Defying The Odds with my Poetry by Faith Shikkiey
Saturday the 25th . I’m scheduled to perform at Fatuma’s Voice #JournalismInAfrica. It wasn’t my first time on stage but to be completely sincere, this was one of the hardest performances yet. Granted, Jeff Koinange was in the building but that’s not why I was so panicky.
There are parts and phases of your life you’dpoetry like to leave in the past. Most of the time, they are co-operative enough and they stay where they belong but sometimes, they choose to awaken and awaken they did. They just chose the worst day.
We walk in, (my friend Nick and I), get our seats and just as we are about to settle in, I see him. An old friend. Well, not really a friend now. Persona non grata perhaps; whom we shall refer to as PNG (for conversations’ sake) PNG and I parted a few months ago because of differences, issues that I couldn’t allow to keep controlling me. He had what a friend of mine calls “bad vibe”.
We’d worked closely for a brief period of time, during which he had close ties to my creative process and art in whole. At the beginning, things were pretty good. I had just started as a poet and I desperately need to carve a niche for myself. an artist/poet reading this understands that this was a very critical point in my life. One needs a lot of patience and perseverance but most importantly, encouragement. A good word could do brilliant things for you.
PNG had been in the art scene for a while longer than I was so I took his word seriously. I took it all in, the good, the bad even the ugly and I let it define who I was. I can’t recount the number of times he called me pathetic or inadequate. I can’t even begin to explain how it felt every time he told me to quit, to give up on my pitiful dreams because the world wouldn’t accept a mediocre human like me.
Yet I tolerated it. Every single time his venom bruised my soul, I kept it in. I didn’t speak out because I thought he was right. I believed he was right. It got to a point where I couldn’t write anymore let alone be on stage. Every time I tried to, his words would play in my mind. He said I wasn’t good enough, and he was right. Then one time he calls me a dimwit and I knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I remember breaking down. He’d controlled my thoughts for too long and it was time to take my life back. I cut off ties and spent a lot of time healing and getting my mojo back.
Being in the same room with him that day however, brought all these memories back. I got uncomfortable and agitated. I don’t remember how but I felt tears roll down my cheeks. We are literally in the middle of the session and I’m crying. His words and the pain he’d caused. Everything I had worked so hard to bring myself out of. All of it came to me like a sudden wave and I got thrown off balance.
At this point, my eyes are swollen and red, I am heating up and I can barely breathe, praying that they don’t call me on stage any minute.
Nick helps me calm down (I thank God for such people in my life) and by the time I was going on stage I was ready to face him… Even while I was performing I could see him giggle, sneer and try to make jokes with a friend of his. But I was in my element, I was doing what I love, I was performing poetry and I nailed it! I stepped off stage happy and not because of the snaps, chants and cheers rather, I’d proven my worth. Not to him but to me. But I’m glad he was there to see.