The Cycle of Dismay

Overlooking the hills of Oakland California in the year 1991 was a paradisiac suburban estate that thrived among a natural forest. Life prevailed in the usual peaceful way. People visited grocery stores and surrounding shopping malls. Some enjoyed grilling meat in their lawns. Others yet focused on advancing their careers through personal studies and research. One Dr. Delmar Sanders, a neurosurgeon with a 25-year practice in Oakland, was getting ready for one of the neurosurgical lifesaving duties. Then, as sudden as could be unprecedented, a huge fire broke out and began razing the twigs and trees between October 19th and 22nd of 1991. The wildfire killed 25 people and injuring 150 others. It further destroyed 1,520 acres of land on which there were 2,843 single-family dwellings and 437 apartments as well as condominium units. The economic loss from the fire was estimated at 1.5 billion dollars an equivalent of 2.8 billion dollars today due to inflation. With 2.8 billion dollars, you could buy 93,333 cars each going for $30,000.

Growing up, I was lucky to interact with kids from middle-income homes. An average middle-income home cannot lack a pet, more specifically a dog. A friend of mine then, Gathumbi, owned a Chihuahua. He was a long-haired breed that is part of the UK Kennel Club. The dog was brown, blue-eyed, short, sturdy, and very swift. It became our playing partner until a fateful day when a garbage truck ran over it and splattered all its inner contents. That was the first terrible loss I have ever encountered in my life, even though the Chihuahua wasn’t mine. We gave it a sendoff that is the equivalent of Nelson Mandela’s sendoff in the animal kingdom.

Fast forward to the day when I was a class 8 candidate, my dear mother promised me a mountain bike if I attained any mark above 390/500. It became my resolve and sole aspiration in life to surpass the minimum threshold set for getting to own a mountain bike. Not only did I attain the set mark but also surpassed it in a manner that surprised everybody who had always taken me for granted. And as the cycle of dismay dictates, mother never kept her promise and I have never owned a bicycle to this day as heavily bearded as I am. Again, that was a heartbreak I will live to narrate to my firstborn son when he gets to class 8.

Seven years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I watched him agonize in pain as a catheter was inserted in his urethra to enable him to pass urine. I watched him being given the news that his testicles needed to be excised to avert the growth of the prostate. I pitied him when he was unable to walk to the washroom to pass the stool and had to do it right on the hospital bed. My heart was crushed when his physician let us know that cancer had spread to his vital organs such as the lungs and heart. I cannot forget how helpless I became when one day we walked to his ward and found his lifeless body lying there. He left me fond memories of being able to trace back my lineage to the seventh generation.

A few weeks ago, on our campus online platform, we received the damning news of the passing on of our most youthful favorite lecturers. He went to the rooftop of his apartment to adjust the aerial for him to probably check out the measures implemented to eradicate COVID-19. He was electrocuted and his head ruptured and the book of his life was closed. As if that is not heart-rending enough, another friend of mine called me one early morning at 6 a.m., ‘Orina, I lost my mother yesternight.’ How do you comfort such a friend?

 Disappointments are a certain part of life. If you are dealing with one right now, conceive in your mind that you are just but in life’s cycle of dismay. Whether someone you trusted let you down when something at work or in business didn’t go right or your life is far from where it ought to be, it is an inevitable phase. Martin Luther King Jr. in his wisdom once said, ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’

‘Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. Disappointments are to the soul, what a thunderstorm is to the air.’

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