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Rise

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The Resurrection story holds a special place in the heart of Christendom, and in the narrative of humanity. Christ gives u his life for mankind. This is not the first time Christ intercedes for man. At the beginning, when Adam and Eve committed the original sin at the behest of the angel Lucifer, it was Christ who interceded for man before God the Father, entreating him to spare the lives of humanity.

He then takes an earthly form and lives as man, experiencing all of our struggles, pains, fears, dreams, hopes, humiliations and worries. When he is at his weakest, the devil himself assails him and tempts him, offering Christ things which would sway the best of men.

At some point things get so thick for Christ that he begs the Father to change his mind. Faced with the pain, heartbreak, treachery and betrayal that are his lot, he breaks down and weeps, and asks that this cup of suffering be taken from him, that he be spared the trials that await him, for they are too heavy to bear.

Scorned and spat on by the majority, betrayed by a loved one, denied by friends, Christ dies on the cross, murdered by the very people he came to save.

Days later, the women who were his companions go to his tomb. It was these women who had supported and cared for Jesus all along, and it was women who were the first to visit his tomb. The good book tells us that it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Salome (the other Mary) and a number of women who provided for Jesus and his disciples as they went through the land.

These women wake up early to make a sortie to Christ’s grave. It was dark and cold. The Romans had issued a strict edict prohibiting all visits to Jesus’ tomb. It must have felt especially dark, scary and hopeless, as they had just shortly before watched the death of their friend and Lord. But they still rose and went forth.

Rise, my brothers and sisters. It might be especially dark and cold for you right now. Your dreams and hopes have been killed right before your eyes. Enemies and obstacles surround you, and success seems nigh impossible. Rise, mankind. Go forth to where your dreams and hopes are buried. Roll back the tombstone of your salvation. Expect your reward. Go get your reward. The Lord is risen.

Rise.

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The Temptation and Fall

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Satan would convey the idea that by eating of the forbidden tree, they would receive a new and more noble kind of knowledge than they had hitherto attained. This has been his special work with great success ever since his fall, to lead men to pry into the secrets of the Almighty, and not be satisfied with what God has revealed, and not careful to obey that which he has commanded.

He would lead them to disobey God’s commands, and then make them believe that they are entering a wonderful field of knowledge. This is purely supposition, and a miserable deception. They fail to understand what God has revealed, and disregard his explicit commandments, and aspire after wisdom, independent of God, and seek to understand that which he has been pleased to withhold from mortals. They are elated with their ideas of progression, and charmed with their own vain philosophy; but grope in midnight darkness relative to true knowledge. They are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.


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My Nightmares are Dreams of You

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De-tox.

Day 15

A friend once told me, during a drunken, rambling midnight dissertation, that a dream is the place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and the fear are exactly the same, he said, we call the dream a nightmare.

The nightmares are back. Went to bed at 2 a.m. My eyes flew open at 6 a.m. Apparently, my dreams woke me. Petrified. Terrified. I was told that sometimes nightmares are part of withdrawal symptoms. Of course I laughed and scoffed at the thought. Haven’t had nightmares in years. Surely they would not return to disturb my hallowed sleep. I also refused to take sleep medication, having just learnt of this new idea called ‘sleep hygiene’.

What scares me most is the nature of the nightmares. They aren’t dreams where I’m being chased, hunted down or persecuted. As a matter of fact such dreams excite me. The stuff of my nightmares is far more mundane and prosaic, and consequently more terrifying. Wait for it: I dream – have nightmares – about my exes. Ex-girlfriends. Women that I liked or loved the most. Or women that I should have had relationships with but didn’t. The women of these dreams, if they can be so called, were and are beautiful, both inside and out. Physically, mentally, personality-wise and spiritually. Though I’m not quite sure what being beautiful spiritually looks like, what the heck. And the reason I lost these women is always the same – the terror of similarity – (yes you can call mine terror): pride, ego, hardness of heart, fear of commitment. Name them.

And in these nightmares I get to court these women again. With the knowledge, guilt and pain of our shared pasts still evident. And eventually in these dreams we make amends – almost- and the joy, hope, sadness and fear smashing up against each other feel too much for my sinner’s heart to bear. I become excited, happy, remorseful, sad and terrified. At what wasn’t and what was, at what could have been and what could be. And then my eyes fly open. My body breaks out in sweat and for a horrifyingly long moment I don’t know where I am, who I am, or at which point of this crushing life I am.

