Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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I Regret Not Regretting

There are certain things that even madness cant shield you from; pain, regret and in most cases, both. 

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I laugh when I hear “normal” people talk about living a life without regrets. That’s madness. Why would you want to live a life without regret? As long as you have choices, you will have regret. Maybe your understanding of regret is different from mine. I am a Mad Man but allow me to share my insanity for sanity’s sake.

My mother like most mums from her time, had very “crude” methods of “rewarding” bad choices. If I, using the power vested in me to make decisions made a bad choice like going to play after showering or playing (read skiing) in a puddle of mud, she would ask me one question; “My son, (affirmation first because what she was about to do would make me doubt that status) did you have a good time playing in the mud?”

Now, if your mum went to the same school as my mum, torturing the victim before “the kill” was a crucial element of the discipline process. If I said I enjoyed myself, she would tell me to prepare to enjoy a beating as well. If I said I did not enjoy myself, she would ask me why I did not stop doing the wrong thing when my seemingly functional brain told me I was doing the wrong thing. Punishment for the second response was doubled. 

That wasn’t the torture bit. My own mother (not one for hire) would then behave as if she has forgiven me and forgotten. ( The torture begins) I, in return would also behave as if I have been forgiven and would try to forget what I thought was coming. I would shower thoroughly and in record time, (this is a tough task for any boy child) pick a story book and read (trust me that was enough self affliction). I ignored the lures of the demon in front of me (TV) no matter what the show was; The Rich Also Cry, No One But You, Dunia Wiki Hii, Professional View, KBL Festival of Darts -The best family show of my time, you name it, I would ignore it.

After dinner, which always seemed to me as “The last supper”, especially because I prayed fervently that the lord would take away the cup of suffering that awaited me, I would proceed to tell my mum goodnight hoping that her response would be something like “Go your way and sin no more” or better yet “let him who has no sin cast the first stone”.

My mother being the diplomatic leader of the house would ask me; “Do you know what your mistake is?” A question that only incited one response. “Yes”. The woman (formerly known as my mum) would then proceed to beat (hit, strike thrash, bang, hammer, pound, punch, thesaurus – I did not know that this word was a synonym of “beat” but it does come close to what that woman would do i.e. Thesaurus me!)

This silly heart would wake up the following morning having forgotten what happened previous evening! It would even succumb to my mothers “bribery” of great pancakes before heading out to do the same thing that made me go to sleep cursing myself and swearing never again. Oh foolish heart, I wonder from whence thee came?

This unfortunately is the story of many of us.  A father who loses his temper and hits his wife is tormented by his action and swears that he will never do it again. After a few drinks, he heads home. Enough said.

A young lady in love defies her parents pleas and moves in with the man of her dreams. A year later she is back home with a son, shattered dreams, a broken heart and a broken arm. She swears “Men are beasts! Catch me dead with another man”. That was then. Her mother recently passed on from high blood pressure but she still wont stop “seeing” that violent married man. “He apologized” She says.

After aborting once in high school, she said she would never have sex again leave alone unprotected sex. She was only 14. A few years later, I met her at the clinic. Her fourth abortion cost her her uterus. She will never know the joy holding her own baby in her arms. She is contemplating suicide. 

It was his first time. He was tired of being teased about being a virgin by his friends. It started as an itch that wont go away then a pimple. He went to the clinic and they did a test. Then another, and another. He is starting his ARV dose today. The one time that he did it, that one time that the house girl agreed to do it with him will forever remain in his mind.

What about you, yes I saw you too. With that woman you swore to your wife if she gives you a second chance, you would never (ever) talk to her. (emphasis yours) It was you. Wasn’t it? You were deleting your texts clearing your browsing history, taking mints after a smoke, taking just one more drink. Yes. it was you coming out of that hotel ten minutes after he had left just as you agreed.

After what it almost cost you, after the pain and the heart break? After losing everything, your job your family, your money? After you swore “Never again”.. Here you are. Wait, here she is, There they are. Here we are! Again?. 

Live a life without regret so they said. They were wrong!

I say live a life full of regret (be sorry, be apologetic, be repentant, be unhappy, lament, thesaurus – there is that word again…yes do even that).  Why wouldn’t you want to be sorry, apologetic, repentant or unhappy about your mistakes? What other treatment would you prescribe to a mistake if not regret?

So go ahead; regret every mistake. I said regret not repeat. Regret.

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But what do I know, am just a Mad Man who regrets talking to people who have no regrets.

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The Exit Strategy

I am often surprised at how attached we get to “our things”. 

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Even mad people, and trust me I would know, have their own level of attachment to their things, Try and grab anything a mad man is holding. You try. 

