CORNERSTONE Years on, he graduated the best and began working at a reputable hospital as Head of General Doctors. Unknown to me, I was admitted into the same hospital he worked. “Ma'am, I'm sorry but you will have to stay till you are okay to leave,” the nurse said to me, diagnosed of Diabetes. “I am the mother of the worst kid on Earth. I am so unfortunate,” these I said soliloquizing. My son who walked at 3 and spoke at 5, made me realized fate had something wonderful in store for me. “I'm damn tired of this whole situation. I am filing a divorce against you,” these my husband said in fury. I had to take up a job as a cleaner to fend myself and my son. My son's dream was to study in one of the prestigious school in the world, ranked high in medicine. He once told his friends but they laughed him to scorn. They had the belief only the wealthiest gets in. “Mom, my friends said I can never get admitted into my dream school,” he cried home from school one day. I encouraged him to get off their myopic views of success and aim for the top. The more his friends and many other persons discouraged him, the more I encouraged but when I do the opposite, there was none to encourage. This was hard for him as I was his strength and at same time, weakness. I considered my financial capacity and the bad though of accepting a loan. A year later, his gap year took off. Unknown to me, he had been ruminating on what to do as the next phase of his life unfolded. He couldn't afford not resuming the college he was going to commit to the next year's fall. “You can't get into Harvard. It is very expensive. It has a very low acceptance rate. There are no college upfront costs programs to aid your application.” These statements made by his friends got him encouraged instead of the opposite. He began researching free programs, discovered the best fit for him, applied and was luckily selected. “Honey, where are you packing your luggage to?” I asked in surprise. “I'm leaving to my friend's place,” he replied. “What will you get yourself doing? Who is this friend? Where exactly does he lives?” I asked thousands of questions he had to answer. “Mom! Mom! Mom! I want to go hustle and make my living on this terrestrial ball an impactful one,” he replied. “Don't weep as I won't change my mind,” he commanded on seeing my teary eyeballs. After his departure, I busted out in tears that could fill a 50 liters bucket. He worked hard, applied. It was enigmatic for him to believe he got accepted into his dream school on full ride scholarship. Then I realized the saying “Diligence with resilience is really the gateway into success” and “Luck is not by chance but preparations meeting opportunities.” There was this practice in the hospital where the H.G.D. as referred to, visits all patients through a particular week in a month. I was lucky to be admitted during this period. On the third day of that week, it was my ward's turn. He came in, asked how I was feeling. I had a second look at him and discovered the tall handsome doctor was Brian. “Dr. Brian Rowland Adrian” I called out his name, in bewilderment. He was surprised to have a patient know his full name. I introduced myself and busted out in tears immediately. “Mum, is this you?” he replied in shock. We hugged for so long and shed tears of joy. He was happy to behold his father's bride after nine years of separation. Coincidentally, there was a male patient who was diagnosed of high blood pressure. As usual, he went in to ask the man's wellbeing. “This patient's face is familiar” he said to himself. “Sir, have we met before?” he asked. “I don't know you,” he replied. He could recognize the old patient's face as his father's but the patient couldn't. “Are you not Mr. Rowland Brown, the father of one Brian Rowland Adrian?” “Yes, I am but who are you? I don't know you before. How did you know the full name of my son? Have you been monitoring my family since I married?” he replied questioning. “I'm the son you left to die. The main reason you divorced my mum”, Brian replied. Immediately, tears flowed down his cheeks as he couldn't stand the shame of being treated by the same person he left untreated. “My son, please forgive me ,” he pleaded agonizingly. Brian left in anger and came show me to Rowland. “Dad, meet mum you left to suffer. I'm the product of only her pain and suffering,” Brian said in tears and rage. He promised not to forgive him. I had to intervene by begging Brian's forgiveness which took weeks for him to consent. A few days later, we both got discharged. Brian moved us to the house he had built. While having a reconciliation dinner together, I tapped Rowland and said, “Indeed, the stone the builders rejected is now the cornerstone,” rotating my eyeballs and neck round the whole beautiful paradise.
