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Growing up, I didn’t have so many friends as would small kids and maybe that’s why I up to now I have only two friends back at home. It was quite lonely having to take care of my siblings when my mom and dad would go to hustle for us while kids my own age were busy playing or going to school. So I learnt to play games with imaginary friends since the kids were still very young. I even remember their names. For some reason, I believed that they were real and they fulfilled many fantasies I had.

Finally we purchased a television when things got better for my family. My sister and brother had by then grown up and were old enough to play with friends. Friends that I didn’t have. I have to admit that I was quite jealous. That’s when I met all the television characters who became my friends. I had always been the weird kid with too many dreams and zeal but movies made my life have some kind of meaning. It is like the actors understood me more than the real people in my life. Do you remember thinking that movies are actually real? That was me. I came to love the actors and they socialized me. They were alive in my life. So I grew up believing in all perfection and sensitivity in life.

I believed that during my birthday I will get into our house and my family and friends who had been hiding would pop up and shout ‘’ surprise!’’ So I waited for that day to come carrying along the dream from primary school through high school to university and as always I was disappointed.  I would sit down and fantasize about the surprise party the whole month of May hoping that one day superman would come and rescue me. He never did but I kept imagining how he would whisk me away as my enemies turned green. Only I turned blue.

I made sure that everywhere I went I made as many friends as possible so that they would make my birthday wish come true. I prayed almost every day that one day it would come true for me. I even watched movies with friends that had such scenes and would emphasize on them so that they would get it on their heads what I really wanted. I went as far as surprising one of my friends so that he would return the favor but apparently he wasn’t even there for the party. I became bitter about it and it was such a burden for me. I thought that getting a boyfriend would spice things up for me but I only made things worse for myself. I broke my heart for almost ten years.

 This year I realized that I didn’t have to create an army of friends with the hope that they would wish me happy birthday and bring me presents. I realized that I needed to consider first how I felt; that I needed to make myself happy before any other person. They say you have to build a relationship with yourself first before you can build with others. Having that in mind I did something different. I went to church and thanked God for the twenty one years He had given me free of charge. In the afternoon I bought a cake and some snacks and invited a few close friends to my hostel to celebrate. As I blew off the twenty one candles, I only had one wish; that I build a relationship with myself and know myself better. Seeing my close friends happy and sober just made me so happy. Even when they left I only had but a smile on my face. Not because everyone was drunk and oblivious of my birthday, but because I filled a void that I was in me for a long time. Not only did I release the pressure from my friends and family, but I also found an inner peace. I met myself and actually liked who I saw in the mirror that night as I went to bed.

By Wambui Ochieng'

Radical Feminist

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