Monday, October 31, 2011

The dance

Once upon a time, a man asked me to the dance floor for a dance. I presumed that it would be a short dance so I indulged him even though I wasn’t so sure about the music that was playing. I thought that when it ended, I would go my way, and him his.

At the dance floor, I hesitated at first as I wondered if it was right. If I dared to lay myself bare and expose my not-so-perfect moves. To dance in such a big dance floor, with so many people; some dancing, others watching. There is something about dancing; you either get it or you don’t. You’re an eyeful or an eyesore. Nothing in between.

It started well, the dance. It was slow. Restrained yet teasy. We tried out the first steps with utmost precision albeit with so much uncertainty. We were careful not to step on each others’ toes. Not to stand too close. Not to appear clumsy. In the process, I stumbled on his toes, and he tripped over mine. But we were kind to each other not to take offense. ‘It’s ok’, we said with an understanding smile.

After a while on the dance floor, I started enjoying the choice of music, it kinda grew on me. I looked at him for the first time and realized that he was quite a dancer. He grew on me too. He stood tall, with the broadest of shoulders. I even tried them out by resting my face on his chest. It felt good. Slowly, I got lost in the dance.

Soon, we were dancing all over the floor. Carefree. Not bothered about the other dancers or what they thought of our dance. We swayed, we twirled, we got lost in the music. Just like Rihanna, we too were eye to eye, palm to palm, nose to nose, cheek to cheek, chest to chest - That close.

Then we got showy and we danced fast. The dance became heated, erotic and we were unstoppable. Sometimes we thought we had mastered the moves only to lose our steps again. We felt each other’s hearts pounding from the ferocious dancing.

Then we got dizzy. We got tired and needed to catch our breath. When the excitement died down, we tried to get back in step.

We’ve been in the dance floor ever since. We’re still dancing even though sometimes we lose the steps, tumble down and have to pick ourselves up. Sometimes we succeed, other times we don’t know how to. We keep stepping on each others’ toes. Sometimes we remember to say sorry while other times we are not bothered.

We’ve had to deal with other dancers who intentionally or unintentionally, step on our toes as they do their thing. Others give us a disapproving look like we don’t belong. Sometimes we lose each other on the dance floor, only to spot each other again. Sometimes I twirl so far away that he is out of sight. Sometimes, we are miles apart, literally and metaphorically.

As we dance, we are carefree no more as so much water has gushed under the bridge. We laugh with tears in our eyes. We smile with pain lining our lips. We try, we practice and we keep going hoping that we will get it right. He is not perfect, he reminds me. I am not either, I insist. It is sometimes frustrating not to get the steps right. It is exhausting not to know where to move next. Sometimes, it seems easier to stop dancing and take a flight. But the music keeps playing. It won’t stop!

The dance floor is crowded with people. Ruthless, conniving people. People that I cannot take on, I don’t have it in me. There are couples who are tired of dancing and have opted to take a seat. Some look happy, others look sad. Others are indifferent and others are menacingly close to killing each other. Most are seated with their chairs facing opposite directions. Others are no longer just two but have invited intrusive parties to join them at the table. Some are talking to each other while others can barely look at each other. Some are shouting themselves hoarse in a bid to be heard. Others are moving their lips but their voices are drowned by the music. Most of them look sad and defeated. A sight that is far from attractive.

Many times, I get the urge to stand at the corner and watch the other dancers from a safe distance. This is what dancing does to you; the music makes you high, so high that you could touch the clouds. But there is the other side of this intoxicant – the soreness, the fatigue, the dependency. Sometimes, I even believe that this music is not meant for me. But when I come close to taking a bow and walking out of the dance floor, he always turns around and gives me a nudge, asking me to dance some more. And the music just won’t stop.

It is bitter sweet. It is intoxicating. It is overwhelming. It is beyond me.

As I twirl away, the million dollar question hangs in the air. When the music stops, and when our feet get tired, will we take a seat at the same table? Will he make me a believer? This determined dancer of mine?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My breasts, my life!

