Friday, July 29, 2005

Playing by the Rules

There is the much celebrated sexual liberation, gender empowerment cum freedom, and on the other hand, the ever increasing/decreasing men to women ratio 6:1. Is it true anyway. The not so long ago, hard to get elusive African woman is gone making the good girls have their day in this strange world of dating .

Men on the other hand are having their field day or so I believe with the number of available women at least trying to get them walk down the aisle. The number of a woman sob story of (how he married that bitch) is becoming common. The sorry man obviously caught in who do I marry now is seizing the opportunity to get as many women in bed as he can before the d-day or what they call sanctioned sex day. (Huh)

Tony Mochama on a Sunday Standard (Men Only claims that the birds these days have lost it. And in his one of his rare sober article attributes it to not playing by the rules. Being there at the right time whatever that means. How do you explain how a man will date a woman for seven years and abandon her only to marry the girl he has only dated for six months.

While many women these days will not hesitate to give their men a call at any opportune time, Michelle she of the Irresistible Woman book, states a woman should by the rules that her mama taught her. Women do not call , do not propose, do not chase after the man. And blah blah. I And to add to Tony Mochama’s article, he says that laughing and mingling with his friends will only make you one of his boys and not his missus.

For a long time I believed that a relationship is a mutual thing and doesn’t matter who did what, hang up the phone first crap. I believed and still do in gender empowerment. That women have a right to get what they want. But I am told I am wrong .

But tell me should a woman play by the rules?

The only solution a sexually liberated woman is to separate her feelings of love and lust. A woman can't still understand how a man will bed her and not feel anything for her. A woman, (unless you are a twilight gal) might lust but at the end of the day still think that at least you should call her the morning after.

I am at loss. At this point, I wish my blog was anonymous but since it is not , I will rest my case there.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This Girl and her Baby Sister

I have a compassion for children. Just imagine what this girl goes through.

Eleven-year-old Fatuma is so desperate to finish her education that she would rather take her ten-month-old sister to school with her than remain at home looking after her while their mother goes to work. She describes what is, for her, a typical school day.

I will be 12 this year and I know there is something not right about the way I go to school. As my classmates carry their books, I have to carry my baby sister Joyce. Holding my other hand is Chacha, my six-year-old brother.

My mother goes to Komarock Estate to wash people’s clothes for money to feed us, leaving me with no choice but to go to school with the baby. Sometimes I find myself praying silently to God that the day will go smoothly so I can concentrate on my lessons.

Our school is in Maili Saba in Kariobangi. People say that only children of single parents, or Aids orphans go there but I love it and have been coming here since I was in nursery; now I’m in Standard Three.

We have five classrooms, each accommodating two classes. My class shares the same space with a Standard Two class. We are taught in turns and only a small space divides our benches. While our teacher, Mr Mwangi, is teaching the other half of the class, I am able to catch up on my assignments. I also grab the chance to take the baby out for a stroll because she gets cranky when we have to sit for too long on the hard benches.

Most of us do not have notebooks and have to write on shared pieces of paper. My friend who sits next to me helps as much as she can by jotting down most of the notes while I cradle the baby and try to keep her as quiet as possible.

During class time it is hard for me to pay attention with her crying and wanting me to carry her, but what do I do? I can only give her the porridge my mother has prepared before she leaves for work. Sometimes she continues to cry even after drinking the porridge. At such times I feel like crying, too.

It is difficult to write and carry Joyce at the same time, so a couple of weeks ago I changed my position and went to the back of the class. It is more comfortable as I can rest my back and the baby against the wall, leaving my hands free to write. But I have to be extra careful so that she doesn’t slip off the bench and fall down.

Joyce has become accustomed to sitting on the hard bench but when she gets tired I have to use my left hand to support her. When she gets tired of sitting upright, she places her head on my lap and tries to sleep but only for a few minutes before the noise of the other students wakes her up again.

When she has had her porridge she becomes jovial and loves to clap her hands. The other children love her and play with her when the teacher steps out. I think when she starts school she will be very bright because she will have already learnt her Standard Three work!

