Of Letters and Conversations

Dear Reader, A wave of nostalgia came over me the other day. In an effort to find a remedy, I rummaged my room looking for letters of old. I could not find any. I thought of the many letters written to me: letters of hope, encouragement, love and yes, even infatuation. All of them gone-their treasured contents now dependant on my erratic memory. It was then that it dawned on me what the advent of instant communication had robbed me-the art of letter writing. The only letters I now write are job applications, and the only ones I now receive are bank statements. I reminisced of my high school days. The highly anticipated moment when the information prefect would call out the names of those who had letters sent to them. I recalled the silence and the cold stares that met the one who dared upset that silence. I recalled the brief loud cheer when one’s name was called more than once. Oh, the thrill of it. He was the lucky one who won the bragging rights of the day. I recalled of the time when I almost gave up on my education. It was the encouraging letter from my father that gave me the much needed strength to hang in there- just a little bit longer. It was in those days that I said what I meant and I meant what I said. When I wrote, “I miss you”, I really did. Now, I say the same and a flush of guilt comes over me. How do I miss someone who is just a call, sms, update, or a tweet away? I have tried but my heart cannot be easily deceived. It demands absence for it to truly “miss”. There is truth in the old adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In the same nostalgic mood, I recalled of the rich conversations we had around the dining table. How we teased each other and prattled on and on about the events of the day. How we dreamily projected into the future and built castles in the air. How we lingered on the table long after we had finished our meals. It was during this time that our dear parents moulded us while we were still malleable. Then slowly, almost pathologically, the conversations reduced to inquiries. There arrived a guest at our own invitation. It refused to leave. It took centre-stage in our lives and awed by its antics, we allowed it. It was bossy and did not allow conversations to revolve around anything else except what it had to say. It’s rare absence occasioned by power blackouts left us in a limbo. We stared at the ceiling, at some inanimate object, and then at each other. We coughed intermittently desperately trying to break the long spell of awkward silences. We then mumbled a few incoherent words, only to be met with one-word rejoinders that were (for lack of a better word) simply idiotic. Oh, TV! How I lament your coming. You have robbed me off the art of conversing; how to draw water from the deep well of another’s and drinking of life’s lessons from therein. How I wish I could take you by your cord and throw you into the sea of forgetfulness. Indeed, how I wish. I now find myself in the valley of decision. Before me are two great mountains that I should climb while my heart still pounds in my breast- that of letter writing and conversing. I will not tire of the trips to and fro the post office. I will invest in a chest box and store my treasures therein. In my abode, we will take our meals around the dining table as it ought to be. Then, when I am advanced in years and that wave of nostalgia comes over me, I shall reach for my chest box, head for the front porch, and relish every word therein. When friends wonder how our children and grandchildren are so very…agreeable, my loved one and I shall recall of the many nights we spent around the dining table; deeply engrossed in conversation, rich meaningful conversations. Yours truly, Evans Toroitich

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The Grander Ambition

Of all the human ambitions, none is grander than knowing God. On January 7th 1855, C.H. Spurgeon, at a tender age of twenty years said, “There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity.” A century and a half later, his words ring truer than ever before. Looking back in history, the men and women who have shaped the events of this world have had to grapple with the concept of a higher being. Some may have not liked it, the notion that their lives were beyond their control was loathsome. Didn’t Stalin in his death bed shake his fist towards the heavens in anger towards God? Didn’t Hitler, filled with hatred for God, seek to annihilate the Jews in what he deemed as “the last solution”? On the other hand, some embraced this inadequacy, realising that they are but finite mortal beings whose timings and occurrences in their dear lives are in the hands of God. They went ahead and made great strides in their endeavours. One has to only mention the names Lincoln, Wilberforce, Luther, Luther King, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Dante, Dickens…and their faith comes to the fore. Hence, judging from history, it is a safe to assume that greatness is borne out of knowing God, or at least making an effort to know God. It is therefore an oxymoron of sorts, to pursue greatness in whichever arena, without God in the frontline. It is a futile attempt that can only end in anarchy, tyranny, insanity, fleeting glory or worse- premature and empty death of the pursuant. This premise, without doubt, flies straight in the face of atheists, humanists, naturalists, existentialists and all other “ists”. They believe that life revolves around them, that they are the centre of the universe. This is why the Ten Commandments are too much for Ted Turner, the humanist with a Capital H. He would rather have the ten voluntary suggestions. How absurd! Then we have Richard Dawkins, the evolution biologist who finds the idea of God utterly repulsive. Any individual with an inkling of mortal fear would shudder at his godless writings. I believe Malcolm Muggeridge must have had persons such as Dawkins and Turner in mind when he soberly uttered, “We have educated ourselves into imbecility!” It is not my intention to belittle the human intelligence. Neither is it my intention to pour cold water on human ambition. However, it is my intention to elucidate the vanity of ambition- intelligent or not-without Deity. It is like a ship without a rudder. Nay, it is like a rudderless ship without a captain and its crew members ignorant on the use of a light tower. It does not need a rocket scientist to tell that such a ship shall crash in the hidden rocks; land on hostile shores; never come to port or if by the mercies of God it does, then in utter ruins, loss of life or injury to its crew members. It is only a fool who would board such a ship at the harbour and gaily wave to loved ones upon its departure. I pray, dear reader, that you are not such a person and do not intend on becoming one.