‘How are you today Kui, it’s still Fathers day’
That was on 17th June 2018 at 6:35pm. This was a message from my biological father on this year’s father’s day. Here’s what I wrote back:
‘Hahaha heeeey daddy…sorry for not wishing you earlier, ndio tunatoka kanisa…happy father’s day dad, you’re a fun and amazing father and I love you with all my heart’
And then he replied,
‘Thanks, wish u the best.’
He is such a dude! What kind of reply is that? Hahaha. But, I love him, and I love this big forehead he gave me although I hide parts of it most of the time. (It’s humongous; it has sections and sub-sections).
When I used to live with him after campus, I used to joke that I would sue him because of the forehead. I mean, I’m a girl, I should not have such a big forehead. It does not make sense. Kids and adults have made fun of me all of my life for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being this forehead. Hence, his actions (siring me knowing full well that he passed on this big forehead gene) have directly caused me great emotional turmoil, and thus he needs to pay me as compensation.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the other reasons. I’ll tell you in the spirit of being open and vulnerable. I’ll even arrange them in chronological order. I am super short, my voice sounds like a cartoon character, I look, sound and sometimes act like a pubescent, despite the fact that I am three years shy of 30, I have a mustache (it’s small but it was a big deal in primary school), and nowadays, I never seem to grow, fat or otherwise.
I also used to have the tendency to talk a lot when I was growing up. People at home used to call me ‘kasuku’. Thank God they stopped! I also couldn’t lie very well (I still can’t), so it was really difficult trying to keep secrets or covering up for someone, no one trusted me in that household, not even the woman who was raising me.
Wahu (the beautiful woman who raised me; my real mother’s elder sister) credits herself for reigning in my disruptive talkative nature, which is true.
Back to Nderitu. I lived with him briefly for almost a year and a half after I cleared campus. This decision did not go down so well with Wahu and her husband (my other dad). They saw it, understandably so, as a betrayal. They were pained by the fact that I would still choose him over them; over all of the sacrifices they had made to raise me and my brother.
He never helped in our upbringing. He never paid fees (he only began contributing to my brother’s fees when he was in university), he never took us to the hospital, he never worried about what we were wearing, or if we were happy. He only came once to see us when we were growing up, and I was in upper primary by that time. He was a pariah in our house, and no one even said his name. That part hurt because I missed him, I wanted to know him. I think the most painful part about this entire fiasco is the fact that he never claimed us or my late mom. I do not even know if he contributed to my mother’s funeral expenses. His folks refused my mother to be buried in their land in line with our customs, and my mother’s family was pissed.
My parents, my mother, Wahu, did all of those things that my dad was supposed to do but never did. This couple stepped in and loved us with everything they had, with everything they were.
It was hard. My mother’s suicide was difficult on every single one of us. It was difficult for my loving adopted parents because they loved her, they adored her. They considered her their eldest child. It was difficult for my amazing elder cousins, who are now my brothers because they had lost their best aunt. They had grown up with that woman, she was a part of them. She was a part of their family, and now she was gone forever.
It was also difficult for my grandparents because they had lost their baby, their last-born. They were also very poor and very old, and could not imagine raising two babies on their own.
The death was hard. But the way it happened made it even more inconsolable. Everyone was at a loss, but my dad never stepped up when he should have, the way he should have. And that went on for years until almost finally we had forgotten he existed. The trauma of my mother’s death was buried deep within us, and we were almost finally happy. We were moving on together as a strong unit.
I had formed an incredible bond with Kamande, Wahu’s husband. I think he’d always wanted a girl, and then I mysteriously showed up. If anyone in that house, including Wahu herself, wanted Kamande to buy something, I would be the de facto person to talk to. I could make things happen hahaha.
And my baby brother was the baby of the house, and he went from a fear-struck little boy to a seemingly happy one. He was mummy’s baby through and through (and the situation has never changed). We were exceptionally close to Mwangi, the last of Wahu and Kamande’s biological sons. He is 10 years our senior, but we had so much fun growing up together, it is unbelievable. He taught us almost everything we know and use today because he was Wahu’s sidekick when it came to raising us. I will have to dedicate an entire article to how amazing of a brother this man was and is.
