Part 1: Appreciating Fathers
A True Story
on Jun 21, 2020
The great American president Abraham Lincoln once said, "All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." As for me, if I ever become the gifted writer and best-selling musician I am aspiring to be, I will owe my success to my beloved father.
Born in 1950, my father is a humble, polite, hard-working and worldly-wise gentleman. He has always been an early-riser, a trait of his that I have found difficult to emulate. And he has worn glasses for as long as I have known him.
I recall vividly one Sunday morning in the early '90s of my brother Paddy spotting a man from a distance as we were walking to church. When Paddy informed me the man was the father of a schoolmate of ours called Gathogo, I asked him in Kikuyu, "Then why is the man not wearing glasses?" Apparently, I had been accustomed to seeing my Dad in spectacles that I had come to think that every father wears glasses.
As his spectacled face would suggest, my father does a white-collar job as a freelance accountant. But he has hands as rough as those of a manual labourer - the sign of a man who has worked hard all his life to provide for his family. Because of his diligence, my family has always not only had the basic necessities of life but also enjoyed such luxuries as TV, radio, electricity and a postal address.
I will never forget one time in 1997 when my father provided for me something I badly craved to possess. That was a pair of gumboots. But he didn't buy them for me on my first time of asking. Instead, I had to keep requesting him to bring me home gumboots of my size. And I did so for several weeks, perhaps even months, till he finally relented and bought them for me.
Although I can't recall how I felt when Dad handed me my first pair of gumboots back in 1997, I am sure I must have been as happy as a king given the way I treasured those gumboots. Imagine I would put them on almost every day, even on sunny days, till they got worn out. And I noted wearing those gumboots made cracks on my heels disappear.
Besides providing for my family, my father also inculcated a learning spirit in my siblings and I - something I will forever remain grateful for. He used to give us home lessons in Maths and in writing when we were in primary school. And he encouraged us to be avid readers by buying for us plenty of novels, magazines and newspapers.
What I find wise about Dad is the way he took interest in our studies right from when we were in lower primary school to when we were at the university. I distinctly recollect him teaching me basic arithmetic one lovely Sunday in 1994 when I was in Standard One. And when I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering at JKUAT in 2007, he would inquire from me what subjects we were learning in class so that he could purchase for me books on those subjects.
With all the interest that Dad took in my studies, I have sometimes felt I let him down when I dropped out of JKUAT in 2009. How proud he would have been to see me graduate with a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering! Too unfortunate I dropped out.
All has not been lost though because in the past few years, I have grown close to Dad here at home. He always banks on me to help him on the computer when he gets stuck and in taking care of Mum who was crippled by stroke. I find helping Dad out here at home to be my way of paying back for all he has done for me.
Today as the world celebrates Father's Day, I thank God for giving me a mature and responsible Dad; I am sure my Mum would alone not have succeeded in raising us well. And if I ever become the successful writer and best-selling musician I am aspiring to be, I will always speak out for the important role fathers play in child-rearing so long as I have the sense to remember all that my Dad has done for me. Happy Father's Day!
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A True Story
on Jun 13, 2020
She is a widow, her husband having passed away for reasons I have never cared to find out. Those who know her in my home area call her Mama Hannah, a polite way among my Agikuyu community of referring to mothers. But her real name is Rose Kimani. I know that because Mum sometimes asks me to send her money via phone for the manual labour she comes to do on our farm.
Yes, Mum likes giving Mama Hannah some manual jobs to do on our farm. But for me, I confess to having disliked Mama Hannah so much that I have wished Mum could hire someone else instead of her. There have been mornings I have woken up feeling resentful that Mama Hannah was coming at home to work on our farm.
I don't know why I have disliked Mama Hannah that much in spite of her having never done anything wrong to me. Lately, it dawned on me that I have disliked her because she bears some resemblance with another woman I will call Liz (not her real name) who I came to hate for treating me in a bossy, domineering way. Okay, let me tell you more about Liz.
Liz came into my life when she was employed as a receptionist of a music school where I used to teach piano in 2015. By the time she was hired as a receptionist some time in December that year, I had already been teaching in the school for more than ten months. New in the school as she was, she became very bossy towards me. She would allocate me duties that were hers and when I declined to do them, she would loathe me.
I particularly recall one time when Liz tried to domineer me. That time, she entered into the room I was in, closed its door and came to where I was. Because the door of the room had a malfunctioning handle, it opened itself after Liz entered. And when she realized the door was open, she asked me to go close it. I refused because I felt she was taking advantage of me.
A few days later, probably because she was getting infuriated by me not obeying her orders, Liz commanded me not to pass through the same room whose door had a malfunctioning handle. I disobeyed her and entered the room. A couple of seconds later, she came after me and rebuked me for leaving the door of the room open. And this was the same door she also had left open a few days before.
For Liz having treated me in a bossy way and allocating me duties that were hers, I came to hate her. She was actually one of the reasons I left the music school where we worked together. And it is because of that hatred I had towards Liz that I have also disliked Mama Hannah, for the two bear some resemblance with one another as I have already said.
Coming to think of it, Mama Hannah has a different character as she has been kind to me in the times I have interacted with her. She sometimes addresses me by my name "Thuita" when talking to me. And whenever we meet on the road while I go for my evening exercises, she makes an effort of greeting me. A couple of weeks ago when we met in the evening, she cautioned me that I could get arrested for not wearing a face mask in these times of Covid-19 disease crisis.
And Mama Hannah probably finds me a handsome young man because she once informed me she has a daughter I could get engaged to. Well, I can't recall how I reacted to her proposal but it now boosts my self-esteem to know there are women who find me worthy of a relationship. (By the way, Mama Hannah wasn't the first woman who wanted me to fall in love with her daughter. There have been a few others.)
I now regret having disliked Mama Hannah given how kind she has been to me. Yesterday when I reflected on my attitude towards Mama Hannah, I remembered a prayer I came across in Rick Warren's best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. The prayer went as follows:
God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure I spend time loving You and other people because that's what life is all about.Quite an insightful prayer, isn't it? I will heed its wisdom by liking Mama Hannah and appreciating the work she comes to do on our farm. She is, after all, a widow who is working hard to support her family.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on loving people, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Cultivating Love". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.