Strict upbringing can, without being squeezed even a little, be what I would like to call TOUGH LOVE. Has your parent, I mean the one who claims to have given you life done something, something that they do to you and you forget how to spell the word ‘cat’ for what feels like a couple of hours? You doubt if you really know anything you claim to know. Yet they do it. They want to see you turn out to be a person, upright by all standards.
There is an elderly gentleman I met at the banking lobby back in the day who reminded me of some of those moments in my own life. Though I could swear by my grandmother’s dress his way was way up there, he must have lost his nuts but in a way I’m envious. At the lobby, the clients were so many. Everyone must have decided to come today to punish you maybe. To make you learn the virtue of patience that you never seem to learn. You really develop a strong hatred for the tellers. One leaves her booth too often. The other works like a tortoise but these negative emotions wash off once the tellers you ‘now hate’ serve you so diligently once it is your turn.
The queue was long so I got to talking to my new neighbour. He turned to complain to me about how he lost his new phone. It just fell and the screen crashed into as many pieces as there are the stars in the sky. Just like that. He winced and cursed silently. He wished he had bought a sheep instead. He could still have it in his compound. Somehow, we got to talking about his son. The old folk, you know them. They will talk about their children and about 1912 as if it was yesterday.
His son refused to school at form two. What really happens with everyone at form two by the way? Do suddenly all the bad ancestors get born into someone? Anyway, his son, let’s call him Jonah. The type that runs from even the voice of God, ring a bell here? Jonah refused to go to school completely and his father was cool with it. Cooler than a cucumber.
The following morning he called his son and gave him three thousand shillings- A reward for saying NO to school? The money, in the calmest of voices, he said was enough to get Jonah to three places: To cross over to Somalia, to ride into Tanzania or paddle into where Museveni roars. If Jonah would still be home when he came back then life would be lost, either the son’s or the father’s. Jonah was now homeless but with three brown notes. Good enough for pocket money but not this. He ran to his mummy but she was helpless, the lion had made his will known.
He went to a quarry, a short distance away from home and rented a small shack. He became a quarry worker. Things could work out fine. He could even make money enough to buy plots, cars and live in a mansion. His would be a grass to grace tale or what you think?
Back at home, his father had made taken the roof, half of it from Jonah’s house. He had no son thus those iron sheets were used to make the cowshed. The sun never stopped rising even after all these. When after a couple months his sister went to see him he said he wanted to school again. He wanted a school like one wants water when thirst reigns supreme. He was living with his very expectant school girl girlfriend. The very reason he had left school because getting someone pregnant is not news you want to tell your father. We could talk about this girl another time though.
His sister talked to the father and he gave a date- A fixed timing and day for his son to come and meet him. If he missed that appointment then he could count schooling as some lost dream.
My turn came to go to the teller but not without the old man smiling proudly and telling me that Jonah is now in Britain and his wife too. I know Jonah smiles too as he relates his story. He must adore his father because he did what was right with him.
I don’t think his working at the quarry ever made him think about not acing his exams. His A results were produced by his not rosy experience. He would never raise his children otherwise too but in that same path.
I mean when one is a parent by choice or in some turnout of events then they get a responsibility. The responsibility one should shoulder gladly because one should. A child remembers not when their parents closed their eyes to what was done wrong but when it was corrected. The loathing and sadness one felt then morphs into the thinking that they did what was right with them. Blessed Sunday folks.