The park bench has just been painted. The ‘wet paint’ sign was ‘brilliantly’ placed on the back side where no one could see. its almost five o’clock and three people sit on the almost dry paint. They now have faint paint smudges on their derriere but that’s not all they have in common.
The 26 year old John graduated from University of Nairobi three years ago and was now on the brink of divorce. His wife who lived back in the village wanted to come and live with him in Nairobi – for about a year now she has been suspecting he is unfaithful. The truth is he is not unfaithful …. not yet. He reconnected with his college sweetheart Carol a year ago and they spend a lot of time together. Nothing has happened but he feels that something probably will… soon. They broke up after uni because John’s father had forbidden him from marrying a city girl. He was afraid of his father and just did what he was told. His fear had pushed him to make a decision that he now began to doubt, even though his wife was a great person. Had he married the wrong woman? He wanted to scream because he felt his life was out of control – so he sat on the bench.
20 year old Shiro sat next to John; holding her violin case tightly. She was first introduced to the violin in high school and was instantly hooked. When they went for competitions or concerts to other schools, she noticed the boys never came to hang out with her crowd. They were ‘not cool enough.’ Slowly, she began to find excuses not to practice violin and joined the choir where all the ‘cool’ girls were. She told herself that the violin and choir we really the same anyway and now, her life was better because got letters from boys. It was after high school when she realised that all her friends moved on to their own lives and she was on her own.
She faced the truth that she really missed her violin and took up violin classes. Her class ended an hour before her mum left work so she sat on the bench to wait. She was happy.
Jane drops onto the bench – she’d really tired of her job. Watching people pass by, her eyes naturally settle on their hairstyles. Some she loves, some are okay but some hairstyles make her want to kidnap the woman and remove the overdue weave. She works at a bank and even with the advantage of getting loans at 6% interest, her job is not fulfilling. Her husband is always supportive even though their lifestyle would change if she quit her job. Her love for hair began as a child as she spent time at her mother’s salon but when it came to career choices, her mother told her to choose a ‘real career where she could wear suits and make real money’. The forms for her MBA are in her purse and her boss guaranteed her promotion if she enrolled. The deadline is tomorrow and she must make a life altering decision. She sat on the bench to take some painkillers – she was having a headache.
Parents, friends and stereotypes – these three easily push us into decisions. Like sitting on a bench with wet paint, the results can be a little messy at times. As our lives unfold, we form stronger opinions about who we are and what we want.
Sometimes it’s easy to start over like Shiro or tougher like Jane. Other times like John, we must slap ourselves, cut off the ex, bring the wife to town and make the marriage work.
You are growing in wisdom and making better decisions everyday – walk with your head high.