Despite the trauma we had gone through when we were barely out of kindergarten, we now had a family. We were in a unit that worked. Our needs were being met through the bonds we had formed in this unit, and life was good. Our entry into their lives brought a major financial strain but everyone was working in their own way to make this work, under the good leadership of Wahu, and for a while things were quiet.
And then, Nderitu came back, and all hell broke loose. He sent us a Christmas letter one year, with his address and phone number (that he has never changed). My parents were pissed off, and I think they were scared. They were scared we would choose him, and that this bond we had spent years creating, this bond we were all invested in, would break apart. They were scared to be just placeholder parents; they wanted to be more, and they wanted the sacrifice they had made to mean more. Because they had given it their everything.
Communication between us and my biological father continued to grow stronger while I was in campus. The exact opposite was happening between me and the parents who raised me. I had demons, strong demons, and they couldn’t help me. Every time I was home, I felt stifled. Every time I was in school, I felt scared and invisible. I developed an alcohol addiction just to ease the discomfort in myself. I also smoked a lot. My parents were losing me and they did not know how to stop it.
I was rebelling against them, but it was more than just that. Even after successfully managing not to kill myself, I still couldn’t find my place with them, and in this world. Internally, I was still being haunted. I had all this noise, all this anger, all these mommy and daddy issues that had been piling up and multiplying since my mother’s death, and I was taking it out on them. Our relationship was at its breaking point, and I needed to run away. And I did, first to a boyfriend’s house and then finally, to Meru.
They couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. In my head, it seemed we were enemies now. We went for months without talking to one another. It was that hostile! I think at that point, I had made so many mistakes in my life, I just wanted to start over. Meru seemed the ideal place, next to my dad, and I thought that would help fix the conflict inside. I thought of him as my hero and my parents as the villains.
I didn’t know it at that time but I wanted to understand what went wrong between him and my mum. I wanted closure, and I had questions that only he could answer. I wanted to form a bond with him because I felt linked to him. I wanted so badly to be owned, to belong authentically to someone because I thought that was what was missing. I thought that was the reason I was unhappy.
For some reason, he still felt like home even though I had not seen him for decades. Even though everyone was telling me he abandoned me and my baby brother after my mum’s death, I felt safe and I felt warm when I was there. At that point in my life, that is exactly what I needed.
I went there with the wrong intentions (to piss my parents off), but that decision has changed my life. I got to know him, some of the questions I had were answered. We began a relationship that I feel has been integral in helping me heal my wounds (self-inflicted or otherwise). I’m at peace with his decisions, even though these decisions have burdened us with further psychological issues. He was wrong, and he does not make any excuses for how reckless and selfish he was. He has been terribly sorry. It felt amazing when he opened up to us about his relationship with my late mom. Finally, the pieces were fitting into place, and the haze and confusion were slowly fading away. I no longer feel like that abandoned kid because he finally stepped up and filled that hole he had created. I loved getting to know him.
He owns and operates a couple of wines and spirits in Meru. He is a very good businessman and a creature of habit. Even when I am this far from him, I can accurately tell you where he is at this exact moment. He looooooooves routines, just like I do, and he loves to read, just like my baby brother and I. And just in case you are wondering why I am so talkative, I finally came to realize that I got it from him, although he pretends to be so serious and reserved. He’s also a big kid inside.
I love his laugh, especially when he has had a few drinks. He finds everything funny, and it is infectious! And I am his kryptonite, I know it. He won’t admit it, but I know it.
I also know that as much as he is my biological father, and that he is a wonderful dad, I have parents. I have a family. He’ll always be a part of me, but I’m also a part of something way bigger, something complete.
Wahu and Kamande mean the world to me, and no one will ever take their place. No one can even come close. They are my mum and dad. And it took me almost breaking their hearts for me to realize I belong to them in every sense of that word. I am theirs. They are the best gift I have ever received.
But, it’s really cool to have two dads. I’m just glad everything worked out the way it has, and that I don’t feel guilty about loving either. I have a big heart and everyone has a place in it.
Cheers to amazing dads!! (and I’m sorry for this overwhelmingly long post).