I’m at the airport

Half crying, half trying to pull myself together.

Change is temporary, it always is.

Is it cliché for me to look at the people around me and wonder what their trips looked like.

Who did they visit?

Family, friends, lovers, their pets, loneliness?

Are they happy to going back to where they are going? Are they going back at all? Or is it a quick trip to a fun, sunny, beachy destination.

That’s where I imagine people always go. To fun and beachy and sunny places. I mean, that’s what they’ve fed us as the ultimate place to be, right?

There’s someone opposite me reading The Powers of Blood (if that is an entirely made up book, I am sorry, I can’t see short distances or long distances most times – despite my massive glasses.)

Speaking of glasses, one of part of me wants to grab a glass of wine. Another part of me tells me, don’t drink anything because then you will want to smoke and smoking is illegal in this building.

And heaven knows being in trouble by the law isn’t something I plan on doing in 2019. Or ever.

So I got a copy of My Sister The Serial Killer.

I’m in a (for lack of a better word) weird state of mind. I used to be excited to be at airports at one point in my life.

I would dress up. And by dressing up I mean: Get my hair done. Put some make up. And even Instagram a selfie with Gifs and all round-wit from the airport’s washroom’s full mirror.

But now?

I am not particularly excited to be here.

There’s a sense of unsettled strangeness.

I am on the plane now.

I am going back home.

Home is Nairobi. Nairobi is home.

I’ll see you there, readers.

A Playlist

i.

‘I don’t know what’s wrong with my sister. I don’t get her. Can you check she’s okay?’

She read the message on his phone when he was outside smoking. Her heart dropped and she knew immediately she had to leave. He was halfway through his cigarette when she met him outside.

“Do you want me to walk you to the station?”

“I am okay. I will see you next week.”

A lie.

They kissed.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

All he got was a text message.

The song they listened to was number one on her playlist.


ii.

“I dated a Kenyan girl once, and she showed me the exact same song,” she rolled her eyes.

“Okay, but I bet you’ve not heard THIS one,”

They were driving along the jam-packed streets of Dubai to “this epic sports bar that has a jukebox, trust me, you will love it”.

She hit play.

“I like this, humma humma humma humma humma,” she sang.

Now at the Epic Sports Bar With A Jukebox.

“You look cute smoking that cigarette,”

“Cute? I am supposed to be looking tough.”

They part ways before she could translate the song for her.

Song number two.


iii.

Her father came bearing gifts each time he would visit.

“Is everything okay? Here these are for you…”

His visits never had a set timing. Sometimes he’d stay a month. Sometimes two weeks. And sometimes an hour.

She’d take the gifts and run off.

A pattern she was now used to.

There was a shift in the pattern when she left home one day, unsure of whether she would return in a day, a week or two months.


iv.

“I want to be in a band. Imagine being like him, and having that sense of style? Come, let’s dance!”

 

v.

“I can see that you are an expert at running away.”

Every day seems to be on repeat.

The discomfort of being in a place that carries so many memories. Fighting the urge to slip.

Eating. Sleeping. Smoking.

Scrolling endlessly through the happy faces on Instagram, what must it be like to be them?

Watching endlessly the fake happiness of people in the movies.

One friend is a doctor. One is getting married. One is moving to Canada.

Life isn’t really waiting.

*

(Picture credit: Pinterest) 

 

 

 

 

Teacup: please stop spinning

Our childhood house had a medium sized garden. And there was this large fence covered with trees and leaves working as a partition from our neighbour’s house.

We couldn’t access the neighbour’s house from our compound. But there was a little gap in between the bushes that we could possibly fit into as children had we tried.

And we would spend days just looking into the neighbour’s house.

They had two daughters and a dog.

It felt like a such a far away place.

I’m not sure if it was real or a figment my imagination, but it sticks very vivid in my memories from that time.

And as a child, I’d often wonder what would happen if I went through the gap and into the neighbour’s house.

Would my family come searching for me? Would I be forgotten? Would I make it back?

When I was little, I would wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning with a strange fear.

It would involve me being in a massive field, or a never ending black space, entirely alone.

It was almost as if I had braved the crawl through that gap.

The place would be so dark, cold and eerie.

I would spot my loved ones at a distance, but either they were slipping away from me, or I was slipping away from them.

It was terrifying.

And this visual has recurred over the course of my growing up.

