Before I bare my soul out here on this crisp white page, the cursor blinks impatiently. It awaits my fingers to caress then press keys on the key board. These white on black letters that form words lie on the keyboard, firm, like hard square olives. The cursor blinks in tune with my heartbeat and I fear the word flow that has pumped in my veins through the night will run out before I am anywhere with this. I fear that if I tell this story, you will perceive me differently. But then, I will quote Paulo Coelho. That the story writes itself, the author is just the typist. Tally ho Wambui! Write.
Waking up at 6:30 in the a.m, I replayed ‘Wa me – villagers band’ for two hours cajoling words to stay with me. Not to drift away and leave a little ghost spot where an idea once was. So I rub and bribe words, at least till I get to my desk at the new workstation I have for the week. Wee ni wa me, I sing. You are mine, les mots.
House no 22 at my flat, is where I live. There isn’t a man-bite-dog story with this number. No euphemisms or allegories hidden. I just encounter it a lot. I recently flew on the seat 22 KQ. My friend’s baby was born in hospital bed 22 a week ago. Death then hit close to my friend for the second time in his short life. His dad bought the farm and all the accessories. He gave up the ghost. He kicked it. His mother had died 10 years earlier. At 22, he is too young to be choosing coffins but as the man of the house, he has to take up the torch. He wears his nuts on his chest, matching bravado on his face, barks and howls to remind himself he is man. All to lovingly hold the mourning family together even if deep down, he is torn apart.
I meet him over a tipple and although usually, we can talk the hind legs off a donkey, I find it hard to string up sentences. I fear that I may not have the correct words to console him. I fear that he will not see that when I sit beside him silently, I am being there for him in all ways that I can. His dad had always been there for the three of them. Hours later, he sends me a message on facebook . He says he has broken down once and is sad his dad won’t see him graduate. He is however happy his dad will finally reconnect with his wife. Right then, I remember mine. Not my wife, my father.
I rarely get those cruel visions and nightmares I used to have so often through high school and partly through campus. Of his angry and malevolent face as he shouted at my mother, his hands on her beautiful and scared neck. How dared he touch her lovely neck in such way! Of my teary and distraught face begging him to calm down and stop his wild violent bursts. My baby brother would be strapped on my back crying softly in protest of the commotion. Or loudly depending on how much he thought we disrupted his sleep. My petrified little sister would be peeping from our shared bedroom door looking at me for direction. Afraid.
Never knowing what to do, I’d take her to bed and make her promise to try to sleep and that I’d be with her as soon as I could. I’d go back to him now probably forcing my mother to get out in to the cold night. Sometimes, having no option, she would go out and I would go out with her after placing my brother in my sister’s bed. We would spend nights out in the cold with insects, dew and dogs. We would pray hard. My father’s insults at both of us would keep coming, even harder. Other times, she would sleep in my bed with me. I would alternate between crying and praying. Like the ‘Akorino’ guys. Just quietly. Until exhaustion and fatigue wrapped me in a borrowed sleep marred with abject dreams of my father.
Mornings brought with them a sardonically funny situation when preparing breakfast. My little sister would always have hidden all knives, forks and sharp objects the previous night, afraid that my father would hurt us. She would never reveal where she hid them but would reappear with them like zorro with his swords promptly right after father left the compound. She was barely 8. My father, a once very loving man turned fiend all because he was confronted about his cheating ways.
Before you bend over with pity and amazement at my sudden revelation, keep your hugs to yourself for a while, ey? Don’t book me that psych yet. I consider myself healed or healing. I don’t see myself as a victim. Everyone has a story. Nature goes amok. I do not lament nor bewail my case. I choose to walk away from ‘les miserables’.
If it wouldn’t have happened to me, I’d probably not appreciate love and family as much as I do today. My father should have acted better. Seven years have gone by and he has since re-settled. I honestly I wish them well. I pray he does not ruin someone else the same way he threatened to ruin us. I still meet him monthly. Usually over pizza like we used to long before the whole melodrama.
Sitting with him at Mobil on a Sunday evening, we will usually go over our monthly plans. His hands rest on the table as he picks out the worst pieces of our pizza and leaves the best ones for me. Like any good parent should. I fight to reconcile this dad with the man that lived in our house 7 years ago. Then out of nowhere he asks me if I plan to get married. His voice is tight and I quickly raise my eyes to meet his. His eyes are a little wet. He quickly shifts his gaze from my face to the tea cup and he starts to stir the already sugared tea. I keep my gaze at his face, giggle sarcastically and tell him that I am okay if it never happens. But add that I would love to have love. I have loved before and might love again. I smile at him. I want him to know I have completely forgiven him. I only care that he and the rest of my family are happy. He doesn’t smile back. He merely places his hand on mine and say, “you will meet a better man.” This is his way of sending an olive branch. His eyes are a little wet and I fear that I might see my daddy cry. That would completely wretch my soul.
My father, I believe has shown me that I too can love someone else more than myself. Him and an ex that I lost 12 kgs over. It affirms that I can care much more for another soul than for myself. I can overlook the worst in someone and see his absolute best.
However, I am no angel. I build walls over my heart and shield myself from heartbreak more fiercely because I have seen it in its raw desolate form. I saw my mother fight for dear breath when all of her was drowning in turmoil sea, three pairs of scared eyes ever so near, looking, waiting for her to heal so she could continue raising us. I fear that the road I walk is too beat, too broken, too tattered to ever include someone else. I might end up fainting each time my husband lifts or swings an arm in any dispute. Or letting out a loud yelp whichever is worse. But looking at how much I loved in my past relationships, I pat myself at the back for allowing myself to fall stupidly and experience the whole splendor of love short-lived.
So now I watch him suffer in his own ‘la rue solitaire’. Too afraid to fight for me how a soldier fights to claim what’s his. I hold my own. Can he be it if he is that conflicted? There must be more. There must one who will not be able to explain why I am different. Why he can’t pull back from my spell or I from his. One who’ll tear down each of my walls with his gentle valor. And my oh my, will they crumble down to delirious passions. I, his woman, will stand firm to support and guard his all. Support him as his sole pillar when his entire world seems to crumble. His all I will receive as I give my own, wrapping him in my warmth until pleasure so raw it’ll seem forbidden spins us to heights untold. Skin next to skin, heart beating to the rhythm of heart, body warming body, I will know that better man. Now, how about that hug as we move on?