Saturday, November 28, 2009

Like a brother

He left a song in my heart
A memory
a story that spins and spins.
He touched me, forever.

He taught me values,
like patience and sharing
like proper words and diction.

He danced,
gave me laughter
and fed me berries
Sometimes I call to say wasup.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Every Good Gift, and Every Perfect Present is From Above

I’ve found peace
In long quiet evenings sipping tea
Listening to well prepared music
Thinking back to days gone by.

I’ve found a smile
Looking at yellow and Orange flowers
And red drying petals, scented white jasmine
A red beaked bird sipping nectar

I’ve found happiness
As I munched fresh cucumbers
And chewed simsim grains from my palm
Flat noodles are a favorite

I’ve found ecstasy
When calming words
Calmed and soothed my heart
Psalms and Proverbs, Isaiah too.

I’ve found love
Quietly, completely, forever
Giving all of me
Give and take puts pressure

I’ve found pleasure
Looking at gushing water falls, a meter high
Crushing sea waves that make me cry
And sunsets so red, so golden, so beautiful

I’ve found friendship
Around me, trusting, special
They get me,
I understand them.

I’ve found serenity
As I blended among crowds
Lost in my thoughts
Alive in my meditations

I’ve found comfort
In your letters, Paul
Firmly grounding me
Necessary training to be unmovable.

I’ve found freedom
In dressing, recreation and food
In views and reasoning
In truth.

I’ve found faith
Peace, Smiles, happiness, ecstasy
Love, pleasure and friendship
From the giver of all that is good. and google

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blessed be Jehovah, who Daily Carries our Load

The sun is shinning the flowers have blossomed
The birds are singing, the trees carry fruit
The well is bubbling, the streams are clear
The mountains are nodding, the dogs bark in unison.

She’s got all her children by her side
He’s stroking his wife’s hair, alone no more
Dan can walk again, I met him up the hill
And Jackie answers when you call her name.

Everyday we wake with a smile, a laugh
Unbelieving how beautiful a day can be:
Cheap water, food and light
And this house my brother built for me.

Today we listen to David sing the psalms
It’s a day of feast to Jehovah
His never failing word, his love-
The joy he’s flooded in our hearts.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

You have been staring at a Photoshop page the whole day.
Your group members forgot to submit their parts to you. Tomorrow there is an exam, you could read, but you don’t have all the notes. Your eyes hurt.
Yesterday, when printing out a report you clicked on the wrong document and printed 35 pages of a report on sugarcane growing in Brazil, your report was on the History of Malaya.
Your pen drive vanished when you were queuing to print in the library.
Your computer keeps freezing, and the internet connection is extremely slow! You only slept this morning, for an hour. You’ve been eating friend rice all week
You asked for an extension for your report two weeks ago, you wish you had just, 2 more days, but it’s Thursday evening. If you don’t hand it in tomorrow you will certainly get a DNC(did not complete)You have an exam, a presentation, and you need to go to the bank tomorrow.
You look at google and feel very tempted to copy and paste, at least 1000 words, but you’re not like that, you want the 5,000 words to be “all” you.
You receive a text from home saying hey things are thick can you stretch the dollar another month? You stretched it last month you wonder how good its elasticity is.
Your bills doubled this month, transport increased, and your efforts to get a job are met with a tight, sorry smile.
Your Computer finally crushes. You meant to back up your assignments today. If only you had not spent hours reading people’s profiles on FB…
Maybe I can re-do them tonight, you think.

I feel you...


Monday, November 9, 2009


Day break.
With one eye open
-I regard the rays stealing into my room wondering-
Is this the day I find myself?

I’ve changed
Distracted by the world created for me
A breakable world.
A world with limitations.

The curiosity to explore and learn,
Has been pushed far, ignored.

You’ve become my decision maker
In this box of a world.
Shame, to be changed
To be content within these walls.

But I’m breaking out
Slowly, carefully, I’m saying-enough.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slam Poetry

This is about staying awake,
thinking how it would be nice to end my day with a word from you,
Trying to remember what you said when we last talked,
how you stood…

This is about days when
I don’t wanna wake up,
thinking it’s another long day
and not a chance to meet you.
To see your face, your beautiful face……

This is a bout the way your eyes get soft when you look at me,
yes they do,
and my breathing gets uneven.
When I talk to everyone else
while all I want is to stand next to you and say nothing

This is about times I catch myself wondering when,
and if,
we’ll ever confirm our feelings,
or like strangers in a train
-the look will never be explored further.