I try so hard to think of an appropriate name to call her. I fail. What name could possibly explain her cruelty? What name could even do justice to the agony she causes the human race? I fail to name her simply because I fail to understand her. I fail to understand her because she terrifies me. She scares me stiff and I would rather not talk about her if that will keep her away from me and from the people that I love. I choose to ignore her hoping that she will not notice me and creep up on me to cause me the same agony I have seen her cause so many women and men, young and old. But ignoring her won’t keep her at bay. But I will insult her and hope that she will feel bullied enough to stay away from me. Think it’ll work?

I am not privy of her encroachment ‘itinerary’. Will she single me out next? Am I on her list? Does she know my name? My address? If at all I am on her ‘to-do’ list, how will she come? In full force? Quickly? Slowly? Stealthily? Most importantly, if she does come knocking, will I survive?

O, the pain! She dishes out pain like Santa Claus does gifts during Christmas. The pain of having your own body turned against you! Its my body damn it! MY body! Breasts, ovaries, colon, cervix, pancrease, lungs, blood. All mine!! Why does she do this to us? Making us slaves to her whims and leaving us an empty shell of our old selves. Why? Who gave her so much authority?

Now she is not sparing young children as well – What a coward! Isn’t it strange that the shilling is at its all time low, recession is still giving us the middle finger and as if that is not enough, this demon is stifling lives out of adults and children alike? It sure pours when it rains! It is not enough that she took from us a woman who was ready to die for the benefit of Mother Nature- Wangari Maathai succumbed to her insatiable appetite.

I picture her as this she-devil who has a sneer permanently plastered on her face. She is ugly. Yeah, so ugly that she has a moustache. She has big eyes. Ugly red eyes that could light up anything it glances at. She has this big nose too that occupies half of her face. In fact her face is half burnt, or something. Let’s add a pair of horns at the top of her head for good measure, shall we? She is hairy, ugly, and monstrous and she terrifies me.

I think Mother Nature is scared of her too. If she wasn’t she would have protected Wangari Mathai from her, after all Wangari Maathai lived for Mother Nature! The irony; what happened to returning favors, huh? If Mother Nature wasn’t scared of her, she would protect young children like 9 year old Rose Nasimiyu from having to deal with monsters that size; what happened to fighting someone your size? Mother Nature cannot stand up to her. None of us is safe. None of us is immune. When she beckons, she shakes our bodies, our immunity, our faith, our love and our hope. Our livelihood. Damn her!

October is her month. The month where we all join hands to try and fight this monster. This is the month we should check ourselves. Feel your breasts for any lumps, any pain, any signs of her. Let her not catch you unawares. Have that Pap smear; go for any test that will make you arm yourself should she make an appearance. Catch her first fast, before she wreaks havoc on your body.

For all those men and women, young girls and boys who have fought and survived her deathly grip, I salute you for the spirited fight. I applaud you for punching her ugly face in! I celebrate you today because I know that no one who survives an ordeal with her remains the same person. It is easier to give up and opt to die rather than have poison pumped into your system in the form of Chemotherapy. It cannot be easy, I can only imagine. So, for hanging in there, for not giving up, for choosing to keep fighting for your life and in so doing, fighting for your children, your parents, your spouses, your friends. I salute you. You did it!

For those who succumbed to her lethal attack, we do not think less of you. You fought a good fight. But we will keep fighting for you. We will win this war for you. We will make her pay for all her atrocities-past and present. We will get a cure. We will fight her and we will win, won’t we?

For those going through the rigorous treatments - you are stronger than you know. Don’t hold back. Fight this demon like your life depends on it, because it does. Fight her on your behalf and on ours too. Show her who’s boss. Tell her that its your body, your life and own it back. This October, the Breast Cancer Awareness month, I will say a prayer each day for all the Cancer patients who feel like their days on earth are numbered. You are stronger than you know, I insist. My health, my life. My body, my life. My breasts, my life right?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Say when

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she is expected to make decisions for herself. When that time comes, she is pronounced a grown up. She is then allowed to sit with adults and to do adult stuff; vote, drive, drink, and all things independent. She is trusted enough to be allowed to date and even have a ‘closed-door session’ with a boy. At this point in time, she is believed to know the consequences of every action she takes and she is left to make the right choices (hopefully). In other words, she is given the chance to screw up. If all goes well, she will learn from the screw-ups.

