HAMARTIA.
Hamartia is a fatal flaw. 

A great error in human beings. A great flaw in our judgment that will eventually lead to our downfall. It  leads to a tragic, if not a fatal, end.

You see as humans, we are born flawed already. Our faults are hereditary and date back to the beginning of time. We evolved with them. We are them, they are us. The only thing we did about this was make a choice. Chose whether or not to let these flaws control us, define us. We chose whether or not these flaws will be fatal or lead to tragedy. We still choose everyday.

In J.K Rowlling’s Harry Potter, Harry is willing to sacrifice himself for the ones he loves. Noble but dangerous. In Greek mythology, greek hero Achilles has great hubris. His pride leads to his downfall. We can go on and on with them ,the list is endless.

 These great heroes with great destinies but deterred by their own human flaws from walking that straight path, don’t they represent us? We are, after all, the heroes of our own stories, aren’t we?

*This is an excerpt from #TheFaultinourStars by John Green❤ (to say I am obsessed with this book would be an understatement.) *

Then Augustus Waters reached into a pocket

and pulled out, of all things, a pack of cigarettes. He flipped it open and put a cigarette between his lips.

“Are you serious?” I asked. “You think that’s cool? Oh, my God, you just ruined the whole thing.”

“Which whole thing?” he asked, turning to me. The cigarette dangled unlit from the unsmiling corner of his mouth.

“The whole thing where a boy who is not unattractive or unintelligent or seemingly in any way unacceptable stares at me and points out

incorrect uses of literality and compares me to actresses and asks me to watch a movie at his house. But of course there is always a hamartia

and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire

YET MORE CANCER. Oh, my God. Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally.”

“A hamartia?” he asked, the cigarette still in his mouth. It tightened his jaw. He had a hell of a jawline, unfortunately.

“A fatal flaw,” I explained, turning away from him. I stepped toward the curb, leaving Augustus Waters behind me, and then I heard a

car start down the street. It was Mom. She’d been waiting for me to, like, make friends or whatever.

I felt this weird mix of disappointment and anger welling up inside of me. I don’t even know what the feeling was, really, just that there

was a lot of it, and I wanted to smack Augustus Waters and also replace my lungs with lungs that didn’t suck at being lungs. I was standing

with my Chuck Taylors on the very edge of the curb, the oxygen tank ball-and-chaining in the cart by my side, and right as my mom pulled

up, I felt a hand grab mine.

I yanked my hand free but turned back to him.

“They don’t kill you unless you light them,” he said as Mom arrived at the curb. “And I’ve never lit one. It’s a metaphor, see: You put the

killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”

“It’s a metaphor,” I said, dubious. Mom was just idling.

“It’s a metaphor,” he said.

“You choose your behaviors based on their metaphorical resonances . . .” I said.

“Oh, yes.” He smiled. The big, goofy, real smile. “I’m a big believer in metaphor, Hazel Grace.

One’s hamartia could be anything. Vice or virtue, good or bad. Anything can be used against you. The key is to know your fatal flaw then control it. Also, keeping it under wraps so that people who want to see you fail don’t use it against you. That way you will not set yourself up for a downfall. 

I know mine. Controlling it is what I’m working on. It may take some time. Meantime, I’ll be here reading #TFIOS for the millionth time. Nice weekend peeps✌


A WARMISH WELCOME.

So I traveled during the weekend to Eldoret to see my mum. She is Eldoret folk officially. Has been since 2015 when she moved here for real to focus on her. Her career, her peace of mind #mumgoals ❤ This place is like second home. Yaani ni shagz. My parents will probably retire here. We’ll be bringing our grandkids to see shosh here, my siblings and I.

I hated this place at first. When it’s cold, you’ll catch frostbite I swear. When it’s hot, it’s accompanied by dust. A blizzard. It just wasn’t Nairobi if you know what I mean. But then that’s why I came to love it. It’s so different. It has this perfect blend of urban and rural that just works for me. Long story short? I love it here.

So far, I have gotten a nice welcome.

Friday.

I arrive in Eldoret town. I call my mum to come pick me up.

“How many bags do you have?”

“Two. A duffel bag and a bag pack.”

“Kwani you’re moving here and you didn’t tell me?” (My greatest weakness in life, after sugar and cats, is packing. I ALWAYS over pack for any occasion.)

“Mum hurry! It looks like it’s gonna rain. Staki nywele yangu inyeshewe.

“Relax. It hasn’t rained here since end of January. I’ll be there in 5minutes.”  She got there after 45minutes. Glad it didn’t rain.

