Before New Beginnings

I really can’t stress much on how heavy my heart is. Or how shattered and torn my soul is. I try to contain my light sometimes but all it seems to do is escape from the unmendable cracks that no one can seem to fathom. How do you move on from this? What’s the first step you take? Is it really moving on if it means leaving key parts of you behind?


Early nightfall, 8p.m to be exact, 20 days after my 20th birthday, my world turned upside down. I was picked from home by 4 strange men, two of them armed, dressed as civilians claiming to be officers. I was perplexed to be honest. Said nothing. Did nothing in retaliation. They handcuffed me and I left with them, only to return home 10 days later. “Thank God they were officers,” is something I never thought I’d ever say. Because coming to think of it, what if they weren’t? I mean, I might not be rich and famous but still… kidnapping is real.

I really really really want to say that everything happened so fast but for that period, it’s kind of like time itself got really lazy. Each and every second overstretched. Kind of ironic for an entity known to to fly. My life could be triangulated to these; from court rooms to police cells to interrogation chambers in no particular order. Fast forward 10 days later, I was released.

I don’t recall a moment in those 10 days where I was ever at ease. New suspects coming in each day saying I look familiar, either they saw me on the news, in the paper or on social media. At this point, the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so dull and the prospects of me coming out by then were nothing but a ‘great perhaps’. All in all, my skin was uncomfortable to be in and I’m grateful Alhamdulillah that the truth finally came out. I was innocent.

I never had known how amazing freedom felt before. Like really guys, we take all this freedom we have for granted. Phone calls started coming in, WhatsApp messages and face to face conveyance of congrats sprinkled with pity, all encapsulating one theme “you need to move on and forget that it all ever happened.”

Well how do you forget? Throughout the chaos and confusion, my family was torn, not knowing what to believe. Our home had become a circus, people going up and down to ensure that justice ends up being realized in the end. For someone who hadn’t committed any offense I really put them through a lot. That’s what pains me the most. No hard feelings though,I get it, just a bunch of people doing their job. All that is a story for another day though. Telling it now will invoke pity which is far from what I’m trying to put across.

 “What I believe is that after a life-changing ordeal you don’t get to have the luxury of just moving on. Maybe learn to live with it and incorporate it into your system. It’s part of you now. Own it.

Trauma permanently changes us. That’s the big scary truth. There’s really no such thing as ‘getting over it’. At least that’s what Catherine Woodiwiss says; a major life disruption leaves a new normal in it’s wake. There is no ‘back to the old me’. You are different now. Full stop.

This is not a wholly negative thing though. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life—warts, wisdom and all—with courage.”

Cause what they consider moving on, in the real sense is basically trying to escape. Running. Well how do you run away from a memory? I believe no matter how far and fast you run, the ghosts from your past are eventually going to catch on, head on, wrecking you, throwing you off your track to the exact same point you started. You’re basically going in circles only to eventually end up where you began.

Consider this, you can’t just wake up one day and decide to ‘move on’ when what lies ahead of you is a sea of unaddressed emotions. Like seriously, who are you kidding? Just take your time and build that bridge. What’s the rush? Before those new beginnings, make peace with yourself, embrace those new tattoos and only move ahead when you’re whole again. Cause before that, just like standing on the edge of a cliff, a step forward wouldn’t be progress.


chaos, Depression, escape, healing, identity, innocent, life-changing, Mombasa, Moving on, new beginnings, progress, thoughts, trauma

Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.


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