Appetite

You are not kind just because you are polite…. if anything you are a stomach with a monstrous appetite.
That is what you are…..an appetite that feeds to create more empty spaces.
Every word you speak is a calorie overspoken.
Every midnight booty call you make, that bakes and fries her thoughts with a back and forth of whether tonight should or should not be her cheat day is your sustenance to create hunger.
Will you die if you stop being greedy?…..
Say a prayer before your meals, perhaps you will be greatful for your daily bread.
Ration your portions of wasting her time, you might find that a diet can keep you well fed.
Must you cook all your meals with butter?
Is there another option to cook her a meal that won’t clog her arteries……
or one that doesn’t make it harder for her to breathe when you walk her up a staircase that leads to nowhere ?
You feed her as you feed your others- just enough to keep her starving,
You are meal serving entrees with no desert- you are a stomach that eclipses the heart.

©Sabrina Najib

Advertisements

Chronic Pain

The night only reminds me of his silhouette,
a stencil of a silent listener under a Kenyan lit sky…..smoking silently on the balcony.
Dark skinned, blue-black melanin…… a pigment for dreamers like the night itself.

Now I sleep with the lights on, so painfully aware of the absence of his breathing. All I want to talk about is the boy I lost in fear……

As if I can still taste the last drop of whiskey from his lips…… his name alone gives me a hangover.

All I ever do these days is wonder if there was any nobility in losing him, what reward has there ever been for being selfless?

Perhaps I loathe myself too much, thinking I don’t deserve to be happy because of the changes in myself I no longer recognise. The monthly pains that rip my insides, rinsing my bones and shredding each layer of my womanhood- making sex an endurance of suffering. It was when he saw me cry, wishing my body would stop being so alien to me….. praying that one week of every month would show mercy on me. I was ashamed, feeling sorry for him, as he watched me being helpless- begging him not to touch me when all he wanted was to hold me. Still he never complained, instead he listened when I said nothing at all….. understanding every particle of silence, knowing that I needed anybody to be present between my struggling gasps for air.

” it makes no differenece to me” he said “I just want to be here”.

I knew then I had to let him go, he deserved more than me. He was too good, he was the sun in any sunday morning…… and I couldn’t be anything to him without being tainted.

I told Sheila: “I really like that boy, I swear he puts the colour into my world. It hurts me just to think of something hurting him, if the way he watches me sleep means anything, he must be hurting when I hurt too. That means his heart breaks every month when I am curled up in the corner trying to rock myself to sleep, trying to escape from the monster that has taken refuge in my womb. I am worried it might scare him away one day, and then I will be completely shattered, handicapped and broken. It is better that he finds another girl who can be everything to him, I only hope she looks at him the way that I do.”

Women Weavers

Strings woven into carpets,
sequencing patterns of silence….
embroidery framed in galleries,
displaying wheels of patience.

Canvases of split edges,
Resting on generations of resilience…..
Washing out patchwork of labour,
Ingraining structures of imbalance.

Movements engraved in tapestries,
Manifesting systems of endurance…..
Multiplying prints on fabric,
hand sewing cycles of hinderance

©Sabrina Najib

Mad About the Boy

They asked me what love is.
I said love is putting a gun to your head and hoping he doesn’t pull the trigger.
It is crushing your heart in pieces-
A selfless suicide,
Where you burn and give him your ashes,
To scatter in all the places he felt lonely.
Love is taking forever in a minute, then spending the rest of your day learning how to breathe.
Love is all the things he said he would be…… then waiting a lifetime for him to arrive.
It is drinking glass and carving holes in your insides that only he can fill.
The space between realms which marry his dreams and my failures,
Where we both free fall into an orbit where I am the earth and he is my sun.

“Why would you want it?” They ask….

“Because he gives my heart a new rhythm, and now my soul knows how to dance.
I’d rather be hopeless than be untouched when he gives my lips a pulse”.

©Sabrina Najib

Untitled

“I wake up knowing that balance is the equilibrium of too little and too much.

When it rains for days in the hillsides,  there will be vast landscapes that are starving.
When my buckets are overflowing collecting rain water- I only realize that I may not have enough buckets.
When my throat is too dry I curse the sun for being selfish. “

Do Institutions Understand what Millennial’s Need?

 

At my first job, I often felt ashamed of being a millennial at the workplace- trying to prove to managers that I am not one of the: “Self-obsessed, entitled, egoistic generation that was given everything for nothing” as Simon Sinek so graciously put it. In spite of my efforts to break the mold- I felt unfairly rounded  up as a short-fall of expectations who makes impulse decisions and gets bored much too often. I criticized myself every day for not learning quickly enough- repeatedly trying to fix myself because of the day to day screw ups I’d make.