I change Joyce’s nappy during break-time, at around 10:30 am, when everyone else has gone out to play. I put the soiled nappy in a polythene bag that I keep in the corner of the classroom. This is also the time that I feed her porridge. She holds the plastic bottle to her mouth and quickly gulps the contents. I’m sometimes forced to pull it away so she will have some left for lunch. When I told my mother this, she started packing some boiled rice as well, but only when she can afford it.

My brother Chacha is in Standard One and he gets hungry too, so once in a while I have to share what little there between him and the baby. Once I was really hungry and felt tempted to sip the porridge. Finally, unable to contain myself, I took a gulp from the bottle and there was not enough left for Joyce afterwards. When it was time to feed her she drank what was left but wasn’t satisfied. She cried all through the rest of the day and the teacher eventually had to send me home early.

Another time there was no porridge so my mother cooked some ugali and sukuma wiki and left it in a hotpot for us at home. I had to leave school at lunch time and take the baby and Chacha home to eat. I have a plan for the day there will be no food. I’ll give the baby some water to drink and walk with her outside to distract her.

Even though I am in school, I miss a lot of class time because of the baby. When she cries too loudly and interrupts the class, I have to take her outside and soothe her to sleep. It is worse when she has a cold and her nose gets blocked, like now. She cries because she is unable to breathe properly. But I have come to accept that Joyce is a part of my life both at home and in school.

I am also thankful that my teacher agreed for me to come with the baby to class because he understands that I do not want to miss any lessons. He even met with my mother when she came to the school to explain the situation.

I know there are cases worse than mine in our school and this gives me the courage to carry on learning with my baby sister beside me. In nursery class there is a child called Mercy Akinyi who is only two years old. She is taken care of by her three-year-old sister in the same class. But the teacher is always ready to step in when the baby’s crying becomes too much.

I understand that my mother has to work to be able to provide for us, but how I wish she would take Joyce with her sometimes. It feels like I have this big bag on my shoulders and it is weighing me down.

When Joyce finally falls asleep in the afternoon, I place her on the floor by my feet and cover her with a shawl. I cherish these moments and try to get as much of my class work done as possible, occasionally checking to see that no one steps on her.

Sometimes she wakes up hungry and there is no porridge left to give her. To drown out her crying at such times, I drift into my make-believe world in which I am rich and able to afford to buy my mother a big house and my siblings all the food they can eat.

But as it is, I do not see any hope of being able to sit the final exams in Standard Eight because our school only goes up to Standard Five. Teacher Mwangi looks for schools to take in the brighter students so that they can continue learning. I hope he does that for me too, so I can have a chance to finish school and find a way of providing for my mother so she won’t have to work long hours and can stay at home with the baby.

Another day comes to an end and I strap Joyce to my back and pick up the polythene bag containing her things. By this time she has cried herself hoarse and is asleep. With Chacha beside me playfully kicking a stone, we set off for home, hoping against hope to find some food, even if it is last night’s ugali.

Article courtesy of the Daily Nation, Wednesday Living Magazine 20th July 2005.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I had a dream

Today i was late to go to the office, REASON i overslept. I woke up looked at my watch, consoled myself that despite it was past reporting time, i could still make it. As i took a bath, it hit me that i had a sad dream in a woman like myself's history. I had a catfight in my dream.

No fractures or scratched faces. But it worried me to the extent i had to blog about it. I had gone to this guy's house who shall remain nameless. And when i arrive this girl is lying on the couch (sheesh) and the man is sitting just next. She looked at me in a manner that i should take an early exit.

Being a woman's hope for intervention in such a case "that this is a cousin of mine or such crap" the guy said nothing. It was at this time the girl hit. I have never fought any one in my entire life. But i beat this woman senseless. The guy in question just looked at us of course muttering some question like why are we fighting over him. The thing was i wasn't fighting over him but i had been hit.
And for whatever reason i had a right to avenge.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The cry of a destitute child

It is a chilly day on the streets
The children hum happily as they run to school
They look at me gleefully
Hoping that i don't get close to them
I will soil their clothes they say

Who could my mama be
The smartly dressed woman that put a few coins in my cup
Does she probably know that i am here
Does she miss me
Why did she leave me

What does my future behold
Who do i run to
The gangster just shot yesterday
Do i have a choice
The police are here, ready to take me
What is my crime
The gangster was the only hope i had
At least he shared what he got

Is there a brighter day tommorrow
When i will be protected
The child in me has left
I now hassle for bread to eat
Are you safe letting me starve
Can you hear me
Protect me, I cry for help

Monday, July 11, 2005

LIFE 101

It is said Image is everything. How you walk, dress, sit almost everything you do in your life, including the colour of your underwear define you, but what about your thoughts which no one can access.