This is about things that go on in my head,
when I wonder why is this time so different,
have I fallen?
Even though they say it shouldn’t be sad,
I’m sad at times.

This is about the different flavours that come alive,
the feelings I have for you,
when I see you,
– when I hear you-
when I spend hours looking at you,
until you become transparent,
so I turn away from the screen

This is about listening to love songs and nodding,
when they say all the things I wanna say to you,
all the things I wish you you’d say to me.
When we are together.

This is about daydreaming about our life together
And the room I’d make for you in my life,
and be dedicated to you wholly,
without a starry side glance ever.

This is about your odd ways and manner,
Your silence and charm,
How attractive I find you-
This is about,
how strongly my soul feels attached,
woven to you,
how I never want another man.

This is about times when I wonder,
Will you come right out with it
Or should I continue to pretend that
I just want to be friends?

Title-What this is about

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Keep me concealed in your heart
Let my memory, like a sweet song curve your lips into a smile
Know that I have loved you.

If I leave, let me go unbound
For forever we’re strapped together
No matter the time, no matter the distance
Keep this feeling wrapped in trust
Let the days make it grow, and bloom into something wonderful for keeps.
Remember the honor

If another’s heart should take peek
And the face of whose beauty shines-
Interest reflects,
If there be a shift, be kind to my heart, be gentle

Keep my love alive
Let my eternal love energise your bones,
I have loved you eternally, endlessly.

pic-Jupiter Images.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Mama's sons with the writer

We always got a beating, me and my 2 cousins.

One time for going to the neighbour’s farm to eat passion fruits-the neighbour’s kids had come to us and said- our mother is away, we need someone to climb up the tree to reach the fruits- so we had volunteered. We didn’t climb the tree, we just kept throwing sticks and clods of soil up the tree and ended up bringing down one of the passion fruit vines..

Mama had been looking for us and soon he was standing by the fence . He didn’t have to say anything we, simply spit out the passion seeds in our mouths and started to follow him. Along the way he broke off a few cypress branches and gave us each to prepare into a proper cane.

When we were busy throwing sticks at passion fruits, the baboons had come to the farm and flattened about an acre of maize and uprooted another of potatoes. So we were canned for all the sins, and when my cousin couldn’t take all, they wrote the remaining number on the calendar, to be spread out over a period of two weeks. I was hardcore ,I just told him to get on with it, and he added two strokes for attitude.

Another day, as we watched over the crops against baboons and grazed the cows along a thin strip of grass next to a cabbage farm, we got really bored after singing made up songs and digging holes in the ground, so we started to play Tapo-hide and seek. Soon enough we heard someone whistling and shouting from the other side of the valley- Thaimoni! Your cows are eating all your maize! Thaimoni is mama’s English name. His real name is Solomon but everyone calls him Simon.

We quickly chased the cows out of the maize fields and started to chase them around to get the bloat down. It helped a bit but Mama had to repair the fence, and we stood in a line and got a good caning.

Cucu found us one day twarite moko tukihoya mutheri kwene-with hands out stretched begging for githeri(maize and beans) from an old woman who lived near our compound.

We had broken two rules going to other people’s houses –kwene, and eating other people’s food- muhahi(because of greed). There was a big pot of githeri at home, but we like the old woman’s githeri. She used green maize and black beans and some peas. Cucu made hers from dried maize and beans.

The woman had 2 acres of land, so we were no only greedy but indeed very ill-mannered ‘trials’. Cucu took me by the thighs and for a few metres I was hopping behind her screaming,since I was the eldest. My cousins got the same-your skin would go sore for one week.

Later on when, we’d be beaten properly for talking about sex. We were just having a chat about what we knew about the topic one evening when we were alone, thinking no one could hear.

The following weekend mama interrogated us, since the women folk(tata and cucu) couldn’t handle such great sin. Then he took us very far from the house and caned us-incase anyone came round and asked –hey Thaimoni-what did they do

-Nothing much really, they were just having a chat about sex-that was unheard of.

