2020 was certainly not the best year for most people I know, and it certainly was not the best for me as well. Well, what can I say, I am glad that I got through it, despite the challenges it brought along with it. Growing up, I learnt to get rid of the ‘I’ in a lot of the things I say or do, mostly because thinking about others and putting them first brought some genuine amount of joy and peace to my young soul, or so I thought. However, as I got older,I learnt that people can take advantage of this strength or weakness, depending on how you choose to see it. Regardless of what word you choose, there is no denying a certain vulnerability to being selfless.

In my isolation and social distancing, I broke down, as well as many marriages, friendships and loyalties the world over. I can say that I lost my inspiration to write, not entirely sure why. Well, maybe I do. But there is one thing I will take home from all of this. A hole is not a tunnel and a tunnel is not a hole. The good thing about tunnels, they have two ends. Every situation that I face henceforth, that brings sorrow or gloom, I will learn to consider it a tunnel. This way, I can always see a light at the end of it all. Everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not, then it is not the end.

2020 might have been the worst year for most of us, but I am grateful for the one thing it brought light on … The issue of mental health. Up until I was a young woman, I did not quite understand what depression was, what it meant, it’s consequences or how it manifested itself. Like many I know, I did not understand and neither could I grasp the gist of it all. I must say that law school widened my understanding of the illness mostly because in criminal law, we focus on both the wrongful act and the state of the mind. The mind is a curious thing, it differentiates who we are. It manifests in the choices we make and the things we do or do not do. A study of the mind could help anyone predict a man’s future moves, tendencies and choices. The state of mind also manifests in behavioral patterns of a human being; the posture while seated or standing, the types of books one chooses to read, down to the shapes of the letters in their handwriting.

My best friend died almost two years ago and that brought my world to its knees. I could not let that go because we were not on the best of terms. Halfway through campus, Jos told me one day that she was expecting. I remember when I saw her in person at the Bakers Inn opposite Afya Center here, in Nairobi County. We were meeting up to go home together. She came from Juja with her boyfriend and I had come from Karen after class. Her elder sister walked in and it was a small reunion of some sorts. I remember being curious as to her belly so I touched it. I remember it was funny to her and she laughed a bit, I watched her laugh. Her smile was stretched from ear to ear while forming the little creases around her eyes. It was genuine, she was happy. I could relax, but only just a little. They said their goodbyes with her sister, we ordered something for the journey and got into the next matatu leaving for Machakos.

A pregnancy is usually wonderful news, but I was not sure how to feel about it. I am aware that my feelings are not particularly important, but you have to know the situation in its entirety. I am a rational thinker and while I was happy for her, I could not help but break down the scenario as I saw it in my head. We were just twenty year-old females from a small town in Kenya who left home for the sole purpose of higher education. To our townsfolk ten years ago, the city was like a predator that snatches the innocence from the children’s hearts and minds. We were those people wamekuja Nairobi kusoma tu. Our parents were the type that gave us everything they had and did not have in order for us to have a better tomorrow, a better life than their parents gave them. Whether you like it or not, we were our parents investment. They gave us the best so that we do not have to toil and suffer like the did for what they have now. So for me, it went without saying that our lives ought to be better, that school ought to have enlightened us, that we ought to do everything to stay away from anything that impeded success. I was happy for her, but I could not shake the feeling that this would not end well for the both of us. Oh yes, it goes without saying that I am the god-mom, so I share in that responsibility as well.

My little mouse was born and I did not know about it until three days later. Why? Well, I was under the impression that she lost the baby months before, so I was really not expecting to meet her sister by the hospital gate, telling me that my best friend is in the hospital. Man, I thought she was dying or something. She led me in and we passed by the maternity unit and I remember asking myself why we did not just pass by it, but actually go inside. Looking back, this is why I opine that there is a difference between understand and comprehend. I understood what the wards were for, however, I did not comprehend why my best friend was lying inside on a bed, with a weak smile plastered on her face and her mother by her side. I was dumbfounded and remember asking why she was there. Yes, the judiciary intern was the slowest one in the room. In my defence, I had just pulled an eight to four normal day at the courts and my supervisor was fond of killing us with work and extensive research. He is still one of my favourite people, lol.

Long story short, after three minutes of shock my brain finally registered why I was there; she just had a baby. I would come by and see her whenever I could because I could not shake the feeling off; the feeling that my life and those of our peers was going on as usual but hers stopped, even though it was only for a moment. She grew up faster than I did because our circumstances were no longer the same, she was a mom, I was still a girl, still naive, still chasing after the dreams I had nine months before. I did not realize, as I do now, that her life just changed, her priorities and goals did too. We were not on the same page again and why exactly did my mind not register that then? We fought like a married couple in their midlife crisis, we grew slightly apart with every day that went by. She was mature and I was not, she would reason and I could not, she had other priorities and I did not; I did not understand her because I could not. How could I when I could not even fit in her shoes which were, all of a sudden too big for me? This is how I see things now, but ask me what my point of view was like two years ago?

She did not make time. She threw away most of the food I brought with my meager coins that I worked so hard to save for her. I was busy as she was busy. I wanted to hang out but, the baby. Can we hang out with the baby? … Probably not, I need my rest, she needs to eat, I need to get my strength back, Her dad will come to see her … I always felt like I was butting in, like I was intruding, like I was the only one putting in more work to our friendship.

Yes you can yell at me later, I yelled at me too. In my immaturity, the one final blow was the fact that she literally forgot my birthday. That was it, I lost it. She had secluded herself from the rest of the world, from our friends and our peers. I never really understood why back then and I just thought she got bored of everyone. I just did not think that she would get bored of me too. I cut contact, stopped going to see her, stopped myself from caring too much. I did not understand why she did what she did and in my absence, I did not even know she got sick. My phone got busted up and just as I got a new one in the middle of the year in 2019, I went online and saw that there was a fundraiser for her medical bill. What?!! I had to go see her but visitors were not entirely allowed. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat down and did what I do when I need to communicate, I write a letter. I wrote her a letter and a card. I could not see her that evening, I would be there first thing tomorrow, so the card was something she could hold on to. My mom delivered it while gong to see her mom. She did not get a chance to read that letter. She died at 6 p.m. that same day.

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  1. Haha! It could, as well, have been written by him, so many people had the same thoughts, and I am…

  2. Thank you! I am kinda sad that we were unable to keep writing for such a long time. However, we…

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