By the age of 5, I already attended a fair share of quincenearas and knew by then that I did not want to have a traditional 15th birthday celebrated by my Mexican culture. Wearing extravagant gowns with lace trims wasn't my style. I'd rather don a Jedi robe and in lieu of a flower bouquet, I'd carry a lightsaber. My parents, partially to blame for my love of all things Star Wars, gave me the middle name Leia, after Princess Leia. I was a freshman in high school and college and was turning 15 in 2020. My family kept trying to persuade me to have a quinceanera, even trying to coax me into having an 18th Birthday celebration, customary in my Filipino culture. Despite their persistence, they caved in and built the Star Wars themed party I dreamt of, including personalized lightsabers down to handcrafted Baby Yoda ears to wear, to be followed by a Disneyland trip. March, Friday the 13th, a day before my party, there was news about quarantine for this thing they referred to as Covid-19. All that meant to me was my party and trip were canceled. It was spent binging Star Wars to peel our eyes off of the coverage of COVID. We soon realized much was unknown, except for the numbers–numbers of infected, number of countries with outbreaks, number of dead. Numbers were something I loved, math was my favorite subject; solving equations or analyzing statistics. I've never been more scared of numbers. School announced we were doing distance learning and it became a reality, it wasn't just my birthday that came to a halt, everything I normally loved doing was put on pause. Everyone thought it would be 2 weeks, an early spring break. Two weeks became a month, a month became two. and then the rest of the year. It was when our school issued Chromebooks to learn from the safety of our homes that it cemented—2020 history included life in a pandemic. Online school brought challenges: I dreaded someone noticing I was still in my PJs, secretly trying to scarf down breakfast while in class, or dozing off because of the comfort of doing school at home. Uncomfortable desks and creaking chairs were something I thought I would never miss. I longed to hear the chitter-chatter of my classmates, instead of the silence of muted mics. There's a pang of guilt for feeling my world has turned upside down; it's not even remotely comparable to what others go through. Before the pandemic, my only worries were maintaining a 4.0GPA, working towards my AA degree, and meticulously planning that perfect 15th birthday. Instead, I was consumed with worry over things I never thought I'd agonize over. Extreme germaphobe tendencies of my mom plastered on sticky notes were instilled in me, I worried about what germs were harbored on each inanimate object I touched (or even just barely grazed). I felt like I was constantly washing my hands to the tune of Happy Birthday, a reminder that my celebrations were called off, not to mention the constant washing made my eczema flare-up. My hands were dry and itchy, burning when I would apply hand sanitizer for what felt like the 100th time that day. Breathing in another person's air became my worst fear as the CDC reported how the coronavirus spread. It shouldn't be an issue because I wasn't going anywhere, but my father's a correctional officer-a frontline worker. Every night we had a longstanding tradition; I would sneak to the room right before he fell asleep, and put one of my stuffed animals next to my dad as I kissed him goodnight. However, that petrifying word, numbers, haunted me at home. A great number of staff and inmates were infected. Anxiously, I would refresh the website that tracked cases at his work, praying we wouldn't see an increase. The news reported many frontline workers were making makeshift homes away from homes to protect loved ones. Our family just couldn't fathom the idea of dad living away from home. Hugs became air hugs. No cuddling together on the couch. Goodnight kisses turned into video calls as we made that heartbreaking decision because my mom and I both had underlying health conditions. My world became all about screen time. School had turned into Zoom meetings, visits with my sister and nieces who lived just a walk away were now on FaceTime, hanging out with friends in person became video gaming together online, and to be informed with the outside world, I was now consuming more television and social media than ever. My Sweet 16th was another quarantined birthday, which also meant the pandemic reached over a year! However, there's that glimmer of hope as I received my COVID vaccine. For a sense of normalcy, I get dressed up as if I'm going physically somewhere to meet online. I believe in science and chose to make the best of what I can do from the safety of my home and my newly transformed room my parents did for me to make things just a little bit easier. After all, I'm now spending so much time there, we might as well make the most ideal space for me to be in!
