Of daughters and baby sitting

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I didn’t manage to write anything on this blog last Wednesday but one. It pained me even as I sat in Java Ngong Road sipping my coffee quietly. I was having a very special guest, seated across the table having a mug of blended juice. I couldn’t understand why she took juice during such a nippy weather. But it didn’t bother me as much as it bothered me not being able to write my usual post.

Sitting there with her though made me a happy man. Even in our little moments of silence, we cherished everything. We spent the whole day outdoors; besides, she couldn’t stand my one-roomed apartment. She felt sick about it, complained and made fun of it. She made me start to hate that little house of mine that houses only a bed, a few clothes and utensils.

Her comments cornered me, my self esteem and lovely life. She made fun of me. I didn’t feel bad because she is used to a different kind of life, and my kind of life somewhat might have been so insanely hard to understand. At 10, she might lack the understanding of what life holds. It is possible that she doesn’t get how the world sucks.

Elsie is a grown woman now. She can reason well and engage in informed discussions with me, most of which are nothing but vanity. Both of us have that silly, crazy humour. That one, she got from me. She has a beautiful body and oozes the intelligence of her mother who is a doctor. So she’s a highly balanced woman. A woman with both wits and humour can put the world at her feet. Owing that she’s this cute little thing, the world has much to offer her more than it does to us with no faces.

I usually think even the devil freezes when he gets out of his dungeon and meets me head on. He must not like it. Not for once has Elsie ever told me that I look handsome. If you are pretty or handsome, your kids will let you know. If they never say so, they’re probably wondering how you ended up with their mother with that hamster face.

So I have been longing for that compliment. I yearn for it. Every man yearns for it, from their daughters because most of the time they are the most honest creatures you’ll ever meet. And until they do so, you’ll doubt yourself, spending time in front of your mirror and giving yourself self-affirmation that you’re terrifically handsome. But deep inside, you’re simply ill. Your self-esteem is really low every time you are with her. She will do things that make you think she doesn’t want people to know or think you are her dad.

If you are walking down the streets and you are handsome, she will hold your hands every time. If that is not the case, you’ll be chasing her around trying to get her attention, but she doesn’t want it. As science will prove, girls start to learn how to be women earlier than boys. They’ll start being picky at a young age. They identify with beautiful objects or people really fast.

My situation is not any different. I have been dying for her to tell me that I am a handsome man. If she tells me so, I’ll be ready to die. It would mean the world to me, that assurance from Elsie. Men, just like little girls, want affirmations in order to maintain their confidence and sanity. I have even tried to lure her into telling me that I am that handsome but I have failed terribly.

Once I asked her because I was tired of waiting. Ten years is a long time to wait, damn it!

“Hey sweetheart, do you think your dad is handsome?” I had asked her a few years ago when we were closer than now. She looked at me and laughed. Her laughter was like a tor digging into my heart. It was a giggle of “oh meen, you don’t look anything near handsome.” I felt heartbroken. When she saw the disturbed grimace she shrugged and said, “You’re okay dad.” I knew that she was lying to me in front of my face. God helped me because I’d have held her on one leg over a bridge until she confessed that I am utterly handsome. I couldn’t gather enough strength to do it. Or I would have driven her to a desert and leave her there until she confessed that I am the most handsome man she has ever met.

I often think of that laughter when I am alone. It bores me and instills colossal amounts of fear in me. Sometimes I regret not to have tossed her off the bridge. I guess it is because when it is family we forgive what others kill for. But most importantly is the fact that I truly love her. She is a reflection of me. She is a selfish person, only loyal to her course.

When I want to get mad, I often remind myself that I am also a silly, selfish and egotistical bastard. And most times I don’t wanna believe that she took that trait from me. She is carefree. You can be seated together in a room but her mind is somewhere else, as if you are not there. This behavior of not giving a damn irritates me. sSomeone will ask but why when you are the same? The problem with people like us, selfish people, is that we want to be in control always. When we lose that power, we are weak and vulnerable, and restless and wiped out. We get mad and find weak reasons to accuse others of wrongs that we did.

When she is over here, she finds the courage to hold my hand as we walk. To my guess, it is because no one knows her. So it doesn’t necessarily bother her because people will not judge her since they know nothing about her. They can only admire her white, flawless skin, and perhaps wonder where I stole her from.

To walk with her gives me a sense of belonging. It makes me feel I am man enough. She justifies my existence, my thriving and my manhood. She is my pride. She completes me. I see in her a part of myself. More often than not, people walking in these streets of Nairobi make me feel like a surrogate father, like I adopted Elsie. I agree that I am not the most handsome man this world offered Nairobi but why look at me like I don’t deserve her? Alright, that is not the issue anyway.

Back at home, where I have been to thrice, she holds my hand when we are far away from people who might not know her, like at her granny’s in Scotland. Her grandma and pa are my best friends. But in London I don’t think she has ever held my hand. Not that it ever disturbed me but there are times I sit and a mill of thoughts about her actions consumes me. Whatever she does or whatever I think won’t change the equation that I am her dad. Only that I get bothered by small issues. I am a trivial man when it comes to my daughter.

