31 Jan

Blurred Lines

I arrived at 11:30am to discover that the hospital car park was full and street parking limited to permit holders only until noon. I had 30 mins to wait out the ticket warden who was behind me a minute ago and is now possibly crouching low behind the red Nissan Micra ahead on the left side of the road.  Poor guy. He’ll have a long wait cos this chick ain’t leaving one minute before noon.

At 12:03 I exit the car and look around for Kofi and he is nowhere to be seen. I consider taking a photo of the windscreen of my car as proof that I didn’t have a ticket at 12:03, don’t laugh, I’ve heard stories and I know there is no limit to what the council will do to ensure you get a parking ticket. I’m talking drawing double yellow lines after you’ve parked and even recalibration of the GMT so that what’s 12:03 to you is actually 11:53 to them.

At the X-Ray department all seats are occupied. One becomes vacant as Mr Goddard is called in, I replace his behind on the soft red chair. Now I am seated next to a woman who is Romanian. Or Albanian. Or Latvian, you can tell a lot by accents these days right? She informs me that she needs to dash to the toilet, and can I please let the radiographer know she’s only a minute away if he calls her name, “Sofia?” I oblige.

She returns barely a minute later. I inform her of the obvious, that she hasn’t been called yet.
“Oh thank you. Because my bladder was very full”, she says thankfully with a smile.
Since I don’t know how to respond to that, I smile back and nod.

The woman on my right is being shouted at by a man, presumably her husband.

“…and you are very stupid”, he ends his tirade and lumbers off.

I am inclined to say something since fate, in cohorts with our sitting arrangement has shoved me to the front of the line of aghast onlookers.

“Is that your husband?”

Her shame is now overflowing and has drenched a part of my heart.

“Yes”

Men come in all sorts of species…”, I begin with a sigh.

She nods slowly, going ahead to soak in the words I’m about to say.

Now at the start of my sentence there was a clever and encouraging ending. That ending has now abandoned me mid-sentence and I don’t have a replacement. My attempt at being supportive is crumbling as the incomplete sentence may have suggested that ‘all men are dogs’, which I don’t subscribe to, or, ‘your man is a dog’, suggesting that mine isn’t. Either way, she doesn’t win and neither do I.

“I need to go again”

I wonder how I turned into Sofia’s pre-school teacher.

“Ok,” I nod.

Another 56 seconds passes and she’s back. I am baffled at her speed. She is wearing a tight pair of buttoned, zippered and belted jeans. She has to walk to the loo, wherever it is, yet she comes back so quickly all zippered, buttoned and belted up.

“Phew! I was told to keep it empty but not too empty. But I always feel I need to empty my bladder, and I was desperate. The last time I was here they couldn’t do the scan because it was too empty.”

 

I love being a woman. We share an unspoken bond that erases the lines of separateness. As strangers, we can hold full dialogues with each other about men- well most can- and we can talk about body parts. But I’m just not feeling this bladder talk. Because each time she says she needs to keep it slightly empty, my mind tries to figure out exactly how many teaspoonsful of yellow pee we’re talking about here.

A woman in a red coat waddles out of the X-ray room.

“It’s broken”, she says to her husband who gets up to meet her.

“Oh no!” He exclaims quietly but urgently.

Another patient chips in.

“It’s broken?” He is in dismay, just as I am, we’re clearly both wondering how long she has walked on her broken foot for.

“Yes, they told me it’s broken.” She responds directly to him, glancing at her foot no doubt waiting for some common human sympathy.

“Oh your foot is broken!” He breaks into a broad smile, chuckling as he explains he thought she meant the X-ray machine was broken. He doesn’t hide his relief as he returns to reading his paper.

“Mrs A.”
A cheerful Asian man calls my name and summons me with a smile into the x-ray room.

“Please take off your bra and leave just your blouse on, once you’re done meet me in this room.”

Did he just cross the line? Into our territory? There is something not quite right about that. I have always perceived Asian men as being conservative and I’m mildly surprised he even knows what a bra is, let alone allow that heathenish word to proceed from his lips. “Disengage any undergarments” seems more like his thing.

Or

“Disrobe, please madam, leaving just your outer garment.”

Or

Undo any paraphernalia that may or may not be fully connected to your upper body”. That covers the strapped and the strapless variety.

