The Weight of Struggle

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It was few minutes past 8pm when I boarded one of the loading vehicles for the night before drivers called it a day. I rode shotgun, squeezed between the driver and a middle-aged man. The engines kicked to life as the light overhead cast its dim glow.

“Your money please.”

Hands stretched forth clasping wazobia notes. I helped him collect the monies so his hands stay on the steering wheel.

“Sister, your money.”

He was referring to me. I took my first look at the inside of his cab. Layers of dust coated the dashboard. I suspected the dust on the fake brown fur placed just below the windscreen would choke the occupants of the car if anyone bothered dusting it off. The stereo system could barely be called that, considering all it sported was a gaping hole—a testament to a vehicle that once was. The only thing that appeared in fairly decent condition was the seats. But then, wasn’t that all we really needed in a vehicle anyway. Every other addition, from the stereo to the air conditioning was for comfort and another excuse to attach ridiculous price tags.

The car wheeled into a pothole and I braced myself for impact as the hand brake dug into my thigh.

“I should pay half the fare.” I’m not sure what response I expected. It had been a lousy day and even the best of the people in this State would have lost their quip.

“My sister, no vex. I get just 250 naira per drive and in a day I might go only three times.”
That’s an average of 750 naira per day’s work. Take the mandatory 50 naira ‘tax’ to the garage administrators per trip and the total take home pay drops to 600 naira. That’s less than $2 per day. His family lived in the outskirt of the city and he got to pay them a visit once a week.

“No money in this business at all. When I pay my debt, I’ll carry my car to another place.”

The journey from the bus stop to my home is about five minutes and within that time I reconsidered everything I’d thought about my life. Earlier in the day I’d done a bit of mental cataloguing and brain whipping. I needed to raise money for a certain project to kick-start the next phase of my life, but too many projects in the pipe tend to drain resources—including the emergency stash.

Helen Keller once talked about lacking shoes and realizing the next man had no feet. I have my reservations about this eternal wisdom because while it asks that we be grateful for what we have, it also attempts to diminish the weight of our struggle by drawing a rough comparison with the next man’s. I don’t have to wonder where my next pay check will come from. I’m neither in debt nor have family miles away depending on me for survival. However, I understand this struggle, not because I live that life, but because in my little world I feel hard pressed to make tough decisions and find solutions, too.

A few months ago I would have felt shame for feeling the way I did. Here I was without shoes staring at another without feet. But whether shoes or feet, our needs were different and not in any way diminished by their size. What mattered was the value we placed on them, not some invisible measuring line deciding if our struggle measured up to a community standard.

If I learned anything in that old beaten car, it is that to share in another’s story isn’t to make mine of worth; it is the understanding that struggle is universal, irrespective of our destination, that expresses true community.

 

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Wazobia—Nigerian slang for 50 naira note. Derives its name from the pictorial representations of the major ethnic groups. 

 

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On First Impressions and Seconds

First-impression

Do first impressions matter?

A week ago I was walking home from work, down a busy Lagos street, exhausted and barely keeping the adrenaline pumping when I stopped to buy bread. Bread because I don’t know how I’ll survive in my house without it for a whole weekend.

The woman was rude. That was my first impression. She spoke like I was interrupting something and shot daggers when I tried inspecting the bread. I asked if they were fresh. Yes. They all say yes, but you ask anyway hoping someone will say it’s a day old. Or two. Or maybe a week. But asking buys you time to block out the rest of your senses and use just the nose. If you’re lucky the pleasant aroma of freshly baked bread will fill them in no time.

She looked irritated by my presence and I regretted stopping in the first place. Naturally I’d walk away, but I didn’t. I stayed, allowing our mutual irritations overlap. For a moment I wondered how she managed to keep any customers at all.

Three days later I walked past the same stall and heard someone call out. When I turned it was the bread seller, waving and asking if I wanted to buy more bread. I’m not sure if I succeeded in hiding my surprise, but even before thinking I could feel my lips returning the smile. This thing betrays my emotions.

The next day I stopped over to buy bread. She called me her friend or something like that. I don’t mind, I’ve been called many things by women ranging from darling to sweetheart to love and my baby. It’s all the same to me.

Everyday I walk past my eyes do a quick search for her. We lock gaze. Smile. And communicate a silent good night. Yesterday I stopped to buy bread. Two? Yes, two. She remembers I bought two loaves the first time. She remembers the brand I like. I don’t even inspect it. Don’t take too long to eat this one. I nod.

