Oh, Just One Thing

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Sometimes you just know a good story when you see one. You know it a few minutes into the conversation. You don’t have to rummage to find its ambition. Or seduce it to see its heart. It has strong legs. It has tons of soundbites. Great quotes. It’s a wonderful, long curving narrative that doesn’t snap like a dry twig even when you think it will. It’s almost elastic, like a river that winds beautifully, never breaking into tributaries. The frame on the story never moves and if it does it doesn’t leave anyone behind.

 

While you sit there listening to it you are already constructing paragraphs in your head. Thinking about intros. Building it’s structure. It takes form in your bones, you feel yourself falling in love with it, all of it. Even the boring parts lend a hand to the bigger prose. You never throw anything away because every part is useful. It’s a story that just tells itself. And it stays in your head while you pack up your stuff after the interview. It thrashes about in your head like silvery fish out of water, as you reverse park the car in the basement, eager to go up and turn it into something that will stay longer than you will. Then when you sit down with your chisel in your hand, you knock it into shape, creating this sculpture of a tale. I don’t know how you feel reading a good story, but as a writer the feeling is one of immense satisfaction, especially if you tell it the best way you can. You don’t squander it. You dignify it. Mostly you let it speak for itself because its voice is bigger than yours. And such stories are rare. They come around perhaps once in a long while. Sometimes I can go for months without coming across one but when I stumble on it, I know it even before we are properly acquainted.

 

Last week’s story was one of those stories. It was a diamond. It had a pulse.

 

But it was also a story that hurt certain people, caused great discord in a family. It put the subject in dire straights, casting him on an island of his own making. And when a man, a decent sounding man, the age of my father, called me and we had a sober conversation and later I spoke to the boy in question and with KCDF, it was agreed that it was only fair that it be pulled down. Because stories we tell here shouldn’t harm others, or diminish them, unless they are the villains. They should inspire and uplift cause us to reflect and hopefully make us better in our own way. If it stops doing that then I might as well learn how to paint boats and move to shags. (I think I can make a great boat-painter).

 

So I pulled it down because it was the most decent thing to do even though most times the most decent thing to do can be the hardest thing to do. Oh, well. But you know what? There will always be another great story to tell. The world out there is waiting with astonishing stories. And we will find them if they don’t find us first.

 

Also, for those who have been wondering why I didn’t post on Tuesday, it – regrettably – was not because I was in police cell. Although that would make for good content.

 

   It’s past midnight and the beefy man with  a chin the size of a rusted hoe has just asked me to take him the metallic bucket. He shouted, “Wewe, mwanamke niletee choo hapa.” And everybody turned to look at me at the corner, leaning against the wall. I don’t move because I’m not mwanamke wa mtu. I’m chocolate man and not even his chocolate. But then he repeats his orders thunderously, pointing a thick finger at me, a finger that on the opposite wall, casts a shadow that looks like the very root of evil- “Wewe mwanamke! Nikijikojolea utanipanguza na hiyo shati yako!” Unbeknownst to me, he calls every newcomer in the cell mwanamke,  and your job is to fetch him the metallic bucket that is used as a toilet in the cell. He is supposed to pee as you wait for him to finish, then you carry the bucketful of piss back to the corner. And because I don’t move, because I have never taken  another man his toilet, or been called mwanamke for that matter, he slowly gets up on his feet and instinctively, everybody seems to recede into  the wall away from the coming violence, as he slowly makes his way towards me, his approaching snarly face increasingly looking like the bucket he wants to me fetch….

 

Anyway, I wasn’t in a police cell. I didn’t post a story this Tuesday because it was a public holiday, Labour Day. A day that workers are celebrated. I also happen to be a worker. You know, sometimes I tell God, Lord, how about you do your magic for the next public holiday to fall on a Tuesday? Because when it does fall on a Tuesday there is no way in hell that I’m going to sit down to write a post while you guys put your ashen feet up at home, eating eggs and watching TV, nursing a hangover while I labour away here. Oh, no, the dark days of some people slaving in cotton fields while others sit at the master’s feet in the house are long gone. So to be fair, if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday WE all rest.

 

So si we see you next Tuesday? Inshallah.

 

PS: That picture has got little to do with this post. I just like the texture of that man’s face. And how his mouth has aged faster than his other facial features. Plus, he is carrying bananas, who doesn’t like bananas?

