The Zoom Stage

Who would have thought the song to get me to sit down and write this would be Amazing Grace (the Judy Collins version). I don’t understand why. But there’s something about the way that song is sung that makes me feel like I am walking down the streets of London. (Sorry, I have an attachment to the coloniser’s land, forgive me please, for how much I love London.)

Well, presently I am listening to Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan (does that make you judge me less? it’s a song about Bob talking to God, did you know?) So God is the common theme here. Haha. Maybe I need God. Or God needs me. I know I need God. The definition of God that is removed from religion, at least. But this is not about God, nor is it about religion.

No, this is about art.

Acting, in particular. 

So, acting.

I didn’t think I had it in me to act. See, I am so shy. So shy, I still pick at my fingers when I talk. At this big age. But acting took all that out of me and made me see myself in a different light.

Gosh, it sounds so cliché.

I should mention and clarify, I’ve never acted on stage.

I once had the opportunity, to act as the Fool from King Lear. I backed out at the very last minute and the whole play came crumbling down. That’s probably when my English teacher started hating me. I am sorry, Ms. (I am sorry I have forgotten your name, it’s been over 10 years). 

My sister got me to join the acting lessons. “Just join,” she said. I was at the time saying yes to whatever, so I said okay. And who would have thought some 12 weeks since then it was what I look forward to most? 

Gosh. Acting makes you and forces you to tap into emotions you just do not want to acknowledge.

Whether that’s owning up to your not-so-healthy relationship with food. Yes, there was once a time we had to read and act out a script of a teenager who had an eating disorder. She is being asked to eat, but she is so adamant that she is full, that she has eaten. But she’s getting really thin.

And man, have I been at the receiving end of that conversation a handful of times. “Eat, Meera, you have to eat.” “I am not hungry, I ate in the morning, I am not hungry!” True story. (Okay, slightly abridged, but you get the gist of how those conversations must have gone down, right?) 

The funny, (or not-so-funny-but-i-didn’t-expect-this-so-it’s-funny) thing about all of it was that it wasn’t really triggering. It actually made me feel like you know what, this version of me exists even in the non-existent, make-believe world of acting and plays and scripts. And there’s something so comforting about that, oddly.

There’s something about being seen, and having all these people read the same script in different characters that just makes it all the more valid. It’s hard to explain. (And I said I was a writer? Ha, just about. I’m an actor now, okay in my dreams.)

There was something very comforting in knowing, that for once, the make believe people we were pretending to be on the Zoom-stage had something in common with me, and not the opposite way round. 

Now playing: What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

I wish I could say that about 2020. 

But acting does that, right? It creates this wonderful world. Or it did for me.

Those acting lessons, that one hour, every Thursday. I felt like I was in a wonderful world. A wonderful world of creative expression or the freedom to be whoever-the-hell I wanted to be.

So one week I would put up my (somewhat terrible) British accent, and another week, (my significantly better) Indian accent. In the British accent, I was just confessing how I was afraid of flying, somewhat self-righteous, somewhat super chilled about it. Then in the Indian accent I was telling my pretend mum how the Uber driver’s dog ate the money I was paying the Uber driver with. Wild, right? Nah, more like creative freedom.

An escape, I so terribly crave for every day, even if it is just for an hour. 

Aside from accents, sometimes I was this person obsessed with posting on Instagram, even when there was a building burning down, “I have to post it, guys, I have to,” that is journalism to an extent though, right? (Is that why my journalism dreams didn’t quite work out? Save it for therapy, Meera). 

Now playing: Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin.

I am about to be really cheesy now and say, that what acting lessons were about. Not worrying, being happy, being yourself, not being yourself, just being.

And then my most favourite exercise, improv.

Gosh, I fucking loved improv. (The use of the F word should tell you just how much.)

I’ve always been told I am a funny person. And to an extent I know it’s true, I know I am funny. I am just filtered funny, because I am just like, okay, I don’t want to over do it. But while acting, friends, readers, there’s no such thing as over doing it. And with improv I was able to do just that. Just be funny. Just really be funny. To whatever extent I wanted to. And I was. I really was. I love improv. It just lets you be, lets you explore, challenges you, and expects you to be quick. It was my most favourite thing to learn and do. 

Now playing: Photograph by Ed Sheeran. 

I don’t have an acting example about this song. It is just a very beautiful song. 

Acting has really brought out this version of me I didn’t even know existed.