I’m surprised she recalled my face since we met on a dark road illuminated by candles from other traders. Maybe I have one of those faces you don’t forget; maybe I look like one of those customers you know will always come back.

Should first impressions matter?

I don’t know. I met a bread seller who was rude the first time, I was sure I never wanted to do business with her again. A week later and we’re exchanging secret smiles. There are many things that could have been wrong that day. She could have had a bad day, and yet all I could think of was how I deserved a nice, cheerful person serving me… even when I wasn’t feeling so cheerful myself.

What does that make me?

I don’t know. But I hope that someone out there will be more generous with a second impression of me.

731 Days of Writing and Community

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I began this blog two years ago in a hotel room far from home, filled with questions of my worth. It wasn’t a very happy day, but then, my life was not particularly cheerful to begin with. There were times when I cried so much I wondered if the flow would ever stop, and there were days when between a quick smile and laughter I’d say to myself, who are you deceiving?

Who was I deceiving? Nobody. It was my subconscious indicating its need for expression. So when an old friend sent me a link to her blog, I thought to myself, I can do this too. And I did. My first month, in hindsight, turned out a summary of my persona, since the things I wrote about reflected my interests in culture, relationship (with others) and emotions. The second month in a nutshell: identity crisis.

I love that writing can express oneself, thoughts, emotions and interests. It didn’t seem quite appealing on the first trial and there were times I thought to quit this blog and move on… but I didn’t. Two years after I am still here. Writing. Sharing. Relating. With you. Because you let me. With every view, like, comment and share, you tell me you’re here and I am not alone. So that young woman who faced an identity crisis no longer exists and in her place is one eager to discover more about herself and this community.

The benefits that have accrued cannot be quantified. I’ve been more attentive to the world around, not just walking through it. I’ve listened to strangers, not only because they provide fodder for the next post (which is totally great), but because I understand what community means a lot better—it’s experiencing one another.

So this is me saying THANK YOU for walking and running with me. For teaching and helping satisfy that primal urge for communication. And most importantly for being you, because by so doing you let me keep being myself. Right here.

Intricate

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It took staring at a leafless tree for days and struggling to still my hands from reaching for a camera to come to this; to realize how monotonous life is when we allow it. Wake up. Eat. Work. Sleep. And perhaps pull out our cameras and take a shot ever so often. It’s not difficult to see how one can remain absolutely clueless about the world and the delicate beauty it harbors.

Few days ago I conversed with a friend. We talked about the special things that make us tick—mine were books and photography—and then about joy, sadness and emotions. At the time I felt what it could be like to exist in a space without experiencing it. It’s a lot like catching a nice view and jumping in just in time to take a picture, before the moment passes. That is the power of photography: the ability to freeze time, as good as elemental power can get for us, until you take a closer look at your picture and a whole new wonder explodes—like that Dragonfly. I always thought it ordinary till I took note of the light play on its wings.

“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”  Psalm 139:15

I think of humans like that, artistically formed. We are the wonders of creation with our diverse characters and emotions. There are seasons to life, every emotion carefully woven in the fabric of time. Our feelings of joy and sadness are each a part of who we are, so that we are a bit more appreciative of the moments in our lives. To know that our highs and lows are not just symbols of our strengths and failures; they are also testament to the intricacy of the human soul. It’s great to know that we are alike and yet so different, and it will always be a wonder plying one road to discover the depths of a single being; to move past this monotony and experience life, not exist in it.

I learned a good photographer is one able to tell a story with a picture and infuse his essence into the frame. I’m not that kind of hobbyist yet, but I hope to get there someday. Likewise I believe this also forms the basis of our humanity: our ability to see past the visible darkness and confidently step into the lives of others. I’m not that kind of human either, but hope to find the courage someday to hear your stories.

Don’t Buy Her A Gift…

gift

According to the movies and stories passed down over the decades, courtship in Africa, specifically Nigeria was rather a funny and awkward exercise; one that still influences how relationships pan out in present day society. In those days when a man became of age and his elders deemed it time for him to get married, he would be ‘let loose’ on the community to scout for a suitable maiden to wife.

Now, what made a maiden suitable you ask?

