Friday, November 27, 2015

Allah I wanna thank You for the Good Life.

Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh
Hello everyone!


My shopkeeper recently mentioned to me that i complain way too much.We're quite close my shopkeeper and I. I mean I buy eggs and bread from him almost every day so I believe that warrants a closely knit relationship. He didn't say this to offend me, rather it was all in jest. But we all know there's always some level of truth behind what people say. However minimal it may be. I could see why he would say this though. It is true, I do complain too much.

I wouldn't consider myself to be a shrew but I definitely think that lately I have been quite the flop when it comes to positive energy. To be honest, I had gotten tired of pretending to be happy when I wasn't. I've always been the type to lift everyone's spirits. The one who always kept a positive outlook on life. The one who always said, 'don't you worry,its all going to be just fine', but experienced a mental break down the instant I was alone in my room. And I think it happens to the best of us from time to time. Hence,you can only imagine my surprise when a friend of mine was commenting at how miserable our lives were and I felt this tingle beneath my chest. There was a sense of warmth and fuzziness that emanated from my beating heart, engulfing every bit of me as if to say 'hey, despite everything, i'm actually really happy with my life.'

I know, weird right?

It was as unexpected as it was exciting. I marveled and reveled in the feeling as my friend went on and on about how everyone else was having such a great time in uni and there we were,with no agenda. I don't clearly recall  what else she said from then on. Her words sort of faded into the noisy busy street. It was a Thursday,also known as turn up day in uni. It's basically when the weekend begins because almost everyone is done with their classes for the week. Except for those who have Friday and Saturday classes. Those who are cursed to party with everyone else on Thursday only to miss their Friday classes because of extreme hangovers,or worse. To go to class extremely hangovered. Personally, I prefer not to blame it on the alcohol.

It was night time and the streets around uni were now starting to get busy. Bright lights and fancy cars. High heels and short dresses. The club around uni was starting to get filled up as students and club goers from all around showed up to welcome the weekend in style. There were flashy cars parked all along the path we were using, some with people inside indulging in the Maryjane herb, others with a bunch of kids just standing outside their cars, as if to proclaim that they were on top of the world. The night was filled with an array of sounds, from club music to cars hooting to young laughter, and not to mention the smell of weed that wafted in the air. Basically,it would make for a great teen indie film. Because isn't that what they're all about? Young adults embracing their youth through drugs,sex,friendship,heartbreak? Living the life?

And yet here we were, my friend and I, amidst all this energy, going to get groceries to prepare supper. We were completely excluded from the circle. Voluntarily or not. If we were to be in a teen indie film,we would basically be the kids who never got invited to any parties, didn't drink or smoke, probably rode bikes to school and genuinely loved spending time with their families more than their 'squad'. Mostly because we wouldn't even have a squad to begin with. We would be the observers,the unknown, the ones who really saw people for who they really were. The genuine friends and the ones who the cool guys secretly had a crush on or wanted to be friends with. We would be the ones who actually loved books,science and art and weren't afraid to show it. We would be the free ones.

Or at least I would be. My friend,not so much. That's why she kept going on about how boring and miserable our lives were. Because she was looking at all these kids,with flashy cars and fancy clothes and how they were living the life. They were young,high and in love and here we were, going to the 'Mama Mboga' (grocery lady),to get some kale. So I understood where she was coming from. I get her.

But me, I love my life. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is but I love it. Maybe it's the sense of tranquility from living as a Muslim. Maybe it's sense of accomplishment I get from being ambitious and striving to achieve my goals. Maybe it's the joy of striving to live a healthy and productive lifestyle. Maybe it's the sense of contentment I get from the simple things like the smell of books,or ice cream on a Sunday. Maybe.