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267 Comments
  1. Chocolate man am glad you were not in some police cell nor were you ran over by some drunk driver… you got us worried sick… but finally it’s here

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  2. Woiye it was pulled down? I wanna go see the young man because he needs more support than you are letting on.

    I didn’t realize it was Tuesday because it felt like Sunday. I was at a prayer breakfast. We pray and sing etc. So I was so sure today is Tuesday for you popped up on my inbox.

    Have a great rest for the rest of the week.

    Good Thursdsy to you.

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  3. Its gonna be a loooong week aki…was really waiting and thinking maybe my email address had been hacked and someone deleted my Biko story after reading it….next week Tuesday In Sha Allah…

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  4. Ha. And here I was anticipating the story behind the photo. But it is quite something, that photo. I literally observed it for all of 45 seconds before proceeding to the actual post (not that I counted hehe).

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  5. It’s a shame you had to pull down last week’s post… It ranks top 5 of all the posts you have ever written on this blog. And I have read ALL of them.

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  6. I’m trying to figure out how that story caused discomfort. Anyway, I’m glad a mutual agreement was reached.

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    1. Probably the family members reported the guy to the grandma that he was tarnishing the family name… I reckon Biko would not want to upset the poor old lady with her good heart.

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    2. So am I. I actually thought it was one of the best pieces I’ve ever read. Made me think of just how privileged I am and that I need to pay it forward more often. Oh well…

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  7. I still do not understand reason why the post was pulled down.

    But oh well, I like the man.

    And his bananas.
    Because who wouldn’t.

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  8. Ah, chocolate man! Why do you have to do this to us. Thankfully Tuesday isn’t too far for my weekly fix 🙂

    And yes, last week’s story had a pulse. It’s a shame it had to be pulled down. But I understand…

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  9. Hahaha dude ok. So you just needed a holiday to put your legs up and nurse away a hangover. It’s alright but please make sure you never end up in a police cell because I’m sure you will be called ‘mwanamke’.

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  10. How sad, I loved last week’s story 🙁 You really kept us waitng on Tuesday you know, I think I would have enjoyed your story better when cuddled up in my bed than when seated at my desk in the office, but I guess we will never know. Cheers

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  11. Raise your hand if you kept refreshing your email and coming to the blog worried you missed Tuesday’s post. *Raises both hands and legs*
    Totally agree, In as much as we love coming to this platform and being inspired;quote stories we tell here shouldn’t harm others, or diminish them, unless they are the villains
    Unquote.
    You did well chocolate man☺
    Haya basi tupatane next wiki Jumanne ama ni Tusdei

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  12. Last week’s story was heart wrenching and beautifully written. I shared it on twitter (twitter is a kalibrary for stories I want to reread), as the week dragged on, I decided to reread it. I opened twitter, clicked on the link and alas!! the story was gone. Thanks for explaining why…

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  13. Chocolate man thanks for giving an explanation for last week’s take down. I did not get to read it. Checked my email too late and found you had already deleted it.
    That photo got my eyes too. It’s a catchy one.
    P.S- if any of the gang has a copy of last week’s post please sneak it into my email
    annekomen@gmail.com

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  14. I have rushed here because… Well… I had been waiting. Addiction is real. Next week it is Biko

    Two Hands… It still served the purpose it was meant to; challenge us to hold one or two hands as we walk through life. It stirred us all…….. Including the people it hurt.

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  15. I’ve read many stories on this blog and sure last week’s story was among those with a pulse. Too bad you had to pull it down, guess it touched a nerve

  16. It’s sad, so sad that last week’s article had to be pulled down. It was a touching piece. One that made me choke with emotion. I wish him the very best.

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  17. “……if someone held your hand, hold two hands when you are in a position to.”
    My take away from last weeks story. I miss that story.

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  18. Oh, I love Bananas! I lived on bananas, once!
    I am sorry you had to pull down the last post. No matter, its purpose is fulfilled, I dare say!
    Yeah, I thought it was because of Labour Day. After all, it’s marked everywhere in the world. It’s only fair, yes! You do get to mark the day with everyone else.
    So, next Tuesday it is ….it’s a meeting!

  19. I had to double check on what day today is when I saw this email. Surprise! Anyway, as much as I don’t see what the trouble was with that article.. I can understand- sometimes people associated with a person who has suffered don’t particularly like the suffering being broadcast- I once ran into trouble for that. Where the article was written in good faith but some affected people don’t feel so.

