The Evil in This World
A True Story
on Aug 23, 2021
Last Friday, my Dad left home early in the morning and headed to Nairobi City to hustle for our daily bread. He had promised us the previous day that he would be back home before dark with cooking oil and a packet of wheat flour for cooking chapatis and lentils stew - my favorite meal. That Friday morning as Dad was in Nairobi, I peacefully went about my duties here at home of taking care of my sick Mum who was crippled by a stroke a couple of years ago.
Then at around noon when Mum phoned Dad to inquire about something, a stranger received Dad's phone. Mum asked me to talk to the stranger, which I did. The stranger informed me that Dad had left his phone in a matatu and that he had arranged with a contact on the phone on how he would hand over the phone to Dad. And the stranger talked to me in such a friendly and confident manner that I immediately trusted him. I thought to myself of how kind it was of him to give the phone back to Dad.
Hearing that Dad had left his phone in a matatu worried me a bit. And as I always do when worry creeps into my soul, I uttered a short prayer asking God to oversee the successful handing over of the phone to Dad. After praying, I felt a peace in my heart - the peace that transcends all understanding - while I took a shower and washed my clothes in the afternoon.
Guess what! When I was done with washing my clothes, a neighbor of mine named Mama Kuria phoned me to inform me that a criminal was using Dad's phone to con people out of their money. Mama Kuria was right because immediately after her call, I got an SMS from Dad's number asking me to lend him Ksh. 12,000 which he would return later on in the evening. Mum, who had been listening attentively to me talking to Mama Kuria, asked me what was happening.
My Mum is a worry-wart. The slightest wrong thing can set her crying and wailing. And last Friday, she was no different when I told her what was happening to Dad's phone. She started sobbing, squawking and yammering as she made frantic calls to our family members. I tried to allay her worries by telling her I'd call my brother Bob Njinju who was in Nairobi.
When Bob received my call, I updated him that it was a conman who had gotten hold of Dad's phone and then I requested him to find a way he could have Dad's number blocked. Bob followed up on my request with the keenness of an athlete preparing for an Olympic race. Thanks to his intervention, Dad's number was blocked which I am sure stopped the conman dead in his tracks.
Soon after Dad's number was blocked, it dawned on me that the conman needed Dad's MPESA PIN for him to use Dad's phone to solicit money from contacts in the phone. That made me worry about Dad's safety. Had the conman stolen the phone from Dad and made him surrender his MPESA PIN by force? Or was he part of a gang that could have kidnapped Dad as it happened to another elderly man I read about in the newspaper recently?
I was greatly relieved when Dad phoned Mum an hour or so later using a relative's phone. For me, what mattered was whether Dad was safe and sound. Once I learnt he was safe, I thanked God and asked Him to fill Dad with the peace of mind he needed to deal with the situation that was unfolding in a disturbing manner. And I could hardly wait to see Dad back at home and hear him narrate to us about what had transpired to him.
Dad came back home at around 9.00pm, looking serene and peaceful. (He is such a mature and worldly-wise father.) Glad to see him, I cajoled him to tell us how he had lost his phone. Well, I didn't get to understand the gist of his story. The little I gleaned from him was that he had an MPESA PIN that was easy to guess. That's why the conman had gained access to his MPESA account.
And you know what? Not only did the conman solicit money from contacts in Dad's phone, he also withdrew all the money from Dad's MPESA account and took a loan of Ksh. 9,000 under Dad's name. What an evil man!
As I reflected on what had happened to Dad and on how the conman had talked to me in a friendly and confident manner, I came to agree more with Abraham Lincoln who observed that "all men are not true; all men are not just". I also agreed with the author of the "Desiderata" who noted that this world is full of trickery. Indeed, it is full of trickery.
Perhaps most important, the experience made me believe in the Bible more. Dad had left home early on Friday morning with a promise to be back home before dark, only for him to be held in Nairobi by the circumstances that had befallen him. And he came back without the cooking oil and packet of wheat floor he had agreed to buy. How true the Bible is when it tells us not to boast about tomorrow because we never know what may happen! And how right it is when it talks of the evil in this world!
 MPESA is a mobile banking and money transfer service here in Kenya.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the evil in this world, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about two years ago on "How I got Swindled Out of My Money". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Not Taking Things For Granted
A True Story
on Aug 18, 2021
In his book Gifted Hands, renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson wrote that we tend to take for granted such simple blessings as swallowing food with ease. He wrote so as he narrated the ordeal of one of the patients he operated on. The patient, who underwent a brain-stem surgery, had trouble swallowing food after surgery. But later on during his convalescence, he was able to eat food normally - a healing that elated Ben Carson.
I read Gifted Hands a few years ago for the second time. And I found it somewhat moving to learn about the suffering of the patients that Ben Carson operated on. Some of the patients had to have parts of their brains removed to prevent recurrence of seizures - operations that made Ben Carson fear the patients would lose such skills as playing a musical instrument.
As I continued turning the pages of the riveting book and read more about Ben Carson's account of his successful as well as unsuccessful surgeries, I couldn't help appreciating my own health. Here I was in a peaceful location in Kenya, full of health and quite talented at playing the piano. The book led me to realize that those are blessings not to be taken for granted.
Over the past one year, I have read a couple more stories of other folks who have gone through harrowing experiences that have deepened my appreciation of what I am bless with. Just the other month, I came across in a newspaper a story of a woman who went blind at the age of 31. While reading the story, I imagined how the woman felt as she came to grips with the fact that she would never see again. Did that depress her? I wondered.
Then a few days ago, I received in my email a devotional article about another woman named Diane Comer who turned deaf at the age of 26. At the time she turned deaf, she had four children to nurture and take care of. And turning deaf troubled her, for she worried how she would ever communicate with her children. She would miss hearing their stories and laughter.
Those touching stories I have read of folks lacking the blessings I take for granted are what have made me realize that I ought to thank my lucky stars. I am sure there are people in America who wish they had the health and the talents I possess. (Mark you, that's the America where most people want to study, work and live in because of the opportunities that are said to abound there.)
Yet instead of being immensely grateful for such blessings, I confess to waking up in the morning on some days with thoughts of past hurts foremost in my mind. Also, I sometimes tend to dwell on what I lack instead of being grateful for possessing such "little" blessings as eyesight and sense of hearing. Boy, don't I behave like a rebellious teenager at times!
From my experiences of tending to dwell on the negative, I have realized that we have to work hard at focusing on the positive side of life - the way a farmer has to diligently cultivate a garden of cabbages by getting rid of weeds and watering the cabbages. It sure takes effort to focus on the positive side of life and be grateful for our blessings.
Having realized that, I have resolved to put in extra effort at cultivating a grateful spirit within me. I will appreciate the blessings that most of us take for granted. Blessings such as being able to see, to hear and to swallow food with ease. Such are the kind of blessings I will focus on instead of dwelling on what I lack or wallowing in bitterness over past hurts.
My dear reader, I urge you to also not take your blessings for granted. Appreciate what you have before time forces you to appreciate what you had. Trust me, there is someone out there who wishes they had what you take for granted. So be grateful even for the little blessings because one day, you'll look back and realize they were big blessings. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on not taking things for granted, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about three years ago on "Choosing Gratitude." Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.