Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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20 Years Later and Death Still Hurts As Much

It was August 27th 1995; we were in school for remedial tuition. I was called from class by Mrs. Wang’ombe. This was not strange since I was the class prefect and it was common for teachers especially my favorite (Miss Carol), to call and send me out of school over lunch.

Guess who that sweet baby is...

Guess who that sweet baby is…

Something was different though. I could feel it. Mrs. Wang’ombe told me I needed to go see Mrs. Mathenge who lived near the school. She asked me to make sure everything was in order before leaving. As I walked to Mrs.Mathenge’s   I thought about many childish things but I never anticipated what I was about to be told.

I found Mrs. Mathenge waiting for me at her house. She started with some chit chat about how big my dog had become (a German shepherd I gave her since my mum would not let me keep it). Her eyes were blood shot red. I could tell she had been crying for a very long time. After trying to make me as comfortable as possible she finally gathered the courage to say it.

The entire world sunk. I became numb and every second seemed like a hundred years. I stared blankly at Mrs. Mathenge as she moved closer to where I was seated. She started crying and that’s when everything sped back to normal. I wailed heavily and from the heart. “You are a man Githaiga and you need to be strong for your sisters,” she said. At that point my tears dried up instantly and I never shed another tear until the day of the burial.

Mrs Njuguna back in the day

Mrs Njuguna back in the day

The last time I saw her, I was out playing with my friends. I saw my uncles walking her to the car and I dashed to say hi. “I am fine,” she said. “Go back and play, I will be back in no time. Please behave yourself. OK?” and she got into the car and they drove off. I went on to play. Everything would be OK. I was so wrong.

Mrs. Margaret Waihuni Njuguna was a woman I loved deeply. Even though I denounced her as my mother a million times, I loved her. Mrs. Waihuini was unpredictable. She was the love and terror in equal measure. She would switch between both characters anywhere and in a second. I seemed to provoke the terror side more than anyone else.

Mrs. Waihuini loved her family and especially her mother. Mrs. Waruguru Githaiga was the world to my mother and when she passed on my mother evidently lost her zeal and vigor. She was never the same again.  She had lost her source of inspiration. It’s like all she wanted was to go be with her mum. God granted her wish a few months later.

The Njugunahs. See those socks that boy is wearing?

The Njugunahs. See those socks that boy is wearing?

I lost the two most important women in my life at that time. My mother gave me over to my grandmother when I was a young boy. My grandmother ceasing the chance tried to take me to a local school but I couldn’t learn in the language they were using and so I refused to go back. I got my stubbornness from these two women.

My mother’s death was not painful until four years later when I finally cracked. It soon dawned on me that I was always too busy trying to be a man that I forgot to mourn her. I became bitter at the world for robbing me of my mother; my life, my everything. I was even more bitter at God because of not doing everything in His power to stop death from taking my mother.

What kind of a God can’t stop death? What kind of good God allows bad things to happen good people? Why would He take both of my parents when they world had billions of people he could take. What made it even worse was that “His people” said the wrong things in an attempt to console my sister and I. “She is in a better place”, “We loved her but God loved her more”, “She is watching over you from up there. “Though meaning well, these statements came back to haunt me four years later and I was furious because God seemed to have told everyone else about my mother’s departure apart from me.

Mrs Waihuni Njuguna. Quite Fashionable

Mrs Waihuni Njuguna. Quite Fashionable

When my mum died, my world ended. I was convinced that life wouldn’t go on. I believed that was the end of time as I understood it. I stopped dreaming unless the dream was about being with my mother. I hid my heart from hope and from faith. Nothing was worth holding on to. Moving to Nairobi made things worse because I was constantly reminded that I am in Nairobi because my mother was not around.

It’s been 20 years since my mother passed on. I have lived longer without her, something I never thought possible. Even though every now and then I miss her, I have learnt to live with the scars of her absence. Death of a loved one is a language that is unique to an individual but it’s the most painful experience anyone can ever go through. It only gets worse with the unanswered questions, the missed opportunities, and the ‘if onlys’ continue to haunt us long after the world has moved on.

Mr and Mrs Njuguna on their wedding.

Mr and Mrs Njuguna on their wedding.