I must have been 9.

We also got beaten several times in a week fr coming home late from school. Cucu Ciriba, my gran’s friend would invite us to eat whatever was in the house, then we’d forget we hadn’t reached home and hang around until 7p.m.

Yet, we had duties like watering the cabbages , bringing in the cows, the calves, the chicken, the sheep, bringing in some water from the tank, and the wash basin, cooking some food for the dog and covering the maize drying out in the fields if that was the season, lighting the lamps, and getting some onions from the farm…

Mama would say after beating us- hiyo ni kionjo-that’s just a taste.

(mama-uncle, Cucu-Gran,tata-uncle's wife, cucu Ciriba-cucu's friend- passed away)

Saturday, October 24, 2009


He's deep
Like a deep well.
Layers and folds
How to reach his core?

25th Oct 09

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I’ll take you for a walk
Follow me I’ll lead
Through these dust paths and mud bridges
Through the maize fields and past long horned cows
We’ll lean upon the cypress and regard the blue hills
Catch a speedy wind laden with leaves and
Sticks, seeds and smells, with dust too.

I’ll show you my home
Teach you about soil
Show you the ,stems their sap and roots,
Interpret smells for you
Show you how to climb blue gum
And which figs are ripe to eat
We’ll even roll on the grass.

I want to show you everything
All the tings I hold dear,
all the secret longings-Like a trip to the forest river-
If you come with me.

(I want steal you from yourself)

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I love you softly
I love you quietly
Like a song played on a keyboard

I love you gently
I love you tenderly
Like a mother rocking her child to sleep

I love you definitely
I love you with certainty
Like my first crush

I love you in my mind
I love you in my chest
Like The after taste of a good thing

I love you when I see you
I love you even when I don’t
Like grandparents love young ones

My love for you is like a quiet song
My love for you is gentle , tender
I love you certainly, definitely
My love for you is like a spirit within me
I love you all the time, always

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Leaving Home

Once again, I’m on my way
Once again I’m leaving
And it breaks my heart
That my new friends, and acquaintances
Will be my old friends
And text will be how we speak.

Once again, I'm leaving home
Once again I have to cut myself off
It pains me
That things I’ve loved
And people who made me laugh,
And those who laughed at me
And those I loved in my heart,
I'm leaving them...

Once again, I have to learn new things,
Once again, I have to get used to new people
And if my will breaks this time
I’ll never find home
I have found homes, and families
But once again I’m leaving
And it hurts, it hurts, like the first time,
Like my 17th year
For certain, I was leaving.

Once again I have to park my things
Once I again I have to say good bye
And I don’t want to, really
I want to stay,
I want to establish permanence
Not have to leave again.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aloe Vera,Bob Marley and 3 pieces of fruit

So today was the funniest day I’ve lived this year I’d like to declare. So many things made me laugh to tears.
Well, as far as I know I could be slowly losing it, going softer in the brain without realizing it ,walking around with a goofy smile like I just did something naughty.
It started when we visited this woman from Myanmar. Me, and a Japanese brother. Between us, we can trade bout 50 Malay words. The woman spoke Malay and Burmese, not a word in English. We had a book, translated in Japanese and Chinese. It was hilarious trying to communicate, we even mixed up her name and her son’s. So if she was Mary, we called Her Tony and waved bye to her son Mary.
On the road, we stopped to take a call and I was on the back seat looking outside and I saw a bird hopping about on the grass. Then looking on I see a snake running towards the car. Hahaha.It fell on the road and the bird was following it, poking at it, and back to the grass again, wispy –the snake raised it’s head as if to negotiate but the bird kept poking at it. Wispy was big, long, very big. Scared all of us off our seats.
Okay, he wasn’t he was about 90cms by 1.5, green with a red line from head to toe.,red tongue. And I was the only one screaming and throwing everything about, and my friends telling me-aa nasing, jus a nomo snake.. laughing at me. And as we drove off I couldn’t stop thinking of Mr. Wispy wondering if the small bird got him, did she carry him off or just kept picking at him until the pain was too much and he just lay there being eaten away like a pineapple. But I told myself the mother must have come looking for him and run off the bird and squeezed aloe vera an Wispy’s wounds.
Later we popped into our friend’s house,, he was going to Europe today so he was packing and we just entered. He told us about a story about one cat that was being groomed by a monkey the other day. Near the road The monkey would groom, slap , then kiss the cat, and the cat just lay there unconcerned. Donno how true that is but I had a good laugh just imagining it. Although the population of monkeys and stray cats here could beat the human one in a few years, so I guess the two must have worked out a system that works for them.
I Later went to see my friend and when I got to the bus stop, this man selling fruits handed me a fruit Mangosteen,. It was very sweet, I know the word for sweet and they were very happy to hear me say manisnya. I then took another two and tried to pay but he said no, it’s free, I gave him a look over, about 59, smoker, ,,, harmless, and he didn’t look like the kind. So I said thanks and said I was waiting for my kawan/friend. He told me his name was Doc, and that Obama is a nice man when I said I’m Kenyan.
Going home, I passed by this homeless man who starts to beg during the rush hour, this time he was fully clothed. He said- Bob Marley, hi..
I never heard him say a word before …and somehow I’d assumed he was half blind. I laughed out loud, right there at the bus stop and got several stares.
In the bus. This man started to speak to me, and when I go out, I realized I had told him his money was nice, pointing to his canvas bag. I actually meant to say the color of the bag was nice. He must have thought what a hick.

