Appreciating Good Health
A True Story
on Mar 27, 2020
Coughing, sneezing, having fever, feeling a headache and experiencing difficulty in breathing - these are the symptoms of the COVID-19 that has been the talk of the town in recent weeks. The disease, which is caused by coronavirus, attacks the respiratory system of our bodies and is easily spread through contact with infected people.
I personally started hearing of the coronavirus about a month or two ago. And I wonder where it came from or where it had been hiding all these years. It seems that the processes of evolution and mutation that I learnt in my high school Biology are still at work in our planet.
When I started hearing of the coronavirus about a month ago, I hoped it would not spread to our beloved country Kenya. And I was somewhat glad to hear a friend of mine called Jonathan Karanja comment on Facebook that he had gathered the coronavirus doesn't affect black people like me. But then two weeks ago as I was taking Mum to hospital for a medical check-up, the driver who was ferrying us informed us that the coronavirus had been detected in a patient in Kenya. How unfortunate!
Several days later, I overheard some women, who had come to visit Mum at home, say in Kikuyu, "I hear the coronavirus has now reached Matasia!" (Matasia is a small town which is about fifteen kilometres from where we live.) Since then, I have been learning from government reports that the number of patients with coronavirus in Kenya has been increasing. And that has led to the closure of churches, schools, businesses and government offices as people are fearful of contracting the virus.
Now that the coronavirus has reached my beloved country, I am praying that God may spare my family, relatives and true friends from catching the virus. I am also praying that authorities all over the world will conquer the virus sooner than later, the way they conquered Ebola and SARS. You see, interceding through prayers is the only part I can play in combating the spread of the virus.
Hearing of the way people are suffering from the health complications caused by the coronavirus has sparked in me memories of the times I was seriously ill in the past. Like one afternoon in the mid '90s when I was in Standard Two or Three, I felt very weak while walking home from school. So weak did I feel that I kept resting during the walk; it was not business as usual. I must have recovered from that terrible weakness because I can't remember missing school the following day.
Then on another day in 1999 when I was in Standard Six, I became ill when I went to school. I apprised my teachers of the way I was feeling. Luckily, the teachers sympathized with me and took me to a clinic in my hometown of Kiserian where I tested positive for malaria. I recollect vividly feeling weak and restless as well as lacking appetite for food. And as I received treatment in the clinic, I suddenly hated girls, especially one I used to admire.
News must have spread about my affliction with malaria because a neighbour of ours called Mrs. Deya came to check on me. Thankfully, I recovered from the illness after three or four days. And on one bitingly cold morning a few weeks later when Mrs. Deya spotted me leaving home without a jacket, she quickly commanded me to go back home and wear extra clothing. And she did so with the authority of a parent. I had no choice but to obey her.
And then on another day in 2003 when I was in Form 2 at Starehe Boys' Centre, I had a terrible upset in the lower parts of my digestive system during a lesson before lunch. It was like my bowels wanted to burst open and release a load of semi-solid waste matter. I kept suppressing the urge to relieve myself for fear of what my classmates would think of me if I asked for permission to visit the toilet from the teacher who was tutoring us during that lesson. After what seemed like an eternity of my unspoken discomfort, the bell for lunch rang, the lesson ended and I rushed to the loo where I had diarrhoea and became well. (By the way, I don't think there has ever lived a person who has never had diarrhoea.)
Remembering those times I have been sick has made me appreciate the good health I am now blessed with. Imagine as I write this story, I am neither in pain nor experiencing any discomfort. With the worrying spread of the novel coronavirus, I have now resolved not to take my good health for granted. From now on, I will delight in such simple but healthful activities as eating, exercising, sleeping at night and relieving myself normally. Health is the greatest wealth.
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Having a Successful Marriage
A True Story
on Mar 17, 2020
In the early 2000s, there was this shopkeeper called Karau who used to run a small grocery by the roadside not far from our home. Some of my siblings liked him much and preferred buying stuff from his grocery. They would sometimes speak highly of him and commend the things he sold. As for me, I can't recall ever liking Karau the way some of my siblings did. And I am sure I would have forgotten all about him had it not been for one incident I witnessed in his grocery on the morning of 17th January 2002.
That morning, I was leaving home to join Starehe Boys' Centre for my high school education when I found Karau beating his wife in his grocery. He was beating her mercilessly, as you would see an African peasant farmer hit a sack of maize seeds in their combs. A crowd of people had gathered around to watch the incident, with nobody daring to rescue Karau's wife. It was such a riveting scene of domestic violence.
Since that morning of 17th January 2002, I have never seen Karau again because he closed down his grocery when I was away at Starehe Boys' Centre. I wonder what became of him and of his marriage. He must have separated with his wife, but that's just my guess.
I am imagining that there were times Karau loved that woman I saw him beat. During those "love" times, he looked forward to being with her and relished the act of touching her just to feel her skin. How that kind of love and affection degenerated to scenes of domestic violence is something I find a mystery.
But that's the thing I am discovering about marriage: it's a mystery because I have also heard and read about other couples whose marriages have faltered. Like there is acquaintance of mine called Benson who works as a guard. I happened to befriend him when I was running for a political seat in the 2013 Kenya's General Elections. Since then, he always greets me every time we meet.
One evening a few years ago, I met Benson as I was heading to my hometown of Kiserian. Because he was also heading to Kiserian, we walked together while we chatted. As our chat progressed, he began to complain about his wife. He told me how she had been lying to him. I didn't say anything to Benson; I just listened to him moan and groan about his wife who was once his sweetheart.
I have also read of rich, famous and powerful people whose marriages have broken down, so to speak. For instance, a few years ago while reading a biography of Princess Diana, I came across colourful pictures taken in the '80s of the Princess with her then family: that is Prince Charles and their two young sons. The family looked happy and blessed in every way. And it was apparent in the pictures that they had everything that money could provide. But guess what! Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles ended up in recrimination and unhappiness.
Then there is Ronald Reagan, the celebrated 40th President of the United States and one of my heroes. Reagan's marriage to his first wife didn't succeed. They divorced and then Reagan married another woman named Nancy with whom he had a successful marriage. On comparing the pictures of Reagan's first wife with those of his second, I find the first one more attractive than the second. As to why his first marriage failed and his second one succeeded is something I would love to understand.
Surely, marriage is a mystery. Bill Clinton points that out in his autobiography when he says that he learnt that marriage, with all its magic and misery, its contentments and disappointments, remains a mystery - not easy for those in it to understand and largely inaccessible to outsiders. He adds that he didn't know all that in 1975 when he married Hillary. All he knew back then was that he loved Hillary, the life, work and friends they had in common and the promise of what they could do together.
My conclusion is: there is more to marriage than meets the eye. So, my dear reader, if you are yet to marry, I urge you to be careful in selecting your marriage partner because from that decision will come 90% of your happiness or misery. Don't let lust blind you from the seeing the true character of your intended spouse. And remember that looks don't make a marriage; love and commitment do.
If you're already married, then I beseech you to work hard at making your marriage work till death makes you part. In his best-selling book, Life's Little Instructions Book, H. Jackson Brown Jr. tells us that creating a successful marriage is like farming: you have to start over again every morning. Therefore, carve out time to have a conversation with your spouse. Talk about your fears, dreams and issues that are in your mind. Such kind of conversations will strengthen your marriage. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on having a successful marriage, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Sex, Love & Relationships". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.