  • A broadened hip believed to make childbirth easier and also strong enough to ‘back’ the child when it cries.
  • An ample bosom to nurse a child.
  • A thin waist line to showcase an hourglass figure (they loved their amazons)
  • A good stock line to ensure children had no evil traits likely to rear up its ugly head.
  • And let’s not forget, the gift of preparing and serving meals in a manner that would rival Nigella Lawson.
  • Throw in a pretty face and the said scout had reached utopia.

Basically, he went about the process with the mannerism of a prospective buyer at a cattle market. And when our scout spots the right maiden does he personally take her a gift or try to interact with her? No. He interacts extensively with her family, including distant relatives, but rarely spends any quality time getting to know her as a person.  He bestows gifts on her parents, her relatives as a token of his interest. Any gift that makes it to the bride is delivered by a relative, not directly by our scout.

The maiden is seen as something you acquired after making a reasonable offer by way of a gift. There was no need to appeal to her emotions; it was more or less a business transaction.

Fast forward to present day society, not much has changed. Man still hasn’t mastered the act of gift giving without strings as a sign of intimacy and friendship.

Our modern day checklist will look something like this:

  • Does she have a job, is she hard-working?
  • Is she devoid of illness (this includes her bloodlines)?
  • Is she well known in the community? Hmm, this might be a sign that she flirts.
  • Is she prayerful? I have gathered a lot of demons and I need a stand by the exorcist.

And the list continues.

History has made it almost impossible for men to approach gift giving from any other angle other than as an investment that indirectly benefits him.

He gave gifts to her father, he got her. Business deal sealed and delivered.

However, today the woman has a choice and sadly that has thrown a spanner in the investment wheel of many scouts. Some have invested and lost heavily; some have played cautiously and still ended up cheated.

sheldon-cooper-quote

I know some of you are thinking, but we should invest in the ones we love. Absolutely true, however, investments are expected to yield returns; gifts are designed to please the recipient. A gift performs well under the atmosphere of love; selfishness on either side turns a gift into an investment tool for manipulation. Expecting to receive sexual favours or commitments because you gave a gift is totally opposed to the true meaning of gift giving.

 Most people give gifts to children simply to make them smile; to let them know you thought of them and you love them. If the lady in your life does not stir your feelings on gift giving the way a child would then I don’t think you should be together. Begrudging your partner a gift for any other reason other than you can’t afford or it feels inappropriate at the moment, is an indication that you evaluate your relationships based on what you expect in return from it.

Gift: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.

Don’t buy her a gift this valentine because you see her as a potential ‘cow’ or ‘investment’ ready to yield an emotional, physical or spiritual bounty. Buy her a gift because she’s the girl who makes the sun feel brighter when she looks at you. Buy her a gift because your relationship is worth investing everything good into including gifts. Buy her a gift because you love her and respect her needs as a person.

Funny thing is when a girl senses she has your heart the benefits just keep giving ♥

 


 

Chioma is an avid reader and a non-biased writer. She writes to explore and change outlooks to life, while mothering and maintaining balance wherever she calls home. Visit her blogLifehomeandaway

At Christmas

Christmas Hope Quotes Sayings, quotes_ edgar guest photo quoto

A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.

He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.
When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service that is prompted by the heart.

All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas, he is almost what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labors when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.

I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.
Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,

But at Christmas, kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas, man is almost what God sent him here to be

. ~Edgar Albert Guest

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I find a lot of truth to this poem. And I pray that the spirit of this season carries all of us into the new year and always.

Merry Christmas.
Shine on 🙂

Shadows

candle

It was a starless night. The wind howled like a lone wolf outside and the little filtered by the mosquito net barring the window carried the promise of a heavy downpour. We gathered inside the tiny room housing two of us as was our ritual, were we would talk about everything and nothing in particular. A candle stood regally upon the study table, casting its warm glow upon the room and beside it sat a Bible in its divine glory, one of the most show-cased and least opened books.

They said I never say much. I smiled. As always there was little to say. We were but different people brought together by providence. They talked about study, boys, family, religion, food, sex, love. I smiled and laughed on cue, all the time thinking of how much we had changed.

Yes, there was always so much to talk about. The conversation went on around me, one minute building into a crescendo, followed by a barrage of laughter and the next, a sound no louder than a whisper.