Running toward(In my language, I’d say ilikuwa inakimbia, it was running towards the car, not gliding )gtt he picture from some place in google, not mine

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My System

People tell me they have had an epiphany and I never bothered to ask what they mean since they all seem to think I should know, being the writer I am. I never bothered to check the meaning because I’m sure I never had an epiphany , in my head I assume that when I feel it, it will sound something like that song- bitter sweet symphony by The Verve. And I’d get this re-birth, feeling and from that moment on my life would be transformed.
Anyhow, I had my epiphany the other day and even though I haven’t checked the meaning, I was so sure that was it. I woke up in meditative state, sat up-ok,don’t hold your breath,I’m not about to say something deep-
I felt an understanding of who I am. Just looking at one thing, full time employment, from childhood, I’ve known that my dream was not to report to an office every morning and be told what to do the whole day. Before I just wanted to live in a farm with many animals but that has to wait now. I realized that the reason why I’m no exactly what people expect of me is because I try to play on a pitch I haven’t trained on, and not being confident enough with what I got.
So the few times I’ve taken jobs, after three weeks I just want out, quitting or getting fired either way suits me. Another thing, I hate Mondays. I only begin to function about 3.30 p.m Monday and then it’s already too late to count that as a day. I am active at night, yeah, if I had to study a book on criminal law at 2a.m, I’d pass the bar exam. But give me a 500 article on how to make home made wine at 9 a.m and I will still think red grape wine is made from red plums and straw berries. I realized too that for that reason I have a system only I don’t follow it. Let me watch something in the morning, let me take pictures at noon, leave me to write at 5, I can make an attempt to cook at 9, then sew things at 10, but at midnight, ask me to write about the credit crunch, I’ll get it.

So I’ll try respond to the epiphany not try to do things I cannot do like one dollar articles. Just , stitch bags, learn to make movies and write articles of self- grandiose.

