S.O.S: Procrastination and Other Short Stories…

So, I’ve come to realize that procrastination (in the case of assignments ESPECIALLY) is like pregnancy.

1. It has a gestation period, after which it has to be pushed out. The due date and time are mostly the submission day, a few hours to the submission deadline.

2. It gives you mood swings and cravings. Any time the assignment is mentioned, your mood becomes tumultuous, murderous even! But everything else OTHER than the assignment puts you in a good- if not utterly exhilarating- mood.

You crave to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING OTHER than the assignment. That’s the time you realize how dirty/untidy your abode is, yet all other times you hate cleaning. All of a sudden you develop (seasonal) OCD. This is also the season you notice how there’s hidden art in the paint on your wall, and how imaginary friends do in fact exist.

3. You know how babies kick as they grow bigger in the womb? That’s exactly how that assignment keeps kicking your conscience the closer the “due date” gets, and you’re there watching a movie/sleeping/chilling/being lazy… Generally doing everything BUT the assignment.

Image result for four horsemen of procrastination

4. Gives you insomnia and sleeping difficulty towards the “due date”.

5. The closer to the “due date”, the more tired and restless you get. If anything, you start experiencing Braxton Hicks in the form of panic attacks, chills cascading down your spine, heat and sweat flushes, and palpitations because well, the due date is nigh, and you are so heavily pregnant with assignment procrastination, it is just ready to come out of you! Let’s not even get into the dangerously high blood pressure that jumps into the bandwagon for the ride.

6. You go through ACTUAL LABOUR when “delivering” the assignment.

This is mostly because you actually started working on the assignment 10 hours before it was due. It is thus an excruciating process to go through the myriads of articles/ pieces of relevant literature and cook up a report that will give you enough marks to justify:

a) why you are worthy of being in grad school in the first place

b) the millions you’re spending on tuition fees instead of investing in land or a small business or something back at home.

7. After “delivery”, you just want to eat and sleep (in no particular order) FIRST before taking time to appreciate/feel proud/be mesmerized by the “fruit of your loins”.

 

*********

Seriously though, y’all have no idea how many “procrastination babies” I’ve borne over the past couple of years. And it is not only with regard to school work, sometimes it stretches out its tentacles to all other spheres of life. It is a monster that needs to be slayed. or is it slewn? slewed? slew? slay? slain? (I’ll check the correct word later). But, you catch the drift, no?

On that note, I do believe the time is ripe for a procrastinator support group was founded. I would join ASAP. I mean ASAT. As Soon As Tomorrow.

 

 

“SURPRISE!”: Tales of my mother’s ‘fro

She has the afroest afro that has ever afro’d!

~ Kemunto Omari

 

So, last week (or the other week) we were having the random exchange of texts with my mom we have from time to time (we are more phone call people than text people) when she sent a text that completely altered the fabric of my childhood, present and view of the future.

Some things have remained constant throughout time since I was born.

All the countries outside Africa being referred to as “America” by my country people, and all laundry powder being referred to as “Omo”.

Two other things that also used to be constant in no particular order:

  1. You could NEVER sleep without sheets. TWO sheets. The folded one and flat one. My mum would never hear of it. Regardless of what time of the night it was or how deep a slumber you were in, you HAD to wake up and do your bed properly, even if it meant being woken up using water.
  2. My mother’s delayed punishment, especially when it came to curfew time. See, when we were younger, curfew was set at 6.00PM. Come in 5 minutes late and you better come up with an Oscar-worthy tale of how you were kidnapped but fought tooth-and-nail Bruce Lee style to escape your assailants in order to make it home on time. And your tale better be compete with a soundtrack, subtitles and special effects (might explain why I’m an avid story-teller?). Anything short of that and it is open season on your behind. She wouldn’t even say much, it used to be a very short conversation. Something like:

Mom: (Looks up at me from watching whatever was on the telly) Rita, what time is it?

Me: 6.10PM

Mom: What time are you supposed to be home?

Me: (Sheepishly) By 6.00PM.

Mom: So where were you, what happened?