At times, sometimes, I wish that I could just forget. The past weighs upon me heavily, and the pain can be seen in my eyes and it takes effort to conceal it from my countenance. But life must go on. Life goes on. The pain is like a thick, heavy chain around my neck, in the middle of a bottomless ocean. It is cold, this chain, but at the same time it is red hot. I’m cold, burning and drowning at the same time. And yet this thing around my neck that is surely killing me – this chain I do not care about. Because my hands are too busy desperately wrapped around the knife plunged into my heart. The searing pain is all I can think of sometimes, yet I don’t know if these hands of mine are pulling the knife out, or pushing it deeper into a heart that is bruised, battered, broken and misshapen.

As I sink deeper into the ocean I can’t feel the cold. The light of the sun above me gets farther and farther away. Of what use is the light if it only serves to hurt us? Are we not more alive in the dark? Are we not more at peace with the night? All the light does is illuminate our flaws. All the light does is warm us up for a moment that is too short. All the light does is show us what we are missing, or what is missing in us. It gives us a taste of joy that is not meant to last, a joy that cannot last.

Victory has defeated me. Peace has cost me my strength.

Love or what we have been made to believe is love makes us weak.

Love will hurt you, as will all fairytale emotions and ideas.

What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.


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Serendipity in Syokimau

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27th of January, 2016

An entry in Mahatma Bangi’s journal:

So today as soon as the wages of last night’s sins seemed to have been sufficiently eviscerated from the temple that is my body, I set about to my usual business. Read a bit, wrote a bit and insulted people on Facebook and Twitter. Halafu I decided to go jogging on these beautiful streets of Syokimau. You know when you indulge in the variety and quantity of mind altering substances that we partake of, fitness is a serious priority. Not because you are afraid that those vices will kill you, but because you want to live as long as possible to enjoy those vices.

So as I was jogging I saw some fat people, also jogging. Now for some reason I find fat people jogging extremely funny. Not funny in an insulting way, but funny in a friendly, hilarious way. I mean, fat people tend to be extremely likable. Now they were jogging slightly faster than a bow legged turtle with marasmus, so it was inevitable that I would pass them. Now I realised that this could be taken as an insult, as in “look at this already fit devastatingly handsome incredibly sexy young man passing us just to rub it in our faces that we are fat and slow”. Fat people have enough problems, and I didn’t want to be seen as an asshole that early in the day. Luckily I spotted a Naivas shopping mall so I stopped and went in, figured might as well get some food. Food doesn’t only belong to fat people.

So as I check in I spot the building has a club called 254 Lounge. Remembered seeing them advertise on Facebook, as well as the fact that a kind soul once told me that the place is normally chock full of beautiful Kamba women. Now my friend if you have never been in the presence of a hot Kamba woman and had her lavish her attentions on you, then you, my friend, have not lived. Tembea Kenya nani. Figured I might as well check it out, and since it was past 5 somewhere on the planet, decided to have a beer.

As I was heading to the lounge I saw a sign for a bookstore so I headed there instead. Approaching the book shop I saw a bank, and decided that I might as well get some pesa, seeing as poor people are most likely getting paid their salaries this week, the ATMs might fail or the bank card networks might go down. And there is a nothing as embarrassing as paying a bill via card halafu that goddamned machine refuses. Especially if you are in the company of a pretty woman.

As I was heading there I smelt food, and the Luhya in me kicked in. As Luhyas we can’t control it; it is wired into our brains, the part that scientists would call the lizard brain. So off to the food court to eat went I, and eat did I. I then saw a perfume and cologne shop and decided that since Valentine’s is coming up, I might as well go and buy a perfume for my next ex.

On the way there I see this apparition. A ravishingly spectacularly singularly beautiful woman. Muslim. I say Muslim cause she was wearing a bui bui or hijab or burqa or whatever and she was pretty. I hear those are the requirements for Muslim. My Christian sistos, I’m sorry but in the looks department waislamus have chapad you guys ten nil. And they cover it all up. And you can still see the beauty. Wewe umebeat lakini ma mini ma hotpants ma boob top ndio zako. Asphyxiating our eyes with cellulite. But I digress.

