Rise and Fall

Have you ever had time to sit down and really be honest with yourself?

Listening to your conscience telling you the truth of who you are in a still voice, almost like the look your mom gives you when she wants to say ‘cut the crap!’

To say that I have had that kind of time is like saying smartphones do not exist, but let me tell you how it happened. I have been in Western Kenya for a while now, and my latest anchor point is this town called Bungoma where every hotel serves a cup of tea and mandazi from six in the morning to eight o’clock at night. You can not walk into a hotel and ask for a cup of tea and be told that they’ve run out of it, smashing, aye!

I have this great opportunity to visit health facilities and understand the challenges that come with management and resource administration of these places that we go to when our bodies are ailing. I had just come from a facility and witnessed a woman in the final stage of labour and her wailing followed me like the skin I wore all the way to our meeting point. Sometimes when I close my eyes at night I can see her, and the only question that comes to mind is ‘will I have to go through the same pain to bring forth my Aurora?’ It is easy to have an imaginary daughter when you are single and young, but when it comes down to actually conceiving and going through the whole 9 months journey, I discovered that I am scared. I am so scared that the mere sight of a swollen belly on either a man or woman freaks me out. I managed to step on my colleagues foot- getting mud on his new suede shoes and even spilled water on a chair.

We settled down for the meeting at six in the evening. I ordered a cup of tea and as I bent down to take my first sip (because they filled my cup to the brim) I heard a voice. It was this voice that reminded me of high school and friends who ate the same cold serving of rice and beans and took a bath with me on some cold slab in boarding school. True to my goosebumps, it was my friend from high school and after so much squealing and hugging I learned that she has two kids and I told her I would visit. After she went,I met another friend who asked me about my Prince Charming.

“You two were so cute, what happened?”

“Stuff happened, but he’s doing great and so am I. So how are you and my niece doing?”

“Great, come say hi, plus I am like four months along with baby number two.”

“God! You are not even showing, aki am so happy for you. Salamiana!”

When she had gone, I went back to my tea and this sound in my head like someone grinding maize on a cold morning. A day that had started with a woman in labor ended in a reunion with friends who could share nothing new except for their babies- and it made me think of sitting down to a good book, like Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh. Seriously, that woman can make you want to fall in love with an Archangel!

So, what was it about this day?

Later on, as I checked into my room and started going through my reports, I realized it is the feeling that I am missing out on a lot. It is like I am running but there is no audience to cheer me on. I am on my own lane finding my way while looking at other people’s lanes and wishing I was on theirs’. Truth is, I cannot, I wanted their status but not their struggle. It does not work that way.

I have always worked for what I have and that day I discovered a part of me that I thought did not exist. It was slowly making its way through my bloodstream like an infection and it was during my journaling that I rid myself of it. The next day, I met this great boda boda rider called Wekesa who was my guide around Webuye town. We visited the Webuye Water falls and somewhere along the way he told me “sio kila mtu anaweza hii kazi ya pota pota! Kuna wa kubebwa na wale wa kuiendesha.”

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I am learning that it is the rise and fall in life that makes it worth living, the ups and downs that remind you of just how far you have come and how far you’ll go. I am also grateful that I get to travel and can speak up and be heard by policy makers in my field. I guess I’ll get to have my Aurora or Raphael when the time is right, but in the mean time I am sticking to my lane and learning and sharing with those I encounter daily, and sometimes life brings you a smile like these cute boys I captured on a rock.

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