I looked to my right and sniffed the air again, rain. Then a muffled sound snapped me out of my reverie. I held my breath as my heart raced and adrenaline pumped into my muscles numbed from sitting Buddha style. Something was out there. The conversation went on, and into fear grappled mind words finally began to filter through: slut…not so beautiful…poorly dressed…likes men…sleeps…lecturers…

I shook my head to clear my mind and turned back to my companions. Lightening flashed and from the corner of my eyes I caught a glimpse of a silhouette huddled behind the door.

Few minutes after the door opened and she strutted into the room. A quick glance at her downcast eyes confirmed my already budding suspicion. She’d been listening. I glanced at my companions who moments ago struck by dumbness, so artfully recovered and now launched into new horizons like they weren’t moments ago gossiping about our once absent friend. She flopped on the mattress and joined in the conversation, her sentences so often punctuated by childlike laughter.

I wondered at humans– the length we would go to make ourselves feel better. How easy it was to misunderstand others simply because they lived different lives from ours, or at least what we are used to having around us. Why it was so easy to forgive a child for being too trusting, looking at the world like a playground, and choosing to see only the inherent good in others; while with adults we brand them honorary titles like slut. But do we really grow out of our childish nature or does our shell just grow bigger? Do we don new clothes, fresh masks every day, live like society dictates and find a drug for our unhappiness and frustration? We carry bibles; hide behind religion or whatever else makes us feel good, pretending to be upright, but inside we are simply a bitter lot, people very much unsatisfied with life, hoping for redemption.

Behind each girl was a story– experiences, mistakes, choices, life. I saw dreams that could best be likened to fairy tales woven in the web of time and left to gather dust because of fear– fear of society, and fear of the unknown. But she was different, brave. So much had changed around her but she seemed untouched. She’d wrapped her past around her but was never deterred by it. She was life. She was like the candle: tall, regal, warm and full of light.

The flame flickered, casting a shadow. Its light shifting, changing, and then it was back to normal.

From across the room our eyes met and held. She regarded me briefly and I read the unspoken questions in them. I burned in shame. Then slowly her lips curved into a smile and I knew all was forgiven.

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I wrote this a year ago (June 2014) and since my brain is slightly short-circuited right now, I figured it worth digging up stuff from my archive. This was one of my earlier attempts writing something that looked like a story, 🙂 I can’t tell if I succeeded or not so you can be the judge.

See you around.

Your Story Doesn’t Count

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His was the only familiar face as I stepped into the bus. I made my way to his side—more leg space I told myself, but it was curiosity that propelled my feet. Then I spent the next minute stealing glances, willing my mind to connect the dots three weeks old.

We’d moved only ten minutes when he switched from the movie he’d been watching to hit up his friend on a social media channel. My waning curiosity piqued, searching for answers that eluded my mind.
Remember that babe I told you about that ran away with my money?
—Eh, you see am?
She’s beside me. She was looking at me when she came in like she couldn’t recognize me.
—Lol. Remind am na.
No. Leave am.
—If na me I go talk. I wan chop too.
No, it doesn’t matter.

My heart sank. This is the reason we must never eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I picked up my phone and told my friend what had happened, calling the young man beside me a jerk for his action. I could hear his laugh in my head.

It had been a mistake. Three weeks ago some driver with a temper gave four of us money to split among ourselves because he couldn’t be bothered to find loose change. That was difficult. I had custody of a boy’s change—a meager sum considering, but no less his. We spent the first few minutes looking for a means to split the money without succeeding because buses were going in different directions. Buses going my way were scarce, so as soon as one pulled over I was eager to jump in and get to work looking for change from other passengers. I succeeded. But when I looked out the window for my companions not one of them was in sight. When they eventually showed up, my call for attention was drowned by honking vehicles and the driver was already on his way.

Three weeks later I was beside one of them without a clue if he was the gentleman owed money or just one of the others. I contemplated raising it up and asking. It seemed awkward– for me. I figured I could pay his fare anyway and get the debt out of my system. But what if the real owner of the money meets me tomorrow? The stolen conversation set me straight, infuriated me, embarrassment burned my cheek. I turned to him willing myself to break the ice.

What’s the name of your movie?

He responded and asked if I wanted it. I nodded in the affirmative. We spent the rest of the journey pairing devices over Bluetooth, losing connection, sharing hotspot (his), searching for a quicker means to give me a movie I was half interested in watching. I watched him with curious eyes as he held my Tablet.

