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.

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    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.

    Ikibasumba Mutabonwa

    “Come, I have something to show you.” I hand her an envelope.

    “What’s this?”

    “Open and see for yourself”

    She then looks at me…

    “You do really love me, now I know.” She says.

    We both smile.

    Later she tells me that it was not really necessary. That there are lots available for rentals, that I could have used my money for something else. For something more important. But what’s more important than my mom? Or who is more important than my mom? 

    She’s got 3 kids, a husband, a house and bills to pay. On her to-do list and budget, there’s unsurprisingly no room for shopping for luxuries. She’s constantly coming up with excuses not to treat herself. Too busy, no time to go. Bills to pay. Priority issues to solve. Too worried about her kids to spend any money and time indulging herself. And she forgets herself. 

    I wanted to spoil her with something she loves but would never buy. For me, it was umushanana/umukenyero. Umushanana is the Rwandan traditional attire. It wasn’t her birthday. It wasn’t the festive season. There was no major event coming up. I didn’t need a reason to spoil my mom. I just wanted to buy her something randomly, as a sign of appreciation. So, I saved up money to buy her one.

    However, it was hard finding the perfect mushanana for her because she’s this type of woman that I have never fully understood.

    The next Saturday she wore it to a wedding. 

    As a kid, I hated my mom. Because she was the disciplinary, I thought she hated us. Whenever we stepped out of line, mom was the one who delivered the whippings. In my eyes, she was a very mean woman. Mom was super strict. I hated school, though I got excellent grades. In fact, I have always hated school. The only thing I’ve loved about school was having Father Christmas at school when the festive season was coming. When it came to Maths, I was an annoying lazy girl. I deliberately made mistakes because I would get bored while solving the problems. But mom wasn’t going to allow that. She would make me repeat, and beat me if need be. She never gave up, till I got the correct answers on my own. Never did the homework for us. I hated her for that. Then I got to high school (boarding) and I was on my own. No one to check my assignments. What if I got the answers wrong? I remember wondering how I was going to make it on my own. 

    I did. We all did. Because she has set us on the right path. She has powerfully shaped our lives. I often find myself wondering what we would have been without her around.

    The thing that mom dreads the most is hearing someone say “Uriya mwana yishwe na Nyina” or “Nyina yamureze nabi”. The statement is like nails across a chalkboard. It breaks her heart. The thing I also fail to understand is why, if kids don’t turn out right or are badly behaved, the mother takes the blame even when she is doing the best she knows. And the twist to this story is that most of the time, the fathers take the credit if the kids behave well or are successful in life. Wow! The upbringing of a child is affected by many factors such as parenting and environmental influences. And in parenting, it takes two to raise a child. Fathers are equally responsible for how the child turns out to be. So should anything go wrong the mother alone should never be blamed. 

    Anyways, for that reason, my biggest fear is disappointing her. My worst nightmare is to make her (and/or my dad) cry. And being her only daughter, I never wish for her to feel like she hasn’t done enough for me. I have disappointed her once but I pray I never will again. I don’t want to put her through the excruciating heartbreak again. Not when I’m alive. So, help me God. 

    My mom has been and still is the best life coach. Without her there were many occasions I would have missed, things I could not have achieved and I don’t think I would have grown into the person I am without her influence. I look up to her because she is strong, loving, caring and beautiful. In her other life, her name should be Grace. Grace, because she is graceful and kind. Generous and giving. Quiet but caring. Because she cares deeply about those around her. I always asks myself what kind of heart the Lord has given her?

    Now that I’m an adult, I realize how blessed I truly am to have her as my mother and how fortunate I am to still have her around. There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing my mom smile. I take joy in seeing her happy. For I now know how unconditional a mother’s love is.

    And we’ve now become friends. I am glad that she is still alive. The little girl who hated her years back has grown up to love her more and more with each day that passes, to see what a gem she truly is. I miss her when she’s not at home, that when she comes back I almost feel like jumping around shouting “Mama araje”(hehe). I now tell her jokes and we laugh. She tells me stories and I too tell her stories.

    My one wish is that she lives long enough to see her grandchildren. The last time I was on my periods, I’d serious cramps (never been that painful before). She came to my room to check on me…

    “Tete, uracyahumeka?”

    Painful grunt.

    “Icyazakunyereka warabyaye”

    So, I hope she lives long enough to see me crawling to the toilet after giving birth. I hope she lives long enough to help bathe my babies after they’re born. I hope she lives long enough to carry my babies like she carries Ivan. I hope my babies get to feel the warmth of her love. I bet they’ll fight to be adopted by her! Haha

    I could write a 10,000 words or more blogpost, but the truth is I don’t have enough words to express my love for my Mama. I could write about all the other things she (and Dad of course) does for us but you’d say, “they’re supposed to do that” *rolls eyes* But they’re awesome.

    So, today I’m celebrating the phenomenal woman that God saw it fit and made my mom.

    Happy Birthday Mom.

    I love you beyond time and distance.

    Vicki

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    Dearest Vicki,

    Everyone has those friends but who are not really close. Friends who you always feel kind of awkward and weird about asking for help, or you have to clarify you’ll do them some kind of favor in return. But you’re not one of those. You were and are always there for everything, no bargaining or explanations needed.

    You touched my life and wouldn’t let go. You touched my heart with your unmatched kindness. You brought unimaginable joy and warmth to my life. You crack me up with laughter, especially when you’re trying to speak French. The Plus James and Mwe nze still make me laugh to no extents. Thank you for all the times when you spoke French and we laughed so hard.
    Your influence is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I can’t think of many other people I’d actually take a bullet for.

    You have been 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 but you didn’t let us get split by dumb facts like distance or time. You never gave up on our friendship, didn’t shrug and be like “Eh, things change, people change” and drift away vaguely because we’re victims of circumstance. Thank you for staying constant in a world full of change and chaos.

    You took care of me in every way possible. You never got mad when I didn’t call you for weeks on end because I was too busy being someone’s girlfriend, but you were right there to pick up my heart-splinters when things predictably shattered. You are the glue that holds me together when I feel like I’m falling apart. You’ve gone through so much pain and still have time for me. Thank you for doing all the things a real best friend does. For being there when no one else was or wanted to be and when you didn’t even have to be. For being the anchor that keeps me grounded when life has a tendency to blow me away. Thank you for just being there when I need you.

    I don’t know if many people in this world would understand, but to have a friend like you is like finding a silver heart in a bag of sand. One whom I can always count on. One whom shared silences are as comfortable as the glorious moments of laughter. One who is at most times the most selfless, compassionate I’ve ever known. Indeed, you’re Murungi.

    It’s hard to put it into words just how much you mean to me, because it’s beyond what words express. I’m grateful for whatever brought us together.
    With you by my side the world is a better place. The sun shines a little bit brighter, my smile grows a little bit wider, and in that moment, my problems are no more.

    True friendship is a promise made in the heart – silent, unwritten, unbreakable by distance, and unchangeable by time.

    A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY Murungi.