Now, I have to give my mum credit. She always asked this question and gave you time to make futile attempts to escape your fate before the inevitable.

Me: (Fumbling for an excuse, but nothing comes to mind because I’m already feeling light-headed and I already have palpitations in anticipation of the inevitable). I… well… You see…

Mum: You know what to do. Go and wait for me.

 

This simply referred to the usual drill that would follow after this conversation, a conversation that hardly ever changed or deviated from what is catalogued above. So much so that it simply became a formality, a preamble if you may, to the impending climax of the evening: a whooping. The drill was, I would go and lie on the floor in my room and wait for my punishment to be meted to me. But my mum would take her sweet time, sometimes up to an hour or so, so much so that I got comfortable and fell asleep on the floor. And then bam! Rude awakening to the fact that she hadn’t forgotten, and was still hell-bent on ensuring she “caned the disobedience out of me”. Hahaha. Suffice to say, the disobedience thrived on the strokes, it never did leave. Sigh! This virtual monster made my body hate me, but oh well, I digress.

I digress greatly. Because I am still in denial.

 

You see, the third and ‘most importanter’ thing that has ALWAYS been a constant since my childhood is (was) my mum’s HAIR.

Until recently.

When she decided to cut it off.

Man, I was crushed! I mean, she had such a thick, long and wavy mane. People always thought it was a weave and had to run their fingers through it because, Doubting Thomas Syndrome. I lived my long hair fantasies through my mum. I mean, random assortment of genes and alleles didn’t favour me enough to replicate her hair genes in me, opting to give me 4F hair, because guys, my hair isn’t even 4C; it has its own special class!

And so, when she sent me this snap of her in short hair, I was gutted. Guyssss!!! What betrayal! What pain! What loss! And especially without giving [me] a heads up for metal preparation before dropping such a hot potato on my lap! What insolence! I didn’t even realize how attached and invested I was in that hair at a fundamental level until just then! My heart! I was profoundly, inconsolably, dolorously, bemoaningly, irrevocably heartbroken! And the reason she gave for shaving guys! Ha! Absolutely, utterly, ludicrously absurd, we won’t even go into it. Suffice to say… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!! She jests too much!

They say, “a woman who cuts her hair is about to make major changes” or something to that effect. #I love the woman I’m becoming. HAHAHA! In my mum’s case, she was probably preparing to become a… Grandmother? Mother-in-law? Again, LOOOOOOOOOLLL! Somebody tell my mom she is about to become an academic grandmother, as I am in what is equivalent to my third trimester carrying a baby I lovingly refer to as “masters project”. She won’t have to wait long now, I’m almost due!

Also, another someone tell my mother that contrary to what she may have believed, her future sons-in-law (if any) weren’t hiding in her hair, and that by cutting it down, they haven’t been forced to come forth due to their habitat being taken away. They are still somewhere, blissfully oblivious of her waiting [for them, and are still- as they have been for a while now- coming in slow motion.

Another final somebody, kindly do not tell my mum that I’m the one who sent you, I still have a while yet to tarry under her roof, I’m not ready to be kicked out just yet!

 

Thank you all for your cooperation. Over and out!

 

PS. On the real though, despite the initial shock (because since I was born I’ve never seen my mum with short hair), my mum actually looks spectacularly radiant and younger and more vibrant with short hair. She rocks that afro like the queen she is and I absolutely love it, but love her even more… MOST! She has the afroest afro that has ever afro’d! I kind of wish I was at home to try out my limited mastery of bantu knots on her head… HAHA!

MEMOIR: OF TALES OF KNIGHTS, CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD

The year is AD 2008, or thereabouts. The persona a scrawny barely-teen with a snotty attitude to boot. The setting, Ramasha campgrounds. Ramasha, if memory serves me right (it’s slowly dawning on me that I am slowly becoming antiquated… *sob sob) is a land that is between Kisii and Maasai land. My Pathfinder Club at the time- Baraton English Church Pathfinders- had been invited as guests of the camporee hosted by this conference (South Kenya? South Nyanza?… I’m just certain it was South something. Antiquated, see?!)

