A True Story
on Sep 27, 2020
On most afternoons when it gets warm here in Kiserian, I usually go to the back porch of our mansion to bask in the sun. I have observed, during those basking sessions, some mice which come out from a nearby bush to feed on grass and perhaps enjoy the sunny weather too. And whenever I fidget or stretch my arms, the mice bolt away at lightning speed and disappear into the bush. Seeing those mice behave that way has made me understand why people coined the simile "as timid as a mouse".
Like those mice, I was also timid during my teenage years and well into adulthood - ever submissive to everyone I came into contact with. Owing to my timidness, I hardly ever summoned the courage to stand up for myself. I remember one evening in 2001 when I was heading home from school, my mother informed me that there was a certain girl who had complained that I was harassing her. To tell you the truth, I had no clue who that girl was because I wasn't at loggerheads with anyone. But instead of telling Mum I didn't know what she was talking about, I cowardly said I wasn't disturbing the girl as if I knew her. That's how timid I was.
Looking back on my life, I am thinking I acquired my timidness in the way I was brought up. Back in the '90s when I was a boy, I was often required to perform menial tasks at home. If I happened to resist doing the tasks, I would be harshly criticized or even punished physically. An uncle of mine called Ndonga, who used to stay with us in those days, was especially fond of pinching and slapping me - something I never saw him do to my senior brothers.
The menial tasks that I was required to do included fetching firewood, washing utensils and harvesting the leaves of an edible weed known locally as "terere". Imagine I would spend a whole morning (from around 8.00am till noon) on our farm scavenging for "terere" leaves which we would cook and have for lunch together with cornmeal cake (ugali). Scavenging for "terere" leaves was such a soul-destroying task which I couldn't refuse doing due to my submissiveness.
A neighbour's farmhand by the name Mwaga - who at one time formed the habit of visiting Uncle Ndonga during lunch hour so that he could get a share of our lunch - also took advantage of my timidness. He would send me to a nearby kiosk to buy him cigarettes. And not once did he ever give me a tip for the favour I was doing him.
One day when Mwaga sent me to get him cigarettes as usual, I tried tasting one on my way back home. I put the cigarette in my mouth, chewed it a bit and after realizing it was tasteless, I threw it away. Thankfully, I didn't know back then that cigarettes are lighted and their smoke inhaled, otherwise I would have become one of the youngest smokers that ever lived. (Mwaga did realize I had brought him one cigarette less than he required. He asked me about it. Though I can't recollect the response I gave him, I do remember he didn't scold me. He must have appreciated the free services I was offering him.)
Then when I joined the prestigious Starehe Boys' Centre in 2002 for my high school education, I continued being submissive. Some senior students in the school would send me to the canteen to buy them bread. I dutifully obeyed them without resisting or demanding a reward for my services; it was just the way I had been brought up. Actually, I didn't realize the seniors were taking advantage of me until a housemate of mine called George Wachuga Maina brought it to my attention one evening when we were away from Starehe on a Survival Club hike.
Although I eventually stopped going to buy bread for seniors after Wachuga enlightened me that I was being taken advantage of, I never did shed away my timidness, for as they say, old habits die hard. There were some other folks at Starehe who had me do some tasks that I now strongly feel I shouldn't have done. When I was in Form 3 at Starehe for instance, a captain once sent me to go tell a certain chick that he wanted to talk to her. Apparently, the captain was afraid of approaching the chick, so he took advantage of me.
Even after I left Starehe where I should have become a man, I still continued being timid and submissive. I find it ironic that in spite of all the 'A's I scored in my KCSE exams and all the valuable skills I gained at Starehe, any fool could control me and dictate to me what I ought to do with my life. Again, that's how timid I was.
Over the past five years, I have worked hard to be the principled person that I should always have been. I have learnt to say "no", to assert myself, to believe in my own ideas, to live life on my own terms and to demand a stipend for my services. To borrow the words of Frederick Douglass, I now prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false and incur my own abhorrence. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on overcoming timidness, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "My Struggles With Poor Social Health". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Praying For Mum
A True Story
on Sep 21, 2020
About two or three years ago, my brother Paddy visited us at home with his family on a warm Saturday afternoon. When he entered our mansion that afternoon, he found a lady who had come to check on our ailing Mum. After they exchanged greetings, the lady went ahead to tell Paddy that it was a big blessing for him to come home and find our parents. I couldn't agree with her more.
Our parents aren't the rich, glamorous people whose adventures and relationship issues are the stuff of radio talks, TV shows and newspaper tabloids. Our parents are modest folks who have toiled in oblivion to put food on the table. But that doesn't diminish the importance of their existence. They have raised us well to be law-abiding and God-fearing citizens. And for close to forty years, they have stuck together through thick and thin.
Now as they approach the fortieth year since they had their first son, they are grappling with health problems. They have been on medication for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and more other ailments than I care to understand. Mum has especially been hit hard by health complications. In 2013, she suffered a stroke that necessitated her to close down her grocery shop and rest at home.
For some strange reasons, Mum has gone through mood swings over the past three years. Sometimes she has been happy and caring, a mood of hers that has buoyed my spirits as I find it wonderful to see her laugh. But at other times, she has been irritable and quarrelsome, a mood of hers that has bothered me, especially when I see her vent her spleen by throwing things around the house.
Since she started having mood swings three years ago, I have regularly prayed that God would take away her negative temperament. But instead of my prayers being answered, things got worse this year. One morning earlier on in the year, Mum fell down with a thud and dislocated one of her pelvic bones. Since then, she has never walked again; we have been moving her around in a wheelchair.
That week after Mum dislocated one of her pelvic bones, she was in constant pain that made me sympathize with her deeply. The pain prevented her from sleeping soundly. I prayed that God would take away her pain and this time, He answered my prayers because Mum's pain gradually subsided. For the past two months, she has been resting well but her dislocated pelvic bone has made it uncomfortable for her to walk.
Last Thursday, my family took Mum to Kijabe Hospital which is renowned locally for its bone-fixing surgeries. She was scheduled to undergo an operation on Friday to fix her pelvic bone but due to the medication she has been taking, the doctors at the hospital found it wise to defer the surgery to this week.
After Mum was admitted at Kijabe Hospital last Thursday, I suddenly missed her presence at home. I longed to hear her speak, laugh or even yell angrily. For the first time in many days, I didn't seem to mind whether she was in a bad mood; all I desired was her company. So I phoned her on Thursday evening but sadly, she didn't receive my call. That made me agree even more with the lady who told my brother Paddy of what big a blessing it is to have parents at home. It also made me understand the true meaning of the saying, "You never miss water till the well runs dry."
Happily, Mum called me Friday at around 4.00pm. We had a short cozy chat during which she asked me whether I had gone to my hometown of Kiserian for my evening walk. I informed her I would be doing so within the hour. She also inquired from me about some farming activities that she had delegated to some workers here at home and I gladly updated her on what was going on.
Hearing Mum speak on the phone was like receiving a warm ray of sunshine on a chilly day. It buoyed my spirits so much that I switched on my piano keyboard and joyfully played "Amazing Grace" - that wonderful, old hymn that is ever fresh to my ears. And when it hit 5.00pm, I went jogging to Kiserian, full of peace and happiness.
Since that call on Friday, I have been praying for Mum that all may go well with her surgery. The great thing is that she is not being operated on such vital organs as the heart or brain. Still, I am asking God that her operation may be successful. My wish is to see Mum walk again on her two legs and that she may live to witness me walk down the aisle with my future wife. So help us God.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on praying for my Mum, you might also enjoy another one I wrote earlier on this year on "Appreciating Mothers". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.