    And thank you..for always bringing us stories that touch our humanity.

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  20. Oh last week’s was pulled down. Hehehehe. So how I read your stories is this …. I copy them onto a word document and print it out for my night reading.
    In fact, I have nearly all ur stories on a folder 🙂 It was an awesome and heartwrenching story at the same time.

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    1. Your reading style is interesting…story for another day. Meanwhile get ready to share, coz you’ll receive a couple of requests.

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    2. @Winnie, can I please have it. I was too busy last week on Tuesday that I didn’t get to read it….God knows how many times I tried to open it later and I was just getting error 404….@Biko this platform is addictive…Tuesday you tortured Me. I waited……

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    3. @Winnie, can I please have it justermajau@yahoo.com I was too busy last week on Tuesday that I didn’t get to read it….God knows how many times I tried to open it later and I was just getting error 404….@Biko this platform is addictive…Tuesday you tortured Me. I waited……mine

    4. Send it my way too please. One of those who saw the notification a bit late only to click on it and see a 404 Error!! 🙁

    5. Hi Winnie,

      I am peer counsellor in a high school in nairobi. I missed the ‘Two Hands ‘ article. I really liked the ‘Purple Drink’ that Biko wrote. Those articles really help me in my line of work. Kindly send me the ‘Two hands’ article to alvarothuo@gmail,com .Thanks.

  21. Biko the story might be pulled down but its deep and fresh in our minds and we continue praying for that young man and shosh tolive long to see his success.

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  22. Sad, but understandable. Your stories do shine light, open eyes and inspire, even when littered with villains.
    Hope the young man, the family and the parties involved find solace in the end.

    Till next Tuesday Mwana’mume’, even with our ashy feet and elbows tutangoja tu.

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  23. I was having withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t even know I was addicted to the blog… I mean I was once but I cleaned up my life and found better things to focus on, like filing my nails to make the ends look like an arrow tip and attempting to drink hot tea without scorching my tongue. But then Tuesday came and I was at work (so you see how it’s unfair to not write on a public holiday? Some of us are still slaves and we deserve something good after burning the roofs of our mouths with watery office tea) and I refreshed my email and nothing. Then I got home at 5 and checked my email again, sad that they’ll be too many comments and that mine will be lost in the masses. Nothing. And I thought, the audacity of this man! Wednesday, nothing! Checked FB, IG. Nada! I even thought maybe I had been removed from the mailing list. Resubscribed and checked the website, nothing.
    So last night, I dreamt I was drinking soda, Fanta orange of all things, at a semi-clean restaurant, you know those ones where there are flies all over your face and they’re doing that thing, that thing you do in a game of jump-rope where you count to three outside the rope before you jump between the rope? Yeah the flies were doing that with my mouth. Those restaurants where the tables are constantly wiped down with a wet kitambaa that isn’t really clean but serves the purpose of chasing away the flies for a few seconds? Yes, one of those restaurants. And I was drinking the soda and fighting over a straw (God knows why) or was I fighting for another bottle of soda? Anyway someone with a familiar voice started speaking behind me, asking questions that weren’t soda or even food related and I turned around and saw this dark, wizened man with deep frown lines, wearing a blue shirt, zile za ofisi with long sleeves, that was tucked into a pair of ill-fitting jeans that were cinched at the waist with one of those ugly belts. I think you were wearing open shoes and I thought, Yani this guy has such a nice voice and looks like this? And I thought he doesn’t have official clothes? And his forehead isn’t even impressive. And he isn’t even chocolate, this is pure tar. And you were asking questions but the soda/straw situation was more interesting so I ignored you, despite wanting to meet you for the past hundred years. Halafu my normal non-dreaming self was like, IT’S BIKO! TALK TO HIM!! When I turned back to talk to you, you were gone. I blinked and we found ourselves in a shabby matatu, ati we were going to TZ. You were squeezed in the row of seats behind the driver’s, and you looked old and like you have suffered a lot and I was wondering why on earth you’re going to TZ using a matatu when you could just fly there.
    So yeah, I was having withdrawal symptoms. We need proper warning if you’re not going to give us our weekly bread.

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  24. Pulling down the story was not right, though its still fresh in our minds and we wish the young an all the best.