The driver requested for our money. I stilled his hand as it reached for his wallet.

Let me pay.

I didn’t think he was going to let me, so I pulled out twice the fare and handed it over to the collector. I glanced at my feet. Had he said thank you? Was that a smirk on his face when I touched his hand? Did he think I paid out of guilt or perhaps as payment for sharing his mobile data? Did he really believe I ran off with his money? Would he have thought that if I were a man? Was he simply a decent guy or living out the biblical mandate: pay back evil with good?

Was I over thinking this?

My eyes wandered to him again. He’d abandoned his movie and was trying to download a heavy file on my Tablet that would allow him send the movie faster—with his mobile data. None of this made any sense. He was a jerk, right? Why would he do any of this after obviously gloating to his friend an hour ago? A part of me wondered if he intended to run away with my Tablet when we arrive at our destination as revenge.

Finally the bus stopped and the passengers alighted. I got my Tablet back as we got off too. He asked for my destination and I responded. We stood in silence. My bus came, I turned to him, said goodbye with a half-smile. He smiled back.

Neither of us knew the other’s name. Neither asked what had happened that day. No story volunteered. It didn’t matter anyway. We each formed our opinions.

Saints. Sinners. Standards. Sex.

For some time now I have told my friends how much of a hermit I’ve been. Well today I crawled out of the real-world cave, visited the internet and came upon a post on twitter. Now this post isn’t something new, it’s not even something fresh, but it brought to mind again a certain trend that’s weighed heavily on my heart.

Let’s start with some background information.

moral choice. right or wrong

I’ve realised that people like to look for a piece of them in others. Perhaps this is some way our minds build connections– kindred spirits– and makes it easier to bond with others with whom we share similar behavior. For instance, people who consider themselves ‘bad’ (sinners) will likely bond with other people who share an atom of ‘bad’ traits with them. Likewise goody-two-shoes (saints) tend to attach themselves to people who are like them. We’re looking for something identifiable– markers perhaps that assures us we are not among strangers.

There is a twist though; it’s almost a bit of fairytale stuff. Sinners who tend to become attracted to Saints often try to change them. And vice versa. While the latter is queerly acceptable for reasons of making people the best version of themselves if they choose, the same cannot be said for the former.

Now about that trend I talked about earlier, there have been discussions ongoing on forums about women sexuality. For some  reason there seems a consensus that women who aren’t virgins should not deny sex to their boyfriends. There’s also another that women who claim virgins are most likely lying about it. I have some difficulty wrapping my head around this.

Where does a person’s choice to change come in?

When a woman declines sex, what has the state of her vagina got to do with it?

Should a person desirous of leading a different lifestyle after years of living in a moral cesspit be denied?

I  understand that morality for people is subjective, dependent to a large extent on religious doctrines, laws of the state, social influence and intuition, but the drastic decline is troubling. It’s like we’re telling one another, once a sinner always a sinner, refusing to acknowledge that anything good can come out something once terrible.

I believe in change. I believe that people have some inherent goodness awaiting discovery. And I know there exists some who cannot believe in themselves until someone does.

So why won’t we allow those who have been brave enough to cross the threshold from Sinner to Sainthood lead a new life? It’s like praying a person turns around from their ways with an eye shut, while keeping the other open hoping that they’ll slip. It doesn’t add up.

Define your choices,  hold yourself accountable to your standards. And then hold everyone else to it.

What a person chooses becomes their new marker; their new identifier. I do not mean that the past dissolves into nothingness, no. If that happened there’ll be no lessons learnt from our poor choices. But people should be allowed to be. If she says no sex, don’t go wondering why you shouldn’t eat from her honey-pot because some guy who was a product of her erratic behavior ate from it. We need to learn to respect choices. It’s disturbing when a man asks this virginity question…  Seriously again, what has the state of her vagina got to do with anything?!

This is for young women out there because I am one and can write from the shoe that hurts me. Virginity is a good thing. Awesome.  But it’s not everything. Aside keeping yourself for so long, it’s important you know why you have kept yourself for so long:

Is it supposed play as an advantage in the dating pool?

Are you waiting for that special man?

Do you think it’s wrong because God said so?

