…………..I come from a family of academic genius apart from my uncle Philemon, the rest will proudly show you’re their PhDs and masters. It does not end there as they insist it’s not about getting a masters it’s about getting it with a first-class honor’s. They always seem perfect in everything they touch and do. I remember growing up any negative aspect I had, would be associated to my dad’s side while the positive always had to be from my mum’s side since they were too perfect to have spots. At times I felt like I hated my dad’s side like why won’t they be as sparkles as my mamas family so I would be spotless too. They spoke the best English since unlike their age mates during those years they grew up in the city instead of the rural and went to the top schools were they were taught by white teachers hence their great speaking skills. To top it up not only were they great in academics but man they got talent too. Although my dad can draw I know most of my uncles draw more though as a hobby since to them they don’t consider art as a profession. Come to music they are a family of music mostly gospel since my grandparents are church pastors, when it came to dancing oh yeah I can dance but I know its inherited from my mama she can move even at this moment old yes but she is still queen of the dance floor. My passion of writing and poetry I like to bet it halfway as my dad’s brother was a lover of books too but again my uncle from my mamas side has written way more novels in Netherlands, so has his cousin who is a Swahili writer in Tanzania writing many set books that have been used for fasihi study’s in high school. My grandpa’s poems, set piece, dance, and music has won his students national drama and music festival awards taking them all the way to state house so again where do I get the talent from? As a child this aspect looks like you’re growing up in the royalties where you’re not allowed to be yourself but a trend follower living through the footsteps of customs that existed way before your conception. You had to be perfect or perfect, win or win make it or make it to be sincere there was no choice it had to be their way. I try to look down the line where this urge of perfection came from what felt so empty inside them that needed perfection, medals, titles and awards to fill. I can know there childhood but I think maybe it was imposed on them as they imposed it on us the third generation.
If I had talked longer with Phil that day I know he would have told me how odd one out he felt in his own family. For he was different but they don’t recognize different! You have to go through school and bring excellent results home and take a course that’s important by their standards and get a good job the end!. Maybe he desired to fit in this steps and that’s why he tried though it was not what he wanted in life. But the urge to please people or fit in made him loss himself in the process of trying. At a point in his life he had lost his dream and didn’t know who he was or what he wanted and he felt hopeless. I remember he used to hate the holidays since he would get so many lectures on his performance in school. While everyone was happy celebrating he would be given hours of lectures I was young but I didn’t like how it felt to watch him being shouted at I think it embarrassed him and this made him more resilient. With years he was changing towards them he started drugs soft till he was addicted to the hard ones too. Our relationship didn’t change he might have closed down on them but not us the nieces and nephews from time to time we would share our misery about the expectations placed before us and laugh about it mostly the rude answers and sarcastic replies from our parents when they were mad at us which was often and we learnt to take it as jokes. We thought this helped as it was our secret therapy what we did not realize was that when the holidays was over we all left him alone since he was the last born. I thank God for my siblings at least we had each other and we learnt to love each other more through our childhood a bond that’s still strong and unbreakable to this day, but Phil stood alone I cannot assume to know how it really felt all I know was he was depressed and addicted to drugs and in silence he lost himself speaking less and closing doors, his hopes he locked away and gave up on life and mostly on himself. He realized he had no place to be himself in this set up and decided to be who and what everyone expected him to be, and when he failed at this also he lost it and snapped in silence. Not even rehab could hold him now.
I always feel sad he didn’t even leave a note and I know my family feels the same. But I walk into his shoes and notice from his last call and the conversations during the holidays he had once said when I had protested very strongly about my sisters opinion of remaining silent during lectures and letting it be so the lectures would end, I was of the opinion to argue out till my point was noticed and heard. Philemon had looked had at me and said “why do you bother talking when no one listens, it’s a fight you can’t win because no one cares about what you want just what they want you to be, their opinion is all that matters” so I sit down and think why would we expect him to leave a note . We didn’t hear him when he screamed at life how can we understand words scribed on a paper?
The last heap of dust fell on top of his grave, we stood in a row holding a flower each on one hand our faces wet with streams of tears. All eyes on the grave I can’t believe he’s gone. Our hearts broken our joy shuttered guilt and anger brewing inside us. Placing a ring of flowers around his grave it was time to say goodbye. The grave remained still just like the air stood, footsteps faded away as they left the grave site only close family remained and it was a moment of silence before we broke into a song to sooth our pain.
Depression is never considered as a serious sickness in the African community mostly when it’s a man. An African man is expected to stand up at all time and never shade a tear since men don’t cry. What we don’t realize is they are human and have emotions too. The expectations of society on people are not always favorable as we are all different in a way or the other. As you can’t teach a fish how to run nor expect a bird to win a swimming completion, the same way it’s wrong to put standards according to one to define the success of all and this can be stressful leading to depression. No one ever tells us it’s okay to fail or lose and it’s okay to be different as that’s your uniqueness and most importantly it’s okay to choose what you want to be and live for at the end of it it’s your life and you should be its only author. Although suicide is considered a taboo in Kenya and Africa it doesn’t out shadow the fact that it’s real and its creeping in our society stealing away beautiful souls. Its time to address this calamity and face it. Its time to create awareness and know its okay to seek help and there is no shame in it. I am happy to have come across this mazing organization in Kenya BEFRIENDERS KENYA that deals with depression, suicide, bereavement and abuse. Your voice matters so does your opinion, your diversity is your uniqueness and YES!!!! YOU CAN FINALY BE YOURSELF!!!
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