He takes the X-ray tells me to go back and change. I go back, stuff the ‘undergarment’ in my bag, put on my cardigan and coat and pray it doesn’t fall at the feet of a good-looking doctor when he asks me for my business card. I pray I might bump into him on my way out, he will inform me that his wife is expecting and they would need to buy some expensive baby furniture.
No such luck. My luck is more the type where I reach into my bag to retrieve my car keys and the offending undergarment falls at the feet of Kofi,  born in Accra under very interesting circumstances- another story. He will then burst out laughing through his gappy teeth at his two-fold fortune:

1) That he issued me with a parking ticket

and

2) That a bra landed on his size 11 work boots in the middle of the day on Croydon Road.

Thankfully I am spared all of that, because I stayed in my car for three whole minutes after the clock struck 12:00, to make sure I did not violate the parking rules. I drive off happily, leaving behind Sofia the bladder woman, the poor lady with the irate elk for a husband and of course, the Asian (possibly muslim) radiographer who dared to cross the lines of haram by mentioning an unmentionable.

Thank you for reading!

01 Jan

It’s a New Dawn…Roll on 2015!

Happy new 2015!

I started the morning just how I love to, journaling in my kitchen with soothing music and the single flame of my salted caramel scented candle for company.

Like billions of people around the world, I’ve been in a reflective place, thinking about 2014. It’s a challenge to sum it up. I feel completely overwhelmed with all that happened- good, bad & ugly yet I can hand on heart say it was a fantastic year. I have no regrets and I’ll do it all again if I was forced to. I wouldn’t choose to though because like all girls, I love new things. Plus I’m excited about 2015. I believe life isn’t so long that we have to repeat experiences.

I read various status updates on social media, from the mournful, ‘glad 2014 is over, it was a hard year for me. I fell in love with my boss, I lost my job and now I hate my mother’, to the euphorically spiritual, “2015 is the year of victorious victory, the one we’ve all been waiting for, the tears will end this year.” I had to hold back from saying, no it will not end. Tears are a part of life, challenges are very normal and are in fact, needed for growth, a good place to start if you are setting your new year resolutions, ha ha!

The reason I am able to rejoice at all that took place in my life last year is not because 2014 was devoid of challenges, trust me, they showed up nice and early with a smile. Rather it is due to the fact that there are treasures in dark places. If you’ve spent some time around me or read my blogs you would have been bombarded by that mantra. This knowledge frees us to walk with boldness throughout the year, believing God has lined up all that we need, to become who we are meant to be. On that path there are obstacles that strengthen us as we overcome them, successes that increase our faith and people or experiences to refresh and restore when we become weary. In 2014, I learned to reluctantly embrace all because even my mistakes and obstacles served as lesson teachers.

I learned that the Tao saying; ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ holds very true. I will even go as far as saying we are surrounded by teachers, but because we are not ready, we don’t recognise that they have been assigned to us. 2014 was about getting me ready, and the previous years were trying to tell me I was in fact, a student 😀

The word ‘Authenticity’ was my buzzword for 2014. You’ll understand why I questioned its entrance into my life. Each year I celebrate the setting of new goals as I review the old. Sometimes I rush to squeeze some unfinished tasks into the last few days of the year just so I can end on an egoistic high and join the ranks of those whose missions were accomplished. At the end of 2013, instead of a list of goals, I was bestowed with that single word, and being a girl of many words I wasn’t exactly eager with anticipation for what seemed like the stirrings of a quiet, lonely lesson. Still, I was curious and opened my heart to welcome this new word and adopt it into my life. What happened over the course of that year will most certainly end up between the pages of a book, someday. In a nutshell, as I lived my life through the lens of authenticity, I learned that I am the best Toks for the job that Toks was created to do here on earth, and I’ll be doing myself and the world a huge disservice if I try to act like or be anyone else.

I am thankful that God introduced some dynamic people to me, which was a surprise since I have so many awesome people in my life already, I’ll forever be indebted to every single one. I understand the importance of having friends and family that genuinely root for you and desire your success as much as they desire theirs. This revelation has been humbling, it is near impossible to completely express my gratitude to you- you know who you are!

I became reacquainted with change. I got a stark reminder that as the days progress, so does life. Each day draws us closer to our day of death. I am thankful that a health scare in my family remained a scare, and then retreated to wherever it came from.

Thank you so much for sticking with my inconsistent updates on Pawpaw & Mango, I am really excited about 2015, not in a flighty, girly way but in a more sedate, mature way. I expect some instances of change, which might be uncomfortable, but unlike the past I’m not afraid of what may occur. I look forward to sharing my journey with you, and learning more about you. I hope and pray that I’ll be a blessing even in a minute way to every single person that crosses my path either physically or virtually.

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What single big lesson did you learn last year?