Now now, at that point in my development, nothing drove my adolescent excitement into overdrive like traveling and camping with my club. Some of my best memories from my formative years were forged in the company of these amazing people.  Sometimes, it is in the shadow of these unforgettable moments that I unwaveringly declare, “growing up is a trap!” I wish we had the option to abort mission and revert to these simpler, happier times. I wish adulthood had a return policy, where after the first few free years, you could cancel your subscription, like Netflix. Because let’s be honest, adulting SUCKS! But, I digress.

So, there we were. Ramasha will always be etched in my memory for three reasons:

1. The weather was so capricious! It never would make up its mind where it stood. In the morning it would be suuuuuper hot that our skins would begin chaffing and then boom! Literally out of nowhere it would rain rhinos, elephants and hippos, so much so that we’d remind God He left us a rainbow for a reason. It didn’t help matters that we were camping near a river.

2. It was my first (and last) time indulging in the experience of bathing in the river. No buckets, no nothing, straight from the river. I have to admit this brought a frenzied excitement to all in the camp. It was often an extreme sport, between keeping an eye out for the boys who decided to be impudent, to trying to keep our soaps and flannels from swimming downstream, to trying to keep our feet firmly planted on the rocks beneath to keep OURSELVES from taking an unpleasant swim downhill. Suffice to say, 90% of us ended up going home without either our bathing soaps or flannels or both.

3. It was the first time my hand was sought out in marriage. YES! My 14-year-old hand was sought out in marriage. By a Maasai man! They started quite early I tell you, the proposals!

(Where are they now though, when you need them? Look at life having the last laugh, after I have consistently slighted all the opportunities presented in the past. Anyhow, (I am a strong, independent woman) x3/hour. Somehow, singing this chorus at that specified rate makes everything all better, y’know? But again, I digress.)

Him: Habari yako mschana? (How are you young girl?)

Me: Mzuri (Fine)

Him: ‘naitwa nani? (What’s your name?)

Me: … I honestly don’t remember what name I gave, but of one thing I am certain. I lied.

Him: Wewe ni mzuri sana, nataka kukuoa. (You’re so fine, I want to marry you.)

Me: Asante, lakini mimi sitaki kukuoa. Bado mi ni mdogo na bado niko shule. (Thank you, but I don’t want to marry you. I am still young, and I’m still in school.)

Him: Nitangojea wewe. (I will wait for you.)

All this while, I am speaking with (ironically) a very unchristian condescending air, my nose as high up in the air as it can go, hands crossed over my barely-there bosom. I must have been such a sight! Just so you know, by then I had this scrawny nondescript figure. The amount of attitude I had though! Pharoah of yore had nothing on me! You see, this is a guy who, not only did he not fit my mould of Alejandro-handsome (Philipino/Mexican telenovelas were my guilty pleasure), but also only girded himself with a shuka that was tied across one shoulder and secured across the waist with a belt. And, he herded sheep and cows for a living. HERDED! Granted, it was his own flock, but still! He hardly fit the neurosurgeon husband I had in mind (at this stage in my life, Ben Carson was the ultimate #goals). I was sooooooooo done before I even began. But the truly nagging fear that ate at me beneath all the superficiality was that one night I would be sleeping in the tent when during the heart of the night ululations would pierce the stillness of the night air, and I would be plucked from the tent forcefully, thrown over a bony shoulder and carried into the darkness, never to be seen again. Or, only to be seen much later with children on my lap. Hyperactive imagination, I know. But this was a really rural area. And we were surrounded by Maasai. It would only take little rallying to set the plan in motion. At least that was what my 14yo brain thought. And I would have panic attacks and terrors.

The cognitive process that facilitated comprehension seemed to have taken a time-out. It wasn’t understanding. I wasn’t grasping.

And any time we would meet, he would always be like, “bibi yangu, nitangojea wewe (my wife, I will wait for you)”. And my levels of stressocity would go into overdrive. But one day, I decided enough was enough! I would no longer be a slave to fear! My friend came up with a brilliant plan, to tell the Maasai guy that I was betrothed to one of the guys in our club. The problem was, getting the guy to go along with the plan. I mean, what was in it for him to help out this tiny 14yo? But, he did agree!