(pics credit and another one I can't rem)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Your sister graduated? Send my condolences.
Well, I have been learning Malay, it is part of my survival strategy. It hasn’t been going all well since I have been learning for all sources, from the Indonesia workers who clean our Condo, from the Vietnamese guy who always takes the bus the same time as me, from Chinese and Indian Malays, and from a Kamus Bestari I bought and sometimes online. So the pronunciations don’t necessarily agree.
I haven’t tried to tell anyone congratulations because the word for that is similar to the word for condolences, that is tahniah and takziah and I can’t tell the difference.
After almost a year, or like mama says(almost more than a year) I’m finally falling into a pace I can cope with.
A few days ago I bought some shampoo. My friend said anything with Tea-tree in it wouldn’t make my hair fall out. So I went did a round in all the beauty shops and I got it. Shokubutsu, a Japanese wash . I came home and tried it, then after two days I remembered, my friend had said Tea-tree not green tea, but what to do I already bought it I might as well, and I don’t really mind the smell and since not much hair fell out Shokubutsu is the way forward I should think. I also managed to find some lotion called the fruit of the earth Aloe Vera, and remembered reading on some site that aloe vera is good for African skin, but maybe it might have been olive oil, I’m not sure, anyway I liked nice blue of the lid on the bottle and the smell is tasty somehow.
Shamara said I should use baby oil on my face, and I have used it for a week now, no complains. It seems I might not get melonama after all.
The semester was my worst. Not in terms of the classes and all, most of my classes were interesting - we watched a load of movies or debated. I had trouble with one class though-The Film Class, man that was out of this world. It was to be a fave, at first, and I spent a lot of time reading and reviewing and just getting familiar but when they marked the story board and my movie journals. It came to me, I was not made for this. I tell a good story, but doesn’t mean I know w here to place the camera,,,and that’s why I always liked still pictures, which I still do, it’s just that my camera charger blew, and the camera caught a virus and I have taken the worst pictures in my history of picture taking these last months I don’t even want to look at them. My computer crushed on me, month ago, I lost my home pictures and some of my writings. Clearly, this school year was not a good start, I was distracted, tried to sleep it off, tried to stare it out, sit it out, learnt to eat noodles for supper...….it persisted.

But I can’t keep quiet about the fact that THAT, was the best class ever.
It was also amazing how everyone assisted everyone when we had to make the story board? In 5 minutes I had a whole cast ready to go with props and site, a director, cameraman and everyone else.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

end of an anchor

If you have watched BOLT . You know that part where Bold is hanging Mittens from a fly-over and he says :

‘You just can’t stop lying , can you cat? It’s in the genes. You’re just gross,’ and Mittens replies

‘I know, I’m disgusting, I disgust myself.’

It’s one of my favourite part, I can relate to it. Well, I don’t disgust myself all the time but sometimes I’m concerned. Well, today I rejoined facebook, after deactivating my account coz it was taking too much of time, blah blah, but my camera’s charger blew so I can’t take pictures to post on flickr, and doesn’t jazz me much me these days , my friends no longer reply to e-mails, yeah, they want to write on my wall… and with school closed, I need an addiction, seriously, otherwise I’ll burn my eyes with the pile of books I have been meaning to read or rot my eyes with animations.

So after canceling a trip with my friends to watch The Transformers, I just couldn’t peel myself off my chair. I have this bag I’m making and it’s the most complicated thing I’ve made in a long time and the thought of taking 3 buses and a monorail to (KL)Kuala Lumpur didn’t sit well with me so I canceled, and my friends called me and expressed sadness for my absence. I went and watched a basketball match but couldn’t concentrate because they were wearing too much red. I was hoping to catch my favourite team which plays like mad squakes. I donno what than means but I mean to say the play so quickly it gives you a rush. They are mostly short and one team wears brown the other blue. It’s a mix of Chinese and one Indian, one African guy. I love that game it goes like an advert for NBA. The Indian guy scores everytime.

Yesterday I was to meet some of my friends for a swim and half an hour before leaving the house I changed my mind, yeah, the bus thing again. I hate the buses, it should take me 20 minutes but it takes me 3 hours t get to Puchong. I got a room in Puchong last week but before I couldn’t move in the owner’s daughter decided she wasn’t in favour and I was so bombed I slept until 8 a.m, East African time. My fault, Cyberia is land's end.

So I will try to be more systematic, and learn to appreciate things like facebook and sociality, and maybe my insomnia will reduce.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nothing Said

It’ s true we don’t see each other any more.
It’s obvious I’m out of site.
But don’t you feel it? Don’t you feel?
Will you deny the pulsations of your heart when;
My name’s mentioned, when someone wears my perfume-
Don’t you call me ‘ my friend’ to your friends?

It’s understandable, I left without much ado,
It’s true I paid Lewinsky more attention
We laughed and shook hands for long.
Didn’t you see my body language?
My shoulder turned towards you,
I played with a curl behind my ear.
When you see Lewinsky. Don’t you remember me?
Do you fix a smile when someone mentions me?

