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Mental Abyss

I miss Him. God.

Today, I woke up at 4. In the A.M. Well, I have been having trouble sleeping and waking up at weird hours in the night. My eyes would abruptly flicker to the darkness and, confused, I’d stare into space as I fetched for my phone. 1.18 a.m.  The first thought that automatically comes to mind, is what a good time to wake up and pray. I would then romantically toy with the idea as I glared into the dark, mentally mouthing long letters to God, only under the warmth of my duvet. My lost sleep would then return and gently clasp its hands over me and carry me away into an even heavier deeper sleep. Before I got up and prayed, of course.

Today, however, I managed to get myself off the bed and onto the praying mat. Something I have been longing to do for a long time.

See, God and I used to be such good buddies. We went on these dates, even. And they were heavenly, really. Most times, there would be tears. Lots and lots of them. But aside from in front of the bathroom mirror, and buried in my pillow, the prayer mat had always been the most comfortable place to shed them. They flowed comfortably there, with Him. Other times, there would be silence. A silence that came in different types, there were the icy balls, and then there were warm magnanimous balls. For both times, we just sat there and soaked it all in. The silence.

And then there are times, where I would just talk. It would be reckless and vehement. And He? He’d just listen, you know? Aah, such good times. There was laughter, too. I’d say something silly and laugh at myself for saying it. Or He’d unexpectedly laugh at my terrible jokes (I’m I right, Sir?) and that would make me oh so happy. And when I left for my worldly affairs it would feel different. I would leave with a new-found confidence and reassurance and it was easier to hold the weight of my head and lift it albeit just a little higher. It would feel like a gentle stroke on the head by the hand of God (Oh Hello there Jon Bellion reference). And a silent whisper. You’ll be fine, child. You’ll be fine.

And well, it would be fine. Largely.

So you see, it’s been long since I spent quality time with Him. And I could feel it. His absence. The distance. I had been waking up, sad and tired, swathed in questions and confusion. Lord, another day? Do you really think I can do this? Do you? I don’t know how to; you know? And then here I’d proceed to internally cry. Most times He didn’t say anything. It felt like He just looked at me from afar with a wry smile and one raised eyebrow.

Until today.

Today felt like a warm smile.


I don’t think there’s anything that can really prepare you for what you go through after you finish school. Your first degree. Getting out of school and into the world hit me so hard like all these blows were raining on my little self and I didn’t know how to take it. All I wanted to do was coil myself into a foetus and stay there jeering into the world from my old phone’s screen. My esteem plunged and all my insecurities and anxieties resurfaced and took over. Because this world is so darn weary. And can you believe I haven’t even seen the best nor worst of it yet?

It was vast hollowness of desperation and hopelessness. I was waking up every day and clawing through a thick web of uncertainty and confusion. And even when I was seated there hurdled on the ground, the world kept spinning, faster even. Until I found myself in an office. My time in the trenches, I want to believe. One of these skyscrapers and corporate shells in upper hill.

I have been thrust into this overly introspective gout since. Questions like what this life is actually made of. I look at my boss leaving the office past midnight and I find him in the office in the morning wondering if this is really the life he actually wants to live. And all these men who scoot around the office in suits and ties, aren’t those ties suffocating? Aren’t they running short of breath obliviously? Then there are the big guys in corner offices who spend most of their days on their phones probably answering to phone calls they’d rather not.

I just want to sit behind Ng’eno on his old bike and soak in the silence and early morning wind and the smell of a Nairobi that rises early to hustle. I don’t want to hear laughter emanating from beardless men in suits strangled with ties oblivious they are suffocating and dying slowly inside those corporate shells. With that noise mens’ shoes make as they scoot around the office as they kiss ass all day. I look at them wondering if they are happy. If that’s where they thought they would be when they were twenty. Now their souls have accrued so much dust and they wake up every day, rush to work, clock their hours and do it all over again. And again. As the souls die and are buried deep under their payslips over the years. Maybe they turn fifty and wonder, oh shit. What have I done?

Haahaa. Joke’s on you.

Oh shit. What if that’s how I end up?

Ng’eno is my boda guy, by the way. And just so you know, boda rides are terribly underrated.


And so all this time, there’s a verse that was constantly ringing at the back of my mind.

“They forgot Allah and He caused them to forget their own souls.”

That verse. It had been haunting me for a while. Because I was losing myself in all these thoughts and not praying about it. And many a time, I felt maybe this is how it feels to forget oneself. A bewildered mind. A dark, lonely and miserable place, of constant internal restlessness. A vague and unsettling paranoia that makes you feel like wanting to run away from your own self. Like a foreigner in your own  skin.

Deep in the throes of a mental abyss. In pursuit of a way out.

First of all, let me find my prayer mat.




16 Responses
  • Tina
    November 4, 2017

    In God, we find ourselves and in Him. We find the way…Oh Favorite stranger…the own dangles in your hand so beautifully….I want you to write a book soon..Okay? Okay..
    I love you.


    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 6, 2017

      Love you too darling, Love you too 🙂

      We’ll see about that book. Lol

  • aress
    November 5, 2017

    “And many a time, I felt maybe this is how it feels to forget oneself. A bewildered mind. A dark, lonely and miserable place, of constant internal restlessness. A vague and unsettling paranoia that makes you feel like wanting to run away from your own self. Like a foreigner in your own skin. Deep in the throes of a mental abyss. In pursuit of a way out.”

    This piece resonated so well with me. I could quote every paragraph. Every line. So well-written too.

    I just found this link. It’s my first time here. But I am subscribing now.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 6, 2017

      Hey Aress, I’m really glad it did.

      Thank you 🙂

  • Mareka
    November 5, 2017

    Better find that mat quick ??.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 6, 2017

      On it. Lol

  • Alinsky
    November 5, 2017

    Beautiful. Loved every single word of it.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 6, 2017

      Thanks Alinsky 🙂

  • Khadija Abdulmajid
    November 8, 2017

    Gosh for a minute there i could have sworn i wrote this. Absolutely loved this. It hit home like very few pieces ever do anymore. thanks for writing it, love.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 30, 2017

      Thanks for reading. Keep coming 🙂 We love you here.

  • Joy
    November 12, 2017

    ♡♡♡ Your writing is captivating,Latifa im beyond words.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 30, 2017

      Thanks deary 🙂

  • Anonymous
    November 16, 2017

    I am reading this for the 10th time. You are so talented lovely. Keep writing. Never stop.

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 17, 2017

      Thank you darling 🙂 Thank you!

  • Muna A
    November 26, 2017

    Mashaalah lovely piece. Identifying with the struggle for purpose like in this piece is so fresh to me. The questions : this cannot be all,human life cannot be just a one script mechanical battle for survival, am I the only one asking these questions and why can’t I just be normal and switch into zombie mode as well; I struggled to find answers to. Well you know all my answers to date :), keep on keeping on habibty, struggle is supposed to be real I hear 🙂 You’re more than you think you are 🙂

    • Latifa Mbarak
      November 30, 2017

      Oh sweetheart, tell me all about it. I’m not sure I know all your answers tho. It is. Very real. And thank you. Thank you!

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