A True Story
on Jun 13, 2020
She is a widow, her husband having passed away for reasons I have never cared to find out. Those who know her in my home area call her Mama Hannah, a polite way among my Agikuyu community of referring to mothers. But her real name is Rose Kimani. I know that because Mum sometimes asks me to send her money via phone for the manual labour she comes to do on our farm.
Yes, Mum likes giving Mama Hannah some manual jobs to do on our farm. But for me, I confess to having disliked Mama Hannah so much that I have wished Mum could hire someone else instead of her. There have been mornings I have woken up feeling resentful that Mama Hannah was coming at home to work on our farm.
I don't know why I have disliked Mama Hannah that much in spite of her having never done anything wrong to me. Lately, it dawned on me that I have disliked her because she bears some resemblance with another woman I will call Liz (not her real name) who I came to hate for treating me in a bossy, domineering way. Okay, let me tell you more about Liz.
Liz came into my life when she was employed as a receptionist of a music school where I used to teach piano in 2015. By the time she was hired as a receptionist some time in December that year, I had already been teaching in the school for more than ten months. New in the school as she was, she became very bossy towards me. She would allocate me duties that were hers and when I declined to do them, she would loathe me.
I particularly recall one time when Liz tried to domineer me. That time, she entered into the room I was in, closed its door and came to where I was. Because the door of the room had a malfunctioning handle, it opened itself after Liz entered. And when she realized the door was open, she asked me to go close it. I refused because I felt she was taking advantage of me.
A few days later, probably because she was getting infuriated by me not obeying her orders, Liz commanded me not to pass through the same room whose door had a malfunctioning handle. I disobeyed her and entered the room. A couple of seconds later, she came after me and rebuked me for leaving the door of the room open. And this was the same door she also had left open a few days before.
For Liz having treated me in a bossy way and allocating me duties that were hers, I came to hate her. She was actually one of the reasons I left the music school where we worked together. And it is because of that hatred I had towards Liz that I have also disliked Mama Hannah, for the two bear some resemblance with one another as I have already said.
Coming to think of it, Mama Hannah has a different character as she has been kind to me in the times I have interacted with her. She sometimes addresses me by my name "Thuita" when talking to me. And whenever we meet on the road while I go for my evening exercises, she makes an effort of greeting me. A couple of weeks ago when we met in the evening, she cautioned me that I could get arrested for not wearing a face mask in these times of Covid-19 disease crisis.
And Mama Hannah probably finds me a handsome young man because she once informed me she has a daughter I could get engaged to. Well, I can't recall how I reacted to her proposal but it now boosts my self-esteem to know there are women who find me worthy of a relationship. (By the way, Mama Hannah wasn't the first woman who wanted me to fall in love with her daughter. There have been a few others.)
I now regret having disliked Mama Hannah given how kind she has been to me. Yesterday when I reflected on my attitude towards Mama Hannah, I remembered a prayer I came across in Rick Warren's best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. The prayer went as follows:
God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure I spend time loving You and other people because that's what life is all about.Quite an insightful prayer, isn't it? I will heed its wisdom by liking Mama Hannah and appreciating the work she comes to do on our farm. She is, after all, a widow who is working hard to support her family.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on loving people, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Cultivating Love". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Reading Charles Dickens
A True Story
on Jun 10, 2020
Born in England in 1812, Charles Dickens has been hailed as one of the English language's best novelists. He overcame several setbacks and penned some of the most widely read novels. Even after he died in 1870, his writings continued to inspire people all over the world. They still do.
I first got acquainted with the writings of Charles Dickens in 2007 when I was in my final year at Starehe Institute. That was after the music department of the school began plans to have us - Starehe students - stage a musical based on Dickens's Oliver Twist, a novel centred on orphan Oliver Twist, who is born in a workhouse and subjected to child labour.
As part of being prepared to perform the Oliver Twist musical, we were encouraged to watch a foreign produced film of the musical. And wow! I found the film of the musical to be captivating; so much that some of the songs in it stuck in my memory like glue on paper. Over the years, I have fantasized singing those songs to my future wife.
Because I had to leave Starehe in April 2007 so that I could matriculate at the university in JKUAT, I didn't take part in the Oliver Twist musical that was staged by Starehe students that year. But I managed to go back to Starehe on one Saturday night around July 2007 to watch the final performance of the musical that Starehe students acted.
Just like the foreign produced film of the musical that I had watched a couple of months before, the musical by Starehe students was equally captivating. A small boy named Benson Mukoma, who also happened to have been a housemate of mine in Starehe, brilliantly acted out as Oliver Twist. (By the way, later on in 2011 when I visited Starehe again, I was taken aback to see how big Mukoma had grown. He is now married and looks every bit like the father of somebody. Despite Mukoma having become a man, I still fondly call him Oliver Twist.)
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Oliver Twist musical back in 2007, I have never had a chance to read the novel itself - something that should come as a surprise to my friends who know me as an avid reader. The first Charles Dickens novel that I ever read was Hard Times, after someone lent it to me sometime in 2011 when I was admitted at the University of Nairobi clinic.
To be quite honest, I found Hard Times to be a difficult read. Imagine I went through the novel from beginning to end without understanding its plot and message. For that reason, I can't tell from memory what the novel is about. And I have long since returned to the owner the copy I read in 2011.
Perhaps for having found Hard Times to be a difficult read, I was not eager to read Great Expectations - another novel by Charles Dickens which I have been having in my home library for the past two years or so.
About two weeks ago, I decided to read Great Expectations - having gathered from several sources of how good a novel it is. To my satisfaction, the novel turned out to be a delightful read. It attracted my attention right from the first page to the last.
Like the novel Oliver Twist, Great Expectations is also centred on an orphan. The orphan named Pip, who is the narrator of the novel, is apprenticed in a workshop in his village but dreams of becoming a distinguished man in his society. An opportunity arises for him to achieve his dream when he is asked to leave his village and live in London.
What impressed me most about Pip is the way he expresses himself clearly in the novel. He is eloquent at narrating the environment and circumstances he finds himself in. He is also gifted at describing the people he encounters along the way. As I read the novel, I found myself wishing I had the same eloquence of diction that Pip has.
Probably because of his clarity of expression and his observant nature, Pip commands the respect of most adults he interacts with. And reading how Pip is held in high esteem by most adults reminded me of my teenage years when some people looked down on me because of the confusion they saw in me.
All told, Great Expectations is a delightful read for shizzle. I now agree that it is Dickens's finest novel. And I am thinking that if Charles Dickens had lived up to the 20th century, he would have been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. That's all I am saying.
NEW! NEW! NEW! For those of you who missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn that is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the song.