Imagine that power. The seismic shift from being told when it’s time to put on a sweater to being able to choose what to wear, when and with whom to wear nothing with. From being told what time you should be home to choosing where to call home. From being forbidden from watching rated programs and movies, to walking to a movie store and purchasing an ‘adults only’ movie - not because nobody is looking, but because you are an adult. Imagine that power.

Being the grown up that I am, last week I dared to watch the series “Vampire Diaries” after dark (I sense your disappointment. What did you imagine I was watching?) I have never been one to shy away from watching horror, save for the movie ‘Machete’ which I could not stomach. I watched the first five minutes of it and found my finger pressing ‘eject’ by reflex. That movie is gross. I can however brag of having watched ‘Mirror’, another horror, from start to finish. I also managed to watch a significant part of the movie ‘Inglorious Bastards’ but when people’s heads were shaved by the scalp like one skins potatoes, I drew the line and pressed ‘stop’. See, I make grown up decisions every single day.

The trick for me is to watch any scary stuff during the day. I stay away from horrors at night just to make sure I have a peaceful, nightmare-free sleep. Having watched season one of Vampire Diaries, I thought it was safe to break my rules and watch season two at night. So I convinced myself that it wasn’t much of a horror after all, I could take it. I am not a wuss.

After the pep talk I sat through three episodes of bending my knees till they touched my chin, curling my toes, and peeping from the corner of my ‘semi-covered’ eyes (why do we do that?) to see whether Caroline, the human-turned-vampire and Elena’s BFF, would literally suck the life out of her boyfriend. She changed into a scary creature in front of my eyes. Her ‘vampfangs’ came on, her beautiful face creased and I came face to face with the ‘monster’. I hid my face behind my outstretched palms but I was seeing everything through the spaces between my fingers. I looked on as she eer…it held the boyfriend in an intimate embrace, dug its now-long fangs into the depths of his neck and sucked blood to its system. I stared on as the creature came up for air and went back in with a powerful thrust to get another fill.

I could see vampires when I tossed and turned in bed that night. I saw their fangs, their ugly faces. I saw monsters and other scary creatures and I cried for my mommy. Ok, not cried, cried with tears and all but I transformed into a scared little girl, afraid of the dark. When all attempts to fall asleep bore no fruit, and when every slight noise sounded like a vampire lurking in the dark, I conceded defeat, baptized myself the middle name ‘WUSS’, got up and switched the lights back on, then I tried to read a book. Only then was I able to fall asleep.

So that is what life should be about; pressing play and if you like it, you keep watching. If you love it so much, you rewind. When it’s too much, you stop. Maybe you will come back to face it again someday. This time stronger. This time braver. This time, in broad daylight!

But life is much more complicated than that. We stop ourselves when we should keep on; pressing stop instead of play. We rewind our pains and heartaches by refusing to stop bad habits. When something feels good, we find reasons to end it even when we know we should have soldiered on. We keep doing things that we shouldn’t; not because we don’t know better but because we can.

When someone offers to pour you a cup of tea or coffee, or to serve you a plate of food, most times they will expect you to say when it is enough. In the same way, once pronounced an adult of sound mind, every individual gets to ‘say when’. There is something to be said about the individuals’ power to say when enough is enough. There is something about knowing that you hold that power to make sound decisions for yourself. You get to say when you have had your fill. When you have had it and want things to take a certain trajectory.

Sometimes we want a cup-full, while other time we want half a glass. Sometimes, we want our plates filled to the brim while other times we just need a portion of the serving. Sometimes, all we want is a taste, a bite, a sip. Other times there is no such thing as enough - we want more, and we can’t seem to get enough. Each one of us knows when their cup cannot hold any more, or when it is bottomless and they can’t seem to fill it up.

So even though we sometimes go back to being little children in grown up bodies, even though sometimes we need someone to tell us to go to bed and face the horror tomorrow and even when we tempt fate and play with fire knowing full well that we could get burned, each tomorrow in an adult world lies in his or her power to say when.