Needless to say, I don't drink, smoke, club or do most of these things that society paints every young person in the world to be indulging in, and coercing young people everywhere to believe that for you to enjoy your youth and in turn enjoy life, you have to engage in all these things. The truth is, not every young person in the world is doing drugs or having random sex or is uninformed about their society or values like the media portrays.
Some of us actually have our crap together. Or at least some of it. And you know what? We love our lives. In my opinion, life is not lived through drugs,alcohol,sex or all these things bombarded to us by the media. Life is lived through experiences. If that is what your experience entails well and good. But experiences none the less. From the simple ones like spending time with your elderly neighbors and listening to stories about way back then to more complex ones like relationships and bad days. I'm no expert on life but that's my two cents.

I know I complain a lot. And I'm sorry about that. To myself first and foremost. Because I really am extremely grateful to Allah (sw) for all the bounties bestowed upon me. And complaining is such a terrible trait to have. Eww. But I am human so I tend to forget about these blessings pretty easily. I never claimed to be perfect but I am working on becoming a better person. And isn't that what life is about in the first place? I tend to think so.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Identity Crisis of a Kenyan Muslim girl.

Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh
Hey you.


I went through some of my old posts recently.I don't really have a solid answer as to why, but lately that little mental voice in my head has been nagging me as to why this blog even exists in the first place.I guess i felt i would find some answers back there.I feel like the ghost of the girl that i want to be and simultaneously,the shell of a girl that i used to know.Its like I'm in this weird limbo zone.I also seem to be all over the place with my posts, just like my life.I can't seem to find my voice. Or my place.Everything i do feels right in the moment, however i keep discovering new sides to the prism.And every time i make a new discovery,i start to doubt my previous ones.

I have this theory that one day i'm going to do this one particular thing, or this one event is going to happen to me and it's going to be spectacular because it's going to be my eureka moment.My epiphany.And i'll have found my voice and in turn myself.But now i'm starting to conjure a new theory,what if i'm not meant to have a magical eureka moment.What if i've been having my eureka moments everyday in little installments. Multiple epiphanies that seem ordinary only because i've been too busy looking for this grand eureka moment, instead of noticing what was right in front of me.Maybe i'm a formidable force of a number of voices that add up to one magnificent song.But i don't even know where to start deciphering these voices from.

My lecturer keeps telling me that i need to tell my stories.I need to tell the stories of this Kenyan Muslim girl living in a secular modern society.But he doesn't understand how confusing all these identities are to me. Kenyan,African,Nubian,Muslim,modern...which voice do i listen to?Which voice do i tell my story in?He doesn't know that i strangled that Muslim girl in me.I almost killed her because i wanted to fit in to this modern,secular jungle.But then her heart still beats.And i can feel her resurrecting.But where does she fit in in this big bad world where a scarf on my head makes hearts tremble?Maybe that is the story he wants me to tell.At the same time,i've kind of forgotten what being African is all about.I'm not sure i even knew what it was about to begin with.We did this production in class,and my lecturer said it was not any different from what an American student would have done.That we needed to make our work indigenous to Africa.To who we are.

I thought about that excessively.I thought about my evolution till date,as a Muslim girl and maybe for the first time as an African.Or rather a Kenyan Muslimah, i don't even know.I also thought about my blog name and if it would be indigenous enough for my lecturer.Probably not.I thought about changing it.Maybe i will.Then again i'm quite the indecisive one,so it might take a while.

I don't think people even think about being African.I think that we just know we are.Whether modernized or not.Whether born and raised in Africa or not.The question comes into play when you have to step out of Africa and suddenly you wear your identity like the clothes on your back.Whether stepping out virtually,like me when sharing my work with the world,or physically when you visit or move to a place outside of Africa. To be quite honest, I don't know how to be Muslim and African.Because, i've always known i was African,i didn't have to even think about it, until now, now when i have to mould my 'Africanness' into an external manifestation.
Where do i even start?What does it even mean to be African? Is it the songs i listen to? The cultural dances and rituals? The words i say? The food i eat? My attire? How can i say i love being African when i don't even know what that means anymore?

