Tag

Staying strong

Without Prejudice

Just like that, after nearly 3 hours of trying to make up our minds, we signed the contracts and paid the dues. We finally had a place to stay.

All of a sudden, once the money had left our accounts, it was possible to obtain the keys to the house, something that could not be done before. Strange. Once the paper work was done and we got the keys, I suggested that we see the house before we went back to Nayim’s accommodation where I was now crushing at because my contracted ended before we could get a new space. Nayim agreed.

When I tell you that utter shock befell us when we walked into the house, trust me! It was a like being hit unexpectedly in the face by a wrecking ball. Not that I know the feeling, but I imagine that is how it would feel. The signs were telling right from the minute we got onto the first few streets leading to the apartment. DODGY! I had already decided that should we live there, there was no way I could walk home late at night on my own. It was nothing like Wembley Park where I lived for a whole year prior. The outside of the complex screamed council houses but I tried to remain optimistic. At this point, none of us were uttering a word.

It got painfully silent when we walked into the house. My heart dropped! It was the black greasy walls in the kitchen, the black melted toaster and microwave, the live wires, the broken windows, the mould, the brown bathroom titles that were probably once white, the ungodly state of the toilet and bathtub (where was the shower head?), the unsecured stair case, the broken curtain rods, the dusty beds… dilapidated doesn’t even begin to describe the state of that house. My heart was beating fast, my blood was boiling, fear was creeping in. Then the door was opened from the outside and a tall white boy walked in. He wanted to know who we were and we wanted to know who he was.

We quickly found out that he had rented a few rooms in the house together with his friends a week ago and that they had been living uncomfortably for a week. He said that he had just come back from Flintons to complain about everything wrong with the house, complaints he said he had been making for a week with no help or response from Flintons. Apparently, there was no water, no gas, and everything seemed to be falling apart. The housing agent did not care.

I was panicking. They hadn’t cooked in a week and neither had they showered. The contract claimed that the amount paid covered all utility bills including WiFi but it didn’t. One had to foot the bills and then claim a refund, something that they do not highlight when walking you through the terms and conditions. In fact, their contract is so vaguely written and is open to misinterpretation.

We had to go and get back a refund. Considering that we had paid that very day, it surely would be possible. We were wrong. Very wrong.

Flintons took us in circles with processes that didn’t seem to exist and our daily commutes to their offices demanding our refund were met with arrogance and mocking. Our second agent and his team laughing in our faces at our distress. They knew what they had done. They didn’t care. It was their MO, it worked. — Housing in London is BIG business. There are loads of people streaming in from all over the world looking for places to stay. Rent has been hiked and the living spaces are getting smaller and smaller. Everyday desperate people are being scammed. It just the norm. There are loopholes in the law and people have taken advantage.

Mymorning showers were routined by tears because I didn’t want Nayim to see me crying. Full days spent outside Flintons offices and commutes on the tube painfully silent between us. The knot in my throat tightening further as the days went by. The emotional distress was painful and had the potential to sink us into depression. I remember one silent tube ride back to Nayim’s place where he broke down into tears. It didn’t matter that we were surrounded by Londoners trying to make their way home. His tears just flowed. It was painful.

It took me about three days to tell my dad that his money had gone down the drain. Before then, I didn’t know how else I would break it down to him. It was a lot of money. As a widower and father of three doing your best to provide so that your children continue to have the same standard of life that they had when their mother was around, I would imagine this is the last thing you want to hear. I didn’t want to worry him, but I couldn’t raise the money on my own to get another place. I had spent nearly all of my savings helping to pay for my accommodation and personal expenses during the one year that I had been away (I didn’t want to be a burden, even though he keeps saying that he would do anything to make our dreams a reality) and now I couldn’t afford this on my own.

I made the call.

Nayim was grabbing us dinner at KFC and I stepped out to speak to him and as I narrated the ordeal, I broke down. I cried. Painful hot tears streamed down my face, the knot in my throat now tighter than ever. I wish I had made that phone call when everything went wrong. My father was calm, his voice reassuring, confident that everything was going to be okay. “Barbs, it is just money. The important thing is that you are okay.”

