I have no words to explain how beautifully Flo Mwangi has put everything into perspective. I literally feed from her words. She has mastered the art of making sense out of the melee that has become the tipping point of many a relationship. I believe that if she’s not careful, she could end up as an undisputed best seller or with me. I present to you my Final Jack.
By Flo Mwangi
Every time I speak to her over the phone or pay her a visit, I am left reeling in laughter and with plenty of food for thought. This is why I cannot wait to see her over my vacation, plus she made me promise to anyway seeing as how she is in her grace years as she likes to call them; kind of like extra time where that whistle can go off any minute. And this she says with a hint of laughter. I tell her she’ll be around for quite a while. She is a tough nut.
My grandma; I don’t even know where to begin with the phenomenal that is this woman. I am overcome with emotion whenever I think of her; this woman who raised me and to whom I remain forever indebted, who shaped my ideals, who I feel a deep and profound love and adoration for. I am in awe of her sheer strength, her unshakeable Faith, her compassionate nature, her wit and wisdom and her charm. She has lived to see four generations; now that’s a fit and all generations through we appreciate and hold her in high regard. She has touched each of our lives in a special way. We all have a tale to tell as far as this wonderful woman is concerned.
For me it’s the first few years of my life which I spent with her. When my mum was off completing her undergrad studies, my grandma nurtured me. I applaud my mother; having me young did not stop her from pursuing her dreams, and achieving them, she made no excuses, expected no sympathy nor loved me any less. She took it all in stride and pressed on. I am truly proud of her. Those are some wonderful memories -me and my grandma- I still fondly remember this lovely little basket she kept in the living room, especially for me, filled with juicy oranges freshly picked from the garden by her, which I was treated to after a long day at school, and we all know school can be pure torture for a kid. I remember her dressing me up for church every Sunday and me sitting up next to her at the front pew. She has always played an active role in church; I admire her Faith evident in all she does and passionately stands for. She is an astute believer in God’s overall role in every aspect of our lives from creation, to our daily existence.
Her Faith inspires and rouses all around her and has remained unmoved by the changing tides of time and circumstance. And it has been tested no doubt. She was not bitter at the passing of Grandpa -if anything we all drew strength from her- and as he lay in hospital, those last painful days, no one needed to tell her he was gone. She knew the exact moment he had breathed his last. How many of us can boast of such a connection with their spouse? The love those two shared I’ll be forever in awe of. They were inseparable and in an age where expressions of love or treating each other as equals was not too common, I have to commend those two.
Submission as I have observed through her is not losing oneself rather it is appreciating each other’s role in a relationship and having mutual respect for each other. It’s not about yelling matches but learning to listen -difficult as it maybe- while the other is talking and then stating your case as you would to a friend and finding a middle ground, compromise. And of all else a lifetime partner should first be a friend, because for such a commitment there’s a lot more at play beyond all the temporary fiery passions. It’s not about who ‘wears the pants’ in a relationship it’s about recognizing each other’s strengths and building on them and collectively applying them to build something of value. It’s not about finding fault and playing on each other’s weaknesses but rather compromise; there’s what initially attracts you to your partner, the mistake we make over time is averting our eyes from these wonderful things and focusing instead on each other’s shortcomings and before we know it we no longer feel the same, we become revolted by the sight of each other, we begin to fall out of love. You need to revert your focus back to what drew you to that person in the first place, it’s all still there you just became blinded to it over time. In doing this you will begin to cherish each other more and rekindle the flame once again. We easily loose those that we love because we never take time to make it work.
She was always meek with grandpa; she let him hold the fort while she was run the show behind the scene. He adored her; his respect for her was evident. She was forever at his side, never behind him. He valued her insight. They’d claw at each other sometimes but the love was never lost and in no time they’d be laughing over a joke either of them cracked. They were a vision of happiness those two. Never did they keep in silence or let the sun go down on an argument. And when he was taken ill, she was by his side till the very end.
She is appalled at the sham we have turned the marriage institution into. Women no longer appreciate their role in marriage –we feel so liberated now we want to steer the family ship in complete disregard of the men. Men on the other hand appear to have lost sight of what their role is exactly. A marriage is a partnership, a union, not a power struggle, going about it as such beats the whole point of getting into one in the first place.
Dear enlightened woman -not all men are evil and they do like to be in charge and that’s unlikely to change. Let him reign, play up his ego once in a while. So what if you are more educated? Or make more money than he does? It doesn’t make him any less of a man and there really is no point in rubbing it in, making him feel inferior in the process, that is cold and uncalled for.
