The Sad Story of Kairu - Reflections of a Young Man™

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The Sad Story of Kairu

I love reading stories, both fictional and non-fictional, provided they are entertaining, enlightening or inspiring. In fact, once I am through with reading a book about South Africa, my next read will be A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul®, an anthology of stories that open the heart and rekindle the spirit as its editors put it.

And because I love reading stories, let me share with you an entertaining story about Kairu which I read in my high school days at Starehe Boys' Centre. It goes as follows:
"Kairu stood at the door of the shop, a long baton in his hand. The baggy uniform, apparently too heavy for the hot weather, made him look shorter than he actually was. The boots he wore did not fit. They were too large, and one got the impression that they wore the man, not the other way round. They looked a burden in every sense. However, of everything he wore, it was the helmet which looked most comical. It was one size bigger than the head; it hang on the head loosely, almost covering his eyes. As he stood in the blazing sun, peering at the world from under the rim of the helmet, one got the impression that he was a comedian playing the part of a bored guard.

But Kairu was not dabbling in comedy; guarding Tamara Clothing Store was his work. He came to this door every morning and left when it closed in the evening. It was all very boring, standing there all day long, watching customers as they came and left. Often his legs felt weak. At such times, he felt like throwing his baton away and sleeping right there on the floor.

He had stayed on the farm a few months after the examination results. Those were months of inner confusion, pain and discouragement.

And he had surveyed the rolling ridges and noticed their beauty but he did not belong there. These same ridges had sapped his father of every bit of energy, leaving him frail and shaking.

Kairu did not want to suffer the same fate. His father's words had haunted him for a long time. Maybe new horizons would afford a better life for him. He had set off for Nairobi, his mind heavy with thoughts.

After walking many miles on the hot tarmac, he had been accepted for training by Paka Guards. The training had been hard and Kairu always shuddered whenever he thought of it. The recruits had been beaten, starved and abused. Sometimes they had been required to spend a whole night without sleep. In the mock fights against robbers, the trainers had injured some of them.

All these however were nothing compared to the Kivumbi Hill. This small hill, standing on the training grounds, had been covered with murram. Sometimes, the recruits would be forced to run up and down its slopes at midday. The murram would be extremely hot and the soles of their feet would be left swollen. What was worse punishment was to climb the hill on one's knees at midday. It was torture beyond words. Kairu had withstood it all with the courage that comes from living in a world where so many things are threatening to break one's spirit. He knew all along that if he lost the opportunity, there were many people waiting at the gate to replace him. He would not be missed.

Now it was all over, but Kairu could not shake off the terror of those two months spent in the training camp. It had left him weak and scared. He had always loved arguments but in the camp, he had learnt to obey. It was here too, that he had realized how needs can force one to put up with what one does not like. Whenever he stood on murram, he remembered Kivumbi Hill and his legs shook.

Kairu could not help reflecting on his life. He had imagined that with a better education and salary, he would improve the living standards of his family. But he had not saved himself. Here, he stood, in the hot sun of Ngorongo Town summoning every effort to keep him on his feet. He knew that his puckered forehead, now sweating, gave the impression that he was older than he actually was. He did not like the job. The pay was low and the job insecure. One could be confronted by robbers any time. He often wondered what he would do if such a moment ever came. He was not certain he would not run away." [1]
What's your take on that sad story of Kairu? As for me, it has motivated me to work harder in honing my talents while praying for breakthroughs so that I may never end up being like Kairu. So help me God.

[1] I have extracted this story from page 73-74 of Integrated English Book 2, published in 1988 by Kenya Institute of Education (KIE).

If you've enjoyed reading this story, you might also enjoy another story I wrote about Simon Makonde and another one about arising and shining. Just click on those links in blue to jump straight into the stories.


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Personal Effectiveness

I have extracted this photo-quote from with permission from Nick Fewings, the website owner. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.

The great American president Abe Lincoln was once asked, "What would you do if you were given eight hours to cut a tree?" After thinking for a moment, Lincoln replied, "I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."

