From time immemorial, it has been certain that the human race has been, still is and will forever be plagued by darkness. The darkness I am going on about here is not the kind that many of us like to creep into so we can be our actual selves – especially since we are filthy under the light. I am not referring to the darkness that exists on any given day when UMEME decides to flip a few switches or the kind that lingers between the thighs of an overweight woman. I am referring to the darkness that appears in each of our lives; the darkness that presents a trying time, a rough patch, a blip, a situation we would otherwise prefer not to deal with. For purposes of better referencing, we shall refer to that darkness as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”.
Any Christian reading this will probably be smiling by now because the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” is a place where battles are fought – and often won. If Psalms 23:4 is anything to go by, there is plenty of winning in this “Valley of the Shadow of Death”. The rest of you non-Christians are probably wondering why you even have to read this; it is meaningless and probably as close to gibberish as the statement “demand and supply” to a Chemist or neurologist. Allow me to bring you on board friends; allow me.
Each of us will at one time, three times or several times go through a moment in our lives when we think and feel like we are strolling through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. At such moments we shall be caught saying things like “What the Phuck!” or “Somebody get me out of this bullsh*t!” or occasionally we will silently murmur the words “Oh Lord! No!” Every once in a while you will find a noble Christian dropping down on his knees to find solution from up above. During moment such as these, words like Pain, Sad, Alone, Sufferring, Suicide, Hate, Game Over start to get more use in your vocabulary.
I have realized however that each person has their own Valley of the Shadow of Death that they go through and while some are open to confessions about how their valleys are long and dark, others are keen to hide the locations and description of their valleys. It would therefore appear that some people do not go through this valley but believe you me; we all do!
I shall attempt to present my take on the Valley of the Shadow of Death as seen from different perspectives. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the valley of the shadow of death …
The Wake Up call
I know quite a number of people who say their lives would be 245% better if they did not have to wake up early to go to school or work. For such people, the decision between pressing ‘snooze’ and actually breaking the alarm is down to the position of the alarm clock. I personally know a friend who has bought and broken 6 alarm clocks over a period of a month. She has the alarm clock near her bedside and whenever it goes off; she instinctively rises up, grabs the little hardware and flings it across the room. She is not a violent person; she is quite charming, wonderful, calm and generally reserved. Waking up early is just not her thing! This is her Valley of the Shadow of Death. Sadly for her, this valley comes right round every damn day! I feel for her because oftentimes when the rest of us are making plans for how we shall spend the next day, she is making plans for how she will buy a better and stronger alarm clock that can withstand a five meter smash into a hard wall. I know many of you are not the biggest fans of waking up early and if you had to pick between waking up early and a pay cut, you would definitely pick the pay cut. Be strong friends, be strong. There are many of your lot out there – enough to start a revolution in which waking up early can be made illegal. A revolution in which it is decreed that whichever office opens its doors before 11:30am shall be fined for attempting to push people into the dreaded Valley of the Shadow of Death. I feel for you my friends; I really do.
No One is Looking at Me!
There are a number of girls who leave their houses, go to the bar, buy their own drinks and have no intention of hitting it off with any guy. I know some men have their eyes wide open thinking – dude, are you high? Well, gentlemen, such ladies do exist. If and when someone strikes up good conversation, they can play along but eventually at the end of the night, there are no phone numbers exchanged and no sleazy glances being thrown around the bar. Having said this, it is (almost) solid truth that every woman loves to feel appreciated; every woman likes to be noticed. If not because they hope you take them home, then at least because they imagine that they put quite some effort in looking the way they are. (Some of course could do with a little less effort while others need to double or triple their efforts). If after half an hour of applying make up a woman strolls into a place and no one as much as glances at her, that right there is the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That is pain, embarrassment, disappointment and sadness all rolled up into one body.
You don’t want a woman ripping out her hair like this. Tell her she’s pretty. Do it NOW!
It might be a little stereotypical to imagine that women love to be complimented but that right there is a fairly agreeable fact. If she takes time pimping herself up and you do not notice or make mention of it, you are putting the poor woman through the dreaded Valley. If you are not Christian and therefore don’t believe in the valley of the shadow of death, at least you are human and you believe in rewarding efforts, right? Do the honourable thing and tell the woman that her hair looks smooth or that she smells nice or that her lips look delicious. We owe it to each other to help one another from walking the entire stretch of that dreadful valley.
