“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato
Today is Friday and I feel so energized for the weekend. The whole week I was so low and it surprises me that on a Friday I feel like I can move a mountain. No one can know how energized I am unless I actually tell them how I feel. And this is because I don’t carry my emotions on my fore head. You will only be able to tell how I feel if you talked to me.
We are always mean to people not knowing what they are going through or how they slept, did they manage to achieve their goals for the day, did they lose someone close to them, were they able to feed their children or pay rent or school fees. Every one someone has a challenge in their lives that they have failed to share with any one.
Last Saturday I took my mum to the saloon and I met Mary. Mary works as an assistant in the saloon. Three months back she gave birth and lost the baby simply because the hospital did not have oxygen. This is a well-established Government hospital that has been in existence from time immemorial. She didn’t have money to bribe the doctors and nurses, she kept pleading for her baby’s life to be saved but this all fell on deaf ears. Mary saw her baby die before her eyes. She buried her first born baby boy, went home to pick up the pieces, and in the next three months she had to report back to work. Life had to go on, it was not going to wait for her. When I saw her, I could feel the tears in my eyes build up, but I had to be strong for her. I gave her a big hug and told her I was so happy to see her. I could not show her the sadness in my eyes. I don’t know how she feels because I am not in her shoes and honestly I cannot imagine what she is going through. But I am so glad that she has chosen to move on with her life. She has chosen to give life another shot. That is what women do, we always give life another shot even when it throws us down several times. As women we need to be there for one another.
We never carry our emotions on our foreheads and so we need to be more compassionate to the person next to us because you can never know what they are going through. The day we buried my dad, there was a lady who came up to my mother, I cannot remember her name or what she looks like but I will never forget what she told my mother. She said, “No one knows what you are feeling, and no one ever will. Life is going to be very hard but you need to brace yourself, pick up the pieces and move on.”
My grandmother was never the same when my dad passed away. At the time I didn’t know much about depression. Now I recall that she was depressed, she withdrew from society and kept to herself. Even when we went to visit her, she would not let us stay for long claiming that it would be late for us to get back home. I kept wishing I knew the signs then. I didn’t know how to console her then, I wished I had hugged her more. I didn’t understand what she was going through, she was a mother whose son had been murdered, her first born child. I remember she used to cry saying that no parent should bury their own child. Her pain was different from mine, different from my mothers. Each of us had different pains that we could not explain and that we didn’t write on our foreheads so we never really understood. But life had to go one. We had to pick ourselves up and march forward. That is what is expected of us. Time never waits for you to heal and neither does it help in healing the pain.
I know a strong woman, she is a lecturer and well accomplished woman in society. Before I knew her, I always admired her. But when we became close I learnt that she was battling with so much in her life. She was separated from her husband and decided to bury herself in her work. Her husband suffered from bipolar and the two personalities were both on the extreme end. She decided to concentrate on her children and her work and has accomplished so much. Deep down she wonders why her marriage was not successful like others, but she has moved on despite the different emotions that are in her mind and body. She moved on and she does not wear these emotions on her forehead.
Working with women in the rural communities, I have learnt a lot and I had a paradigm shift on life. Many women are victims of gender based violence and this is because of the culture and norms of society. One lady told me she was married off at 15, had her first child at 16 and second at 18. She was always being beaten by her husband for reasons she really didn’t understand. One day the husband took her back to her father and demanded for his cows back. Out of anger, her father strapped her on a tree and beat her up to a point of unconsciousness, despite the pleas of her mother. She was hospitalized and the matter was never reported to police. The mother said she did not want her husband jailed and that the daughter deserved the beatings because she was a shame to the family. This story brought tears to my eyes because my father was such a loving and compassionate man. I could not imagine that a father would treat his daughter this way. This tall, slim and light skinned beauty was very reserved and hardly talked to anyone in the village. If approached she was very welcoming and many of the women thought she was arrogant because she thought she was very beauty. She is indeed a beautiful woman and this is what catches people’s attention from afar. No one knew that she was reserved because of what she was going through, we can never understand what she is going through because we are not in her shoes. She picked up the pieces and moved on. She does odd jobs to pay rent and school fees for her children.
I met Anna, a business woman in kikubo, she is single mother of two boys and her last born a girl had just turned three in February days after my own daughter had turned two. I met her through a friend some time last year and we became friends. I sent her a text message to wish her daughter a happy birthday this year but I never got a response, so I figured she was out of the country as it was her routine. A week later I met our mutual friend who had returned from Dubai. She told me that they had just returned from Masaka from burying Ariel, Anna’s daughter. This was a shocker for me. When I pressed for details I was told that the maid hit her three times on the head and she fell and died. For anyone who has given birth you can imagine the pain Anna is going through. That day I went home and wept my eyes out in my room for Ariel, a lovely young girl whose life was cut short because of another woman. We don’t know why the maid reacted that way but her reaction was not called for. I met Annah the next day at her home and she welcomed me with a big smile, I was wailing and she was strong and very calm. She had cried and cried and said she was tired. I cannot imagine the pain in her heart. Being a single mother having lost her husband after Ariel was born, this woman picked herself up and started doing business in Kampala. Now this tragedy has befallen her. She told me that she will be fine, that life has to go on, that she had to be strong for the boys. Words that should have come out of my mouth. She showed me how determined she was to continue with life and not just sit and pity herself. If you met her today you cannot tell by looking at her that has been hit by this life but has chosen to take life by the horns.
Because we don’t carry our emotions on our foreheads, doesn’t mean you have the right to be mean to us, or to judge us. Sometimes all we need is hug or a smile or just to find out how we are. Always be compassionate because you will never know what people are going through or what experiences they have gone through that have made them who they are today.
However much you carry a sad face, or a straight face or a happy face no one can understand what you are going through. As women we are wired differently, we are more loving and compassionate and so we should be able to reach out and lift up other women, build their confidence and self-esteem.
“How would your life be different if… you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day..you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and being Free