A Beautiful Soul
A True Story
on Apr 30, 2021
If there is anything I have learnt about life so far, it is that even when it's hard, sometimes it is okay to move on with life and leave certain people behind, people I have outgrown or who no longer serve a purpose for me. I no longer have the energy for meaningless friendships, forced interactions and unnecessary conversations.
There are however those old friends I can never let go - friends who have been very kind to me and helped me at my hour of need, either with money or with encouraging words. One such kind of friend is Wilson Chira (see photo above) who has never said anything negative to me for all the years I have known him, even in the times I have acted crazily.
Chira and I met in 2002 in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre where we were classmates. We both participated in piano-playing competitions at the Kenya Music Festival during which we won a number of certificates, including for the piano duets we played together. It is interesting to note that in 2003, I won an award as the best Music student in junior high school while in 2005, he won an award as the best Music student in senior high school.
Overall though, Chira was brighter than me in the first three years in high school because he ranked ahead of me in the end-of-term academic results. But when we got into Fourth Form in 2005, I trounced him in "Index" exams and after that, he never managed to catch up with me in the rankings of all the exams that followed.
In the course of our Fourth Form year when I started talking to girls during school functions, I happened to converse with a girlfriend of Chira on a Sunday afternoon. I particularly remember that lass because she was the first girl I ever plucked up the courage to approach and engage in a conversation. She turned out to be a delightful conversationalist. I recollect telling her about the great American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She, in turn, told me more about Wilson Chira and how they met in a hospital. From the way she was talking enthusiastically about Chira, I could tell she was crazy about him.
When our high school years came to an end in November 2005, I chose to return to Starehe to pursue a Diploma in Information Technology in the institute division of the school while Chira was selected to do a gap-year at a school in Australia. That year in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute and Chira was in Australia, we both applied for admission to colleges in the United States. I applied to MIT, Cornell, Stanford and Dartmouth while Chira applied to Howard, Wake Forest and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
Back then in 2006, I thought I stood a better chance of getting accepted into the American colleges than Chira because of the free access I had to Starehe teachers who wrote the recommendation letters required by the colleges. Imagine while I could walk into a teachers' staff-room at any time of the day, Chira had to send someone to Starehe to organize on how he could get recommendation letters and a high school transcript. How unfortunate he was! Or so I thought.
Come March and April 2007, I was rejected by all the four American colleges where I had dropped my applications; first by MIT, then by Cornell and Dartmouth, and finally by Stanford. It really was depressing to be rejected. And for several days, I thought the same fate had also befallen on Chira, but I didn't dare phone him to find out if that was the case.
Then one morning in April 2007 as I was walking on a highway in Starehe, I spotted Chira approaching in the opposite direction. At some deep level of my psyche, I expected him to share with me the agony of getting rejected by the colleges he had applied for admission. But alas! When we met and began conversing, he apprised me that he had been admitted at UPenn, an Ivy League institution! And here had been me thinking that I stood a better chance of getting accepted into the American colleges than him - how surprising!
If I am being honest with myself, I have to admit feeling an inkling of jealousy at Chira's success but I tried to sound enthusiastic about his admission to UPenn. Looking back, I am thinking Chira was prudent by applying to only one competitive college (UPenn) and to two less competitive colleges (Howard and Wake Forest) unlike me who foolishly applied to only very competitive colleges (MIT, Cornell, Stanford and Dartmouth).
That morning in April 2007 was the last time I have ever seen Chira face-to-face. But we have kept in touch over the years via email, Facebook and Whatsapp. When I took up writing as a hobby in 2010, Chira was among the first friends who complimented me for my efforts. And in April 2011 when I asked him if he could help me purchase a domain name (thuitamaina.com) for my blog, he readily agreed and bought it for me. I was impressed by the speed with which he procured the domain name.
At one time in 2012 or 2013, I inquired from Chira via email about what became of his relationship with the girl I talked with in high school, the girl who was crazy about him. To my surprise, Chira told me quite frankly that he had no memory of that girl, which I now interpret to mean he had no affection for her. Poor girl!
