Heart & Soul

The Year That Was

The Year That Was


On the first day of this year, I woke up at five am, not because I had an important place to go to, or a party to dress up to. Or because I was sleepless. I was up early partly because I missed my person, who had walked me to the bus station the previous morning, kissed my cheek and said, “Ï will miss you. Thank you for making my holidays worth something.”

But mostly, I was up because I was to make a three-hour trip to a place I had second thoughts about. To a place, according to my mum, that would set me on my career path. To a place that had hurt me so much in the past, but was determined not to make the same mistakes.

I was up early because my dad said, “If you are using my car, you have to wake up early. You are not the only person I have to attend to on New Year’s Day.”

Five hours later, I was seated alone on top of a box, swallowed by the silence left behind by both my father and sister. Engulfed by the reality that I would spend that night, the first night of the year, on a cold floor. Why? I couldn’t find a shop to buy a mattress, and even if I did, I did not have enough money to.

Unknowingly, that was the first of many nights that would find me lonely, alone and troubled. Nights when, in the comfort of darkness and silence, I cried myself to sleep. Nights when I struggled to find the meaning of life, and lacking the strength to get out of bed when morning comes.

That day, as gloomy as it was, also marked the beginning of similar days. Days when I dragged myself to work, even when I knew it was not what I wanted. Days when it became too much, so I curled in my office corner, waiting for night to set in, so I could get into my house, and cry. Days when my ambitions were crashed, and my dreams fed to the darkness.

If you ask me, I really do not know how it felt when I resigned. My friends, Christabel and Pheiffer, sat with me in one of those dingy work kitchens and said, “I wish I could be a courageous as you are. Don’t you have the fear of the unknown? Aren’t you afraid to leave a job, when you have no other in waiting?”

But then again, that was not about fear of loss. It was about rescuing my soul from an impending death. It was about getting out, alive, of unsafe spaces. That was me trying to find what really resonates with my heart. That was me finding happiness. And solace. And calm.

That was me fleeing from the ghosts of toxic workplaces.

My mum, when she learnt about my resignation a month later, called in distress:

Her: Ati uliwacha kazi?

Me: Wapi? Nani alikuambia?

Her: Si cousin yako amesema umeandika facebook.

Me: Facebook haikuangi ya ukweli.

Her: Unakuanga na mchezo. He. Sasaunaishi aje?

Me: Nlipata ingine.

Her: Eh, enyewe wewe ni mtoto wa Mungu.

Yes, I landed another job days after I resigned. Maybe it was the universe aligning itself. Maybe it was God. Maybe it was my determination as I wrote that cover letter, specifying that I was a published author and an experienced writer, although the job was out of my area of specialization.

What matters is I got it, and it has ensured I have had a roof over my head until now.

It has not been easy, this year, because of things that happened which I had not anticipated. But I am glad, and happy, that it is coming to an end and I have not lost my mind. I am still breathing. I am still laughing. Still writing. Still delivering books. Still having heart to heart conversations with my younger self, and forgiving her for the things she was ignorant of.

Most importantly, I am still struggling to get a job in my engineering field. Heck, I love engineering. I love the gasp in men’s faces when I enter into an interview room and they ask ‘Haiya, you are also an engineer?” I so want to practice engineering, and it kills me slowly every time I see that on my papers and bio, knowing that I am not anywhere close to that.

My person says, “If it was meant for you, it will come. Otherwise, you will still live.’ But sometimes, the feeling gets so hard I have to sit down and gaze at circuits and networks.

If there is something I have learnt this year, is that people change. They grow up. They move places. They lose interest. They develop anger. They whine. They collapse. They fly away. They say things, good and bad, that find their way to your ears in the most unimaginable ways. They lie, to your face and behind your back. They scream, then whisper as you make your way past them.

But then again, I am a person too, and I do most, if not all, of those things that people do.

