“What would you love to be when you grow up?”
My father, Thomas asked me after listening to a child call in a local radio station, Ramogi FM. I can’t recall his name but what he wanted to be stuck in my head up to this moment. He wanted to be a neurosurgeon.
I smiled and gave him a quick rare glance, not in a shy way, no, not me. I was sure that was what I wanted. “I want to be a nurse father!” I didn’t see the expression which was drawn on my face but it must have been that of a young girl, who has just been told she will be a nurse and now she can’t help but wait for that day.
“That’s great my child, work hard and make your dreams real,” he said putting down a cup of white tea which he was holding at mouth length all this time.
I knew what defined me was nursing,my smile was nurse’s,my heart was nurse’s and my tone was nurse’s as well.
Day after day I rooted for those moment when I would be dressing in white dress, mounting a white cap and wearing white glove; I rooted for those moments when I would inject patients with a syringe just as my mother, Norah would.
My mother had just graduated as a nurse from Mombasa polytechnic. Everyone from my neighborhood including my grandmother Elsa would come to her for medication and consultation . I felt I took after her. I felt I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I felt being a nurse was running right through my veins and it was that very moment I vowed to stop at nothing but becoming one.
Then one day as we listen to the same program with my father, a girl called. she was called Lilian. She was 10 years. she was in class four. I’m so interested in this particular girl because she shared absolutely everything with me. From her first name ,to her sir name, to her other name, to same class and to same nursing thing. For a moment I felt I was hearing myself talking on the radio. I wanted to meet her personally, if not then, maybe later in the future
Days, weeks, months and years passed and that children program was still part of me, by 10 am I would be sitting close to my father listening to five, ten and fifteen children who would call the station to say what they would want to be.
Now I’m a big girl in my forth year at the university and attending conferences is my best thing here. Today’s conference I met with journalist across the country; I’m so happy because of for two reasons. One , I finally got my press card, that means I have a gate pass to press conferences: Two, I interacted with journalists one on one ,something many people have done but only on live phone calls.
The room was burning hot. A lady walked in, and everything became cool including the seat I sat on. I knew from that very moment things were going to be cool like her.
She walked onto the platform and everyone become silent. I personally saw a supermodel walking. she was not tall. she was not short. She had short natural hair and she was simple, classy and elegant. In a black khaki trousers, purple blouse which was tucked in appropriately, she was just in for the presentation. She was dark and beautiful. They say black is beautiful but I say when a black lady is beautiful, she really is. She had a natural soft smile emerging from a heart, and no one in that room responded to her smile with a frowned face.
She said “hi” and I felt I knew that voice or perhaps I had heard it before. But I couldn’t recall where. “I’m Lilian,” she continued.Her voice was smooth and sweet
Curiosity was now building inside me when she stole my sir name too; and it was that very moment my childhood memories flashed in my head one after the other. How I longed to meet that particular Lilian who shared absolutely everything I called mine. “today is the day you are going to meet some of journalist who will entirely point your passion to the right direction….. ” she continued.
I enjoyed watching her talk and speakers who spoke after her just wasted my time. I wanted to speak to Lilian and ask so many question. first I wanted to confirm if she was that Lilian or a new one had just emerged.
When we met I started by introducing myself then a bit of how I loved her voice, and dressing, and the rest followed. But those aren’t important. I loved how she confirmed she was that Lilian. ” Yes I had always wanted to be a nurse. I remember years back when I was in class four I called a radio station to confess how passionate I was!” She said but this time with no passion at all. It was just a normal confession.
privileged enough, I read some of her moving articles, stories perhaps I wouldn’t have read had I not met her. knowing her in person is another thing I’m mad about. But I’m not the only one with this privilege. You too, are. You are reading through her article as well, you are getting to know her in person as well. Yes you, I’m Lilian! You are reading through my article now. I’m a journalist.
Look at me, I wanted so bad to become a nurse but that wasn’t what dictated my heart. That wasn’t where my passion was. It doesn’t matter what you love, and wish, and want, to be but what you will be.
And today, today I’m going back to my father and I’m going to ask him to rephrase that question he asked me when I was only ten.
Don’t you think it should have been something else, something like,
“What will you become when you grow up?”