IN PURSUIT OF THE TRUTH
The year 2007 was the first time I ever had an existential crisis. I have always been the little girl with the big voice and I learnt really early that I could use it to get what I want. Coming from a family where I am the last born, a lot of things were done at my whim and efforts were made to keep me in this bubble where bad things didn’t exist. It is in the year 2007 that this bubble burst and my parents lived in different houses. The harmony of our family was once like a calm breeze that carried the laughter of shared moments and now in its place, a tempest was brewing; like a hurricane, sweeping away the familiarity of togetherness.
There were times when I would close my eyes and try to remember my father’s face and it would elude me. He was the center of my universe. So much so, that I made him my identity, which if I am being honest, still is. If you’ve met me, you know that I will always give my first name then my surname. This is who I am and it gives me pride. He was my identity. It therefore confused me that things were this way and I couldn’t help but feel lost. Was I now the child of a single mother? How would my friends see me now? Would I grow up to find him or would I stay by my mother’s side? See the irony here? No? The path that I judged I became. But that is a story for another time.
While my parents got back together, this period would go down as the first time I ever had an existential crisis. There have been many since then. For instance, the 2007/2008 post-election violence would trigger another one, as well as subsequent academic pressures, more family drama and even mundane things like love and dating. The greatest disadvantage from all of this is that I learnt to be meek. To crawl into this space in my mind and hide. To never say what I feel lest I get in trouble. To be voiceless and unexpressive. Which is why it surprises me when people said I have always been bold and loud. I learnt how to sensor myself.
The other day, my little brother came to me with a problem. “I don’t want to go to church anymore”, He said. At the age of 16, he finds himself at a crisis that I once had, not too long ago. He said that the doctrines and teachings of Christianity are flawed and he would much rather be a Muslim. As he was explaining why, I remembered Rene Descartes’ Methodic Doubt whose conclusion is that questioning everything gives you a better understanding of life. In the end, I resolved that whichever decision he makes, he’ll be a better man.
Unlike this young man, I learnt to accept things at face value and never to rock the boat. That when I speak up, my truth is laced with lies, which is something I struggle with till date. I do not have an Independence story because I have never been bold enough to go after it. My peers have gone after their independence at all costs. Leaving their parents’ nest in search of love, education, jobs while I am safely nested in my cocoon. I want to be able to tell my parents that I am dating, without fear of reproach, to tell them that I don’t want to give my son his father’s name, or that I want a day off from being a mother and a student. For 24 hours, I want to be reckless and act my age. But most importantly, that I don’t want to ever be silenced ever again.
In closing, I have this to say. Mahatma Gandhi’s truth was seeing the civil injustices being committed against Indians and dedicating his life to rectify this. The civil resistance ‘satygraha’ was his truth. My truth, is that I will accept myself at all costs. Never again, will I be told to seat still and act pretty and accept. I have found a way back to my voice and I will use it to catapult me into greatness. I’ve found my truth and I’m willing to die on this hill. What truth are you willing to die for?