Thanks Mom for ushering this wonderful child into the world

Lets assume it’s 20-something years ago. It is on the 25th day of June and it is 8:21AM to be exact. I see strange new faces. Who are these people? Where am I? I don’t even know why I’m covered in blood. Or why my life should begin with yelling. I’m being born.

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Today is my birthday! My sixth 21st birthday, to be exact! Yes, you read that right.
This is me in them wonder years. I wonder how and when I got here. I wonder where all the time went. It feels like someone been holding the remote control and just pressed the fast-forward button and baam, I’m now twenty-all-those years old! This is a set-up that I didn’t sign up for. I was forced into adulthood, against my own will. I have not mapped out a plan for this (though I look like I do). This is not me going confidently in the direction of my dreams. 

    When I was young, I thought all the shit I had planned would work out. I watched and read fairytales and the idea of Prince Charming had imprisoned me in a box of unrealistic expectations when it came to love and relationships. I thought I would meet a nice guy, fall stupidly in love, get married by the age of 23, have babies and live happily ever after. Ma vie était tout tracée! *Everybody laugh with me* Haha. Then life happened. I met guys who broke my heart and one whose heart I broke. 

    Now I’m old enough to realize some of my plans won’t work out and it officially sucks. It’s probably wrong that sometimes when I attend a wedding or see a friend’s baby, I think “what the hell am I doing with my life?” Others have their shit together! But then I think to myself that just because you finished last doesn’t mean that you failed. It just becomes annoying and irritating when people keep pestering you with questions and reminders such as “uzashaka umugabo ryari?” *rolls eyes* As if a husband is something you find at the market and take home with you. Or as if having a husband is a priority or even an accomplishment. In the midst of such annoying episodes, punching them really seems like the better option. But for the sake of not letting my mama down, a coy smile does. Anyways, finding that special someone is never easy, and has never been. That someone who really gets you (why are the good ones always unavailable?) Maybe one gets a sign, like hear a choir of angels singing, or a bright light shines upon him like some supernatural vision from God. But what do I know? I think it’s going to be many years before I find that someone. For now, I’m enjoying my singlehood. 

    Anyways, I have this image in my mind of what my life should be but I don’t know how to get there. It’s like dreaming of everything you have ever wanted but then it’s a cruel trick waking up and realizing it was all FAKE! I often feel like screaming “this is a scam and I need to speak to whoever is in charge!”

    2016 has been a bad but important year in my life. It was so overwhelming, I had a really tough time while working on my dissertation. But with the support and (unconditional) love from my family and friends, I worked hard to achieve the milestone and I officially graduated with decent results (distinction). God’s greatest gift is having such a beautiful family and friends. I learned (the hard way) from every incident that happened to me (especially the heartbreak) and I’m very glad that I went through it and I’m super proud of myself that I sailed through.

    • Am I happy? Definitely, I am.
    • Am I thankful? Yes, no doubt.
    • Do I feel blessed? Indeed, I am.

    Now it’s almost half-way through 2017, and here I am. Single, sleepy and unbothered. Even more lazier than a cat. And still super broke. There’s no difference between the 3-year old me and the me now…financially, I’m still dependent on my parents. I still have nothing in my name. I’ve listed other (random) things that I know about myself…

    1. If anyone could ask anyone who knows me, they would easily say that I don’t like talking, at all. I have thought about jumping out a window to end a conversation. But I have the loudest mind. I always have something on my mind…every single minute I’m thinking and analyzing.
    2. I’ve been asked countless times why I’m mad, just because of my face.
    3. I have an extreme phobia for frogs (and lizards). I see a frog and run for my dear life.
    4. My greatest pet peeve is seeing someone spit. Spitting takes me on another level of anger. If only killing was legal.
    5. I’m not a morning person. I don’t remember the last time I rocketed out of bed and sprinted for my life in the morning.
    6. I don’t wear make-up. I find the whole process of applying make-up very tiring and time-consuming. Make up doesn’t make me feel as good as that extra 1 hour of sleep. For those girls that wear make-up, kudos to you. Your effort deserve recognition and appreciation.
    7. I have dreadlocs. Faux locs. I cheated on the locking process because I didn’t want to go through the shocking and most unpleasant part of the experience, the budding stage a.k.a the ugly stage, as my hair was starting to figure itself out. 
    8. I have the weirdest dreams. I’m a professional dreamer.
    9. I google everything. When I can’t find something on Google, then I know that the Lord is testing me.
    10. I have the world’s best parents. And I have the best godmother. Together, they all give me ambition.
    11. I’m very observant. I pay attention to every single detail.
    12. I’ve never fought with friends (or others) in any way whether physically or verbally. However, I have ignored (and cut off) a handful of friends that weren’t trustworthy.
    13. I prefer beer over any other alcoholic beverage. Wine? Nah. Whisky? Nah. Just beer, preferably a cold one.
    14. I hate high heels. And I don’t know how to walk in them. I be like a grasshopper. Hehe.
    15. I’m terrified of needles and syringes.
    16. I seek perfection in everything I do.
    17. I watch a ton of movies and TV shows. My most favorite being GoT & HTGAWM. And I so very much love French movies, my favorite ones are Le prénom, le dîner de cons, and most of Louis De Funes films.
    18. I have a high metabolism and I’m really slim. I can eat a lot of food without getting fat. I’ve been eating lots, not skipping breakfast, only to find out yesterday that I weigh only 46kgs. The horror!
    19. I love MEAT…all kinds of meat…pork, beef, chicken, goat meat, you name it…whether boiled, grilled or fried. I also love salads and fruits (especially mangoes. Yummy)
    20. I have a shopping addiction and I derive great joy from it. And for that reason, I always keep a shopping list (just in case).
    21. I speak basic French and I hope to continue improving. I want to learn Spanish, German and Chinese (currently learning Chinese).
    22. I want to learn sewing. In the future, I want to be wearing clothes that I’ve sewn myself. And I’m also thinking about going to culinary school because I love cooking.
    23. I’m rubbish at anything sporty, and have always been. As a child I’d find any way to get out sports activities at school.
    24. Everyone tells me that I look younger than my actual age. The last person I showed my ID card (a policeman whom I told my age thought I was joking, so I showed him my ID card as proof) suggested that I cut off 10 years. So, I now officially declare myself 19 years old.
    25. I’m best friends with my Dad. 
    26. After stopping many years, I’m now doing art again (drawing, mainly). It’s not easy but I know I can go far, so I don’t intend to ever stop again.

    There is still so much I still have to do, so much I want to accomplish!

    My birthday is always an opportunity for me to reflect on all those little things that make me realize just how blessed I am, and how much good I have in my life. 
    As I celebrate my birthday, I do not just see someone who is a year older. I also see someone who is full of unbelievable awesomeness, more talented and even more loving.

    Today, I have looked in the mirror, and I found that it is not so bad! In fact, I can still pretend to be ten years younger, than I actually am (see #24).

    So, cheers to myself for surviving another year. And thank you, Mom for giving birth to this wonderful child. 

    To being forever young.

    Happiest of Birthdays to me.

    Introducing Me: Angela, the artist


    Drawing has been one of the best parts of my life ever since I could hold a pencil.

    I started drawing at a young age, but not continually. I remember helping a teacher at school make cards for her class, for the Christmas holidays. However, as a child, Mom didn’t encourage me to draw because she thought drawing would distract me from paying attention in class. She wanted me to concentrate on my studies. Then studies replaced drawing and my art was put aside. But I always knew that time would come when I could dedicate much more time to it. Because I’ve always believed that such gifts are given to us like seeds to water and nourish them and to let them grow. 

    I graduated from college, in Feb 2017 (thank heavens). However, I didn’t want to apply for a job then. Even though I didn’t want to, I couldn’t apply anywhere without licensure. The process consists of sitting for a series of exams and because of that, I had no intention of sitting for another exam any time soon.

    Speaking of jobs, today the job market is tough. And too tight. Businesses are too volatile and complex. Jobs that once took a bachelor’s degree, now take a master’s. Then there are young students, working hard and studying for a degree that may not be helpful for finding work. Thus, debt-strapped students wallow in student loans. For some job offers, experience is one of the requirements. 3 years experience or even 5 years experience. Hehe. Yet, as a graduate, one has limited quantity of experience. Sometimes if you’re lucky to get a job, the job is in a rural location with very little potential for growth. Yet one has big city dreams. It is a struggle, and it is (very) hard to remain positive. 

    Anyways, since I’m done with school (at least for now) it was a perfect opportunity for me to commit myself to reviving my art. And now I have my mother’s and father’s full support and encouragement. It wasn’t until about the time my best friend was getting married (four months ago) that I began to revive my God-given gift again. I started by thinking of a wedding gift to give her. I wanted to give her something unique. Something made specially for her, and only her. Something that had meaning beyond any words could express. Something that would make pleasurable, vivid memories. Picking up a pencil and starting drawing after a 20-years stop was hard. So, that’s when I started to make decorative art. With the help of a carpenter who made a frame for me, I made a wedding gift for her. 

    For another friend’s wedding, I made him also a wedding gift.

    And since then, I’ve been drawing though not frequently. For now, the very reason I draw is because I can. I draw because I need to. Because it is fun and fulfilling. It’s a passion that flows strongest in me. It’s like a force that can’t be stopped. It’s something beyond explanation. My natural gift is generated from creative passion. Spending hours on a drawing gives me a real sense of accomplishment once it’s done. 

    Claire & Placide

    H.E. Paul Kagame

    I feel so great when I see my drawings. It is so satisfying. I feel the same with my art pieces. I could spend hours staring at an art piece that I made. My life wouldn’t be the same without it. 

    I have wanted to be an artist, for as long as I can remember. Maybe my name will never be in lights or no pictures will be taken of me on any red carpet but I have a dream to do art professionally, not just as an amateur. I want to use the God-given gift to the fullest possible extent to make the world a better place in some way. And I hope my work brings joy to people.

    I’m still on the discovery path, exploring many subjects…painting, weaving, calligraphy, collage making. For now, the particular kind of art I’m inclined to do is decorative art. Drawing is relaxing, for the most part. However, it can be challenging and frustrating at times. So I do decorative art because it’s a lot easier (for me) to do than drawing. And I feel it is one of the best means of expressing myself. Few weeks ago, I also began taking classes for (bamboo) weaving. It wouldn’t hurt if I also made some bamboo handicrafts. However, I don’t intend to stop drawing because I want to be an expert in drawing and the only way to get better is to so it consistently.

    Even though this is the beginning of my art career, I already feel that relief inside that I am doing what I love doing.

    Child of the technologically challenged

    ​My folks are a hilarious pair. My Dad is always telling us funny stories and cracking jokes. He’s always been a funny guy. I love when they are arguing, like siblings. And when it comes to technology, they are even more funnier. And more stressing.

    How do I send a message to someone without everyone else seeing it?

    Who are all of these people in my Facebook?

    How do you know if someone has read the email you sent them?

    Why are my contacts in different colors? See? This one is in red, this one is in purple, this is in green…

    Since I’m the one living with them, I’m always the one they call when they need help with a phone problem. I may know what downloading means or how to install an app, but there are some things that are a bit much for me. I’m interested in tech and stuff, but I know my limits. However, because I know some vaguely tech-related stuff, they seem to forget that I studied Biomedical Sciences and think that I pursued ICT. It’s like they think that I was born holding an electronic gadget. Some things they ask me about/to fix are too far beyond my own abilities (and that’s when I run to uncle Google for help). Because there’s a world of difference between figuring out how to install a new app on my phone and resetting mom’s phone, screwing up, and depriving her of communication entirely. 

