Yesterday, someone called me ‘old’.
I know him from my University days. There we were talking about children and spouses and the forgetfulness that comes with being a parent. And then it just hit us like bird poop on the head — we’re old!
Afterwards, I tried remembering the girl I was when we met. I was young, naïve, a little stupid and oh-so-thin. I was a third-year university student with a heart that was still healing and a promise not to love again for 3 years. I don’t know how I got off imagining that it takes hearts 3 years to mend. I said I was a little stupid, didn’t I?
If I met this girl today, I’d give her a long, long hug. I’d tell her to be her own best friend because people come and go. More often than not, they go rather than come. The person who’s the best friend could become a stranger who blue-ticks her on WhatsApp.
I was doing a course in Linguistics that I can now honestly say I didn’t understand. It was just like Telegram today. Not quite sure what it’s supposed to help me with. I was supposed to be a nurse. I loved the medical field with every platelet in my blood. But JAB.
I should have switched to psychology because I loved it and immensely enjoyed it. But an older and ‘wiser’ fourth year advised me against the SS (Social Studies) courses that were meaningless and being done by the et al of campus entrants. Now those et al are holding big NGO jobs and working ‘abroad’.
So, every chilly Eldoret morning, I trudged on to my Morphology of English class and sat through it dreaming of my bed and the next psychology class. I endured calls from my mother to switch to a teaching course. Education, she understood. But Linguistics? Telegram.
Today, I’d tell her, go for it! Quit the course and go do psychology. I would tell her to go do her research and find out what SS really was about and pursue her dream course. I’d also let her know that fourth-year students aren’t as life smart as first years think they are.
That little naïve girl, I would tell her not to fall in love in the first year. Especially not with a fourth-year student. He may turn out to be a great friend later in life like he did, but there’s a lot that a first-year needs to unlearn before she can date.
Love is for the birds, and for people who have done some bit of self-discovery. If you haven’t discovered what your course actually entails, you have no business discovering love. Give it time. In a year or two, you’ll be ready. Or not. But the discovery of love should not be rushed, it’s not a smoothie recipe for dean’s sake!
Later, when she’s done with her confusing degree, I’d tell her to accept the first job she gets. I hear a certain ‘mom’ was advising her ‘daughters’ not to accept mediocre jobs. To wait for the huge black-forest cake from heaven because manna was too mediocre. (I added the melodrama, though).
I turned down my first job ‘To serve the Lord.’ I’m still trying to find out how smart that was. Like Esau, despite seeking it with tears, I just couldn’t get it. It has taken me a long journey to get to where I am now doing what I’m doing. I often feel it would have been shorter.
But then again I could be wrong. God works in mysterious ways. I’d probably not have the job I have today had I not done that.
Once her heart was mended, I’d tell her to love someone who loves her more than she does him. Someone who loves God. Someone who can’t stand to see her tears. Someone who is nice to her.
“How are you?” should not be a greeting. The greatest friend is one who asks it because they want to really know how you are. Those who are not satisfied with a clenched and tear-balancing “I’m fine.” I’d tell her to marry someone who’s not ok when she’s not ok.
Perhaps someone older.
I’d tell her not to be afraid to make mistakes. In 20 or so years, it might not really matter at what age she lost her virginity. But to remember that she can’t make such huge decisions if she’s not ready for it. And it helps if she doesn’t sleep with too many men. There isn’t much difference, actually. Find one, love him hard. As long as it lasts.
If her head starts to doubt a relationship, I’d say, “believe it. Don’t trust your heart, it is already compromised. Trust your head.”
She should not be afraid to walk out of relationships. And not to get married if she has the slightest doubts. Wait. Singlehood and courtship have room for edits and deletes. Marriage is like gum on hair.
God is not an old man with a white beard and whip. He’s actually quite cool, by the way. He’s just not cool with sins and he doesn’t wink at them. But he’s the real cool daddy.
Go to church. If and when she gets kids, take them to church. Let them ask her uncomfortable questions, questions whose answers she honestly doesn’t know. Then go and find out. Don’t let them be answered by someone else who doesn’t have a vision board for their life. That’s her department.
Life is not a zip line. It’s not a straight slide-to-the-end-and-be-pulled-back affair. It’s by no means straight. It’s an enclosed, convoluted water slide. With unanticipated turns and bumps. It’s fast, this life. Take time to catch a breath and drink a glass of wine.
And don’t take it too seriously, we won’t get out alive anyway.