We had been so consumed with the pain that we had forgotten that we could try and find other means to solve the matter. We reported the case to our bank and reached the civil courts. I spent my days combing through the UK housing laws pertaining to renting houses etc. and followed necessary procedure to take the matter to court. When I was not doing this, I was crying myself to sleep every night and wishing that I listened to my gut. I cried every day for 2 months. How could I be so stupid to get conned? I was so embarrassed about getting conned that I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. I got off social media and only spoke to the people that I needed to speak to.(Looking back now, I wonder what I was so afraid of, people lose money every day, I didn’t see it like this at the time) I let the situation eat at me from the inside. I suffered on my own. Nayim was in similar pain but talking about it or trying to comfort each other made it worse.

Eventually, Nayim moved into an airbnb and I moved in with Samantha who had fortunately not paid for the house and was able to get another place. I was going to get an airbnb but Samantha wouldn’t have it. “You can stay with me as you look for another place, there’s no need to spend more money.” While she was lovingly hosting me and happy to have a friend in her new space and we could hang out all the time, I felt like a burden. I continued to cry in the shower in the mornings and would sometimes sit in her closet by myself and just cry. I couldn’t get past how they played us, how I missed the signs and how cruel human beings could be. My brain just wouldn’t process it all.

Without Prejudice

Satan and Saturn have been at it this past week.” — That is what I thought when the week of September 3rd 2018 came to an end and I found out on Twitter that Saturn’s retrograde was ending.

Never in my life, bar my mother’s passing, has my core been so challenged, so disturbed, so overturned…

I would never have expected the override of my comfortable reality. I was just about to be homeless in a foreign country and I was NOT ready.

I got conned. I got conned in the UK. I don’t know to what regard I had held the first world in, but one of the things that I did not expect was getting conned in London. It’s funny how, after I went through this whole ordeal, I found out that it is a more common occurrence than I thought and probably more common there than it is in Nairobi.

My student accommodation contract was coming to an end and I needed to find a new place to stay for the next 3 months. Since I was no longer considered a student, student accommodation was not an option. I needed to find a house or an apartment or something and rent a room.

I teamed up with one of my friends Nayim and we decided to find a house together, which we did. However, about two days before we were to move in, the agent let us know that the Landlord no longer wanted us living in his house. I couldn’t believe it. After the long process that we had gone through getting this place, I couldn’t imagine having to do it again for another place and in TWO DAYS!

Nayim and I set to work, we needed to find another place. We combed through websites upon websites to find accommodation but nothing in our budget was forthcoming. We then opted to go onto SpareRoom.com and try our luck. We found a place and an overly enthusiastic agent contacted us and asked us to pay him a visit at his office to show us the property and many more. Finally, something was looking up.

We paid the agent a visit at the Flintons offices on Bow common lane desperate to find a house, pay for it and move in as soon as we could. He was a bit busy when we walked in and we stood at the entrance of the office together with a number of other house seekers looking to find a place. It seemed like a busy morning and all agents were attending to someone or the other and had other clients waiting to see them. The dojo (I am using this word very lightly and out of context) seemed legit.

Finally it was our turn. We asked to see the house we had inquired about and unfortunately it was currently occupied but the current tenants were set to move out in two weeks. “We can give you another option for the two weeks and then you can move in to this place once the other tenant moves out.” The agent asserted that since both properties were being managed by Flintons, it would be easy for us to move into our preferred house. The deal seemed fair.

Just as we were about to go into the details, the agent informed us that he had another client but his colleague would be able to assist us. The first red flag.We moved over to agent no.2’s station and begun to look through the different options that we had for the two weeks before our dream house could come available.

Now, this new agent. His demeanour IMMEDIATELY unsettled my spirit. Slumped in his chair, eyes red and half mast (if you know, you know), slurrish and sluggish, something was off. I could feel it in my gut. The decision about making the payment took nearly an hour. I just wasn’t sure, but we were desperate. We went between chatting our parents, discussing amongst each other, texting Samantha (my good friend who was to move in with us as well) and personal internal debates. It didn’t help that the agent kept pushing us to pay saying that if we didn’t make a decision, someone else would take the house. He even directed our eyes to the first agent’s screen where he was displaying the SAME house to the clients he was attending to. The chances of losing that particular house were near 100% and nothing else we had seen up until that point called out to us. We had to decide and we had to decide NOW.

