Another Day

There was a school with a class of students that no teacher had been able to handle. Two or three teachers had been run off from this school in one year by the unruly students.
A young man, just out of college, heard about the class and applied to the school. The principal asked the young man, “Do you know what you are asking for? No one else has been able to handle these students. You are just asking for a terrible beating.”
After a few moments of silent prayer, the young man looked at the principal and said, “Sir, with your consent I accept the challenge. Just give me a trial basis.”
The next morning the young man stood before the class. He said to the class, “Young people, I came here today to conduct school. But I realize I can’t do it by myself. I must have your help.”
One big boy, they called Big Tom, in the back of the room whispered to his buddies, “I won’t need any help. I can lick that little bird all by myself.”
The young teacher told the class that if they were to have school, there would have to be some rules to go by. But he also added that he would allow the students to make up the rules and that he would list them on the blackboard.
This was certainly different, the students thought! One young man suggested “NO STEALING.” Another one shouted “BE ON TIME FOR CLASS.”
Pretty soon they had 10 rules listed on the board. The teacher then asked the class what the punishment should be for breaking these rules. “The rules are no good unless they are enforced”, he said.
Someone in the class suggested that if the rules were broken, they should receive 10 licks with a rod across their back with their coat off. The teacher thought that this was pretty harsh, so he asked the class if they would stand by that punishment. The class agreed. Everything went along pretty good for two or three days.

Then Big Tom came in one day very upset. He declared that someone had stolen his lunch. After talking with the students, they came to the conclusion that little Timmy had stolen Big Tom’s lunch. Someone had seen little Timmy with Big Tom’s lunch!
The teacher called little Timmy up to the front of the classroom. Little Timmy admitted he had taken Big Tom’s lunch. So the teacher asked him, “Do you know the punishment?”
Little Tim nodded that he did. “You must remove your coat,” the teacher instructed. The little fellow had come with a great big coat on. Little Timmy said to the teacher, “I am guilty and I am willing to take my punishment, but please don’t make me take off my coat?”
The teacher reminded little Timmy of the rules and punishments and again told him he must remove his coat and take his punishment like a man.
The little fellow started to unbutton that old coat. As he did so, the teacher saw he did not have a shirt on under the coat. And even worse, he saw a frail and bony frame hidden beneath that coat. The teacher asked little Timmy why he had come to school without a shirt on.

Little Timmy replied, “My daddy’s dead and my mother is very poor. I don’t have but one shirt, and my mother is washing it today. I wore my big brother’s coat so that I could keep warm.”
That young teacher stood and looked at the frail back with the spine protruding against the skin, and his ribs sticking out. He wondered how he could lay a rod on that little back, and without even a shirt on. Still, he knew he must enforce the punishment or the children would not obey the rules. So he drew back to strike little Timmy. Just then Big Tom stood up and came down the aisle.
He asked, “Is there anything that says that I can’t take little Timmy’s whipping for him?” The teacher thought about it and agreed. With that, Big Tom ripped his coat off and stooped, and stood over little Timmy at the desk. Hesitatingly the teacher began to lay the rod on that big back. But for some strange reason after only five licks that old rod just broke in half.
The young teacher buried his face in his hands and began to sob. He heard a commotion and looked up to find not even one dry eye in the classroom. Little Timmy had turned and grabbed Big Tom around the neck apologizing to him for stealing his lunch. Little Timmy begged Big Tom to forgive him. He told Big Tom that he would love him till the day he died for taking his whipping for him.




I always get teary eyes from reading this story. And today after reading this story, I thought to myself how quick we are to judge another and how terribly slow we are to recognize the walking wounded all around us.

If I had one dream for humanity, it would be that tomorrow morning we would all wake up with amnesia. We would then see the world for the first time, with new eyes, the way a new born baby sees it, except that we would be in a grown up body.

We would have no conception of what was considered beautiful or good or important according to society’s ridiculous standard of worth. Everything and everyone would be a blessed opportunity for us, just the way they are. Life would be waiting with another possibility to be all that we could be.

Another opportunity to practice the gift of kindness in every moment. Another chance to rise above our mere mortal existence and for that one grand moment in time to walk among the gods.

Another day to love.


Umukobwa wo kwa Pasiteri Matabaro

Well, I just woke up. I feel like not going for lectures today. I got up took a shower and picked what is I was going to wear…a royal blue top, skinny pants and sandals. I straightened my hair and tied it in a ponytail.

I don’t walk around with a smile on my face all day, but I do make a conscious effort to choose to smile more often. What I’ve noticed is that in doing so, I feel better and also has a positive impact on others.

And today was one of those days.

I was walking to campus, when I met my classmates who then informed me that there would be no lectures *yuppieeee! I jumped in the air* We stood and talked for few minutes, about an assignment one of the lecturers had left us with. As we stood there, there was this old man across the street gazing at us. His clothes weren’t proper and he was in black dusty gum boots. He was carrying a sack on his back, hanging by his shoulder. He looked weary. After i continued walking to campus, this old man hurried after me. `

‘Yooo disi…nakwitiranyije n’umukobwa wo kwa Pasiteri Matabaro’

I smiled at him and told him I didn’t know who Pasiteri Matabaro was. Looking at his face closely, I remembered that we had actually met (but I was pretty sure, he didn’t recall my face). That day, I was walking from town and he asked me for some money. I took him for a rogue and told him I had no money on me. I have always met such people…The old man noticed that I seemed rather not to pay any attention to him, and then he stopped me…He told me he had a sick child at home and that he had come to ‘kubetesha amasaka’ for porridge for the young one.

“…but I lack 60 francs” he added.

“60 francs only?” I asked him again, to which he nodded.

I reached into my bag and gave him a 100frw coin. I said to myself “After all 100frw is not a big amount, even if he is lying to me…it’s fine”. And I obviously believe it is greater to give than to receive.

He looked at me and said “murakoze”. There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. He walked away swinging his sack in air…and I bet he was singing! I walked to campus with a big smile on my face that remained there for the rest of the day, night and weeks.

Sometimes we can make smiles happen by doing miniscule things. And the reward can be unexpected and hugely life affirming.

After all – I’m still here – still smiling!