Mother used to run the house like it was the Gulag – intimidations, threats, and a whole manner of ass whoopings. Dad? He led by his signatory silence. He never talked much, sat in his favorite chair by the corner, newspaper in hand, and lingala or benga music would be playing through the stereo. He hardly bothered with the normalcy of the noisy domestics of the day. But when my case file made its way to the upper echelons, a case which mother had surrendered and given up, I knew shit was about to get real. Just one look, and a few words were enough to put me back in the pecking order, disarranging everything. And everything would disappear as fast as it came. He was a cool, quiet fellow. It was mum who spoke volumes of typhoons, and for some one or another reason she’d always be yelling about something which was not put in place.
His silence was both intriguing and a mystery. It was what drew me to him. And when I was not being harangued by mother of some things which kids normally do, I’d be sitting with pops. Just in silence. He was an observer, liked the crossword section of the newspapers, and he liked his beer cold especially on Saturday evenings. His friends would visit from time to time but you’d notice he was the silent type. He’d do things most men do when they meet or link up. Roast meat, have a couple of beers, while watching kids getting acquainted towards each others. Our mothers would be somewhere busy in the kitchen catching up on God knows whatever they’d be talking about.
Apart from sitting in silence we never really talked much. He’d give me a book so that I’d stop bothering him when he was reading his newspapers or books. That’s how he got me into the reading culture. It was easy. I never struggled with words or anything. And when he’d come back home after long months of work. He’d piously go over my school reports and books. Page after page as if he’d be reading a scripture. I’d be standing stiff and I’d murmur something inaudible when he’d ask calmly why I failed at math.
Back then I didn’t know his dreams or fears. What he felt about his parents, siblings, and other stuff that make men cringe whenever they think of them. What I knew was that he provided security, he was in charge, and that nothing would harm us from the outside. But then in highschool we began talking, he paved the way as I was struggling with the different stages that came with teenage hood. His advices never hit around the bush. Later on I knew he got scared of loosing the essence of family.
During campus years we became closer, mother on the hand the relationship was a cordial one. Both got the same amount of respect nonetheless. It’s during those stages of young adulthood I stumbled a lot, he held my hand. Assured me that it’s the way of life to slip, fall, and rise up again. That we learned from our mistakes. He’d visit me whenever he was around town. Mother on the other hand would ensure that I was home for every holiday and family event. Which was nice since I’d be away for months and the old folks were lonely.
Then five years ago on a late night you crossed the veil. The modus of going around when it came to mother dropped in to the ocean. It disappeared in a single day and night like the city of Atlantis. We had to talk, communicate, and move on forward. She never remarried. She has been religious for the longest time that I remember. She’s worked hard for it and rising through the ranks. I’m totally proud of her. I on the other hand I try to make peace with God. At least that’s what I can say.
But you see it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so I’d fall into relative silence from time to time whenever I’m around her. The conversations are either about rain, work, renovations, when I’d be bringing someone’s daughter home, or if there’s any grandchild of hers out there. Haha.
The one thing I know pops loved motorcycles, cars, and anything that had off-road capabilities. He loved tagging us along those random trips. Mother on the hand loved a whole ball of many different things. But these days when I come back home, I’d sit diligently as I’d hear her go on and on about some theological mumbo jumbo. Which reminds me I bought pops something of a gift hamper for his birthday, a year before he passed. The old man never betrayed his emotions. He was gangster like that. He shook my hand and patted my back. It was something I realized, we were both alike. And in many more ways now I got the realization that we’re similar. Emotions embarass us. And that both of us express happiness and gratitude in our own way. It’s a thing mother had been aware since my cognitive years.
A few weeks ago both mothers and fathers day passed. Looking back on the fathers day notion I realized that pop’s and I preferred to call rather than text. Only time he’d text was when I sent those M-pesa messages. Mother on the other hand would send scriptures and our love language would be through paypal and M-pesa.
Pop’s supposed to be 58 today. Mother on the other hand is 52, she’s still pretty. I understand her a lot more than the previous ages when she used to be a member of the KGB, haha no offense. That I’m an extension of their product. I’m a by product of them and in many ways I’m an embodiment of who he is. I am who he is, without being all he is. It’s my tragedy not trying to see who my parents were. Not theirs. That they had other things to do other than being my parents.
It’s apparent that I know that one day mother would one day will grow old and she’d leave this earth. I’d remain alone and that to be honest freaking scares me to the core. When I was a younger teen my older cousins looked ancient. We looked up to them. Don’t even get me started on the ancestors that have crossed the 40 threshold. I look at mother and I don’t know what I’d do to get at her age.
Happy father’s day pops. Happy mother’s day mother. You see today’s pop’s birthday. I appreciate you father. Wherever you’re reading this, know that back here we still miss you.
Rest In Power Manman. Happy 58th to you.