If you are a parent you know “this madness” starts quite early in life. Your own kids will pull tantrums for you if you take away a toy that you bought them. Try withdrawing certain privileges that you have given them and see their reaction. Utter Madness! Who gave them that right? Its your money. You chose to buy the toy for them without asking them and here they are now, owning it.

I tell you madness is in the heart of every child! My mother possessed a different kind of madness; if you disobeyed her because of something she bought you, she would take it, break it and then “break” you. I would never allow my mother to chose a wife for me. Never! Am I mad? No really, am I mad? 

So lets talk about this “ownership madness” disease that infects every child and refuses to respond to any sensible medication including growing up. Sadly, no vaccine has been developed so far that can prevent you form getting infected by this disease. In fact it gets worse as you grow older. I have evidence.

Lets take it from the top or rather from the beginning. Unless in very rare situations, you are born with nothing, naked. They slap your behind maybe to punish you for bringing yourself into this world. They should anyway. You should have known better! That notwithstanding, you begin your journey. 

Somehow this “ownership disease” manages to convince you that the world revolves around you. So you cry when you feel like, poop immediately your diaper has been changed, wake everyone up because you cant sleep, make grown ups stoop as low as to forsake their language to talk to you in strange sounds ( a goo goo goo goo) just to see you smile. One would think that sun wont rise if you don’t smile. Despite all these efforts, you still cry.

It gets worse, you become a teenager. You think you are the first of your kind to exist. You think the rest of us were born adults. Everything now is dependent on how you feel. And you often don’t feel like a lot of things most of the time. When asked why you did or did not do something, your well thought out answer is… “I don’t feel like” Oh and you think “Just” is a complete statement worth giving as a response. Let me break it down a little so that you can see how deeply this condition runs in you.

Mum: (your mother who carried you around for a good 9 months) Davie, why dint you take out the trash? (I have to admit even as a mad man that at times she means why you (the trash) did not leave the house and not why you did not empty the trash bin, trust me – a mad man – they will never admit it).

Davie: (Feeling as if that’s the hardest most intrusive question anyone could ever ask especially as you watch your parents TV seated comfortably on their couch): Just!

I rest my case.

You think the disease wouldn’t affect the grown ups right? Wrong. Its worse. Our toys are different. Salaries, accomplishments and image take over. Your toys; bigger cars, newest gadgets and the prettiest ladies. Nothing wrong with that? I agree. But lets take a closer look for a moment.

You take a loan to buy a car so that you can be like the rest of your friends while your family struggles to make ends meet. You leave your husband and kids for another man because  “You think you made a mistake”. You live a lie, to fit in! You want what everyone else has at whatever cost and you are ready to compromise anything to get it. You cant see what you already have because you want what you don’t have!

You get ulcers, you get high blood pressure, you get a stroke and your heart finally stops. It cant take it any more. We who are left, behind talk of the amazing toys you left behind. While you, you wonder if it was worth it after all. All moments you missed chasing after the next “new thing”. All the energy you spent gathering and protecting what “you owned” none of that matters anymore.

And there, as you lie there. It finally occurs to you. This is the same way you came. With nothing. There is nothing you can do. None of your toys can be traded for more time or more life. Nothing. Your kids say good bye to the stranger who lived in their house for a really long time and was kind enough to buy them a couple of good things. All you can take with you in exceeding measure is “what ifs”. 

That,s not the end of the disease. Far from it. The rest of us go back to our toys and soon enough we are back on the fast lane. Looking out for number one. Acquiring the news gadget at the expense of the real deal; family, friends, societal impact. (Yeah that’s  so 1912 right?)

What is madness I ask. You see it everyday. I do too. But what do I know anyway? I am just a Mad Man right?


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Baby: I Wasn’t Born This Way

I was watching a strange video in my shop the other day. (My shop because I sleep outside it every night) On the strange video, toddlers as big as my thumb were swimming without having gone for any swimming lessons! They knew how to hold their breath under water, how to float and wade through the water.

I think (Yes it happens to me too…even without my consent) babies are very close to the human definition of madness. Think about it; they walk up to strangers with no care in the world. They know no boundaries no sense of caution until it hurts and then they go back to the same thing, everything is harmless! They don’t know fear or worry they live for now.

As a baby, you can fearlessly play around with poisonous snakes without being bitten, courageously walk up to a stranger and demand for their attention and get it.

Then you grow up, rather, you are brought up. Even though not out of choice, all privileges of being a baby are soon revoked and limitations introduced to “protect” you.

This is not the end of it. No. Grown ups then take you to school, to church and to “your corner”. Your language soon evolves into short memorable sentences like “stop this” and “don’t do that”, “watch out for this” (and am not talking about the song even though it plays in my head every time I say that) and “stay away from that”.

