He clips the Montecristo cigar with his big bulky hands. Takes a moment to light it up. Two puffs. Then, through the smoke in his eyes, looks at me, and says, “I’m at your audience, talk to me.”
My father; the man I highly respect, just like everyone else in Nairobi. His name – Magua – is synonymous to power, fear and wealth. My father; the man I never knew.
Getting him for this meeting took waiting two weeks for him to slot a time. He’s always busy. Even when he’s unwell, he prefers to sit inside this huge office, on his elaborate leather seat and drink some whisky. Lately, as I overheard from one of his men, he’s picked up smoking more often. He smokes a lot when things are going smooth. Drinks more when things aren’t sailing too well for him.
He’s never admitted to my face but I know what he does. Beyond running his legitimate businesses, he’s in the drug business. The well to his wealth. But am I really expected to object to that? I mean, I’ve gone to the best schools, had the best life; traveled around the world, had best foods, experiences and clothes. Anything I sort of desired, he gave me.
I remember this time I was working on a school project in grade school, and I chose to write about tigers in my science project. He booked me a flight ticket to Thailand over the weekend with my big cousin, just to see tigers. That’s my Dad for you. The man who goes in big, all the time.
I sit before him with my words aligned just how he likes been addressed. I know for a fact, that what I need to tell him is something he can’t give me, but that’s okay, because either way, I’ll get it.
‘Dad…..I’m getting married.’ I say to him, with every ounce of courage in my bones.
He puffs. Silently. He slowly puts his hands on the mahogany table before him, looks me straight in the eyes and responds, ‘so it’s true?’
‘Is it that girl, Stella?’
‘I love her Dad. I –‘
‘No one marries anyone from that family as long as I am alive, you hear me?’ His famous temper kicks in. He stands up and walks to the office bar to fix himself a drink. His walk, majestic like a lion.
I stare at him, lost in a stint of trance.
I’m brought back to reality when his hand puts a glass before me. Two fingers of Johnny Walker Platinum on the rocks, his favourite drink. I take it from his hand and place it on the table. He walks back to his chair.
‘Why do you love her so much? There are countless girls out there who’d die to get married to a Magua.’ He tries to speak softly but his bass voice won’t let him.
Everything I ever did or didn’t do, was captioned by that statement; ‘a Magua.’
‘Don’t do that, you are a Magua.’
‘We don’t say such things around here, you are a Magua.’
One Friday I came home crying, after a fight. Dad slapped me hard and said I shouldn’t weep because I am a Magua. And that I should get even with those boys the next week at school. Rumour has it that he sent a message to all their parents. To which the poor boys got a scolding for what they did to me. The next week at school, I, a Magua, was revered. I had to fight those boys, when in essence, I wanted peace.
We never were, quite the same. My half kid sister took after him, not me. We never saw things in a similar way. I know that though he never will admit, he regrets that I was the boy and that my sister, Rose, was the girl.
If he could bribe God to revoke fate, he would. But not even his money can do that.
I commend my Dad for doing his level best to build his dynasty, but, it’s time I built mine.
‘Dad, I’ve made up my mind, I’m only informing you, not asking for your permission.’ I say boldly. At that moment I expect him to bang the table and cause a good one, instead, he sips his whisky. The ice makes a cling sound as he puts the glass back on the table, slowly, as if reading my mind.
‘You can get married Son, but not to her, choose anyone else.’ Wow! I’ve never heard him call me Son, maybe when I was young, maybe.
‘Why?’ I ask him.
‘Because the girl’s father is my sworn enemy. We have conflicting business. Something you wouldn’t understand. I don’t want you knowing too much than you should, but you’re smart. To say the least, we fight for the same territories, that’s why you can’t marry that girl. OK?’ He says.
My Dad has always been extremely secretive and cautious. I could read between the lines and I knew exactly what he meant. I wasn’t buying any of that.
‘I love her Dad, and I can’t love anyone else like I love her. I don’t even want to try.’
‘So, you’d go against my will to marry her?’ He stares firmly at me, waiting for an answer.
‘Speak up boy…..’ his temper again.
‘I choose her, Dad. And I need you to respect that.’ I say.
There is pitch silence in the room. I can hear the sound of smoke ascend from his halfway smoked cigar. I stare at it on the ash tray, waiting for Dad’s response. He never quite gives in to anything. He has a way of getting what he wants, or what he considers his way or the high way.
I wait for the volcano eruption and when I look up from the ashtray into his eyes, he says to me,
[To be continued…..]