Because although i have an African name,speak Swahili, was born and bred in the soils of Africa and the colour of my skin emphasizes the amount of Africa in me,my name is also Mariam.According to Wikipedia, the Aramaic name for Mary mother of Jesus Christ (peace be upon both of them). I pray five times a day and only eat halal foods.My way of life stems from the teachings of the Qur'an and i feel extremely exposed without a scarf covering my head and neck.I am almost always in my black abaya when i leave my house and my Creator's name is Allah (sw). I guess you could say i feel more Muslim than African. At the same time, i am almost always falling short of my duties as a Muslim which then makes me feel less Muslim and more hypocritical.

 Then again i feel the comparison is somewhat disproportionate ,i mean Islam is a religion and being African is a decent.Right?You can change your faith but you cannot change your decent.Then again my heritage is both Islamic and African.Are the two even separable in the first place?I've always deemed them to be intertwined.But now,now i have to think about it.And i feel that only serves to complicate things.Do i have to?I've always lived my life as a Muslim and without even thinking about it, i've always been African.But now that i suddenly have to keenly listen to both voices and understand how to work with both of them,i feel like i have no idea how to start telling my stories.I feel more of one and less of the other.I've always told the story of the Muslim girl,in the Islamic setting because i felt that telling it in any other setting would be disrespectful or shunned upon.But he wants me to tell the story of the Muslim girl in an African setting,in a secular modern society.Which is weird because now that i think about it, that is my story.I should be able to tell it easily, but somehow i have no idea what i'm doing.

My lecturer keeps telling me that i need to tell my stories.I need to tell the stories of this Kenyan Muslim girl living in a secular modern society.He doesn't know how confusing i find that to be.I love my faith and way of life, and I also love my culture.I love being African,even though now my concept of what being African is, is completely distorted.I love having Nubian and Giriama blood run through my veins, and i love knowing that my home is here,in these soils.I'm so grateful to Allah (sw) for all this, i guess I just never really sat down and thought about it.It's like sitting down and now thinking about your breathing.Who even does that?

So maybe i'm just new at this.Maybe i'm learning how to tell my story.Maybe i need to explore more of what is, rather than what is suppose to be.And maybe this is why my lecturer will keep telling me that i need to tell my stories.Or maybe i'm just not good at telling my stories.But then if i'm not telling my stories, whose stories have i been telling all this while? I wonder.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm Tired.I need a Sadness Nap.

Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh

Source: conniewonnie
 It's weird.I haven't written anything in two weeks.It feels quite hollow.Sometimes it even scares me that i could actually bring myself to avoid writing for so long.Yes,i've been actively reluctant to write.Everywhere and anything.Not because this span of time has been uneventful,on the contrary,it has been quite the adventure.For instance,I told a really nice guy to stay the hell away from me even though deep down i didn't want him to, i had the 'marriage talk' with my uncle,almost went broke,suffered a couple of panic attacks,made the decision to curse less,got back into training and i'm also now getting more into African literature works.Just to mention a few.

However,i seem to constantly discover new excuses to not write.I'm too exhausted,i have assignments,i'm hungry,my journal is too far.Oh yes,quite the extraordinary reasons to prevent me from partaking in something that i absolutely love.I am yet to discover why exactly i am in this writer's rut if i may say.Is it that i'm lazy or afraid?And if i'm afraid,what exactly is it that i am afraid to find in my own words?

Last week i got into trouble with my community service instructor for being late to the site.According to my University,engaging in forced volunteer work is supposed to inspire me to look outside my own bubble and notice that the world does not revolve around me.That there are other human beings and creatures to care about.And while i completely agree with the envisioned outcome,i feel that giving back to the society shouldn't be something that i have to do,rather something that i want to do.So when i was late to my community service site on the day when my instructor was to come  and oversee whether i had been slacking on the job,my instructor basically blew a fuse.

