Meet me. The first-born in a family of three children, dad and mum. We are two boys and one girl, the latter being the last born.
Daddy brought me into this world while he was 23 years old, my age now. I have no idea how he ever met my mom, but even at my age, I wonder how they ever fell in love. All my life, I’ve been thinking that their marriage is a mistake. Perhaps it’s just that they never had any form of mentorship before they tied knots. I doubt if they really had one.
All my life, I’ve worked to understand the kind of person dad is. We resemble so much physically, but some of his behaviors make me feel ashamed that such a man is my father. I have no otherwise. There is nothing I can change. I have never experienced chivalry in our home. I wonder the sweetness of alcohol, to the extent that it motivates dad to become violent. His anger is one I cannot describe.
I have had a father figure in my life, yes, him, but not the kind of person I would call a mentor. I have missed that. In very few instances can I remember I felt a father’s love. Very few. He is always into making himself happy, making all decisions by himself, getting drunk, calling mum names and all that.
We fear him more than we love him. That has been the trend for the last twenty-three years I have known him. We rarely share light moments, and when they come, they do not last long. I am a grown up man now, but he does not seem to fathom that. I don’t know what men have grown to become these days.
Dad is driven by ego more than heart. He hardly appreciates anything good we do in the house, yet, he is a wise man. He has brains. He is bright.
The other day he lost his job. He has refused to look for another one citing that he does not want to be re-employed. The past few months have been horrifying in our house. The constant arguments and physical fights literally break my heart. I have grown up like that but somehow I have never been used to that drama. It hurts to see my mama in tears.
Africa is a place of many superstitions and traditions, most of which disfavor women. Men love doing things only to their advantage. They love running everything and be seen on top of everything. The trend has changed with modernity but it’s still evident in people like my dad. I don’t hate him, but his actions I loathe.
The last fight incident that occurred in our house was catastrophic. He came home drunk. They argued over something very small and within a few minutes he was on the floor pulling mama’s hair. She screamed. Our house-help and I came out to separate him from mum. I was very bitter I almost fought him. He said a lot of stupid things that hurt me real deep, that he is sorry to me that he married the wrong woman. I cried a lot that night. Mama was ready to leave, but he just could not leave us. We are the reason she is still in that house. That is just over two months ago.
Daddy rarely buys us clothes. Only mum bothers to do that. We have had good moments, I agree, but our past is characterized by so much conflict yet am supposed to be his best friend in the house. But we have never been close. I cannot even tell him that I need an underwear, or that there is a girl I have noticed in the estate, or that something is disturbing my mind. He is so hard to approach.
I know parenthood is hard. I have never been a father, I cannot know the burden involved in fatherhood, but to come home and beat my wife in front of our children, and am drunk, and I never apologize for my mistakes, I lay down hard rules that must be followed as I say, am the one on top of everything, is clearly creating a recipe for a revolution.
Last week we buried our grandfather. My mum’s dad passed away after battling with throat cancer for a long time. African burials being what they are, they used up a lot of money in the funeral arrangements up to the final berth. In the end, there was not enough money for the whole family to come back to Nairobi. So I came back with my brother and little cousin together with our house-help, Rose. Dad knew there was no money to sustain the family for the time he had been away with mum. He only sent money once, a 1000 shillings, yet we left the house with virtually nothing, no cooking fat, no paraffin, no gas, no sugar and other necessities. We ran out of money and I had to depend on my friends so that my family could not go hungry. I couldn’t call them because they were both broke. Everyone at home was looking up to me for survival. Thank God I have good friends who came to my aid. We were even able to have a good Christmas. Dad came back yesterday. He could not even bother to ask how we have been eating. All he afforded to say is that we do not know how to use money. That really hurt me considering the fact that I had to make uncountable calls to people begging them for money so that we could have normal meals. And this is someone am supposed to respect and give all my love to. I don’t know.
It’s now six months since I’ve been out of campus for lack of fees. I have just concluded my first semester exams early this month because there was a set of papers I had not sat for in May when everyone else was doing theirs. They could not allow me to sit for papers since I had not completed my fees by 40,000 shillings. The balance still stands to date, but I paid for special exams and that’s how I was able to sit for them when this semester was concluding, being out of school for that long. I hope I’ll pass anyway, but am really having it rough. My brother has an arrears of 10,000 shillings at his school, that not including next term’s fees. Mum and dad run a small school at the place we stay, but its income cannot sustain our family needs yet because of the high operating costs. And dad has refused to look for another job. Mum has been running the school since its inception after resigning from a well-paying job. She has passion for children, but her heart is constantly broken by the man he chose to lock the rest of her life with.
Right now, I do not know what to do. Am not in good terms with my dad…but he still remains that, my dad. However tomorrow is gonna be, only God knows.