Book Reviews

Review:Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

behind closed doorsOne of the most basic psycho thriller book has to be Behind Closed Doors. I kept wondering why there wasn’t more depth to the story. Everything was a tad bit obvious from the onset. Previous reviews by other readers alluded to this book as a thought-provoking thriller with some psychological mystery to it, which ended up being quite the opposite, at least for the most part.  I must give it to Paris though, the book has some interesting twists and turns with somewhat a solid plot.

Since we’re talking about a thriller/mystery, of course, the story was more plot driven than character-driven. However, I think Grace and also Jack were well-portrayed characters. Some of their characteristics were believable, with their flaws they felt relatable in some way or another and they were also very engaging. Grace was a likable character for the most part, but honestly, at times, she was so frustrating that I really wanted to throttle her.

The story is told both in the past and present. The fact that the events from the past happened only a year before the events from the present seemed odd. These elements  kept popping up as I read the book:
1.Surely, someone would notice that this guy is a bit off within the one-year duration.

2.Why doesn’t Grace say something and run away all this time

‘Fear,’ he whispered. ‘There is nothing quite like it. I love how it looks, I love how it feels, I love how it smells. And I especially love the sound of it.’ I felt his tongue on my cheek. ‘I even love the taste of it.’”

The book is about a marriage that looks perfect from the outside but has many secrets hidden that reveal that marriage is far from being perfect. Grace, a faultless lady from the onset seems to have it all with a good looking, perfect and caring boyfriend who after six months of knowing him gets married to Jack. This guy is nothing short of amazing as he is charismatic, a good provider a caring and devoted husband. They all look happy but only Grace knows what happens behind closed doors. In the beginning, he charms her with his good looks and his devotion to her sister Millie who has Down Syndrome. This is however short-lived because soon after the wedding Grace finds out that she’s married to a psychopath. As a child, Jack lived with his cruel father that kept his mother locked up. Together they both tortured her mother and eventually, Jack ended up killing her mother and blamed it on his father.

During his adult life, he searches for a woman he could torture similar to what he would do to his mother. He over time maintains a brilliant persona of a kind lawyer which easily makes it for others to believe that he’s the all-around perfect person. Grace’s neighbor, Esther is suspicious of this perfection but ultimately doesn’t know how to confront it.

As the story unfolds you will be taken through a rollercoaster of emotions as some scenes are full of tension, others gory and disturbing while others will frustrate you all this while Grace devices a plan to kill Jack. In the end, the story ends exactly like anyone would expect, Grace is able to tactfully kill Jack while pretending to be a distressed wife. This was well played out.However, the end felt a little rushed as the reader is left in suspense not knowing if Grace was truly able to get away with murder once the police unravel the mystery surrounding Jack’s death.

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Book Reviews

Aleph by Paulo Coelho

“Aleph: the point at which everything is in the same place at the same time.” aleph

The reason why I picked this book is, it’s an autobiography of Paulo Coelho. I have been an avid reader of his books and follow his blog posts religiously. I had high hopes of getting to understand more about the author through this book.  I had a preconceived notion stemming from his earlier books such as the Alchemist.

When you read the prologue, it gives you an idea of the intent of the book, which is a spiritual journey, self-discovery, and healing of a drained soul. Believing that this is an autobiography I expected something different, more rooted in contemporary problems that perhaps we could all relate. The storyline is below my expectation; it’s in sharp contrast to my assumption. This book involved deep and thought-provoking spiritual elements; I preferred reading it in the morning lest my eyelids failed me and drooped.

The book begins by the author describing how he felt disconnected with his spiritual self and seeks his mentor J to find out what was happening, in my opinion, this is contradicting considering he is a world-renowned author living a good life he’s got everything he needs. The author starts his quest for his inner peace; he does this by committing to meet his readers across Russia via Trans Serbia railways. At one of the book signing event, he meets a young girl Hilal who wants to talk with him. According to this girl, she claims to know him in another life, Coelho has the same connection to this girl and believes they have met.

In ‘Aleph’ the author discusses his search for inner peace, spirituality, unknown realms, his belief in reincarnation and magic. The Aleph brings us to the plot of the story, as the author shows us a dose of rituals, history, revenge, and redemption.

The cherry on the cake is his words of wisdom and pithy comments such as :

  1. Courage can attract fear and admiration, but willpower requires patience and commitment
  2. Life is the train, not the station
  3. Life without cause is a life without effect.
  4. Words are tears that have been written down; tears are words that need to be shed
  5. What can’t be cured must be endured.

