Month: October 2010

What Story Will You Tell Your Children?

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Note: The first two parts (in Italics) are fictitious and are a figment of the writer’s imagination

The children sqealed with excitement when they reached the airport. As they looked at the humongous bodies of metal take flight, they raised their hands and bid farewell to the strangers in the airplane, wondering where they’ll be going.

“These planes go to the sky, above the clouds over there,” the teacher supervising the school trip told the 20 KG 2 children.

“Do they have houses above the clouds?” One child asked curiously.

“Do they have cows?” Another asked.

“Do they have television?”

“The plane is not going to stay on the clouds…” the teacher went on to explain how a plane transports people from one land to another. “So when they reach to Nairobi, they’ll have houses, cows and TV like the ones you have here.”

“One day I’m going to ride on that plane,” a child said.

“One day I’m going to fly that plane,” another child said. This comment made his classmates snigger. “Kwenda!!” (Go away-meaning “you can’t be serious”)

“One day I’m going to own 20 of those planes.”

This caused the whole group to rapture in laughter because the child who said it was the poorest of the lot. On his first day of school, he couldn’t afford the school uniform so he came wearing his home clothes and no shoes. Students saw him as the first to drop out of school and work on the tea farms.


When the plane touched down in Moi International Airport, a robotic cry went off. When the seat belt signs went off, a man jumped to his feet, opened the overhead cabinet and retrieved a huge doll. It stopped crying. Children behind him started sniggering at the funny sight of the large black guy carrying a doll. “Mtu mkubwa, abeba dolli kama mtoto mdogo,” they made fun. (Look at that man carrying a doll like a child)

The man ignored them and stared straight ahead, his mind preoccupied with thoughts of his wife and daughter for whom he got the life-sized doll. After two years of working on his feet as a security guard in one of the Dubai malls, he was finally going home for his annual leave. He left Kenya in search for greener pastures but was met with endless miles of sand, and humidity that clung onto him in a choking grip. When he stepped out of the airplane and embraced the cold breeze, he realized he didn’t miss the heat and humidity of Dubai. He picked up his phone and hurried to dial his wife’s number. “I’m HOME!”

And to think that one day he used to dream about owning 20 planes.


When we are children, we are filled with rosy dreams. Our imagination has no constraints about what could be done and what could not be done. Watch children trying to jump off the couch pretending they are superheroes. In our minds, everything used to be possible. Impossible was an alien word. A word that’s used by adults.

But then what happens? Life happens.

We grow up and the society around us draws constrains on our imagination. Suddenly, “impossible” becomes part of our daily lives. Ideas are deemed crazy and infeasible from the beginning of their lives. We don’t want to sound strange. We don’t want to be criticized so we go with the norm. We dare not leave our comfort zone so that we can belong.

But what if we go back to being kids in believing that the impossible can come true, if we put in enough effort?

There’s a quote by Robert Heinlein that says, “Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”

So what story will you tell your children? What legacy will you leave behind?

That’s my piece of mind today.