We were making vareniki. It wasn't the first time and probably wasn't the last one. My mum was sitting near refrigerator in our small kitchen, while the last rays of the sun were hiding behind orange ambries. You know, there are days when everything seems like honey and when you remember them, your thoughts are sparkling and the old music is playing around. And sometimes there are simple moments which look like eternity, perfection, which are completely finished. That day was one of those. Calmness is a huge whale and it leaves in our house. My mum was talking about her childhood, how her parents and she had been picking up blackberries and mushrooms. Sometimes I'm thinking about being there with them. I'm sneaking along these paths behind them. I don't even have to try hard. I hear their voices: my grandad is talking about the importance of being patient, he is young. He says: ‘sometimes you just have to wait'. It is about chanterelles, hiding in the moss, but I know, he is talking about something bigger than just a mushroom. My mum gave me the dough, it is ready to be rolled. She continued. Mum spend her early years in a small town. Unlike the big ones there are things which are not changing ever. Like my granny's mum and her mum they used to roll the dough with the bottle. The tradition is always a small thing. After a long long day in the woods the whole family gathered in the kitchen talking and making dinner. And the bottle was there. That evening they were together. My mum and herself, but 30 years younger. The girl of my age was there in our kitchen. Mum was making absolutely identical waves on the top of vareniki. The plate was almost filled with them. It became darker outside. lanterns lit and reflected in the window like little fireflies. The water have boiled. My mum put the vareniki into the water. We were waiting. We were quiet. Only the old music of the memories was playing around.
I have never been good at vocalizing myself, especially around crowds or new people, whether with relatives, school pupils or strangers. I would get excessively overwhelmed and swallowed up by my fear. Though I am not too accurate of the time when I transitioned into the reserved incommunicable girl, I had become, because I am told that as a toddler I used to be bubbly and boisterous. The life of the party as some might say. But what I do remember is someone who was intimidated by everything and everyone, even asking to go to the toilet or to ask for elaboration during a lesson at school. On the year after I finished 2nd grade, I changed schools to attend at a multi-racial school. I had no understanding of the English language and would look perplexed whenever I was engaging with other students or teachers. I think that's when my phobia of people ensued, I was embarrassed that I could not speak like the other kids and that I was the only one in class who could not converse in English. The shaky confidence I was trying to uphold collapsed exposing my vulnerability. A few months later, I grasped the language and gradually acquired more knowledge of it. I jumped that huddle but more were awaiting me in future. My lack of self-esteem weighed me downwards, right up until I was in high school, though I would start to garner confidence in the tenth grade when I was hailed as one of the best writers in the English class. I was still dead quiet and awkward. I didn't realise it, but I was a pen craft and that caught the attention of my grade ten form and English teacher. We had been given an assignment to write a speech on the topic of our desire, which we were supposed to present in front of the class. Through that speech I wrote, Mr Sommers (English teacher) started to have an understanding of the person I was and saw within me potential I never thought myself to have. He heightened my thirst to sharpen writing skills. Two years before I had started writing poetry but never thought that I was good enough to mention it to anyone so it was my pleasant little secret. I was called weird and peculiar due to my inward disposition. Cast aside because I was uncool and unbecoming. When it came to literature and writing in class though, a different tune would be sung. Writing lifted my spirit, gratified and reminded me of the fact that I was good at something and worthy of admiration and praise. This alleviated doubts I had concerning self-image, intellect and the overall perception of life. In words I found consolation, I realised the affect they had and that if aligned competently they can alter a persons' train