Bitter Sweet

Harsh realities find us when we’re least expecting them. A few minutes ago, her world had been perfect. Sitting in her cousin’s living room, cheering on her country in the London Olympics marathon, she was visiting to see her cousin’s new baby. The plan was to have lunch, play with the baby a little, and then go on her merry way back home.

An hour into the marathon, casual conversation flowing lazily, like a breeze on a very sunny day, a new visitor comes in. He takes a sit, introductions are brief, and he’s part of the family in some way. Suddenly the conversation sails away from the lazy flow, storming off to the ugly side of the world. Her country is apparently at war, helping a bordering country try to fix its problems and the man seated across her is neck deep in it. Literally, he sleeps in a hole in a trench at the front line. He tells tales of watching the stars, marveling at their beauty, the next minute; he is defending his country’s freedom with rounds of fire toward an enemy who is as determined to kill him.

Hundreds of enemies coming at him, more fighting, sleepless nights, bombs bursting over his head, more trenches and holes. Suddenly, watching the marathon seems so useless, such an insipid exercise compared to what he sacrifices on a daily basis. Harsh realities hit home in such strange moments. As he leaves an hour later, she murmurs,

“Stay safe,” her tone silent, soft, full of regret. But, his eyes are jaded, he has seen too much to feel the soft, his soul is hardened by the brutal human nature he meets daily fighting for our comfortable lives.  Our sweet freedoms that we enjoy without much thought for his discomfort.

Her country almost wins the Olympic Marathon, and although they come in second, she’s grateful for one little thing she can smile about. That and the happy baby who has finally emerged after hours of sleep, dripping with innocence, not knowing that at the borders ravaged souls defend the country they live in. She holds the baby close and prays that the baby never knows, never has to deal with the harsh realities of life.

Making a Change

Last year, my sister and I quit our jobs. Shocker!! Everyone thought we’d lost our minds.  I was working as a bookshop manager, nice job, perks that count in the way I live my life.  As for my sister, she was a warehouse manager running this big great store for the same company I was working for.

In the way of companies, there was politics and major changes with management.  There comes a time when an individual must weigh the pros and cons of holding down a certain job.  For my part, I tend to get emotionally attached to my job.  For those of you who understand, this means that I’d find myself staying later when things are getting harder.  Just to make sure they are better the next day.  Giving up more than I normally would for the sake of the job.  I would view failures as my own, going above and beyond not to have failures but gain more victories.  For someone else’s company, this can be a very trying experience.  No matter how many times you advice, talk and suggest to the necessary parties above you, the truth is you can only get so far.  The cons began to outweigh the pros and all my passion and inspiration in this company faded away.

My sister and I got tired, emotionally and physically, of fighting the good fight for this company.  At the beginning of the year 2012, when things got particularly strained with the company, we decided to leave. I was caught in a whirlwind of relief and absolute terror when I handed in my resignation.  I’d love to say that I did so with absolute confidence, but I would be lying.  There was a lot of fear of the unknown, but there was no doubt that leaving was the right decision.  My job was no longer right for me.

My sister on the other hand had absolute confidence in her decision.  She’s always been like that, especially when she decides on something.  You can’t shake her from her path, and that helped me along.  We’ve been through so much together.  And her confidence spurred my own.  She had an idea that she believed in, and her passion toward this idea was leading the way forward. So, out of that moment a year and a half ago, a great big idea was born.  Amari Bakery Ltd, my sister’s one year old baby.

About Amari Bakery Ltd bakery site

It started out as a small idea.  My sister is the baker of the family and she would do it from home and sell bread to the neighbors.  Before we got our jobs, we’d started a small shop that ended up closing due to situations in our lives we couldn’t control.  This time however, after we quit our jobs, we decided that there was nothing else to believe in but this idea.  My sister named it Amari Quickbreads Bakery.  We got the name registered and she started baking out of our home.  There were ups and downs, a struggle for customers and of course, getting people to know and learn about the bakery.   We’d advertise online using Social Media, a blog and a Website.  Gradually, month by month, Amari Quickbreads Bakery began to gain loyal customers.  This year, Amari Quickbreads Bakery, became Amari Bakery Ltd and opened a shop.  My sister is now baking at the shop, delivering products to customers at their homes and marching on to the future.  I’m proud to be part of Amari Bakery Ltd. and watching her and her determination allowed me to give my writing the same confidence.

my sis, always baking for the family ^_^

Amari Blog     Amari Facebook Page  Amari Website

Visit any of these and you might get an offer.  If you live within Nairobi, we deliver to your home/ office or your designated place of work.

