Three ululations is all I got?

Riririri! whoop! yippee!

Three ululations is all I got, not five, three.

I was one of the many, so I guess I was enough.

Sweet as spice, coloured by the night, unboxed, I was enough.

Three ululations – riririri! whoop! yippee!

Stretching the length of growing shins.

Sweet rings circle spiced boxes coloured by the night,

One of the many but no longer enough.

Circular, over-booked and ringless, not enough.

Three ululations vibrate the depths of my night shaded body

I am one of the many, I was once enough.

No longer enough, sorry to be one of the many.

Three ululations distant as my past;

My present perceived, unboxed and un-ringed.

Sweetly spiced and coloured by the shade of night.

I am one of the many but no longer sorry – three ululations is what I had riririri! whoop! yippee!

Wangari Maathai

I know you are unbowed, but I will bend you to my will.

I will stretch your strength until the hunger at freedom corner bows you

I know you are unbowed, but I will eat you from the inside out;

I will permeate every cell. No matter how high the Kennedy airlifts take you,

I will bow you.

I know you are unbowed, I know you will not cower;

you with your fully breathing trees and your pitiful rallying cries,

I will bow you.

I have bowed your opined craziness and your many firsts,

your 50 accolades I have broken into 71 million pieces.

I will bow you, I have bowed you, I am bowed by you!

Puppies at my feet

…waking up to the silence of the after-morning rush, that perfect moment,

that moment before the sun takes full flight, I gently shift my numb feet, my eyes closed, careful to let sleeping dogs lie.

… too late … that silent moment as his gently smell of his coffee tickles my mind awake, as the dawn is reluctantly retreating, I am nudged awake.

A pattering of paws on my chest, a soft whimper of love… the sweetness of a cool nose on my cheek, loyal loving eyes waiting for mine to emerge from their hiding spot… that quiet moment, with puppies at my feet.

Your Justice!

I stood in line, let the scorching sun beat me down

to give you power, you swallowed it greedily, hungrily.

Now you repose on scented pillows, seeking the relief of your cooled trappings

While I sit at your feet and beg for scraps … I should be so lucky!

This is the price I pay for justice, your justice.

My raggedy pockets hide from your claws searching for every bead of sweat.

I give it freely, forcibly, unknowingly, cheerily, all for your scented existence.

My diseased body falters, no matter… manicured hands tend to your slightly sore wrist

My sweaty armpits and tired smelly feet keeping your wrist glued to your nose.

This is justice, your justice!

Your full pregnant belly eyes me cheekily, speaking a loud hello to my fetid hungry breath.

My foul smell and rumbling stomach offend you, I shy away in shame.

My questioning mind is dulled by your absence; your haughty stare all but silences me

I stretch my aching back, bent by my herculean efforts to let you stand on it,

This is the price I pay for justice?

NO MORE!

I am my hair!

India Arie sings, “I am not my hair… I am not your expectations no no, I am not my hair… I am a soul that lives within“. I agree, I wholeheartedly agree. Especially when it is a voluntary fashion choice, I definitely will agree! But Lord oh Lord when the choice is involuntary, I get the urge to rewrite the beautiful Ms Arie’s lyrics to that of a dirge in memory of my crown.

You see, once upon a while, not too long ago, I had a full head of beautiful locks. Well-tended, natural, healthy and to die for locks. I loved my hair. I was proud of my hair and I was my hair and my hair was me.

You need to understand my journey. The story of my childhood and my hair stories is not one filled with lovely pig tails or smooth cornrows. My hair journey was filed with wooden combs that wouldn’t get through my nappy hair. I honestly have nothing against nappy hair. God’s honest truth I don’t, but when you have to endure hot combs heated over naked flames that burn your ears and make your eyes water, I can assure you, it is highly unlikely you will be feeling all warm and fuzzy about your hair.

I dare you to imagine how the chemical treatments I had to endure as a child treated me, they actually held a personal grudge against me! How else do you explain the burnt scalp, pungent smell and still nappy hair. This was not and has never been my cup of tea and trust me when I tell you that the only reason I was so determined to endure the torture to straighten my hair was hardly in the name of giving me silky locks. No no no it was simply to get a comb through my tight-fisted curly hair and have me look presentable and less like a wild child.

After a childhood, that felt like a life time, of having an unruly sisal plantation on my head, I adopted locks and they proved to be an elixir for my hair. I could finally feel like a complete woman. I finally had something that other ladies ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ about. I was finally complete as a woman! Judge me if you will, but I was proud to have some enviable quality. And so I went about my normal routines and phases of life, wooden combs and burnt ears all but forgotten, that is until a dice was rolled somewhere in the land of the gods.

Now I understand why ABBA sung ‘…the gods may throw a dice, their minds are cold as ice‘! My crowning glory succumbed to the stresses of life. I refuse to acknowledge that I may have inherited some type of male pattern baldness. Surely the gods cannot be that cruel?! Anyway I am not male, so baldness should not apply to me; this must surely be the work of some scheming god somewhere.