The Zoom-stage was my happy place. My classmates were the best people to act with. And my acting teacher really believed in me and brought out the best in me.

Hopefully someday I will act on stage, even if I am a tree swaying to Mr. Tambourine Man (haha, it’s back on. Do I need a new playlist?)

A Love Letter to London

Dear London,

Hi.

How are you?

I heard it is sunny there today. And if I am not wrong, people shouldn’t be but they are breaking the rules by turning up at Hyde Park to bask in the sun and have a picnic with some Pimms and oranges. I don’t know why specifically oranges, but oranges. Oranges and grapes and strawberries.

London, I am from one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but you have my whole heart.

See, I left without saying goodbye to you, so sure that I would be back, but now I don’t know when I will see you next. And every night, I see you in my dreams.

The big Whitechapel sign, the Idea Store library, bus 25 and Aldgate East, in particular, are regular visitors.

I really, really miss you, but I would politely like to ask you to stay away from my dreams. You see,  you visiting every night makes it all the more harder to stop missing you.

And missing you is just too painful.

You see, London, you gave me so much in such little time and I am eternally grateful for that.

You gave me friendships and kindness and a sense of community. Dare I say you gave me a lifetime of memories. Cheesy, I know.

But above all, you taught me how to be friends with myself.

I’ve forgotten how to do that now.

I’ve forgotten a lot of things now.

But here is what I remember.

The nights at the pub and at the park getting piss drunk with my friends. Dancing all night at queer clubs and getting free drinks from strangers. Coffees at Starbucks and walking along the Trafalgar Square. Exploring Camden town and Hackney Wick. Devouring the art at Shoreditch and going to the temple on Green street and Wembley. Crossing Tower Bridge and back, often in between tears and sneaking in a smoke. Getting high as a kite in my balcony and watching the most random of movies. The fireworks from the 12th floor and going on dates. And the list goes on and on and on.

I miss you quite terribly.

I miss your cold breeze. I miss your ‘please mind the gap’ and ‘the next station is Aldgate East alight here for the Whitechapel Art Gallery….’ and whatever came next. I miss your ‘please place the items in the bagging area’. The crowds of people who were always, always in a hurry. I miss the ‘innit’ and the ‘you okay?’

Yes I am okay, what’s wrong with me, thank you very much. I was always confused when people said that to me when I first came to you.

I miss the communities of spoken word poetry and the nights at Hungama and chilling with my sisters.

You allowed me to be me, you gave me space to be me, and accepted me as me. And here, I’ve mastered the art of putting on a performance. Always complaining aren’t I?

I am running out of words, and this has ended abruptly.

I love you London. And I leave you with this quote.

“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again or what the world will be like when we do. We may both have seen many horrible things. But I will think of you every time I need to be reminded that there is beauty and goodness in the world.” – Arthur Golden

All my love, always, all ways.

 

Rain

They say rain is water, but its a lot more than that. Rain is loss and rain is gain. Huh, a rhyme. Who woulda thought? Wait, wait let me explain before I get carried away with more rhymes. Not that I am much of a rhymer, that was a fluke. Sometimes flukes work.

Am I writing gibberish to meet the hundred wordmark? Rain is loss. Loss of homes. Loss of lives. Loss of sunshine. Rain causes chaos and traffic and billboards to fall here in Nairobi. Rain is loss. Rain is gain. Gain of crops. Gain of trees. Gain of nature. Gain of vegetables and grains and wheat.

Rain is smell. Smells like a dream. Smells like something new. Smells like comfort. Smells like Home. Rain is thunder. Thunder is noise. Noise is fear. Noise are echoes. Noise is a calling. Come, see this rain. Come, hear this thunder. Come, witness this destruction. Come, experience this growth.

Rain is beauty. Rain is wonder. Rain is heavy.

Heavy, heavy rain.

Like right now.

Rain is God’s way of crying. That’s what my grandfather would say. But grandfather lived in a bubble of his own. He believed things that weren’t necessarily true. Rain is not God’s way of saying He is angry. Its clouds bursting, right? I am probably wrong.

I don’t know what rain is.

Rain is love. Rain is light. Rain is loss. Rain is gain. I am going round in circles aren’t I?

Let’s talk about fake rain, you know, the rain they have in Dubai. Where the heat is so blistering they need fake rain to cool down the temperatures. Shout out to climate change and global warming.