When I look at her and visit the Amari Bakery Shop these days, I see the realization of an idea that started out very small.  There have been setbacks and facing them down has been a challenge.  But isn’t it better to face down challenges of your own making than those set for you for another business?  I’m proud of my sister for letting me be part of this project and what she’s done and will continue to do.

I’ve worked since I was sixteen years old.  Odd jobs that were meant to pay the bills and meet daily life needs that were necessary.  None of those jobs ever made sense to me. So, when I quite a year ago, that was the first time I ever felt like I was making a positive change in my life.

I write now, and do consultation for Amari Bakery Ltd. Business systems.  There are months when I don’t have the constant money I used to get when I worked a steady job, but I wouldn’t give up the experiences I’ve gained the last months for anything. I’m excited to see what we build in the next year.

 

I Love You this Much – Dora Okeyo

I Love You This Much

by Dora Okeyo

Summary:

Leila is alive and in-love with Maxwell; but he’s only some memory, or is he? Nancy loves William. He doesn’t love her though, because he is not the same-not since the accident; and all four are tangled in a web, one that’s created by one of them, will love their love endure?

My Review:

Reading this story was like walking down the streets of Nairobi, meeting people and finding out a bit about their lives.  An exploration behind the stranger seated at the next table sipping coffee while they read through their newspaper.  I loved Leila’s attitude, and how easy it is for her to stand for her beliefs. She is strong and also vulnerable as well. I loved how well Dora describes Leila’s life.  She hangs out with the guys at the club, and also makes the best girlfriend for Nancy.  Nancy describes Leila best, “….She told William one day that if I was a man, she’d get married to me. When Maxwell heard this he nearly broke all the glasses in his house….”

Nancy’s description made me laugh. Often times, you’ll meet a guy,  you like his temperament, and obviously you’re clicking, and you think, this could work.  Two dates, and he decides that as long as you’re not seeing him with the goal of marriage, the relationship is a waste of time. I thought marriage should be about friendship first?  If we can’t even have friendship, how do you jump straight to marriage? I think that’s why I loved Leila’s attitude in this story. Her determination not to compromise who she is and what she’s about.

This is a story about friendship and love, and the struggle to find a balance in this Nairobi city.  In the end, we’re all just wishing for the one to share a happy live aren’t we?

The ending is a fabulous twist best for you to find out when you read this story.

I Love You This Much is available on Smashwords.com for free.

Visit Dora Okeyo’s blog to read more about her.

Download it for your Kindle or Adobe Reader Here.

Do you have a book that needs a review?  Feel free to message me.  Email: ellyinnairobi@gmail.com.

Pink Bows and High heels – 1

“You’re going to end up alone if you don’t go out, Carol.”

Jackie Njoki complained posing dramatically in the middle of their hostel room.  Dressed in a short red skirt with a sleeveless red top that clung to her perfect figure, she was ready for a night out.

“Come on, get dressed.”

“I have a paper to finish.”

Carol lifted her psychology text-book and pushed up her reading glasses on her nose.  She was struggling through a ten page essay on Freud.  She’d been reading through the same chapter for two hours now, and inspiration was firmly floating above her head.

Jackie came to her reading desk and pointed a blood-red finger nail at her blinking cursor.

“That’s not going to move today.  You’ve had a blank page on that screen for two hours.  Come out with me.  We’re going to Will’s house.  There’s an awesome party and Alex will be there.”

“Alex.” Carol sighed.  Her heart skipped a merry beat.

She was a second year at the Nairobi University and the only things she’d managed to love about being away from home was Jackie, her other friend Annie Omitto and handsome Alexander ‘Alex’ Maina.  Alex was six feet two, had dark chocolate eyes and owned the perfect smile she’d ever seen.  He was a fourth year engineering student.  And lived off campus in what she could only call a party house because of the amount of drinking that happened daily.

She’d always loved the idea of being his girlfriend, but he tended to hang out with the tall, long-legged chicks from wealthy estates.  Carol cursed her short figure for the millionth time.  Alex only talked to her because they were both in French class.  Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen him there yesterday.

“I have class at eight tomorrow morning, Jackie.  If we go, we have to leave before twelve.”

“Now you’re talking.” Jackie clapped excited her bangles jingling.  “I’ll make sure you get home on time, Cinderella.”