Who pulls out a woman’s hair? Right at the crown of her head forcing her to cut it all off? Why at the ripe age of 40 odd something years am I back to looking for wooden combs to manage the few tufts of hair that the gods left on my head? How, I moan, is it 2017 and we still don’t have products that address my sisal plantation inspired hair? I suppose I should thank the heavens for the horses that have lost their tails and also thank the heavens for the Caucasian and Asian ladies who have happily given to the cause of lost hair. I quietly console myself that at least these donations help to cover the unacknowledged male pattern baldness, never mind the itchiness, occasional crookedness and once in a while falling off in mid-conversation antics of the hair.

If you meet me on the street today you will likely congratulate me on my natural look. You will praise me for going back to my roots, for being true to my African heritage and you will no doubt notice that my aged countenance has rolled back by a few years. I will gladly smile, my Colgate enhanced toothy smile and ‘demurely’ say thank you. I will on occasion don the horse hair to retain my dignity and so that you stop staring at the shiny patches on my head that reflect light that painfully blinds you.

Once the rigors of my day are done, I will race home and try the latest remedies. This month, cow dung, blended with coconut oil and washed off with offal soup to inspire my retired follicles. Last month, it was snail powder mixed with egg yolk and natural yoghurt to get the soon to come strands of hair smoother than the hairs of a young maize stalk. On Sunday’s and during Lent, I feverishly pray and fast that I may be back in favour with the gods and that the dice will be cast in my favour once more and the hair will be back.

Sometimes in the quiet of the night, when the regimens of the day are completed and after a nice warm shower, I stand in front of my mirror and wonder if the hair will be back. I stifle a sniffle as I stare at the shiny patches, this must be the reason my beloved’s warmth has suddenly turned cold and harsh; it must be why the children in the village burst into giggles every time I go by or maybe it is the reason for my aged mother’s sad eyes even as she tells me I am beautiful. How can I be beautiful or even a woman without the hair?

I stifle another sniffle and tell myself to have a little faith, just a little faith like a mustard seed. No time for self-pity, I tell myself, a little faith and a concoction of products will do the trick! I drop to my knees and quickly set about my earnest prayers to the gods. After all, I tell myself, a constant and healthy dose of feverish prayers and beating of the breast never hurt anyone! It worked for David and all the other prophets in the Bible, why wouldn’t it work for me? It may be the only way for me to truly be well on my way to being a whole woman again.

 

The dawn is here and today the sun appears to be in a good mood, it’s a day for the horsetail. You never realise how brutal the sun god is on our heads until your poor patches are roasting like young maize cobs on an open fire. Today is another day and I start with a breakfast of champions; a blend of sour porridge, young spinach leaves, chicken broth and crushed red peppers. I hear it is an old remedy known for growing the hairs on a young man’s chest! I’m sure you see the connection. I am now more confident than I was going to bed. I happily race out with my horsetail flying behind me and a faint waft of God knows what from my champion’s breakfast. Out into the world full of hope.

And so continue my days, it’s been close to three years now and I think I am beginning to see results but I do not want to speak good tidings aloud, the naughty ones may pick them from my mouth and run off with them.

India Arie is playing on the radio and I ask the Driver of the old bus to increase the volume. Once more I hear her words “I am not my hair… I am not your expectations no no, I am not my hair… I am a soul that lives within.” I think of the beautiful Ms Arie, she is the epitome of a fresh and amazing woman, but I still cannot possibly agree with her strong, natural and independent woman lyrics. I am quite vain, you see, because I am my hair.

40

A month to 40 and I am crying out for a new way, a new life, a new world.

A month to 40 and the whisper of a new life calls to me. I feel the gentle brush of the soft lips of change happen on my soul; life stirs in me and awakens love in me, a month to 40.

I question my existence, no longer worried about tomorrow, or wondering what happened to yesterday. Wanting to live for today. My mind longs for freedom, routines have torn my soul to pieces, my heart can no longer bear the rising tides of worldly demands and my heart cries out, a month to 40.

A month to 40 and I am crying out for a new way, a new life, a new world. A new love calls to me, it calls to me on a blowing wind, refreshes my spirit with the aroma of a fresh breeze, gently kisses my mind, whispering secrets of change, a month to 40 and I am reborn.

The truth of our souls

Behind our eyes lies the truth of our souls. Oh how we forget the truth.

We spin yarns and tales, we tell stories, stories that are of the past and not of the present. Stories that reek of human weakness in all its forms. The truth lays buried, remains hidden in the darkest recesses of our minds, waiting.

We tell stories of the human soul, we hide in our stories our weaknesses. Cloth our desires with finely spun threads, telling of our bravery, love and sacrifice… with righteous indignation… fallacious stories.

Spinning yarns of days past, we tell stories of the human soul. Truth lingers in darkness, its story twisted and long forgotten in our memories. We banish to the dark recesses of our minds the stories of human weakness… fallacious tales of the past and not the present.

Behind our eyes lies the truth of our souls. Oh how we forget the truth. Telling stories of the past, cheering in our falsehoods and lies.

The truth, living in the dark will burn as the light of our souls fades. It will burn as we hide behind fine clothes of bravery, love and sacrifice… fallacious yarns.

Oh the folly of human weakness.

Excerpt from the short story ‘The truth of our souls’ by Natalie Mathenge https://www.amazon.com/truth-our-souls-JANANJA-collection-ebook/dp/B01LXE11HP/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495477562&sr=1-1&keywords=The+truth+of+our+souls