Have you ever come close to that greatest enemy of yours? The enemy that did you the worst in life, the enemy that trampled, crashed and gnashed you? The enemy who reduced you to the size of a wheat stalk? The enemy who perhaps defiled you, stole from you or even perhaps murdered your loved one? How bitter was the feeling that burned in you at his sight? How painful was that hot tear that dripped down to your stomach? How depressing was the thought of your last encounter? Yes, that is exactly how I feel when I see that small kid, pulling my pants asking for something as her mother lies about on a carton in the corner holding her sibling in the cold with a small plastic cup perhaps of an old disposed Yoghurt drink.
I don’t know which enemy there is behind the street family but there is traumatizing effect that I have never been been able to get over it to date. The sight of three malnourished kids with torn clothes ravaging left overs of pizza as their mother gulps the last drop of soda is as clear as diamonds in fresh water. The memory of that single kid jumping up and down in the streets at night amazed by what he sees in people is always reminiscent in me every time I feel so down. I try to think about what that kid who knows nothing about life has in mind. I wonder why the toddler will smile as he chases down a fly beneath the street light.
Perhaps I bribed God. Perhaps I am in the lineage of David or maybe perhaps I think it is just normal to live a life full of fun in my childhood. Perhaps I think it’s just automatic that I have never missed a meal, had heavy clothes during the cold season and had a roof under my head always. Perhaps I think that I am among the chosen ones that I did not grow into such trouble and strife.
I try to ponder what makes the kid smile as he chases the fly along the street unaware of any danger. Any incoming vehicle or even malicious minds. I try to reason with my inner self why the kid should be seeing any beauty in life, why the kid should enjoy God’s creature, the fly, our greatest stress in life. The kid, like a robot has been trained to say the words, ‘Uncle naomba chakula.” (Uncle give me food) in which if you ignore the kid will insist for two or three more times and then give up.
I look at the mother sitting at the corner with unkempt hair tattered dress and swollen eyes. She is busy breastfeeding a young one who is sucking nothing but has the tit on its mouth in order to stop crying. It is then that with my despair, with my hopelessness, with my false atheism and with my big troubles that now seem small, I thank God for a roof on my head.
The sight of the plight of those kids is blinding, the voices echoing in the distance either to buy ground nuts from them or give them food is deafening. It is then that I tell God, “God you know that I have nothing! If I had anything, I would share” then God smiles and He brings a thought in you that even with the little you have, you are too mean. It is then that you remember that you have second hand clothes at home. Your full sack of maize flour that mum sent from the village is about to go bad. Even without all that, you have that Instagram account with 5,000 followers but instead of sharing a post on a children’s home event, you are busy either sharing funny videos, flaunting wealth or even posing half nude for those likes!
The only way to receive is through giving! You may have nothing like me but you may have the power to write. You may own a small blog like mine with few or no visitors. You may admin a million WhatsApp groups or be the kingpin on Twitter. How do you use the little you have for the good of this world? We all think that all help must be material but no. I think of Slum Photography, just with a simple Instagram page, you heal millions of souls and touch billions of hearts. Recently, I wanted a good portrait from its photographer, Biko Macoins Mashilingi and his answer changed my view of life. He said, “I don’t take pictures of people, I capture the moments.” I was challenged by this and I asked myself, “If he could indeed take a good portrait of myself, where could I have taken it? Is it not Instagram? To show the masses how great am getting by the day?”
He captures moments I wanted to capture my own self. He is selfless, he goes round leaving marks on souls, he actualizes moments, moments that inspire, moments that never fade from our souls but me on the other hand, a selfish man driven by the worldly to garner those likes, to feel famous and appreciated. It is not what big we have. It is what little we have to demonstrate love and care for others and by that God will open the heaven gates for you to inspire the world. Biko has got no professional education in photography, Biko is not the best photographer in Nairobi let alone Kenya, but he has humbled himself. This is because God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called!
What little do you have that you will change the world with? What seedling will you grow in this desert of hatred, bitterness and malice that will eventually cover the world with the forest of love, care and inspiration?
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut