The Silent Killer

I have been hearing more and more stories about how awful today’s youth are. It’s sad to hear what people say about the category of humans that you fit into. People judging every move you make. It’s like you’re living under a microscope…we don’t give up our seats for elders, we don’t greet elders, we are rude, we are always scrolling on our phones (kunyereza)…blablablaaa. But it’s not fair to stereotype a whole group of people based on one person (or a few peole). Why is it difficult to view people by their individualities and/or by their actions?

Anyways, few weeks ago I went to church. It was a special mass and the church was sardine packed. All the seats were occupied, not an empty seat could be found. There was an old man standing at the back. An old man who needed a seat. I had an opportunity to give up my seat for him. It was not like standing for 2 hours was going to kill me. And this is how I was raised by my mother. I was raised to do better, to greet people, to stand up and let older people sit, to say thank you. That day I wasn’t going to fail my mother.

So, I went and stood at the back.

But just before the Mass began, someone unloaded mercilessly. They let loose a killer. Long and silent. They ripped one that smelled like rotten fish. Small children passed out. 

I was infuriated that I wanted to shout “Good Lord, what the hell did you eat?” They must have thought that if they cut one in the dark no one would smell it, like it’s a ghost or something. But why would anyone let one loose when people have no place to run? And I guess they purposely held it in until the mass celebration began to make sure we were all trapped in there, gasping for air.

Public farting is despicable, particularly when we’re forced to inhale someone else’s fumes of death. Letting loose a killer in a church packed with people, they really had no soul. They are the most disgusting and vile inhuman person in existence. In the midst of running, choking the bastard really seemed like the best option. Or smash their head into the wall. Or snap their neck in a Damon Salvatore style. If only they’d been caught. I just hoped they choke on a bone.

Anyways, there was nothing else I could do but hold my breath and softly bewail as I rushed out. Needless to say that I didn’t go back inside. I was irritated, I went home immediately to rant to my parents.

Fin.

Moral of the story:

Before you fart in public, think of the poor souls who have had to face their shitty bosses, or married people who have quarrelled with their spouses, or young lovers who are dealing with raw heartbreaks. Think of all those poor souls trapped with you in a confined space. The most humane thing you can do is hold your fart in, instead of making them hold their breath, growing frustrated every second, after you rip one in their presence. No one wants to stick around and inhale your fumes of death. 

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.

Disturbing the Peace 

​A medium sized, middle class suburb located 19 km from the City Center, hence the name “cuminicyenda”. We moved here in 2004. We hate this place for its remoteness to almost everything…the market, pharmacy, bank…most necessary goods and services are within riding distance. There’s not much activity here, so we commute elsewhere for them. And public transport here is a complete terrible failure, but is at least available (that’s for another post). Cuminicyenda it is.

Our neighborhood is under the flight path of Kigali International Airport. And from where we live, it’s the landings rather than the take-offs that disturb us. Some aircrafts are barely noticeable that their sound is almost as loud as the sound of a car driving by, it’s just that it lasts a little longer. But there are those that fly over so loudly that they rattle the windows and shake your soul. Those aircrafts that fly over screaming above the rooftop that they give babies nightmares. Those that make it impossible to have uninterrupted conversations. When you’re in a conversation, either on the phone or face to face outside, speaking louder is useless. You just stop talking, let the plane pass and then continue on. And when you’re watching TV, you miss hearing every other minute.

Regardless, we don’t get a lot of noisy traffic and our neighborhood is generally peaceful. Or it’s just that I got used to most of the noise. Or that I have unacknowledged hearing loss. Hehe. I don’t know which is which. For fear of crashes…well, such events terrify me. The thought of an airplane being in a situation where they lose control and can’t avoid us, terrifies me. Besides that, our neighborhood is suitable for human living. 

However, few months ago some other kind of noise pollution joined in.
First, I heard the sound of drumbeats. I thought that it was someone playing loud music. But it went on for an hour. People joined in shouting songs of praise. Maybe it was a choir doing rehearsals and they would be gone in another hour, I thought. The following day, the same happened. And the following day. And then their noise started as early as 9AM. The noise was becoming a bit unbearable. We later learned that a certain Mama Pasteri started a church, in our neighborhood. Nowadays, churches and prophets are springing up everywhere…churches have become businesses. Where did the spirits go?

