The Mazda Demio, good car, small car, petite. It’s the kind of engine that wants you to milk it although it doesn’t make any noise. It broods inside, in isolation. It’s that guy in class that is always quiet, always watching everything from the corner of the room, taking it all in, quietly plotting the next move because he has moves; he has some huge ability that no one else can muster. Every class had this guy right? Ama it’s just me? When you have your hands on the wheel it reels you in to where it wants you, it begs you to floor it, it wants the thrill and it makes you want it just as badly. It’s needy. You should see it along Mombasa road at five in the morning, wading through traffic, sliding in between trucks, swerving to the side roads of Mlolongo, beautiful. A Vitz can also do that but not like a Mazda my friend, you always want to look at a Mazda’s ass when it passes by. By the way, this has nothing to do with cars; like I’ve said here before, they don’t really pay me enough for this shit. But it will all tie up, I promise.
I’m writing this in it, this car. It’s where I get my thoughts in order, its comfortable; it still has that new car smell. The only problem is its stereo system; no modification can be done to it as it’s too close to the AC thingamajigs, radio cassettes anyone? I remember my first road accident was in it, I was a seventeen year old lad who had just learnt the trade with a fedora hat on his head. It was a hit and run, I was the hitter obviously. I scratched the back of the side mirror against a bus while overtaking so I ran, without giving a hoot, hehe, see what I did there? A red scar was cut right across the mirror cover, like it was bleeding. There was no way I could hide that. I thought of how the news would be received back home, I would be disowned. I would be sent away to Githiga village where I would be a herdsman, a herdsman with a hat. I was scared and screwed. But you’re reading this so yes, I wasn’t shipped off.
The owner of the car is my father -known to many as just BM- is currently in Malindi for meetings or something like that. He’s been travelling a lot lately and I really don’t like it, I’m not used to it. Thing is, I’ve always been close to this man, for as long as I can remember. The first time I ever took a swig of beer we were on the same couch, watching football. I sat there as he told me how to drink, when to do it, how never to overdo it. He told me never to imbibe to induce confidence to do anything, even to approach a bird, I chekad at that one. I know we’re almost losing the righteous parenting guys now.
My father has a beard, it’s getting white. He runs this machine across it every other day. I see him with the machine and I walk out the room, I feel small when he takes care of his beard in my presence. He tells us stories, me and my sister. Stories of his past and they get to me. BM was a teacher once, he taught Kiswahili and CRE in high school. Believe me; I’m still trying to get over that one. He went back to school and did journalism then worked in Murang’a, which is where I see myself going, journalism, not Murang’a. And then he became a communications consultant. There’s so much history to this man but this post is already gaining some height.
There were sad days, slow days, morbid days. Days when BM was out of work yet he had been the pillar that holds the family. Slowly he started losing weight, the digs became silent, even the corridors became darker, a halo that pulled in your heart and swallowed it. The usual banter and laughter wasn’t going around the dinner table anymore, but a man doesn’t show that he is disturbed, you wouldn’t know that things weren’t right, he still smiled from the corners of the mouth in that way that he does, and he prayed in isolation, everyone prayed, that things would eventually get better.
And then God smiled at him, He extended his hand and shook BM’s. I was in the car with him when the call from UN came through.
Now he’s in Malindi, last week he was in Naivasha and the previous one he was in Maralal doing a story. It’s never the same when he leaves but it’s still better than a couple of months ago. He always says he’s left me the house to protect, he passes down the spear that week and I, Muthaka, honors the spear, I take care of the Mazda that sits in the compound. I keep it warm. I’m still working the pecking order to get a place in the big leagues with this man, where I can handle real shit, but I can’t become half the man he is, I don’t even have a beard…yet. (I really have to stop this beard thing now) Then there is mom, the foundation of the pillar.
Father’s day is looming friends; I know I said three weeks but let’s take time to celebrate fathers everywhere. Get a father a card, put a good watch on his wrist, buy a hat for a father. Fuel his tank, drive down to Ole Polos and choma a nyama, get him his favourite bottle or get him something for his beard, do something for a father. I hope BM doesn’t get any ideas.
P.S There will be a series of posts here under the same hashtag, we’ll have guests here and there as they share stories of fathers everywhere, this is for the dads.