Circles and Scars: Dear Mama.

Sometimes I look to the sky, ask why I was born

My faith in God, every day is hard

every night is worse, thats why I pray so hard

Why I pray so hard, this is crazy God

just when I thought I had everything, I lost it all

So que sera.” – Watch The Throne.

I get all these images for free from the internet. I don’t claim ownership.

Or who do you guys turn to whenever you feel your back is against the wall. I turn to all my role models. We are who we read, we are who we listen to, who we watch. And its not because they’ve figured life out, it’s because they know they’re people viewed to be full of insight. They had to choose to be strong-for themselves, then us. They have helped me be strong, they have helped me grow. Helped me understand that having no choice, is also a choice. Which is why I’m dedicating this post to all you who read me. All who think I make sense despite being so young.
A family member once told me, “You’re wiser beyond your years”.

A friend,  “David, your blog is the only one I read.”

Then came an Instagram mention from a stranger,  “@thewritedavid is full of insight.”

So this is for all of you who believe in me. Most importantly, it’s one dedicated to the first person to ever believe in me. This post is the answer I’ve been too shy to give whenever questions of “why the blog?” pop up. For a story to make sense, both the writer and the story need to be ready. I blog because I owe someone a debt, I made someone a promise- to find an audience with the world and ask it to help me convince all our leaders (political or not) to agree to work towards one thing, a cure for cancer. I’m proudly African, so I’m supposed to believe it doesn’t already exist. And yeah, if it still doesn’t exist, it’s time to talk about one.

Of course to those of you yet to evolve, this is impossible. You really think we can’t all be healthy? I talked about some ideals of the present being like torn socks in “The Fur King”. The idea that the world cannot stand united against stuff like cancer is a torn sock. Dear old people, I, for one, believe in stuff like world peace. And campaigns like Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s quest to end world hunger. Matter of factly, the only person allowed to use the word impossible this week is a blue Pep Guardiola. He can say stuff like, “A cure for cancer, possible. Defending against Zlatan, impossible.” #YouBetterScoreSir 😈

*Anyways, this is not a post about the Manchester Derby. No one knows what will happen…Nobody knows how many Zlatan and co will score.*


So guys, don’t get bored when I tell you that herein lies a letter to my mama. I celebrate her because I’m proud to be her son. For those reading me for the first time, Circles and Scars is a celebration of her life and the friends I have stuck with me through times of depression.

Pauline Subira Owambo.


Dear mama, how are you? I’m about to copy your style of writing letters to God. How is He by the way? Does he have a beard? What makes Him laugh? Have you asked his age? Do they make birthday cards for
people His age? How’s heaven? Have you met Michael Jackson? What’s the colour of his skin up there? Hehe. I know, the colour of one’s skin should be a non-issue.

Do you miss me? They say silence is an answer, why have you gone silent on me? You used to be dreamlike. I don’t get how this works. Does dreaming about you less and less mean I’m moving on? And if I’m moving on, why am I writing this letter. I’ll tell you why mum, the world likes sad stories. So you and I will give them one because, it’s the only way they’ll listen. If I fail at this, it’s partly my fault- sometimes i know I say too much. Which is why one day, this idiot walked up to me, the day before your anniversary, laughs and tells me, get to writing, tomorrow is the 2nd (of August). He was making fun of the day you died- that’s how I took it. I forgave him, don’t want to hate him, I just wish he gets gonorrhea. The rest is your fault, how do you just leave like that? How do you let me love you for all those years then leave only to make me so vulnerable? Weak. And afraid to get attached. You’re an angel now, but tell me this, do you ever regret not putting up more of a fight? Couldn’t you have at least, let me finish my exams? One more Christmas, Pauline, you couldn’t wait? One more birthday? Heaven came calling and you jumped ship, fell all in to the waters that lead to the gates of glory. Mama, all this I ask every time its dark and I’m all alone. For when its day, and the sun shines so bright, I get distracted as I delight in making others laugh and smile.