After being more seasoned in my role I recognized that the problem is not my “millennial traits” or the outlook fostered by managers who assume that millennials need a trophy to be motivated. There is an opaque inter-generational understanding of millennials’ expectations and values at the workplace which resort to managers’ out-of-touch leadership styles.

It is a misconception that millennials feel they deserve a promotion without working hard- millennials have grown up in pressure- cooker environments whereby we have only known to work hard. 73% of millennials in 2016 have reported to work for more than 40 hours a week- compare that to 36 hours in 2005. Speaking from personal experience- I can attest to finishing high school completely burnt out. I was told that in order to succeed I had to be: a straight A student, captain of the netball team, first chair of the debating society, class representative and any other extra-curricular activity that would make me a more competitive student. By the time I went to University and met hundreds of other versions of myself- my hair had already started to fall out.

This is not to say that we are not or have not been a generation of 6th place medals- even as a high achiever it was frustrating to witness awards given to “most improved” or “nicest student” who, without discrediting their efforts, would de-merit the achievements of top grades. Nonetheless, recognition should not be accredited to bulk us all as a “special” case who need to be reminded that we need to work hard to be successful. We were told that if we worked hard there is nothing we couldn’t achieve. A slogan indoctrinated to us and in effect establishing limitless expectations through the notion of working beyond measures to which any other generation has ever worked.

Overlooked are the strenuous results of millennials who grow up and carry into their adult lives the leakages of trying to meet criteria’s set for us by the generation that calls us entitled. My peer group is made up of well-rounded, multi-talented individuals who are over-worked, under-challenged, over-caffeinated, under slept and still manage to be driven. Unfortunately, the workplace environment often inhabits a culture that stretches millennials by ignoring the need to create work life balance.

We are the first generation that was raised with schedules to facilitate going through the most demanding education system in history while being raised in multi-faceted environments that contributed to the immense social pressures to strive for impact and achievement. Yet the COO of the Be Wiser Insurance Group felt it was exhausting to “massage the egos of graduates” -which in itself is a condescending and patronizing mindset that shows the lack of accountability and understanding Generation X has for requiring a multi-dynamic workforce.

Perhaps there needs to be a substantial shift in perspective- an institutional approach whereby millennials are extracted as assets who reflect the need for management styles to shake off traditional structures in order to recognize how company culture needs to be shaped.

Standard recruitment procedures have to be revisited, especially for entry level jobs which have no rotational functions and (without sounding like a grungy “millennial”) are boring. Innovative institutions have made increasing efforts to digitalize day to day practices to reduce admin functions- a millennial trait which institutions need to get up to speed with. This may be a frame of reference that managers should get to terms with; maybe it’s not boring, maybe it is not innovative enough. Traditional practices need to evolve, most admin tasks can be handled by software systems and digital hardware which reduce paperwork activities and monotonous tasks.

“Task” is the other word which needs to be avoided; a go-fer term often listed in job descriptions which diminishes an employee’s capacity to a fixed cycle that discounts the importance of measurability. Millennials are driven to make impact and actively contribute to see their results. Job descriptions should be designed to create output oriented focuses and avoid task-oriented roles which remove tangibility and visible results. Objectives to generate output create a goal driven group.

Goal commonality is an effort managers need to constantly communicate with millennials by constantly and repeatedly asserting the institution’s mission and vision- a millennial who is dedicated in belief of a goal is a devoted employee. Social dynamics have changed- millennials are having families much later in their lives and have a “new normal” in their need for work- life balance. The need for workplaces to be an extension of their communities is a valuable tool that can be used to retain and mold millennials into company assets.

Millennials are individuals who value team work and the feeling of belonging- a healthy team-oriented environment that reduces the rigid and often alienating walls of departmentalization  creates spaces for shared knowledge. Recruitment should be the beginning and end of for creating a community with a unified mission- team member who are properly trained and multi-skilled will generate innovative ideas that contribute to the relevance of an institution and its external environment. Institutions should milk the benefits of having a mind frame that is global and not limited to their immediate regions; recognition of this is a bank of ideas and techniques which create learning and research relationships at the workplace.

Managers should recognize their roles as leaders and mentors as opposed to individuals who are seen to handle and delegate. Gen Y is a group of designed leaders with little official experience- creating a healthy transition process for graduates to transfer the overwhelming amount of theory into streamlined and effective practice. Leaders who recognize strengths should assign responsibilities which will help grow and excel millennials without micro-managing and under challenging them.

 

©Sabrina Najib