I scoff at people who demand that we “move on.” Yes our lives must go on and they eventually do but if we are honest enough we will admit that we left a huge part of us “back there.” All the same the longer we live; the pain becomes part of us enough to be bearable. We learn to see the benefits of being alive. God grants us “better moments” every now and then like finding love, fulfilling our dreams, having our own family, being a source of hope to someone else or making a difference in other people’s lives.

But the more “better moments” we get, the more we wish our departed ones were here to be part of the stories they inspired. It’s been 20 years since I got to the end of the road. God has been gracious to give me many “better moments” including surviving a snake bite and life continues to surprise me every day. My mother’s corrections and affirmations continue to influence the kind of person I am today.

For everyone who is still asking the questions. There is nothing wrong with you. There is no expiry date to missing someone who passed on. One day, twenty or so years from now your “better moments” will creep up on you and warm your once frozen heart.

The Njugunahs representing about 25 years or so years ago

The Njugunahs representing about 25 years or so years ago. Do not look at the feet.

Hope.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Sell. Bless. #SellToBless

Easter holidays are no longer what they used to be. Back in our days Easter was a big deal! Unlike our days, these days all schools have mid-term breaks. During out time, it was 10 weeks of uninterrupted learning. In fact, if you were unwell, your folks would wake you up early in the morning as if you were going to school, make you wear your uniform as if you were still going to school and then take you to hospital. After “seeing” the doctor our folks would make sure you join the rest of your classmates in class.

The good thing about “the good old days”, holidays were holidays. No private tuition,   no remedial or make up classes. Holidays were what they are meant to be; breaks. The only thing you did not have a break from was house chores. We all knew that before going out to play we had to wash dishes or clear the tables. Yes there were no house helps back then. If you had one, you would still be assigned your duties anyway.

Blessed bless back

April was always a rainy season. Many other things were predictable about April holidays. There was the Safari Rally and mind you this was a family event, then there were “the Jesus movies” and not forgetting it was lukwart (lugu) season. (I still have no idea what they were called in English)That’s what they’re called! Strangely, Easter holidays always seemed to fall on the first week of April. I don’t remember it being in March as it has been a couple of times.

There were two movies that would always make you cry regardless of how many times you watched them; After The Promise and The Jesus Movie. You were never too hardcore for these movies. The Jesus movie, I am sure that was not the name but I bet no one can remember the actual name was nothing like The Passion Of The Christ. Come to think about it why wasn’t the movie called Passion of Christ? So anyway after the movie we would cry ourselves silly.

My mum being a shrewd evangelist would use that chance to take me on a guilt trip. Oh she would have fun. It’s like she was cued right before the credits to remind of my “many sins”. She reminded me how every time I disobeyed her I was re-crucifying Christ. Boy wouldn’t that make me wail and promise to be a better obedient boy from that moment on. My mum would tell me that as a result resolution I was now born again. It felt good to have a fresh start but the “devil” in my friends made “my salvation” short lived.

After The Promise (not mine, but the movie) was about a father fighting to bring home his children who had been taken away from him into different foster homes after his wife died. The story of how the lives of those children turned out was heart breaking. One of them never spoke again while the other was suffered crippling injuries. The struggle the father goes through to reunite his family and the joy of seeing the seemingly dysfunctional family become one again broke every ones heart.

Today here in Kenya there are many children who are living the “after the promise” kind of life. Some of them have a sad story of losing one or both of their parents while others have an even sadder story of not knowing their parents at all. Imagine what it would mean for you to live without your parents. Imagine not having the childhood memories that you have. The joy of getting a new dress or a new toy, the joy of sharing a meal with your extended family.

Sell to bless

We can never put a price tag to certain life experiences.  We can never trade the memories for anything because they eventually defined who we are today. We laughed, we cried, we hoped and anticipated. We were rewarded, we were denied. We gained and we lost. These experiences became a vital part of our childhood but they were not free. Someone paid the price for us to have the experience. They paid a price for us to have a roof on top of our heads and to be in good health to play with our friends. Someone paid the price for us to be in school to have the best of what we had. It was never free. It cost our parents.

Have you ever thought what a child who sleeps on a cold floor would feel the following day if he slept on a bed? Imagine what a kid in a children’s home would feel to be the first to wear a new dress or eat a meal that he has never had. To grow up healthy, every child needs to feel good about who they are and how they look. You and I have the power to shape the lives of the little angels who are in different children’s homes in Kenya. It is not their fault that they are in such circumstances and the little we do can seem inadequate and of little value.