It seemed like we did not have a choice. We also had no time.

“Is it possible for us to see the house before we can make a decision?” — apparently we couldn’t. “It is so busy today and no one is available to do the viewing, maybe we schedule the viewing for Saturday when you move in and get the keys?” Red flag.

It didn’t seem right. Nevertheless we were the ones that were time bound. “Where do we sign?”

This was the first time we were laughing or smiling since we signed the contract. Nearly two weeks post signing.

How time flies.

In a few days, we will be having her memorial service.

A full year has gone by…another one.

Yet another year that we wish would have been spent in her presence.

Another year of hows and what ifs. A year of tears and laughter. Another year of sadness and happiness. All the motions that we only wish we would have gone through with her by our side.

I have not cried in a while. I forced myself to forget but also, apparently, it does get better in time.

Hey!

It has been quite the while since I last wrote. I hope you haven’t longed for me too much.Take a read 🙂

Making: Plans to go get my hair and nails did! Yeah I just went all black on you there. Is it a black thing though?To say “did” instead of “done”?By black I mean black American. Is it? All I know is that it’s cool to type like that these days, innit? Lol

Cooking: SMH at myself for the last time I was in the kitchen. It is embarrassing really.

Drinking: A lot of water and Green Tea. #Fitfam lol

Reading: A note of sorts, a letter somehow, a message for all, by Elizabeth Gilbert on my friend Aggie’s Wall and i CANNOT tell you how much it speaks to me at this particular moment. You know those type of writings that even have you scolding yourself? It is so powerful! Some of the lines she shares:

Generally speaking, people are pretty much what they show you they are — not what you wish they were.

People who behave cruelly toward you are more or less cruel people.

People who behave nicely toward you are generally nice people. (Unless they are full-on sociopaths, of course, which most people are not.)

You can almost always count on that.

That being the case, I think you’re allowed to choose what sort of people with whom you wish to spend the precious waking hours of your one rare and beautiful life.

NOTE: ONE AND RARE…that is your life. Choose wisely.

Wanting: A clean slate, start over, take two, however you may want to call it. I just feel like I need to start a fresh with many things. #Julygoals

Playing: Snapchat videos everytime! It is an addiction. #themrsherself. So Can you believe a friend though that it read “The Mr She self” how now? Where did the R go? Lol I know its a weird name but still,lol.

Wasting: No time getting on my knees to say thank you to HIM. He works in wonderful and mighty ways. May His Name be praised always!

Wishing: I had enough money to indulge in all my cravings and to satisfy all my wants. Yes WANTS, like that whole array of hair products I want to buy, and that water bottle, as well as a few new items in my closet, and……the list is endless. sigh 🙁

Enjoying: Spending my own money.(I know it contradicts the above statement, but I meant spending like….ahh read on) Not being dependent is so empowering and fulfilling 🙂 Speaking of…payday should be here, like yesterday. #cantwait

Liking: The results of positive energy. You know you have something going when all of a sudden you’re attracting a lot more like minded people your way. Those you would least expect.

Wondering: Why Some drivers on the roads can be such idiots! Just got home after battling it out with matatu and bus drivers who insist and squeezing you out of your lane just so that they can go cause more traffic ahead! However, they had not met a crazy woman with road rage like me . #sigh #nairobitrafficisdeath

Loving: The power of prayer, feeling of inner peace and happiness, surrounding of good friends and the warmness of good souls. Bless your hearts!

Marveling: At how individuals I haven’t spoken to in years have gravitated back into my life. What did I do guys? Lol 🙂 But welcome back! 🙂

Needing: A new water bottle. It is the last Item of motivation I need to work out after my newly acquired Yoga mat! I think I am finally going to be serious about this whole #fitfam life.lol

Smelling: of the Sensual Amber fragrance mist from Bath and Body works. Thanks El Jefe.