Dear man – excessive control over your woman is not how you assert authority, neither is aggression. Take care of your own, always, evading responsibility is a sign of weakness and just plain unacceptable. Applaud your woman’s achievements, complement her, support and protect her and please work in some romance while you’re at it, we dig that. Companionship is human nature. It is possible for two people to share a happy and fulfilling life together so long as they keep their pride and ego in check, and learn not to blow up trivialities. If there’s a problem, nip it in the bud; keeping it in only yields more problems that are even harder to resolve.
They upheld the value of hard work, respect for self and others, discipline, were virtues that were engrained into us from the minute one could walk. I remember we’d all get up early, my cousins and I, and join them as they set out to pick flowers, we just loved running in the endless beautiful fields; picking and laughing and playing our way through. Whatever the tasks we did them together making them less daunting. We might have been up to our necks with chores -that’s inevitable when you’re living on a farm- but we were all content because we understood what needed to be done and everyone’s role in all of it and the whooping one got if they failed to do what was assigned to them. I had quite an early start on all matters work. At the end of the day when we were all done we ran around in the grass (my grandma’s yard has the softest, forget carpeted) and played in the moonlight till she called us back to the house when it got late. One thing I admired about them is how they treated their workers; feeding them -on a daily- paying them well and on time. It was a valuable relationship they had, one of mutual respect and beneficial to all.
She is a fiery one my grandma, despite her diminutive nature. She needs no amplifier when she needs to be heard. She speaks her mind. She, just like many who watched as the country fought for and attain independence knows the true price of freedom. We should not take democracy for granted; we just need to look at other oppressed states and the turmoil they’re in to appreciate its worth. Allowing ourselves be influenced by our selfish so-called leaders who most times don’t see beyond their noses is truly a sad affair. Stay informed; knowledge is power. Love thy neighbor and seek divine guidance in all you do. On a lighter note she doesn’t get the logic of my prancing around in 7-inch heels which in her view are uncomfortable and worse still might leave me with a damaged ankle. I of course promptly remind her of the sky-high platforms that they rocked in their hey days 🙂
She still went and got me the loveliest boots though, and what do you know, they were high heeled -how sweet. She misses the point in walking around in clothes that are barely there, we might as well walk around naked “oh how times have changed” she mourns. “Didn’t they rock them shorter in the 60’s and 70’s?” I argue, “Well back in those days people were definitely not as blatant or half as wild as the lot of you is today, running around like all the blood done rushed to your heads” she quips. She’s not overly cynical, she appreciates that times have changed, yes, what she can’t stand is how our values have become eroded over time. And I don’t blame her, a shameful lot we have become indeed; self-centered, egotistic. It’s all about self-interest, the age we’re living in; success at whatever cost, self-gain in relationships. Whatever happened to extending a hand to one in need? Most of us have lost sense of direction we live as though we are of no purpose and are more of a burden than of value to those around us. Spirituality has become fourth nature to us; no wonder we’re lost. “God save us all” she pleads.
She is loved and cherished by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. To live to see 83 and make light of the challenges that come with old age is a reflection of a self-assurance one can only hope for, an amiable strength.
She is blessed. In my eyes she is a legacy and I am proud to bear her name.
Flo Mwangi is a gifted writer who is known for her golden words. Maybe it is in the way she presents real-life-familiar situations that leaves readers wanting more, or it could be the way she speaks to me. I have to admit, she is one beautiful soul that I will forever be thankful to ever have met. Intelligent, reliable and well grounded. I also have to admit that I had to talk to her nicely just so she could let me publish this article. Take in her words and maybe then will you find out the reason why I am a hopeless fan. I am clearly biased.
By Flo Mwangi
I was musing about how interactions with people over the course of our lives has influenced and shaped us. Right from a tender age, from your teachers and playmates back in grade school, your first crush. I remember mine, my first crush, I thought I really loved him then again what did I know about love at that age? For all I knew love could’ve been the wonder of a beautiful butterfly fluttering about, or that wonderful feeling I got when mum came home from work with some goodies, or when we did those lovely family picnics, or when my best-friend carried extra snacks just for me, oh the excitement!! But it was so much fun just being together I mean we did not overburden each other with unrealistic expectations we accepted everyone as they were, one big happy family we all were, every day seemed like a holiday, there was so much harmony. And all these were manifestations of love in its simplest and purest form, we of course complicate it along the way as we grow up and life happens.
