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Long-short story about Denis & Gratitude


One of Denis’ parents works with my friends’ family. Let us call the friend Carol.

I knew that Denis had gone to a foreign country and hadn’t heard about him in a while. One random night in May, I failed to sleep and I thought of Denis, in that way you feel your gut telling you to check-in. I got up early and sent Carol a message, asking after him since it was lockdown and I couldn’t imagine how he was dealing. Carol said she’d get back to me.

It turned out Denis was struggling. His visa was soon to expire. He needed a job and fast. He’d been unsuccessful and was living with a friend longer than planned. (You know how it feels when you outstay your welcome, or rather tell yourself that you have) He had been planning to call home and ask for money that very day! 

When Carol told me, I asked for a way to send money to Denis. I sent a seemingly insignificant sum, later that day and wished him well. Denis was over the moon. He immediately reached out to thank me but that’s not where it stopped. He sent me updates for every job interview he did and the progress. 

In the middle of the night a couple of months ago he texted “Sorry for texting late but I am just so excited” as he announced his job offer  He kept updating me on his role, that he’d found accommodation and even pictures at his work station. Yesterday he sent pictures of his resident ID. 

Why am I sharing this?

Honestly, I’m not so sure.

Each time he sends an update I am mostly guilty and want to say “You don’t owe me an update” but the other part of me is really happy for him because he is such a hard worker, a young man with a good head on his shoulder and tonnes of potential, whose progress I am glad to be part of, even in the tiniest way. 

There are ‘small’ things which continue to shock me. Someone literally hounds you for information or any sort of support and the moment they get it, it’s radio silence from thereon. It is not even so much the ‘Thank you’ for me, as it is the acknowledgement; whether it is a phone number you asked for or mobile money, heck even the ‘send me this’ crew who haven’t spoken to you in years but can’t even ‘pretend’ to at least start with pleasantries. You have to call to find out if they received the money, if the job interview you recommended them for worked out and everything in between.

Now on to gratitude, I’ve not quite had any experience like the one with Denis; and I am not saying that is the ‘right’ way to show gratitude. In fact, my only secret hope for whoever I might lend a hand is that they pay it forward and I never reach out because I expect anything in return; But do we ever stop to think what it took for people to willingly offer us their time and/or resources, sometimes without even asking? Do they know how grateful we are or how their support impacted our lives? Are we the kind who will say “I made it on my own” or “I started with Ugx 50,000 and now I’m a billionaire” neglecting to mention how you got that 50,000, opportunities and those who helped you get there? 

I, too, fall short often but this gentleman, about 10 years my junior, reminded me not just to acknowledge those who look out for me, but also to let them know. Perhaps, they too will be uplifted when they realise that the small seed they sowed, is now a flourishing fruit.

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Written by Esther Kalenzi (0)

Celebrating life and humour; attempting to make a difference in deed and through my first love, writing.

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