Wearing: A jumper. It gets so cold at night and living in close proximity to Limuru doesn’t help. Okay maybe not that close,but you get the picture.

Following: Blackish. I love how it depicts today’s generation. So real! Plus its a good laugh. Win.

Noticing: That I have been a lot happier this month, I guess it’s that 22 vibe ,no?

Knowing: That forgiveness is the only way to move past anything. You need to forgive yourself, the other party and the then get to stepping on with your life. No time to waste harboring dark feelings. It is time  to be strong and just forgive.

forgive

Thinking: That I have a lot to forgive myself for and that forgiving others will be so hard. I recently discovered that a great weakness of mine is that I hold grudges, I literally never forget if you wrong me. So wow, this is going to be a challenge,but I am ready, the weight of all those grudges is causing the numbers on the scale to go up. Smh, dry joke, I know, stop eyeballing me! :p

Feeling: Confused. You know that moment when you feel like your prayers have been answered but you’re not so sure because it could also be that they were supposedly “answered” so as to teach you a lesson? Dive in or nah?

Also feeling so Nostalgic for Sweden, I almost cried the other day when I saw a picture of my residence there.hmm 🙁

Bookmarking: All scholarship pages I come across, the process has began.

Opening: Elizabeth Gilbert’s page, time to soak in all those beautiful words.Find her facebook page Here 🙂

Giggling: At a picture on Instagram of a boda boda accident, I wish I could leave it on here. You would understand my giggles. Yes I am just confirming with that statement that I am not evil, I mean why would I laugh at people who had an accident? Like seriously?

I hope you all had an amazing month and that July is even brighter in all areas of your life. Remember each day is a stepping stone to a greater tomorrow, make the best of each and every one this month! Good luck and God bless you.

hello july

Happy New Month

Love and Love

B.

xx

Have you ever watched a bone marrow procedure being done? Probably not. I cannot remember whether this was part of the actual transplant or just a procedure, I need to ask. For now, “Procedure” will have to do.

I remember being a little bit scared, but she wasn’t. She did not even flinch.I watched as Professor Novitsky drilled into her bone. DRILLED! Oh I watched because the whites ( Is this a proper reference?) are just those people who are rarely phased. Like you know how a black parent would NEVER in a million years take their 3 month old baby swimming but a white parent would do it as soon as possible so as to narrow down the things they have to teach their kids? How a white parent would allow their kids to roll over in the mud as long as it pleased the child but catch a black parent dead ” Allowing it” ? You get my drift? So yes, just like that, Professor Novitsky couldn’t understand for the life of him why I shouldn’t watch.

” You have to know what mummy goes through, right?”

And so I watched as he drilled away. It looked gruesome, sounded excruciating but Mrs. my mother did not flinch. Not even once. I was twisting and turning on the inside, kind of the way you feel when you say, it makes me feel “thithi” ( Did I spell that right? I don’t know how to translate that for my foreign readers) but she did not utter a word.

And then she moved, finally her nerves were working and she was going to complain about the pain! WRONG, she wanted to know how much longer she had to lie on her tummy because she was now getting tired. I could not believe it, this woman, mum of steel!!

Cancer patients are such strong people. The toll all the treatment takes on them and they still come out smiling and say they are okay. Then they manage to beat the Cancer and we say an Amen but we barely know the back story. How they puked the whole night because their medication was messing up their system. How they nose bled the whole morning because its just one of those side effects. How they are so hungry but can’t eat because the smell of food is repulsive and they just don’t have an appetite. How unexplainable painful wounds form on their body and then burst in the middle of the night causing untold pain. How they miss their long luscious hair that fell all the way to just above their butt and now have to deal with a bald head and wigs.

Emotional, psychological and physical pain and some of them still manage to come out winning.

We see your struggle cancer patients. We may not even begin to understand what you are going through but from what we hear it is hard. We just want you to know that our prayers are with you. That you may be healed of this disease to the point that someone would laugh in your face because of disbelief when you begin to tell them that ” Once upon a time, I had Cancer”

You are loved and supported. Be strong. Pray hard. Stay Positive. You have come this far, do not give up.

Love and Love,

B.

Peace