The only explanation you get for these literally ‘life changing’ rules is profound expressions like “its not good for you”. Oh, here is a more familiar one; “I am your mother/father. I know what’s best for you. Don’t argue with me”!

So, after a few years our children graduate (with honors) in the courses we took them through (or funded); fear, doubt, worry, restrain and suspicious of people. (Anyone going for the bash this graduation – dont forget to throw away some of that chicken)

I have always wondered (to myself  of course) don’t you think that in teaching our children caution we actually taught them to second guess themselves? We clipped their wings in the name of empowerment and instilled fear in the name of protection?

True, their actions have consequences and this is a valuable lesson for them to learn, but isn’t teaching kids to avoid taking actions all together a more painful lesson ?

Everything is a risk and taking risks is a critical lesson for kids to learn to trust and to believe in themselves. How will these kids know what to fight for if we don’t even give them the chance to pick their own battles?

Who are we protecting as parents anyway, ourselves or our kids? Would you rather spend all the money in the world to get your kids the best toys than trust yourself that you have raised your child well enough to go out and make one for themselves? (even if once in a while the toy will be your dog, or the neighbours kids)

Would you rather pay all possible TV subscriptions to keep you child indoors than allow them to step out and learn who they are through pain and failure and the reassurance of friends?

Before you ask me if I am mad, I often tend to think I am. I don’t have kids of my own (not yet) but believe it or not, I too was someone’s kid (at one point). There are many parents who in the name of protecting their kids and bringing them up in the best way they know how, “fund” their kids from making mistakes, from taking risks and worse of all from getting to know themselves.

I could be wrong (I am a Mad Man) but the best gift you can give your kid is self confidence. If you can invest in making your kids believe in themselves so much, that whether they make the right decision or not if they are true to themselves, that’s a win.

So whatever the decision; big or small, career, sexual début, what to wear; your kid needs to make the decision for themselves, not to please you the parent the preacher the teacher or any other authority.

To know themselves kids need to make choices and learn to live with the consequences of those choices. Good or bad.

Unlike what Lady Gaga says, (Hi Lady Gaga. My name is Guy Gaga but you can call me Gaga Man) I was not born this way.You taught me. You made me this way.

But what do I know anyway? Am just a Gaga Man?


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Isn’t That Crazy

…Humming Quietly To Myself… Do you ever feel as if you are being watched? I sometimes suspect that normal people are always watching me and act as if they are not. I have proof.

This morning as I went about my businesses, yes my businesses. I noticed something very weird. Weird from ‘our’ point of view. I was walking down Bunyala Street with nothing important going on in my mind, as always and every time I passed near a car in traffic the driver would roll up the window.

At first I did not see anything strange in them rolling up their windows but when every other driver did it, even you would be concerned. Is it something about me? My looks, my clothes, my smile (well my smile out loud or rather my outspoken smile), my shoe? Looking at myself, I couldn’t see anything wrong with how I look!

Clearly, there had to be a reason why the drivers were rolling up their window when they saw me. I looked behind and I was alone! What’s worse, all the drivers rolled up the windows and looked straight ahead. I could tell they were looking at me from the corner of their eyes but even conversations in the cars stalled until I passed.

Honestly think about it. You have locked your doors and windows but you are caught up in traffic. You have no where to go! You know what I thought initially? Nothing. Well of course later I screamed at one of the drivers but the heap of garbage dint seem to give the reaction I was looking for. Delayed reaction. It happens to some of us. Normal people call it procrastination. You get the same results.

If you missed your child’s final year presentation that you promised to attend, if you said you are sorry when your spouse caught you cheating a third time, if you never reconciled with your parents before they passed on, well, you and I have a similar challenge. Its called delayed response. I can live with mine. I have been. Can you?

Back to drivers rolling up their windows. I don’t know what kind of threat I am associated with but normal people fascinate me. I am referred to as a mad man. I could be. Why? I talk to myself, I lose control of my thought patterns, I at times put my life in harms way (crossing the road without looking), I can be violent, see where am going with this? No? Me neither.

So lets look at the drivers response when they saw me minding my businesses. What did they fear I would do to them that they are not already used to? I hear and see a lot of things but I also forget. Fast. That’s why you see me heading in one direction then suddenly, I turn and go back to the direction I was coming from. I forgot why I was going where I was going before I turned to go back to where I was coming from. I know, right!

You are a dad, you get home and your children are laughing and playing around. You get home and its like you have mute super powers. The kids become quiet, gloomy and head to their rooms or worse, to the kitchen to hang out with their mum! (If she is around that is. “Aunties” as you guys call them have taken this role quite extensively. Ask me. I hear and see things, and forget).