Maybe rain is anger. Anger from God for not looking after His planet. For treating it with so much disrespect we have a whole two words for it: climate change.

Rain is calmness. Hear its sound. You will automatically want to meditate. I almost wrote medicate there. Which reminds me, have your meds. So the rain doesn’t feel too heavy.

Rain is weight. The weight of water rushing down. The weight of floods piling up. The weight of puddles. Puddles to jump on. Puddles to drive on. Puddles that carry dirt. Rain is dirt, but it is also cleanliness. Rain wipes out any mess. Even the mess in your mind. It’s cleansing.

Rain is creation. It creates flowers and trees and prose and literature and music and dance. Rain is dance. Remember when SRK and Kajol danced in the rain. Have you ever danced in the rain? You should try it. It is freeing. Walking even in the rain. Is freeing.

Rain is freedom. Freedom is open. Raining is the opening of clouds. Clouds are letting go. Letting go of the rain. Let that be a metaphor for life. When our minds get all cloudy and we want to let go we let ourselves rain in the form of tears. Tears and anger and sadness and frustration.

Maybe grandfather was right, Rain is all of these things. God must be feeling all of these things. So He rains on us. She rains on us. God is a woman. I claim that. Many have claimed it before me. God is a woman. Rain is her feelings.

Rain is feelings. Feelings of what you ask?

Well I will be going round and round and round if I keep repeating myself on what rain is. Rain is a circle. A circle of puddles. A circle of traffic. A circle of an umbrella that keeps us safe. Rain is safety. It makes us want to crawl into our blankets for comfort. Rain is so many things.

I’ve lost direction of where this is going.

Rain is loss. Rain is gain. Rain is a cup of tea. Rain is bhajia and sauce and soda. Rain is a glass of wine. Rain is a dance. Rain is sex. Rain is gumboots and raincoats and hoodies. Rain is sneezes and coughs and sometimes snot.

Rain is gain. Rain is loss.

Rain is many things, and rain is pouring right now.

A tree has fallen and Oshwal centre is flooded and General Mathange has traffic. Rain has power. Rain is a storm. Like the people I love. Does that mean I should love rain? Is rain the depiction of the people I love? It might be.

I could keep writing. Gibberish and more gibberish. Are you enjoying this piece of work or do you want it to end?

A Playlist

I’ve been thinking a lot about music and the kind of music I listen to and what it probably means. I don’t even know how many of you will read to the end of this but here are some songs for you.

Memba – For Aisha: This song reminds me of when I used to swim lots, right before my brother’s wedding. It also reminds me of one of my friends, and I don’t know why. When I first heard this song I sobbed, because of the reason it was created.

Train Song – Gully Boy: I feel like this song is about hope. And it gives me a sense of hope, in a way. Especially the line: Sapne jinme ho aisi ho teri aankhe, pyaar mein jinme ho aisi hi teri bate, jin umide ho aise tere din ho, sapne jinme ho aisi ho teri aankhete. It is something I would wish for everyone.

Tune Kaha – Prateek Kuhad: If a city was a song, this would be London. This is the song I would dedicate to London and all that it gave me.

I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers: Because I wanna get better. I want to get better. This song is an apology of sorts for me. An apology to myself and others that I feel like I have hurt. I will do better. I can do better, I am sorry.

Les Wanyika – Sina Makosa: My walks. The London underground. And a feeling of homesickness, even though I am home.

Jeet – Ritviz: All those days I spent in London high as a kite, without worrying about anything at all. There is a sense of comfort and freedom I feel in listening to this song.

Bebi Bebi  – Nyashinski: I used to like someone very much. And this is the song I associated with them, strangely. All that is over now. I just like the song too much to stop listening to it now.

Nai Jaana – Neha Bhasin: I once read a book about the partition where two people in love were impacted by it, because one was Muslim and the other was Punjabi. One was left in India, the other in Pakistan. I don’t know what this song means, and I am pretty sure it’s a wedding song, but it reminds me of what I read in that story. It reminds me of love and loss.

Kahin Toh: Just reminds me of love, and whatever that means. At this point in time, I feel like the world is upset with me, and that’s one of the lines in the song. So to find that comfort in someone where that upset-ness goes away is what I miss, and is what I feel this song maybe signifies.

That’s all for today. Thanks for tuning in, haha.

 

 

What’s up?