    Well, most of the time, I feel more than a little obligated, since it is me that introduced them to these things in the first place. And make no mistake, I don’t mind helping them. However, I think it would be better if they learned a few skills of their own, rather than me doing all the work for them. So, I try to bring them into the technical age without frying their brains. Though it’s good, it’s a bit hard. Because they always forget.

    In the past (when I was still at school) when Dad needed help with a phone problem (like updating WhatsApp), I’d help him with detailed steps. I’d provide him with written instructions. A tutorial. Except that he lost them every time. Even so, Dad seems a bit more interested than Mom. He reads news online, has a Facebook account, has learned how to download videos…he tries to keep up with the online world. 

    My mom? She is probably never going to catch up with technology. Like never. Till date, she has a hard time composing a text on her phone. And when she does manage, it’s mostly a no-spacing-no-punctuation-mark type of message. The type of message you read like…

    Facebook? Unknown concept to her. WhatsApp? Oh please! To take a photo, she forgets and accidentally changes to video. Or she moves the camera when she takes photos so that they come out blurry. Or when she takes videos, she forgets to save them and when she tries to show them to us, there aren’t any. Then she remembers that she forgot to save them and it makes me laugh a lot. 

    And the best part is always her questions…

    Why are these words (notifications) moving across my screen?

    Why is my battery draining so fast?

    Where did my airtime go?

    Is it possible to send a message to multiple people?

    Do I have a Facebook account?

    Well, it’s not that she can’t learn, it’s just that she’s never been really interested. It’s not that important to her. So, I always remember who I’m dealing with. 
    Honestly, I think it’s cool when I can teach them something new. When they achieve something little it makes me so proud of them. I count it as a great achievement that I got Mom to shoot a video and take pictures (during the convention), before she went back to her clueless life.

    Dear INES, We Are Officially Over

    2011 is the year I got into INES, a place that I would quickly learn to loathe.

    I heard about INES Ruhengeri from my best friend. The small school in the middle of nowhere, Musanze, didn’t sound so appealing at first, until I learned they had a Biotechnology program. Oh, and it was run by Catholic Fathers who are known to be serious & committed when it comes to education. Decision made! Boy, I was in for a big surprise!

    Within minutes of being there, I could feel the rot beginning to set in. The first thing that hit me was its uniquely depressing appearance.

    To begin, there was a maze of things to figure out – who to get to know, where to go for this or that. A lot of my energy went into trying to make sense of the new environment. It felt overwhelming to start over in a new place with temperatures that were uncomfortably low. Also, coping with new people took me enormous energy.
    As such, I suffered with my eating. I’d struggle to eat my meals. And on several occasions, I was physically sick. Even on the shortest of days, when I only had to be in class for a morning lecture, I’d go back to my place feeling physically and mentally drained, exhausted. My weight suffered greatly. I was scared and confused as to why this was happening because I’d never previously had a problem with my eating. Well, I was a picky eater but nothing more sinister than that.

    At times I felt suffocated. I spent most of the time at my place, with little to do but read, watch movies and sleep. Though I tried, I never felt as though I belonged. My place (read: ghetto), was my safe haven.

    There were days when I was so tired that I could barely drag myself out of bed to go to class. Those mornings when the alarm went off and I would lay in bed thinking to myself “do I really need an education?” All I wanted to do was sleep in or watch movies. But with my imminent future constantly on my mind, I couldn’t afford to sit on my butt, watching movies, while my classmates were studying.

    Well, sometimes I did. If I woke up (feeling lazy) and felt like I didn’t want to go to class, then I didn’t go. There was no one around to force me to study, to go to class, or to get a good night’s sleep. However, to stay productive, I had to know how to control myself…I had to maintain my own schedule and develop my own study habits. So, generally in the days approaching exam time, I had to catch up with the rest of the class. Those were the times when I’d lots of work that even thinking about sleeping was a luxury. I would be pushing past midnight reading. On such occasions, it was hard to take a night off, even when my mental health depended on it. When my body said enough is enough and finally gave in, I would try to take a 20-minute nap but wake up 8 hours later confused as f*ck. 