I must say that the author qualifies as a master storyteller. This book, however, was a tad complicated to read, the story was beyond my grasp, I couldn’t connect with what the author was saying, and worst of all the rituals he was performing were beyond me. Coelho touched on subjects that are debatable, such as being able to love two people at the same time without hinting at betrayal of any sort. At some point I felt like abandoning the book, it lost the charm and engrossing element that had attracted me to it. There’s, however, nothing like completing a book that exudes a mystery a revelation waiting to be unearthed. It only adds to the thrill of reading till the last line.

Book Reviews

Fire and Fury – Michael Wolff

 

Fire and Fury

The title Fire and Fury was borrowed from Trump’s famous warning to North Korea to send a message that Kim Jong-un could understand since diplomacy isn’t a trait that this North Korea’s leader recognizes.

Political books have never been my cup of tea; they are not the kind that I would pick from a bookshop and pay. This year, however, I challenged myself to read all genres.From the raving reviews posted on social media, I thought at the very least that this book would be entertaining, boy wasn’t I wrong, also the fact that a sitting U.S. president tried to censor publication of a book about himself made me more curious.

To begin with, this is not a book that dissects significant policy decisions or analyses the premises of what Trump has done, making it a major bummer for all political scholars out there.  The book delves a lot into personalities.Allegations in the book are centered on Trump’s behavior.To a great extent, I wasn’t shocked; the guy has always been an outrageous, peculiar man.

The author of this book Wolff is a problematic figure. Controversy accompanied his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch when he was accused of stretching the truth. Within hours of publication, early readers were quick to spot apparent inaccuracies in Fire and Fury. For example, he relays an anecdote which claims that Donald Trump did not know who John Boehner was. In fact, Trump previously played golf with the former speaker of the house and has tweeted numerous times about him.

Rumor has it that the book is mostly ghostwritten by Bannon and gives the reader an insight into his narcissism, which is equal to if not more significant than Trumps. From the opening chapter, Bannon dominates (he “immediately took control of the conversation,”) Wolff writes, describing the January dinner with Roger Ailes.

Wolff begins by asserting Trump as an insignificant person. Roger Ailes claims to have concluded that Trump lacked both principles and backbone. An economic adviser in the White House regards him as “less a person than a collection of terrible traits.” Or perhaps of terrifying tweets, Trump doesn’t and maybe can’t read, so he finds coherent speech problematic, and soon degenerates into doddery repetition or vile abuse; twitter is his chosen mode of communication.

Trump’s aides treat him as “an unruly two-year-old”: Rupert Murdoch thinks he is “a fucking idiot” and Rex Tillerson is alleged to have called him “a fucking moron,” in a nutshell, Wolff concludes that the Americans have a stupid man for a president. It doesn’t all end here the author writes of Trump’s desire to sleep with his friend’s wives and details of his dysfunctional marriage to Melania. According to Wolff, Trump often spoke of his wife when she wasn’t there, referring to her proudly and without irony as his “trophy wife.” Their marriage was “perplexing” to almost everyone who worked closely with Trump during the campaign, says Wolff. But to Trump, this arrangement spelled success. The real estate mogul who already had two unsuccessful marriages under his belt, to first wife Ivana and second wife Marla Maples reportedly told friends he had finally perfected the art of marriage: in short “Do your own thing.”

I have to give it to Wolff as his real strength is in his analysis of Trump’s personality. Beneath the bizarre, often funny, descriptions of the president, Wolff presents some insightful assessments: that Trump is merely an emotional, instinctive person who wants to be loved; that he feels desperately wounded by his treatment by the mainstream media. This book doesn’t have much of a narrative as it lacks an argument beyond Trump is a dummy and a nut case.

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Halloween? Count Me Out.

Halloween in Africa seems to be spreading faster than gossip. Personally, I have noticed how this is slowly being ingrained as a celebration especially by the younger generation.  On the surface it seems as a relatively benign day with plenty of admirable qualities since its kids-centric and doesn’t urge you to spend needlessly as some other holidays i.e Valentines and Christmas day. Halloween (an American export) is said to have originated from a festival known as Samhain.

“It is believed that the spirits of those who died during the previous twelve months were granted access into the other world during Samhain.Thus, spirits were said to be traveling on that evening.”

haunted

Do the people now celebrating Halloween in Kenya know this? Hmmmmh I highly doubt. I strongly believe that all they know is that come 31st October, they need to dress up in ghoulish fashion, have lots of candy for the kids to ensure they partake in the trick or treat activities and organize Halloween themed parties for adults.

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This is where I have a problem with it, if Halloween came to Kenya from Uganda or better yet any other neighboring country, Kenyans would outrightly call it “juju”(use of black magic) , something that no one would want to be associated with. Most Kenyans would say “What? You want me, now me…. Pauses to think about it*, my husband and children to go out dressed like Satan ?”, “You want us to go to our neighbors and ask for a treat for our children?” “You’ve got to be out of your damn mind.” But because it came from the whites, “some” Kenyans (to be more specific the struggling middle class that feels the need to fit in everything) have embraced it.