I don’t know when the next time I will see my parents, siblings, cousins or friends will be. And while I live far away from all of them, it is a strange thought.

See, my parents stay in Dubai. My siblings and cousins and friends are sprawled across Dubai and India and London.

I miss them all. I worry about them all. And there isn’t much I can do except pray for them.

Weird isn’t it? Life under coronavirus.

I feel like we don’t talk about long-distance family relationships or friendships enough, do we? I wouldn’t even know what to say around it, even though nearly everyone I know lives in different continents.

Yesterday was just undoable by me. I slept for 15 hours, ate lots, and watched movies. I don’t know what else to do with myself. I do have a ton of work, but I can’t get myself to sit down and actually do the work. I am sure that’s okay. But I wish I had it in me to just do the work.

I find it uninteresting. My motivation is dwindling a bit too. But I need something to keep me going and to keep the hours passing, something, anything. So work will have to do.

I am literally just typing without thinking so this is almost like a journal entry. Dear Diary, I cannot do my work. Just kidding, I don’t start my journal entries with Dear Diary. Those days are long gone.

Thanks for reading this totally boring entry.

Bye for now!

So, let’s write, right?

I’ve been spending my time under isolation reading. All I do is read. It offers me an escape to another world completely, and that’s the beauty of it. What have you guys been doing? How have you been keeping it together?

I’ve tried to be productive, but it is simply not working. Today I made mandaazis with my sister, and they turned out to be delicious. Here is the recipe. Try it, go on.

I’ve been trying to be lenient to myself with what I eat, and as someone who struggles with body image, and on most days has disordered eating, making and eating the mandaazis was a feat of sorts. I am proud of myself.

I forgot to take my medication today, somedays I just do. I don’t think my therapist would be happy to hear that. I had an online session with her today, and she as well as some of my friends have suggested I get my blog up and running.

So this is me getting it up and running.

I am not sure what I am going to write about every day. But I am doing this thing where I listen to people more.

I hope you enjoy reading my content, and I will try to make it interesting.

I just finished reading The Woman In The Window, and it was amazing. I have a tendency to read mostly psychological thrillers or just thrillers. They make my heart race and make me want to keep reading and reading.

I am now reading Stay With Me. Let’s see how it goes.

I don’t have any more updates. If you read this, thank you.

Until tomorrow.

Us: In a parallel Universe.

You and I would still be together, four years strong. We would have invented new games to play, and I would tell you all about my day, even the most mundane of details.

You’d probably be glad that my phone anxiety has reduced and I can have more than a 3-minute conversation. I’d still be wearing all black, my hair still shoulder-length, and you, your shirt and pants and dreadlocks.

You’d still pick me up from the station and we would drive around with an updated playlist, replacing Cheerleader and Sura Yako and Humma Humma.

I’d still drag you along to Yoga at the park, and you’d still send me mirror selfies after working out at the gym in the middle of telling me all about work.

I’d read you my fiction and send you songs and write you mediocre poetry. I’d still be reading Arundhati Roy and you, some businessy book.

We’d share clothes and food. We’d share a cigarette and I would finally tell you how cool and not cute you look. We’d make strangers uncomfortable by holding hands and locking arms in public.

We’d attend pride together, under the UK sun, taking selfies and secretly sipping on gin and tonic.

We’d have debates again and then argue over our disagreements.

We’d kiss and have sex and laugh endlessly. Exchanging energies. Exchanging scents. Growing closer.

I’d entertain you with the news. We’d go to the cinema, for a Bollywood movie this time. We’d take that trip and have pancakes and roasted marshmallows.

In a parallel universe, I’d have said yes to you and not be sat miles away from you wondering what it would have been like even four years later, then maybe I could dedicate this or this to you, even though you wouldn’t understand a single word.

 

07.02.2020

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KSCPA, a few days into moving back

Today marks a whole year since I moved back to Nairobi, and it’s been a wonderful year. Yes, there have been very low lows, but they’ve also been very high highs.

I learned a lot this year, about myself, about my family and about everything else that came in between.

The year started off with me working at The Star newspaper, which was an amazing experience, to say the least. I got to learn about Kenyan journalism and got to bring some of my own stories as an Asian-Kenyan into the picture. I am also proud to have been the only Asian in the newsroom.

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 14.35.11Some of the pieces I am proud of the most are this period piece and about how it’s a taboo in my culture.