    It takes enormous self-control to go through the pressure of college life.
    Generally, the pressures are financial problems and a lot of work to do. Though, personally I didn’t have any financial problems.

    College life for me has been a series of the worst possible scenarios I could come in and during my final year, INES became a hellhole. The experience that can be deemed the worst would be when we had to submit our dissertations. After getting  the signature from my supervisor, I went to submit the dissertation only to find that 3 other different guys had to first review it before submission to the department. I was like…

    It was like they took immense pleasure in tossing us around and making us wait. I always left the place swearing all the cuss words that I knew.

    And I suppose this is what eventually brought about the problems INES is suffering from now, and what will probably be its downfall. INES Ruhengeri is a very bad university in terms of anything that management/administration should be really be judged on. It is terribly run. But things need to be tightened up, standards need to be improved. 

    INES is full of people who really want to be there…like those students who ask a question that requires a 30-minute explanation, 6 minutes before the class ends. Seriously? And it always has to be to that professor who can’t leave a question unanswered. Those were the students who had obviously bought into a badly sold dream of bettering themselves and, at times, it was horrible to watch – knowing that they were doing five times as much work as me, but somehow we were still drifting along in the same leaky boat. Hehe. INES is an institution that needs a serious overhaul, but is instead potentially ruining the lives of thousands of people. 

    Some people think being a student is easy. But being a student (especially being a student at INES) has never been easy. As with every struggle, studying calls for the grace of God. And the encouragement of friends and family.

    College life, though it was fun at times, but make no mistake, it was exhausting. However, it has helped me grow as an individual.

    The step into the real world is a scary one. Finding a job is horrifying because the job market is tough, now. It’s a real struggle and it’s hard to remain positive. Jobs that once took an associate’s degree now take a master’s, and debt-strapped students wallow in student loans. And there are those who are studying for a degree that may not be very helpful (at all) for finding work.

    Graduation is glowing in all its golden glory a few days away. I’m super glad I’m finally done with INES… With all that’s cost me, I’ll not miss INES or anything that has to do with it. And I’ll not miss being a student any time soon.

    Sincerely,
    The student who won’t miss you.

    My Moments of 2016

    I used to think that the worst thing in the world is losing someone you love. But I was wrong. The worst thing and biggest mistake one can make is losing oneself in the process of valuing someone too much. And forgetting that you too are special. I’ve learned the hard way that the worst kind of pain is that without open wounds or broken bones and that it hurts the most. And leaves the biggest scars.  
    A year and a half ago, I got my heart broken and it truly almost killed me. 5 years earlier, I’d met a guy and fell for him. Let’s just say that I thought I was lucky to have found him and I held on to him like I’d found the cure for world peace (Hehe). I thought things were perfect and that they’d never fall apart. Then all hell broke loose when he told me the truth. His words were like a glass splinter working its way into my heart. I was devastated. I’m convinced that different people awaken different beasts in you. I felt unlovable and worthless. I was left in a million twisted little pieces. There were endless questions without answers. I questioned my worth.  

    After numerous (failed) attempts to save the relationship, it was time to unfuck myself and be who I was before all the sh*t that dimmed my shine happened. I’d to let my weird light shine bright again. I’d to forget what I felt and remember what I deserve. I prayed hard to find the strength to let go of him and to forgive him. Holding a grudge was too heavy a burden to carry. Though it was a long and ugly process, I have forgiven him. But I must admit that I wouldn’t have forgiven him without Divine intervention.  

    Everyone’s been lied to, used, betrayed, and hurt. A strong person falls down, gets up, tries again, perseveres no matter what life throws at them and faces tomorrow with a smile. Because there’s nothing painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong. Frankly, I never thought there was anything good about being hurt by someone you love. I never thought I could possibly learn anything from being hurt. Yeah, it’s a shitty feeling in the beginning. 

