When His Father Went Away For Cigarettes.

The hour hand of the clock had struck nine, giving the impression of a perfect right angle. It is in mind the sports bar we are in, is packed full to the brim. One would be scared to think that its contents might spill out like an overflowing mug full of beer. It is a Monday evening whereby most people would be thinking that we have no businesses being there. Heck, why is that bar even full at such an odd day? Well, folks from these sides love their beer and football matches. Especially if the match is about two great teams battling out against each other. We are seated at the balcony where a huge curved TV rests on the wall giving that wide view. The match had not yet began. But that was not what had brought me there in the first place.

My long time childhood friend (lets call him Tisto), called me and suggested that we link up for a drink or two and watch the game since it had been a while. Well, I was not so keen on adding a few pints of blood in my alcohol circulatory system. He said that he had a story that I would be interested in. He never said the story was about him. Tisto and I normally used maps to find the location of each other. No need to bother each with calls and vibes like,”uko? Mbona sikuoni? Hebu toka nje nkucheki.” He was on his second beer by the time I had arrived.

“Been a while bro.”

“Yea,….couple of months. I see the time has been good on you.”

“Just same old things.”

“You guy bana, so how’s mathee back home?”

He sighed and signaled a waiter and ordered more drinks. The waiter was pretty, she was in a skimpy black tight fitting skirt, and a white tee. Her name tag read Tiananette. A pretty name for a pretty person.

It was clear Tisto was not interested in watching the game. His favorite team was about to play. He was the loud and boisterous one before the match began, if his team won we would never hear enough of it. And if his team lost, he would not want to hear a damn thing about it. He would literally dissociate himself from his team. But today things are rather different. The waiter came with our drinks and flashed us a pretty smile. Tisto raised his glass to acknowledge that she was indeed a gem well beautifully crafted.

The referee blows his whistle and the game begins. There is a wild cheer. I sipped my beer and felt the refreshing taste go down through my innards. Tisto folds the sleeves of his shirt and begins. “Two days ago when I came back home from my work trip, I fond some guy seated in the living room having tea with my mother. I had no qualms about it initially. I thought maybe it was one of her friends, or those pastors who bring maombi kwa nyumba. I said hi, and proceeded to my room and dropped my bags. Mother called me and asked if I could have tea with her. I did not decline about it. So I thought, sure, why not?” He says.

Tisto continued saying that after he had changed and settled and headed into the living room, his mother asked him to sit close to him. He is normally very close to her. He said fine, besides, his mother had not seen him for four and a half months. He was only in town for a week before he traveled to some other region for work. So he was always on the move. The pace of the conversation that would later change his view on certain matters began with, “there is someone I want to introduce to you.” He asked her if the guy sitting across them was her boyfriend and if that was the case then there was no need for him to object. Something that perhaps would lead to her mother being married? He had no idea. The thought of marriage also never crossed his mind, cause he was brought up by a single parent.

Her mother shook her head sideways. He says that her mother looked beautiful. She was in a maxi white Ankara dress that matched with her head scarf. Her headscarf had always been her signatory look as long as I can remember.

“Tisto, I want you to meet your father.” She said.

For a moment he was dumb struck. Words hit him like a 50 caliber machine gun. He had no ammo against that. This was something he had not prepared for. He was not prepared at all for it. It is something he had never thought of. He was just used to his mother. Not any other person nor a third wheeler. He folds his hands and takes a long stare at the big screen ahead of him. He stares at nothing in particular.

“So what happened after she told you to meet your father?”

“Back then when I was a kid I kept pestering her with questions of who my father was and where were his whereabouts she always ignored me. One time she told me that “father” left them and went to the shop to buy cigarettes when I was a few days old. I was not content about that answer. One day she finally told me that he died so that I could stop pestering her. It had never been easier as a kid, especially trying to explain why didn’t your father come home every evening, or come to school functions and the likes.” He refills his glass as I’m left pondering on how hard this is.

Tisto wonders if the dead truly came back to life, if there is any shit like resurrection. What he knows is that the living and the dead don’t correlate. He keeps asking himself questions of where was he for the past 25 years. Why bother showing up after he had achieved most of his milestone goals. Where was he when he struggled to find a father figure or an older male figure who would guide him through the steps of manhood? Did he finally get the cigarettes he had gone to buy and decided that it was time for him to retrace the steps back home?

“I simply, said Hi and bounced. The emotions were too much. The main question was why at this time did he decide to show up? Did he just discover that he had a terminal illness and decide to look for the wild oat he sowed out there? You know what irked me most? It is that mother seemed comfortable enough to let him in our own home. So that night I went out and came back in the morning. I still found him there. He had not left. So I lingered around a bit to see if he would go back to where he came from. Yesterday also he did not leave.” Tisto says.

It dawned to him that his mother had taken back his father after all those years. He has not talked to his mother for the past two days since that incident. He says that she has tried to get him to talk to his father but nothing has yielded fruit. The old man has tried but is only met with resistance. It has left all of them at crossroads. Unsure of which path they should take.

“Amwadeghu, what would you have done if you were in my shoes?” Tisto asked me.

To be sure, I really don’t know what I’d do in such a situation. I don’t know what words I’d tell to console him. To be honest it is a difficult spot to be in, when one of your boys tells you that he recently learned that he has a father after all those years.

We both sat in silence drinking our beers as we looked at the big screen that hanged above us, each of us to their own thoughts pondering on the situation. The only thing I could think of was when his father went away for cigarettes.

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