What do you talk and think about beer, sex, parties. I love to talk about them too. What we watch on TV in dear Kenya tells us that this is hip. This seems to be a preoccupation of the west. But wait a minute aren’t these the same countries that inventions ranging from information technology, management, medicine happen everyday. These are the countries that your everyday 25 year old is a PHD holder. Where your script writer, film producer, artiste goes to every extent to make the movie sell beyond borders.

I could be wrong but to say that the majority of young people in this country probably I included waste most of their valuable time thinking and talking about sex, parties and beer. It is in this country where a person can describe a beer drinking session with friends for a whole hour. It is ok to drink beer, but to talk about it endlessly should be left to hormone charged teenagers.

Anyone who is thinking of being a PHD holder in modern day Kenya is viewed as a geek. Yet we have intelligent people in this country. People, who can triumph in their lives, people who could be the next Jack Welch if they just put a little more effort. Yet this talent and brilliance is going into waste. What is important is no longer important but a new culture of drinking till you drop, that studying and working hard , diligence and integrity is for certain boring people . All the while, we could be making new inventions.

Do I hear an interjection that we have not been given the chance?

John F. Kennedy should be here to remind us again. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

What you say defines you. At this stage in life I mean is time to grow . It is time to do the things that are important in life , get a college education, think of how to progress your career, mend relations with your God. It disheartens me to note that this is the age that many young people want to drink as if there is no tomorrow. The thing is we have all drank beer at some stage of life but is that what should define you?.

For heavenly sake don’t go into drugs. They have ruined people’s lives why do you think they can’t ruin yours. You run into a young person with blood shot red eyes these days and you don’t need an expert to tell you that they are doing drugs.

How many parents want slobs for children? And when you get into your forties you have to beg everybody (hook up me up with your ride, kind of thing) and then think they are obliged to help you out.

What would you think of a person who goes for an interview in jeans?

Look at how many young women are living in the comfort zone of rich old men. I don’t earn pretty much myself as yet and those temptations of having somebody pay your rent, meet your everyday expenses are very much alive. But what do I gain in exchange? lack of ambition to ever survive comfortably on my own. I will live in this man’s shadows forever. And of course I have my dignity to preserve. Why should my present woes overshadow my life purpose.

Yet this is the kind of life many young women have adopted my friends included. I could love to tell them to give up this kind of comfort zone life but you know what I have to mind my own business.

Could it be the reason we blame our woes on everybody else and seldom on ourselves? What are our dreams anyway.

Time and tide waits for no man we have heard on several occasions. The sooner we realize the better.

If I could write this words
With the pen of my heart
I would say that your love
Is but the sweetest my love

If only you could feel
How good I feel Inside
You could hum a beautiful song
Only but thee could feel

If you could walk in my dream
You would smile all the while
Knowing but thee
Keeps me dreaming

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pumwani Hospital

I am concerned about women in Kenya most of the times and one such concern is safe delivery of babies. You know, I was born in Pumwani myself but the truth is i never ever went back there after that .I have always wondered if it was in the present day i would have survived. In Kenya today the cost of delivering has gone so high . A friend of mine spent Ksh.174,000 to get baby and mother out of the hospital. I for one can bet the most my mother could have spent during my delivery was Ksh.500.
With the high cost of delivery services, this is where Pumwani hospital becomes important . It is the only hospital that largely caters for maternity services.

I have always had the idea that one day when i am rich (huh) enough, i would initiate a Friend of Pumwani kind of outfit (hey don't steal my idea) to help some poor women of Korogocho to deliver safely. It is a tall order but i guess it could be worth a trial.