Define your choices,  hold yourself to your standards. And then hold everyone else to it.

quotes on morality and choice

If you’ve been sexually active and choose to become inactive, then this is your new standard. Ignore whatever silly people out there say. I don’t know if it’s called revirginization, but don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to become less than you’ve chosen simply because it makes you look cool and makes them feel good.  The relationships you keep should edify not cause you to stumble again (Of course same goes for the guys).

In favor of men who are skeptical about the virginity proclamation, it’s difficult to entirely blame them when some women have turned this age-old sign of virtue to a get-out-of-jail card. When a reason becomes old it simply becomes impossible to accept it as valid. Don’t be liars. Virginity is not an free pass. It’s not your key to the world and really it takes just a well placed sex organ to lose it. What should count is your word and choice– after all it is your body and you own exclusive rights to it. Don’t go about allowing people make you defend your decision to deny intimacy.

Pearls should not be given to Pigs because they’ll trample on it, completely ignorant of its worth

To those in search of a morally pristine being, at the very least make certain you’re pristine enough and worthy of them. It’s hypocrisy to want something you’re not desirous of being. A bit of biblical wisdom here, pearls should not be given to Pigs because they’ll trample on it, completely ignorant of its worth. If you’re in search of something more down-to-earth then there are those available too, but allow the people who wish to crossover do so in peace without pressure.

Here is one thing I do believe though: If there is a God in heaven he’ll give to everyone exactly as they deserve.

 

Image: Google Images

A Threefold Lesson  

“Some of our biggest lessons come in beautifully wrapped little packages of experience.” 

Of all her body parts, Mma’s hair held the least appeal. It frizzed, broke and resisted every act of taming irrespective of her efforts. This was a cross, a very surprising cross because for years she had been blessed with beautiful hair—long, soft and admirable. Continue reading

Who Is A Monster And Who Is A Man

Photo credit: www.overstock.com

Simi made her way to the bathroom. She’d left her companion with their bags at the airport lobby, waiting for their flight to the States where a new life would begin for her.
As she made the turn, she bumped into a moving object. Supplies tumbled to the ground and in a flurry hands reached down to rescue rolling items.
Two pairs of eyes met. Held.

The flashback had her reeling. Continue reading

A Good Day For Change

First love yourself

My cousin Megan was the most annoying being my eleven years old self had encountered. At six she was a scrawny looking firecracker; at ten a full blown typhoon. Having spent a considerable part of my teenage years in a boarding school far from home, I had to make do with spending short holidays with my extended family. It was on one such visit that I met Megan in her glorious fury. Continue reading

Love is hardwork

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That one moment in your life when you realise you’ve just met that one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. The rush of emotions; the initial confusion, trying to come to terms with the sudden realisation or make it go away. That feeling of breathlessness when the object is near. The air cracks and sizzles–chemistry. The invasion of your mind, when it’s away. When you think you just saw it up ahead, or smelled it’s perfume by the roadside….it’s everywhere and nowhere.The hard thump of your heart against your ribs, and the mad dash of racing pulse. The stone at the pit of your stomach…or are those butterflies? Leaving you tongue tied when you really must say something.  Heightened emotions–everything matters so long it comes from it.
That helpless feeling when you realise you can’t walk away. It’s real when you can’t walk away, they say.
You get used to it. You accept it. You’re in–hook, line, and sinker. The whole 360 degrees.

But it isn’t rosy. It’s only as perfect as when you are together, and you must work to stay together. One day, all that breathlessness goes away. You must learn to coexist in the same space. Accomodate quirky habits. Fight. Make up. And they get more frequent–the cycle. You want to go away. End it. But you don’t. You fell for a package, and so you fight for a package. You fan the embers periodically. Build a flame. Revel in it.

But it grows old. It grows cold.

Someday you settle for comfort outside passion–or the next best thing. The deafening silence that screams a thousand words. That hums in the day and whispers at night of spoken promises of long ago to old weary bones. The cycle continues.

Then into the darkness you ask, ‘why?’
And the silence whispers, ‘because love is hardwork.’

Romantic relationships: Understanding the opposite sex.

Loving couple holdind on the hands and sunset
A couple of weeks ago I lost touch with a friend…a male friend. Of all the problems we had, one seemed to stand out: somehow we (or one of us did) let emotions take centre stage. That single unconscious act alone became the seed that eventually germinated to reproduce many issues that led to our eventual estrangement.