The Mid Month Crisis
When you have just received your salary, you are most likely feeling like you own half the town. Most times, you will go to extra lengths to convince yourself and other people that indeed you do. Attend a party here, go for that launch, be at that bazaar, show up at this concert and do not miss that other show. A few days down the road and you start to have visions of life as a church mouse – but these are just visions. Eventually the reality starts to sink in as the month inches away ever so slowly. By the time it is mid-month, you can almost certainly see yourself taking up another odd job just so you can have something to eat tomorrow. And a few days before pay day, you feel the sun is hotter, the cold is harsher and the rain is harder on your skin. This is partly brought on by the calls from those you owe and the ladies you have promised pizza. You start to complain about the president, the economy, Oil, and whatever else you can complain about. You my friend, are deep in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Of course one can argue that Ugandans are perpetually in this Valley of the Shadow of Death but have grown accustomed to making it through nonetheless. This valley might seem very long and it is often littered with many things on the left that you can purchase while on the right you will see all sorts of stupid methods to get the money to purchase things on the left. You look around to see if anyone is looking then you silently take up one of those odd jobs on the right; you get involved in sports betting. Before you know it, the journey seems longer and somehow the ground beneath you is hotter. You did it my friend; you just sunk deeper in debt and punctured the tires on your ride through this valley of the shadow of death. Have fun …wait, fun is too costly, you cannot afford anything! Sorry mate – the Valley of the Shadow of Death is harsh just like that!
more and more, you find yourself having to camp at the ATM ….
Matters of the Heart – and then the friendzone
Over the years, I have learnt that almost every soul that treads this earth is bound to be pushed into the valley of the shadow of death if not by love then by lust. The distinction between the two is something I am yet to uncover but that will be a discussion for another Monday. Girl likes guy. Guy never notices girl. Girl does everything in her power to present her unspoken case, guy never notices. Girl is definitely walking through the valley. Fortunately for her, it is not such a painful walk because she can find ways to win guy over. What might make the walk through the valley painful though, is learning that the guy is married, engaged or worse; that he is gay! And then there is the even deeper situation where guy lands for girl’s best friend, sister or grandmother! That right there is a painful walk through the valley my friends; very painful. It is probably at this juncture that I make mention of the famously feared friendzone. There are fewer walks that are more painful than a walk that has been instigated by the friendzone. When you like someone enough to have sexual thoughts about them, you are hoping they will not think of you as a ‘very good friend’ or worse, as a ‘brother’. The pain is too much here. Women do this all the time and they smile innocently swinging their fine behinds and acting sexy as hell! They do this, often unaware that men are crushing and dying deep down. Ladies, please hold a brother’s hand as he walks through the valley of the shadow of death; show him some flesh every once in a while. Give him a meaningless kiss occasionally, if it’s not too much to ask for, sleep with him. Support the brother through the tough time in the friendzone. Ladies, after you have thrown the man deep into the friendzone, do not leave him out there to dry; offer support – after all, you threw him there! And gentlemn, when you have been flung into the friendzone and you find it a tad too uncomfortable; make it known that you would like to switch places with some other willing dude. Obviously you are risking it all here but I think if you want to tap some of it, it’s probably worth a risk.
NB – I am not in any way condoning the act of men asking their friends for the P just because they feel being in the friendzone is uncomfortable. Sometimes being in the friendzone is much sweeter than being in no-zone. Think about that.
Trip to the Medic
Over the past 3 or 4 days I have been undergoing treatment for malaria and I have to admit, I felt like the valley of the shadow of death was creeping up on me, or I on it. At the very beginning, Ophelia was quick to point out that this is a disease for 3rd World Countries and I smiled, I am in the 3rd World after all – may as well live like I am! On the other hand, I realized that I’d rather suffer from malaria than Cancer, Diabetes or High Blood Pressure – 1st World Country diseases. Mine is cheaper to treat. And I have a friend Winfred who is a real Nurse. She will make sure you take your meds at the right time if it means calling you up six or seven times an hour. She also made it clear to me that I need to have a Thermometer and Blood Pressure Monitor nearby. Now these are things I thought are supposed to be found only in a hospital setting. Turns out I was wrong. And while we were discussing this, somehow, she started explaining blood pressure, cancer of the throat, typhoid, and the sphincter muscle and then I realized, I am truly in the Valley of the Shadow of Death! Instead of discussing FOMO, Beer brands, dress code for the party, the price of Guinness, relocation, drunk driving and hangover, I was here talking about medical things. I fear the hospital. I fear anything to do with tablets or medication for that matter. As I walked through this valley however, there were a few things helping me on my trip. There was that sweet syrup that the doctor recommended. Every time I took a sip, I smiled – and felt young again. Then the friends who kept reminding me that as long as it’s not AIDS, Cancer or Bird Flu, we are still very much friends. Occasionally one person would throw an out of taste joke like I probably got the malaria from a Mosquito that had starved for days and could do with anything – even my blood; Vampire blood! Then there were the movies that I watched the whole time. For someone who loves humour, nothing cracks me up like a standup comedy show that I have watched 6 times over and know all the jokes and punch lines. Priceless! As I write this, I feel like I am rejuvenated and ready to take on the world yet again (or get battered by it – whichever comes first). My walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death was painful, but fortunately for me, the friends I have will not let you walk through the valley alone. So even when your head is pounding, a friend will call you up and crack a joke that will make your head pound even more – totally worth it!
I shall wish you all a wonderful week and as you walk through your various Valleys, allow me to leave you with some inspiration as I usually do. This time though, it is from the bible.
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me – Psalm 23:4 –
The Talkative Rocker