A True Story
on Jan 17, 2023
When I was in primary school in the '90s, some of my classmates were fond of asking each other, "Do you eat to live or do you live to eat?" I have over the years heard that question so many times that it now sounds like a mere cliche to my ears.
Recently though, I found myself pondering on whether I eat to live or live to eat. That triggered in my mind a series of thoughts that transported me back to my childhood years.
I grew up with a weakness for food. As a boy, I had the habit of gormandizing the meals we had at home as if there was no tomorrow. My tendency to overeat meant that we rarely had left-over food in the house.
Later on in my boyhood years when I started visiting the homes of affluent families, I would wonder how they kept tempting food in their mansions. In November 2001 for instance, on the day before we began our national primary school exams, I passed by the home of my classmate Nicholas Onyancha. And wow! Onyancha's siblings welcomed me warmly and treated me to some refreshment of juice and biscuits they had kept in a cupboard.
To be honest, I was envious of the opportunities of eating sweet delicacies that Onyancha had in his home. While I can't clearly recall what I thought of the juice and biscuits I was given, I must have wondered how such delicacies could stay idle in their mansion. Had someone brought juice and biscuits to my home, I would have gobbled them, hardly sparing a morsel for tomorrow.
So much did I have a weakness for food that when I proceeded to Starehe Boys' Centre in 2002 for my high school education, I became a notorious "combiner". (In Starehe parlance, a "combiner" was someone who ate extra food on the table.)
Interestingly, I never used to put on weight in spite of all the eating I did at Starehe. Even when I volunteered to work at the Attorney General's Chambers in Nairobi during the 2003 December holiday, I didn't grow plump despite wolfing down plates of chips at 10 o'clock, at lunch time and at 4 o'clock. That was in addition to the breakfast and supper I took before and after reporting at the Attorney General's Chambers.
But then came November 2008. During that month when I was admitted at a certain hospital, my body never forgave me for the much eating I did at the hospital. My weight just ballooned, putting years on me.
After I was discharged from the hospital, I continued having a weakness for food. I would succumb to the temptation of eating in between meals. While at home, I would go for whatever food was in the house. And while travelling, I would buy delicacies from food kiosks by the roadside.
My weakness for food would sometimes become so strong that I would wake up in the dead of the night and make a beeline for whatever was left after supper. Not surprisingly, I would be unable to shed those extra stubborn kilos in my body that I was exercising to lose.
About two years when I couldn't tolerate being fat anymore, I worked on overcoming my weakness for food. I limited myself to only three meals in a day. And when I ate, I avoided stuffing my plate with food and going for second helpings. If I felt hungry in between meals, I drank water. As a result of that disciplined eating, I succeeded in losing weight.
This year, I have resolved to keep eating moderately. I will also avoid chips, sweets, biscuits, mandazi, chocolate bars, carbonated drinks and other foods rich in fat and sugar. In an effort to avert the boredom that tempts us to eat in between meals, I will channel my energies into developing my mind and soul by indulging in my hobbies.
My beloved reader, I beseech you to also form the habit of eating moderately. As former U.S. President Bill Clinton pointed out in his autobiography, decreasing food intake will prolong our lives since many people die sooner than they should because of eating food that is in excess of what their bodies can process in a timely manner. So don't live to eat. Eat to live.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on eating moderately, you might also enjoy another one on "Overcoming Gluttony" that I wrote a few years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the store.
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A True Story
on Jan 12, 2023
My music producer, a tech-savvy chap named Sylvester Otieno, relocated his studio to a place on the outskirts of Nairobi called Utawala. So when I arranged to produce a hymn at his studio last Monday, I had to travel to Utawala. Since I had never been to Utawala before, I had to get instructions from Sylvester on where to board a bus and where to alight.
I boarded a bus bound for Utawala at a bus station in downtown Nairobi, just as Sylvester had instructed me. The bus was almost full when I boarded it; I therefore found a seat at the back. And while removing bus fare from my wallet, I requested the conductor to inform me when we reached Quickmart Supermarket, the place Sylvester had told me to alight.
As it often happens to me when I am travelling to an unfamiliar place, I got worried that the conductor might forget to inform me when we reached Quickmart Supermarket. So when some passengers alighted from the bus leaving empty seats in front, I dashed to a seat closer to the conductor where I could keep reminding him about my destination.
Guess what! A minute or two after plopping myself on a seat next to the conductor, a lady approached me from behind and handed me my wallet that I had dropped. I thanked her immediately and then again as she was about to take her seat at the back of the bus.
When I confirmed that all my money was in the wallet, I felt like thanking the lady for the third time but I bit my tongue because I thought that would be showing too much gratitude to a complete stranger. All the same, I was immensely grateful to the lady for saving me from the agony of losing my wallet which contained my bus fare as well as my national identity card and ATM card.
As the bus followed the road to Utawala, I thought back to the times other strangers had been helpful to me. I remembered an afternoon in 2013 when a man phoned me soon after I arrived home from the library of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The man, who I later learnt was called Wanjala, informed me that he had found my wallet. (He got my phone number from a contact paper I had wisely put in the wallet.)
I agreed to meet with Wanjala the following morning in a town called Ong'ata Rongai. When we met and he gave me back my wallet, there was no money in it. But I didn't bother to question him where he had found my wallet and what had happened to my money. I just accepted my wallet, glad that my national ID, ATM card and U.S. Embassy library card were still in it.
Like the lady who handed me my wallet last Monday, Wanjala saved me from the turmoil of applying for another national ID and ATM card. Even though I have never communicated with him since that morning he gave me back my wallet, his kind gesture will remain enshrined in my memory.
I also remembered another man who alerted me that a Ksh. 500 note was hanging from a pocket on my trousers as I waited to be attended to at a certain cyber cafe in downtown Nairobi one afternoon in 2011. The man did me a world of good by alerting me about the hanging Ksh. 500 note because if someone had stealthily taken it from me, I would have been stranded in Nairobi since I didn't have another amount of money for bus fare.
While those memories of kind acts done to me by complete strangers came flooding back in my mind last Monday as I commuted to Utawala, I was thankful beyond measure. In a world full of thieves, fraudsters and pickpockets, it was gratifying to realize that good people still exist in this fallen world that we live in.
I have resolved to be one of those good people. Should I ever see someone absentmindedly leave her bag in a public service vehicle, I will make a point of alerting her about the bag without checking what's in it. And should a stranger ever stop me to ask for directions to a place he's headed, I will direct him to the best of my ability. Not an unwise thing for you to do as well, my beloved reader!
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced another hymn which 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 access the hymn.