  25. I noticed the story was pulled down on Tuesday morning when I came here to check whether it’s my notification bundles that finished, lol.
    Sad that it was because it was a really good story; a raw story. But haidhuru we shall get other beautiful ones Chocolate man.

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  26. Right this moment, I would not want to be in the shoes of someone who missed the story and now everyone is talking about it and they have no access to it whatsoever *devastating* Thank God am not.

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  27. isorait biko..Whatever you do give it your all..i pray the Almighty keeps the grandma alive for the boy’s sake(previous article)….anyway tuesday aint far.

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  28. Someone said first to comment and then went on to read. Haha. I agree don’t labour for such people. Rest as well and for the record I don’t have ashen feet-I was resting my well pedicured legs!
    Your blog is addictive-I read as soon as I get the notification so I didn’t miss the pulled down article. It was awell done piece that made me cry. I understand if it bruised some egos because the gang went on to ask about a few things….. ‘Oh, well. But you know what? There will always be another great story to tell. The world out there is waiting with astonishing stories. And we will find them if they don’t find us first’. We also know when you find them you’ll bring them to us

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  29. You also pulled down the Instagram post of one of your masterclass attendees – although for that particular one, it was very clear why.
    I respect that you listened and pulled down last week’s stroy – sad as we are that we’ll never revisit it. But from now on, I’ll never skip a Tuesday post in favour of coming back in two weeks to ‘binge read’, lest this happens again.
    Oh and it’s ‘dire straits’ not ‘dire straights’ – I never notice typos so today is a weird for me.

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    1. Gah, this is why I don’t correct other’s grammar; coz I also mess up. *story and * a weird day. Biko install an edit comment button.

  30. Whoever pushed the pulling down of the storo after we’ve read it, doesn’t know the meaning of inconsequential. It is like Ouru apologizing after scratching his butt in public. He scratched it. You can’t undo a scratch. Thing is we read the storo, we knew some people don’t pass for humans, we made our contribution. And we wished the young man all the best.

    Viva chocolate man! Viva Jacko!

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  31. My boyfriend fell behind on a couple of stories(work-i don’t understand this excuse)And since my big mouth couldn’t keep shut on how last weeks story was amazing , guess who has to remember and tell the story in detail.Poor me :-/ someone throw in what you took home to help a sister…

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  32. It was a good story sad yet so inspiring,…. and clearly, it impacted someone/people. Guess you did the right thing .

  33. Last week’s story was so deep I didn’t close the page once I read it. I am so glad I didn’t because a few days later a friend told me you had pulled it down. Now I can’t close the page. Lol!
    It’s however good to know why you removed it. I thought the fueling station had asked you to remove. Haha.

  34. I let some stories sit pretty waiting for a perfect time to read. Without distraction. Then I imagine how tantalizing they’ll be when I finally get that perfect opportunity. Nimeshikwa! I let the link sit in my inbox. Unread. For 4 days. When I went to check, POOF! Needless to say, I’ll be consuming them hot and steamy

  35. I always read your blogs immediately or soon after they hit my inbox. But for some reason today I planned to read in the evening as I wait for a coffee date with a girlfriend. I see the picture of the old man with a bunch of bananas and I am excited to start the read…only to find an apology ……
    I feel like I will walk out of this date……

    I didn’t realise am a Biko addict.

  36. The villain was surely diminished in last week’s post, that’s the only reason I can accept for it to get pulled down. That young man has come this far, even if feathers are ruffled, nothing will stop him.
    ION chocolate man,that photo surely made up for the lack of a story.

  37. Sawa, Jackson the Chocolate man with a words factory!
    In the spirit of authenticity, which I think is a hard pill to swallow I echo your words.”Because stories we tell here shouldn’t harm others, or diminish them unless they are the villains. They should inspire and uplift cause us to reflect and hopefully make us better in our own way. “maybe you can write about the villain behind the slavery as a choice notion!

  38. If it was about the conditiins at the petrol station it should have remained. Bad working conditions should be condemned.

  39. Bwana Biko, I thought you were a freelancer. Freelancers work all the time, even on public holidays..
    The picture is likely taken in South East Asia, the tropics. I would bet the man in the picture is Indonesian. Lots of greenery there. He has a relaxed happy vibe about him.

  40. Two things I had to confirm, the mans lips and the missing post..which apparently I read. But for some peculiar reason, the comment section made me go back a second time..just to confirm my eyes and my memory were on the same page. What more do I need to know I’m addicted??
    Tuesday will surely arrive..