It’s no secret I am awkward and unfiltered.
Feigning confidence a little girl’s ways , a little girl’s manner;
Spilling drink on my shirt and calling
A Chair ,a share, well,
Didn’t you smile politely every time?
Did you perhaps wish I was refined or did you secretly like my raw quirks?
Do you wish I may not change?

It’s true I have a past, yeah, so much history
Would you be hesitant to explore
Or should it recede and be ignored so that,
We might make our own?
Did it hold you back?
Would you rather start on fresh fields?
Do the stories you hear make sense?
Do you wish to ask me? Talk to me?
What is it you searched in my eyes.

It’s true I don’t hide it anymore.
Do you wonder what’s my prob?
Do you wish I’d slow down?
Do you know how it all started out?
When we became aware of each other?
Are there memories engraved within you like in me?
Are there cherished moments I’ve overlooked?
Like when our hands touched and our eyes,,,,, we looked away.

But I have never felt such a staring.
Do you wonder if that’s all?

1>(No, I’m not writing love poems again. This one is dated 28th October 2009. Guess it must have had something to do with me leaving my old surroundings. But I assure you this is not about my cat-pushkin alias kinyau alias pusspuss alias we alias(can’t rem the Spanish name mother calls her)
2>(I’ve used this pic coz It has the most views on flickr, kinda sets the mood if anyone is interested in what I have to say.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ngahika Ndeenda

I knew all my friends would get married before me, except one, but she recently told me she thinks she might have met –the one- so anytime I should be hearing wedding bells, and out of the crowd, I’ll be the last woman standing.

My other friend is getting married in November, and I feel terrible that I might not attend the wedding. See, we talked about it long and wide,, I was going to be a maid, and we would not wear all those fake silk lilac dresses, we would go full kitenge all the way to the evening party. I imagined taking pictures in her wedding, maybe packing her bags for the honey moon. I couldn’t sleep when she sent the text, I thought in all directions; should I get a job, do the Nigerian connection, marry some rich dude quick so that he can buy me a flight to attend the wedding. , then I thought maybe I should do a refresher course for my sewing skills and design and stitch her wedding gown, send it as a surprise. Then I thought maybe I should just keep saving(yeah yeah) and maybe by November I might be able to send her a cheque for her cake if not a one night stay at a hotel for the honey moon, then I narrowed it down to knock off earings at Petaling street.

It’s funny, So far, my age mates have kids in upper primary, most of them are married, but I keep running if I could call it that, telling myself I still can’t cook chapatti and Iron shirt corners so, why even look at a guy. Today, my other friend really entertained me. She has met – the one-

‘Man! You should meet him. When I met him, I tell you Cecilia, I bowed.’

‘And when he passed by and checked me out I tell you Cecilia, he bowed, believe me’

Ok, I was laughing too much before I got her point. So she explained. The guy stands out in a crowd, he is respectable, he knows how to dress properly, and he carries himself around like he owns the place.’ I tell you Cecilia, if you don’t respect the guy you marry, that’s trouble and if you don’t click’{showing me , if you don’t click right away…aa ..there’s nothing there}

Lew; yet another friend, his last single friend married last December, and two of his close friends are raising 3 month olds. He told me the other day he’s going out of his mind, and I joked maybe we should just marry each other, since our crowd paired out and we are the two left standing, though it would be like marrying a cousin.

So I’ve been thinking that maybe I should bring my age limit down a bit, from the number that the bowing friend says- ati what age Cecilia, who’ll look at you ?’

But I was thinking about it seriously again my friend-told me the other day-You know, you loose 5000 brain cells each day when you reach twenty. And I thought,well, multiply that by 12 years and see, when I 'm 32, there will be no point in marrying another fool.

(not sure how many thousands,All numbers sound the same to me so, she might have meant 10,000 or a hundred)

(the title is adopted from Ngugi wa Thiongo's title- in Kikuyu and English- I will marry when I want-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Don't Worry About A Thing

Who is –AThing?

Some guy.

Dresses very badly, don’t mind him

Sweaters and cowboy boots

A big hat like a fisherman’s

And he likes to eat boiled carrots

Oh yeah, carries them in a small polythene bag in his pocket

And when you touch they feel like worms

If I were you, I’d never worry about AThing, not worth it.

(20th Jan 09)

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient. Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to ...