27 December 2015


A few days ago, I remember asking myself what to write for the last month of the year. I went through the posts I have done in December over the years (check them out by the way…I don’t know what is it that comes over me during December), and I couldn’t help but wonder what to write about. I thought about doing a yearly review and all the shenanigans like I did here. I almost wrote something cliché about sijui 12 lessons learnt in 2015, or 15 lessons to carry forward from 2015, or even 2015; the ups and the downs. At some point I  contemplated summarizing the year in a piece but I remembered a conversation Daisy and I had a few weeks ago about people writing pieces that don’t make sense or don’t communicate and kept that piece tucked tightly between pages of my notebook.

So, three days later…I still did not know what to write about, or how to end the year 2015 on Njeri Kareithi. I skimmed through my drafts on my computer; nothing. Flipped through my notebook that I carry around to note down ideas based on observations wherever I go; nothing. Then I remembered this one time in campus where we were preparing for a play. See, I was part of a drama club in campus, but we had not done anything major other than mimes. Now, the one thing that I loved about mimes is that you don’t get to talk. And we used to wear masks so…you don’t even get to look your audience in the eye. But plays, my friend…you have to talk. And not only talk, but you have a face to face conversation with the audience. Now, those are the parts I wished we could skip (but that would not be a play; would it?).

My history with crowd phobia can be traced back to my high school years. Crowd phobia is not to be confused with shyness. No. I am not shy; but I have crowd phobia. Get me a face to face meeting with 5-10 people and you will take home an image of a very sociable, funny, fun to be around (is this what blowing my own trumpet means?) person. Get me in front of 50+ people and my eyes will not leave either the ground or the ceiling. To make things worse, I was appointed a senior prefect in my last year of high school. If you are familiar with Kenya’s High Schools, prefects get to make remarks during the morning parade, especially the prefects on duty, who would make announcements and call out the names of those who have not done their morning duties. And boy did I hate my week of duty. But we survived anyway. Where was I? Yes, crowd phobia.

So here we are, we are debuting a play in campus. We have been rehearsing, for months. The script is good. During rehearsals, we are alone in the hall so it goes on smoothly. I was playing a part that required me to make several costume changes and several long appearance and conversations. So, all was well. I was very excited. There was excitement in my voice each time I mentioned the play to my fellow comrades. Till d-day came. And the curtains were closed. Backstage; we are laughing and eating, teasing each other about our costumes waiting for the MC to welcome the audience. We take our positions on stage and my body freezes. You know, when you are back stage, you have no Idea how many people are on the other side of the curtain. So my brain starts freaking out when I start thinking about the audience. My bladder thinks that it’s time to start playing games. It’s too late. The scene starts in less than a minute. I can’t run outside for a call (pun intended) to help me calm down. I look at other member of the cast. “Why aren’t they freaking out?” “How many years of acting experience do they have?” “What did they eat?” “Haven’t we been acting with masks together?” “Is my make-up melting?” “Is my costume too tight?” “Will so and so be in the audience?” I remember asking all these questions.

Bam! The curtain opens. I get to see the size of the audience. Suddenly I feel like my bladder will just give in. I take a deep breath and the play starts. Play runs well. Towards the end, a cast-mate noticed I have been holding my breath almost the whole time. We are doing our last bow at the end. “Breathe Dee, Breathe” He says while giving a nod of assurance. Curtains come down. I take another deep breath.

Many a times when we are starting or ending anything we have so much anxiety and fear. When we think about the times ahead we are filled with fear. Fear of the unknown, as many would call it. But each time you feel like the world expects too much, like there is so much pressure, like you can’t to it. Breathe. As the curtains come down on 2015, some of us have screwed up so many times, we have messed up so many times, there is so much expectation from people around us, there is so much pressure from around. But as the curtains come down; breathe. Take a deep breath, smile and say “I’ve got this. Bring it on”.

See you all in 2016, readers of Njeri Kareithi. Happy Holidays and be safe.

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