of thought for their betterment. From grade ten to matric (grade 12), his class was the only one, besides the IsiZulu (mother tongue) class that I could expressively act. He allowed me, as well as the other girls to be the best versions of ourselves. After I matriculated (graduated from high school) I got a rude awakening that my lack of self-confidence was only a hindrance in the path of the progression of my life. I even wrote a poem about this titled 12 years of nothing because I only achieved two of the five distinctions I had wanted. Which left me pondering on words that a former class mate had said to me. She told me to open up a bit so that people would perceive me for who I was and so I could have a voice. I found it more relevant than ever to use my writing skills, because I had entered a new phase of my life, gone was the old, in was the new and I knew no one. Me, paper and pen, became inseparable to the point that a guy in my community said I would become psychotic because I was forever reading and writing. With each poem I wrote I noticed growth, maturity and it served as a reminder of the person I authentically was and whom I wanted to evolve into. Writing helped when, I was at college studying Film and Television Production. I possessed the ability to compose a concept for a story far more adequately, than my fellow college mates because writing regularly assisted me in reaching my full potential in terms of the vocabulary of the English language. My enthusiasm as a writer is at its apex and I intend on using it for the betterment of my life and that of those around me. Each poem, essay, article or story I write is a representation of my experiences and opinion, I write about things that interest me or are breath-taking in a positive or negative manner. It assists me in observing the status quo, events happening me in my life, goals, dreams and fantasies. All these things get penned down each time I pick up a pen. I could not have chosen another career, writing is my life, joy and pride. It serves as an affirmation that there are more important things than social media and that readers are leaders and writers are the ones that hold the lighters to intellect.
WRITING versus TYPING Hmmm.. which do you prefer? Personally I love them BOTH... but as an old-fashion guy, I prefer scratching ink and lead to different types of paper just like a traditional visual artist who does his self portraits,friends and ladies. WRITING = 70% TYPING = 30% WRITING versus TYPING Hmmm... Who's has a lot of styles? Definitely the Digital one while.. WRITING helps me to do manual calligraphy whereas TYPING instantly offers me a lot of Font options on my own convenience with less effort. The score: WRITING = 50% TYPING = 50% WRITING versus TYPING Hmmm... Who is the better keeper? Surely the First one. I am [Talking/Writing/Typing] based on experience.. After 'ol the effort on 'ol my written stuff!? I have accumulated bundles of notebooks, sketchpad, and canvases. ''Olmost 'ol those are kept on our Attic, on my bookshelves, on our other house and others are underneath my bed. Whereas my "TYPED-stuff" where digitally distributed on my laptops, flash drives and on the google drive. The score: WRITING = 60% TYPING = 50% WRITING versus TYPING Hmmm... Who is the bulky one? Surely the First one. The score: WRITING = 85% TYPING = 15% WRITING versus TYPING Hmmm... Who is more sentimental? Writing. The score: WRITING = 70% TYPING = 30% WRITING versus TYPING Who do I value more? Hmmm... Personally, If I were to choose between two (2) identical manuscripts- One (1) is hand-written on a notebook & the other one (1) is on a flash drive, Sorry but, I rather keep the notebook. And then afterwards... ....have the notebook digitized. The score: WRITING = 85% TYPING = 15% WRITING versus TYPING To whom i remember more? In WRITING, I can only use my Left-hand, Solely. Intimately ...whereas in TYPING, ..I can use both of my carpals. Tick-Tack! Dancing, Playing, ..like on a keyboard, or on guitar strings! WRITING versus TYPING Who do I love more? Hmmm... Both... Fifty (50) -Fifty (50) I love both my Year 2000 notebooks and my Year 2000 floppy disks. Except that I cannot open and read my floppy disks. :( ...Trapped. The real score: WRITING = 60% TYPING = 40% WRITING versus TYPING? Who will last better? Who really know? Dust mites, Termites, Digital viruses, forgotten passwords, .. A. I initiatives... ..the solution.... ..back-up, back-up.. ..digitized, ..digitized. ...And keep the most cherish Writings in the Attic.
