My cousin has been a creature of habit. Every day, he would go to work using the same road, have lunch at the same place, the same type of food

  • PublishedApril 26, 2016

My cousin has been a creature of habit. Every day, he would go to work using the same road, have lunch at the same place, the same type of food and pass by the bar in the evening. On Saturdays, he would sleep until 11am, take his breakfast and thereafter go out “to take the car for cleaning” or “to buy a newspaper” that is near the local bar where he would eat nyama choma and drink alcohol until late in the night. On Sundays, he would stay indoors until six in the evening when he would go out “to meet a friend,” still at the local and return after a couple of drinks. But something almost unbelievable happened recently – he quit drinking.

His life is now disrupted. He goes home straight from work and no longer takes out his car to the car wash just to have his beer; no! He cleans his car at home and sends his son to buy the newspaper for him. I was with him the Sunday before I wrote this and oh boy, he is having a hard time especially during weekends as his friends, believe something untoward has happened to him. That particular Sunday was no different and he was forced to put his phone on flight mode just to keep off the distractors. But he has made up his mind; and he is at peace with it.

That Sunday, I reminded him that our family knows him for his love for the bottle since everything else seemed to rotate around it. I asked him what triggered the change of lifestyle. “I finally did an audit of my life and I realised it revolved around the bottle,” he told me. And then he added: “It also dawned on me that every time I bought a bottle of beer, I was helping someone else grow their company. And so I asked myself, when will I start building mine? When will people start paying me for using my products? I was making other people rich – shareholders of the beer company and the bar owner – and I was becoming poorer. This was an eye opener and I told the bottle… ‘It’s over between us’. This is the third month without taking even a sip and I don’t intend to.”

I was not about to let him stop talking and I encouraged him to continue speaking. “I now want to open a shop at home. You see, I had already built a shop but never got to stock it. My wife has her grocery outside the shop and our plan is for her to operate the shop until six when the grocery gets busy and I will make sure I am at home at that time to take over the running of the shop. Lately, my eyes have also opened to the fact that I have a huge space in my compound that is disused. I am planning to keep a few pigs and kienyeji chicken too. All the money I used to spend on drinks is now coming home and so far it has been good. I don’t even want to think about it but I sure wasted a lot of money on alcohol, not to mention the time I squandered out there.”

This was food to my ears and I immediately knew I was going to write about it. My cousin is not an old man. He is about 33 and has a young family of three children. He would often get into a fight with his wife for being an irresponsible father. He seldom attended family meetings or any other meeting outside the bar. He was the prodigal son of the family. And here he was telling me about his redemption. How could I not write about that?

But I am not writing for my cousin. I am writing for you brother. Fanya hesabu. Do an audit of your lifestyle and the money that goes into what I would call “bad use” and see whether, like our banks, you would not be put under receivership. Maybe it’s not alcohol; perhaps there is another addiction you spend all your free time and money on. Will you continue with it at the expense of your family and future? There is no tomorrow for you to change then; now is all we have. Commit to review your life. Commit today to a good life. Commit to let go any habit that costs you time and money that could be put into better use. You will be glad you did.

May 2016

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