Now back to this angel. This creature is staring at me, and actually smiling. Mentally I quickly run through all the activities of the past week that had conspired to place me here at this moment in space and time, and threw a silent shout out to Lord Jesus, Thor, Heimdall and Jay Z. She approaches and says hi. I try to use my most unexcited voice as well as my resting bitch face, and fail miserably at both. Awkward silence as she smiles and laughs. Promised myself like 15 years ago not to behave like an idiot in front of a mind blowing amazon, and I am proud to report that I have never been able to keep that promise.

She says she likes my t shirt. I’m wearing my Battousai Sons of Anarchy Nairobi t shirt. Now I don’t normally jog in haute couture, but there were no other clothes available on the couch where I had slept. She says she loves Sons of Anarchy. For the less enlightened among us who might be reading this, Sons of Anarchy is arguably one of the best TV series ever made. Jax is her favourite character on the show, and she thinks I walk like him, so that’s what made her smile and laugh. She says I have made her day. She asks whether she can get one just like it. I answer in the affirmative, and say I will personally see to it that a similarly glorious piece of attire shall be nesting in her lovely arms soon, to be held and admired in a way that she would probably never hold and admire me. She blushes and says I’m funny and asks the price of the shirt. I up the cost by 500 bob. Never mix business and pleasure boys and girls. She accepts and asks me to take her number. My phone is off, thanks to KPLC who can now add the title cockblocker to their name. Na mi sio wale mashoga wa kujaza mfuko na power bank. She saves my number in hers and says she will send a text. She leaves, walks away and leaves my life in pieces, heart racing palms sweating and trembling. Trembling. For the life of me I cannot remember what I’m doing in a shopping mall in Syokimau. I rush home.

Now I’m here praying reciting the Rosary beseeching whatever Gods might be to please please let her send me that text.


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Tell Him

Pipp Sea

Let me be patient let me be kind
Make me unselfish without being blind
Though I may suffer I’ll envy it not
And endure what comes
Cause he’s all that I got and
Tell him…

Tell him I need him
Tell him I love him
And it’ll be alright
Tell him be alright be alright
Tell him tell him I need him

Now I may have faith to make mountains fall
But if I lack love then I am nothin’ at all
I can give away everything I possess
But left without love then I have no happiness
I know I’m imperfect (I know I’m imperfect)
And not without sin (and not without sin)
But now that I’m older all childish things end
And tell him…

Tell him I need him (yeah)
Tell him I love him (tell him)
And it’ll be alright
Tell him be alright be alright
Tell him tell him I need him
Tell him I love him
It’ll be alright

I’ll never be jealous
And I won’t be too proud
Cause love is not boastful
And love is not loud
Tell him I need him
Tell him I love him
Everything’s gonna be alright

Now I may have wisdom and knowledge on Earth
But if I speak wrong then what is it worth?
See what we now know is nothing compared
To the love that was shown when our lives were spared
And tell him…


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HATE

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It’s hard not to hate. People, things, institutions; when they break your spirit and take pleasure in watching you bleed, hate is the only feeling that makes sense. But I know what hate does to a man. Tears him apart. Turns him into something he’s not. Something he promised himself he’d never become. That’s what I need to tell you. To let you know how hard I’m trying not to cave under the weight of all of the awful things I feel in my heart. Sometimes my life feels like a deadly balancing act; what I feel slamming up against what I should do.

Impulsive reactions racing to solutions miles ahead of my brain. When I look at my day, I realize that most of it was spent cleaning up the damage of the day before. In that life I have no future. All I have is distraction. And destruction. And remorse. I lost a friend of mine a month ago. As cliché as it sounds, when she was buried I left a part of me in that box. A part I barely knew. A part I’ll never see again.

But I will cherish the memories, even relive them with such intensity that they might burst back into life. Make our moments golden, as truly they were. I will remember the shared jokes and the shared embarrassments, and will whisper to myself in low tender tones of the secrets we kept. I won’t forget how you were quite open and sometimes blunt, positively criticizing me when you knew I needed it. I won’t forget that you read all my blog posts (well, at least you claimed that you read them. Hehe) That, plus the fact that you had a sense of humour. I won’t forget the first time I saw you on campus in Parkie and how you had matched every single piece of clothing you were wearing at the moment. That epic fashion adventure required serious balls to pull off and after we became friends we laughed sana about that wardrobe choice.

