The Value of Friendships
A True Story
on Mar 23, 2023
Earlier last week, I overheard my parents discuss about some visitors who were to come to our home. At first, I kept silent about what my parents were discussing. But when I couldn't contain my curiosity any more, I asked them which visitors were coming and when. They informed me that the visitors were friends of my eldest brother Joe Kagigite and they would be coming on Saturday morning.
My parents looked forward to hosting the visitors at home. A day before the visit, they hired a woman to clean the living room of our mansion. And when Saturday reached, they rose before the crack of dawn to cook and have everything ready.
As for me, I feared the visitors might interfere with my work as a blogger. Because I had scheduled to write a blog story on Saturday morning, I thought it unwise to lock myself in my room to pen my story while we had visitors in the mansion. I therefore decided to start writing my blog story as soon as I woke up at 5.30am on Saturday so that I would be done with it by the time the visitors arrived. And that's what I did when Saturday reached.
The visitors, four gentlemen, together with Joe and his wife Alice, arrived home at around 9.50am, a few minutes after I had shared on social media the blog story I had finished writing. No sooner had the visitors taken their seats in the living room than I went to greet and socialize with them. They turned out to be a gregarious lot.
Before the visitors began eating the food that had been prepared for them, Alice requested me to say grace, a responsibility I accepted gladly. I prayed, "God, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful. Amen."
After I was done praying, one of the visitors uttered a joke about the brevity of my prayer. The joke had us shrieking with laughter, thus setting a good tone for the interactions we were to have.
We had a wonderful time swapping stories while feasting on tea and ndoma (arrowroots), the taste which seemed to me superior to even brown bread. Well, I didn't eat anything since I am always watching my weight these days. But I did take part in the conversations we had.
Joe reminisced about our boyhood years when our farm had orange trees that produced plenty of fruits. I told them that I used to sell some of the orange fruits. And I would have divulged into details about how I sold the oranges without Mum's knowledge had not a feeling of self-consciousness swept over me.
At around 11.00am, another visitor joined us. He was even more gregarious than the rest. Soon after he entered the living room, he enlivened our conversations with his hearty laughter and engaging discussions. He, for instance, had us contrast how a number of Kenyan tribes are different from one another.
I had carried with me a newspaper to read in case any idle moments arose during my interactions with the visitors. But as our conversations gathered pace, I put the newspaper aside and kept my eyes focussed on who was talking to avoid creating the impression that I wasn't interested in what they were saying.
At the end of our lively conversations, the visitors went to their cars and came back with cartons of foodstuffs. When Mum thanked them for the foodstuffs in these times of famine in Kenya, I wisecracked that that was relief food. One of the visitors giggled at my joke and then handed to my parents wads of money enclosed in envelopes.
My parents expressed their gratitude to the visitors for their visit and generosity. Mum, in particular, encouraged them to maintain the spirit of friendship that was apparent in them, and then implored them to be coming home more often.
The visitors left us in good spirits. And their visit made me reflect on the value of friendships. In the course of my reflections, it dawned on me that true friends - the ones who bring out the best in us - provide us with companionship. And their companionship increases our joy and decreases our sorrow. It also keeps us from feeling lonely, afraid and hopeless.
Having admired the spirit of friendship that Joe had forged with the visitors, I wished my other three brothers also enjoyed similar friendships wherever they live, work and worship. And I was inspired to continue working on the friendships I have formed over the years and to keep creating new ones as I journey through this crazy adventure called life.
My beloved reader, I beseech you to also nurture the friendships you have created so far. Be there for your friends, encourage them in their endeavors, comfort them in their sorrows and they will come through for you in your time of need. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men of our time, had it right when he recently quipped that good friendships make us happier and healthier. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on the value of friendships, you might also enjoy another one on "A True Friend" that I wrote four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Death of an Uncle
A True Story
on Mar 18, 2023
At around 1.20pm last Thursday, my Dad received a phone call. As he went to pick it, I silently hoped that he wouldn't hear any bad news. But alas! When I heard him repeatedly say "Oh, sorry!" in Swahili to whoever he was talking to, I instinctively sensed something tragic had happened. And it was probably about his brother Julius Gatonga.
My instincts turned out to be right because soon after Dad finished his phone conversation, I overheard him inform Mum that his brother was dead. He had breathed his last at 4.00am on Thursday morning.
I was a tad too shocked when I heard of the death of Uncle Julius. But I had seen it coming. Over the past one year, I would hear that he urgently needed money for dialysis and chemotherapy. Apparently, he had cancer and kidney problems.
Although I never bothered to find out which type of cancer Uncle Julius suffered from, I had asked God not to call him home soon since I feared his death might interrupt the disciplined daily routine I have been subjecting myself to. Too bad that God didn't answer that prayer.
After I learnt of Uncle Julius's demise on Thursday afternoon, I processed the bad news while seated at my desk. I wondered how my Dad was feeling for losing a brother he grew up with. Was he sorrowful? Did he feel like bursting into tears?
Surprisingly, I didn't note any change in Dad's mood as the Thursday afternoon wore on. He calmly continued with his work in his home office, while occasionally making calls to his other relatives to relay news of his brother's death. How stoic and worldly-wise my Dad is!
Uncle Julius was the only blood brother of my Dad. He was a humble and soft-spoken man who used to work as a primary school teacher before he reached retirement age. His immediate family must be devastated to lose him.
As for me, I will miss Uncle Julius: his presence, his humility and his wisdom. I will also miss his encouraging voice. Back in 1999 when I was in primary school, he exhorted me to work hard in my studies so that I could excel in academics like my immediate elder brother Paddy.
Besides his encouraging voice, the other thing I liked about Uncle Julius was the way he turned up for our family affairs. He attended the wedding ceremonies of my brothers Paddy and Bob Njinju in November 2012 and April 2014 respectively.
At the end of Paddy's wedding in November 2012, my eldest brother Joe Kagigite offered Dad, Uncle Julius and I a lift in his car. Joe was grumpy that day. He refused to drive us all the way home. Instead, he dropped us in a town called Ngong. As we walked in that town, Uncle Julius kept asking Dad where we were.
Then on the day of Bob Njinju's wedding in April 2014, I travelled with Uncle Julius to and from the wedding venue. Uncle Julius was quite slow on the uptake that day, probably because he wasn't used to travelling in a busy city. I had to guide him to our destinations.
Uncle Julius last visited us in 2016 when he came home to fetch some important documents he needed from Dad. He looked much older than Dad even though he was younger than Dad. And I noted he still had that passion for reading newspapers that is characteristic of men of his age.
In December last year, I heard one of his sons was graduating from a local university called Rongo. The Sunday before the graduation ceremony, Uncle Julius phoned Dad to beg for money for travelling to Rongo University. Dad came through to his aid. And that marked the last time I heard him converse with Dad. His health went downhill afterwards.
I will miss Uncle Julius for shizzle. And his death has inspired me to pursue my passions with greater zeal while I still have breath in my nostrils because in the grave where we are all headed, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Till we meet again, fare thee well Uncle Julius Gatonga!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story about the death of my Uncle Julius Gatonga, you might also enjoy another one on "Bidding a Friend Farewell" that I wrote more than four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.