A few mornings ago I woke up, sweaty, with that same feeling, and I burst into tears asking God to watch over the people that I love.

I tried to tell myself that it’s just a nightmare, a bad feeling, and somewhere in between the process I realized it is perhaps the fear of me losing touch with myself.

Of me no longer recognizing me.

I see snapshots the way you see the background spin and blur when you’re on a really fast teacup ride.

Half shutting your eyes, bargaining with your body to please not throw up.

I am laughing. My mum is there, my sisters, my aunties, my friends, the roads of all the cities I’ve lived in, the dreams I had are all there.

They’re looking at me.

I try to call out at them, but my voice is blocked by a playlist of the songs I listened to growing up mixed with the sounds of their laughter.

I beg my body to relax, but it is slipping away.

Everything is spinning fast. Everything is blurry. I am starting to slip away.

And I am terrified.

*

Hi

I am so plotless.

Wait, let me explain.

I have a flight to Mombasa tomorrow and I don’t have my passport. It’s with the British embassy.

(Such a first world problem because I can probably travel with my ID/Old passport – except the details we put in are of my new passport, so help me god!)

I know I am just worrying without reason.

I know it is going to be fine.

I am writing on here because I am bored. And I’ve been told I need different coping mechanisms for when I am bored (achievements?).

So why am I going to Mombasa?

My aunt’s friend has a wedding, and I tagged along last minute with my cousins.

Why?

Because I don’t want to be by myself (anywhere but here).

Anyway.

What’s new with me? (A fair amount)

Why does it matter? (Because I am human?)

Who reads this? (As long as you write, someone will read)

Are you still reading? (Please say yes.)

Maybe I’ll write about Mombasa.

I am really really really bored. And lately I’ve been struggling to see ahead. I know I’ll make it in the far-fetched sense of making it. But I am not sure if I will make it or just bear it (is that the right bear?)

I spoke on the phone twice today and messaged people and replied to comments on (the gram) and sat outside with my aunt’s friend to have a full conversation on how much I don’t like the new job. (communication?)

(With this blog post you’d think all I do is complain.)

I went to the temple I did as a kid and I went for coffee with my younger sister and I made her laugh like the old days. (enjoyment?)

I had three mugs of coffee today (one was decaf).

I’ll update you (readers, do you exist?) from Mombasa.

I am bored and I will find something else to do now.

Bye.

Escape: at the salon

“Hey, oh my god, you’re Alia, right?”

“Rahila, Alia is my sister…well, cousin,”

“Ahh right, sorry,”

“No, no, people mix us up all the time,”

“I wouldn’t expect to see you here…”

“What, doing my hair?”

“No, look don’t get me wrong or anything,” she shifts in her chair causing the lady doing her hair to flinch, “just out in public,” she pauses, staring at Rahila, and whispers, “you know after everything that went down with the family.”

“I mean…”

“I mean it’s great and all but gosh you’ve got a lot of guts…” tsk “here at Joe’s?”

“It’s a good place, no?”

“Sure, sure…” she shifts again, the frustration is visible on the lady’s face “so, did he really do it?”

”You’ve read what the papers have said, right?”

“I mean, yes”

“And so you have your answer”

“Look, you don’t have to be afraid of me and and like-”

“Seema auntie, I respect you, look-”

“Please just call me Seem-”

“What’s happened has happened and will continue to happen most probably, who knows, right? It is not linked with me really, not really, it’s not, not, so why don’t you worry about you and I’ll worry about m-”

“Not linked with you?”

“No, not really, I mean, it’s not,”

“Whose funding your hair today?”

“Well…”

“That’s what I thought,” she let out a sigh “Alia, look,”

“It’s Rahila,”

Rahiilla, Rahila, right…you want to escape all of this”

“…um, yeah, I guess…it’s just”

“That wasn’t a question…come with me after and I’ll show you what to do.”

*

To anyone that is struggling,

If you feel so horrible that you can’t sleep because you’re terrified of tomorrow, take a step back and look at all the other days which terrified you, and you still made it through.

See, you are so brave.

I know the voices in your head are loud. But hear me when I say, that you are loved. You’re not a burden. Your friends and your family care about you.

And no, you are not too much.

Please don’t hurt yourself. Because if you’re like me at all, you’ll want to do it again and again and again.

Instead, try to breathe. Imagine what colours would feel like. And have water. Have lots and lots of water.