In the past there have been horrific incidents of “witch lynchings, where five elderly men and women were burned alive by villagers in western Kenya who accused them of bewitching a young boy.  Last year, a local newspaper reported that elders in the coastal region were fleeing their homes out of fear of being killed for practicing witchcraft. So everyone pretty much gets the drift, to be “outed” as a witch is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone.

fantasy-2846766__340

Yes, this is how Kenyans and other African societies behave towards witches. We don’t like them. We really believe the devil is alive and kicking and don’t like him either. Most people claim to be Christians, and as such, they look down on ghoulish behavior. It is just not accepted or tolerated.

So how do we now find it acceptable to dress up as a witch or a ghost or even a devil on 31 October? If that is the case, why don’t we release all the witches and honor them with a Halloween-type of celebration?

It is so hypocritical the way we are killing our beliefs, traditions, and cultures to buy into anything that comes in, even if it goes against everything we once believed in.Our people will not only accept but will practice even more fervently than the originators, anything that comes from the white people.

I don’t dispute the fact that the world is a global village, and there is nothing wrong with culture sharing. Sadly, in Kenya, it is not sharing but rather destroying our beliefs, traditions, and way of life. We need to realize that not everything coming from outside is positive.

 

Book Reviews, Lifestyle, Inspirational

Chimamanda Adichie: ‘Mornings are dark, and I lie in bed, wrapped in fatigue. I cry often…’

Sometimes it begins with a pimple. A large shiny spot appears on my forehead. Or it begins with a feeling of heaviness, and I long to wear only loose-fitting clothes. Then my mood plunges, my lower back aches, my insides turn liquid. Stomach cramps come in spasms so painful I sometimes cry out. I lose interest in the things I care about. My family becomes unbearable, my friends become strangers with dark intentions, and cashiers and waiters seem unforgivably rude. A furious, righteous paranoia shrouds me: every human being with whom I interact is wrong, either insensitive or ill-willed. I eat mounds of food – I crave greasy stews and fried yams and dense chocolate truffles – or I have no appetite at all, both unusual for a careful, picky eater. My breasts are swollen and taut. Because they hurt, I wear my softest bras – “tender” seems a wrong word for the sharp discomfort. Sometimes they horrify me, so suddenly round, as though from science fiction, and sometimes their round perkiness pleases my vanity. At night, I lie sleepless, drenched in strange sweat; I can touch the wetness on my skin.

I am sitting in a doctor’s office in Maryland and reciting these symptoms. On the wall of the bright room, there is a diagram of a lean female, her ovaries and uterus illustrated in curling lines; it reminds me of old pictures of Eve in the garden with Adam. The doctor is a kind and blunt woman, bespectacled, but reading over her lenses the forms I have filled out. When she first asks why I have come to see her, I say, “Because my family thinks I need help.” Her reply is, “You must agree with them or you wouldn’t be here.” Later, it will strike me that this is a quality I admire most in women: a blunt kindness, a kind bluntness.

When she asks questions, I embellish my answers with careful detail – the bigger-sized bra I wear for a few days, the old frost-bitten ice cream I eat because I will eat anything. I make sure to link everything to my monthly cycle, to repeat that I always feel better when my period starts. I make fun of my irritability: everyone I meet is annoying until I suddenly realise that I am the only constant and the problem has to be me! It is, I tell her, as though a strangeness swoops down on me every month, better on some and worse on others. Nothing I say is untrue. But there are things I leave out. I am silent about the other strangeness that comes when it will and flattens my soul.

“It sounds like you have premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” she says.

It is what I want to hear. I am grateful because she has given me a name I find tolerable, an explanation I can hide behind: my body is a vat of capricious hormones and I am at their mercy.

But the doctor is not done. Her eyes are still and certain as she says, “But the more important thing is that you have underlying depression.” She speaks quietly, and I feel the room hold its breath. She speaks as if she knows that I already know this.

In truth, I am sitting opposite her in this examining room because my family is worried about the days and weeks when I am, as they say, “not myself”. For a long time, I have told them that I just happen to have hormonal issues, victim to those incomplete tortures that Nature saves for femaleness. “It can’t be just hormonal,” they say. “It just can’t.” Mine is a family full of sensible scientists – a statistician father, an engineer brother, a doctor sister. I am the different one, the one for whom books always were magical things. I have been writing stories since I was a child; I left medical school because I was writing poems in biology class. When my family says it is “not just hormonal”, I suspect they are saying that this malaise that makes me “not myself” has something to do with my being a writer.