One thing I miss about being young is how despite of whatever catastrophes’/disasters might’ve been going on about us, we remained completely oblivious and so grounded in the moment it’s like we existed in a protective bubble and everything just bounced off of us. Nothing mattered more to us than the moment, we were not burdened by the worries and cares of tomorrow. We had so much energy, it’s like life just flowed through us and then growing up just saps it out of us *sigh* Where’s the time machine??
Ok maybe all was not rosy but our greatest fears, which at the time seemed life threatening, were school bullies and the meanies who in their torment sure sharpened our survival skills; we knew just when to sprint and what not to say around who and that just about covered everything. The meanies, now that’s a frustrated lot in life; you spend your life bringing nothing but agony and grief to others and think Karma will just pass you on by? Think about it though, if it weren’t for all those encounters we wouldn’t be who we are. All those people showed us how to live like we do. Whether it’s my ex best friends who I really don’t know how we grew apart, or past loves. I sure have had experiences of what love is and isn’t.
To those I loved but never showed it enough and they were taken from me too soon or we just drifted apart, and they took away a piece of my heart. I might not be able take that back, much as I wish I could, but from that I sure learnt to appreciate and cherish loved ones better for as long as I still have them around. Then there are those that have been there from the start whose loyalties haven’t changed even in the tides of time. Timeless friendships and unions; the beauty of such people is I never need to explain myself to them because they understand me and love me, faults and all, and they only want what’s best for me. They’re ever challenging/inspiring me to be better. And not even my worst profanities can keep them away.
But I’d have to say the lessons I hold dear were from those that scarred me. Right from*Stacy who couldn’t stop running her mouth about me in grade school, for a long while I thought the problem was with me while clearly baby girl had bigger issues. All that bad mouthing was just a projection of her own shortcomings and nothing to do with me. And the likes of *Stacy don’t change much even in adulthood. But knowing that people will always have an opinion about me and how I should run mine, and that I cannot for the life of me please everyone, helps me deal with all that -if you ain’t got nothing constructive to say you could keep going till you’re out of breathe and drop dead for all I care. To *Mark whose broken soul I was so bent on loving till it mended until l I realized no amount of loving would fix his broken self. Positive change can only be brought about by one’s own acceptance that indeed they do have a problem and genuinely seeking out solutions to that problem. Love is just not enough if the one you love has no willingness to change for the better, no matter how much of it you give, and making up excuses for them trying to cover up for their flaws does not help the situation either. Hoping that you can love someone enough to change them is deluding oneself. Before long you find yourself in an emotional rollercoaster that completely drains you emotionally and physically and that is no way to live. Walk away from that.
And if you’re lucky all that wrong might be righted by an encounter with someone who forever changes your perception of love. Right from our first date I knew there was something special with this one. I went into it with an open mind and having no expectations whatsoever except to enjoy myself. I did not have the ‘Mr. Right” checker list we girls secretly carry around. We have all the wrong things on there anyway; all centered on image. Now see that’s where we go wrong. I’ve done that; stayed with someone cause we looked so good together, picture perfect and behind closed doors we could not have been more incompatible. Or because he was well off and seemed like he had a lot going for him and boy did he have a lot going; women, children, physical and emotional abuse. You get the drift.
Back to my date; expectations aside, guard down, I have never had more fun. There were no facades no fronts. He made me laugh. I felt comfortable in my skin and so did he. It was like we had been doing this for years. How do you explain being with someone for the first time and yet feeling like you’ve known them all your life? There was chemistry too; not the ardent urge for physical gratification but a palpable excitement brought about the anticipation of what could be. By the end of that evening I knew that that was the onset of something wonderful and I wasn’t wrong. He has proven to be the best thing that has happened to me in a long while. Loving him is effortless. Even after all this time, every time we get together feels like the first time. I could talk to him for days. He gets me. He sees right through me. Now would you fault me for wanting to have that for a lifetime? Didn’t think so. With him am constantly reminded that there are still some good people in the world, and that we all have a right to happiness in spite of past disappointments and failures. We might never forget the pain caused by those that did us wrong in our past but neither can we keep punishing those that we meet for others’ mistakes. We should never give up on love.
I know we all sit and wonder where all these people -that’ve touched our lives one way or other- are. We’ll never see those days again, and things will never be that way again but that’s just how it goes.
People change, but memories are forever.
