I study medicine, but I have been advised to “go ye into the world and try other careers” by my own schoolmates. Apparently, I seem to be more interested in them than in medicine. I think it’s true, because I rarely study for long hours. I can’t even concentrate beyond a bunch of minutes. Passionately though, I want to be a teacher 🙂
Today I shall describe my weird skills. Perhaps somehow I may encourage or challenge you to try that crazy one you’ve been thinking of trying out. Mhh?
For years I have fantasized about plumbing. Yeah, imagine. Then I got an opportunity last week. I was at home, and someone ingeniously stuffed foodstuffs down the kitchen drain. (Un)fortunately, the sucker had recently been damaged. (These are the normal things that happen when it is male humans in the kitchen.) I tried to unblock the sink with my palms. Hey, come on…it’s worked severally before. I usually just find a way to manipulate my thenar and hypothenar eminences (medical words for the fat parts of our palms… Mine are fat 🙂 ..) into some cup-like shape. Maybe it’s hard to explain, but it works.
This day, it didn’t.
I went under the sink and put apart everything. The sink had been leaking too for a while so I got my fair share of disgusting black sludge on the external surfaces. I cleaned the parts, focusing more on the trap, then put everything back to place. It didn’t unblock. I repeated the ritual severally, nothing. Eventually, while screwing the strainer back into place, I did it with so much vigour it broke the plastic thingy in which the screw fits. (Gosh! What are the names of these things!)
Mother, who had been cheering me all through, said it was okay that I had tried. We agreed that I go to a hardware and get the broken piece or the entire assemble. I studied online while on the bus to the hardware to learn how to fix the parts and precautions to take. Forty minutes later, I came back having known even the prices of plumbing materials locally. What I lacked was plumbing putty, but I could still start over.
I retried my plumbing. I succeeded. Now there were no leaks too. But something was amiss…the sink was still not draining well. I followed the entire drainage system to the external parts of the house. Mother mentioned that the plumber we always call over usually uses a stick to unblock it. I unscrewed the drainage pipes and examined each of them. The final draining one shocked me. It vomited all kinds of disgusting stuff and…hmm…a long curved stick. T’was curved so as not to fall off, and had manually been placed in there by a human being – our plumber-whom-we-always-call-to-unblock-the-sink-every-two-months. This was a genius strategy to have the sink blocked over and over so that we could call him over and leave him some good pay.
Mom celebrated me throughout the night, and even the next morning. She told me, “Now you see how skills help you avoid con people.”
So clever is our plumber guy that that morning he actually came home to ‘say hi’ to my parents and to ask if all the sinks were alright. Really!
I informed him that I had sorted it out, he looked at me like I was playing mind games on him. Then I asked why he left a stick inside. He fumbled for a silly explanation from his head, his frail old figure literally shaking. Shame!
I love skills so much, if I could build my own house from the foundations to the roof I would; including the interior and exterior decor.
Some of my friends find me weird. I have a hammer, nails and screws in my school room. And no, not for trophy. I use them. But I disappoint everyone who comes to ask me for a large screwdriver…even very distant neighbors seek this from me with the expectation that I have all the “odd” things. I only offer the small one, which I acquired while preparing to open my laptop to fix my fan. That was a risk, by the way, and I had planned to deal with the consequences. But I extended this laptop-opening skill to my best friend whose laptop we also opened the day after opening mine, and again two days ago. He even went ahead to exercise the skill while sorting his friend’s laptop. Apprenticeship? 🙂 We had caused his keyboard to fail when repairing his fan the first time, so he found the same fail already existing in his friend’s laptop and sorted it. Yes, we still do understand the risk in all this.
I love opening up gadgets. I have fixed radios, table lamps, woofers, extension cables, hair dryers, phones and watches. Yes, I have made some even worse and unusable. But the former exceeds the latter, luckily. I have opened up sockets and switches too. And the electric shocks I have experienced have definitely not been fun. They’ve only given me something to write about.
Perhaps I’m just curious. And sometimes I just want to exercise words of the Good Book: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. I have failed sometimes, or caused distress especially to Mother. I remember countless times when she had to sing to me to STOP! cutting garments in the house. I’d been trying out tailoring. But, years later, she does not regret my mischief. I have learned a lot on garment making and repairs. In fact, I am only waiting to own my tailoring machine. Meanwhile, I’m still imitating the common tailor’s stiches by hand – The backstitch. I clearly remember my home science teacher being openly heartbroken when I was given a chance to choose between home science and business studies. And I chose the latter. I had been one of her good students, and I handed in my handmade apron (which had been a project that year) first. I loved the stitches myself, they were neat. Then I dropped the subject, because I had felt I would focus too much on it than the others if I went on with it to the final year.
Just yesterday I bought a dress whose design I thought would be better shorter. I cut it 5 inches from the hemline and re-stitched another hem. That would have cost not so much at a tailor’s shop, but sometimes I enjoy fixing things myself. This reminds me. Late last year I satisfied my urge of shoe repairing. I found the tools, amazingly cheap, and began fixing torn shoes around home. Even the ones that my siblings stopped wearing ages ago. I felt like I could pass the skill to someone, maybe befriend a street child and teach them, so they could start their own business or something. But my greatest achievement shall be creating a pair from nothingness to beauty.
When it comes to beauty stuff, I have not so much dwelt there. I have just recently learned to braid and twist hair. I’m not good enough to even do internship at a salon. So I’m still perfecting the skills on my own and my sister’s hair…yea, that’s part of the perks of being a younger sister – experiments 😀
I have made jewellery and accessories, combining beadwork and tailoring. When I was 20 I had some season of demand for these items, and I made a mini-business out of it. Not that I needed to make money, as Mother has been very provident, but that I needed to also try my hand on trade. I still trade today, but only when really required to. (Like when someone weeps and refuses to eat for a week because they require me to create a wall hanging for them, or a fluffy carpet, or to decorate their interiors). Because I rarely find time to focus on one art form at a time. Mostly, I gift. Because gifting – random gifting – allows one to spend all the time they wish in preparation.
Besides gifting I teach some skills. At some point, I used to sell knowledge of carpet embroidery to the public. I tailored special classes that would last around 20-30 minutes and I’d leave individuals equipped. Again, it was not so much for the pay than for the joy of seeing my projects succeed. Mother still provides very well, thank God.
I am still learning other skills. I am very interested in knitting. Mother and Aunt have the knowledge but no time to teach me. Or maybe I have just not been aggressive. I am also interested in wood work – making, painting and buying. But I enjoy seeing Brother already succeeding in that already (You may check out Guura Furniture on social media)
But on advancing painting, earlier this week I painted my pot. Okay, first, I bought a pot all the way from rural Kenya because I found out that the price there is more than three times less than in urban Kenya. Then my younger sister bought my pot a li’l friend – a piggy bank. (It’s not shaped as a pig though). And I bought me a brush size 2 (I didn’t even know brushes have grades) then painted them both. Green.
Sometimes I feel maybe I should stop trying out new things. But then I see no harm so I usually carry on. In fact, I think I should start being more serious about skills I seem to have neglected or ignored; like pencil art, uitar playing (I’m not as good as I aim to be) and writing …like, novel writing.
That when I finally die, I shall have tried out my hand on everything that I had a chance to.