Now, the doctor asks me, “What kind of writing do you do?”

I tell her I write fiction.

“There is a high incidence of depression in creative people,” she says.

I remember a writers’ conference I attended in Maine one summer years ago, before my first novel was published. I liked the other writers, and we sat in the sun and drank cranberry juice and talked about stories. But a few days in, I felt that other strangeness creeping up on me, almost suffocating me. I drew away from my new circle of friends. One of them finally cornered me in the dormitory and asked, “You’re depressive, aren’t you?” In his eyes and his voice was something like admiration, because he believed that there is, in a twisted way, a certain literary glamour in depression. He tells me that Ernest Hemingway had depression. Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill had depression. Graham Greene had depression. Oh, and it wasn’t just writers. Did I know Van Gogh had wandered into the field he was painting and shot himself? I remember feeling enraged, wanting to tell him that depression has no grandeur, it is opaque, it wastes too much and nurtures too little. But to say so would be to agree that I indeed had depression. I said nothing. I did not have depression. I did not want to have depression.

And now, in the doctor’s office, I want to resist. I want to say, no thank you, I’ll take only premenstrual dysphoric disorder please. It fits elegantly in my arsenal of feminism after all, this severe form of premenstrual syndrome, suffered by only 3% of women, and with no known treatment, only different suggestions for management. It gives me a new language. I can help other women who grew up as I did in Nigeria, where nobody told us girls why we sometimes felt bloated and moody. If we ever talked about what happened to our bodies, then it was behind closed doors, away from the boys and men, in tones muted with abashment. Aunts and mothers and sisters, a band of females surrounded in mystery, the older whispering to the younger about what periods meant: staying away from boys, washing yourself well. They spoke in stilted sentences, gestured vaguely, gave no details. Even then I felt resentful to have to feel shame about what was natural. And now here I was, burnished with a new language to prod and push at this damaging silence.

But depression is different. To accept that I have it is to be reduced to a common cliché: I become yet another writer who has depression. To accept that I have it is to give up the uniqueness of my own experience, the way I start, in the middle of breathing, to sense on the margins the threat of emptiness. Time blurs. Days pass in a fog. It is morning and then suddenly it is evening and there is nothing in between. I am frightened of contemplating time itself: the thought of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, the endless emptiness of time. I long to sleep and forget. Yet I am afraid of waking up, in terror of a new day. Mornings are dark, and I lie in bed, wrapped in fatigue. I cry often. My crying puzzles me, surprises me, because there is no cause. I open a book but the words form no meaning. Writing is impossible. My limbs are heavy, my brain is slow. Everything requires effort. To consider eating, showering, talking brings to me a great and listless fatigue. Why bother? What’s the point of it all? And why, by the way, are we here? What is it I know of myself? I mourn the days that have passed, the wasted days, and yet more days are wasted.

The doctor calls these symptoms but they do not feel like symptoms. They feel like personal failures, like defects. I am normally full of mischievous humour, full of passion, whether in joy or in rage, capable of an active, crackling energy, quick to respond and rebuke, but with this strangeness, I do not even remember what it means to feel. My mind is in mute. I normally like people, I am deeply curious about the lives of others, but with this strangeness comes misanthropy. A cold misanthropy. I am normally the nurturer, worrying about everyone I love, but suddenly I am detached. It frightens me, this sense of slipping out of my normal self. It cannot be an illness. It feels like a metaphysical failure, which I cannot explain but for which I am still responsible.

There is an overwhelming reluctance to move. A stolidness of spirit. I want to stay, to be, and if I must then only small movements are bearable. I switch off my phone, draw the shades, burrow in the dim stillness. I shy away from light and from love, and I am ashamed of this. I feel guilty about what I feel. I am unworthy of the people who care about me. I stew in self-recrimination. I am alone. Stop it, I say to myself. What is wrong with you? But I don’t know how to stop it. I feel as if I am asking myself to return a stolen good that I have not in fact stolen.

In some of my family and friends, I sense confusion, and sometimes, suspicion. I am known to nurse a number of small eccentricities, and perhaps this is one. I avoid them, partly not to burden them with what I do not understand, and partly to shield myself from their bewilderment, while all the time, a terrible guilt chews me whole. I hear their unasked question: Why can’t she just snap out of it? There is, in their reactions, an undertone of “choice”. I might not choose to be this way, but I can choose not to be this way. I understand their thinking because I, too, often think like them. Is this self-indulgence? Surely it cannot be so crippling if I am sentient enough to question it? Does the market woman in Nsukka have depression? When I cannot get out of bed in the morning, would she be able to, since she earns her living day by day?

