To my sweet readers and friends ,,and all the Juans out there promising to love me forever,am giving each of you an opportunity to meet a very important person in mí vída(my life). My father..This is way convenient for the Juans though,because they don’t have to risk the wrath of mbwa kalis for attempting to woo a careful man’s careful daughter..well smile,because Flor is granting you this favour on a platter, no ,the fields of paper takes credit..
I’ve been thinking, and reminiscing my childhood and whatever lays on my conscious level..i see him there,my father has always been there, teaching us love all our lives ,so be cautious dear future Juan you will have to continue the lesson!
“Why are you copying your neighbour’s name?” Roared the voice of teacher Purity, my kindergarten teacher back then ..its obvious i had been caught, once again,trying to copy a classmate’s name .This is the point i admit that my own name was a mystery to me, to be more precise, it sounded Chinese..i couldn’t for the life of me coin all the eight letters that makes up my name together “Florence”. That doesn’t mean i was dumb,well at least i can’t remember sucking my thumb. All i knew about my first name is that it began with an ‘f ‘ ,so any other classmate’s name beginning with an ‘f ‘ would be mine as well ,be it Francis or Fredrick or Francisca ..whichever i’d manage to copy first. Teacher Purity’s ruler was a lot scarier than a gun..and this would be the seven hundred and seventy seventh time it was landing on the palms of my hands ..
Disappointing? No ,it was frightening. I was beginning to get tired and was hating on her hard..A nosebleed in the morning was always more than a relief,,because that would mean missing school ,and escaping the ruler.Nothing was working and i had to repeat pre-unit ..This time my father literally ‘bought me books’ out of that stupidity!
My father is a book-holic,just so you know. He is ever buying books ,well and medicine too,every cough has a dosage of some tricohist awaiting in the cupboard. When i joined lower primary, teachers would borrow my textbooks for reference, while commending my Dad in his absence. They were aware that it didn’t matter to him how many pages I’d have plucked in a day,or how much tea and porridge I’d pour on them .Deep inside he knew that I’d do so trying to study,to read the words ..It wasn’t in vain ,i tell you,within a few days i would walk home saying ”air is everywhere ” from the books i had learned that there was something called air and it was in so many places ,i mean under the table,,inside the cup..outside the house,,you know worr am sayin?? And this was my first encounter with science..Quite an achievement, given that a TV during those days was a luxury,, few people had one in the village. Watching “Dora the explorer or sponge bob” like today’s kids do was impossible. Those programs were not even popular.
My father’s job requires him to be away from home during weekdays and is only around on the weekends .Five days would feel like centuries when we were younger.My younger sister and i would climb on the fence every time a plane was flying by,then sing out loud,sending it with a message to our father “Aeroplane when you get there,tell our father to come home fast, tell him that our school uniform is torn and that we need a new pair of shoes!” Our little minds believed that this message would get to him whatsoever! There was less hope and more certainty.
There must be magic that accompanies innocence, because he’d always come back home with the items ! Me and my sister would presuppose that the pilot really did deliver our message and we’d wait for the plane on its way back ,to convey our gratitude with delight . Now that am older i know, that our father was aware who needed what and when..he did know who’s school uniform was torn,who needed a new pair of shoes or a new backpack .He has always been a hardworker..we literally have never lacked anything he could afford .
I remember the sweet old days ,we’d sit around a born fire,, lit with embers in the kitchen.. He would narrate stories about wanjiru ,her calabash and her jealous sister, the ogre, also about ”wamabûkû” (hare) who is the trickster in most narratives ..our childhood was superb! We didn’t have much but we were happy.. I know he’ll be reading this so i have a confession to make; i love his voice ,he rarely sings but when he does ,it would give you goosebumps aha..trust me .
My father has never been spiritual when it comes to religion.. I cannot remember him being all pious and speaking in tongues or leading prayers,or forcing us to church ..nope! He has always been busy on sundays fixing fences and broken chairs ,deworming livestock or watering the garden…but don’t get me wrong ,He does know the Bible ,even better than the pious religious sycophants faking resurrections around Capetown and west Africa.He is just open minded and thats it .From him I’ve grown to learn how to think outside the box..His opinion especially on faith screams rationality!
From a very young age ,i knew better not to settle for ideas blindly without questioning them ..I knew there is a possibility Jesus might not have walked on water at all, after all isn’t it true that you can only walk on water if you weigh less than a gram ?? Well maybe he did walk on water,,don’t they say he had superhuman characteristics? Who knows? What if during the supposed ten plagues water didn’t really turn into blood? It could have been dust(clay) soaked water..and the locusts could have just been seasonal.. like in Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart where they are used to symbolize the coming of the white settlers..Oh and how the hell did the giraffes survive in Noah’s ark for forty days? Were there twigs for them to feed on? Deep inside i know he’s right, he has always been right..If i welcome free mindedness with ease, its because he taught us how to..Dad ,we appreciate.
My dad is fun to walk with too ,i have memories of us walking to our grandmother’s place and he’d teach us the botanical names of every single tree we passed by, sometimes new vocabularies. In class two i knew what trypanosomiasis
meant.. I was aware of how many words I’d create from the word technique .I knew people go to technical schools to technify their techniques technically.. Oh Flor ,i think that was supposed to be a tongue twister ..whatever. I have memories of him making carvings for my older siblings to carry to their art and craft classes ,you can be sure he has a soft spot for all of us.Epic ,right ? That was more than support ,it was love!
He is motivating,i can attest to that..My being top in class was always met with gifts.. Sorry, not candy or chocolates but books and more books .if one day i leave the house and crawl inside pages to live there ,,don’t judge me ..I’ve been friends with books since time immemorial..
“You wouldn’t last a day in a super strict person’s house” my mother says that often criticizing my lack of/little tolerance..and i believe her. Excluding the belt and the rod he’d never spare if you were falling out line and needed some discipline,my father is calm ,i mean just like Muntu in Joe de Graft’s play..To those of you who don’t find calmness appealing bear with my soft nature ,I’ve been moulded by calm hands ,nurtured and bred with calmness.. You’d have to teach me how to shout and scream with rage from time to time which is unpleasant and uncultured. Well ,i don’t need that .Everyone has their demons though ..tafakari ya babu!
Now you know why i smile, when people address me using my surname ..well its a very unique and important name !
Article by Wachira Florence .