I open the door and my boyfriend walks into the house, we do not touch hands for obvious reasons. He takes off his shoes and drops his socks right where he stands. He takes off his mask and throws it on the table. He is an employee at a hotel in my town, Mombasa. The hotel has suffered quite a lot due to the effect of the Pandemic on the Kenyan economy. Up to eighty percent of the workforce was fired and all of the managerial positions slammed with pay cuts. He was one of them, working at the security department. I on the other hand got fired and now stay home trying to find whichever talents I could possibly have. Going back to my sister's is He goes to the bathroom as I prepare tea, serve it in cups and place them on the table. I take the masks and put them away then I sit down and wait for him. He joins me and we drink the tea together. There are, as usual, very disheartening reports on the news; more people are reported positive even as testing is afoot in my town. not an option since all the county borders were closed to aid in reducing the spread. ‘You need to really take care of yourself,' he says ‘Of course, moreover, I have no reason to go outside, unlike you,' ‘I keep safe and carry my sanitizer everywhere but…' raising one eyebrow and pursing his lips in a smile, ‘I have a pretty high immunity.' neither of us can remember the last time he got sick, in fact he has never been sick in the last three years I have been with him. I shrug my shoulders and keep silent, knowing very well that this is a new disease, one never knows how a new virus works in regard to immunity, though it is safe to say when one catches the virus, it is a battle between their body's immunity and the intruder. We live in a small village, very communal. People go out to find their daily bread; it is not uncommon to find gatherings of people, some with masks and some without, while working manual jobs or trading. Our government is not in a position to cushion every individual household hence it is impossible for people to stay in especially where the breadwinner is either fired or absent. Friday 08:30 AM I feel a tingle in my nose. I pinch the upper part and shake it a little. The tingle still remains then I feel a little pressure in my nasal cavity, the sensation lingers for a while as I open my mouth to enable a sneeze but it doesn't come out. I prepare warm lemon water and drink. This is to help me warm up my nose to make the tickle go away. It actually does. Later in the day there is a slight headache and I am sneezing hard. My boyfriend comes in again, removes his shoes and throws mask on the table. I prepare a snack and put the mask away. After eating for a while I go to rest. I cannot remember how long it took to fall asleep but I usually binge watch episodes of Family Guy before drifting off to sleep. I did not do that and waking up feels exhausting to say the least. I keep lying on my bed, my head is warm and I cannot tell if I have a fever but I feel very uncomfortable. We do not own a thermometer. Up to 75% of households in developing countries do not have thermometers. As I watch my boyfriend get ready my eyes water, I am not sad so I am not crying. It is the tingling feeling in my nose causing a reflective effect in my eyes. He comes over to me and kisses me goodbye. I sneeze on him mistakably just as his face moves inches away from my forehead. We laugh about it as I apologize and he leaves. The exhausting sickly feeling goes away a little and I carry on my day as usual. My boyfriend arrives home, takes off his shoes, throws mask on the table and goes to take a shower. I put the mask away and get us some snacks. My sickness comes back and I feel worn out. My boyfriend asks me what is wrong and I tell him about how I have been feeling the past few days. He says we will go to a clinic on the next day. As we wait for the nurse I keep sneezing and everyone in the waiting room gives me the side eye. It reminds me of the family from Central Kenya who were shunned by their neighbors because of having the virus. A nurse passes us by and disappears into another room, a few minutes pass and she comes back with a doctor. They call me in. ‘Were you told that if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19 you should only call a health centre and not visit unless told so?' the doctor asks, I nod and apologize. I didn't think I had the virus, I don't think I have it. It should be the regular flu. He collects a sample from me and sends us to the testing centre where we get tested. They tell us to go home and wait for the result after a week. The end of that week we receive a call. My boyfriend was COVID-19 free. I guess he was boasting rightfully while I was there handling his mask for him.
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