Someday, I will look back at this year and pat my back for everything I have managed to be, or have, or do. I will look back at all the times I have been tempted to give up, but there were always people around me who gave me all they had.

So, as the year ends, I hope you have people as human as mine.

I hope you have cousins like mine, my Kevin, who call to check up on you. Randomly. Comically. Occasionally. I hope they care. I hope they love. I hope they teach you new things. I hope they give you hope. I hope they call you beautiful names like mwanefu. I hope, at the end of the phone call, you feel calmness engulf you.

I hope you have friends like mine, my Wreiner, who do not cease to praise your art. Who preach the good news of your existence to their crony. Who call you, in the mid-morning, and all they have to say is, ‘I was checking up on you. You good?’ I hope, at the end of the phone call, you feel safe.

I hope you have darlings like mine, my Scholar, whose voices at the end of the line smell like home and serenity. Who are genuine. And noisy. And persistent. Whose tone when they ask úko na pesa ya kutumia?’ is sincere and warm. I hope, at the end of the phone call, you regain your confidence.

I hope you have irreplaceable souls like mine, my Nyanza, who religiously read whatever you write. Who, even in your absence, continue to speak highly of you. I hope they are loud, have huge hugs, and believe in the power of the universe. Whose message when they say ‘Si we go make nails kesho,’ reminds you of a permanent space in their hearts.

I hope you have assets like mine, my Nyque, whose eyes beam with pride whenever your name is mentioned. Whose answer is always yes when it comes to you. Who, at the end of the day, gives you a hug and smiles their way into your soul.

Above all, I hope you have a home as human as mine; my baby, my sugar, my everything. Who listens when you talk. Who grabs you like their life depends on it. Who sees through your every flaw, but chooses you over and over again. Who, when they stir in their sleep, it is only your name that comes from their mouth. Who, when everything else is falling apart, hold you in their arms and whisper words of assurance, hope and love. I hope, when you break away from that embrace, you feel at home.

So yeah, my year has not been a bed of roses, but I have done things I would never have thought of.

Sometime back, if you told me I would publish a book, and people would buy it, I would have laughed so hard you would be put to shame. Because well, who am I? What courage do I have to walk to someone and tell them I have a book?

If you told me that someday, while sharing a meal with my friends, the legendary Charles Chanchori would call me and say, “Hey Eunniah, I was supposed to speak at some event, but I cannot make it. Are you willing to step in and speak on my behalf?”, I would have hit you with a spoon on your nose. Who? Me? Chanchori? Naaaaah. Can’t be me.

But yeah, all these happened, and I am so glad I never gave up.

I am so glad and happy that when I was at my lowest, when I didn’t have anything for myself, or anything to offer, I was surrounded by genuine people. Those who gave without expecting back. Those who took time to ensure I was happy, and safe, and home. Those who ensured I ate to my fill and slept like a baby.

Those who, like you, have religiously read this blog, and shared it with others.

So, this is to people out there doing their best to be human to others. You are super amazing. One day, someday, all this will make sense.

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Comments
Scholar V. Akinyi

😭😭😭😭😭 What a year it has been for you.

So difficult, then hazy, then light. And love. And you have breathed, and lived. And done. And achieved.

And I will not forget the first time I met you, when you mentioned being an engineer. And in my heart I said, 'she is pretty, and smart, and hardworking. I want to be her friend'

I am proud of your achievements. I love the person that you are. I love your art!

I'm happy we are here. I am happy in you I found a safe space ❤️❤️ may our voices be smooth on the other end of the line, always.

The year that was.

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Caleche

The year that was... Having genuine people in your circle is precious. You don't have to worry Coz you know someone somewhere gatchu no matter what. I am happy that you have some. May I find that circle too❤❤❤❤.

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David Michubu

I couldn't be more proud of you as well........and I am yet to read your books.
We all need our humans ......since we are also human to others.......nicely put.....

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down, an anthology of short stories and If My Bones Could Speak, a poetry collection. She also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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