You are a mum. You have had a long day. Deadlines at work, assignments in school, drama with that ‘kalady’ at the reception and not to forget other biological influences right? You come home and your husband, the father of your three kids (I hope. Remember, I hear and see things, and forget) is seated quietly reading the newspaper or better still has opened the up the TV with screws lying everywhere.

Never mind the kids playing, screaming and running around the house doesn’t bother him as long as they respect dads “holy ground” well except for the son who is pestering him with pleasant questions about what this and that does. I could go on with that one for a while. So, mum, for whatever reason, you start talking in third person “people in this house” and you go on at it the whole night. Your kids avoid you and your husband goes out to the local pub for further research on his new book “keeping quiet for dummies”.

You are a young person… no that one will drive me crazy! Ha-ha. Drive. Me. Crazy. Get it? No? Me neither.

You are the boss and you get into the office, the atmosphere changes and everyone suddenly looks busy, working. (on their Google chat)

I find a lot of similarity in what normal people do when they see a mad man, and what they do when they see a normal person everyday! They roll up the windows of their lives. They see you but they want some sort of separation from you. Anything. It may not be effective but it does make them feel safe. Away from you, while you are still there!

Wouldn’t it be crazy though, if you one day tried to say hi to that mad person! He might just surprise you with a normal response. Or not. But you were prepared for that because you knew he was crazy. Wouldn’t it be crazy if we rolled down our own windows and stopped hiding behind fragile boundaries? Wouldn’t it be crazy if you did something really crazy and worked hard to make sure that people rolled down their windows any time they saw you?

Yes. That’s crazy. But what do I know. Am just a Mad Man.

 


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Changing Time

If foxes have holes, surely even a mad man can find a home somewhere, anywhere on the streets of Nairobi to lay his head right? Well I have to admit it must be the mad people peak season because competition is high nowadays. Street families have take over every comfortable corner of this town. 

Yes a mad man does need his comfort as well. Its not comfort the way you normal people know it, but we too need a place to lay our heads. A stone and a worn out carton have often provided this much needed comfort but that comfort has in the last few days been threatened. I wonder if the devil of (in) devolution wants homeless people homeless. Quite profound if you think about it (don’t think about it).

Well, back to matters sanity, so yes, I did eventually find a nice well lit place on Kenyatta Avenue next to a night club. Kudos to the Chinese for the new bright lights they have mounted near junctions. Those traffic lights weren’t bright enough. Anyway, as I organized my house for the night, I noticed something very odd. I know I’m a mad man but I too see things that I find off, from my already off point of view.

How can a decent, very well dressed lady (from my judgement and standards) undress in front of the whole world only to wear something extremely indecent from anyone’s perception mad or otherwise! I sat up not to enjoy the view, well I can not quantify that but I still couldn’t believe my eyes. To make it worse, its wasn’t just one lady they were quorum!(The better for normal people I think)

Its very hard for mad man to multi task because I ended up staying up for quite a while observing (no longer seeing or watching) these seemingly normal people undress only dress up as if they are still undressed! One after another one lady after another. So I ended up doing the unthinkable, I thought!

Growing up as a normal child ( I must have been) every woman was a holy being including baby girls. The world had certain expectations of them; how they dressed, how they sat, how they walked, who they were seen with. I can actually remember, vaguely, my sisters literally running so that my mum wouldn’t catch them talking to a normal looking boy!

So pardon me if I see it as abnormal for ladies to undress in the middle of town. But imagine with me, you and the other people in my head, what could have happened to a lady to make her so cold and so blind that she looses her intricate delicate demeanour? (I’m mad!)  

What would make a lady loose herself so much that she cant see anything wrong or strange with undressing in public? I, we us (the not normal fraternity) don’t undress in public! Its not and never feels normal for us to do that.  I have a few thoughts though (literally just a few). One,these ladies have seen it all. The things they have done or have let others do to and with them, cant compare to undressing in public. 

Maybe they never thought they would ever get to that point either but here they are now, doing it. They are naked and not ashamed. They have probably given away so much of themselves that what you see is just a shell of the who they once were. The cover is still the same but that’s the only thing that has remained. The cover.

My other thought is maybe I saw my own things. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened. Maybe my mind or lack of it, was playing tricks on me. No lady would do that right?

Here is my conclusion though, do you see that girl? As a father, do you see that daughter? As a husband, do you see that wife? As a brother, do you that sister? As a man, do you see that woman? I don’t mean look. I said see! Well if you don’t see her then she will find someone else who will see her and probably ask for a better view. 

If you do see her, then let her know that you do. I might be a mad man but I know the value of being seen. I see how everyone looks at me like I am a mad man. But I too see mad people everyday and if you have a woman in your life that you look at everyday and cant see her, you need to find your own corner. This one is taken.

But what do I know, am just a mad man right?