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!



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