The guy in question, Barry Walela. I remember when my friend Carol suggested him I was beyond skeptical. He was waaay older than me, and we were hardly friends. That he accepted rendered me speechless. My 14yo heart was moved beyond words. And so it would happen that whenever that Maasai guy came around, I would scramble to find Barry and cling onto him like my life depended on it (it did, to me). And I would courageously face the Maasai guy and tell him, “bwana yangu (my husband)”. And Barry would be there staring him down, sort of like silently daring him to try anything. A few repetitions of this act and the guy stopped bothering me. I always would hang around Barry though, just in case. The one week of camp ended, and we went back home and back to our usual life. Barry and I never spoke again, except probably occasionally during club meetings or when we happened to meet in a group of mutual friends or the occasional “hi” when we bumped into each other on the road. That memory, however, lives on within me.

Earlier this year when Barry suddenly took ill, I remember I prayed so hard that day. And when I later heard there were improvements, I was overjoyed! You see, it was about three days shy of my late uncle’s first anniversary, and I don’t think I was ready to deal with another loss, especially being so far from home. I told God as much. Hardly a couple of hours after I had gotten word that he was okay, I get word that he is no more. I don’t remember what I thought through the haze and confusion, but the one thing I do remember, I wept. Bitterly. Painfully. All night. It simply wasn’t fair. And I was sure to give God a piece of my mind. Oh, how angry I was! How triggered I was! I gave God a good scolding. And a cold shoulder for a bit. I just couldn’t understand why. I recalled how after a long while, he had just graduated and was finally making something for and of himself. It was just the other day that I had congratulated him on his wall, to which he had replied: “thank you”. The cognitive process that facilitated comprehension seemed to have taken a time-out. It wasn’t understanding. I wasn’t grasping.

But as time wore on, I became my own enemy. You see, Barry and I hardly ever spoke. And apart from that one instance, hardly had a connection. We were never in the same circles, apart from being in the same club. Not to mention the age gap in between. Logging into Facebook and on WhatsApp, everyone seemed to have been close to him or at least kept some form of communication with him. And so it happened that I convinced myself I had no right to mourn him as much as everyone else, that it would be hypocritical of me. That it was more THEIR loss than mine. And so I felt so lost in my grief because I forced myself to be okay, because it seemed logical to be okay. How do you mourn a person you weren’t close to, a person you hadn’t seen or spoken to in ages? I convinced myself it wasn’t my place to mourn. And so I followed the proceedings silently on social media and held my peace.

I never knew what an impact it had on me, this subconscious quashing of grief, not until I found myself sitting across the University Counsellor. Only then was I forced to face the fault in my thinking. Only then was I able to let myself fully feel the impact of grief because although we never did talk or keep in touch, that one connection we shared ten or so odd years ago was a connection of a lifetime. It made such an impact on my childhood heart and mind. At such a young age, I recognized that not all princes wear royal robes. Not all knights wear armours. Not all heroes wear capes. Some just simply come in the form of that elder boy in the club who stands up for you, no questions asked, no favours asked for in return. He taught me that sometimes, you find that elder brother in the person you least expect. He taught my young heart that chivalry is indeed still very much alive and breathing. It was such a powerful statement he engraved on my juvenile heart, and for the loss of that physical connection, I wept and grieved. I still do.

My knowledge of Barry may have been severely stunted and outdated but of this I am certain. He was a good man, a good influence, a good leader, a good brother, a good friend. The kind of person you would want around you. The kind of friend you could count on, come hell or high water. The kind of person who would help you out, no questions asked. His loss was such a blow, one people are still reeling from. He, however, lives on. In our hearts, minds, and memories. I strive to fight the good fight every day so that I will make it to that bright and cloudless morning because I am almost certain he’ll be there.

Until then, VIVA BARRY!

 

ION, had I married that Maasai guy, do y’all think I’d be a rich Maasai (first) wife right now, with an elongated neck, a sagging bosom and red locks on half my head? Do y’all think I’d have my own manyatta and would be the chief advisor to my husband in all matters home affairs, and even help him pick his subsequent wife(ves)? Would I be a responsible mother to children who came in the order akin to solfa ladder? No?