As i was sitted in the matatu, negotiating with my instructor through the outbursts of anger that poured through the phone call,i couldn't help but wonder why he was so vexed with me.I mean he was VEXED.Was it because i was late?I was still on my way though and only an hour away.I think.Was it because i had made him wait for me? Because an elder made to wait for his or her junior is not something very socially acceptable in the African context.In Africa,the older you are the more respect you deserve,even when you don't deserve it.Maybe that was it,maybe the power distance between the young and the old had finally caught up with me.Maybe i deserved it.Nevertheless,none of that mattered anymore,this was it,i was getting an F.Even though i had completely dedicated myself to the work i was doing,that didn't matter anymore.The cultural - social system was going to hand me a big.fat.F.

This ordeal had me racking my brains night and day,trying to come up with a solution.I don't sit well with failure,it drains the life out of me.But i guess we all have to go through it from time to time.Basically because of this,i couldn't write.I didn't want to write.There were many times when i sat in front of my laptop only to end up staring at the white screen like a demented soul.I'd hop over to my journal only to stare at the blank pages.There was too much to think about. Am i getting an F?I can't repeat this course again i'm too exhausted.I worked so hard, how could he decide not to come and evaluate me?Should i go talk to him?I can't seem to find the time.Furthermore, I haven't written in a week,i need to write.Speaking of finances, I'm running out of money and its the first week of the month?So much laundry to do, my closet is beginning to look like i got robbed.I haven't finished my assignments and those requisitions that need to be forwarded to the office for that club's event?Deadlines,deadlines,freaking deadlines.I have a taekwondo tournament to train for but i haven't been to practice in over a month.I'm tired.I need a nap.A sadness nap.A long sadness nap.

Clearly i was overwhelmed.In some ways i think i still am,maybe i always will be.I keep on asking myself,is this what being a grown up is all about?I'm always worried, always stressed that there's something i haven't done.There's always something that needs to be done.Even when i'm happy i'm not.Because the thought of a deadline to be met hovers above and around me like a dark,strange cloud.Constantly reminding me that my happiness will always be tainted.It got to a point where i even started to wonder,does it even get better?Because last semester was extremely chaotic but in comparison to this current one,it feels like a breeze.

People keep on telling me,chill out,you're going way too fast, remember there are others out there who have it much worse than you do.And i keep thinking,how are you moving so slow?This is the only pace i know of, i've even forgotten how to relax.And it's not that i'm oblivious and insensitive to the pain and suffering of others, but i don't want to downplay my emotions because someone else is having it worse.If i'm having a bad day,i'm having a bad day.Allow me to have a bad day.Let me experience the feelings of a bad day.Don't tell me or expect me to feel better because others have it worse,my emotions matter too.I'm having a bad day, that means i'm feeling sad,or bad.And i just want to sit in my dark room and snack on biscuits dipped in Nutella.Allow it.

And while i understand that people only say this to help,i think that it's ok to have a bad day.Its ok  to have a bad week.But it's not ok to sit and wallow in a pool of pity for the rest of your life.Neither despair nor desperation is cute.Bad days give us experience.They make us better story tellers.Without them, we would not know what good days feel like.Do they taste like shit?Hell yeah.Do they happen more often than the good days?Hell freaking yes.But so what? I think they are as important as the good days,maybe even more.

Somedays,i think to myself,what if a bad day was a friend and not an enemy?What if a bad day was actually a random,nice geeky guy just doing his job?What if he actually wanted what's best for you?To teach you,to mould you.I don't know if it gets better,i'm starting to think it doesn't.I think we just get stronger.But one thing is for sure,bad days maybe shitty as hell but that doesn't make them any less important.

Ok, I think i've rambled enough for today.Hopefully the next time,my thoughts will be presented to me in a more clarified manner and not this tangled web of...whatever this is.And i will have recovered from the writing blues.And the life blues.