I don’t wanna go down this road. It reminds me so much of myself, the me I used to be before I built up these walls in protest to the world’s cruelty. The time when I was young, ambitious and unafraid, when my mistakes were many in number, but light as a feather’s touch. Back when goodbye meant see you again and I was forbidden to make decisions on my own, back when…I was a mere reflection of my parents’ status.
At an early age, I thought I could save the world, wait, I think I even had plans on how Nairobi could rid itself of slums. I wondered why some people were poor and lived miserable lives, but then the teacher’s voice in my head that I knew as the voice of reason convinced me that such people refused to go to school and I had to study hard, lest I ended up like them, thankfully to me, books were not a problem, so you see, I had it made…at least I thought I did.
In those days, I was a bit over generous and trusted foolishly, burdened with the need to help anyone. I was touched to lose a coin at every helping chance I came across. Same as returning to the shopkeeper extra change, and refusing to cheat in an exam, I did all these because I thought, as a result of such actions, good things would happen to me…I expected them to.
I was the teachers’ “favourite” (synonymous with “pet”) and earned my prefect’s badge, which I wore in a sense of entitlement. I was proud to take part in advertising “Nihil Praeter Optimum” (Latin, for Nothing but the best) my High School motto, while strutting through town, donning the white rose emblem, nicely polished shoes and an excellently done tie. I guess, I still had a place reserved for me among the elite, but honesty…does it pay?
Those were the magic years notwithstanding the questions I had. Anything was possible, I even got infatuated with a girl to the point I wanted to marry her. Well, she was beautiful, had short hair, sang in the church choir and walked around barefoot like all the other rural girls, what more could a Sunday school teacher ask for? I was from the city, fresh from High School and with the prospect of joining university. The said girl then got impregnated by some notorious village boy, and that was fairly about the same time I started doubting humanity. Unknown to me, my world was going to change too…pretty soon.
I don’t wanna go down this road, it reminds me so much of how I have changed, the me I have become when I built up these walls upon realization of my own insecurities. I am young yes, with realistic ambition or am I just afraid? My mistakes now, though few could weigh a box of lead and my decisions, affect not just me, but others to come. I am old enough to understand that goodbye sometimes means gone forever, to another world or worse…to be with someone else.
The world is helping me acknowledge the fact that I am now a reflection of my decisions, like the beard I wear. It has the effect of making it impossible for other men to sit still, as they incessantly pull at their own hairs, imaginary or otherwise. It’s not the only reaction I get, the paranoid throw worried glances at me, or is it
disapproval? I wonder, does a beard make a man bad? Or do bad men… give the beard a bad name?
I now know that I can’t right all the wrongs in the world, and no one expects me to. Hey teacher, you don’t have all the answers, I don’t pretend to either. Nowadays, I encourage myself to give, not out of pity but out of reason and because we all can do with a helping hand. Just yesterday, an electrician after convincing me he was doing me a favour gave me a quotation for an appliance, which when I walked to down town Ngara, found at half the quoted
price. It proved the old adage “knowledge is power”, and no!…you can’t just trust anyone.
I have also come to make peace with the fact that good isn’t always repaid in kind, the essence is in expecting nothing in return. I couldn’t even change the world a word at a time, my words, they have their audience, at the very least I will better myself and a few others. But did I have to go down this road of thought? So far I have understood that I’m still learning to take the right turns. I don’t see much further ahead, I guess the past and present…that should suffice for now.
Readers, here’s a toast to good decisions whilst learning to…take the right turns.