 

Please, pay no heed to the above paragraph. That is my biological clock gone rogue. I hear there is such a thing- biological clock!

 

AND WHEN THOU HAST BEEN STRENGTHENED: A Tribute

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. 

Thomas Campbell

 

It’s around 0100hrs. I’ve just gotten home after putting in long hours at work. I am tempted to pass out on the bed, but my growling stomach will have none of that! I warm up the burgers I got on my way home, and calmly talk to the part of me that screams in opposition that I got us covered. I’d picked like a sack full of lemons earlier in the day, so we’ll religiously start drinking litres upon litres of it a day. Plus, I am gonna enrol at the gym. Soon. She is adamant and makes me move my hand over my torso. Yup! definitely gaining layers! The microwave dings. Foooood! At last! I shut madam opposition up as I quickly dig in. Ah! The pleasure!

“You cannot ignore it the forever you know.”

I pretend I didn’t hear him- my mind.

“You’ll have to face it sooner or later. You’ll have to write it.”

*Still ignoring, with more resolve than before.*

Such has been the situation for the past couple of months. Because as much as I really wanted to write it down, I did not (and still don’t) know what to write. I know what I want to say, but not how to convey the intensity and immensity of what’s within.

Grief. Loss. Heartache. An element of solitude.

And so I have been procrastinating. Stalling.As I have been for all the previous paragraphs, hoping that the nagging voice will slowly give up and fade away. Hoping that I’ll get tired and decide to sleep anyway, and put this off just a little longer. But no, the urging is stronger and louder than before. “I don’t have the words,” I argue. “Then write whatever! Just. Get. It. Out.” My mind retorts, full of impatience. (In a totally unrelated matter, I’m offering my mind up for sale. Any offers welcome.  It’s sane- most of the time- likes to think its funny, is full of happy thoughts, can be squeezed for fairly decent grades (haha). Interested buyers can contact for more inquiries and offers.)

 

***I ended up procrastinating for a week, anyway.***

 

They say you never forget your first. That experience always stays with you, mostly vividly and sometimes a blur. But it will ALWAYS be there, in the recesses of your mind. I still remember my first “boyfriend” when I was in the fourth or fifth grade at around nine or ten years (Hahahaha… I know, right? LOL!). My first mocha shake (from whence it became my favourite flavour) out of my sister’s cup on her birthday dinner at the Cafe Deli opposite Kencom between Aga Khan Walk and Moi Avenue two years ago. My first takeoff from and landing at an airport. My first intimate encounter with the loss of a loved one.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross (1969) proposed a model, otherwise known as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Rita Kemunto Omari (2018) proposes that the actual stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance INITIALLY, and then a constant iteration of the above stages in an absolutely randomized fashion. One day you’re at the acceptance stage and then boom! Anger decides to walk in and sucker punches you so deep in the gut you feel it reverberating in your soul! Sometimes a cocktail of all the stages chugs down your throat so that you’re at a loss on how to process it all at once.

It’s hard. This thing called grief. You try not to think, but it’s constantly hanging there. Sometimes it is akin to a scab, you poke and prod and remove that protective tough crust that had formed over the wound, and watch in horrific fascination intermingled with pain as blood gushes out of the wound. You know you shouldn’t, but you go ahead anyway. Over and over and over. Waiting patiently and hopefully for the day the wound will heal.

 

Grief is a continuous lifelong process, whose ripple effects will always be felt. The sharp edges may soften a little bit until it becomes a comfortable sort of pain, a sort of echo from a time long past, but it will always be there interlaced in the backdrop of one’s life.

