My Brother's Concern For Me
I can't recall exactly what wrong I did one time in 1999 here at home. All I remember is Dad pinching me on my hand for the wrongdoing as my brother Paddy watched from a distance. And for several days after that incidence, Paddy would keep teasing me about the way Dad had pinched me, especially when I did something that displeased him.
Then one evening a few weeks after that incidence of Dad pinching me, Paddy happened to be walking home from school with my younger brother Symo when a pick-up moved slowly past them. Paddy decided to hang on the back of the pick-up for a free ride and cajoled Symo to join him. And when the pick-up driver realized that two boys (Paddy & Symo) were at the back of his car, he stopped driving and angrily went to rebuke them. Symo informed me that the angry driver slapped Paddy on the face for the mischief.
I must have been glad to hear that news from Symo because I vividly recollect resolving that if Paddy ever teased me again of how Dad had pinched me, I would retaliate by reminding him of how he had been slapped on the face for riding on the back of a pick-up. But Paddy must have been a witty teenager back then because he never again teased me about Dad pinching me after that evening he was slapped. I think he was smart enough to know how I would retaliate.
That however didn't stop Paddy from confronting me in the years to come. He did point out my sins and mistakes on a number of occasions. Like at one time in the year 2000 after I doctored my school report form to make it appear as if I had done well academically, Paddy seemed to have been the only one in my family who discerned what I had done. He kept cornering me and saying that I had tampered with my report form. Although I knew he was right, I denied it every time Paddy confronted me - even when he told me he had asked some of my classmates about it. (The classmates never mentioned to me about Paddy inquiring something from them about me. I think Paddy was just trying to come up with tactics of making me confess that I had doctored my report form.)
As luck would have it, I managed to improve academically in my final year in primary school in 2001 and made it to Starehe Boys' Centre, the then Kenya's best high school where Paddy was a student. When I was preparing to enrol at Starehe on a Thursday in January 2002, I thought Paddy would shun me in the school and keep it a secret that I was his younger brother, given the history he had of teasing and criticizing me.
How wrong I was! Paddy gave me a very warm reception at Starehe on the Thursday evening I first reported to the school. He greeted me from where he was seated in the assembly hall that Thursday evening when the whole school converged for evening assembly. And when the assembly was over, he introduced me to his classmates and openly let them know I was his younger brother. As he took me for a walk around the school that very evening, he told me it would have been better if I had reported to Starehe on a Friday for reasons he didn't explain to me.
Later on after I had been in Starehe long enough, I came to find that Fridays were more exciting days in Starehe than Thursdays. On Fridays, all teachers would attend evening assembly and the school band would march on the quadrangle while playing songs. And what made Fridays even more exciting was that during supper, we would feast on my favourite meal: ugali and cabbage stew! I think that's why Paddy told me it would have been better if I had reported to Starehe on a Friday.
To be honest, Paddy's warm reception and brotherly concern for me in my first days at Starehe took me by surprise. It was a side of him I hadn't seen before then. And he continued showering me with that kind of brotherly concern throughout his stay at Starehe by visiting me in my house. At another time in 2004 when I was sick, he came to check on me at the Starehe Boys' clinic.
That Paddy never shied away from associating with me during our days at Starehe shows the way emotionally secure he was. No wonder he was selected to attend a conference in Germany in 2002 when he was in Form 3. If my younger brother Symo had made it to Starehe in 2005, I doubt whether I would have extended to him the same kind of warm reception and brotherly concern that Paddy accorded me; I was a horribly insecure teenager during my time in the school.
Paddy has still continued showering me with brotherly concern over the years since we left Starehe. Earlier on in this decade when I dropped out of the University of Nairobi for lack of fees, he used to regularly ask me to meet him in Nairobi for talks. He must have been worried that I was losing my bearings and he thought it was his responsibility as my elder brother to drum sense into me. Among the things he told me was to consider acquiring a basic degree and to never talk ill of our parents.
These days, Paddy has left me to my own devices. I believe he is now getting comfortable with the way I am turning out to be a writer and a musician. And if he is reading this story of mine, I would like to let him know that I am working hard to be a great writer and to produce best-selling music. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on my brother's concern for me, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few weeks ago on "How I Grew Up With My Siblings". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Embracing Our Imperfections
As I was taking my daily walk in my hometown of Kiserian last Sunday, I noticed there was something different in an area surrounding a T-junction in the town. I however couldn't figure out what made the area look so different. It seemed like a tree had been cut down but when I scanned the area for a stump, I didn't see one. I thought of asking someone why the area looked different but I quickly dismissed the thought because that was a trivial matter. So I walked back home without having known what had happened to the area I know very well.
That observation I had last Sunday wasn't the first time my memory has failed me. I have had a couple of other experiences during which I have been unable to recall things in the past. Like I have several scars on my arms and legs which are as familiar to me as the Sun. But you know what? I have no idea how most of those scars came about. Their causes became blurred and lost in the mists of my memory.
Then when I was in Starehe Institute in 2007, I saw in a computer a picture of a road that appeared very familiar to me. I however couldn't seem to trace the location of the road even after jogging my memory to all the places I had been to.
And then there was a time I spotted a familiar man as I was lining up to pay for entrance into the 2015 Nairobi International Trade Fair. But imagine I couldn't connect where I had seen the man. I engaged my mind by thinking of all the possible places I could have seen him but my memory failed me. Eventually, I gave up pondering on where I had seen the familiar man and entered into the trade fair without having connected where I had seen him. How strange!
All those experiences in which my memory has failed me bring out one fact: that I am not perfect - just like every other mortal who has ever lived in this grand and magnificent planet.
Yes, no one is perfect - something Rev. Jesse Jackson pointed out in his famous 1984 U.S. Democratic National Convention speech that I love listening to. Even Jesus said no one is good apart from God. By saying so, Jesus was insinuating that only God is perfect; the rest of us have to embrace our imperfections and learn to live with them.
So my dear reader, I beseech you to quit putting yourself down for the mistakes you have done in the past. Stop tormenting yourself with guilt over the wrong judgements you have made. Understand no one is perfect apart from God. Let your past experiences make you better, not bitter. And don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect.
Always remember that God, too, understands that you are imperfect. He knows all your weaknesses as is sang in the wonderful old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".
Now that you understand no one is perfect, allow others to make mistakes. Don't overreact at minor provocations. And resist the urge to be critical of someone. That's all I am saying.
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