My Old Man

= 1947

You don’t need to talk even a tad bit to him to know that he has a reveling charm. You don’t need to shake his arms to discern whether he gives firm handshakes. Neither is there any need for you to visit his homestead to see if he owns a wheelbarrow and a couple of domestic animals, including poultry.

All these are written on his face: determination, zeal, charm, cheeriness, enthusiasm, hard work and focus. His hands are rougher than sand paper with nails that can slice a coconut neat. His ankles are black, and feet full of gulleys that can hide a few coins (this last one is a lie.)

My old man originates from a pedigree of people who work hard to earn their money. He tolerates people who can hold jembes straight and till shambas from morning to dusk. He finds joy in young men and women who can get up early before the morning demons startle him at 6.

He loathes laxity and can knock you flat if your only greatest pleasure is devouring meals with your ass sat tight, or lying lazily all day. If your enthusiasm lies in eating more than you can actually produce, then you are his greatest enemy. You have to leave his presence if you mean to survive. That means vacating the homestead for good, till you learn to eat what you have worked for. He can’t feed no lazy bone.

My old man has ambitions even at his age. He is well past 65 mark, which signifies that the energy once bound in his flesh fails him on a daily basis. Not even old age can deter him from employing his willpower and winning different wars and struggles associated with aging. He has transmuted greatly for the last 20 or so years that I have known him as my old man.

I can cognitively recall him hooked besides his sonitec radio to listen to matangazo ya vifo on Kbc. The most pronounced moments were when a throng of villagers would stream to our home at 6 in the evening. All in unison reverently listening to an arsenal that savored them content; KBC Kisumu, only then did we have a cast in kisii lingo….and more specifically death and funeral announcements. These folks knew people even as far as five villages away and maintained strong ties. So whenever one checks out they had to attend their funeral. It was a must. A duty to honor.

I can imagine my dad in his younger days. A great businessman in his suits and brown leather bags, coupled with brown shoes. And of course a walking stick. He was stylish then, vibrant and a chubby guy who ladies couldn’t resist. With his money and suits, all the women in the village must have died to have him.

Today I look at him. His charm is dying. Wrinkles are attacking his face. But still he refuses to surrender to these attacks. He is more than a conqueror. At his old age he practices farming, enjoying old age around his animals and farm, every morning looking at his possessions and a sense of pride surging through him for his accomplishments, before throes of pain that come with old age starting paying unwarranted visits.

I know I owe him. I owe him half of my life because he has been there to steer me towards the winds of my fate, good fate. He doesn’t give up. He may be not as dot com but his old school antics have proved superb in fulfilling responsibilities of a dad.

We don’t hug. It is awkward, even if we’ve been years apart residing in caves with zero network coverage for phone calls. Culture dictates so. That we shouldn’t hug. We talk rarely because of the men syndrome. Though we can eat with him on the same table, unlike prior years when that was truly ‘unpossible.’

I don’t know if you ever feel proud of your old man as I do. Do you ever take time to sit around the fireplace at night, while roasting maize and have unending conversations into the dark of the night? Do you ever share laughter with him? Do you go out somewhere and chill with him, showing him the new world?

There are things that can enthrall him. And most of us forget that he is growing old while we growing up, investing heavily upon our merry and happiness. We often forget that such folks need us. If we share laughter we give them more days to live. If we take care of them they enjoy the efforts they employed to raise you up, and deep inside they will pride in having great children who they raised properly. The question is, what are you doing about it?

God, just give him more and more years. I need him. My siblings do too

Long Live my Old Man. Cheers!

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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