A Trip to My Ancestral Land
A True Story
on Aug 27, 2019
Last Friday, my maternal grandmother was hosting a get-together for her family and some other relatives of ours in her rural home in Murang'a, Kenya - my ancestral land. My mother, who is currently crippled by stroke, had purposed to attend the get-together and had been looking forward to it. And when Friday reached, she was elated when my brothers hired a taxi to ferry her to Murang'a.
As for me, I hadn't planned to attend the get-together. But when my younger brother Symo asked me to accompany Mum and offered to pay me for doing so, I quickly got dressed for the trip. Before leaving, I ensured I had my smartphone tablet and sunglasses in my bag. I also carried with me Stephen R. Covey's enlightening book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, for re-reading during any idle moments that might arise. Once I had all those items in the bag, I locked our house and rushed to join Mum in the taxi my brothers had hired.
We left my hometown of Kiserian at around 11.30am. As the taxi driver drove to Nairobi, we got stuck in traffic several times. I took advantage of the slow-moving traffic by re-reading some text from the Stephen R. Covey's book I had carried with me.
Then as we were heading to Murang'a from Nairobi, the taxi started moving fast and smoothly thanks to the Thika superhighway that was constructed by the administration of Mwai Kibaki, Kenya's third president. I contemplated of continuing to re-read Covey's book during that smooth ride but sooner than later, I thought it wise to observe the environs of the roads on which we were travelling on.
Travelling on Thika superhighway reminded me of my undergraduate years at JKUAT a decade ago because I used to commute on it on my way to the university. And while observing the environs of the superhighway, I realized how big the Earth is and how small we humans are.
As the taxi gathered pace, Thika superhighway gave way to other minor tarmac roads that passed through hilly countrysides. The hilly countrysides were breathtakingly beautiful in their verdant colour. Kenya is indeed a beautiful country.
We arrived at my grandma's home at around 4.00pm. And because I didn't want to carry the heavy bundles of maize and wheat flour that we had bought on the way as a gift to grandma, I quickly alighted from the taxi as the driver was receiving instructions on where to park.
When I entered grandma's homestead, I found my relatives gathered on the compound. I greeted each of them warmly after which they asked me to have a meal. There was plenty of food to feast on but unfortunately, I was feeling full in the stomach even though I hadn't eaten anything for lunch. So I only partook a few slices of chapatti and several spoonfuls of cabbage stew.
Food aside, what impressed me most that Friday evening was to see my relatives in my ancestral land living peacefully with each other. There was a time, I must tell you, in December 2006 when I had found some of the relatives not talking to each other. And when I tried to mediate peace among them that time, Auntie Wachinga dismissed my efforts by telling me that's how people in rural areas live.
Last Friday evening during our visit, I exchanged pleasantries with the relatives and heard them share stories. But after about an hour, I got bored with taking part in their conversations. And never one to sit idly, I opened my bag, took out Stephen R. Covey's book and continued re-reading it. From the book, I learnt that it is prudent to consider people's character and competence before hiring them.
I would have loved to take a tour in my grandma's lush green farm and watch water flow in the Godo River that borders her farm, but there was no time for doing that. And as it was nearing dark, I got concerned that we were running late since we still had another long journey to make back to Kiserian. But Mum and the taxi driver didn't seem to mind how long we were staying at grandma's home. They continued sharing tales nonchalantly and taking drinks that were being served.
Finally, we left grandma's home at around 7.00pm. Since it was too dark outside to observe surroundings and equally too dark inside the taxi to continue re-reading Covey's book, I removed my smartphone tablet and read quotes from a website in the internet. Among the quotes I read is one that said, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."
After what seemed a long trip, we arrived back home safely at around 10.30pm. I thanked God for the journey mercies and for the delightful interactions I had had with my relatives. And as I retired to bed that Friday night, I considered the day well spent.
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Dealing With Depression
A True Story
on Aug 24, 2019
Sometime in the year 2011, I went to see a certain psychiatrist in downtown Nairobi accompanied by my father. That was after I messed up at the University of Nairobi. As we waited to see the psychiatrist in a reception room, I saw a poster glued on a wall. It had several symptoms of mental illness beautifully printed on it. I found the poster so eye-catching that I was tempted to steal it, in those days before the fear of God sank deep in me.
Because I didn't get a chance to steal the poster, I have forgotten most of the symptoms of mental illness that were printed on it. The only one I remember is that if you keep on searching for something repeatedly in one place, that's a symptom of mental illness. I recall that symptom because I have observed it in myself at times.
Over the years since 2011, I have learnt more about such mental illnesses as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, manic-depressive disorder and depression. Today, allow me to talk about depression whose symptoms include:
- Oversleeping in the morning
- Loss of interest in life and in hobbies
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Failing to observe hygiene
- Excessive guilt
Personally, I have had my own share of struggle with depression. There are some days I have found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning even after having been asleep for more than eight hours. I have also at times lost interest in such hobbies of mine as reading, writing and playing the piano.
While most of us suffer from depression once in a while, for some, depression can hit them so severely that they contemplate suicide. It can be that serious.
You may ask: what causes depression? It is triggered by such setbacks as theft, divorce, conflicts, criticism, rejection, career failures, loss of a loved one or break-up with girlfriend/boyfriend.
Now that I have mentioned the symptoms of depression and its causes, what now remains is for me to discuss how you can deal with depression and overcome it. Here are my suggestions on how you can achieve that:
- Finding something you enjoy doing and doing it regularly: It could be writing, singing, designing websites or playing a musical instrument.
- Doing physical exercises: Such exercises as walking, jogging, riding a bike or playing ball games improve mood and outlook. So if you are depressed, I advise you to go out there and do some physical exercises instead of sitting indoors bemoaning your fate.
- Laughing: Use the power of laughter to kill the demons of depression. Laugh at old jokes and try to look at the sunny side of everything.
- Talking to a friend: If you feel overwhelmed by depression and you can't muster the will to laugh, engage in a hobby or do some physical exercises, you can talk to a close friend about your feelings. It could cheer you up.
- Praying: If you are a believer in God as I am, I suggest you also pray to God when depressed and share with Him your sorrows. That could alleviate your depression because as I heard my friend Peter Daniel say, depression is the scientific name for demonic oppression.
- Consulting a doctor: If depression persists even after taking the above steps, then maybe you can humble yourself and see a doctor (a psychiatrist to be precise) who will counsel you and give you medication to ease depression.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on depression, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "How to Get Your Mojo Back". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.