    I often gave myself pep talks, like “Don’t be sad, you’re doing great“; “Angela you’ll be fine, love you“; “Don’t give up God will give you the strength to overcome this“; “This too shall come to pass“… I distracted myself by trying to think about someday when all the pieces would finally come together. The day I would look back at the times that had passed, smile, and ask myself, “How did I get through all of that?” The moment I got past the hurt, I was able to see the beauty in the situation. 

    I was able to look out for myself and it has effortlessly benefited me. I embraced my new-found single life. I was able to reflect on what had happened and realized that I was the shit whether he wanted to be with me or not. I discovered strengths I didn’t know I had. I have only one life and I ain’t spending it crying miserably. I got cautious with my time and energy. 

    As if I wasn’t having a bad time enough, INES joined forces to make it worse. Completing my dissertation was a frustrating struggle. After applying for permission to collect data, I finally got clearance after much delay (4 long months of waiting, yet initially I was told it took only 3 weeks). Carrying out a research study demands lots and lots of patience. Then there was this lady (the boss) I’ll call Eva who wasn’t helpful at all. For weeks, instead of giving me what I needed, she kept giving me excuses…”This week is accreditation week, come back next week on Monday“, “We are very busy, come next week“, “Not today, come back next week” I was hammered with endless and pathetic excuses. Every time Eva saw me walk in her office, I swear she wanted to punch a hole in her desk. Hehe. But I couldn’t understand what she wanted. Maybe I looked like someone coming straight from the village with no Biomedical background at all. But it wasn’t like I was going to publish the data on this blog. Or discuss it with everyone in my neighborhood. Neither was it like she was giving me the country’s top secret files or nuclear weapons launch codes. Well, I thought that as long as I had clearance, she had no choice but to give me the data. My assumption was wrong. 

    After 4 extra months of more brouhaha, I was running out of time. I had no choice but to change and go for another (much simpler) topic that wouldn’t demand much time to complete. I designed questionnaires, wrote the proposal and it was approved for the next step. Data collection is always the hardest part. You spend 10 minutes explaining the nature and purpose of your study (to participants) and only 2 agree to participate. Though it was their right not to participate, I felt like screaming. Anyways, some were very sweet and completed the questionnaires swiftly. I finally got the data I needed and went through with analysis. Working with my supervisor who didn’t respond in a timely manner to written work I submitted, was equally frustrating but together we managed to get it done. Submitting my work to the department was even more frustrating. I was pissed at everyone at INES and hated them, at equal measures.

    At this point, I know that all wounds, no matter how bad, heal in time. I’ve realized that this is a cold world, so I’ve learnt to put my feelings in my pocket. However, I know for a fact that I’m loved. I know that I mean the world to some people and that they care a lot for me. Through all this, I always got support. Whenever someone asked how far I was with my dissertation, and I told them that I was stuck at some point, they either comforted me or offered support that ranged from financial help (money) to free printing services. I would have become insane without these very people. Bless you all. 

    These people also restored my hope in love. After the breakup (probably the ugliest in human history) I thought I was unlovable because I measured my lovability based on him. However, being shown immense love and endless support, opened my eyes to see that there’s nothing wrong with me. Absolutely nothing. And I know that there’s always another fish in the sea and that not all guys are the same. Just because one hurt me, doesn’t mean the next one will hurt me, too. I don’t doubt that there are still some good men out there. So, I won’t deny myself a chance to be happy. And the statement “If you can love the wrong one so much, just imagine how much you can love the right one” reminds me of all that I can offer. So yeah, I’m still waiting for mine…  

    The pain is still there. It never really goes away. However, it doesn’t keep me awake at night thinking about what could have been. Nor does it make me cry. It does it make me hate him, either. Instead I thank him for teaching me a valuable life lesson. 