I want to digress back to that Wednesday. I have always wondered why her mama buys her big, expensive phones. That she can walk around with an iPhone X at ten and I can only make to have a Samsung SII makes me a jealous man. On this Wednesday I wanted to steal her phone, like make it disappear. I wanted to wait for her to fuck up a little so that I can find an opportunity to reprimand her and attribute her behavior to the phone, and then confiscate it. The previous night, I had stolen it when she was asleep so that I can have a feel of it. But it needed her face id to unlock so I admired its external features. I do sell iPhones but I have never owned past iphone 7. I have always wanted to own one but money always finds way out of my pocket to other vanities.

“Did your mama get you that phone?” I asked her.

“Yes she did,” she answered without looking at me.

“How much do you think she spent on it?”

“I honestly don’t know,” she said

“Where did you take the other two you had earlier?”

“They at home in my room.”

“Well, do you use them?”

“Not really. Maybe once.”

“Okay, is it okay for me to have them?”

“No problem.”

“Yeah?”

“Sure, why not?”

I actually wanted her to leave me the iPhone X so that she can go and use the others she’d left home. But from the way she was consumed by it, I knew that would have been a long shot. And it would have been cruel and insensitive if I took it from her forcefully.

She’d come over with her uncle, Rusell, who dropped her before he continued to South Africa where he owns some business. I had not anticipated seeing her that soon but it was a good relief because now I wouldn’t be stressed of raising money to go and visit them with this dwindling economy.

In the past, her mother has always sponsored my trips, apart from those sponsored by the government to my little wanders on this planet. Her being at the centre of this makes me feel that I owe her, to which I don’t. She has no problem paying for that ticket. Her background speaks of money, and she earns well.

My friends ask me how it is that I can let a woman pay for my bills. You see for a man like me, I don’t care about the old ways of doing things. The contemporary times have allowed women to have better gigs than we do, and it doesn’t mean that they continue being at the mercy of men to provide when they can. I have no problem with being provided for, so long as I am being useful in one way or another. Besides, what is the essence of having money if you cannot spend it?

Unlike other men whose pride can amount to a small mountain in the Kisii highlands, I prefer women spending on me if I they are in the position to. It doesn’t make me a lesser man or thwart my self esteem in any way. Having grown up amidst girls and women, I found it cool to allow yourself be helped if am down. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Allowing others to help you does not only enable you to lift your burdens but it teaches you why helping others is important.

Unfortunately, people use money to wield power and control others. Men, more so use money to control others, and when they lack it, they feel inferior to others. A broke man is a man with a dead self esteem. As that may be the case, not all broke men have a dead self esteem. A man with a dead self esteem must be broke both monetarily and insightfully. Intelligence in one way or another is quintessential to one’s emotional stability. Resourceful persons will in one way or another find ways to make money. If you meet them when they are poor, they are not as low as those who are poor both ways because they know it is only a matter of time before their success pulls back the eyelids to welcome them into the citadel of opulence.

So my week was consumed by writing and babysitting. My little crib has nothing so she was bored to death. She wanted us to go out every day because my conditions of living were terribly depressing her. I don’t own even a TV for her to watch a movie or cartoons. Apart from my pc, there is nothing entertaining in that house. We spent days up and down the streets, in and out of joints and the national park to see wild animals.

I didn’t know where to take her after that. So I asked her mother over WhatsApp what she might be interested in. She laughed at me and ignored my question.

“Deal with it, dad!” That is all she said.

“Come on woman, cut me some slack,” I pleaded.

“Give me a break. Do I ever ask you anything when she is here?” I think she was enjoying my misery and making me look like a terrible father.

“You wicked bitch…” I wrote before I deleted it and wrote, “You’re wicked.”

Honestly I was failing. The only place she enjoyed most in the whole stay was the animal park. She is not a fan of eating joints.  I took her to Masaai Ostrich farm in Kitengela, Karen fun park and Zen garden where kids are taught how to cook pizza. While there, I always found ways to sneak out and have a time of my own because Elsie, just like any woman, can be too demanding.

The good thing is that when she finds something that interests her, she no longer needs you. Suddenly you become invisible. She becomes so engrossed and you want, in a way, to remind her that you’re present and she should recognize you or else you’ll move your ass out. But really, she doesn’t give a shit. She feels entitled and there is nothing to stop her. When she wants you, she will come for you and you’ll have to give in to her demands, but when she doesn’t need anything from you, she can leave you the hell alone.

I tend to think that she has a cold heart, like she doesn’t care about others or their happiness. As long as she is fine, it is all that matters. I hate to think that that part of her came from me. It irks me when that part is played on me, yet I feel so good when I play it on others- sounds diabolical, right?

I took her to Panari Hotel along Mombasa Road so that she can skate on ice. I don’t think it is a sport African kids would fancy. Personally I don’t. I had to try it out because she asked me to. As you have realized, fathers are much of practical parents while mothers are more of theoretical parents. You’ll find that fathers will play with their kids all kinds of games while mothers will just let them play by themselves while they watch. This is the reason why it is recommended that kids get raised by both parents.

I didn’t like the experience as it was totally embarrassing; though I enjoyed the fun especially when I saw her laugh at me. At least it was a different kind of laughter that didn’t harbor any negative motives. I fell down severally while she was all pro.

So I apologize for not posting anything on that particular day. As a family man, family comes first. She is everything to me. Without her, I’ll hang myself and die.

Mzangila Snr

Supreme hunter in captivity

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wastelands in search of better selves?

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About Mzangila

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

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