Wearing Decent, Clean Shoes
A True Story
on Jul 7, 2020
There was an evening in 2013 when I went for a leisurely walk to my hometown of Kiserian. I was clad in old, black leather shoes that hadn't been polished for ages. And I didn't mind wearing those shoes because Kiserian was a place I felt free to be myself.
While heading back home that very evening, I passed by the home of a church-mate of mine called Mr. Kivuti who was having a graduation party for his first-born daughter. I decided to walk into Mr. Kivuti's palatial home where I found quite a number of people on the compound. They were feasting and socializing. I joined them and helped myself to a sumptuous meal while interacting with the people.
As I went about talking to folks in Mr. Kivuti's home, one young man noted the old, unpolished black leather shoes I was clad in. He advised me in a very polite manner to wear decent shoes. Though his advice stuck in my memory, it didn't embarrass me at all. Neither did I take it seriously. For a very long time since I was young, I had never been keen on the kind of shoes I wore. Imagine I can't recall a time in my teens when I ever bothered whether my shoes were dusty or muddy.
It wasn't until the year 2015 after I landed a piano teaching job at Wynton House of Music that I began to mind the kind of shoes I wore. Wynton House of Music is located in an upscale mall on the outskirts of Nairobi City. Working at Wynton made me conscious of the nature of my shoes because walking on the mall's elegant decor in muddy shoes made me feel out of place.
One afternoon in 2015 when I entered the mall in shoes caked with mud, I headed to the washroom and begged one of the mall cleaners to help me with a rag for wiping my shoes. After the cleaner adamantly refused to lend me a rag, I went inside one of the toilets and used pieces of tissue paper to wipe my shoes. And alas! As I walked out of the toilet leaving a trail of mud on the floor, I found the cleaner waiting for me. It was as if he had known what I had gone inside the toilet to do.
The cleaner sternly alerted me to a notice in the washroom which warned visitors that tissue papers were not for any other use besides their intended purpose. Realizing that I had broken the mall's rules, I humbled myself and beseeched the cleaner to forgive me. I also offered to clean up the trail of mud I had left on the toilet floor. Fortunately, I succeeded in appeasing him. After I had mopped the toilet floor to his satisfaction, he let me go free.
Because I hadn't known what to do with my shoes when it rained, I also turned up at Wynton House of Music in muddy shoes on another afternoon. This time, a fellow teacher named Vincent commanded me to go clean my shoes.
Vincent was a big, burly mountain of a man who was always strict with me during my time at Wynton. Earlier on in 2015, there was a morning he took me to task for wearing dusty shoes. When I told him the dust on my shoes was as a result of walking a lot, he instructed me to be carrying a brush for polishing them.
The importance of wearing decent, clean shoes hit home in me one time in 2015 as I was having a chat with fellow Wynton teachers named Chris and Greg. During the chat, Chris enlightened me that smart women look at shoes when judging men. Just by looking at shoes, Chris said, some women can tell whether a man is worthy of their time and attention.
Enlightened by Chris as well as by the experiences I had had of turning up in muddy and dusty shoes at Wynton House of Music, I bought two pairs of shoes later on in 2015. Imagine I bought one of the two pairs of shoes at Ksh. 4,000 which is a lot of money. That I could spend such a colossal sum of money on just one pair of shoes shows how keen I had become on wearing decent shoes.
Around that time I bought those two pairs of shoes, I devised a trick of turning up in clean shoes at Wynton House of Music. That was by leaving home in my old shoes and then changing to my new shoes just before entering into the upscale mall that houses Wynton House of Music. And the trick worked because a student of mine at the school commented one morning that my shoes were very clean. A few days later, a newly employed teacher in the school uttered a similar remark.
The importance of wearing decent, clean shoes did hit home in me for shizzle. These days when I go jogging and walking to my hometown of Kiserian, I always ensure I wear a presentable pair of sneakers that match my jogging attire. Truly, a lot can be told about a guy based on his shoes.
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A Lass I Once Admired
A True Story
on Jul 2, 2020
For some students, universities are places of expanding their intellectual bandwidth and trying out new ideas. For others, universities are places of finding a soulmate and falling in love. As for me, when I matriculated at the university in JKUAT in May 2007 to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, all I desired was to excel academically in my first year and then transfer to MIT or Harvard where I would finish off my university education.
I however have to confess that when I began attending classes at JKUAT back in May 2007, I got attracted to a lass in our class named Lorna Ogolla. What attracted me to Lorna was not only her beauty but also her drive and ambition which made her the class representative of our engineering class. She represented us with zeal.
It seemed Lorna admired me too because she commented at one time that she loved people like me who read a lot after she spotted me carrying a book about the world's greatest scientists. At another time, she cajoled me to sit next to her during a class we were having in a laboratory at the university.
But Lorna could be tough too. I once borrowed from her some notes, and when I asked her to come for them in my room, she refused. She kept phoning me to take the notes to her at the university library. And when I yielded to her demands and took the notes to her, I found her in a nasty mood outside the library. Furious with me for inconveniencing her, she angrily rebuked me as some passers-by looked on.
Despite her toughness, I still admired Lorna and longed for her friendship. I wanted to share with her my dreams of finishing off my university education in such elite colleges in America as MIT. And I had purposed to coax her to also apply to the elite colleges.
But then came one Monday in early July 2007 when I noted with a lot of concern that Lorna was missing in class. She was also absent the following day. And on Wednesday too. That got me worried. What had happened to Lorna? I wondered.
A few days later, I learnt from my classmates that Lorna had dropped out of JKUAT. That news made me so heartsick that I made the following incoherent entry in my diary on 10th July, 2007:
Sometimes I wish I were staying alone in this world. For my love for other people always results in strong emotions that sometimes make me weak. I didn't know human emotions could run me so down till Lorna left us. So I will appreciate the existence of everybody, especially my parents.I really was heartsick to learn that Lorna was gone from JKUAT. And I contemplated giving her a small booklet on communication as a token of our friendship. Had we met, I would probably have given her the booklet.
As weeks rolled by, I got over my heartsickness and forgot all about Lorna. I focussed my energy on keeping up with classwork at JKUAT and on applying to MIT and three other colleges in America.
Guess what! A year later around August 2008, I heard that Lorna was in MIT - the same college I had wanted to tell her about and which had rejected me. Truly, life is like that: incomprehensible and full of surprises.
To be honest, I was jealous of Lorna to hear that she was in MIT, the world's premier institute in science, technology, engineering and math. But I got over that too and moved on with life.
Then one evening in 2011 when I was pursuing a degree in Political Science at the University of Nairobi, I struck a conversation with a man who was my classmate at the university. When I told him that I had dropped out of an engineering degree at JKUAT a few years before, he informed me that his daughter had also dropped out of JKUAT and gone to MIT.
"Is that Lorna Ogolla?" I inquired from the man in a state of excitement. He said 'yes'. What a small world we live in!
I tried reconnecting with Lorna in the years 2011 and 2012 but she never replied to the emails I sent to an address of hers that I had found via Google search. And a year or two ago when I googled her name again, I gathered that after she graduated from MIT, she won a scholarship to pursue a master's degree in Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. She seems to have been one lucky person - that beautiful and ambitious lass I once admired.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a lass I once admired, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Some Bad Days I Once Had". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.