    Looking back on 2016, I see how much God has protected me, and how much He’s blessed my life. I entered 2017 happy and very single.

    Happy New 2017 y’all. 

    P.S. To all the men and women out there who broke our hearts, thank you for helping us grow. 

    It’s that time of the year

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the festive season. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and probably will always be. Ever since I was a child, I excitedly await Christmas because there is so much that I love about it. First, there’s the moving magic of Christmas carols. The joy of listening to Christmas carols can cheer one up, no matter how bad things in life may be. Second, the beautiful lights and pretty decorations that give a feeling of happiness. Decorating the Christmas tree with lights and other sparkly ornaments was enough to brighten even the most gloomiest of moods. It’s a pleasure worth experiencing. Third, Father Christmas.

    I went to La Colombière School. Every year Father Christmas celebrated Christmas with us before school closed. It was the school policy to make sure that we, the pupils celebrated Christmas with the school management before we went for holidays. And I so loved that. I loved seeing the man in the red and white suit.

    “How old are you?” He asks.

    “Eight” 

    “Have you been a good boy/girl?”

    Then you nod. I always felt proud to receive a gift from Santa. So, whenever I saw Santa, I begun absorbing the Christmas spirit as if by magical Santa osmosis.

    I loved making cards for Daddy and Mommy, plus all the decorations for closing day celebrations. A certain teacher who was our neighbor and who taught in baby class at school, noticed my artistic skills (which have long departed me). When closing day would be around the corner, she would ask for my help to make cards for her class. And I would get treats for my services.

    Mums who still uses the decorations that we made in nursery school, evokes a wave of nostalgia that sweeps over me whenever I see them. It makes me excessively yearn for returning to the irrecoverable period.

    Christmas was a time when I hoped to receive presents from my folks. Mom always bought us new clothes and shoes for the festive season. Everyone wears their best clothes for Christmas (hehe). For some families, the only new clothes they get every year are for Christmas. And the parties are a good place to show off the new clothes. If there was an auntie or uncle who had travelled from abroad to be with the family for the festivities, then we would also get some chocolates and sweets.

    Christmas Eve has always been one of the biggest nights of the year, as it kicks off the festivities. And for new year, one song really puts me in the mood. The Bonane (Bonne Année) song by Orchestre Impala. I listen to the song and feel like I’m flying.

    Now that the holidays are in full swing, I’m already absorbing the Christmas cheer vibes and I’m going to smile at everyone I encounter and say “Merry Christmas”

    Oh and Santa, I have been a really good girl this year, so do you think you could give me an extra special present?

    It’s been 17 years…

    I was an only child for two years before my parents began giving me brothers. 7 years later, I and my younger brother were told that another brother was arriving. However, I was still safe in being the only daughter. This little one has been my favorite because since the day he was born, my life has changed completely. From the moment I saw him, we bonded in a special way. The very first time my parents brought him home from the hospital, I felt that he was mine somehow and that I was responsible for him. I was like his third parent (and still I am). 

    However as a kid, he had this annoying habit of hiding stuff from whoever annoyed him. Mom won’t buy him a lollipop; he hides her shoes. Dad won’t take him out for brochettes, he hides his shoes. Whoever annoyed him, he hid one of his/her stuff. Especially shoes. 

    So I annoyed him, and he hid an envelope that contained all my documents. It was that time when I was applying to join the university, and my documents happened to be in that envelope. Report cards, diploma, ingando certificate, bank slips. He hid it and forgot about it. 

    When I was arranging stuff, I unexpectedly found the envelope where he had hidden it. I took it and then told my mom. Mom decided to give him the scare of his life.

    Mom told him that I would be going to school soon and asked him to give me back the envelope. He rushed to get it but couldn’t find it because I’d already took it.

    “I can’t find it” he said. “Where did you put it?” mom asked him. “I’d hid it but I can’t find it” he told her.

    Mom puts on a serious face.

    “See what you’ve done. Now, your sister won’t be going to school” she told him. “You need to find the envelope” she added.