 

I still remember vividly when I got the news that my uncle had rested. I remember where I was, what I was doing. I remember all the thoughts that went through my mind. I remember the scorching in my chest radiating from the intense fire in my heart as the flames of grief lit it up. I remember the breathlessness as my heart broke. I remember the numbness and tingling sensation in my fingers and toes as acute searing pain coursed through my entire body, singeing my nerves in the process. I also remember that apart from the comfort I received from home, I was also advised to “try and be calm, you’re far away and there is nothing much you can do.” Of course it was not meant in an inconsiderate dismissive sorta way. It was just what was. Oh, how I hated that! Loathed it! That I was far. That it was true, there is nothing I COULD do, even if I were at home. Above all, I remember how ALONE I felt. There is something about physical contact- a hug, a handshake, a face to face conversation, especially with family during such a period- that makes all the difference. I couldn’t have that. Neither could I have the closure that comes with a burial (at least for me, it does).

So I followed their advice. I kept calm. Tried to bury the grief. School was starting, you see. I needed to be on my A game. I prayed, oh, how I prayed. I needed the strength. And I thank God that He is ever faithful. I went through the Kübler-Ross stages (maybe a little too rapidly), and knew that was that.

Until recently.

It hit me out of nowhere really, this intense sort of pain that knocked the breath out of me for a minute. And after that, several other incidences where I’m listening to a song and a wave of grief engulfs and drowns [me], or I’m driving on the highway and have to pull over on the emergency lane because I need a few seconds to remember how to breathe. And I couldn’t understand it! I mean, I’d finished all the stages of grief (or so I thought). I should be okay now. So why was the vividity of the loss so strong, so fresh, and nearly tangible?

Grief is a continuous lifelong process, whose ripple effects will always be felt. The sharp edges may soften a little bit until it becomes a comfortable sort of pain, a sort of echo from a time long past, but it will always be there interlaced in the backdrop of one’s life. That concept took me a while to grasp. And when I did, I stopped fighting it, stopped trying to gouge it out from deep within. I accepted it, and embraced it, and made peace with the fact. I think what we usually cannot accept mostly is the fact that we may not have been the best people to those we lost, may not have called them/talked to them as often as we should have, may not have spent time with them; and now we never will. The “what ifs” gnaw at our insides.

My uncle was a great man. One part crook, three parts lawyer (a finely matured one at that). I think that’s what made him such a sterling criminal attorney. The greatest there ever was (Think Harvey Specter… factorial… an infinite number of times… and BEYOND)! He had such wit and such humour. And his laugh! Oh, his laugh! It was a boyish peal infused with such childlike-ness. It was a sound that tickled your sides, you had no option but to laugh along. He was a man who stood for what he believed in, and stuck to his guns. Even so, at the end of the day he was a man like any other, with an abundance of imperfections and shortcomings. He was perfectly imperfect.

And while I may never see him again, I see bits of him all around me. I see and hear him when I talk to my dad (my dad and uncles look so much alike) and grandparents, and when I interact with my cousins. Anytime I watch a movie/series/documentary featuring an astute criminal attorney he is always at the forefront of my thoughts. Above all, he lives on in my heart and memories; and I will ensure that my children and their children and their children’s children even up to the tenth generation will hear and know of this remarkable man they never had the good fortune of meeting. This man of whom they have a piece within. This man of the people.This man for whom I thank God for, for the time he gave me with him. This man I had the privilege to proudly call my uncle. His name, Wakili Dennis Nyangweso Omari.

 

The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.

Czeslaw Milosz

 

 

 

MAMA, IT HAPPENED AGAIN TODAY

Mama, it happened again today.
My world came to a grinding halt, or so I felt
Everything went sideways.
I broke.
I contemplated giving up;
I simply couldn’t go on when my very soul was crying out, BEGGING me to quit
But no, I fought it, and fell into a deep dreamless exhausted sleep.

Mama, they did it to me again today.
They shattered my world. My worth. My self.
They unscrupulously tore me down, tore into me
Piece by piece, I started falling apart.
Then I imploded; everything within blown to smithereens.
But still, I stood.

Mama, it happened again today.
SOMEONE razed my walls, my defense system, brick by brick.
Someone silently slithered through and within, and convinced me I did not need them
Someone stripped me bare,
Exposing my nakedness for all to see,
And then vanished.
I died today, mama. I died.
Yet still, I live,

Mama, I questioned again today.
I questioned God.
Questioned His love. His presence. His attention (or lack thereof). His power.
I put Him on trial and questioned Him, as I played both prosecutor and judge.
I felt like I was in a boxing ring, and had to throw some punches.
And still, at the end of the day,
Mercy sought me.