If we really are who we read, or who we listen to- then every time I make someone laugh and smile I feel like you’re still here with me, alive in me. So thank you for giving me a sense of humor. Can I tell
them of that day in hospital during chemo when you were high on something. Who would have thought that the funniest woman in the world was one dying of cancer? Looking back I understand what you were
really doing, you were being strong for me. I always hated what chemo did to you and I became crier, all you’d do was make me laugh. It was supposed to be the other way around. You told me to go to school, you’d be fine. Your strength came from your faith. Always with that rosary. Hail Mary, Hail Mary…

“Mummy, when your hair grows back, will you just let it sleep like before.”

“Why, you don’t like these braids I have on?”

Remember how hard we laughed at this?

Keep in mind, I don’t know the first thing about female hair…

“No, I think your hair is most beautiful when you just comb it and let it sleep.”

At least it made you smile. I wish I’d have opened my eyes to see what was really going on. You were not fine, you were not happy- you were asking for help. The funniest, are the unhappiest. And how could you be happy? When all second line chemo did was take from you your will to live. It took away your beautiful baby face. All that weight mum, you used to be the good kind of chubby. During that month you were in Nairobi right outside your hospital room, I heard one nurse admit that she mistook you for a man. Then when the others made it aware that your son was standing next to her- it embarrassed her to the core. And I faked a smile, left her to deal with her conscience. I took the high road, it was either that or jail. I won’t tell you how that felt mum, the world doesn’t have time for feelings. Some six letter worded disease had found its way into our lives. Designed to shatter our dreams- make us feel like some statistic among the billions. Like we’re not living, just a bunch of survivors. Poor folk. Because we couldn’t raise seven million shillings at an instant. Mum, one day, that amount of money won’t mean much to me. I’ll be burning it like Escobar. If you can’t raise money for treatment, let’s face it, you’re poor folk. Life treats us equally. I don’t believe in saying that there are people having it worse. If all roads lead to heart break, or failure or bankrauptcy, does it matter which car I use to get there. Does it matter who’s known pain the longest? Keep all these answers for me. I know I’m not the first to lose a parent, but you parents never teach us how to handle such pain. Life does. One of your peers told me this in Swahili.

Ungelikuwa na bibi, angekuliwaza. Lakini wewe bado ni mtoto. Chukua funguo, funga moyo wako. Tupa fungua mbali. Kaa kidume. Mtetezi wako mkuu, hayuko tena.  (No translation today.)

You taught me everything, except to live without you. I was angry and confused.You thought stoicism was the answer, oh my sweet queen. So when your siblings suggested counselling, I refused to attend. Which is a mistake, asking for help is an option too mum. You too were asking for help, yes. You prayed the rosary while faith filled and fear free.

I got that from this DJ, G-Money, I listen to him every morning. Today is Tuesday 6th of September- I didn’t want to hear him speak today. I woke up trying to pray. Asked God to give me strength. Asked Him if there’s sense to all this. I’m making sense, but I’m not loud enough. Am I on a fool’s errand? You had this belief that the strength of your faith determines the value of your life. And that’s what you inspired in every one who loved you. Is it too naïve to EXPECT a yes from the Lord? I expected your healing, because I wasn’t done making you proud. Maybe it’s where I went wrong with God. Now I believe in destiny, I wasn’t destined to make you proud while you were here on earth but make you smile from heaven. It’s the only way I get to make sense of it all.

The family got no answer from Him. On the days leading to your demise, I had this hollow feeling. There was no sun, nights got colder, food didn’t taste the same. And when I tried calling you, they told me you had lost your ability to hear. It was spreading… So I couldn’t remind you of our deal. Remember our deal? That I’d do well in school, and you’d fight cancer with all the faith in the world? Second line chemotherapy, ladies and gentlemen. An ugly son of a bitch. I should have made you listen to Avril Lavigne’s keep holding on. I know you didn’t choose to die. I know what happened…mercy. Mercy happened.

Maybe someone wished mercy upon you, Someone got tired of praying and said ‘Just take her Lord!’ Someone stopped rooting for you. I couldn’t help but feel that God took that as the only request that made sense.

Here’s how I prayed mum. The moment I heard you had lost your ability to hear, I got down on my knees, the first thing I said?

“Don’t you dare!’’

‘Take me in her stead. Give me that cancer.’ Mum, I didn’t observe protocol. Should I apologize? Or will He understand? Keep all these answers for me. I don’t want to hear them from anyone else.

You know what happened, mum? God replied.

With silence.

