I bet you also dint know that last week had a fathers’ day hidden somewhere. No fun-fare, no media frenzy no nothing! Sobs! Folks, this was a scandal! There is always a lot of brouhaha and enthusiasm months before Mothers’ day. It’s a different case when it comes to father’s day. Fatherhood is a thankless, unsung and unappreciated social status, so I think. At this rate, if you are a young man craving fatherhood, think again. It is unfortunate that society seems to be down beat about fatherhood. And if journalistic generalization is anything to go by, fatherhood has a long way to go if at all it intends to be esteemed as motherhood. In interviews, for instance, I have never heard men being asked how they manage to successfully ‘multitask’ as fathers, husbands and career men! Being a father is a tragedy, I tell you. It seems the whole concept of being a father is, at times, unavoidably necessitated by circumstances-biological, and unfortunately always considered a social accident!
You see, there are certain aspects of our personality which only fathers can socialize in us effectively, for instance, discipline respecting authority, hard work and success.
When I vividly remember-back in the day as a child growing up-the kind of treatment we used to give our father, I can only grin with guilt. He would arrive home, after exhausting his ‘primitive energy’ on the grind –hustling for his wife and kids, to a very cold reception. Assuming he had, for instance, passed by a barber shop and therefore looking so fresh and so clean, nobody bothered to compliment his well trimmed thick moustache! We believed that fathers don’t like compliments. The gifts, rewards and incentives were just part of his responsibility. In fact, it was helter-skelter upon his arrival we would scamper all over the place. Whoever had comfortably sunk in sofa with legs propped on the table would hurriedly sit upright. By the time he would ask about who messed during the day, everyone had wet their pants. He would look at you and if his instincts told him that you are likely to misbehave the following day in his absence, he would wake you up and ,of course, give it to you in advance-a thorough beating!
Mum on the other hand, the moment we would smell her perfume-a hundred meters away, we would trip over each other and with the speed(coupled with the curiosity) of a Kenyan dashing to a fertilizer bomb blast scene, enthusiastically meet her before clinging on her skirt! And in the process we would even, but unsuccessfully, attempt to do to her that thing that Kenyans always do to a crook upon being announced a winner in an election-lifting her up sky-high! Yours truly had this weird habit (I was told) which I allegedly had a penchant for and therefore used to do it quite a bit-innocently getting inside her skirt! Getting me from beneath there was quite a process! I don’t seem to remember what used to motivate me. But it was all love.
Father’s presence in the house could only be compared to that of a bogeyman of some sorts. It meant total order and discipline. As a man, by the time you discover that your father was, all along, doing the right thing, you probably have children who think you are dictator! Once in a while, we would abruptly get into small fights ,forgetting that he was just there quietly reading his newspaper, over crust bread(oh, nothing was sweet as ile mkate ya kando) ,the TV remote control or at times just making a nuisance out of ourselves by trading disses-something frowned upon by him. When enough was enough, to arrest our attention, he would pretend to be clearing his throat. When that strategy would yield no results, you would see him slooowly raise his head off the newspaper. With a frown of seriousness spread across his face, he would peer at us (like a scientist expectantly does to specimen in a test tube awaiting results) before angrily roaring one word-the name of our older brother, Boii! And that was it, case closed! Everyone would scatter for safety as Boi would bear all the blame of ‘disturbing kids’. I used to find it funny because at times even when Boi was missing in action you would still hear him yell ‘Boii’ and it would still restore sanity anyway! Talk of a father effortlessly stamping his authority and instilling discipline to his children. Him like most other fathers, had no (and still doesn’t have) time for sophisticated and time consuming strategies like ‘time out’ or making deals (do this I will buy you that).
Our mum used to be handicapped when it came to matters authority and discipline. After countless slaps, beatings- with the aid of a bathroom slipper, deafening yells, endless ‘parroting’ and uncalled for banging of tables, we unfortunately remained uncooperative. In the absence of father, the only thing that used to suffice was one famous statement which I know many can relate to-‘I will report you to your father’! Jeez! That used to make us immediately cooperate.