Also, this piece based on eating disorders in which people trusted me to share their stories and struggles with disorders. And to talk about what is rarely talked about in Kenyan society.

Then comes the piece about femicide in Kenya. While this one was difficult to write, it was an important piece to be written about the severity of the situation. I learned that the Kenyan patriarchy is not much different from the Indian one. And that male entitlement goes a long, long way.

Then, obviously, as a person that can obsess over a celebrity or a film that dare I say changed my life, I am glad to have written about how stunning Alia Bhatt looked in the Kalank promotions. And to read tweet upon tweet of all the theories around the film Us, which I watched three times in the cinema! And once on a flight from here to London.

That’s all about work. I am so grateful for the people I have met along the way. And none of this would have been possible without the people by my side, telling me that I got this. For pushing me. For calling me out. For believing in me. I owe so much to them.

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My light

After The Star came a few months of silence. I didn’t do that much in terms of work but I spent time being there for family and friends who needed my support.

Fast forward to now. I am part of a creative writing workshop, I am learning the guitar, and I am soon to be a teacher (God willing!).

I built my relationship with God, and while that is rocky, I once heard someone say, it is hard with God, imagine how hard it is without God. And while I don’t want to impose religion or God on anyone, God and temple visits have been my saving grace this year.

I read a few books, I read up on the news, and I am active again with Indian news on Twitter.

In my year here, I have struggled with my mental health, my food and weight more than anytime before. I have learned and seen enough to know that this isn’t the end of my journey, and that there is a way out. I finally started therapy and am on medication my mood disorder and my depression. It hasn’t been easy, but I know it will get better with time.

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Where I go to do my creative writing workshops

Being Kenyan and Asian has its own struggles. Struggles of not being Kenyan enough and of not being Asian enough. But the other day, a friend asked me a simple question.

“What does your passport say?”

“Kenya”

And that did it. I know I am Kenyan, and I belong here.

There have been ups in this year, and there have been downs. For both I am grateful.

To the people in my life, I say thank you. To those that have encouraged me, I say thank you. To those that have been there for me, I say thank you. For those that include me in their projects, I say thank you.

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View from Diamond Plaza

This post is dedicated to all of you.

A friend told me once the day they decided to be friends with their home city is when things fell into place.

So to Nairobi, I say, I am ready to be friends with you, you are, after all, the city I call home.

Onwards and upwards.

x

 

 

 

You

You’re at the salon (saloon?). You’re staring at yourself in the mirror, pretty unsure of who is looking back. It’s hard to recognize yourself, almost. Who is thinking these thoughts? Are you thinking to think these thoughts? What’s going on? He’s come to massage your back while you wait for your hair to get done. You’re doing your hair because you are bored. Privilege looks like straight hair with shades of brown. The massage is the only form of human contact you’ve got in days. You realize it’s wrong to maybe think that. You don’t have change to tip anyone. All your change is spent on Ubers and bodas. You think about yesterday’s boda ride. What would have happened if the accident had happened? Would you be seriously injured or dead? Would your helmet have flown off? What would have happened if you died? You make conversation with the guy giving you a massage. Tell him you need to pee. You pee with the cubicle door open. Regard to laziness or carelessness. You study yourself in the mirror there. Who are you? What are you doing here? You wash your hands and walk out of the toilet. The corridor smells of a smoked cigarette. Smoking in enclosed spaces has a fine of up to 50,000. Someone is brave. You purse your lips thinking about how brave you’d become with smoking in public now. It’s time to do your hair. You break out of your thought process:

  • Aren’t you tired?
  • I used to this. I’m just feeling hot.

Back to thinking. Your hair gets done. It feels so delicate. You feel like a glass doll. You wait for your aunt to come to pick you up. You need to get a licence. You feel a sudden pang of hunger. A result of the new medication you’re on.

Who is thinking these thoughts?

Blow Out The Candles

By Samira Sawlani 

It’s my birthday on the 3rd of November.

Of course I won’t tell you how old I am, the patriarchal conditioning within me which I am trying to unlearn remains very much attached to the idea of concealing one’s number of years in existence, if only to cover up the shame I feel for ‘not being where I should be’ by ‘x-age’.

It’s like carrying a mixture of a stop and an apple watch on your person at all times, you can never get away from the tick-tock sound it makes while simultaneously seeing the notifications come up.

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‘It has been two years since you got a promotion, where is the career progression?’