Create a playlist of your favourite songs. Remind yourself that there will always be songs to add to that playlist. And you gotta stick around to hear them.

Think of your favourite book or film or TV show, and the comfort in reading them or watching them again and again.

And while you’re at it:

Hold on to the beauty of little things. Like how red and blue and white make purple. Or how you can get pictures taken in the middle of a busy street and have them printed in just five minutes.

Or how you can create anything, and I mean anything from a blank canvas.

And when none of these seem to work, remind yourself of your favourite memories with your best friends and your family. There will be more of those. And you gotta stick around to experience them.

I know your appetite has gone. But try to eat a small amount. One spoon for yourself and for your favourite celebrity maybe? (mine would be Tatiana Maslany).

Call your friends. Tell them you are struggling. Be honest. They will understand. They will help you. They love you.

Speak to a therapist. It’s okay. They will help you.

Have your vitamins and your medicines and your fruits, too.

You are not alone. Look up at the stars. See the trees around you. There’s magic where you stand. The whole universe is with you.

You are loved.

Maya & Rani

“Stay alive for the kids.”

“Isn’t it stay together for the kids?”

“What?”

“That Blink 182 song? It’s stay together for the kids”

“I’m not talking about Blink 182”

“No?”

“Look, Maya, please.”

“Please what?”

“Can you stop diverting the conversation?”

“I’m not diverting the conversation, I’m just telling you the right words to the Blink 182 song.”

“Maya this isn’t about Blink….” Rani rises from the seat and sighs, “look, Maya, I am your friend and I ca-”

“My friend?”

“Maya, please.”

Maya rolls her eyes, lets out a scoff, turning the lighter on and off.

“Maya, look, you know, you know after all that’s happened with you, I can’t be associated with you, I mean look at the news and the cha-”

There is a power cut.

“Fuck this fucking electricity.”

“What, are you scared of the dark now?”

Maya keeps the lighter switched on. She begins humming stay together for the kids.

Rani sighs.

The power is back on. Maya places the lighter in her pocket. She stops humming.

“Look, Maya everything that has gone down, you, your name, everyone knows and I cannot be seen with you, and then there’s this job, and my…my…my…”

“Your fame?”

Rani began to raise her voice at Maya.

“My CAREER, my GOALS, you know how long it took me to get here…you kn-”

“Why are you here?”

“What?”

“Why are you here?”

“Maya I”

Rani’s phone rings. She speaks in a low tone. Maya guesses it’s her grandmother.

Maya starts rolling a joint.

Rani hangs up.

“Well?”

“Maya, look. Please. Here are this week’s consignments, these are the addresses, you will get the mon-”

“I know how it works.”

“I’ll come back to see you.”

“What? When you run out of people to deliver your shit?” She twirls the joint between her fingers. “Also isn’t this the perfect roll? You’ve taught me so well, you know,”

“God damn it, Maya, I’m trying to help you out here.”

Maya lights the joint.

“And can you please stop that?”

*

 

16-26

(TW: weight)

I am 26 and now at the weight I “dreamed” to be at when I was 16.

It’s odd because it doesn’t seem like much of an achievement. I know my 16 year old self would be over the moon. Finally, I finally made it.

I know it’d be all over my Tumblr “fitness” blog, because I’d kept one. I’d follow a bunch of thinspo blogs. Obsessing over “ideal” weights and thigh gaps and food diaries and calories. My followers would be so proud of me.

I wonder if my then-nutritionist/fitness instructor would be proud of me. I can imagine her smile, to be honest.

This obsession with weight stopped when I turned 21, then came back in 2017.

And since then, this need to be thin has been on my mind almost everyday.

Over my last few months in London I remember specifically trying to see how many times I could wrap a towel around my body.

It all takes up a lot of my headspace and I wonder what’s made it worse.

Is it the multiple times people warning me, you look good now, don’t go back to who you were. Or the don’t you feel so much better now that you’re smaller? Or the dozens of recommendations I get to lose more weight.

At 16 I thought that when I reached this “goal” weight, my life would immediately be in order.

And is it?

Nope.

Hardly.

I mean it depends. Yes, I work. Yeah, I have a roof over my head and warmth and comfort.

But how am I doing really?

There’s very high ups and very low downs.