We pop by her friend’s work to say hi(aka to show me off). African parents are professional ‘childrenshow offers‘. She introduces me to the friend. The friend is so shocked that my mum could have a grown up kid like me, she looks so young. 

“Soon cows will be coming to your home ey?”

“Haha you know it!”

“My brother-in-law is her age. You know my husband’s family has many cows.”

“Is he the one studying medicine? That one could work. What do you think Tess?” What do I think about a mock arranged marriage? Lord let it rain right now. Please open the heavens now!

Saturday.

Slept in till 10am. Jet lag probably,lol. Had the whole house to myself. Little sister went to school. Mum went to work. Due to certain circumstances, I was not feeling ‘peoplely’. I locked myself in and watched movies with earphones on.

*knock knock

“Hey Selina are you home?”

*holds breathe and waits in silence for person to go away. I’m afraid if I even inhale, they’ll hear me and know I’m ignoring them and that is just rude. Better to let them think I’m asleep. Don’t judge me. I cannot be the only person who does this. Sometimes you just do not want to see people.

Sunday.

My mum sings in the church choir so she left early for practice. My sister and I had to follow her afterwards. Obviously we were late. I am a chronic late comer, always have been but this time it was not me. My sister was having a Diva Moment. She wouldn’t go to church if she didn’t find a suitable hairstyle. She found one. We were late anyway.

After church we go to congratulate my mum(she has the highest soprano in that choir.) Now,  I’m usually not shy, just awkward, but the looks I was getting from people got me feeling suspicious. Did I have a wardrobe malfunction and these overly conservative church women  are afraid to tell me? (You’d be surprised how often this happens to me.)

Mum breaks away from the choir to say hi. She’s beeming.

“These women are unbelievable!”

“What did they do?”

“They can’t believe that I have an older daughter who is so beautiful!” I laugh dismissively but blush inwardly. Pssh these women are probably too drunk on the Holy Spirit, that’s what is happening.

“They even recommended some of their handsome sons Tess.”

So my gut was right! I was right to be suspicious. Where is the rain when you need it?

Monday.

This place is where I fell in love with running in the mornings(nothing to do with Kalenjins, everything to do with nature.) So  I was planning to go running you know? Start the week right!

*alarm goes off at 6:30am

Me : What? Is that cold? I can’t feel my toes, can’t feel my bum either. Let me sleep till 7am. I’ll go running then.

I guess my demons followed me to Eldoret.

WHERE DREAMS COME TO DIE.

This place where I was born and raised. This place that saw me come to birth. My parents met here. Their parents died here. In this place, not beautiful, just easy on the eyes. 

Once an oasis now an encroaching desert. Almost overpopulated, already full of pollution. All sorts of pollution. Forgotten virtues, praised vices. Yet full of warm hearted people. Kindered spirits. Beautiful souls. Kids with promising futures. Wisened old folks. Ride or dies. Friends for keeps. The realest  people are found right here. 

Dreamers too.

But this is not a place for dreamers. Nobody dares to dream anymore here. Dreams bring heartache. This is the place where dreams come to die. The pollution in this place kills dreams. Kills them slowly, like a cancer. And you have no choice but to let it die, watch it die, sit by it’s bedside and hold it’s hand as the light in it’s eyes go out and you too die a little inside.

You have two choices here :

  1. Don’t dream and stay.
  2. Dare to dream and leave.

How can you leave home? If it is toxic you leave. With your dream dead and your heart broken, it’s easier to leave this place where dreams come to die.

False tourist, sweet stranger.

I’m lost. 

Lost in a familiar place. It’s familiar because I’ve been here before,another time, another lifetime you could say.

I’m a false tourist without a guide and you are a sweet stranger. 

When I was here last time, I found a stranger just like you. And when I left this place, he was still a stranger to me. It was as if we never progressed in our adventures of this beautiful place.

And yet here I am again. And here you are.

Your smile is inviting. Your humour is lovely. Your laughter is contagious. 

I’m drawn to you like steel to a magnet. You call me to go adventure this place with you. To discover beautiful places with you.

I want to but I’m not quite sure. In the event that I leave this place again, I don’t want us to end up as strangers.

Could we? Will we? I am conflicted. My intuition tells me that we won’t be strangers at all. My intuition is always right so it’s what I will follow.

GET UP AND RUN.
It’s 6am. My alarm just went off. It says “Get up and run.” I’m supposed to go running at this large football field in our neighborhood. At 6am I’ll find close to twenty people exercising and doing their own thing. Too bad I won’t be joining them.