  41. That man’s mouth is the same age as the rest of his face…

    We won’t forget the young man in the story. He stood up when you walked into the room, and millenials don’t stand for nobody, his jeans had 16 pockets and his hands had worked some… He’ll be fine that young man. Scratch that, he is going places!! Even if his story got pulled down. Since we’ll still be here in 10 years, keep in touch with him and let us know. Would you?

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  42. Pulling down the story doesn’t undo the good that you did. Pulling down that story doesn’t undo the words of hope that he heard from you. Pulling down that story doesn’t undo the fact that he got a through your networks .Pulling down that story doesn’t undo the fact that you care about the people you write about and I am glad that I read stories by a writer who cares .Well in Biko.

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  43. Two weeks ago I decided to be reading your posts exactly at 1pm every Tuesday. That decision, however simple, earned me the rare opportunity to read that story. I later shared it with friends and family who have been part of KCDF, only later to see a 404 error. Thanks for explaining the cause. I feel like a true stakeholder at Bikozulu Holdings. Lol

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  44. Yaani the only storo that I’ve ever commented on here was pulled down!!?? Villians though! The impact the story had can’t be undone though.
    ION we do like them bananas, who doesn’t? Just had my share for supper; 2 of them.
    Good night gang.

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  45. Keep doing what you do Biko, you’re stories are timeless…they find a place in our hearts and stick with us long after we have closed the page.

  46. Hey biko…you good man????…..but why did you do away with your previous post titled “Two hands”…. Martin here…

  47. Mh, could it be the manufacturer of his pair of trousers? Coz of the way you killed it and its pockets? haha

  48. Though the post has been pulled down, I still remember his story and his character. I feel like i know him. My prayers and thoughts go out to him.

    In other news, how does Chocolate man get to assume his readers have ashen feet? Hahaha

    I await next Tuesday with so much Zeal

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    1. I also got this two inspiring & meaningful quotes from the post;

      1. There is no lowly job. Everything you do counts for something, then or some day.

      2. If someone held your hand, hold two hands when you are in a position to.

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  49. For some reason when I came back to re-read the post and couldn’t seem to find it, I straight-away had a feeling that someone wasn’t happy with it and chocolate man had pulled it down. My bet wasn’t on the family though so that comes as a pleasant surprise. … Here’s hoping that the young man still catches a break.

  50. “They should inspire and uplift cause us to reflect and hopefully make us better in our own way….”
    I think the last blog had this effect on me and most others (I hope)…

    But oh well, stories shouldn’t harm or hurt others ..
    It had a pulse and I hope the young man is okay #TwoHands

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  51. I wonder why you had to pull that one down. It was one of those ‘human’ stories that we hear about. So, is the boy employed now, or did he lose that, too? If you cannot divulge the details, it’s understood. If the boy still needs “kibarua”, I feel you should also let us, who were touched but happy he found something, know.

    That’s all.

  52. Two Hands story was not in vain. I made a contribution to KCDF because of it . Anyway, fair play to the family

  53. “And when a man, a decent sounding man, the age of my father, called me and we had a sober conversation” – Bet its the uncle with the nasty wife who kept the boy on his feet 24-7

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    1. “Jane” it’s probably because SHE wants to. Because SHE can. Because SHE doesn’t need anyone’s approval to do what she damns want to do. And oh, lest I forget, because its 2018 and SHE is not prohibited from enjoying her smoke.

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  54. By the way Biko, I was concerned when I didn’t see your post on Tuesday. I thought like ‘Gosh, what if Biko is unwell, lying on a hospital bed somewhere and we don’t know?’ The things we take for granted. May the Lord keep you in good health always. Cheers.

  55. I did not get to read the story!

    I love the man too his complexion reminds me of the men in gods must be crazy

    oh, and his bananas…sorry…his sweet bananas..who doesn’t love sweet bananas.

  56. I remember the boy with a pastors voice and long nails. He made believe in the God of small things. When you think you are the end, a window opens quietly and a soft feeble hand pulls you in. Life hits you hard and you bite down on your arm harder and keep praying.

    Instead of his relatives hiding their nakedness, they should lend him a hand.
    I don’t even know why I feel so torn.

  57. That post was beautifully written. It had me in tears. How could such an amazing story, told by such an amazing young man bring discord to a family. It doesn’t make sense.