The chief didn’t prepare me to be a father. To be a chief. He didn’t tell me what would happen when I’d be expecting a little one. What it would feel like. The seemingly eternal and mind numbing internal battles. The responsibilities after the orgasm so to speak. After the conception. I now get why he always had a permanent scowl for a face. Like he’d taken a shot of Camino tequila. (Never take Camino tequila by the way. That is the devil’s piss – dabble in Jose Cuervo if you can. Or if your wallet is on the heavier side, Don Julio)
So, what brought me to this realisation? Well, some time last year I found out I’m going to be a father. Thankfully,legally and not from stolen fruit. Hehe. It was shocking at first, for the sole reason that it wasn’t planned. A story I shall delve into one day.
It was a pleasant shocker. Sort of like if you’re home alone, and bored and hungry and you hear the doorbell ring. You open it and a KFC delivery guy is before you. The Brown bag in his hand barely sealing the pleasant smell of the Colonel’s deep-fried chicken. Then he asks:
Hapa ni kwa Joyce. You say no.
He retrieves his mobile phone from his large black leather biker jacket, dials a number and puts it on speaker. The dial tone rings thrice and a sultry voice answers.
Habari Joyce, the delivery guy replies. Huyu ni Karanja wa KFC. Niko kwa mlango yako.
Eh Mlango gani? Her voice sounds like lavender. Like she drinks hot lemon ginger tea daily and her tongues rests on velvet.
Ya nyumba yako. A6 Sijui kama huyu ni Bwana wako hapa?
You look at him confused.
She replies that she’s not married but she’s looking.
My last boyfriend was about as exciting as a minji samosa, she replies. The disdain in her voice filters through Karanja’s phone.
As Karanja looks confused, you smile and wonder who should be killed first. The person who discovered minjis or the one who put them in a samosa.
Then she asks if her husband is hot?
The KFC delivery guy taken aback says, Eeeh. Sijui. Anakaa mwanamume tu. Kitambi sio kubwa sana so I think ako na pesa kiasi.
You suck in your gut and wonder if this is a prank?
She asks to talk to you.
Karanja gives you his phone and you do that awkward thing when you handle someone else’s phone. You don’t really grab it but hold it lightly at your finger tips. Like it was a handkerchief.
Hi. I’m Joyce. I hear you’re my husband?
Urrm. So I gather, you reply
Uuu..Polished too. Who uses the word gather in normal conversation?
You both laugh. Karanja shifts his feet impatiently.
Anyway, I gather, she sniggers as she says it, that my KFC order has come to you. I used to live there, and forgot to change my location for delivery on this delivery app. Since it’s a wife’s duty to feed her husband, I’ll let you have it.
You’re taken aback. Not because of the free offer of food, but because you don’t hear many people talk about traditional duties like that anymore.
You utter an Awwww. Thank you dear. I had some minji stew in the fridge I was to heat up, but this will certainly do the trick.
Haha. Minjis are good. Just not in a samosa. Anyway, enjoy the meal hubby.
Urrrm. You too, you respond embarrassingly.
She laughs and hangs up.
You hand back the phone to the delivery guy and take the package. You give him a hundred bob tip and he walks away shaking his head. Muttering to himself, Hii Nairobi kweli ina mambo.
So there you are with unsolicited deep-fried chicken. That’s how it feels like when you get a baby that you’re not expecting. You experience varying degrees of apprehension and happiness. And sometimes doubt.
A good friend of mine told me about his fatherhood experience about a year ago. The moods (of the mother to be, not his). The lack of understanding (His not the mother to be) and the general mixture of emotions through the journey.
He said, My guy, you know these women are like tong’ gweno. Now having a pregnant wife is like being on a roller coaster with a tong’ gweno.
By the way, tong’ gweno is Latin for “chicken egg”.
Well, since this roller coaster began, that tong’ gweno talk has rung true. I’ve had to be careful of everything I do, say or even think. Even how I smell. My favourite cologne went missing a few months ago. I dare not ask where it is. For I had been warned not to wear it and I did. Justice was swiftly meted out.
What about the cravings? Those are real apparently. My boy says his wife craved KFC and Art Cafe prawns. As in really? Kwani that child is how uptown? The requests would come in at 11:30 pm and the nearest Art Cafe is in Lavington and closes at midnight. He doesn’t live anywhere near Lavington.
Thankfully my missus just craves ice lollies, mangoes and lime cordial. My job is to make sure the house is stocked with those items. I’m a man though, so I forget sometimes. Because we can only keep so much information in our heads. But we’ll remember the scores of the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. Damn that Johnny Wilkinson and his perfect boot.
Now, here’s the thing, men are built to be problem solvers. The light is out, no problem. Put in a new bulb. The trash bag is full, take out the trash. So, the good thing with those missions we’re sent out on, it feels like we’re doing something. Solving a problem. We’d carry the baby for her if we could, but where would we put the beer?
We can’t make her less sleepy. Or less hungry. Or balance out her hormones. But we can take a trip to get food. To look for that mama mboga in Kawangware with the ‘best mangoes. That we can do. In fact, we consider it an adventure. Some sort of covert mission. We even reward ourselves with a beer afterwards.
So much goes through our minds during these times though. One of them being trying to figure out the difference between being a father and a dad. Or what if we mess up and the kid becomes a stripper or a robber or a drunk? How do you deal with this concept of a new family? How do you prepare for a future you have never experienced?
I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I guess, one just needs to navigate and enjoy the journey. To use the tools one has to get to the destination. At least it’s what we’ve got in the here and now. Till then, let’s hope we land this thing safely.