The feelers we get from the new world is to be liberated in the most unconventional way. It’s the new cool; this campaign for unfettered self-expression regardless of how one is perceived or how it affects others. We are the ones without any scintilla of inhibition. We live for ourselves and ourselves only. We can stand up to anyone. We do not believe that balderdash about respecting people because they are older or on the premise of their senior citizen status. Everyone must prove themselves worthy of our regard else they will be denigrated without a second thought. What’s more, all that righteous indignation about eschewing nudity or being circumspect about divulging details of happenings in our lives are borne out of inexposure and insecurity. We will have none of it.
Na poor I poor, I no crase loosely translates to “I may be poor, but I’m not crazy.” The first time my mum said this to me while recounting an episode that happened—one in which she had refused to entertain a slight on her person; I thought it was a funny but apt expression. In essence, it means that in spite of a man’s penury, he can still muster some dignity. And more often than not, the insatiable appetite for the good life is not an aftermath of poverty, rather, it is a product of avarice along with the absence of dignity.
My mum once told me the story of how, during the early years of her marriage, a friend of her friend had expressed concern over her “apparent” childless state. My mum’s friend had stared at her with a mixture of shock and amusement. “She has three kids already,” she announced to this individual. It was their turn to be surprised; they had had no inkling that my mum had even one kid, let alone three. They had been so certain of their impression that if the new information wasn’t from one who was so close to my mum, they would have doubted it was true.
Influence is a word that increasingly features in our daily vocabulary; so much so that we now have people who go by the title of Influencers. Impacting the behaviour or thought process of others is a concept the vast majority of us could relate with since we were kids. Our parents warned us about peer pressure and how it could derail us from the straight and narrow path. At school, we were admonished not to join band gangs to ensure we weren’t tempted to engage in untoward activities such as drugs and heavy drinking. All our lives, we have been lectured on the potential danger inherent in influence.
Nearly 2.5 million Muslims participated in the Hajj (a spiritual exercise that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam) this year. The figures have risen steadily over the years, and it is safe to presume the next couple of years will follow the same upward trajectory in numbers. The El al-Adha holiday is one both Muslims and Christians can identify with even though it is not officially celebrated by Christians. The story of Ibrahim (Abraham in the Bible) and God’s command to him to sacrifice his son, Ismail is recorded in the two most popular holy books. Eid-el Kabir is tagged, a festival of sacrifice—one that commemorates a test of faith and belief in the supreme being.
At the basest level, humans go through the same challenges: juggling family and vocation, giving attention to the things that really matter—making and sustaining a living, staying healthy—nurturing relationships. For people in developing countries, poverty is an ever-looming possibility, so there’s a constant battle to stay afloat financially. Add political turmoil and insecurity to the mix, and there’s no doubt that everyone has sufficient burdens to keep them busy. However, there’s a challenge that never ceases to rear its head. One that’s designed to break anyone who isn’t deliberate about self-awareness and authenticity.
I suffer from shock. Anytime something untoward or unexpected happens to me, I am immobile for a few seconds or minutes before gathering myself and willing myself into a reaction. This also means that I am not the type to shout, burst into tears or wail on receiving unpleasant news. The tears come later…after processing events. My friend, Anna (real name withheld), on the other hand, is highly emotional. The tears are never far away whenever she gets upsetting news; at other times, she would let out a scream or shout of pain. Two friends, two different reactions to bad news.
Process can be such a frustrating phenomenon. Think about it: you have to save and invest consistently over a period of time (years or even decades) to build wealth. A woman has to carry a child for three-quarters of a year before she births it. And after this, it takes years and years of raising and nurturing before the child gets a chance to be independent. In these parts, we have to go through 6 years of primary education, 6 years of secondary education and at least 4 years of tertiary schooling to become a graduate. An eventuality that in no way guarantees success or wealth.
Someone to talk to. A concept that is simple and seemingly common but in reality, hard to find. What we consider conversation most times is idle chit-chat; small talk that holds no weight. But the baring of the soul, no holds barred exchange with another is a rarity. At a time when trusting associates with private information is a precarious venture no thanks to the trend of letting it all out on social media, the circumspect keep their most treasured thoughts tucked in the recesses of their heart. They would rather it killed them than run the risk of spilling to someone who might divulge it to others.
I am in a state of wavering disbelief right now. I am having a hard time believing I have actually blogged for five whole years! Every week, every Wednesday, I have shared my thoughts, feelings and opinion on wide-ranging subjects—when I was excited—and when the last thing I wanted to do was write. I have battled the imposter syndrome; written essays that barely got a hundred views and been misunderstood for my blogging intentions. But I have also enjoyed unbelievable goodwill from strangers: people who overestimated my talent and called me a genius.