Friday, 30 June 2017

14. Passion, Self Worth and Fulfillment

I know, you have heard it over and over again. Do what you are passionate about. But what is passion? Westerners view this as something you love to do. I view it as anything that you feel so strongly about that you cannot be still. It could be a thing you love: art, music or beauty. On the other hand, it could be a thing that causes a range of negative emotion - fear, hate or pain: for poverty, a disease and so on. You are as likely to find entrepreneurial success with any but my bet is with the negative. Chances are more likely that you are feeling and filling a glaring need in the market that people will pay for when you address their pain. Finding the delicate balance of how to translate passion, the very core of our personality to business is often a challenge and is key to your growth as an individual and entrepreneur...
Meline, Penrice, Tekla and Jenny are ready to leave for the airport. It has been an exciting two weeks with all the preparations for their travel. While they were all nervous not sure what reception they would get from their sister, they were all excited at the thought of seeing her again.

Elan had always been a very loving and forgiving person. If unhappy she would let you know and move on. No grudges. However, in the last year before she decided to leave she had been aloof. It seemed they had pushed the button too far. Each person had their own perspective of what they could possibly have done to cause such distance but no one for sure knew the hair that had broken the camels back.

Being a forgiving and available person had made Elan basically the victim of so much deception from both friends and family. She was not capable of watching le alone think of another suffering without wanting to help - often at her own expense. Knowing this, friends and family alike just knew they had to come with a good sob story to get whatever they wanted from her.

While this is common with many families, what made Elan’s case different is how nasty they became when she needed their help. The topic of how she was single and had nothing to do with her money seemed to be rubbed in her face, both publicly and in private. While in the beginning it did not matter, with time it started getting to her. Did these people understand she could not afford to get married or bring someone in her life because they always needed something from her? Being the first born, after the death of their parents she had to be parent to all her four siblings. She had made sacrifices for them and the years zoomed past before she had settled while they went ahead and started families, each time coming back to her for support when it did not work out. Who would they go to if she was not there? This was a thought always at the back of her mind and knowing or unknowingly they haunted her with it day and night for years.

Turns out this was grievously wrong thinking on her part. She should have gone on living her life despite the early demise of their parents. As it were no one was really appreciative of her contribution in anyway. If anything the more she did without accomplishing in other ‘meaningful’ areas of her life. The more they despised her. It did not matter that she was successful in other areas.

Her status became the topic of conversation and ridicule even amongst them and their children. The worst event however did not happen with her immediate family but her closest cousin and friend Meline. She was stupid enough to entrust her with her property when she left the country for a year of work and training. Meline not only took income that was not hers but changed the properties to her name and ceased any communication with her. Too hurt and not wanting to wash her dirty linen in public, Elan let it slide.

But that made her take action. She knew for sure if she were to live a worthy life the rest of her days, it would not be amongst the very people who so despised her and had practically taken the shirt off her back. Within 48 hours, the very thing she had wanted to do 10 years earlier could no longer wait. She contacted her best friend Leila, packed a bag and left. Her family came to know of her whereabouts two years later on the launch of her second business.

Mzee Zablo got intouch but no one else knew what emanated from their conversation. Mzee never discussed it and her sisters and cousin were too uncomfortable with how they had related and spoken about her to approach Elan themselves. She was different now, not the walk over they had known in the past.

All this made Elan realize how vulnerable she had made herself. True she had been treated badly but her personality had invited it. She was too trusting, too loving and too desperate to impress. Her new success came from a very different Elan. An emboldened Elan, who valued herself just as much as she valued others and who was out to make a difference within limits she set. This Elan was not living for accolades and appreciation. No one really understood her, no one knew her and that made them nervous.

So, they were all dolled up for the trip. They got some gifts for their host and new stuff for themselves. Surprisingly, Mzee Zablo had paid for their shopping as he insisted they had to look right for the occasion. Given what they knew of her life now, they did not want any embarrassing encounters. On this day, Nadia and Otieno her husband, Mzee Zablo and Tekla’s daughter Baby, and Petro Meline’s husband are there to bid them farewell. Junior their nephew, would drive them to the city and had organized for their accommodation both in Nairobi and Lagos - in case anything went wrong.

It is early evening and the ladies have brought out their luggage ready to leave. They are admiring each others outfit while the men are packing their cases in a mini bus. Except Mzee Zablo is talking to Meline aside and her ever drunk husband is with her. Nadia, though never having met Elan seems to be the most excited of those left behind. She did most of the shopping for the baby gifts and cannot wait to find out how they are received.

Nadia, ‘eeehe! kwani hamrudi - all that luggage! .... Lakini mwapendeza kweli!’ she admires her inlaws.

Tekla who loves to be the belle of any party cannot help but show off, ‘Have you seen my shoes? .... nails, ....and hair!’

Nadia, ‘Hivi, we contributed for airfare or for you to replenish your wardrobes and beautify? He! Jenny, I love your hair, nipe namba ya huyo aliye kutirinya hivyo!’

The ladies laugh and continue showing off as Nadia takes the phone number of Jenny’s hair dresser. Tekla goes to pick her handbag from the house. As she passes Meline and Mzee Zablo, she overhears their conversation.

Mzee Zablo, ‘So my daughter. Don’t go there and be blind, ehe? Make sure you get a clear understanding of how we can get Elan to send money directly to us instead of these NGOS. We should be managing her estate here. Ensure those people understand you have an important role in this family and no decisions can be made without consulting you. Don’t let these girls do whatever they want, have you heard?’

Meline, ‘I will get you the information you need. I know how to get her to do what I want’

Mzee Zablo, ‘Take control, be as wise as a serpent.’

Tekla wonders exactly what information Mzee is asking Meline to get. Is that why he gave them the money to do all the shopping? Where did the money come from? What was the real agenda of this trip to Lagos?

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