I will be battling my demons. My sleep demons. These bastards are not letting me win these days. You see, I made this resolution to go running in the morning. At 6am. My mind was set but my body was not. So it’s been a constant struggle for about a week now.

The worst thing about it is, the sleep demon is me. I am these demons. I am the one who gets in the way of my Running (BTW,I love running #hobbytings ❤). I am the one who presses that snooze button till  7.30am and I can’t go running at 7.30am because by then the sun is up and people can recognize me when the sun is up (I don’t like people recognizing me when I’m running coz    a. I run funny on my awkward days.   b. I run sexy on my fierce days and that is distracting and attracts attention. Last thing I want is people forgetting to exercise and getting notes at my door from secret admirers.) Hihihi.

So what am I getting at?

I’m saying you are your greatest obstacle towards getting what you want.

Lately I’m learning all sorts of life lessons. Everything I want to do or achieve is near my grasp all I have to do is make a move for it. 

  • My writing journey.
  • My fitness goal.
  • My future, etc

Life is shifty. Nothing is ever guaranteed. You might make a move a fail. Miserably. But to me, that’s the beauty of it. “You’ll never now till you try” – this line gets me going. Unless I make that move towards what I want, I’ll never know whether I could have gotten it. I couldn’t be able to live with myself without knowing.

Just start. Start with fear, start with doubt, start with low self-esteem, start with trembling fingers, start with sweaty palms, start with butterflies in your tummy, start with one, start with nothing, start at last place, it doesn’t matter as long as you start. You know the end result is worth starting for.

People may discourage you from getting to that end result but you hold the final cards. If you too become a nay sayer like them, you lose. If you push that snooze button like me, you become a nay sayer and you lose. If you are too afraid to start, you’ll lose. Don’t let yourself come between you and your goals.

Tomorrow I’ll try again. I don’t know if my sleep demons are stronger but I will try and I’ll win before February ends. ✌


KARMA IS A HUNGRY BUM.

“Don’t act a punk with a gun to your head.” – Wise saying by Shiraku Tess ☺

This is a saying from a book of wise sayings I’m working on called ‘Tess’ Wise Sayings’. The book will probably never see the light of day because it is all in my head. I have about a hundred sayings in there, all of them pertaining to my life and the various situations I’ve been in.

This particular one stuck in my brain, unlike the others that disappeared (but what do you expect when you write a book in your head?). It’s one many Kenyans can relate to. If you live in a town, you can relate. If you live in Nairobi, it’s part of your silent life philosophy.

So the other day I was rushing in town. I was in quite a hurry and my anxiety levels were high so I was a little absent minded. I was heading to an interview you see. I wanted to be there an hour before it started. To prep myself. By prep I mean to fix my hair, polish my shoes coz of the dust they collected since I stepped out of the matatu and go over the FAQs and answers.

I was so out of it that when I got off from OTC in town, I went all the way toward Kamkunji police station and crossed towards bus station. I usually don’t pass that way. So in my state of mind, I passed a beggar.A man with a cup jingling with coins. One bobs most probably. By the time I realised that I should have left him ten shillings at least, I was way past him.

Then guilt set in. How selfish and self absorbed can we get? Just 2minutes from my busy life would have helped him out. I hadn’t even gone 5minutes self loathing when this chokora was by my side. Wazungus call them bums or hobos.

*direct translation*

“Siste spare me some change for breakfast.”

“Maze I don’t have money.”(classic excuse)

“Siste don’t smell like shit on a nice day like this. Kwanza vile uko Smart.” That was when I saw the pile of shit in the hand that was not  begging for change. Actual shit. Feaces. In a pile. Like he just went into a dark alley and did it on his hand. I kid you not. Now I was terrified.

“Relax dude! Let me see what I have.” I rummage through my bag and pull out my wallet. I have two 50s and a hundred.

“Siste hurry up. Give me that 100. Don’t smell like shit!”

“Dude I still need fare to get home. Take this 50 and go, nkt!”

He takes it and walks away, yells a thank you as he goes. Probably to get his next victim. I keep walking thinking of how  I just got robbed at ‘shit point’ ,literally. People walked right past me and did nothing. Not that there is a damn thing you can do to fight off shit being lunged at you. This is Nairobi, a hungry city. Don’t act a punk with a gun to your head. Cooperate and go on your way.

I’m just lucky I got to my interview still smelling like Nivea cocoa butter. Kumbe karma is a hungry bum in the streets of Nairobi.