    He was seriously panicking.

    “What if I find you a new school?”

    I burst out laughing.

    From that day on, he never hid stuff again.

    He’s younger than me but like all younger brothers, he thinks he is the eldest.

    Once on my birthday, it was that time of the month when my period had decided to rear its big ugly head (yeah, it almost always comes at the worst time possible). That birthday I’d planned to spoil myself a little. Then my period was like “Not so fast, my dear. I’m most definitely attending your birthday”. My body had a painful way to remind me that I was not pregnant: hot flushes, bloating, back pain, persistent sharp lower abdominal pain, and an emotional instability — mood goes from gloomy to suicidal to angry to loving to crazy bitch in like 2 minutes. Hehe. My hormones were all over the place and messing me up. 

    My folks had forgotten it was my birthday (couldn’t blame them, they are growing old after all). My phone was bursting from receiving those Facebook notifications of supposedly birthday wishes. The HBD and HBD2U type of messages. I can’t even begin to say how much I dislike these so-called birthday messages. Is there anything more annoying than the HBD texts? You people who send HBD have failed your parents (or whomever). They invested in your education, only for you to write 3 meaningless letters supposedly as a birthday message? Or is it because Facebook put a bug in your ear with their little reminder to wish someone a happy birthday? Well, if you lazy donkey can’t write the whole damn thing, then don’t write anything at all! I wonder what these people do with all the extra time they save by just writing HBD instead of Happy Birthday. 

    Anyways, back to my room…I was curled up in bed like a fetus, laying still, had probably spent half an hour trying to figure out the best lying-down position (that position that seemed reduce the symptoms) and I wasn’t going to move from that position even if our house was on fire. Then, my baby brother came to my room. And just before I could spit fire on him, he said to me…

    “This is all I had. Happy birthday”
    And he gave me 2 samosas. Oh God! I cried (not the hormones! Hehe). How thoughtful of him! He probably thought they were little or meant nothing much, but they did. They were (and still are) the best birthday present. By then he was still a little boy (who had no Facebook to remind him), but he remembered and got me a birthday present. It wasn’t about the samosas, it was about the acknowledgement. He remembered when everyone else forgot. He’s never forgotten my birthday. Not once.

    At home, birthdays have always been days like all the others. Nothing special. I have never had a birthday cake baked or bought in my honor. Never seen my name on a cake. I don’t know how it feels to blow a birthday candle *rolls eyes* I certainly don’t recall any cake cutting. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate birthdays. The best part of not celebrating my birthday is that I didn’t have to sit as everyone gathered round to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ while I watched, unsure of what to do with myself. Am I supposed to smile? Do I make eye contact with everyone singing? Do I do that orchestra conductor thing? What do I do after they’re done singing? Clap hands? I don’t know. 

    Mom and Dad always remembered and wished us a happy birthday. Perhaps they would take us out – for brochettes and soda and perhaps buy us some sweets – but that was it. You weren’t going to receive a single birthday present. You didn’t get lots of well wishes from family (who else even knew it was your birthday, apart from your parents and siblings?). No party. No birthday cake. None of that stuff.

    And I’ve not yet learned to embrace growing up. With every year seems to come more responsibility, higher expectations, less cartoons (Hehe). Every year, my birthday is a reminder that I’m leaning closer to kissing my youth goodbye.
    My baby brother goes out of his way for me because I’m his one and only sister (that’s the most adorable part of being an only girl!). He loves me and there’s no guessing about it.

    Today it’s been 17 years since I’ve been blessed with another brother. The boy I once held in my arms, as a baby. Now he’s taller (and bigger) than me, but he’ll always be my little brother. Today the world is blessed with his presence for another year. I thank the Lord for the life in him. I’m happy for your 17 years and many more to come.

    My everyday prayer, God, is that You keep my little brother in Your care.

    Happy birthday, Jeune Homme.

    P.S. One more year till you’re legal.