I saw her Facebook update and knew she was not okay. She was always a lady, always even tempered and in control. So when I saw the outburst on social media I knew something had to have hit her badly.
I decide to test the delicate social boundary that had always existed between us, that of an authority and a subordinate. The fact that we barely ever engage in informal conversation was a little frightful to me, but I reckoned that above all social decorum, we had formed a certain level of bond beyond that of strictest formalities or of acquaintanceship. So I decided to chat her on the phone, expressing my concern, and check if she was alright.
“You saw my update, didn’t you?” I could almost hear her chuckle. She said yes, she was experiencing a bump on the road but she will be fine.
“I’m sorry. I’ll be praying for you and I hope you will be alright,” I responded, depicting that that would conclude the matter. I did not want to pry.
“Thank you. I really did not want to talk about it, but since you shared your story with me, I will share mine with yours.” She went on to give me an appointment for a meet up. We agreed that it should be in her office and bid farewell.
D-day constituted a heart to heart talk. It gave me a better idea of what it means to be a woman who decided to say yes to herself: yes to her spiritual wholeness; yes to academic achievements; yes to a thriving career and to be treated nothing less than how a respectable lady should be. In the pursuit of purpose, and with every ascent, I suppose, would be some strain, some bruising and a good amount of sacrifice. That is what women who want better lives for themselves have to accept as fate.
Madam Wairimu is a successful academician in a revered university. She exudes beauty, brains, excellence and confidence. I could always tell by the trinkets she wears that she has quite the appreciation of self. Many times, women would get carried away by their duties and responsibilities, whether in their career or in motherhood, so much so that it would show on their exterior. We would at some point or other hold our hair back, more because it can get in the way than because it is more flattering or that it best suits us, and put on a pair of denims, t-shirts and flats, shunning preferred feminine garbs, just so they can carry on with the demands of the day. Even our gait would sometimes drastically change to a brutish male form as we dash through the hallways of our institutions trying to beat deadlines. Not so with Madam Wairimu. Everything she adorns, her walk, her talk, her jet black shoulder length hair, appeals to the girl in her. See her, see calm and radiant femininity.
Her faith is well known. She never lords it on anyone, but you never fail to catch a whiff of what she stands for. So it is always sad to see women like her have their heart broken because the men in their lives are either too intimidated by her success, or forge a friendship with her but eventually fail to sustain the acceptable standard of character. Rightfully, she refuses to compromise her principles. In my eyes, she is a feminist, whether or not she ever articulates the stance – or maybe her father was, and his influence had rubbed on her.
Madam Wairimu once told me a story of way back when. She had just completed high school and was at the point where she needed to go to college. Her father was well aware of her plans. She wanted to be a university graduate.
Her uncle visited her father one day. Their conversation gradually progressed from the weather to her academic plans. He was appalled that her father was allowing her to pursue a degree. He went on to discourage his brother.
“There is not much good that comes from educating a girl to such extents,” he insisted. “Wairimu really should stay at home.”
“No.” Her father put his foot down. The uncle’s efforts hit a brick wall. Rising tension between them necessitated her uncle to leave the compound without uttering another word on the matter, to the joy of an eaves-dropping Madam Wairimu. I am not sure if they ever made up.
You would tell that she has since always followed in her daddy’s direction, always choosing what is best for her where her dreams and wellbeing were in jeopardy. I have always believed that there is strength in a woman who can wear heals insistently yet still exude glamour and composure as she walks the rough terrain like that of the paths to her place of work. I say this in explicit contrast to the six inch heel type on gravel that make wearers droop in giraffe-like posture. So even as she concluded telling me what had upset her so, she did not fail to mention that she was nothing short of a phoenix, that she would soon rise from the ashes. Her resolve for prosperity is yet to fall short.
That to me is a feminist. Her choices automatically campaign for her gender and wins converts more effectively because she walks the talk, as opposed to drumming out loud a kind of gospel she is unable to follow through. In so doing her influence permeates the minds of those in her environment, even subliminally, winning them to the course for women.
With Madam Wairimu, I find that maybe the best of feminists are not necessarily in the brightest of spotlights. By affirming herself she is already a star, with star dusts like myself looking up to her.
I am certain that her personal life will thrive as well. The two spheres of life do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is only a matter of time. I am confident a better suitor will soon come her way. But if the definition of personal happiness means marriage to a man with questionable character, as has been popularly accepted, I say forget it. I say, say yes to self.