The doctor says, about the high incidence of depression in creative people, “We don’t know why that is.” Her tone is flat, matter-of-fact, and I am grateful that it is free of fascination.

“Do you think anybody else in your family might have depression?” she asks.

Nobody else does. I tell her, a little defensively, about growing up in Nsukka, the small university campus, the tree-lined streets where I rode my bicycle. It is as if I want to exculpate my past. My childhood was happy. My family was close-knit. I was voted most popular girl in secondary school.

Yet I have memories of slow empty days, of melancholy silence, of perplexed people asking what was wrong, and of feeling guilty and confused, because I had no reason. Everything was wrong and yet nothing was wrong.

I remember a gardener we had when I was a child. A wiry ex-soldier called Jomo. A man full of stories for little children. My brother and I followed him around as he watered the plants, asking him questions about plants and life, basking in his patience. But sometimes, he changed, became blank, barely spoke to anybody. Perhaps he had depression. Later, I will wonder about African writers, how many could be listed as well in this Roll of Depression, and if perhaps they, too, refuse to accept the name.

The doctor says, “I’d recommend therapy, and that you try anti-depressants. I know a good therapist.”

A therapist. I want to joke about it. I want to say that I am a strong Igbo woman, a strong Nigerian woman, a strong African woman, and we don’t do depression. We don’t tell strangers our personal business. But the joke lies still and stale on my tongue. I feel defensive about the suggestion of a therapist, because it suggests a cause that I do not know, a cause I need a stranger to reveal to me.

I remember the first book I read about depression, how I clung to parts that I could use to convince myself that I did not have depression. Depressives are terrified of being alone. But I enjoy being alone, so it cannot be depression. I don’t have drama, I have not ever felt the need to rant, to tear off clothes, to do something crazy. So it cannot be depression, this strangeness. It cannot be the same kind of thing that made Virginia Woolf fill her pockets with stones and walk into a river. I stopped reading books about depression because their contradictions unsettled me. I was comforted by them, but I was also made anxious by them.

I am in denial about having depression, and it is a denial that I am not in denial about.

“I don’t want to see a therapist,” I say.

She looks at me, as if she is not surprised. “You won’t get better if you do nothing. Depression is an illness.”

It is impossible for me to think of this as I would any other illness. I want to impose it my own ideas of what an illness should be. In its lack of a complete explanation, it disappoints. No ebb and flow of hormones.

“I don’t want to take medicine either. I’m worried about what it will do to my writing. I heard people turn into zombies.”

“If you had diabetes would you resist taking medicine?”

Suddenly I am angry with her. My prejudices about American healthcare system emerge: perhaps she just wants to bill more for my visit, or she has been bribed by a drug rep who markets antidepressants. Besides, American doctors over-diagnose.

“How can I possibly have PMDD and depression? So how am I supposed to know where one starts and the other stops?” I ask her, my tone heavy with blame. But even as I ask her, I feel dishonest, because I know. I know the difference between the mood swings that come with stomach cramps and the flatness that comes with nothing.

I am strong. Everyone who knows me thinks so. So why can’t I just brush that feeling aside? I can’t. And it is this, the “cantness”, the starkness of my inability to control it, that clarifies for me my own condition. I look at the doctor and I accept the name of a condition that has been familiar to me for as long as I can remember. Depression. Depression is not sadness. It is powerlessness. It is helplessness. It is both to suffer and to be unable to console yourself.

This is not the real you, my family say. And I have found in that sentiment, a source of denial. But what if it is the real me? What if it is as much a part of me as the other with which they are more at ease? A friend once told me, about depression, that perhaps the ancestors have given me what I need to do the work I am called to do. A lofty way of thinking of it, but perhaps another way of saying: What if depression is an integral but fleeting part of me?

A fellow writer, who himself has had bouts of depression, once wrote me to say: Remember that it is the nature of depression to pass. A comforting thought. It is also the nature of depression to make it difficult to remember this. But it is no less true. That strangeness, when it comes, can last days, weeks, sometimes months. And then, one day, it lifts. I am again able to see clearly the people I love. I am again back to a self I do not question.

A few days after my doctor visit, I see a therapist, a woman who asks me if my depression sits in my stomach. I say little, watching her, imagining creating a character based on her. On the day of my second appointment, I call and cancel. I know I will not go again. The doctor tells me to try anti-depressants. She says in her kind and blunt way: “If they don’t work, they don’t work, and your body gets rid of them.”

I agree. I will try antidepressants, but first, I want to finish my novel.

Originally published on guardian.com

Uncategorized

Where it all starts: Entitlement Issues

Koru sat in his 10:00 am biology class, arms cradling his head on his desk as he stared at the clocks second making laps, wishing that time would pass by quickly as the teacher explained about chromosomes, mitochondria, and mitosis. Like everyone else stuck in the stuffy classroom he was bored.