So I persisted. Told him it was time for that last minute miracle. I cried. I begged Him. The value of one’s life comes from the strength of their faith, remember? And I chose faith, again. I don’t know if it’s, like this for everybody, but hell is when, in your mind- you are your own judge, jury and executioner. That inner faith struggle. The voice on your right, (your angel?). Versus the one on your left (that devil character they show in cartoons- is in all of us). But why should you worry about, your faith is strong, riiiight? (Not all of them believe in these things, mum. Others believe in good and bad vibrations.) this guy I listen to, Dj G-Money, says so too. I listen to him a lot. So yesterday morning, I was tuned in… He has this show in the morning. And on that day, he said that if you try to fight these bad forces, all on your own, these forces will kick your ass. He talked about waiting…accepting that you’re not in control. And waiting for that silver lining. For that light, to shine again. He spoke of seeking your greatest Defender, through prayer. Doesn’t matter if he’s not the first one to say it, he gave me hope again.

Mum, before he said all this, I had done all this. I had waited…Si I had prayed? And I still had exams to do? I let God do the rest. All in good faith, mum. Roho safi.

And what did He do?


It’s scriptured in the Book of Proverbs that the Lord corrects. For whom the Lord loves, He corrects. Mum, God loves us. Others still went ahead to say ‘God loved you more, Subira.’ I didn’t even have to wait too long for the good news. In all His glory, God did according to His will. You succumbed. He sent an angel for you.No prayer works against His will. It was a Sunday, remember? I had exams the next day…Good news in the form a phone call. Couldn’t even let me finish my 4:20 in peace. Literally. So I called your number real quick. No one answered. I thought of Rose (my sister). I wanted to to hear it from her. She was supposed to go to State House and perform, because her school had won the Music Festivals at national level. She would have met Uhuru, mum. Then destiny played checkmate. Even a fool can already figure out what Rose’s worst high school memory is. Here is a girl who gave flowers to presidents and ministers during church functions as a child. There wasn’t room for one more president? Something to tell her kids? Life just had to add a little more spice? Cancer, thief of joy!

I promised her everything would be fine.

Mum, what’s the opposite of thank you? I’m pretty sure it also ends with …you. I spat a lot of F bombs towards the sky. A lot of thank yous. I forgot the teachings from Job. I insulted my God. For that, I’m so sorry. Please intercede. Lead me to his voice- the Almighty’s. Show me the light, because you are my greatest defender. Show me the light, because my heart is heavy. I feel like God hasn’t forgiven me.

It wasn’t His fault. Its cancer’s fault. I understand now. Ask Him to bless this post. I have hurt a lot of people, started a fire in them. Some of them will dismiss me and forget that the point is to spread awareness. This post might be read by very few. Its true mum, I only have 35 real friends. I’m asking God for too much, I know, but I’d like President Uhuru to be friend number 36. Because one, he’s working towards ending cancer. Hes setting up East Africa’s biggest cancer hospital. The hospital will offer radiotherapy, chemotherapy, advanced surgery and bone marrow transplant services. Mum, a hospital right here in Kenya means even drugs will be cheaper. I wish youd have been around to see this. Maybe benefit from it. Also, he’s left handed like me. Lefties are cool people- we’re more intelligent. Google don’t lie baby! Be advised, this is not a political blog, he really is bringing it all home. i just stated helpful facts.

So back to the voice on our right , it helps us pick our friends, right mum? And even if Uhuru doesn’t get to see this, imagine it’s okay. Also, I have more friends I wish you could have met. Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I’m grateful I have chosen them wisely like you. I’ve already written about some of them. All I learnt from you growing up, I’ve tried I try to keep. I know I am not alone- there’s the gift of family too. We have dreams of making the world a better place. I’ve mused over this before. (Read The Fur King). We don’t like what we see, but still, we’re proudly Kenyan. You only learn from making mistakes and those mistakes come with age. Kenya is a young country. Young enough to make mistakes, and apologetic enough to inspire change all across the world. How else do you explain all that gold from Rio!

All us young ones can do is wait for our turn to shine.


You’re my star in heaven mum. I pray that you never leave my side. Intercede for me, be my guardian angel, my greatest defender.

I love you.

Let’s write a new story, a story so beautiful, even our children will sing about it.


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