Our ‘break up’ hurt like nothing I had felt before—at first though—not because I was romantically inclined towards him, but because I had come to value our friendship a lot and acted as such. On hindsight I think the ‘act’ bit of my attitude confused the hell out of him.

Men and women it would seem have different ‘processors’, and don’t actually understand each other as well as we love to think– I mean if I had a penny every time I heard a guy say, “You took advantage of my feelings for you”, I’d be a frigging billionaire today.
So in a bid to clear the air and preserve future friendships WITHOUT that tiny organ getting in the way, I’ll attempt to explain why we keep getting our signals all muddled up and royally screwing up every good thing that happens in the form of the opposite sex. Perhaps we’ll reach a compromise eventually and hopefully everyone—men and women—can go home happy.

What does a man see when he approaches a woman?
It’s pretty much straight forward. Our one-track-mind better halves have a lot of difficulty seeing beyond their immediate desires…obviously. To them it’s either what they want or nothing at all. You are either friend material at first glance, or girl friend material. Anything suggestion to the contrary is not welcome, thank you.
Briefly summarized:
Brains+Ass+Boobs+(personality)=Girl friend material.
Brains+Ass+(Boobs)+(personality)=Friend material.
ABSOLUTELY NO MIDDLE GROUND.

What does a woman see when she meets a guy?
Women are unarguably the most complex creatures in God’s green Earth. So how do you figure out what she thinks about you? You can’t. Unless she tells you, reading her body language and speech pattern is absolutely useless (please do not make the mistake of trying this unless you have psychic powers).

There are three reasons a woman will be attracted (not necessarily romantically) to you:
You’re drop dead gorgeous. You’re stinking rich. You’re Einstein smart. OK, maybe not to the extreme like I just suggested, but I believe you get the point (you could however fall in the category of triple threat extraordinaire).

Women unlike men as a general rule don’t start off relationships ‘heart first, head later’. We like to take our time getting to know more about you. More importantly is that you may not ever be lucky enough to grace our ‘potential boyfriend’ list…EVER. But when we like you, well we’ll want to keep you.
Even so, the wait can be tiring seeing as men aren’t the most patient beings around, and women will take twice as much time picking a beau as she would choosing the perfect nail polish.

So while waiting in limbo here are a couple of things you could chew on:
1. You aren’t the only guy who wants her. A girl is allowed to be confused if there are many eligible bachelors seeking out her awesomeness. You observed and found her ‘worthy’ of you, give her time to decide where and how you fit into her life too. Be considerate.

2. While you’re hoping she sees something more special than friendship in you, do remember she will treat you like everybody else she likes. She’ll flirt, place her head on your shoulder, laugh at your jokes, call your mobile phone and spend long hours talking with you, maintain eye contact and smile from across the room. She’ll use phrases like, “you abandoned me” and it still wouldn’t be giving the green light to her. Why? Because that’s how she is with her friends, and right now that’s exactly what you are. Women are more mentally flexible than their male counterpart, which means we can crisscross the line between friend and lover flawlessly while keeping to heart who plays what role to us. Don’t over think things.

3. You may never have her. But really isn’t that what life is all about: chances, risks, frigging probabilities? You may never become anything more than the Bradley Cooper-Mark Zuckerberg-Einstein-like guy who she just likes…as a friend.
So decide if she’s worth having around at all(come on there must be something that made her worth having around in the first place) and if you can stand the impending heart break you just might receive always bearing in mind that to her you are friends first. Be realistic.

That said, since I promised a compromise I’ll deliver. The men are pretty much covered, so ladies:
Men have delicate sensibilities, handle them with kid gloves. Decide if he is worth falling in your boyfriend list(you can achieve this speedily by keeping a checklist of potential boify attributes, unless love happens and you chuck it out the window). If his performance is not satisfactory , let him know. Being friend zoned by a girl you’re literally dying for is as bad as being raped(it is emotional rape). If you think he has a chance with you then let him know, but be sure to tell him he’s got major competition(s) too and could possibly lose(just in case he loves to build sand castles). No matter how difficult it will be, try not to flirt with him. Men can’t always differentiate between green lights and no lights(they aren’t wired that way).

There, case solved.

Love, Friendship, Happiness

“I want someone who will love me for who I am, not someone who is trying to change me”

Love requires that every man accepts you just the way you are. It does not try to visibly change you; it doesn’t ask that you become less of yourself. It sees you for what and who you are, and chooses to accept you good and bad.

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