A knock came on the door, “Excuse me for interrupting,” the beautiful secretary stuck her head in .“Koru can you step outside with me for a moment, oh and bring your things with you.” she informed him to go to the principal’s office.Everyone knew well that being called to Mr. Njeru’s office meant drama of some sort. Koru tucked his shirt in his trousers and tried as much as possible to look presentable he knew that he was in trouble, not sure of what but he didn’t want to add salt to injury by looking unkempt.

Koru was the ringleader of a group of troublesome teenagers who would periodically be seen performing the rebellious act of not wearing the proper school uniform, taking advantage of not being under surveillance by the teacher. “Cool kids” like him had more often than not gotten in trouble because of not adhering to the basic school policies.

The school hallway stank. The odor of the stale urine curled from under the restroom doors, depressingly mixed with deodorant and body odor in equal measure. The journey to the office sent chills down Koru’s spine and reminded him of something out of his nightmares. He didn’t want to be there he thought and wrapped his hand around his chilled body.

Koru hesitantly walked to the door and slowly opened, as it let out a tired old groan with the hinges protesting loudly. Mr. Njeru closed the door, he went over to the window and adjusted the blinds to block the view from outside. Koru’s palms began to sweat this was not a regular principal visit he told himself….

Mr . Njeru looks at him and asks, “do you know what I am looking for Koru”?

“No,” he says.
“Drugs”?
The word shocks him into nervous attention.
“D- d-r-r-ugs Drugs?” He stammers.
The principal thoroughly goes through his belongings, his folders, his backpack; he even checks inside his lunchbox. Koru’s sweat blossoms like a fungal growth as it spreads from his palms to his arms. Like any fourteen-year-old accused of possessing narcotics and bringing them to school, he wants to run and hide.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he protests. His words sounding far meeker than he would have wanted. He feels as if he should be sounding confident or maybe not. Maybe he should be scared he thinks.”Do liars sound confident or scared?”
“We shall see about that,“ turning his attention to his backpack that seemingly had hundreds of pockets. Each loaded with silly teens desiderata ( old notes passed in class, CDs with cracked cases and dried up markers)
Mr. Njeru finishes searching the backpack his face plastered as he had found nothing. He’s now sweating as profusely as Koru was, in place of his terror his was anger. He turned to Koru and began beating him demanding him to tell him the truth of where he had hidden the drugs. He stares blatantly at the floor where all Koru’s stuff lay. Nothing Illicit or illegal, no narcotics not even anything against school policy. He sighs heavily.
Mr. Njeru takes one last longing gaze at the deflated backpack, lying like a broken promise.He casually puts his foot down on the pack when suddenly his foot stops on something, “What’s this?” he asks tapping with his foot
“There is still something in here”… He shouts, sounding ecstatic
Koru was rebellious, angry and full of resentment. When he was twelve, he would steal sticks of cigarettes from his father and sell them to his classmates at school. He had gotten used to taking his mother’s car at night by putting it in neutral and pushing it into the street so he could drive around. He had also cut a secret compartment onto the bottom of his backpack to hide his marijuana. That was the same hidden compartment that had been found by the principal Mr. Njeru.
A few hours later his parents were called to the school, and as promised, Mr. Njeru did not go easy on him; he gave him the beating of his life with the cane being passed on to every teacher. At this point, Koru thought that his life was over. At home things were no better, he got a thorough beating from both his parents.He was not allowed to have friends for the foreseeable future. Having been expelled from school in the middle of the term made it difficult to move to a new school, so he had to study from home for the remaining weeks before the term was over.
Koru was the kind of kid that habitually threw tantrums when he was a toddler. He was used to people making oooey-gooey tones that would be prompted with “you will get it later.” His tears would then be mopped up, and his snotty little nose wiped. As he grew older nothing much changed, he did not show any snippet of patience or consideration to others. He continued to throw tantrums tactfully in a seemingly more mature and sophisticated manner. He always demanded special treatment just because it was him and it’s because that’s what he deserved. Naturally!! Or so he thought.
Now that the expulsion had happened he begun to unconsciously feel as if the problems he had were incapable of ever being solved which in turn led him to feel miserable and helpless. He also felt that somehow unlike everyone else the rules must be different for him.
Simply put, Koru became entitled. The pain of his adolescence led him down a road of entitlement that lasted through much of his early adulthood. His entitlement played out in his relationships with everyone around him. He felt the constant need to prove to himself that he was loved and accepted at all times; as a result, he soon took to chasing women like a cocaine addict running for his quick fix.
He became an immature, selfish and sometimes charming player. He strung up a long series of superficial and unhealthy relationships for the better part of the decade. He craved for validation, this craving fed into a mental habit of self-aggrandizing and overindulgence.He felt entitled to say or do whatever he wanted. His life turned out to be a wreck; he had broken people’s trust meaning no one believed him anymore.

