If there is one thing that the just ended year has taught me is to learn to cut people some slack, to be more sensitive and to realise that nothing in life is permanent.
We have heard these expressions before but do not really grasp their depth until we go through an experience.
Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. For example, I used to be impatient with people who seemed permanently broke and would borrow as ‘little’ as five hundred shillings. “What does she/he do with their income?” I would ask in insolence.
There is an insensitivity we develop towards other people going through adversity if we have never experienced the same.
“They will just ‘drink’ the money if I give them.” We justify our insensitivity to their plight by blaming them or to assuage our guilt, we might throw a five-shilling coin at them. Better still, we Christians promise to pray for them, instead of putting our faith into action by proactively extending a hand. For example, a young person who keeps borrowing money for upkeep can instead earn the money if we extend engaging work to them, like pay them to run errands.
The past year has been like the final examination period after a lengthy period of trials and lessons of life and specifically, on job loss, business failure and fighting to stay afloat after the Covid effects. Do not even mention inflation.
Do you know that not only has toilet paper doubled in price but has also declined in quality? Forty-eight months ago, two hundred shillings would buy toilet paper, milk, and bread. Today, you cannot even buy a packet of Ugali flour with that amount.
I am a more sensitive person today. I know that someone can truly lack that fare to meet you up or that a parent can stay awake stressing about the next meal for their child, let alone the school fees of a system that has seen parents pay for fifty school terms in a year with no reprieve from anywhere.
Family is everything
I am entering this New Year with a deeper understanding that family is everything. Those useless grudges we hold against our siblings and cousins hold us back from experiencing love in its entirety. When the proverbial stuff hits the roof, only family and a maximum of three friends will remain standing with you.
Bills will pile, water and electricity will be disconnected, and debtors will remain relentless. Your head will spin around and when you pause to look up for a miracle, your ceiling will remind you that come the rainy season, the leak will recur because it was never fixed.
You will call fifteen of those friends that you considered close and earlier invested your time and resources with, and you will get no help from them. Some will listen to your woes and promise to ‘pray’ for you, but you will still have to face the prospect of your children sleeping hungry. Then, a cousin that you had never even bothered to invite to your many house parties will call you from the blues.
“Pole, I heard that you closed your business. I do not have much on me, but I have just sent you something to help with a bill…” Your brother who is on a police officer’s payslip – it is shockingly lowly- will faithfully buy milk for your family every week. In this New year, learn to settle and forgive the small beef you have with your family.
Consider the silly stuff that made you not speak for years as folly. Make up. When things are looking good, those house parties, Friday drinks and hangouts should be for family and not for your twenty-five friends. You will learn that a friend in need is truly a friend indeed because out of the dozen close friends, only two or three will still be calling you or picking up your calls during your season in the dark valley. Unfortunately, during times of abundance, you will not know who these true friends are.
In this New Year, stop sweating the small stuff with your spouse. Like him leaving the bathroom floor wet. Or him using your towel – okay, this one is annoying - or her looking for the car keys for 17 minutes as you roast under the heat. There are more serious things that test a relationship.
Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]