No one ever changed the world by doing anything big. It’s in the seemingly small stuff that the world is changed. This Easter, you can do something small for the little kids in children’s homes. You can share a meal with them, you can boost their self-esteem by giving them the chance to be the first to wear the new clothes. You can buy foodstuff that will feed them for a few days. That’s not all you and I can do. We can sponsor a child through school or ultimately adopt one and bring them up under our roof teaching them the same values we were taught or we teach our own children.

It’s not just the role of the government to make their lives better. You and I have that responsibility as well. It is in our Holy Books but most of all it’s engraved in our hearts. This Easter as you make room in your house by selling items you don’t need, would you consider investing the money in a child’s life? Are there things in your house that you can sell to raise money to support a child? Sell and bless this Easter. Sell to Bless. Touch a Heart.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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My pledge, Children and Girls

Photo courtesy: www.flickr.com

Photo courtesy: http://www.flickr.com

The evening news can be a source of heartache and stress more than it can be a source of information. I have heard many people say that Kenyan news is too depressing to watch. If it’s not the leaders we woke up early to go vote for doing everything but what they promised to do, then it’s the society turning against itself in every way.

A man who hacks his wife and children to death before taking his own life, the rising cases of violent crimes, road accidents, community intolerance, hate speech you name it, it will be on your menu everyday on the evening news. As if you don’t get enough of the bad news at the end of every day, the newspapers will be ready to remind you the following morning how bad, the bad news was yesterday.

In media they say that good news is not news. If a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But if the man bites the dog, well that is something to talk about. Truth be told, we don’t watch the news hoping to see anything encouraging. In most cases we will flip through the channels to get different versions of the same bad news we saw on one station.

But bad news is not always bad for us. There is need for you and I to see what is happening around us in our communities and the country at large. It is important for us to see what our leaders are doing after we voted for them (*coughs* Gilgil weigh bridge). It helps to know what other communities are doing (and not doing) with what they have. It is here that we too can and should see opportunities to engage and impact our culture and communities.

How many children don’t have access to basic education or study in very harsh conditions? How many young people need a mentor to guide them in their career choices? How many women need access to better maternal health care? How many men need information on better business opportunities so that they can better provide for their families? What can we do about the issues that consistently affect our country; hunger, insecurity, alcohol and drug abuse and many more? Can you and I help in any way?

You would be surprised to find out that most of the needs around you don’t need a member of parliament or local leader to solve. You would probably do more with the “little” that you have than the so called leaders. Some of us work in organizations that fund different developments but we will never consider reaching out to our community leaders to let them know of the opportunities. Some of us are teachers but we have never thought that maybe during the holidays we could offer the children in our neighborhoods remedial lessons. We like to see that as someone else’s “problem”.

There are many opportunities for us to give back to society. We don’t have to wait to be in political offices to influence change. In fact, that mentality is what makes our leaders feel like they are super heroes and not servants. We can change that. If every one of us finds an avenue to support and influence our communities, the dependency on leaders to do everything for us might just end. Imagine what would happen in our society if you and I could use whatever we have.

I love radio and I believe that it is one of the most important tools that can be used to influence change. This year there are two things that have captured my heart (well, they always have but I am putting in more focus); Children Hygiene and Female Genital Mutilation.

Many children die every day because of diarrhea and other hygiene related diseases. These diseases can be prevented through simple acts like washing your hands with clean water soap. But many communities in Kenya still don’t have access to clean water or soap. For us who do, we don’t take advantage of this privilege. We don’t have to lose any more lives, we can influence change. We can teach communities how to save lives through better hygiene practices like hand washing.

I recently saw a shocking video of what happens during FGM and it shattered my heart to know that young under age girls will drop out of school to be forced to get married after this extremely painful ritual. Their chances of a better future that education offers us will traded for cows and goats and that is if they survive or don’t get infected with HIV/AIDS. Surely everyone should have the right to an education. I don’t know how to influence this sector yet especially because it is a deep seated cultural practice, but am willing to learn what others are doing and contribute their efforts.

This is my influence plan for the year. What is your influence plan?