Lifestyle, Inspirational

Dealing with Awkward Situations

The way humans talk or react to stories about harassment in the streets or even in the workplace is just astounding, causing most individuals to shy away from this conversation because let us face it they are either ridiculed, mocked or worse of told to adapt and cope with the situation.

Over the years Ayah had come to the conclusion that either the society we live in is ignorant of what harassment constitutes or we just out rightly get a thrill from bullying others.She was getting tired of narrating to her friends her rampant awkward experiences. That included having to painfully endure grown men gawking and whistling suggestively on the streets. The un-welcomed hugs from a male colleague who would strongly insist and add a peck to her cheek or worse still enduring the cheekily prolonged handshakes that would be spruced with a twirl from the guy’s index finger to her palm with a suggestive grin on his face.

My opinion on this issue is very firm; I believe that when a man interacts with a woman on any level that she did not invite it’s threatening, period!! You can’t change this by saying that the man is being chivalrous or better yet just being sweet or kind. We need to acknowledge the fact that just because a man isn’t overtly saying I want to have sex with you doesn’t nullify the threat the woman is feeling with their offensive behavior.

The rains bore down mercilessly upon the city, pounding on the rooftops and turning the cobbled pavements into a warren of muddy waters. It was Thursday evening she had already packed up and looked forward to the long deserved Easter break.  Her boss stopped by her desk, and weirdly everyone else had managed to sneak out of the office early leaving the two of them, somehow time had bypassed her as she was waiting for the rains to seize.

rainy day

“Let’s go for drinks,” Oyo said, it wasn’t a request.

“Excuse me?” She spluttered in response utterly confused.

Oyo was an old man in his mid-fifties that loved to act like a youngling although his fringe of gray- white hair around his balding mottled scalp always sold him out.

“You should go with me for a drink,”

“In what context,” she played dumb to buy herself a few seconds to process what exactly was going on.

“You know what context,”  Oyo said.

Of course, she did, but she was in denial that this was happening. A week prior, they had ended up in the same car as they were heading out to a work related meeting, in the midst of small talk she mentioned how she was gearing up to watch the movie Fast and Furious Eight.He had insisted that she could go over and watch it in his house since he had just bought a 65″ UHD Tv.A little inappropriate, she had thought in her head and quickly brushed it off.

“Sorry I have a boyfriend,” she had managed to emphatically apologize which was the truth to some extent, though this “boyfriend” had refused to make things official even after being together for almost two years: He was the sort that never said he loved her because he thought it was too cliché. He more often than not made her feel that nothing she did was witty enough, sarcastic enough or smart enough. Strangely she felt a persistent sense of calmness when around him hence making her stay in the “situationship” something she couldn’t explain to herself, let alone her friends.

Oyo made a regular eye contact before hitting her with the unapologetic shrug of “So?”

“So NO,” she barely managed to gush out this time with an unwavering sense of confidence. She fled from the office to the bus stop hurriedly assuring herself that this was an isolated incident that would be irrelevant by the start of the new week.

Aya was still a young naïve girl, she had heard stories both in fact and fiction of Sexual Harassment especially in the workplace but thought that this was a strong term to be used loosely. She understood the concepts all too well, (A coworker that makes inappropriate advances which would ultimately make one feel uncomfortable).

Oyo apologized the following week; apparently, he had realized that what he had done was inappropriate. Of course, she couldn’t out rightly believe him; she still had her reservations about him when it came to his reputation on how he treated women.His demeanor had changed with random days of him going to his awkward ways, but nothing to raise hell over, after dealing with such a character she had developed a sixth sense which could tell her when any man was just nice, or their seemingly over kind words had become concealed undertones of objectification and entitlement.

The bottom line is when dealing with sexual harassment in different scenarios there is no best action to take because all situations are different. There are however important things one should note and always have them at the back of their mind.

1.   ” Say NO –Make Sure that the harasser is well aware that his behavior is unwelcome. Don’t be wishy-washy while doing this”

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2.  Be very firm when refusing all invitations for dates or other personal engagements outside of work. Make it clear to him that his behavior offends you.

harrassment

3.   Do not Ignore the behavior, hoping it will go away, always communicate your feelings either verbally or in writing.

Being a Kenyan Graduate, Uncategorized

The Harsh Reality of Being a Kenyan Graduate

It’s 2:00 am your eyes are shut however your mind is working overdrive, finally after the millions of job applications you managed to send one had finally materialized. A woman with a trace of American accent had called you inviting you for a job interview. For a minute you thought it was a con, you rapidly confirm this by checking your email and Google to reaffirm the organization does exist.Over time you have come to accept that Nairobi is the one place that has the most over-zealous, ambitious and once in a while greedy individuals. Con men have no boundaries as they will ensure that they milk dry any cow that they can get a hold of. Sadly you have fallen prey to their antics parting with Ksh. 2,000 of hard earned money you had managed to win a betting game.