Of course Lincoln's point was that before embarking on a goal, it is important to plan and prepare. Because as the old adage goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

On reflecting about that Lincoln's reply, I thought to myself, "Perhaps all our days would be happier and brighter if we spent some time developing our minds. How about sparing an hour everyday to sing, pray, read, write, meditate or listen to inspirational stuff? Maybe Robin Sharma was right when he quipped that starting the day off well is a powerful strategy for self-renewal and personal effectiveness."

Following that revelation, I have resolved to continue setting aside an hour or so everyday to develop my mind as well as vitalize and energize my spirit for a productive day ahead. So help me God.

If you've been enlightened by this short story of mine on personal effectiveness, you might also get enlightened by another story I wrote on personal excellence. Just click on that link in blue to jump straight into the story.


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Exposing the Goliath

I suppose everyone has faced that problem my friend Ngishili Njuguna described as "the Goliath" in his now defunct blog. He called it "the Goliath" because it seemingly defies all efforts to overcome it. If only I could overcome this problem, so we think, then life would be great!

Ngishili borrowed the term "Goliath" from the giant in the Bible who was killed by David as narrated in the Book of 1st Samuel. I just like the way Ngishili described the story of Goliath:
"Goliath was a legendary warrior of mighty proportions and extraordinary fighting techniques. Some considered him a giant. In the powerful command of Goliath, the Philistine army was the most devastating to any opposing force that stood against it. So much was the confidence that Goliath projected that the whole Israelite army became as meek as lambs in his presence. Goliath would stand in front of the Philistine army and dare any Israelite warrior to challenge him to a fight.

It was in the midst of one of those taunting episodes that a young shepherd boy named David arrived at the battlefield to check on his brothers that were drafted in the army. He heard about Goliath's reputation, and was appalled at his spite and vitriol, and what it was doing to his brothers and their comrades in the army. It was then that he volunteered to challenge Goliath on behalf of the Israelite army.

David's dare to Goliath was ridiculous to the point of being laughable. Here was a naive boy with nil battleground experience, and whose only credential were his apparent foolhardiness against a giant of a career warrior with years of experience and arrogance born out of numerous spectacular successes. David's body could not even hold the weight of the battle armour!

And so it was with those insurmountable odds that David's triumph over Goliath has been exalted again and again over the ages by his admirers. For it only took a primitive sling to catapult the rock that hit Goliath right in the middle of the forehead, killing him instantly. In that instant, the battle was won.

I always picture what it would have been like in that battleground on that day. When the Philistines realized that their hero was dead, they all took off with the whole Israelite army in triumphant pursuit. What is most interesting to note is that the defeat of a single Goliath caused, on the one hand, every single warrior of the Philistine army to flee, and on the other hand, every single warrior of the Israelite army to be rejuvenated with strength and courage.

There is a similarity of this story and that of the problem I call 'the Goliath'. When we face 'the Goliath', it always feels like it is the one problem that has put obstacles on all the paths of opportunity in our lives.

I guess we have all been in a place where we feel that if we could only be able to figure out this one problem, then everything would work out because when we face 'the Goliath', it is as if the world comes to a halt and the pain that the problem causes is the only thing we can feel. It is usually so intense that we are helpless even when we know what needs to be done to overcome 'the Goliath'. This helplessness causes distress, shame and even hopelessness. In the face of 'the Goliath', we feel paralysed and all our good faculties seem frozen in more or less the same way that the Israelite army and every single warrior in it were. "
There you have it: the story of Goliath as Ngishili described it. O, how I am endeavoring to acquire that kind of colourful description!

As for me anyway, I have faced several Goliaths in my life so far. Like during my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre and well into the university, my Goliath was confusion. People used to comment of how confused I looked - something that bitterly bothered me and diminished my self-esteem.

Later on in 2008 after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia after I went bonkers at JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, my Goliath mutated into a lack of enthusiasm in life. Since then, and as late as this week, I have struggled with recurring periods of apathy during which I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. And when I wake up, I end up feeling lonely, frustrated and sometimes guilty over some of the things I have done or words I have uttered. To make matters worse, I lose interest in my hobbies. It's a terrible Goliath, I tell you: one that is preventing me from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came into the world to bestow on us.

I am striving to overcome this Goliath: as in, those recurring periods of apathy that reduce me to a useless blob of protoplasm. And I can't help that with your prayers, I shall overcome. So help me God.


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