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My landlord — “Mum” — treated me like her own son. But I procrastinated — and now regret I never showed her the gratitude she deserved.

Dont wait until your dreams become your regrets. I know

Beatrice in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Hakiza).

At school, I learned that procrastination is our first enemy because it delays our achievements. But I never realized it until a shocking story happened to me.

A few months after I had finished school, I landed a job. Full of dreams, I wanted to look like a professional and successful gentleman. However, my family was living far from my job. After a good discussion, I failed to convince my parents that leaving the family was the right decision.

“You haven’t managed even meager income and have no life experience. How would you wish to start your life alone?” they argued.

While my heart was beating in waiting for the final decision, my parents sensed my sincerity. Dad said, “My son, you are mature enough to fly on your own. I wish you good luck.”

I jumped, full of joy, and said, “I promise, trust me, I’ll be serious. I’ll not disappoint you.”

“Usually people call her ‘Mum.'”

The next day, I rushed to the city centre to meet a house broker and commissioned him to find a house nearby my workplace at an affordable price. He sympathized with my wishes and found a modest apartment with a lounge, one bedroom and an outside kitchen.

Then, I asked him, “Who is the landlord of the house?”

“She is a widow, called Beatrice, but usually people call her ‘Mum,’” he replied.

The nickname  inspired confidence. Since the house was available, I asked to meet the owner and paid into her bank account to confirm the booking. Not long after, I bought the kitchen furniture along with additional necessities such as a sofa, personal radio, mattress and bedsheets, and moved to my new residence.

“How will you manage it with a family?”

Life in the ghetto was not easy. From time to time, I experienced a shortage of money, not because my salary was insufficient, but due to the lack of experience in money management.

For instance, after the first two months, I used rent fees to buy new clothes and new CDs, and to have a good time with friends, before paying the landlord and buying monthly food provisions.

The day it was time to pay the rent, my wallet was clean empty. I called Beatrice and politely said, “Mum, I have no money. I have had more expenses this month. Please, can you allow me to pay it next month along with the previous?”

She laughed and said, “Jean Pierre, if you don’t manage your salary yet, how will you manage it with a family?”

With a scared voice, I replied, “Mum, I’m very sorry for that. I’ll be more serious next time, trust me!”

Then she nodded her head in a sign of approval to my request. That was like removing a burden worthy of a hundred tons upon my shoulder.

From that moment through the years that followed, I had good relations with Mum’s family until I shifted to a new place for more comfort. Changes occurred when I was no longer there. Mum got sick and was admitted to hospital. One day, I received her call, and with a weak voice, she said, “Jean Pierre, did my son Africa tell you that I’m in hospital? Please, when you have time, consider passing by with your family.”

Don’t wait until your dreams become your regrets.

Anthon St. Maarten

That was her need, and she deserved that. However, my busy schedule did not allow me to arrive soon. After one month, I met Africa. He was not in his usual mood and looked tired. After greetings, I asked him, “How is your Mom?”

Then, after a deep silence, with tears in his eyes, he replied, “Mum passed away last week.”

I was shocked and started to blame myself for why I had procrastinated my visit to her at hospital. From then on, I understood the truth of the ancient counsel learned from school.

Procrastination is our first enemy because it allows us to postpone what we can deliver today, but tomorrow is uncertain. Looking at what Beatrice did for me and how patiently she treated me like her own boy, I should have visited her, to show my gratitude. But she passed away before I could make it.

That confirms the truth of Anthon St. Maarten’s quote: “Don’t wait until your dreams become your regrets.”

My life experience illustrates that.

Three questions to consider:

  1. What did Anthon St. Maarten mean when he wrote, “Don’t wait until your dreams become your regrets”?
  2. Why did the narrator not visit “Mum” in hospital?
  3. Have you ever regretted procrastinating?

My name is Jean Pierre Hakiza. I was born in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, on October 12, 1984.

Life was good, even though my family was large with six siblings. Life started to change in the 1990s when ethnic and regional hostilities increased due to the former political regime. In 1994, my country experienced the most deadly genocide in human history. I was lucky to survive it with my whole family.

Soon after the tragedy, life was not easy. All good memories, and the majority of relatives, were no more. Our parents taught us to work hard both at school and at home. In 2003, I finished high school and got a certificate in a medical laboratory. Since there was a high demand for lab technicians to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS, the government was not offering college scholarships to students from my section. That is how I entered the labor market before college.

My career was exciting. I enjoyed promotion after promotion till the time I left my public service to join NGO sector. Although years had passed, my idea to go to college did not fade away. I recently renewed it when I registered at Kepler college.

Now, I still apply the old parents’ value of working hard at school and home. It will help me to succeed in college life and reintegrate into the labor market again.

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WorldAfricaI procrastinated. And now I regret I never thanked “Mum.”