My father was big on lessons, in fact he loved passing on his wisdom so much that he took to holding annual general meetings with his children.
Back then, I used to find the yearly ritual rather tedious because apart from giving us life lessons, he would also take the time to do an inspection of our general conduct over the course of the year and chide those of us who had displeased him.
As you may have guessed my name featured quite frequently and rather prominently in this exercise of identifying behavioural misconduct.
It always made me squirm in my seat and my siblings would all wear those appropriate looks of mild shock (as if they were hearing of my misdemeanours for the first time).
My father has been gone for 11 years now and in that time, I have found in his words the strength and courage to overcome, the resolve to work hard and endure but more importantly the audacity to follow my own heart.
And I tell you, following your own heart is an audacious thing to do particularly in a world where the rules are already laid down and conformity is the norm.
Of all the things my father taught me, the one lesson I learned well is that I should never stay in debt and that I should never forget anyone that I am indebted to.
He insisted that one should repay every single kindness every chance they get.
My father was a man who believed that the world owes us nothing and that people in general were not necessarily obligated to go out of their way to show us kindness.
He was a man who did not like debts – financial, material or moral. If you owed a debt financially or materially you had to pay it off once and be done with it.
But if you owed someone a moral debt for a kindness shown, then he insisted that you never forget and that you repay the same kindness over and over every chance you got.
He demanded that the act of kindness shown to you by that one person should become the enduring reference point in any future dealings you had with the person.
He used to irritatingly emphasize that you could never fully repay a moral debt because you can’t place a monetary value on kindness and that we all lived eternally indebted to those who’d shown us kindness when we needed it most.
So the conclusion of the matter is don’t stay in (financial) debt but stay (morally) indebted. Heaven knows, whatever you’ve accomplished – you couldn’t have done it without a little help.