Today, however, you are feeling emphatic ready to show the recruiter that you are indeed a great fit for the advertised position. Working for a Non-Governmental Organization is all you had prayed and fasted for all these years. You believed that the world owed you everything, considering you had always been a fairly decent human who respected everyone and mistreated no one. You were also a respected person back in the village having graduated top of the class with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Statistics. Everything had gone as planned; you had everything required to get the “perfect job,” you were determined not to let anyone distract you from achieving your goals, this including your long time love. He had once in a while hinted at the idea of settling down and having a large family of about five kids, but you were quick to dismiss any of these plans.

The alarm clock goes off at exactly 4:00 am. The journey to the city is rather long you have to leave before the crack of dawn to make it in time for your interview. You wear your black skirt suit, it’s the only suit you have anyway bought by your mom specifically for interviews, you hurriedly wear it and dab a bit of Vaseline petroleum jelly on your face. As you leave your mom quickly says a prayer for you, she blesses you with a hug and encourages you that you’ve got this one.
You arrive at the recruitment agency at 7:45, there are over thirty shortlisted candidates, for this position, you feel lucky that your resume was one of the selected few. You have a few questions jotted down on paper, (tell me about yourself and where do you see yourself in the next five years.) Time passes by without you realizing it as you are busy reciting answers to the frequently asked questions.frequently

At precisely 9:00 a.m you are called into the interview room, it’s a panel of five. You immediately begin to drip thin streaks of sweat. The first question tell me about yourself sets off the interview, “this is going well,” you think to yourself. The next round of questions, however, takes a different turn when one of the interviewers randomly asks why the sky is blue!! “How is the sky being blue, related to this position?” you ask yourself. You, however, manage to grin sheepishly and fumble a queer answer just to try and impress the panel. Deep down you get the feeling that you blew it, “there goes your dream job…” you think out loud. You can’t help feeling the quest for career nirvana is doomed to end in disappointment.

resume

Uncategorized

Things You Were Not Cut Out To Do While Living

How do you fix a broken life? A broken Family? A child’s broken Life?…..

It is funny when you come home from the hospital with a living, breathing little person in your arms and you know that his health and happiness depends entirely on you. Her son was born February 14, 1994, 7 pounds, 8 ounces, 19 inches with the cutest little dimples on both cheeks. He had her eyes and everything else was his Fathers’. She fell in love with him instantly. He was everything she had ever dreamed of and much more. He was such a delight to be with, and everyone marveled at how handsome he was.

baby
Cute !!!

 

Her mom passed away when she was just three years of age; she still remembers vividly how her mother spoke with so much love and kindness, always encouraging others to become their version of beautiful. She had managed to keep a few pictures of her reminding her of her chocolate complexion that was completely flawless. Her mother was all about simplicity, making things easy, helping those around her to relax and be happy.Perhaps that is why her skin always glowed; it was her inner beauty that lit her eyes, being around her brought the extraordinary feeling that you were special and that you had been warmed by summer rays regardless of the season. All this was taken away from her at a very young age. She was however determined to be the best mother to her son, the only way she knew how.

Life doesn’t prepare you for the twist and turn of events. Having an addict in the family is the most painful thing; it hurts, even more, when it is your flesh and blood that has gotten entangled in such mess. This is after years of hard work and painfully raising him. She had finally come to terms with the realization that her child was a drug addict. Her mind was working overdrive, as she tried to trace back where as a parent she may have gone wrong. By the time her brain was done comprehending all this, reality finally dawned on her that he had been using a lot longer than she could have ever imagined, sad part being that she may have taken action, but it was too late for prevention.

drugs

Living with a drug addict is just not workable, period!!! You have to grab this bull by its horn, or you will be gored. To some, it may mean kicking them out of the house for the sake of your peace and sanity. Addiction outrightly alters how the brain works.Addicts will do anything to get what they want. She found herself stepping into an entirely new dimension of reality. Being a parent of an addict is a social disease of its merit, by the time you know it you have already gone down a hard road, “truly a road less traveled.” She now understands the deeper meaning of loss. Her son still lives with her with strict adherence to ground rules, sometimes she misses the good old days of normalcy, but what to do? The serenity prayer embraces the essence of what she needs to do. (“God! Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.)

pray