Our patience was being tested by the church members whose worship services were ultrasonic. The drumbeats from the church were too loud, they made our houses vibrate. They sung. Noticeably unpleasant songs that lack musical quality. They clapped hands, jumped and did all the acrobatics. Few yelled out random words. Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! Disturbances, yelling and tantrums that interfered with our hearing. You can imagine what we were going through daily.

Nowadays, their worship services are only held on Sundays. Even so, these people pray at the top of their lungs. They don’t feel satisfied with moderating their voices and keeping the volume low. They don’t feel satisfied with praying in silence especially in the middle of the neighborhood where babies are sleeping and people are working. People who can’t pray in silence simply annoy and irritate me.

I, by the way, am also a Christian. 
Prayer is a means of communicating to God, in word or thought. And before you say a prayer, God knows it already. Even before you have the thought within your mind, God already knows it. And God is not deaf. God listens! So, why the noise?

It’s great that some people out there are praying for all of us. It’s just the volume of their voices that frustrates me. Why must they shout? Do they pray to a god with impaired hearing? Or they worship the same god that the prophets of Baal worshipped? 

Jesus came to bring peace, but some of His followers won’t stop disturbing the peace. 

Well, get it from me, Jesus doesn’t love you anymore because you’re shouting. And please don’t tell me I’m on the wrong path. I’m doing fine, thank you very much. Don’t even try giving me a lecture, just because I don’t agree with your shouting (and doctrines and opinions). What’s left? Pray for me? 

If you want to, just go ahead and do it.

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.

One journey, One Purpose: To Claire and Placide

Today I’m invited to eat and drink while my best friend a.k.a my Tante is getting married.
Our story began in 2009, when I first saw her during the Ingando. I knew from the start that there was something special about her. Her weird light shone bright and I instantly knew that she was that crazy girl that I wanted to get to know. Then when we got to campus, I met her again and this time she was one of my roommates. I was happy to share a room with her.

However, I don’t know how we became friends…it just happened and now she’s one of my very few but close friends. I’ve been given many blessings and I’m thankful for whatever brought us together. 

Claire has been and is an incredible friend. Her amazing soul, the depth of her heart, her little quirks, her ability to be honest and upfront yet supportive…Claire is, quite simply, the best! She’s one of the most amazing people ever! She is reliable…I’ve always counted on her, which is always nice to have in a friend. I have a few wonderful women in my life and she’s definitely one of them. She’s one of the very few people I don’t know how my life would have been without them. No matter how dark any day got, she was always a bright light that shined. She was always there with a smile, and a word or two of encouragement. 

As I still spent time kissing toads (hehe), she met her soulmate. Then it finally happened…he got down on one knee and asked her the four-word question. And she said yes. My heart was filled with happiness when she told me about the engagement. Now, she’s getting married (sounds weird to say that).

Today, she embarks on the next stage of her life with her Mr Right, Placide. As I watch her live the fairy tale that we read about as kids, I’m reminded just how important she is to me…how much I love her, how much I admire her, how much I’m proud of the woman that she is.

To you my Tante Kler, you’re my role model in so many ways. You inspire me just by being yourself. I love you. Thank you for always being closest to me even when we were in separate stages of life. We all get distant to a certain degree when we make huge transitions in life. However, you didn’t drift away and let me get very far. Thank you for never giving up on our friendship.

I want you to know that you are an amazing human being that deserves the best in the world. You are worthy of all the love in the world and I believe you have found it in him. I’m so glad you found the one who makes your heart and soul happy.

Marriage won’t be easy, but I know you are a strong woman. God made you extra special and made your husband especially for you, so together you will overcome any challenge that your future faces. 

I don’t need to tell Placide everything wonderful about you, because he already knows all. I want to thank him. Thank him for making your dreams a reality. Thank him for giving you the fairytale that you so very much deserve. I hope that he loves you in a way that makes you believe in love every single day.  

The moment you both said “I do” you became one. One marriage, one journey, one purpose. My wish is that your love for another grows every single day. 

I love you, always my Tante.

To Claire & Placide.

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 (or part of it). 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?