‘It has been 15 years since you started menstruating where are the kids?’

‘It has been 30 years since you arrived on this planet, time to buy a property?’

And before you know it you’re sitting in an Italian restaurant, weighed down by copious amounts of bread (if nothing else then your digestive system will definitely remind you of your age tomorrow), surrounded by friends and family singing an out of tune rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, about to blow out your candles, and in a blur of it all as someone shouts ‘make a wish’, and all you really want to wish for is a time machine.

So that you could go back in time and tweak a few things, okay maybe more than a few, okay fine you would change most of it.

If only I had avoided meeting that person, taken a different train, gotten off the bus, gone to the gym more, studied a different degree, not bought that overpriced (and now that you think about it, hideously ugly) red coat, turned left instead of right, begun reading Marx in pre-school, enrolled for French classes, dumped that guy, said hello to the postman… things would have been different. I would be where I ‘should be.’

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The human mind seems to have a natural inclination to compare itself to other people, to measure its achievements and failures against those of those around us and the societal standards seemingly ‘set’ for us.

Comparing ourselves to others is a form of self-evaluation and a way to judge others, in some ways it is survival.

The modern-day entities that are social media apps, influencers, twelebs and reality stars and social media apps often aid this.

This is not to say that prior to this the pressures of achieving certain things by a certain age, were not a thing.

Growing up in India, my mum’s sisters and brothers were all married between the ages of 17-23, the earlier the better, and if you got there before 23, you were safe ‘married by 23- tick.’

My rebellious mother had decided that this was not a path she was interested in taking and so with every birthday that came her way, there was a reminder from the audience that was so invested in the movie of her life that she was falling behind.

It’s almost like a pressure cooker, you are like a pot, someone throws in ‘singleness’, another person throws in ‘still living at home’, in goes a sprinkle of ‘no savings’ and a garnish of ‘childless’, on goes the lid, they keep putting up the fire.

And boom.

An explosion.
BF498026-DBEA-496F-A291-ABC8383E0154 (1)Throughout my childhood and early teenage years, I would struggle to sleep in the lead up to my birthday, excitement keeping me awake.

It was never about the presents or the cake or the party or the pretty dress I would wear.

It was always about having a day which was just mine.

After all your Date of Birth is kind if important is it not? Stated clearly on every important document you are ever likely to possess.

A year older, as a child it felt like one year closer to freedom.

Except at some point, it no longer felt that way.

All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, there came a slight feeling of dread on the day itself.

Perhaps it was from opening Facebook to see an array of ‘Happy Birthday!’ messages (from people you have not seen or heard from in about ten years, yet twice a year you interact online to wish each other using two words and an exclamation mark).

Somewhere on that newsfeed, you see someone announce a pregnancy, another person starts a new job, another invite you to the housewarming of a property they have just purchased.

And while you feel joy for them, you cannot quite push aside that feeling of ‘another year older, and what have I done with my life?’

In this space there is no room for challenging your thoughts, the speed with which you fall into that abyss, leaving behind the balloons and the cards and the unopened gifts because really, what does any of it mean when you aren’t where you should be?

And then one day you get a call, a beloved family member has died.

She was young.

It was unexpected.

Never again on the morning of your birthday will you hear her voice on the phone.

She was the colour yellow.

Luminous.

Winsome.

Joy.

She was.

Absence is so heavy.

And in that moment you realise that the goalposts have been moved so far you can no longer see them.

There are no more timelines.

There is nothing.

All of a sudden, that morning you woke up and stared out of the window overlooking Nairobi, that afternoon walk in rainy London, the touch of a leather jacket, that time you chose to see a distraught friend instead of finish that job application, those moments take on a different meaning.

For while death may remind you of your own mortality and may push you towards staying on the hamster wheel of ‘achieving’, it also reminds you that there is more than ticking boxes, there is more than keeping up appearances.

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On my first birthday since that loss, I tasted every morsel of food that went into my mouth.

I savoured every bite.

No longer governed by the thought of ‘I should be this weight by this age.’

I stood outside in the Autumn-Winter hybrid London air and felt the cold against my face and I held my breath.

I savoured living.

I savoured life.

Later there was candles and cake and the sound of out of tune singing.

No thoughts to drown these out.

Just laughter.

(Picture credits: Larutadel Tumblr, Mirinda M Pinterest & Samira Sawlani)