Have you ever put off doing something for 11 years? Of course not. This tells you that you are just an amateur when it comes to procrastination and for some of us, you are not worthy untying our shoe laces in this respect. We hold our ground among the very worst procrastinators. Speaking on my behalf, I am the undisputed champion- a Michael Phelps -of employing delaying tactics on any task especially those with a deadline. I am a crusader of both never-do-today-what-you-can-do-tomorrow and work is never eaten by rats. Those two maxims are so comforting. They are awesome.
You say you suffer from procrastination? You have not seen me yet. I am so good at procrastinating that I employ delaying tactics on the act itself.
I must get this one story off my chest or whichever part of the body that yet-to-be-written stories reside.
The year is 2005 and I am in the coastal town of Mombasa. I was a student then at the Technical University of Mombasa formerly The Mombasa Polytechnic University College and Mombasa Polytechnic before that. (There was a major student protest when the institution changed its name to The Mombasa Polytechnic University College. This new name didn’t go well with a good number of students and they didn’t want the words college and polytechnic in the institution’s new name. Calm was restored after one of the likeable lecturers told the students that one of the leading University in the World-MIT-doesn’t carry the word university in its name. This was greeted with unanimous shouts of “hoooo… si mungesema hivyo kitambo”.)
My classes started at 7.30am and ended at 1.30pm. When I was not in the company of my friends Bedan Kariuki, Erastus Gichuki and Joseph Nyoike, I would while away the afternoons listening to street preachers and herbalist.
I liked the later group because of their cunning ingenuity. They were incredibly astute in their unscrupulous business. I enjoyed watching as the poor got duped to part with their hard earned cash by self-professed herbal specialists.
The specialists and their crew would come with an assortment of herbs and twigs and grass and berries and roots and pieces of wood which they would arrange methodically on a strategic street/junction. A crowd would gather to listen to solutions to all known and unknown ailments. There were ferns, sisal plant, black jacks, wondering dew, Aloe vera, Stinging nettle, maize male flower head, lichen you name it.
For those who cannot proceed watching news past the headlines, a remedy would be recommended that would enable them watch news up to sports and the weather.
Those with worms and amoeba and all sorts of persistently irritating fauna and flora in their systems would get a permanent solution for their affliction.
There was an herb or a root or a piece of wood for every medical problem known and unknown to mankind. After explaining the function and medicinal wonders for each herb, root and grass, the herbalist would then unleash a bottle of packaged liquid medicine and go on pushing the point home about its formidability against diseases and medical conditions.
This apparently was the power of all the hitherto explained properties of the twigs and herbs all made into a single potent solution that would guarantee a world free off diseases if folks made use of it.
One day, I was unable to suppress my laughter when an herbalist, after unleashing the bottled medicine quipped.
Do you realize how dirty my clothes are? I have spent 6 months deep inside Mt Kenya forest carrying out medical research.
From the gathering, the herbalist would summon a few volunteers suffering from different ailments. He would ask each one of them what was troubling them. The diseases ranged from headache, backache, toothache, blurred vision, stiff joints, partial deafness, dizziness, memory lapse, heartburn, high blood pressure etcetera.
An aide would be asked to administer a spoonful of medicine to each of the patients after which they would be asked to relax while waiting for the magic formula to take effect.
The herbalist would go on explaining other aspects of the broad field of herbal medicine and how it beat conventional medicine hands in the pockets. After ten minutes or so, from the administering of the medicine, he would start summoning the patients one after the other.
How did you find it? Medicine or no medicine?
What was ailing you?
I had a toothache?
How long has the tooth troubled you?
For the last three years.
How are you feeling now?
The tooth has settled.
This Mzee had a toothache for the last three years. We have given him a spoonful of the medicine and he is now healed.
What was troubling you Mzee?
I had a problem with my back.
What exactly was wrong with your back?
I usually feel as if I have a crowbar for a backbone.
Hehehe, mzee you are funny…. …How long have you had the problem?
I cannot remember exactly but it was before Kaya Bombo.
And how do you feel after taking the medicine?
I am feeling totally healed, I can now bend and lean forward comfortably. I am feeling young again.
All of them would come and state that they have been healed. The herbalist would address the crowd telling them.
You have all seen for yourselves how our medicine works. Now, we want to give a few of these medicines to a lucky few. We have only carried 20 medicines for the people of Mombasa. We are not selling this medicine, we are giving it for free. The only thing you will do is to reimburse the money for the packaging and labeling of the medicine. You will only give us kes 100. Otherwise when you come to our clinic, we will sell the very same medicine at kes 3500 per bottle.
Lift your life in one hand and kes 100 in the other and decide which is heavier. If you find that kes 100 is heavier than your life then keep the money. But if you find that your life is heavier than kes 100 buy yourself a bottle of medicine.
How many of you want the medicine for only kes 100.
About 150 hands would shoot up in the crowd.
We said we only have 20 bottles of medicine for Mombasa. Why is everybody lifting up their hands? We are not giving out more than 20 bottles. Only the lucky 20 will get the medicine.
This was nothing but pretense as the guys would end up selling the medicine to all that were interested.
Probably I should look for these herbalists to give me a cure for procrastination.