February 8, 2011 at 11 am
In the dungeons below the city council building there is a man who has been locked up for the last twenty days. He has been denied trial and the council officials even deny that he exists. He has not been logged in the offenders book. He was accused of jay walking. That is, crossing or walking in the street unlawfully in disregard for approaching traffic. This man has not been charged nor has he been given access to a lawyer or even a phone call. The council refuses to consider his plea for medical attention.
January 12, 2011 at 1 am
It’s two hours since it started raining and she still has not showed up. She knows I’m waiting for her. I know she can’t wait to see me. I am a lucky man. What are the chances of a girl of this calibre falling in love with a guy like me? Thank God for small mercies. Thirty minutes. She’s probably held up at work. Let me head on home and wait for her to call me. No, I’ll walk to her house and wait for her at the door. It’s almost three in the morning. It’s not safe for a young woman to walk from the car to her front door all alone. I will wait. I wonder how she’ll react to see me waiting for her. She will be too excited! She’s lucky to have me love her. She knows it.
I’ve been happy the last few days I think. I think it was the meds that were the problem. The doctor says I’m crazy. I say HE’s crazy. I mean, don’t crazy people walk naked on the street? I felt insulted when he told me I had a psychological disorder. He says the voices in my head are not supposed to be there. What does he know anyway! They (voices) tell me things. Important things. I would die without them. I feared they had left me when I was taking the meds the doctor gave me. Now I’m convinced that the crazy doctor wanted to kill me. That is why I’m never going back again. How can my own family conspire with a doctor they hardly know to kill me? Their only son?
My life has changed since I met Sarah. You see, Sarah and I have a bond. We have never spoken but we understand each other. I like following her wherever she goes. I know every place she visits in a typical day. She likes the shawarma at the mall. Red is her favorite color. She owns thirteen pairs of shoes. She has two best friends who I happen to hate because they point their fingers at me whenever they see me near her. They also think I’m crazy. If they only knew how much Sarah and I love each other. One day, we’ll get married and I will propose to keep these vexing friends out of our lives.
The watchman at the building where she works doesn’t like me. Her workmates don’t like me too. They claim Sarah told them that she’s scared of me. They’re just jealous. That won’t stop me from waiting for her. It will not stop me from loving her. It’s the least I would expect froma beautiful woman. Every man would die to have her to himself. In the end, they will realize it is me she loves. You’ll see.
She hasn’t been picking her phone lately. But it’s ok, I know she’ll call me back when she gets the chance. You know how busy people in the media are. She must be working hard at the station. One more reason why I like her. She does her job well. I never miss the news when she’s on tv. I like how she matches what she wears with her underwear. Private joke. I think I’m the only one who knows the color of her underwear. I watch her laundry dry when she’s at work. Through her broken window, I have watched her dress and undress countless times. It is the reason why I quit my job. It is funny the things that love can make you do. Being a manager in the biggest software company in the country didn’t give me as much happiness, as falling in love with Sarah. The headaches were a sign that there was something else out there for me. Sarah. they voices told me that our love was pre-destined. They were right. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. Other people would say she looks scared but if you know her well, you’d know that’s how she looks when she is excited. I would lay down my life for her.
It’s been two years since I met Sarah. It’s been hard to keep up with her lately. She’s always walking with a man. It must be her brother. Why else would a man hold a woman by the waist? Then there are these city council askaris who keep chasing me from my spot. They say they will arrest me for loitering aimlessly. They should know I am a man waiting for the love of his life. She knows i am waiting for her. She’ll show up I’m sure. Then what will they say? Because I am a good man, I will accept their apologies. For now, I am willing to stick around until the day she talks to me. We’ll get married immediately and have beautiful kids. Dad will be proud of me. Mum will love her. I love my life. I love my woman. I hate doctors. I hate medicine.
I know she’s thinking about me wherever she is. I could be with anyone in the world but I choose to be with her. What a lucky woman!
Erotomania: a delusion in which a person believes that another person (typically of higher social status) is in love with them. It is also characterized by excessive sexual desire.
As life gets harder in the third world, more and more people are exposed to mental challenges that prevent them from living as normal human beings. I thank my friends Kikata, Muba and Yoram for reminding me of these misbegotten people.
I dedicate this post to persons suffering from erotomania. We call some of these people stalkers. In a society where mental health has not been taken seriously, these people continue to suffer in obscurity. For most of psychological disorders arise in childhood. Maybe it’s time we raised our children better. It’s time you treated your siblings with care. It’s time you got your stalker some help.