people are having it worse than you out here. As you sleep tonight, say a prayer for those who are suffering in ways you aren’t aware of. Then do something once in a while that doesn’t necessarily involve you.
“There is always,always something to be thankful for”.
A couple of weeks ago, I was by the machine where one pays the parking fee at the mall. Typical of most machines, they often tend to break down or fail to work automatically,thus there is someone who was there assisting people with the exercise. Owing to the manual system, the queue was a bit long, and almost everyone on it was raving and ranting as they waited for their turn. Once they were served, they’d take their chip, grumble and walk away.Typical of me, I started by greeting the man. He responded with quite a shock on his face. After he had helped me pay the parking fee, I heartily said a ‘Thank You’. This time round, he ignored. Again, I passed my gratitude to him. This time, with a shock in his tone, he looked up at me and asked whether it was him I was talking to. When i confirmed so, he went on to explain that it took him by surprise since it’s on seldom occasions that they are appreciated. He explained to me that many times, people would shout at them, complain and leave without appreciating the work they do.
That reminded me of yet a different occasion around the same time, when I attended a Graduation Party for a friend of mine in one of the hotels in Nairobi. When it was my turn to serve , I said a jolly hi to the chef who was on standby and passed my gratitude for the food he had cooked. In response, he said “Thank you”. For a moment, I thought I had told him something wrong, maybe Goodnight instead of Thank You. While still trying to figure out why he ‘sent back’ my appreciation, a friend of mine explained to me that the chef had appreciated me for appreciating his good work.
This got me thinking- where did the value of Thank You disappear to? Where did the art of having a heart of gratitude go? Typical of today’s holiday- Mashujaa Day– majority of those who are appreciated are the big shots, those who have either sponsored construction of a building, helped the country in the fight for independence, and every other ‘notable act’. While this is not wrong, it stirred my mind- how often do we appreciate those around us? When was the last time you greeted the gate guard? When did you last tell your local vegetable vendor Thank You for cutting your sukuma wiki well?
We are often quick to complain when one thing or another does not go right, but are we as quick to appreciate when things go smoothly? We are always quick to complain when we are in pain , sorrow or grief. That is the time we often turn back to God questioning why He allows us to suffer, but how many times has He allowed good things to come our way without us going back to Him to say Thank You? Whenever there is the slightest of errors around the house,we fuss and even throw tantrums. For the slightest thing- be it that there isn’t any soap in the bathroom or that breakfast was served five minutes later. How about those days when you woke up and found tea having been placed on the table half an hour before time? Or the time you found your clothes not only washed and ironed, but folded neatly and placed into your closet? The one time the house help delayed a bit and just a few pieces of onion got burnt, the complaint was made and is still used as a point of reference till date- but when is the last time you said Thank You because the food was cooked well, your shoes were polished, your bath water was extra hot?
As we celebrate this Mashujaa Day, as we take time to celebrate our fallen heroes- those who have fallen in war or who bravely led the rest in the struggle for independence, let us not forget the heroes of our daily lives. Not just today but on every other day. It just might be your appreciation that will give him the motivation to move on. For the house-help, the watch guard, the guy who helps with the never-functioning machine at the car park, the cashier at the supermarket -they are all heroes. Had they been pulled out of life for the slightest of time, life would not be the same. Had it not been for the house-help, you would have to wake up way earlier to wash laundry, iron your outfits, prepare your meals, wash the dishes and mop the house before you leave. And when you return, you’d still have to cook and wash your dishes. Okay, fine- you don’t have a house-help and that doesn’t apply to you. Tell the guy that assists with the broken machine at the parking Thank You,for you’d still be stuck there , not having an option of what to do. Oh yes, you don’t have a car and that does not apply to you either- next time you pass by your local Mama Mboga, tell her thank you , for the vegetables she has cut so finely. You know too well that if you were to do it on your own, you’d have sustained five cuts and still end up with huge chunks of mboga.
Remember that the very chef who you do not want to tell Thank You for providing your Mashujaa Day Dinner or Christmas Day lunch has had to spend time away from family on that holiday for you and your family to have a tasty meal as you enjoy your holiday. Remember that the guy at the car park machine has been there listening to every Tom , Dick and Harry scolding him. Remember that the gate guard spends nights out in the cold guarding the compound for your safety while you were in bed, cozily asleep.
Thank the guard for keeping guard. Thank the driver for a safe drive home. Thank the house-help for cooking the meal. Thank mom and dad for shelter and clothes. Thank your lecturer for helping you understand a concept. Thank God that you’re alive.Kindness is a virtue. Gratitude is a virtue. Let us adopt the heart and art of gratitude. Learn to say Thank You. Learn to appreciate the things that others do. For while we celebrate the Shujaas that fought for us as a state,there are heroes that go through daily struggled for your well being. Let them now too, that they are heroes.
