This time last year, when I was celebrating yet another year on my already ‘majority age’, I remember sitting in the car on the passenger’s seat just behind my father who was on the wheel. We had just dropped someone who throughout the ride was on the co-driver’s seat. Well, anyone who’s ever given me a ride knows that most of the time I always decline the offer of sitting on the co-driver’s seat even if the car is practically empty. I do so because I’ve always imagined that it’s more about how I’ve been wired to think. You see, for a long time I’ve always thought that it is both a sign of modesty and decorum to reduce yourself when ‘big opportunities’ are presented to you because we always have that feeling of ‘I don’t think I deserve that!’ or ‘I think it’s too much for me!’ My dad and I were parting because he had a board meeting to attend to and I had some errands to run. I told him that there was this book that I saw in the store some time back and that I wanted to buy it. He gave me the money, obviously after I convinced him profusely that it was an amazing book! I walked out of the car and walked all the way to Zion Mall. I was incredibly excited that I was finally getting Inherit the Witch by Laura J. Burns and Constance M. Burge, this is just but one of the many books in the Charmed series of books. I know exactly what’s going through your mind right now, that I’m a nerd! Yes, I am and it reminds of the days when we would religiously watch Charmed on KTN every Sunday at around 8:00 PM before it got changed such that it now featured on Saturdays. My older siblings and I even went ahead to pick among the three main characters, the Charmed sisters, for ourselves and we would be like:
“Mimi ni Phoebe kwa sababu mimi ni ndogo kama yeye!”😭
Then my sister would agree and then go ahead and declare:
“Ni sawa, basi mimi nitakua Piper ju yeye ni mkubwa kushinda Phoebe na pia mimi ni mkubwa kukushinda!” 😏
Then, because our elder brother had no alternatives to choose from, he automatically became Prue who in one of the episodes died and later became replaced by Paige. *Childhood memories*
I bought the book and as it is with some of us book lovers, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. I read it and because I had watched a couple of Charmed series, I resonated with the authors when they talked about things like orbing, shapeshifting, levitation of the Book of Shadows and all other kind of super powers that these sisters in their manor house performed. How cool is it to have super powers! I know you’re sitting there and again thinking to yourself; “Really John Mark?😟 Do you want to tell us that even with your twenty years you still love those fictitious things done by witches and wizards! If you’re reading this by the way, I hope you’re not among those GOT diehards that I know!😂
Have you ever asked yourself why Westerners make witchcraft and the fact of being a wizard irresistibly appealing? I remember some time back when some friends and I were talking about the screening of some movie in IMAX and we drew comparisons between Western witchcraft and African witchcraft! It is undeniably true that Americans make this whole witchcraft thing glamorous while Africans make it so barbaric to the point it is even dreadful to talk about it with people who hold on to superstitious beliefs!
I finished the book and then I passed it on to my 13-year-old sister who read it passionately because she could relate with the two young girls (Drew and Lily) who are friends and that Drew steals the powers of Lily. In chapters where she didn’t understand the plot, I remember discussing it with her and sometimes we would make fun of how Drew shapeshifted to become a mice!
Then 2017 happened.
This year as I celebrate my twentieth birthday, I’ve bought another book. This time I didn’t have to convince my father that I needed to buy a book because by now, it’s almost obvious that I need books both to read and pass university exams and to also keep myself useful during my spare time now that the University of Nairobi recently got closed indefinitely because of some matter that I choose not to talk about here lest I invoke some undesirable emotions from some comrades. I bought Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. I was exited when I saw that email notification pop up on my screen at 7:30PM yesterday. I had made an order online and I had to wait for hours before I could get it and start reading it! Well, this book is not about witches and wizards and other crazy things that exited me in my teens, it’s about a phenomenal woman who has defied all odds in making sure that we change the narrative around gender roles of our time. Sheryl has had to go through some of the most awkward moments in her life as a woman, there is a time she was pitching to some board in New York in a corporate office building that offered the grandeur view of Manhattan and when one of the members suggested that they take a break, she wanted to go the bathroom, so she asked one of the people that were hosting them of where the ladies’ restroom were and this person being kind of surprised by the question asked, stared at Sheryl blankly, and she (Sheryl) went ahead to inquire about the period that he had been in that building. Then she learned that this person had been there for a year and also she was further made to believe that she was not only the first woman to have ever pitched in that building in a span of one year but also was the first woman who ever wanted to use the bathroom!
Well, I’m yet to finish reading the whole book but one quote–that has stood out out for me– that’s in the form a question asks:
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
These are the kind of questions that feel like a pile of bricks falling on your head, these are the kind of questions that feel like a punch right in your gut, these are the questions that we need to constantly ask ourselves. Remember when I talked about being afraid of taking the co-driver’s seat when it is offered to me in the beginning? What would I do if I weren’t afraid?
Now that I’m growing better and not older, I want to keep asking myself of what it is that I can achieve if I weren’t afraid. I want to seek that which appears to other people as crazy, I want to get hold of that career, that life, that friendship without worrying about my insecurities. I just don’t want to be afraid!
When I’ll finish this book, I hope that my 13-year-old sister would ask me to lend it to her. I hope that she will read through it and know that the proverbial glass ceiling has been broken already and that she can be whatever she wants to be without paying attention to the fact that she’s female. I hope that she’ll ask me to explain to her some of the things that she doesn’t understand in the book and I hope that I’ll give her the best response possible.
Writing this particular article is what I would do if I weren’t afraid!
I’m stepping into my twenty knowing clearly that I can achieve more if I’m not afraid!
Happy birthday to me!