There is a time for everything, says the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3, a time to plant and a time to harvest. It seems life can be a pointless struggle then at the end of it, you come out with everything you deserve, but only after a neshing period.
It seems in life some just jump the queue without neshing, I must state that Neshing doesn’t have a similar word in English but in Kigali slang it means suffering.
Is suffering good for the soul? It depends what soul you are talking about. Various people tolerate different levels of neshing.
For example, the neighbourhood chief of the Mudugudu where I live neshes properly, he walks down to the depot at the bottom of the hill and carries four crates of beer and soda for Rwf 200 a time, in the scorching sun.
He is done by 11am, and can sleep all day to resume watch duty by night, yet when you see his family they look healthy and happy.
His kids go to the local school with children of professionals, so those hard crates have some rewards. No suffering is pointless if you have a purpose, I suppose if I had kids, I would lift crates all day for them if that was the only option.
The recent weeks have seen graduation ceremonies and parties for the major universities and institutions. One thing rings true, it makes you realise what people live for, every parent was teary-eyed as they gave their testimony.
They saw the goodness they had instilled in their young ones; they saw the point of all that neshing.
Having a child is not a joke, first they just poo-poo all day, then they get hyperactive, then they become unruly teenagers, and then out of the blue like a butterfly out of a cocoon they emerge as you intended.
Of course they are moments of joy, but they get buried under all the daily drama. These ceremonies and parties are a chance to reflect, how parents hid poverty from us, how we always had food on the table without knowing what they had to do to get it.
So the neshing is hidden from you to make sure your concentrate on your studies, but clues remain, like when a father doesn’t buy a new pair of shoes for 5 years.
Or a mother buys a wig and stops the weekly trips to the salon; it is little things like that that show the efforts we make for our young ones.
Then you have the moment where all that sacrifice is rewarded, it is simple just a name called then the child walks up and is handed a piece of paper.
Yet the poignancy is so deep, all the neshing comes back except this time it is spoken about in joyful terms. “I was sacked but I pretended to go to work as usual until I got another job, I was washing cars in town with a full degree, in the evening I’d put my suit back on and pretend I was still a manager.”
A tearful father told me, his son will never know of his father’s neshing period, but he will know his own.
Perhaps Rwandans have forgotten poverty or exile in their day to day lives, but one day you will be reminded of your sacrifices and reap the rewards.
There are some achievements that money can never make up for; the battle of the struggle makes it sweeter.
In other words, some things can only be achieved by neshing and nothing else. Neshing can break you, but sometimes neshing is good for the soul.