The Hustle is Real

I am well over the age of majority. I can already feel some of you children cringing but hold it right there. It’s actually the best age I’ve ever been. A place where it’s all butterflies and cupcakes, what’s the appropriate saying here, it’s all rosy? Not exactly. But it’s a happy place nonetheless. You know when you’re a kid and life revolves around homework, video games (here Kenyans my age would insert playing bano– There is an English word for bano but it’s much more interesting when we just say bano.So, I’ll find you a picture instead) and some T.V.?
traditional marble game
When you’re a kid life is simple and somewhat black and white-at least in my case it was. You wake up, go to school, hand in your homework, play with your friends at recess, take a nap in the afternoon, go home, watch some cartoon, sleep, then do it all over again the next day. And the one after that. OK maybe this example is too simplistic but you get the general idea. My life was good back in the day. And then at eighteen I graduated high school. No, I didn’t graduate, I completed high school. There is no such thing as graduating high school in Kenya. No one will plan a convocation or rent you a limo to celebrate your high school graduation. Nope, it doesn’t happen. Kenyans are far too busy to celebrate an expectation. You’d be lucky to get a pat on the back let alone a party. In Kenya, you graduate when you have a degree to show for it. In high school, you finish your final exam, pack up your metallic box with your meagre earthly belongings from the last four years and trudge on home like a winner (your chin high up, your maroon school skirt tight with the hem above the knees and your shirt untucked and no tie, yeah baybey! ), because that part  of your life is finally over.
The metal boxes
After I turned 18, for the first time I was on my own, with my very own apartment and no one to tell me what to do. Of course at first I was thrilled. But things got real pretty quick. I had to budget and manage my place (laundry and general hygiene) and then I had to make it to class at least half awake with most of my assignment and readings done. Then after that life was over, there was the job hunting and a lot of uncertainty about life in general. Plus moving back home after several years of independence was a hard pill to swallow. Finding a way to relate with a parent who for a while was somewhere in the background was not so easy. She used to be the emergency contact if things went wrong which was mostly my being broke. But now I was back home where the rules apply, and just to be clear not my rules but the home owner’s rules. Mother superior, we’ll call her thanks to the “not while you’re living under my roof” sentence these parents like to throw around every so often. For those who were brought up in a setting like I was, you never talk back to your parents. You nod and do as you have been instructed. And yes, regardless of your age.
While I still live with my mother, which I have come to really enjoy, I have learnt to accept that she is the boss and to live by her rules. We’ve established a sort of mother-daughter friendship thing that is working out pretty well. I can talk to her and tell her silly things and we’ll laugh hard. Then I’ll go upstairs to my room to finish an article I was writing where my phone will ring and my dear mother on the other end of the line needs me to hurry downstairs to the kitchen which shares a wall with the living room, to fetch her a glass of water. Oh yes, the hustle is real my people. But I love that woman to pieces (I’ve always thought this statement to be somewhat gory, loving someone to pieces yikes! So just to be clear, I’m going for the endearing sentiment.)
At the job, I have mastered the art of caring and respecting the client, and accomplishing the goals I was hired for. We’ve all heard the saying, the client is always right. Well it’s taken me an eternity (by eternity I really mean three years, I know I’m not so young but neither am I Methuselah) to fully understand that. The job can be quite a happy place if you know what you’re doing and use the opportunities before you to enhance your career. Yes, that too took a while to sink in but better late than never.
And of course there are the family and friends, both here and back in Kenya plus the friends in Uganda from my high school days. I have found a way to balance all these aspects of my life and cultivate healthy connections with people. I think all those years of bano playing and some bladder (see below image) with my playmates taught me the importance of friendship. Some friends we make and keep while others we lose. There’s a famous phrase that says some people come into our lives to teach us lessons while others are there for the long haul. My personal opinion is, it doesn’t matter how long the friend is going to be in your life, what matters is the now, make it worth your while. So play as much bano as you can until your fingers start to hurt and then move on. That’s the spirit.

Despite the distance we talk a lot and laugh too. And for me that is the essence of life. To have a good time. And maybe to occasionally make a little (harmless) fun of people. For instance, people with bright pink gums. What is up with that? I strongly feel that people with pink gums are not to be trusted at all. I did Google this earlier today. According to dentists (and other smart people) pink gums are supposedly a sign of healthy gums. But still, don’t pink-gummed people just make you uneasy? A little insecure? Maybe even intimidated? Picture this, will you? It’s a happy Monday morning and you’re off to a great start when this guy walks over to you and flashes this killer smile. You’re thinking yep, life is pretty darn good. You look up eager to unleash your very own payday smile and suddenly you freeze, half-smiling half-mortified. Staring right back at you is a set of very bright pink gums, all on the loose. Pink gums! Sigh.

But let’s not forget that I am all about happy thoughts and life’s little pleasures. Instead of being mad at the guy that spends half his life eating gum-pinkening foods and brushing his teeth every hour, I choose to  find the silver lining. Like maybe the fact that he was able to spare a few minutes from his teeth-brushing-schedule to drop into my office so I could make some extra change, thank you very much! In this life things can only get as good as we choose to make them. So when you cannot park because some dimwit parked in two spots instead of one (arghh these selfish people), think of all the problems that he may be faced with. Maybe he was carrying his dog and it jumped out the window thus having no time to properly align the vehicle. It could happen. Or his dentist was about to take off on a one year maternity leave thus the poor guy’s desperate attempt not to miss his gum-pinkening appointment. You never know.
I tell you, there’s always a silver lining. Sometimes you just have to squint a little to find it.

6 thoughts on “The Hustle is Real”

    1. Ha! Are your gums pink? I haven’t noticed. I might have to rethink this friendship if they are seeing as I won’t be able to trust you. In fact, upload a photo of your gums asap so we can clear this up right away.

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