As the years of the previous decade rolled by, I continued sharing my writings with Chira and other high school classmates via Facebook messages. Some of the classmates, including Chira, would leave the conversations I initiated. It was somewhat discouraging to see the classmates leave my conversations but I don't fault them because some of the stories I shared with them were silly and vulgar.
One time in 2013 when I listed the names of the high school classmates who were leaving my Facebook conversations and complained about how they were belittling my ambitions, most of them reacted negatively to my post. But Chira never said anything; he remained silent. I thought to myself it was very wise of him to keep quiet. Chira is indeed a beautiful soul, and I am honored to have him in my circle of friends.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a friend who is a beautiful soul, you might also enjoy another one I wrote four years ago on "A Model of Servant Leadership". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Breaking the Worry Habit
A True Story
on Apr 25, 2021
Last Wednesday, I traveled to Nairobi City to produce a hymn I had composed. As I always do whenever I go to Nairobi, I decided to purchase some books. So while passing through some streets in the city, I kept stopping on every bookstall I passed by to see if there was any book worth buying. To my delight, I came across one bookstall that was selling books I have always desired to read. What delighted me even more was to hear from the book-vendor that he was selling the books at prices that were affordable to me.
Because of the affordable prices of the books, I picked four of them and then walked to where the book-vendor was seated, intending to bargain with him that he sells the books to me at cheaper prices now that I was purchasing four of them. When I begged him to lower the prices for me, he affectionately embraced my hands with his and whispered to my ear that he was selling the books to me at the cheapest price possible. And when I insisted that he lowers the prices for me, he asked me if the prices weren't fair.
Agreeing that he was selling the books at fair prices, I stopped bothering him, paid him the money and walked away with the books in my hands. I felt so elated to be in possession of the books that I sauntered the rest of the distance with a spring in my step and joy in my soul. Imagine I could hardly wait to start reading the books.
But you know what? Instead of feeling enthused the following day when I began reading one of the books, I found myself worrying that I could have contracted the dreaded coronavirus when the book-vendor affectionately embraced my hands with his in a crowded street. In these times of coronavirus pandemic, hadn't the vendor heard of social distancing and using sanitizers?
I kept worrying about the possibility of me having caught the coronavirus as the day wore on. But later on in the day, I turned the matter over to God by asking Him by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, that He let it be the case that I never contracted the coronavirus from the book--vendor. After praying, I felt the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And I now believe God answered my prayers because so far, I have not developed any symptoms of coronavirus: symptoms such as fever, coughing, sneezing, headaches and difficulty in breathing.
By the way, last Thursday wasn't the first time I have found myself worrying over some strange issues. There have been other times in the past few years when I have been anxious about something. Like there was a time, not so long ago, when during my walk to my hometown of Kiserian, I worried that I may have left my electric heater on. That got me concerned with what could happen to my room if the electric heater was on.
From my readings and from the stories I have heard from other people, I have learnt I am not the only one who worries over problems, both minor and major. Worrying is a malady that afflicts virtually all people. That must be what prompted Dale Carnegie, the famous 20th century writer, to author a book about worrying titled How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
One thing I have discovered about worrying is that it is very addictive. If we worry about minor issues such as the possibility of having left the water tap on, we end worrying about major issues such as the possibility of losing a loved one through an accident or terminal illness. Yes, worrying is that addictive.
But worrying is a useless habit because it doesn't empty tomorrow off its problems; it only keeps us from enjoying our present blessings. Worrying is like riding in a rocking chair; it gives us something to do but doesn't get us anywhere.
It has dawned on me that the best way to break the worry habit is to trust in God fully and turn over to Him every issue that is troubling us, just like I did last Thursday when I worried that I could have contracted the dreaded coronavirus. The Bible promises us that if we talk to God about any issue that is causing us anxiety, He will fill us with the peace which surpasses all understanding and make the answers known to us.
Having experienced that peace which surpasses all understanding on several occasions, I now believe God doesn't want us to worry about anything; He only allows problems into our lives so that we can pray. So my advice to you is that whenever you catch yourself worrying, however small the issue, tell God about it in your prayers. He will fill you with His peace and cover you with His grace. That's all I am saying.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update three 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 hymn.