Reading Charles Dickens
A True Story
on Jun 10, 2020
Born in England in 1812, Charles Dickens has been hailed as one of the English language's best novelists. He overcame several setbacks and penned some of the most widely read novels. Even after he died in 1870, his writings continued to inspire people all over the world. They still do.
I first got acquainted with the writings of Charles Dickens in 2007 when I was in my final year at Starehe Institute. That was after the music department of the school began plans to have us - Starehe students - stage a musical based on Dickens's Oliver Twist, a novel centred on orphan Oliver Twist, who is born in a workhouse and subjected to child labour.
As part of being prepared to perform the Oliver Twist musical, we were encouraged to watch a foreign produced film of the musical. And wow! I found the film of the musical to be captivating; so much that some of the songs in it stuck in my memory like glue on paper. Over the years, I have fantasized singing those songs to my future wife.
Because I had to leave Starehe in April 2007 so that I could matriculate at the university in JKUAT, I didn't take part in the Oliver Twist musical that was staged by Starehe students that year. But I managed to go back to Starehe on one Saturday night around July 2007 to watch the final performance of the musical that Starehe students acted.
Just like the foreign produced film of the musical that I had watched a couple of months before, the musical by Starehe students was equally captivating. A small boy named Benson Mukoma, who also happened to have been a housemate of mine in Starehe, brilliantly acted out as Oliver Twist. (By the way, later on in 2011 when I visited Starehe again, I was taken aback to see how big Mukoma had grown. He is now married and looks every bit like the father of somebody. Despite Mukoma having become a man, I still fondly call him Oliver Twist.)
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Oliver Twist musical back in 2007, I have never had a chance to read the novel itself - something that should come as a surprise to my friends who know me as an avid reader. The first Charles Dickens novel that I ever read was Hard Times, after someone lent it to me sometime in 2011 when I was admitted at the University of Nairobi clinic.
To be quite honest, I found Hard Times to be a difficult read. Imagine I went through the novel from beginning to end without understanding its plot and message. For that reason, I can't tell from memory what the novel is about. And I have long since returned to the owner the copy I read in 2011.
Perhaps for having found Hard Times to be a difficult read, I was not eager to read Great Expectations - another novel by Charles Dickens which I have been having in my home library for the past two years or so.
About two weeks ago, I decided to read Great Expectations - having gathered from several sources of how good a novel it is. To my satisfaction, the novel turned out to be a delightful read. It attracted my attention right from the first page to the last.
Like the novel Oliver Twist, Great Expectations is also centred on an orphan. The orphan named Pip, who is the narrator of the novel, is apprenticed in a workshop in his village but dreams of becoming a distinguished man in his society. An opportunity arises for him to achieve his dream when he is asked to leave his village and live in London.
What impressed me most about Pip is the way he expresses himself clearly in the novel. He is eloquent at narrating the environment and circumstances he finds himself in. He is also gifted at describing the people he encounters along the way. As I read the novel, I found myself wishing I had the same eloquence of diction that Pip has.
Probably because of his clarity of expression and his observant nature, Pip commands the respect of most adults he interacts with. And reading how Pip is held in high esteem by most adults reminded me of my teenage years when some people looked down on me because of the confusion they saw in me.
All told, Great Expectations is a delightful read for shizzle. I now agree that it is Dickens's finest novel. And I am thinking that if Charles Dickens had lived up to the 20th century, he would have been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. That's all I am saying.
NEW! NEW! NEW! For those of you who missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn that is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the song.
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Covid-19 & Its Effects on Me
A True Story
on Jun 5, 2020
In my efforts to lose weight in the past two years, I discovered that I enjoy going for a jog and a walk more in the evening than I do in the morning. There is just something magical about evening hours that makes me jog and walk for about nine kilometres without feeling tired, bored and fatigued. Oh, how I sometimes look forward to those evening hours so that I can go jogging and walking!
On a recent evening after I had finished jogging all the way to a bridge near my hometown of Kiserian, I heard a male voice from the opposite side of the road shout in English, "You come hear!" When I turned my head in the direction where the voice was coming from, I saw it was a man addressing me. At first, I couldn't recognize him because he was wearing a face mask.
"You come hear!" the man insisted while pointing at me.
As the man motioned me to cross the road and go to him, I became paralysed with fear that I had fallen in trouble with the law for not wearing a face mask in these times of Covid-19 disease crisis. I had already begun digging into my pockets to get out my face mask when, to my relief, I suddenly realized the man shouting at me was a drunkard called Macharia.
Thinking it wise not to interact with Macharia who was probably intoxicated with alcohol, I wore my face mask and continued with my walk into Kiserian Town. But I have to say that he had scared me out of my wits by authoritatively shouting at me in English.
That evening Macharia scared me wasn't the first time I had feared falling in trouble with the law for not wearing a face mask. One evening a few weeks earlier, I had similarly feared being arrested when I forgot to carry my face mask with me when going for a walk in Kiserian Town. Fortunately, nobody in Kiserian put me to task for not wearing a mask over my nostrils that very evening.
And that's the thing with the Covid-19 disease - it's affecting the way we live, work and interact with people. Authorities all over the world are instructing people to wear masks while going out in public. And because most folks are wearing masks, it is becoming harder for me to spot beautiful young ladies on the streets. A bit concerned that that might keep me from meeting the woman of my dreams, I have now comforted myself with the thought that the woman who was meant for me will not miss me.
Besides wearing masks, people are also being encouraged to stay at home and avoid shaking hands with others. As for me, it took a while to desist from my habit of shaking people's hands while going for my evening exercises. And in the few instances I shook hands with friends since the outbreak of Covid-19 here in Kenya, I was left worrying that I could have contracted the disease.
I seem not to be the only one who has been worried of catching Covid-19. My father, too, has been keen not to contract the dreaded disease. He has bought about 10 face masks which he regularly washes with boiled water.
About two months ago when my father heard me sneezing in my room, he asked me in Kikuyu, "Thuita, do you have a cold?" On telling him that I was having a runny nose, he blurted out worriedly, "You know there is coronavirus!" (Coronavirus is the germ that causes Covid-19 disease.) Fortunately, my nose became well shortly afterwards. So I don't think I have the coronavirus in my body system. I am sure people everywhere are also getting concerned every time they cough and sneeze.
The Covid-19 disease is really shaking the world - something I will live to tell my grandchildren if I ever get lucky to have some. With all the sophisticated machines that I have seen people invent, I have faith in the ability of the human race to solve the crisis that has been caused by the disease. I believe someone somewhere will come up with an easy cure for Covid-19. And I foresee that "someone" being awarded a Nobel Prize for his efforts. That's all I am saying.
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