“I’m not kidding.”  Carol stood and stretched her arms above her head with a groan.  “Gosh, I shouldn’t listen to you.  If I was sane, I’d stay here and finish the stupid Psych paper.”

“It’s Friday night, Alex is free for the night, you like Alex.  Sane means going out with me to this party and hanging out with him.”

Carol groaned as she rushed to their shared closet.  A thrill of anticipation already creeping in as she reached for a royal blue dress she’d bought a week ago.

“Wear the pink one, it looks good on you.”  Jackie sat on her bed and grinned.  “You have to look hot gal.”

They laughed as she stripped out of her t-shirt and pajama pants.

It took thirty minutes to get her legs shaved, her hair brushed into a flattering style and her lip gloss on.  Another five to find her phone, purse and make sure she had enough money.  Jackie was on the phone with Annie when she finally decided on the sandals she was going to wear.

“Annie is waiting for us at G.P.O.  We can go get food and take a mat to South C.”

“Sounds like a plan.”  Carol grabbed a thin pink sweater from her bed and followed Jackie out of their room.

It took them ten minutes to walk through Serena Park to the G.P.O bus stop.  Even though it was already getting dark, the air was warm and the city filled with people.  Nairobi was rarely empty on Friday nights.

Jackie talked nonstop through their short walk to the bus stop.  They found Annie waiting patiently.  Jackie gave her a short hug and tugged at her braids.

“I can’t believe you still have the patience to sit through getting these on your head.”

Annie rolled her eyes and turned to her.  “We’re not all like you, Jackie.  Weaves are itchy and I don’t have long hair like Carol.”

“You look pretty.”  Carol smiled hugging Annie tightly.  She’d known Annie longer than Jackie since they’d gone to the same high school.  “How was internship?”

“A pain,” Annie said as she pulled back.  “I spend my time being a mail girl and arranging files.  I’m never going to learn anything about accounting at this rate.”

“They’re just treating you like that coz you’re starting out.”  Jackie assured her.  “I’m starving, can we talk about this on the way to Caprice.”

“I can’t believe you actually managed to drag Carol out of the hostel.”  Annie teased as they headed toward their favorite fast food restaurant.

 

A Sardine in a Delicatessen Store

She walked briskly along her street headed home.  She was late; it was almost nine o’clock, the night pitch black, the street lights barely lighting her way.  Hands folded tight against her chest, she bit her lip and trudged along the uneven path leading to the farm house.  She cursed bureaucracies for the umpteenth time today.  Trying to find a job in this ridiculous economy was akin to a guerrilla war.  Men in suits ambushing your character when you least expect it, she closed her eyes in frustration.  She wished her old job would pay her severance, two more days and she was going to be poorer than a church mouse.  She’d be happy to have even ten shillings for fare to get to the next interview.

There was no way to tell if she’d gotten the job she’d interviewed for this afternoon.  The suits in charge had played hard ball, warning the group of interviewees that some of them wouldn’t get picked.  A painful pang swept through her and she prayed for luck.  She prayed…her walk slowed, she wondered if her god was listening.  Berating herself for wavering, she continued her brisk walk and prayed in earnest.  Just maybe…she would get the job.

She finally got to the farm’s green gate.  It was Monday, her day to make dinner.  She locked the gate with a sigh.  She’d promised she’d be home earlier.  Obviously, that hadn’t gone so well.  Her brothers would be giving her a lecture.  She slowed down on the short walk to the house.  Stopping at the front door, she took in a deep bracing breathe, preparing herself for a lecture.  She opened the door, removed her shoes, and gave a small gasp when she glanced up.

A cheerful atmosphere filled the living room, and beyond that, the dining table was laden with delicious foods.  The scent of roast meat  filled her nostrils and her stomach rumbled in appreciation.  Her older brother rushed to her and hugging her in greeting.  He smiled wide, picking her up and twirling her around.  He told her he was happy she was home and led her to the living room.  Her younger brother pressed a fresh cup of coffee into her hand.  The lecture she’d feared never came.  When she sat at the dinner table to eat with her brothers, her father brought her an envelope from her previous employer.  She opened it with a frown having given up on receiving her severance pay from that company.  She was surprised as a sardine that went to sleep in the ocean and woke up in a delicatessen store when she pulled out a check.  Her severance money, she smiled in elation.  Maybe her God was listening after all, she decided.  There was hope.