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.
Some 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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.