Complain less. Appreciate more.Make everyday a Mashujaa Day . Celebrate those unmentioned, often forgotten heroes daily, for they too, deserve to be celebrated.
Divide the complaints.Multiply the appreciation. Be thankful. Be grateful.
While at it, ensure that you too are somebody’s hero.
It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of Tracey Osogo.
Prayers and vigil.
Preparation for the burial- writing a wordy eulogy, hiring caterers to cook for the mourners, payment for a hearse, purchasing a decently expensive casket, buying expensive send-off clothes for me.
Day of the burial- more tears, lovely messages of praise and love from those who are given the chance to speak. Consoling my family, more so my parents, my only sister, two brothers and the apple of my eye- my Baby Gigi.
When it’s all over, after my body is put six feet under, everyone leaves the compound to continue with their daily affairs, and after a week or so, I’m forgotten. Totally. Completely. Except to a few who’d occasionally mention my name here and there. Which is okay, after all life must move on. You cannot keep on mourning forever.
But after all, what’s it worth?! What’s all the messages of condolences worth?! What’s all the tears worth?! What’s all the prayers for my soul to go to purgatory and later on to heaven worth?! Of course to some, it’s a solemn moment to send off their beloved daughter, friend or niece. But to majority, it’s what I’d call a mere show.
Why all the love when I’m dead?! Why do we all seem to be so nice to those who’ve departed?! Is it because we don’t want them to haunt us?! Is it because it’s sort of a ‘ritual’ to do that for all those who are dead?! Indeed it’s all part of a warm send off, and it’s a way of honoring the dead.But take time and think of it. Here you are, having travelled all the way from God-knows-where to the lake side town of Port Victoria to see me off after probably years of us not catching up even on phone, let alone meeting. Here you are, weeping and mourning because I’m gone, when you probably never even smiled At any of my successes when I was alive. Here you are, telling others of how I was of so much value to you, when you didn’t even take time to tell me this when I was alive. Here you are placing a bouquet of flowers on a heap of soil that’s above my wooden casket, when you never bought me a single rose when I was alive. Here you are comforting my sombre mother, when you weren’t there to help her talk to me when I was alive and driving her nuts. Here you are, reading my eulogy which is full of praise, yet when i was alive, all you did was sneer at every single good thing I did and cheer at Every mistake I did. Here you are now regretting why you never answered my calls or replied to my messages every time I checked up on you, but it’s too late.
Why are we always nice to people after they’ve died?! Why don’t we let them know how much they mean to us when they’re alive?! Why don’t we treat them much better when they’re alive?! Why don’t we take the time to catch up with them when they are still here with us instead of taking the time to see their lifeless bodies go six feet under?! Why don’t we buy them roses when they’re alive, must we wait till they’re dead?
Let’s all love each other now. Spend time with those that matter while they’re alive. I mean, if you can get the time to spend with them when they’re dead, you sure can get the time when they’re alive. Make calls every so often and remind them that they mean a lot to you, don’t wait to write it on their eulogy. Buy that garden of flowers that you intend to plant ontheir burial grounds now, hand it over to them. Buy them the nice garments now, because of what worth is it to bury me in satin that will decay, when I’d have worn in while I was alive.
Remind your loved ones that they are a part of your life. Celebrate them while they’re alive, make it a bigger celebration when they’re alive than when they die. Let them know you love them as often as possible. Spend quality time with those you love when you can. Have conversations with them. Take a walk with them. Celebrate their successes. Be a part of their life here on earth.
I don’t know about you , but when I die, please don’t mourn. Smile because we did the most we could with each other when I was alive. Don’t eulogize me, for you told me all you ever wanted to when I was alive. Don’t buy me a bouquet, you gave me enough flowers when I was alive. Don’t spend the money writing an obituary, for you reminded me that I was your beloved daughter, sister, cousin and friend when I was alive.
Take my body on the very day I breathe my last breath,
Wrap it in simple cloth for I wore enough of the garments when I was alive,
And burn it.
Please don’t cry,
For we had enough laughter when I was alive.
Please don’t regret,
For we lived life as much as we could when I was alive.
Please don’t travel miles away to see my lifeless body go up in flames,
For we travelled miles to see each other when we could.
And don’t you dare try to put up a show,
Because for sure I’ll haunt you.
Let me rest in peace,
While you stay alive in peace.
If you don’t love me now,
Don’t love me later.
Never let the first time you buy someone flowers be on the day they are buried.
Every so often, I meet with a friend of mine and in the spirit of catching up, we exchange notes and views on all manner of subjects- the United States presidential trail, how campus life as freshmen is coming up, new projects and somehow, the conversation never ends without my dear friend mentioning his purported ‘girlfriend ‘. I gladly listen to what’s new about ‘her’ and how ‘she’s’ been since their last date.