Mama, it has happened again today.
I AM HAPPY!
Mama, I have stopped complaining today. And henceforth.
I have myriads of scars, yes. Undoubtedly.
But they remind me of this.
I am alive. I am well. I am healthy. I am loved. I am blessed.
I fought, oh, I fought! So hard.
And lived to tell the tale another day. Again.
Many have not- lived to tell the tale.
Mama, I promise that
Before I am tempted to complain next time
I will remember this.

IF THOU WILT: My Experience with Grief

Death had forgotten us. Or so we thought.

The first encounter we had with her was back in 2013 when she came for my great grandma, bless her soul. She was of ripe age to be harvested by this greedy hoarder of souls, and although we were unwilling, we let her take my dear grandma. At this point, we thought to strike a deal with Lady Death, “Only come for those whose age is ripe”. A deal was brokered… Or so we thought.

Fast forward, 5 years down the line. The dread mistress struck, seemingly unable to keep her insatiable gluttonous appetite for souls in check. She struck hard, fast and suddenly, the deal disregarded. We had little to no time to brace for impact. The outcome, a catastrophic and irrevocable change of lives. Scars inflicted that will take eons to heal.

About three weeks ago, I remember my mum calling me, requesting me to put my uncle before The Lord in prayers, he was terribly ill. The doctors couldn’t figure out just yet what was wrong with him. His situation went downhill real fast, and soon, he was in HDU and finally ICU. I remember how hard I prayed. It was a prayer I breathed throughout the day as I worked, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would get better. Sure enough, on talking to my dad, he confirmed that the doctors were saying there was good progress. Hopes skyrocketed.

And then, disaster struck.

He was gone. We had lost him.

I cannot even begin to attempt to describe the impact the news had on me. There was a loud ringing in my ears I couldn’t comprehend. Then I heard ragged heavy breaths that slowly morphed into harsh sobs before finally blooming into heart-wrenching weeping. It took me a while to discover I was the one who was weeping. My whole chest and abdominal cavity felt very hollow, as though they housed an abyss. My hands and feet went numb.

In between my weeping and utterances of denial, I questioned God. A lot! I put Him on trial. I was both the advocate for my rested uncle and the judge of the proceedings. I was angry! “Lord, You promised to heal him,” I thought, claiming the promises from the Bible. “You always promise to listen. Why didn’t You listen to me? To us as a family?” I had a lot of questions.

And then, there was the guilt. “Lord, did you allow him to die because I wasn’ diligent enough in prayer at times? Because that one time I was so tired from work I began praying, but never did get to ‘Amen’ until morning? Or maybe I didn’t pray hard enough?  Did I fail my uncle?” To say I felt devastated will be the grossest understatement of the millennium. I was gutted.

While all this was going through my mind, I remembered two stories in the Bible, that of the leprous man and that of the Centurion; both found in Matthew 8. An I repeated their words to God over and over, “Lord, if thou wilt, make my uncle whole.” “Lord, speak the word only, and my uncle will be healed.” But God allowed him to rest. We don’t know why, and we never will until that bright and cloudless morning.

“I questioned God. A lot! I put Him on trial.”

Later, after the highest tide of grief had passed, I reviewed my prayers, and I had to repent and ask God for forgiveness. You see, I was angry, not because I was justified to be but because God had not worked according to MY will. I mean, sure, I was technically praying for His will to be done; but the undertones of my prayers were for Him to do MY will, to grant MY wish. And when He did actually do HIS will, I became an angry and petulant child.

God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” We will never understand why God allowed my uncle to rest, but in all things, we trust Him and His ways.

It has been a long week, coming to terms with the fact that my uncle is gone, but the Lord is my strength. He will strengthen us, He will heal us, and above all, He will help us to overcome and move forward.

Fare thee well, uncle!

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 New King James Version (NKJV)

54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?