‘There’s not much to Josephine. Just this chic who appears to be a snob till you get to know her. Loves music and reading.
My sister introduced me to your blog. Thanks for writing interesting stories.’
Fathers by Josephine Nthuli
I was fixing myself a cup of coffee this morning when one of my colleagues walked in and randomly asked if I had a family.
Me: (Looks at him puzzled.) No, I do not.
Colleague: You have brothers and sisters though, a mum and dad?
Colleague: Then make the most you can for them and with them. We lost a great man in Bob but if you call Safaricom today, work is going on. Family is the most basic unit so see to it that you do right by them. That’s my inspiration for you today.
Me: Umm…thank you very much.
Last week the same colleague came to work with his three children in tow and we all joked that we hadn’t gotten the memo that it was bring your child to work day and he dismissed it. Later on when he was leaving, he said he had been to the dentist that morning for one of the kids. When they were done, all just passed by work for him to finish up on something and they were elated to see daddy’s office. Growing up, I often saw my dad over the weekend when he would take time off his schedule to come home and see us before rushing back. In one such instance, he was robbed on his way back. Because then, Nairobi was unsafe to walk late. His precious leather jacket, his bag with a special shirt mum had bought him among other belongings- all gone. There are days he would show up on Friday evening at 8pm so he could spend the weekend with us and there are days he would come on Saturday night and leave on Sunday afternoon but never did I feel like there was a void in his place because he showed up in our lives in so many ways. We grew up in a time where cell phones were a preserve for the rich and a far-fetched dream for the ordinary Kenyan. This left us with limited options. One, you could borrow a neighbors landline or two, save a few coins to place that call at the booth where there would be queues of families waiting to speak to their loved ones. If the two did not work, then you would just wait until the next time dad would find time to come home.
I am certain he was not being paid much either but we went to good schools, ate good healthy food, lived in a good house in a town where for a tribal nation, we mingled quite well. A month or two ago, a story in one of the dailies received much bashing because it made fathers look like they were doing wives a favor when they looked after their own kids. Dirty and sad tales are easy to sell but we do have fathers out here who go all out for their families because it’s their responsibility yet we hardly hear those stories. It’s not something that’s happening in the 21st century only but it’s been there. When people born in the 80’s and early 90’s tell you of their father’s, some make him look like a god. If you listen keenly, it has nothing to do with reverence but fear and lots of it. The man called dad was not approachable, he was a tough and serious person, if you heard him clear his throat, you knew you were in for it. The man who walked in and suddenly all of you were moving up and down like it were a mad house just to appear busy doing a lot of nothing.
I was therefore not surprised when one time in a class session learning tenses, I said that since I was a child, I would play with my dad and everyone, including my teacher looked at me like I had insulted them. Out of curiosity, they asked me what kind of games they were and I gladly indulged them.
We played scrabble, we ran around the house. He tickled me as a kid I often hid under the table just to get away. He would tell us (my sister and I) stories and we went for walks and my, we would sing to him. If ever I made it as a musician, I know he would be my no.1 fan because he was always quite the cheerleader.
Teacher: Hmmm…What kind of songs?
Well, we sang for entertainment. We sang gospel mostly but Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was always a favorite. One time we were travelling to shags and the driver heard my sister and I sing our hearts out to Celine and he looked at us like y’all aren’t old enough for love. We were less than 10. He then told our dad that his daughters must really love him much.
Now that I had explained it to the students who had all chorused out “mmm! Lies! It’s a lie.” I suggested they ask the man himself when they saw him next. Yesterday I was returning mum’s call and dad spoke up in the background. I was so happy to hear his voice. I literally lit up with so much pride and joy because I realized I am proud to be my father’s daughter. It hasn’t always been roses and sunshine and no he is no saint but he did right by my siblings and I and for that, I am grateful. A friend once told me she admires my confidence well you know what dear, my dad built that up ever since we could hold conversations. There’s a lot more I have grown to love because I picked it up from him like my love for Rhumba while most people think I have a sponsor, I laugh because deep down I know I am my father’s daughter not just because I have been told I look like him but we have many similarities. We may not have gone out for dates but looking back, I know my dad was my first boyfriend like every father should be to many a daughter. There’s not a subject on this earth I could never discuss with him.
He’s a good chap, my dad and what my colleague said to me this morning, challenged me and I hope to do right by my father before he slips into the darkness of mind.
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