2nd June 2017, 4:15pm to be exact my phone beeps. It’s a Friday, so there’s normally a potential plot around that time of the day. Fingerprint unlocks the phone and I see a whatsapp message from Sheshi that states as follows:
16:15: “Alushula, just read the blog. Nice work! Very true. We owe it to ourselves.”
An hour later she texts,
17:15: “I’d be really interested to hear your voice and individual position in your writing. You usually take an advisory position which is interesting, but I believe you would have even more connection with a personal approach. Just my opinion…”
To avoid any miscommunication, Sheshi is my good friend. One of those people who you can trust to critic you objectively and has a stellar track record as an individual. I’m sure you can tell by the fact that she took an hour in between her praise and critique to put words together in a bid to mind my feelings, I presume and the soft punch statement, “Just my opinion…” . 3 dots to be exact so as to show ease.
I am not at the Biko Zulu stage of writing and fan following but I aim to be better or at his level one day. Religiously after each article I post, I take like an hour trying to share the link within my social circles. Facebook (check), Twitter (check), LinkedIn (Check) then finally the mother of all places, whatsapp (check). I am sure by now, my friends or acquaintances or group members by default already presume that a text from me is a forward of my articles. It is the hustle….the hustle. A man’s got to do, what a man’s got to do…. The Biko Zulu challenge 🙂
Sheshi’s words kind of got to me because during my Strath days she always used to ask me what my true self was. Not that I had a rental body for school but to her I seemed to be that kind of guy who is always ready to listen to others views/issues of life and give an opinion. I always seemed to be in the best of moods, a silent joker, NBA disciple and maybe academically flawless. I am very sure that 94.67% of my friends will acclaim to the fact that my advice, stories or views normally have the pronoun “you” and never “I”. I was never the flag bearer of my examples so to speak.
Fast forward, Sunday 18th June 2017, it’s father’s day. As with our generation, timelines on social media are buzzing with daddy pics with tear-dropping captions. Though sometimes I wonder, do we actually tell the people we dedicate captions to online the actual messages in person? I digress…….
I scrolled through a couple of them, liked a few to show my unwavering solidarity then switched off my data. Then Sheshi’s words came to my mind. Simply because on that day I was feeling some type of way. I can’t call it a mood per say, so let’s work with “type-a-way”. Did I say or show it to anyone? Nope!!! The reason behind it were the 2 magical words “My Father “
Welcome to Lione Aushula 101…..
“My Father”…… “My Dad”…. “My Old man”………………….. …. I find it hard pronouncing those words. I feel very odd since those words have never had a personal meaning and there hasn’t been anyone attached to it. It has been 20 years since I saw or heard from him. So this particular moment, I felt something (not the lady mood type, that’s advanced), just a feeling that had me wondering why of all of the years in my life, I felt something today. Having been my own man for all these years, I have acquired a certain habit of reflection when dealing with pain or discomfort and that day it failed me perfectly. So my mind started having flashbacks as I recounted my life stages.
Growing up as 2 boys with a single mum isn’t the easiest thing on earth. Not necessarily because of financial or hard labour struggles but it’s a struggle that tends to be ignored since it wallows in the island of one’s feelings. As a kid I used to wonder why other kids had their dads around during family meetings but mine was like an FBI agent, nowhere in sight. In my teenage days I used to envy guys who had their dads to teach them silly things like making ties, changing car tyres and learning not to cry. During my basketball games I wished I had him around to watch me play and that day I got stitches on my face after an injury I wished he would have been there to be proud that I fought and calm my mum down because she feared that I would stop being handsome after the stitches. “Damn right!!”, my mother says I am handsome (hahahaha) so I choose to believe her.
Early in life, I chose to be brave. I chose to be my mum’s pillar. I chose to be a source of joy and happiness to her and a tower of hope and strength to my small brother. I had to mature faster than my peers. I remember, my childhood friends making fun of how they would occasionally disturb their parents in our “Toto Chama” meetings during Kalongo days. I didn’t have that liberty since I thought that disturbing my mum would be a nuisance to her. I stopped demanding for things like toys, started being focused in class since I realized being number 1 actually made my mum happy. If you were ever my classmate, I now know you know my path. I had to…. I didn’t have a choice but to choose to be a savage mentally.
I built a defensive wall around me. I was very selective of who my friends were early in life, I chose to always mind my words and my emotions. As a single parent child, if you are caught by teachers misbehaving they would attribute it to you having hailed from a single parent family. It was handled as a cancer of some sort. It was expected of me and my brother to act with misdemeanor, have social and behavioral issues etc. In high school, my priorities were simple: basketball then class. Basketball was my way of expressing myself. My outlet. It acted as the perfect wife, since she’d listen to me, be with me each and every day without making it look like a task or duty, not say a word as I complained and still make me sweat in happiness. She was indeed my first love. Anytime I was free and felt some type of way, I would find myself at the basketball court, somehow feels like Lucas, of “One Tree Hill” series back in the day, only that we are in Africa and in a boarding school.
