Dear Haki

Your heart is broken. Literally broken. Because the pain that you are feeling as the boyfriend of your eighteen year old self is moving to another country has indeed torn your heart apart.

You don’t even get the opportunity to see him off at the airport because your mother is not only unmoved by the near hysteria accompanying your snot filled tears, she is almost apoplectic with laughter at the thought that you honestly believed she would drive you across Nairobi at night to see this boy off.

Even though things hadn’t been going great in the last few weeks, you couldn’t contemplate life without him. Not hanging out on the phone or in person at your parents bookshop, with his friends at his folks place in Kileleshwa as you laughed at the crude jokes of teenage boys. You’ve always been a good girl. Its par for the course when you grow up as the first born in your family with a Catholic school education. Letting the folks down and the fear of eternal damnation served you well. For even as you were completely enamored by this cute boy, you didn’t sleep with him. Even though there was ample opportunity, it was a line you were just not willing to cross. I’m so glad you didn’t. Never mind that today twenty years on, he is far from cute, or cool, or close to any of the benchmarks which now matter in your life. Who knew that the 19-year old version of him was his pinnacle?

I know you didn’t have regrets about that decision, but you always wondered – how that road may have been different, would he have loved you more, would he not have cheated on you like you found out soon after he left? Looking back twenty years later, I can so deeply affirm that staying true to you was the right thing. Even though in that moment of a shattering heart you thought could never be pieced back together again. It turns out your heart didn’t shatter, it was only a shard – piercing but healable.
You bounced back. All it was, was a lesson in life’s journey about what matters. A test of what you were really made of in the difficult moments, though you could not see it at the time.

You see – you didn’t fold under pressure. The interminable pressure of handsome boy and a thumping heart. And the prize? You kept not folding for things that ultimately didn’t matter – when pressure in the workplace tried to haul you along, when people tried to undermine you, when things didn’t fit your moral code tried to crush you. Perhaps it was never about not giving in to sex, but rather putting in place a foundation stone that stood a harrowing tempest, one which birthed other stones in the building of you.

You stood for you – and its done some pretty amazing things for us.


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