Hate. I still feel it every day – hating myself over so many things; so many poor choices I have made, so many words I should have left unsaid, so many mistakes I have committed and so many failures I have endured. So many things I should have done and didn’t do, and so many others I did and shouldn’t have done – so many times I should have listened to wise counsel but didn’t. Hate for the bridges I have burnt and doors I have slammed behind me when I shouldn’t have burnt and slammed them. Times I should have been humble and thankful but instead was proud and arrogant, reeking of hubris. Hate towards me.

Hate. I feel I overwhelmed about what happened to you Ciku. Heartsick. A young, lovely life cut short just as it was beginning to enter its prime. Hate toward the violence that occurred. Hate towards the person who did it, Hate towards a system which seems to move too slowly. I can only imagine how it must have been living in a home like that, with threats of violence and harm always dangling over your head. One hell of a sword of Damocles. Hate that your son won’t grow to know what a lovely mother he had.

But remember, every day is a new box boys and girls. You open it; take a look at what’s inside. You’re the one who determines whether it’s a gift or a coffin. Ciku would look inside that new box called a new day and everyday determine it was a gift. That’s the girl she was. Unrepentantly full of joie-de-vivre.

This article, this letter, this plea, is dedicated to Ciku, Ciku Baibe, Ciku Baby, my bitch friend. Yes she liked it when I called her that. May justice prevail, and may that punishment fit the crime. May you find peace in the afterlife, and may you intercede for us.

Linda Wanjiku Ruguru passed away on the 12th of December 2014. She was a victim of domestic violence.


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A Little Used Secret

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most profound. Many times, the most obvious things are often ignored. A god percentage of the time the most common sense principles are the ones most disregarded. Perhaps it’s because we are so intent on making a living that we forget about making a life.

One of the most forgotten principles for personal success is a word ignored by almost everyone – Goodwill. It is a principle so under used, but so powerful, that it could take us to the heights of success. It remains underused because people overlook the disarming power disguised in subtle terms such as compassion, kindness, empathy, unselfishness and caring.

In marketing classes in MBA School, we learned many useful things about advertising strategy, marketing to consumers, studying statistics of a sales campaign and getting the order. To this day, I use the tools of the trade to help me in my business. But one thing that hardly anyone hardly touched upon was the concept of ‘Goodwill’

Goodwill is not just a number on the accountant’s balance sheet, but an invisible little used tool that all of us have at our disposal. Let me explain. Most of us could help solve someone else’s problems, either with a telephone call, an introduction or referral, signature or other obvious mean. But we refuse to do it. Why? Let me tell you why. Because we feel there is nothing in it for us! Or we are afraid to get involved.

Let me tell you a true story. It was many years ago. A young woman walked into my assistant’s office. She was looking for a job, but we had none to offer. Just the week before, all job vacancies had been filled. At the request of my assistant, I spoke with the young woman. She only wanted to work for the summer and then would complete her last semester of graduate school and return home to her country. She had been looking for a summer job for almost four weeks. No one wanted to hire her and train her to work for such a short period of time.

I remembered my days as a graduate student and felt her anxiety. Although there was no sound business reason to do so, I told my assistant to create an office job for her. After all, she needed help and it felt good to help someone without figuring out what was in it for me. I hardly saw her until her last day when she came into my office to say goodbye. She thanked me again for the job and handed me a business card.

“This is my father’s card,” she said, “If you ever visit my country, call my dad, he’d be very happy to meet you. I’ve told him about how kind you and your employees were to me. In my country, my dad is a government minister.”

And that’s how I ended having lunch with the mayor of Nairobi, dinner with the Vice President of Kenya and making business alliances that brought my company profits hundreds of times greater than the salary we had paid for summer help. On top of that, I enjoyed going on photo safari to the Serengeti Plains of East Africa, walking along the beaches of Mombasa and sipping Pimms#3 at the Mount Kenya Safari Club.

This is not an isolated case. It’s just one of the more obvious ones. You can never tell who will lead you to that next contact, that profitable contract or the added financing you were looking for. It is important that we treat everyone with dignity and respect. REMEMBER: Business does not do business with other businesses. People do business with people.

The internet is not about computers, technology or even marketing. That would be like saying cars are about the internal combustion engine and the laws of thermodynamics. The internet is about people and communications. If we communicate with honesty and feelings, we’d find that most others respond in kind.

So whenever the opportunity arises, do something for someone else who is powerless to do it alone. Don’t worry about what you are going to get out of it. The Universe has a way of repaying in ways far too strange to understand. Earn “goodwill” and you will prosper beyond belief.

~ John Harricharan