She did not know where she was going, but she could not stop running.

 

Reviving the forgotten

Back in high school, it was not uncommon to find students immersed in deep slumber during preps.  What was even funnier was finding out that the person sleeping the prep away had stuck a note on their desk that read, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands and poverty will come to you like an armed bandit.” Oh, the irony!

I am so sure that during the first few days of the note’s existence, the person drew a lot of motivation from it. You know, the slightest batting of the eyelids was stopped the moment the words ‘poverty will come to you like an armed bandit’ were viewed. Then as the days progressed, the words ceased to hold meaning. They became no more than impurities on a white piece of paper.

Maybe you’ve moved into a new house and you decide to add life to your walls. A Leonardo Da Vinci-esque painting would do just that, so you get it. You note with a lot of satisfaction the huge difference it makes. Days go by, and you forget that the painting exists. Then one day, visitors come and are blown away by the piece of art. It is then that you are reminded of its existence.

I am afraid we do the same for people. We get so excited about new friendships but we forget the people who have stood with us for a long time. We see those people by our side for so long, that we forget how much they mean to us. We don’t appreciate them as much as we used to. In short, we take them for granted.

May we rekindle our old friendships. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend, won’t you?

 

Dear person,

Hello, I hope you are doing fine. Wait, have I followed the right format? Have I bothered myself with useless salutations? (We both know that your situation does not affect me in any way). If the answer is yes, then I have followed the right procedure. If you were to write back to me, you would say the universal lie: ‘I’m fine’. Excuse me, I am sorry if I come across as rude. Actually, I have no apologies for that. In my world, being polite is the rudest you could ever be. Why? It is said that politeness is veiled deception. It is way better to be blunt if you ask me. It saves precious time and energy.

I almost forgot to mention I am the inventor of Time Travel Machine (TTM). My wife, daughter and I decided to travel from 3017 to your time, 2017, just for purposes of, you know, testing the equipment. Scrap that. I came here to experience life in your age. I have always wanted to see how people lived in the past so you can imagine my excitement when I managed to come up with TTM. My Eureka moment.

We were so excited. But you can only be excited for so long. When we landed in 2017, there was so much… what’s the name? Oh yes! Sound. Noise. Oh, the horror! My daughter sent us multiple crying emojis. We panicked. I tried consoling my daughter by typing to her words of comfort. It is at that moment that my wife made a breathtaking discovery. Covering your ears helps to lessen the noise.

Okay, I know I lost you with the typing and the sending of emojis. Let me break it down. In the world of 3017, human beings communicate not by speech, but by typing! It is a silent world.We laugh by sending laughing emojis, we cry by sending crying emojis. We fight wars online, we meet online. Babies do not learn how to talk, but how to type. Musicians sing by typing the musical notes.

I live in a world where weddings are officiated online. We attend weddings when we are in the comfort of our own homes. By attending I mean joining an online group dubbed wedding. The pastor types, “You may now kiss the bride.” The groom sends kissing emojis and the bride reciprocates. The ‘congregation’ then sends clapping emojis. Husband and wife are pronounced!

I live in a world where the president types his speech. Where teachers teach while typing the concepts. Where there are no secrets. You may think that you have communicated to a pal using a highly secured server, only for someone to hack it and broadcast it to the world. I live in a world where people type whatever comes in their mind, and do not care about the feelings of others.

Believe it or not, some people surgically remove their ears in 3017. Why? The only use of those ugly oval protuberances we call ears is to add unnecessary weight to the head. However, we have noted with a lot of concern that those who cut off their ears tend to topple over a lot of times. *Chuckles*

For the first time in a long time, I cried (sent crying emojis). I cried when I saw people of 2017 communicate by talking. I have never seen something so beautiful! The merry laughter, the singing, the beautiful changes in voice intonation; these are things we have never heard of in my world! To speak, oh such a wonderful thing!

So my wife and I tried to imitate you. However hard we tried, not a sound was heard. This angered me. You know who I blame for this misfortune? You. You and the people of your generation. Yes, you heard me right. The moment you let technology supersede human interaction is the moment when we lost everything. Because of you, people of our age will never experience the delights of one on one conversations.

Yours angrily,

Mr. X

(My identity is not of importance)

Make a Child Smile :)

Image result for poverty stricken children

Think about this. There is a child somewhere who cries himself to sleep every night. He is not yet accustomed to the sharp pangs of hunger. He wishes that he had the powers to make food appear miraculously by snapping his fingers, but he can only snap them for so long. The next day, his alarm clock, hunger, does the favour of waking him up. He snaps his fingers. No food. Grim reality dawns on him. He has to accompany his family for a long walk in search of wild fruits. As if hunger is not enough trouble, the sun decides to mercilessly unleash its mighty power. When they are finally able to gather (barely) enough fruits, he has to wait for hours for the fruits to boil. He cannot take it anymore. He wails.

There is another child somewhere whose pillow is drenched in her tears, but for a different reason. She is called names by the very people who brought her to earth. Whenever she makes a mistake, a ‘you’re good for nothing, I’m ashamed of you idiot’ sentence comes hurtling towards her. It hits her. The words sink in. She believes that she is extremely stupid and aggressively ugly; that the people who came up with negative adjectives had her in mind; that anyone who points out something positive about her is a liar.

These are stories of children struck with different kinds of poverty. One is deprived of basic needs, the other is deprived of love. Hold that thought, I am leaning in to tell you two stories of two people, both middle-aged. One loathes carpets, the other detests bicycles.

When this middle-aged man was a young boy full of life, an incident that remained forever in his memory occurred. On that particular day, he had immersed himself in mud (like any child would) and had had the time of his life. He went to a neighbour’s house and, in all his innocence, stepped on the carpet. Hell hath no fury like that woman upon realizing that filthy feet had made contact with her squeaky clean carpet. She chased him away, calling him unprintable names. To this day, that man has never liked carpets.

What about the one who hates bicycles? When she was young, people who used to come to their house to beg had one thing in common. They all rode bicycles. Her parents used to tell her that the people on bicycles were exceedingly impoverished so she grew up believing that bicycles are for the paupers. That is why she never ‘deigned’ to learn how to ride a bicycle. To this day, she holds onto that notion. Telling her that in other countries professors and ministers ride bicycles is futile. That will not change her attitude.

Here’s what I am trying to bring across, our experiences in childhood continue to influence us into adulthood. I get saddened when I see children going through abuse. Children who lack basic needs, those brought up in an environment devoid of opportunities to excel. Like it or not what they are going through will affect them. Deeply.

I am throwing you a challenge. Whenever you can, help a child. If you have the means, you could adopt them, provide food, pay their school fees or take them to specialists to help them overcome trauma from abuse, the list is long. Also, something as simple as saying kind words to them could go a long way! Make a child smile. 🙂