The Art of Good Deeds; A Chat with Patricia Mollyne Mataga
By Dismass Okombo
Smog is silently suffocating us. Tsunamis are consuming cities, and the scientists are now hoarse from preaching about the impending climate change calamities. In the lonely corners of the crowded streets, outstretched, empty hands plead for a coin and a portion of our empathy. And, at the slightest manifestation of our differences in race or opinions, nationality or religion, we are ready to rip each other’s head off. Everywhere we turn, there’s a need for a good deed.
When I received the assignment to interview Patricia Mollyne, Chief Coordinator at Writer’s Guild, I was instantly excited. First, because I have interacted with Patricia on numerous online occasions, and I am awed by her elegance. Second, because it was Patricia, the ever-jovial storyteller, a conversation with her was bound to be versatile and epic.
A day before our scheduled chat, I asked Mr. Google about her, and within seconds, lists of her efforts towards a better world popped up on my screen. Most impressive is the Anti-Racism Campaigns she led during her tenure in the student council at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. As I continued to scan through the media buzz created by her vocal stand on critical issues, a question began to form in me. And by the time I was through with the background check, I knew I must center our chat around what it takes to do good.
Most of the conscious youths who attempt to change the world often begin with untamed enthusiasm and an unmatched optimism. But soon, the numerous wrongs that need righting overwhelms. Gradually, indifference and complacency settle in: ‘The system can’t be changed overnight! At least I’ve tried to do something about it.’ And at last, the fire fades. But other conscious youth, with inexplicable cheerfulness, keep up the good fight. Grace in the hearts, fame far from their aim, they’ll gladly throw themselves into the abyss and challenge the status quo. All that matters to them is the comfort of those who will come after them.
Patricia Mollyne is one such individual who makes doing good seem so easy. Born in the green slopes of Nandi hills, while growing up, Patricia basked in the warmth of family and mursik. Her voice while narrating patches of her childhood is lively and a bit nostalgic. The electric excitement that accompanies athletics in her home town. The adventures and playing banta with the boys. And then, the humorous story of how her laziness in mathematics made her dad force her to study her uncle’s old, dusty books.
“My dad is hilarious. Imagine my uncle who studied in the 60s; what was I to do with his books? Admire the handwritings?” At the beginning of our chat, she had admitted the carelessness of her handwriting. I laugh at her rhetorical question. She joins in with a brief chuckle.
When the conversation shifts to her mom, a tender affection creeps into her voice.
“She is my whole world.” She says, gently heaves and a few seconds of silence ensue. I gauge that, as is the nature of beautiful things, no word ever seems right to describe her mom’s love and sacrifices, encouragements, and counsel.
“It seems you had a very wonderful and memorable childhood. No doubt your upbeat personality is anchored on the love and unwavering support of family. But even so, in these times that wrongs multiple each day, most young people dedicated to changing the world despair easily, how do you manage to keep pushing on?” Vainly satisfied with my question, I anticipate a long rhetoric as her response.
“Do only the good you can, anywhere you are.” Is her reply. Silence. Should she say something more? Her voice comes up again, scattering away my thoughts. “And when challenges arise, and times seem tough, survive. Survive in a way that awakens your dream.”
I dare not say more beyond this point, my vain words will merely overshadow her concise response; Do only the good you can, anywhere you are.