Telling The Truth
One afternoon in the early '90s when I was a small boy, my Mum, who used to run a grocery shop in my home-town of Kiserian, sent me to the market to buy potatoes for our supper that day. When I went to the market, I saw one trader selling some nice-looking bananas. I decided to buy potatoes of lesser amount than what Mum required and use the remaining money to buy the bananas which I planned to eat hurriedly before going back to her thinking that she wouldn't know what I had done.
Guess what! The trader from whom I was buying potatoes and bananas sensed I must have been engaging in mischief. He asked me to take him to my mother. I did. Then he proceeded to tell her that I had bought some bananas instead of potatoes. Mum thanked him for letting her know of my mischief. And after the trader left, she scolded me and gave me a beating for what I had done.
I guess it's from that experience that I later on developed an instinctive feeling that there is always a more intelligent being who discerns all my actions. And that feeling has haunted me in my adult life for the lies I have said. Let me tell you of one lie.
As I have pointed out before in this lovely blog of mine, there was a time (beginning the year 2010) that I loved to plagiarize other people's stories and share them with friends on social media and email - all the while making them appear as if they were my own work. And I used to love it.
But one evening in 2010 or 2011 (can't recall the exact year) as I walked home, I became consumed with guilt over a speech I had plagiarized from a book and shared it on Facebook as if I was its genuine author. The guilt led me to think that a former school-mate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Bugei Nyaosi must have discerned that I had lifted the speech from a book and edited some parts to make it appear genuine while it wasn't. I don't know how Bugei Nyaosi popped up in my mind because it's probable that he didn't even read the speech. Okay, let me tell you a little about him.
Bugei Nyaosi was three years my junior at Starehe. He had topped the 2004 national primary school exams known as KCPE that led to his admission at Starehe in those days when the school was renowned for its excellence. During my time in Starehe, I heard on several occasions of how brilliant Bugei was.
When the 2008 KCSE exams were getting released and which Bugei had sat for, I told my younger brother Symo to expect hearing Bugei Nyaosi's name as the Minister of Education prepared to announce the list of top students in a ceremony that was aired live on TV. How right I was! Bugei emerged as the second best student nationally in that exam.
Bugei went ahead to get accepted at Stanford in 2009. What I found remarkable about Bugei's admission to Stanford was that he had applied to the university when he was still in high school and gotten accepted. Imagine I applied to Stanford when I was in Starehe Institute, then again when I was a first-year student at JKUAT, and then again in 2009 after I dropped out of JKUAT and gotten rejected in all those three times. And here was Bugei getting accepted at Stanford straight from high school. How brilliant he was!
I didn't get to interact with Bugei during my time in Starehe because we didn't board in the same house and, as I have said, he was three years my junior. Later on in 2009 when I was applying to Stanford for the third time, I befriended him via email and was pleased to find that despite the fact that he was an academic heavy-weight, he was a nice, approachable guy. He let me know the scores he had gotten in the SAT exams and went ahead to forward to me the email that Stanford had sent him when he got accepted into the highly-esteemed university.
Coming back to my story of how I was racked by guilt as I walked home one evening in 2010 or 2011, I guess it's because of the way I had come to admire Bugei for his brilliance that I started thinking he had discerned the speech I had shared on Facebook was a product of plagiarism. This instinctive feeling I have had that there is always a more intelligent being who discerns all my actions is what has led me to post truthful stories in this blog. The policy I follow as I write and edit my stories is: tell the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth.
You see, I would like the stories I post here to live on after I die, much in the same way the writings of Abraham Lincoln have lived on to this day, more than a hundred years after his death. And should my writings survive for hundred of years to come, I don't want future scholars to discredit me after figuring out a lie or an inconsistency in even three stories. For as Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Adieu!
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Outwitting The Conman Within
Most of us are aware that conmen exist. Some of us even know the tricks they use to steal money from people. But did you know that conning can come from within us?
Now, the conman within is of an entirely different nature. And his tricks are cleverly timed. He lurks, waiting for our weakest moments. And when those weak moments arise, he emerges and tells us in our minds through a voice within, "If there is someone who deserves to feel good, it's you."
He convinces us to do something we know is wrong so that we can feel better. If we happen to at first resist the temptation, the conman within adds, "No, don't mind the past or what people say. Just do it! This time it will be different."
When we finally succumb to the temptation, the conman within turns against us by tormenting us with guilt over what we have done. He condemns us by telling us we are bound to repeat the sin again, essentially telling us we are useless and worthless. As if that's not enough, he starts to remind us of all the other sins and mistakes we have made in the past that are not related to the one he has conned us into doing. And the guilt that simmers within leaves us pleading, "When will this end?"
In the midst of that harrowing experience, we are left feeling ashamed and powerless, like what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they ate the forbidden fruit. The story is in the Book of Genesis.
The temptations that the conman within can tempt us into doing during our weakest moments are like having pre-marital or extra-marital sex. And he racks us with guilt over what we have done especially if the sex brings an unwanted child or a sexually transmitted disease.
The conman within can also tempt us to oversleep in the morning if we are feeling hopeless, disturbed or depressed. Now, that's a temptation that he has succeeded in tempting me for the past ten years. Okay, let me explain.
As I wrote in my previous story in this lovely blog of mine, I have struggled with oversleeping ever since I was in my second year at JKUAT in 2008. In the course of the year that ended two days ago (2018, that is), I discovered that the guilt I have felt many times for the past ten years was as a result of oversleeping till late in the morning. It took me a long time just to figure that out.
A lady-friend of mine I met on the internet and whose name I have forgotten once told me that nothing encourages depression like oversleeping. From my experiences in the past ten years, I would hasten to add that nothing encourages guilt like oversleeping. And the solution to overcoming the temptation to oversleep is to read something inspirational before going to bed at night or to find something fascinating to do after waking up in the morning.
I don't know about you but as for me, I am thinking that writing a story in the morning could work for me. So I have resolved that after making my bed in the morning, uttering the Lord's Prayer, stretching with rollers, cleaning my room, taking a shower and washing my clothes, I will be turning to writing a story to energize my spirits. I encourage you to dig into your talents and find something exciting to do each morning. It's an effective way of outwitting the conman within that tempts us to oversleep when we are not in good moods.
Also, strive to keep yourself happy as Max Ehrmann pointed out in his widely shared Desiderata. It's another effective way of outwitting the conman within. And how can we achieve lasting happiness? By counting our blessings regularly, reading a great book, listening to beautiful music, exercising our bodies, talking to a friend or just relaxing to reflect and meditate.