This will be a wild ride

Dear sweet beautiful girl, I call you beautiful because I know that you don’t think of yourself as this yet. Yes you are popular in school, for brains not for beauty. Your oily skin causes you to have acne and this is making your existence small. You imagine it will always be like this your whole life, never a chance at being beautiful, oil pouring from your face, forming small oil lakes at your feet covering lovers, friends, everyone. Worry not sweet child, your will discover skin care products that cater to your skin type and the acne will soon be gone. I wish I could show you that acne or no acne, your value is undeniable but you will eventually learn this.

I come back to this era of your life because I know that you need me. You are 17 and about to complete high school.

Veronicah from Christian Union has a dream, in the dream you, Wairimu worship the devil. She tells this to everyone including the teachers who believe her. Nobody will sit next to you in class. This is complete hogwash; it reveals to you how you can be traumatized in the hands of those in authority, the very people who are supposed to protect you. There is a voice within you telling you to stay strong, a soft but strong knowing that you will survive this lie. This my dear, is the voice of God, it will come to you over and over again throughout your life. Veronica has another dream, says she made a mistake. Shame on all of you. (Too petty? I don’t care anymore)

You love your grandmother deeply and spend your school holidays at her house. She is a hardworking, beautiful unapologetic warrior woman, you do not know this yet but you will turn out to be very much like her. She has a small jembe custom made for you, you go to the farm together, work from morning to evening .You see how she treats her workers with kindness, sternness and respect. These are lessons on hard work and how to treat people. On Saturdays, you both rest. You also wash and oil her now graying hair. On Sundays you go to church. There is a guest bedroom but you prefer to sleep with her in her warm bed. She laughs at you when you accidentally let out a loud fart, you hide your face, embarrassed but smiling. She drives you to your first day in high school and picks you up when you graduate. She is your favorite person in the world.

Enjoy this priceless moments, she will not always be there. Her passing will obliterate you; it will feel like a bad dream. You will come away bruised, you will come away lost and broken. She will always be your first love

24

Cucu has been very sick, you’re afraid she is about to die, you can feel it. Your aunt takes you out as a distraction. You know what is coming. You drink until you cannot feel your face. That night you kiss a girl, a friend’s girlfriend. You are not right in the head,  you are aching, confused, mad,  just crazy with it all (with this heavy loss that you know is coming). A bad thing is about to happen, and you cannot run from it. Your grandmother dies the following week on Tuesday.

Tony walks into the room, cigarette in hand, and hugs you for a long time. You are sick with grief, barely there but he is here on time when you need him…you don't even have to ask. You broke up with him and he is here. Sometimes when something horrible is happening, something utterly beautiful can also be happening.

‘What do you need, what do you need?’ He asks, so quickly.

‘I don’t know’ you say swallowing pain like shards of glass.

You will be lost for a few years after she leaves, grief is a heavy difficult weight. Your writing will be paralyzed, unable to move. You need to write to heal, to breathe, to be (it is a physical need) and yet to write would mean to confront this loss, this heavy absence. You are not ready.

Aunt not Mom, Mom not Aunt: One of the most important people in your life. Another love of your life, Rael your father’s sister, you are yet to meet her but when you do oh love it will be the best thing. Aunt turned mother and friend. She will hold your hand through every step of your late teens and your twenties: the bad, the good and the ugly.

There is an empty hole where your father is supposed to love you. You crave him, deeply. You are love hungry. Sometimes during a parent/teacher event you make him out in the crowd and wave with excitement (you know it’s not really him, it’s make-believe). I wish I could promise you that it gets better sweet girl. What I can say for sure is that, it’s not you, its him and that you are worthy of love. You will date a few men like your father, tall, handsome, dreamy and never quite there, always elusive, leaving you wanting more, always hungry, always sick with want. You find the unavailable alluring, with its madness and chaos and games. You think anything else is boring. This is not love, you deserve better, from the lovers and from yourself.

Sometimes when you wear a short dress, you will hear your dead grandmother’s voice disapproving. Tell grandma that it is okay , that while you love her and the women in your life very much , you are not meant to turn out exactly like them, to mirror their existence. You have earned the right to be your own woman to carve your own journey. Tell her about the years of shame around your curvy body, baggy sweaters to hide in, nipples hardened pushing through the parsley of your blouse before any of the girls your age, how Mr. Njogu your English teacher would ask you to take off your sweater for afternoon lessons and tell you not to be ashamed of your beautiful body. They were just a hard painful rock then, not yet fully formed breasts. Sick pervert. I wonder what happened to him.

Tell her about the harassment and the groping and the bad things, things that made you cower and retreat deep into yourself. Tell her about the memory of your mother falling to the ground and rolling on the floor of your apartment when you told her. Tell her that you have had enough, that this is your time, you are reclaiming your body from them, taking back what they took from you (bastards, cowards). You are unlearning shame and embracing your body and it feels amazing.

Stop worrying so much about your weight. You think that skinny is the price you have to pay to live on earth, that you must be pleasant and attractive and dainty so that boys will like you. You are wrong. The people who truly care about you do not care much for how you look. Eat your food, enjoy it, cleanse your pallet with good wine, laugh with your whole body and cry, yes cry wild.

When the supervisor at your first job says he feels the urge to spank your round ass and asks ‘’hypothetically speaking‘’ what you like in bed if he were to fuck you, report him; do not remain silent for fear of rocking the boat. Your silence will free him to keep doing this to other women long after you have left.

After him there will be the lanky bespectacled Manager who, when you walk into his office, will ask how you live life with the knowledge that men think about having sex with you the moment you walk into a room. You will swallow rage like a sword, and say that you would prefer to be valued for your work and not for how you look. He will press on, asking more questions. You will report him not to HR but to his boss, but nothing will be done. It’s a sexist boy band and there are no snitches. Leaving this job will be the best thing you do for yourself.

In the middle of the night, when both of you are sufficiently wine drunk your best female friend will tell you that she is in love with you and that she wants to be in a relationship. She will propose fake dating your then boyfriends so that nobody knows. It will be clear that she has thought about this. She will tell you how during sleepovers she sometimes wakes up to watch you sleep. Treat this confession with gentleness even as you say no. Do not condemn her, understand that sexuality is complicated and we are all just figuring out what works for us.

You are born in a family where people like to sweep things under the rug; sweep them and sweep them until someone explodes. You do not want this to be your story. You will have to dig deep and do the emotional work to unlearn this, to learn the value of good communication, and truth even when it is uncomfortable. This will not be fun, but it will be worth it.

You have grandiose ideas about who you are meant to be, ‘’so young, so talented, so rich.’’ You see a Lamborghini in a music video and decide immediately that you want that by the time you are twenty. These expectations of yourself will rob you of your actual ‘’small’’ wins. Let them go .Yes you are gifted, yes you are special but success will not happen immediately like in the movies. You will have to put in real work and be patient. You will be torn between your health degree and making art. Follow your heart. Nobody ‘’discovers’’ you, but the best thing happens, you discover yourself and she is magnificent.

There is so much you are yet to experience kid, both good and challenging. Trust yourself; trust the natural and compassionate flow of the universe. This will be a wild ride, see you on the other side. I love you!

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