Memories of my father are as scarce as our unga in Kenya. The only memory that I will never forget is that day he bought us alot aka “alaaaraaaaaa” sweets. Enough sweets to make a dentist question his intentions for us. I hold it dearly. I know he resembled my brother, I know we originated from Kiambu after our ancestors “swung by” from Congo, I remember talking the kikuyu lingo as a kid and being an “adu a that nyuba”. However, I never wanted to ask what happened. From my mum’s experience I vowed I would be the best boyfriend/husband ever and well that backfired quickly. I remember one of the ladies I was interested in back in the day telling me that I was too serious to date. In my mind I was like “WTF!!!!! Wednesday Thursday Friday, I thought y’all ladies keep advocating for serious men?? Now you want a joker you can grow with??” .. I digress………
I love my mother. I believe she’s one of the coolest women on earth. If she was any cooler she’d have a twin of herself. She has been my core, my day 1, my fan, my supporter and I know in her mind she believes I can be a president of any country I choose even without citizenship. My brother and I remember one Wednesday morning in 2005 when she just decided that we were going to undergo the “cut”. ……..we laughed…
We thought she was kidding but shock on us when we started putting on lesos to heal. So in my passion of overcoming odds, I would openly declare how close my mum is to me and like a knee-jerk reaction some ladies would say “You’re a mama’s boy”. “WTF….. (Wednesday Thursday Friday,) were you born of a horse or a woman?” I would think to myself while smiling at her.
It’s not easy opening up about some issues because I don’t like sympathy because of it and I don’t think I am less of a person. There are people dying of hunger and other issues so I don’t consider my situation special. Moreover, there are many other people that face similar issues; some don’t have both parents or worse still some have parents who are physically present but have no impact in their lives. However, I do appreciate how far I have come in learning to be a man. It’s a course with no defined syllabus and an exam marked by people who have no knowledge of the subject content.
This may seem shocking but I like living a very quiet life, being alone and being away from crowds. I believe God is very funny because He then chose to give me a very social and outgoing brother, literally the life of each and every party. ”Are you guys really brothers?” , that’s a question we keep being asked since my brother is those cool “cheers baba” guys and I am ,….. cool too (hahahahahah) to my lecturers I guess. God keeps placing me in positions of leadership that require me to not seem to be shy. He gave me a family that likes to talk and meet up so I am rarely alone and He knows that I hate crowds so much but he placed me in town every single day. Adding salt to the “father” injury, my mum and aunts call me “baba”, some of my friends started calling me “papa” and maybe my girlfriend/wife might call me “da……. (naughty smile). I learnt to understand women from my mum. That they just need to be loved and have that person that believes in them. It’s so funny that I find it easier making lady friends than guy friends. Not that I am a smooth operator, I simply just speak my mind without assuming that every girl is a potential Mrs.
I can’t say that life would have been different if my dad stuck around. After 20 years, you somehow learn to focus on what you have than what you never had. I have 20 years of being the man of the house on my cv. Low moments sometimes come up. It’s not a walk in the park for sure. For example, if I think about one day I will need to marry and I wish he was there to stand by me as his son. There are times I just don’t have things figured out:like investing, choosing my first car, dating or even career. Hence, I imagine to myself, maybe if he was around with his semi-white hair due to age, giving me advice and that shoulder, things would be better. Then God reminds me (not from His voice since I haven’t reached that level yet but by learning to observe) how would I help those born in single parent families if I had no experience of it? I was blessed with a grandfather that gave me an identity through his name, uncles that shaped me, cousins that became my small papas and my boys who simply are my boys.
Fatherhood is a blessing. Having that man that is there by your side even in his quiet or loud state is a big blessing. Sometimes we associate good dads as being those dads that provide all your needs. The dad that adds an “I” to your life in everything. Iphone, Ipad, Instant shower…. (I personally have a high affinity for Is). The dad that is at your beck and call whenever your pocket dips. Yet in the real sense, a father is one who chooses to stay with you, your sibling(s) and mother. That man that tries to make you better than he is. That father who despite his flaws, disappointments in his life, chooses to stay and to give that which he has to his family.
Do I want to be a father? Later in life, yessss…… I would want to give my children that which I did no have instead of being selfish to keep thinking about my state.I realized I can be a dad when there was a sale at Sarit Centre for baby clothes. I decided to get a floral dress for my 6 month baby cousin. She is very very very adorable I must brag. Did the dress fit her? Nope!!!! That’s exactly how I knew I can be a father … since fathers sometimes do things with great intentions but it’s not necessarily what fits us.
Appreciate your dad/old man and the men around you. Not for what he has but for choosing to be there with you from day one.
If you ever feel some type of way, listen to this song by Lecrae, “I’ll find you”
You are not alone…
Happy Fathers’ Day….