Here is my friend, a campus freshman, who lives under his parents roof, or at least still depends on his folks for pocket money, upkeep money, hostel rent, tuition fee, food money and even money for credit. No job, no side hustle yet, probably not even planning to get one any time soon. Yet it is he who still manages to take ‘her’ out on dates and buy her expensive gifts and send her credit every so often.
What bothers me isn’t that he has a girlfriend who he is, so far, able to sustain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous and in fact, I wish them all the best and pray hard that they do marry and live Happily forever after. But here’s the thing, for my friend to sustain his expenses plus his girlfriend’s, he sure does go through a lot.
This being the Kenya we live in, no typical Kenyan child would ever ask for money to take his girlfriend or her boyfriend out. Instead, one must live under his nose to sustain this. And here’s how my friend does it, of the money he’s given, he must deny himself at least two meals a day, which would otherwise have cost him around sh. 100.00, he must walk from his hostel to his campus where he’d have instead used a matatu for sh. 20.00. Even the one meal he would eat would probably be one boiled egg and a mug of strong tea. He has to use his bonga points for credit just so that he can send his ‘bae ‘ airtime. That’s just sacrifice sufficient to enable him to take his girlfriend out to Chicken Inn for a decent meal of French Fries, Chicken and a soft drink. And since he’s expected home on Fridays yet he’s meant to take boo out for a dinner date, he must use all weird manner of excuses – we have a makeup class on Friday night, the matatus striked, my pocket money was stolen etc etc. Then after the date nights, he has to escort the girlfriend back to her bus stop and if it’s too cold yet bae didn’t carry any coat, he must sacrifice the only modest coat he has just so that she doesn’t feel cold.
But the struggles aren’t his alone. My girlfriends, on the other side, have lots of impressing to do. Because ‘bae’ has to slay for him, she will go to all weird extents to get good-looking outfits. Start with borrowing heels which she hardly can walk a mile in. Then because the dress must be a body -hugging one, yet there’s none in her possession, she must borrow from each one of her friends and get the best suit. Once the right fit is found, it must be washed in fabric freshners, ironed out and hanged days before. And since all there is to smell good is roll-on deodorant, Cologne must be borrowed as well. Make up must be done well, super-well. I need not mention drawing on eye brows which had been plucked off ( I have never understood this concept).
For those who are lucky enough to live in a bed-sitter, at least bae can skive sleeping in the hostel for the weekend. After all, you’ll take her for dinner on Friday, buy meat for Saturday lunch and milk for breakfast.
All this, just for a meal at the local eatery since my friend has only seen the fancy places like the Kempinski and Sarova while passing close by. And the cycle continues. Gets harder when you have to cater for her birthdays (gifts, cake, food for everyone invited, birthday outfit) which luckily comes just once a year. When all is done, you have to go back to square one – a meal a day and trekking to and fro school.
All in the name of love, which sadly ends after a couple of months or if luck prevails, a year or two. Maybe things don’t work out anymore, the magic died or you finished school and moved on to find a job elsewhere and since this is your hard-earned money, you don’t want to waste a single bit of it on girls.
But at the end of the day, what’s all this worth?! What’s all the struggle worth for a girl who you won’t marry or a boy who’ll never marry you?! Maybe it doesn’t hurt because after all it’s your parents’ money going to waste, but how would you feel if it were yours?! If you’d be the one giving your child money and bidding him off every semester and bragging to your workmates how your boy is in campus studying Biotechnology, yet it all goes to waste on a girl who’ll never become your daughter-in-law?!
Have you thought of how good a life you’d have if you ate all your meals for each day and still kept your only good-looking coat? Or if you invested all that money on yourself?! Do you ever stop to think of the consequences that would follow if you impregnate the girl during one of your sleepovers?! Is it worth it in the end?!
Nonetheless, not all hope is lost. For those of you who have seen light At the end of the tunnel, keep on going, sometimes you learn, sometimes you win-who knows, you might just be one of the romantic childhood lovers-the kind whose love fantasy strolls way back to high school or freshman years! I wish you nothing but the very best in your relationships. Please keep at it and invite me for all the weddings, I’d love to buy my own outfit and come dance my feet off. Invite me for the baby shower and baptism and graduations as well, for I shall be there! Say a big hello to ‘bae’ for me. Girlfriend, please remember to return my dress afteryour date night out. My perfumes and jewelry as well. And since he’s become the provider of your needs, just tell him they’re borrowed and he’ll buy you your own immediately. After all, is he not your Dear Future Husband?!
Oh well, Maybe in the end it shouldn’t bother me. Why should it be of concern to me though?! Not my circus, not my monkeys. ✌
“We often spend money we don’t have,
To impress people we don’t like”