There’s a bunch of anxiety and tears. There’s the stepping on the weighing scale multiple times. There’s the thousands of apologies and promises to everyone around me. There’s the you need to be strongs, you need to do this. There’s my mind that refuses to stop the noise. And a ton of sleep in between.

That’s today, at least. I’m not sure about yesterday. I don’t really want to think about tomorrow.

I was naive at 16. And at 26, I’m trying to understand why this desire lingers still.

To my 16 year old self, I want to say, look, you made it. You’re at your “ideal” weight, it’s yours to keep.

I hope you are happy now.

*

(featured image courtesy of: pinterest, libra artsy scale)

Grandma’s Playlist

My grandmother always told me that I should become a storyteller. She said I would never get bored. There would always be Another Story to tell.

“Every day will be completely different, can you imagine?”

Grandma was not wrong. Every day is different, but it is also a whirlwind of the same different thing every day.

“Nothing changes in my world, but everything around me is constantly changing,” I told her.

“Your generation lacks patience. Just wait. Just wait.”

I’ve been waiting for seven years now, and grandma decided she wanted to leave, and so she did.

She disappeared with the wind and never looked back.

Was that what she’d asked me to wait for? She was like that, you know? Always cracking jokes under the pretence of telling us to find some deep meaning in life.

She was my bundle of joy.

Grandma left me with a strange gap in my life. And I started to fill that gap with stories.

Stories about what the President said on that day and what the Senator thinks of this and why we shouldn’t implement a new housing tax.

There is always Another Story for me to lose myself in, and grandma was right, everyday is different.

But sometimes different can start feeling like an illusion. And you begin to wonder which part of the story really matters.

What am I doing here? Why did he say this? Why are all these people around me? What are they thinking about? And does it really even matter in the grander scale of things?

I wish she was around to answer these questions for me.

“Please let me disappear,” I’d said to her some three years before she left.

And she’d reply by singing her favorite song, which at the time was, Dhol Yaara Dhol.

Don’t ask, grandma was weird and I never fully understood where she’d learned these songs from. She had her own playlist of music.

But there she was, singing and taking me with her voice.

I’ve been wanting to disappear again. So as grandma would, I let the music take me.

My mind travels with the music. My thoughts appear right before the chorus.

I can’t smoke anymore, not when I’m living here. Please don’t let me cut myself again. See, it’s hard to stop when I start. And I can’t remember why I started. I can’t find the inspiration to work on Another Story.

And as always, my thoughts land on grandma.

What song would I have sung to grandma if she’d told me she was planning on disappearing. Would my voice have convinced her to stay? Is she finally living the life she was destined to? Is she out there creating Another Story for herself? Had she updated her playlist?

The song comes to a sudden halt. Fucking wifi. I connect to my phone to 3G and hit play again.

My thoughts have disappeared. The music has taken me. I am going. I am going. I am gone.

How are you?

It’s a cycle.

There’s a bunch of voices in my head.

One says, “stop it, you are fine.”

One tells me to think of Orphan Black, Sarah Manning in particular.

Sarah Manning / Courtesy

One holds up a picture of my sister.

There’s bouts of inspiration. Ideas.

Yes, this makes sense.

Then there’s: well what’s the Point?

tumblr_lznlek5zyL1qdes1mo1_500

What a trip.

I distract myself and find things to obsess over.

Right now it’s Us. I am trying to figure out everything about Us. The theories. The interviews. Lupita Nyong’o’s incredible incredible acting.

I draw parallels. Us and Orphan Black (the clones + nature v/s nurture [edit: omg, down the rabbit hole]). Us and Andhadhun (using the rabbits as a form of symbolism).

Us and Orphan Black and Andhadhun.

The ‘clones’ and nature v/s nurture: the differences in the behaviour of all the sestras, especially Sarah and Helena, but also a sense of similarity (in the care and love for Kira, and the babies). And also, the differences between, in particular, between Adelaide and Red, pre and post the switch.

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The rabbits [and down the rabbit hole]: In Adndhadhun, the rabbit gave us the biggest clue as to whether he was blind on both eyes, on one eye, or not blind at all. In Orphan Black, it was down the rabbit hole to go back to the beginning and figure out where the Leda and Castor clones came from. And in Us, the rabbits were food. They’re so many of them [a reference to the cloning of the Tethered – I read this somewhere.] And down the rabbit hole to find a different-but same life like yours [also read this].

I think of my happiest happy song.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

How are you doing?