Taking Care of Our Possessions
A True Story
on Dec 3, 2022
My hometown of Kiserian, being a typical Third-World shopping centre, has numerous donkeys that are used to pull loaded carts. The men who lead those donkeys are usually ruthless. They whip the donkeys over and over as if donkeys aren't animals that feel pain.
A few years ago, for instance, I saw one man beat his donkey mercilessly as he stood on the cart it was pulling. And he was beating the donkey when it was galloping the best it could, which made a passer-by wonder aloud in Swahili, "The donkey is running very fast and he is still whipping it. What else does he want it to do? To fly?"
With such ruthless beatings, it's small wonder that the donkeys I spot in Kiserian always have wounds all over their bodies, especially on their necks and backs. Boy, don't I feel sorry for them.
If I were an owner of a donkey, I'd ensure it is always healthy and well-fed. When using it to pull a cart, I'd use my voice to guide it, instead of whipping it. And whenever it develops a wound, I would take it to a veterinarian to have it treated.
Why am I saying that? Because I always take care of my possessions as the Bible counsels us in the book of Proverbs. I regularly dust my laptop and piano keyboard. And I am always careful not to expose my smartphone to rain and direct sunlight.
It seems people out there don't look after their possessions the way I do. Just last month when I went to record a song in the studio of a friend, I observed how the friend left his machines running for hours when they were not in use, and how he placed a heavy electronic gadget on top of his piano keyboard without minding whether it could damage the keyboard.
Observing the friend mishandle his studio equipment made me resolve to continue taking utmost care of my possessions. I just don't want to be careless with the possessions I am blessed with, be it my watch, my books or my clothes.
Since nothing is more valuable than health, the greatest possession we all have is our physical bodies. That's why I have been taking care of my body by bathing daily, exercising regularly, drinking water often and eating nutritious meals free of excessive fat, salt and sugar.
I have also been taking care of the body parts that require special attention: the teeth, the eyes and the ears. Not a day has passed in the six months without me brushing my teeth. And I always wear shades on those sunny days when I am out there walking. As for my ears, I have been taking care of them by cleaning them with cotton buds everyday and by not exposing them to too much sound.
Recently, my father showed me an internet article that said using inner-ear earphones to listen to music can damage our hearing. The article alarmed me so much that the following day, I bought a new set of headphones to replace the earphones I had been using to listen to hymns and classical music on my laptop. That shows how much I value my body.
Besides our bodies, the other great possession we all have is our minds. Because our mental health affects our physical health, I have also been taking care of my mind. How? By reading inspiring literature everyday, by meditating on the much that I know and by clarifying my thoughts through writing.
I have also taken care of my mind by nurturing it with positive thoughts, laughing at old jokes and being hopeful that good things will happen to me in the future. But I have to be honest that with all the negative news that bombard us everyday, I have found it difficult to be consistently optimistic. That difficulty notwithstanding, I will continue endeavoring to be hopeful.
Oh, sweet friend, I urge you to also take care of your possessions: your body, your mind and the properties you have labored hard to acquire such as cars, computers and smartphones. Look after them the way a lioness looks after its newly-born cubs. And, as I once advised my friend Nicholas Thuo, "Trust in God but lock your room." Ciao!
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Helping Little Girls
A True Story
on Nov 28, 2022
If there is anything I am sensitive to these days, it is being taken advantage of by others. I just don't like it when people make me do things I shouldn't be doing. Worse still, I hate it when someone asks me to do for free something I should be charging a stipend for doing. My goal nowadays is to be useful, not used; to be motivated, not manipulated.
About two years ago while I was taking a walk in the evening in my hometown of Kiserian, an elderly man stopped me and asked me to help him cross a busy road. Seeing how his body was stooped due to his advanced years, I sympathized with him and slowly led him across the road.
Shortly afterwards, I regretted having helped the elderly man cross the road because I thought he was probably paying the price of being alone after mistreating his wife, and now he was taking advantage of me by asking me to do something his children should have been doing. I resolved that the next time a person requested me to cross a road, I'd either decline or charge a stipend for my service.
My resolution was tested about two weeks ago when a small girl sidled up to me as I was walking in Kiserian. At first, I thought the girl wanted to beg for some money from me. But when I paused to listen to her, she cajoled me to assist her cross the road. The tenderness with which she spoke to me melted my heart so much that I yielded to her request.
I held the girl's hand and guided her across the road. And after we were safely on the other side of the road, she uttered a sincere "thank-you" and then dashed off to wherever she was headed. Unlike the evening two years ago when I helped an elderly man cross the road and regretted it, this time I felt elated for guiding the little girl across the same busy road. A voice in my heart, which I believe is the voice of God, told me I had done the right thing. I walked home a happy man.
Then last Wednesday, a beautiful girl in school uniform stopped me as I was heading home from my evening walk in Kiserian. She was carrying on her back a baby that I assumed was her younger sibling. When I paused to hear what she had to say, she humbly implored me to help her cross the road. (What's with people asking me to help them cross the road?)
Afraid that the beautiful girl could be taking advantage of me, I inquired from her whether she was in the company of adults who were walking beside her. After she reassured me that she was alone, I held her hand and guided her across the busy road. The girl, despite her physical beauty, wasn't bright enough to thank me for my help. But I felt useful, not used, and proud that she had seen in me a confident man she could rely on.
As I walked home feeling pleased with myself for assisting the beautiful girl cross the road, my mind flashed back to the times in my childhood years when I was also helped by complete strangers. I recalled, in the mothballs of my memory, a man in my neighbourhood who used to help me carry a heavy jerrycan of milk that Mum gave me to deliver to a certain food cafe in Kiserian in the morning.
That man used to do me a world of good by helping me carry the jerrycan of milk that was too heavy for my small body. On several mornings before setting out for Kiserian to deliver the milk, I would silently wish to meet him on the way. And whenever I met him, he would unfailingly take the jerrycan of milk into his own hands without me asking him to do so.
I remembered, too, a policeman who on two different afternoons in the mid-90s stopped some men and instructed them to help me carry a heavy load that Mum had given me to take home from her grocery shop in Kiserian. (Oh Mum and the heavy loads she forced me to carry!) While helping me carry the loads, the men would engage me in a conversation. One of them told me to tell Mum not to give me such heavy loads again.
Because those complete strangers assisted me to carry milk and heavy loads when I was too young to remember faces, I will never get to know who they were. And when memories of their kind gestures came flooding back in my mind last Wednesday, I thought I had paid forward for their services by helping the two little girls I met in Kiserian in the past two weeks. Honestly, didn't I do a wonderful thing by helping the girls cross the busy roads in Kiserian?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on me helping little girls, you might also enjoy another one on "Identifying Our Virtues" that I wrote more than four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.