Benefits of Writing
When I bought my second android tablet in August 2015, I downloaded a journalling app called Penzu with the intention of using it to save articles that inspire me in my wanderings around the internet. So far, I have saved quite a number of articles in the app, including one on the health benefits of drinking purple tea.
But the Penzu team doesn't know I use their app to save interesting articles by copying and pasting. It thinks the contents in my Penzu app are my own original work. So whenever I don't paste something into the app for a month or two, I usually receive the following email:
Hi John,That email has encouraged me to keep writing. Only that I don't do it in my Penzu app; I write in this lovely blog of mine. (Psst! Don't tell the Penzu team, okay?) And given the joy and peace I derive from writing, I can attest that those benefits of writing that the Penzu team mentions are true.
We noticed that you haven't written in your journal recently. Did you know that [writing] has many health benefits, including:
Just click the button below to jump straight into your Penzu journal. It'll be like you never left!
- Less stress and improved moods
- Reduced blood pressure & improved immune system
- Improved memory
The Penzu Team.
Well, I first took up writing as a hobby in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute. Before then, I had only written compositions in my primary and secondary school years to be marked, either during exams or in preparation for them. When I took up writing as a hobby in 2006, I mostly wrote stories to my high school classmates. I shared the stories with them via email. You see, I have always found writing to be fun when I have an audience.
There is one particular story I wrote to my high school classmates that I will never forget. I wrote it one day in 2008 when I was an undergraduate student at JKUAT. That day, I didn't attend any classes at the university. And what a beautiful day it was! One that will forever remained etched in my memory.
I wrote that particular story in a computer lab in JKUAT library, for I didn't own a personal computer back in 2008. Even though the computer lab was strictly for master's and PhD. students, I didn't get into trouble for using it the whole day. The lab attendants were friendly to me that day, including one I teased that she looked as though she was naked because the colour of her skirt resembled that of her skin.
Because it had been more than a year since I had last written to my high classmates, I began that story by saying, "Hi bros! Long time..." And then I went ahead to sex it up with lies and exaggerations that I found funny. I so thoroughly enjoyed writing the story that I did not notice the passage of time. It only dawned on me that a lot of time had passed when a computer lab attendant notified me she was closing the lab as it was 4.00pm.
The evening of that day I emailed the story to my classmates, I walked on air - so much that I could hardly keep still. Too bad that the days that followed weren't as good as that day.
Over the years since that day, I have felt a recurring sense of excitement whenever I have written a great story. These days, my happiest moments are when I share a story in this blog and someone out there appreciates it. And what is more, my writing hobby has made me feel in control of my life as though I am tooling around in a well-engineered car that makes doing 80 feel like 50.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on benefits of writing, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Benefits of Physical Exercises". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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How I Grew Up With My Siblings
My sister-in-law Sheila Mareka once told me she wishes she had grown up in a family with more siblings. So it seems I am lucky to have lived with four brothers at home here in Kiserian back in the '90s when I was a boy. We shared stories, argued, laughed and criticized one another - the stuff that make legends.
Joe Kagigite, my eldest brother, was a very handsome young man back in the '90s. Sometimes as a boy, I would doubt if he was really my brother because I felt ugly in comparison with him. (Yes, I had such a low self-esteem.)
I recall vividly one Saturday afternoon in 2001 when going home from school, I passed by Mum's grocery together with a classmate of mine called Damariot Lempee. Because Mum was away, we found Joe Kagigite manning the grocery. And he was, you might say, in a particularly good form that afternoon. He gave us a very warm reception at the grocery as he served other customers. Damariot was so impressed by him that he said this of Joe to me as we walked home, "He's very handsome!"
That Joe Kagigite impressed my classmate Damariot reveals the way he was great at socializing. And he was because he used to regularly entertain visitors at home when we were growing up in the '90s. The visitors were his age-mates who came home to borrow novels from him and just share friend-of-a-friend tales.
Although he could sometimes froth with anger, Joe Kagigite was a very engaging brother when we lived together at home in the '90s. So engaging was he that I cried the first night he was away from us when he joined Kijabe Boys' High School in 1996. I really was saddened by his absence.
Bob Njinju, my second eldest brother, was a tough boy in the '90s - tougher than diamonds! During his primary school years, he used to marshal boys for an entertaining march before and after our country's flag was raised on the school parade ground. His toughness must be the reason he was selected to join the Kenya Air-force in 2002 when he was just fresh from high school. When he joined the Kenya Air-force that year, he began training as an engineer - an opportunity many would consider fortunate.
For some reasons though, Bob left the secure job with the Kenya Air-force sometime in 2006 and ventured into private business. As life would have it, the business faired badly, leaving him as broke as a church mouse. Consequently, he was locked from his rented room in Nairobi by his landlord, forcing him to retreat back to our home in Kiserian sometime in 2007.
That time Bob came to stay at home in 2007, I would observe him rise early everyday to go hustle in Nairobi, sometimes with fare from Mum. I later on came to envy that kind of toughness of rising early everyday, and as a result of it, Bob's business recovered which made him financially independent enough to relocate again to Nairobi.
Paddy, my immediate elder brother who I have mentioned in the caption of the photo above, was a very bright boy when we were growing up. With two Bachelors' degrees, an MBA and a certificate from Harvard University, he is now the most academically accomplished sibling in my family. He is also exceptionally talented in Music. As a boy, he could play on the piano such advanced musical pieces as Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor.
In the late '90s when he was in his early teens, Paddy loved composing songs for my hometown's Catholic church choir. A few of his songs were recorded in the cassettes the choir produced. And oh my, weren't his songs just plain awesome! I sometimes find myself crooning them these days as I go about my business.
Symo, my youngest sibling (I am second last) was a clever little devil when we were growing up. At one time in the '90s, he got at loggerheads with Dad over reading a certain novel Dad didn't want him to see. Dad would keep hiding that novel but somehow, Symo would find it and devour it with the zeal of a villager on his first trip to the city.
In the early 2000s when he was in his pre-teen years, Symo would challenge my eldest brother Joe Kagigite in writing compositions. Young as he was, Symo would correct Joe's compositions with the authority of a professor. Little wonder that he turned out to be the only sibling in my family who scored an 'A' in English in the mighty KCSE exams.
Among my siblings, Symo is the one who criticised me the least when we were growing up. Yes, my senior brothers Joe, Bob and Paddy did criticize me a great deal, as all older siblings do. And as it happens in virtually all families, I got into trouble with them on several occasions for wearing their clothes and shoes without their permission.
There is one sibling in my family who is never mentioned: that's the late Stephen Ndonga. Actually, he was the last born in my family but died in 1996 when he was still an infant. And he was the first baby I remember seeing, Symo having been born when I was too young to recall things.
The evening of the day baby Stephen Ndonga was buried, Mum was unhappy with the way my senior brothers had conducted themselves that day. I remember her telling them in Kikuyu, "Don't ever do that again if another death ever happens in our family."
Fortunately, we have never had another loss of a loved one in our family since the demise of baby Stephen Ndonga in 1996. As I write this story, Mum and Dad are still alive and kicking; so are my brothers Joe, Bob, Paddy and Symo. And for that, I am deeply grateful to God.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on how I grew up with my siblings, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Choosing Gratitude". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.