It’s elusive. How do I get it? That is all we want to know. Before we get there let me draw you a vivid description of how our tussle for it feels like.
Picture an open page. A relaxed and vibrant mind. An expectant emotion filling your chest and welling your eyes. You start to draw this image. This beautiful day. Then someone starts yelling in the piece of paper. Yes, you didn’t draw it. Yes, it appears like a set of angry lips. Your blank paper is no longer yours. You try to wrestle it back, what happens? The set of lips disappear and you end up tearing your beautiful image in half. While at it you get a paper cut! Then as rudely as the image came it abruptly comes back and sarcastically says, ” Well you should have listened to me.”
That is the battle scar for independence. A paper cut. In reality the pent-up emotion of not saying everything you wanted. The feeling of being left with the skirmishes of war. A war that you did not intend to start. That you however did.
You see our want for independence is like our own personal struggle with colonialism. Where you feel determined. Your colonialists take away how you desire to spend your time. They belittle the power of your sentiments. Working for them feels like slavery.
Visualizing my rest day usually gives me so much life. Closing my eyes and feeling the warmth of knowing I owe nobody an explanation of how I will spend my day is priceless. I normally can’t wait to catch up with those extra pages of my latest novel. Resisting the urge of starting my day with another episode of ‘This is US’ being the kind of self-discipline I practice over the weekend. The disciplined choice? Sleep!
Big mistake! You see I chose to walk out of my room and go to the kitchen for a morning snack. While there I met the tyrant of rest. She should probably go by ‘thief of joy’. My mother. There eagerly waiting to take me through the list of things I was to do for her. At 10.00 o’clock I need to clean the carpet. An hour later wash the dishes. After cooking lunch go to the bank and run an errand for her. Then! Only then! Could I rest for an hour before I prepared her favorite meal for supper. Her favorite, not mine…
The independence in me shrugs. Asks to be shaken out of my body like salt. I abide. I say I can’t do that. That every weekend she does the same thing. Railroad my rest. This weekend I have to. I walk out of the kitchen, as she says I am being rude. She does not know that the kind of salt I want on my meal of a day, is independence! No one will tell me how to spend my rest time. If we have to fight, we will or I just did.
Momentary happiness feels good. The first hours feel good. It’s not until I can’t eat in this house with peace. The daggers that are thrown at me with her eyes. I know for sure there is an impending skirmish, but who am I? I am the owner of my fate both good and bad. No one will dictate my time, you see, I am independent now.
Childish, immature, naïve, and inexperienced. That’s the gaze I read from my colleges. This is after another heated debate arose about the reality of relationships today. It was me versus them. The hopeless romantic versus the realist.
We were debating about how to treat a lady you like. How to get to know her better as you progress the relationship. They said feign interest. Don’t be give her so much of your time and attention. It’s a game you are playing and only one of you can come out on top. Be careful cause you can invite her out for a date and not get what you want. In fact, before you think about inviting her for a date, stalk her on Social Media, these streets are not safe. Remember Nairobi is, one big bedroom.
My naïve views? Text her. Give her your attention. Get to know what she likes and hates. Discuss different things, the positive and negative effects of Social Media on romance. Ask her what she thinks about love and relationships. Find out what she enjoys doing. Have one of those great online conversations that never end. Sigh. Sigh at how connected you two are. Sigh at how her emoticon responses are ideal. Get excited that what she complains about you complain about too. Don’t test the waters with one foot. Dive like this was an Olympic Sport.
Eddie my workmate was chuckling, “How’s that been working for you? Are you not single? Were you not left by the last girl you treated like a queen?” He chides me. Getting a high five from my other workmate Tedd.
Today, I am not taking any prisoners. “ What about you? How is one big bedroom working for you? ,” I smile sarcastically remembering the stories he’s told, “Are you not the one crushing at Tedd’s house cause you are afraid of what the latest husband of the woman you slept with will do to you? Are you not the same person who got a text 2 months ago that you have a son? ,” I stop staring him dead in the eyes and continue, “ who’s better off? A dead beat dad to…”
Tedd cuts me off, “ Stop it! Unless you guys want to fight.” By the time he has finished his statement, Eddie had stood and walked out. Sadly I was not remorseful. Why should I be? We keep pretending that not caring works. That being a terrible human being is the 21st century way. Yet we are walking evidence that it’s not. Yes, my views are valid. They may have their flaws but so do there’s. I am tired of being the naïve and good guy at the office.
Not again. For the third day in a row, I was sat in my bedsitter after a call that left me feeling depressed. A sadness growing into anger. You see my day was great, however, my caller was having a bad week. So I was struggling with this inner challenge of being empathetic and needing to seem down to ensure I did not come off as insensitive. Dampening how happy I was feeling. You see when you are happy and someone else is unhappy, you feel obliged to not share your happiness. You think it’s fair to comfort your friend. In fact, you are worried that they might think you are happy cause of their misfortunes.
Though this is like a universal convention of what it means to be a good friend for most of us. You ask yourself why I can’t express my true emotional state without affecting someone else? Why do I need to feel trapped in such a state?
A friend told you, you need not express your emotions. When you did, your friend on the other side of the call, told you later that you were insensitive. That you should read a room before speaking. Happiness turned into bland insensitivity.
The arm wrestle
Our social interactions feel like one. We are always either silent, feigning agreement, or putting forward our views ending up in disagreement. Most times we feel like people can’t value our opinions and decisions. We avoid discussions and teamwork, as every single time, it’s so positional. So territorial. Everyone wants to be more right than the other. Everyone wants their way over the other. When we can no longer take the retrogressive route of being accommodating we take the reins of power and fight to have independent views. Choose to arm wrestle everyone with a different opinion. The win feels nice. The tonic to the cocktail though is the lingering internal feeling that there is a better way. A higher way. Rather than an arm wrestle a beautiful dance.