Father always knew how to encourage success and hard work. For instance, he made us change our attitude towards Maths, the most dreaded discipline in academia. He used to claim that Maths is the easiest of them all for its all about ‘playing with numbers’ and proceeded to ‘salt’ the lie by claiming that he used to banged straight As –always! It was until just the other day that a visiting loud-mouth classmate of his made it clear that, like many, our fathers Achilles hill was and he still suspects is mathematics!(You see, if you are old and you think your secrets are safe with your age mates –just because you suspect they have forgotten, think again.)
As we grew up, dad had a classic way of making us feel safe and assured us of our security. Whenever we unwittingly attempted to scrutinize the state of our security by asking whether he could beat up the most fierce wrestlers like Yokozuna or even the Undertaker, he used to give a very confident and emphatic ‘yes’. And for special effects, he would dismiss them with a tired wave of the hand accompanied with a sneer! I mean, what else would scare you in this world when you have a father who can beat gigantic and fierce wresters? A real father, I tell you. He doesn’t have to tell or teach you how to become a father, he just behaves like one and all you are left with is copying.
Fathers have very creative ways of restoring confidence in their children. They always create an impression that they have solutions to all problems and answers to all questions. Even those that mum can’t handle are always referred to dad. When we spoilt anything; you would see him tinker with it and pretend to be fixing it amid clicks of disgust as he mumbled some incoherent things. He would later on issue a stern warning and ban anyone from ‘touching’ it, only for him to bring in a real fundi the following day to fix it during the day while we were away in school.
It astounds Malesi that, in almost all households, all kinds of compliments are always directed to mothers. Her hair, nails, clad et al. Even when her food is undercooked or tasteless or when she serves something that remotely looks like ballast, which one can hardly collect with fingers before squeezing together to form a malleable eshironje (sorry, I meant bolus, for those who don’t understand Japanese) that can be used to drag and shovel sukuma wiki in ones mouth, we still shower her with glowing compliments about her culinary skills lest she sulk and make us miss the next meal! No one ever stops and ever says `thank you dad for paying rent, school fees, that heavy hospital bill ,providing security or even for buying the meal that mum prepared so well. After all this, the only reward we give to our fathers is, well, affording them the luxury of having a monopoly to always sit to one particular special comfortable chair designated for them! However, wife and kids always conspire to relocate the chair ridiculously next to the door (so that when thugs break in, he is the first one they deal with! I suspect.) Gosh! Women and children! Click! Such is the tragedy of being a father.
On father’s day it’s still them who spend! Chei! The only difference between the two occasions is that on father’s day they (fathers) spend less! Surely, is this what fathers deserve? I am eager for that day when fathers and men by extension will start being taken out for romantic dinners, being pampered with gifts ,compliments, our wives flirting with us(imagine we like it),eh,ok,well,being given liberty to peacefully gossip or even whine without women rolling eyes and giving us ‘that look’!
Other privileges that fathers had like having the monopoly of holding the remote control(so that they could be in time to flip to the next channel whenever anything ‘dirty’ like a condom advert popped up)and dictating which channel to watch ,are now lost to children. The only entertainment fathers enjoy on telly is news! When he is not watching –by force, a Mexican soap opera, he is watching wrestling and if not, then he is, definitely, watching a Genge music video! Thanks to the modern day kids!
The only other privilege that fathers still enjoy-especially in a place like where I come from where people are genetically predisposed to eating chicken-is having the privilege of eating the gizzard-a tasteless piece of muscles combines with tendons which, when not well prepared, a self respecting hyena will not dare touch it!
The idea of him being a final decision maker is always a public relations gimmick! Like in our case ,whenever mum and any other girl masquerading in the house as a woman was-in the spirit of ‘slimpossible’- dieting, all of us, father(the bread winner, imagine!) included, had no other option but to be content with subsistence on whatever fad diet she served! A leaf of sukuma wiki, a piece of carrot, a slice of bread, a sip (not a gulp) of a ‘miracle juice’-some loliondoish kind of concoction. Sobs!
Gosh! Someone still craves fatherhood?
But anyway I, however, in all honesty ,find fatherhood so ethereal and in fact do subscribed to view that concerned authorities in academia ought to accorded it a study of its own. Even if it means a crush course! Firstly, this is due to the fact that I get pained to the bone whenever I see so many aged boys who not only masquerade as men but as fathers. Secondly, some women, either by choice or circumstances, take up that role with absolutely no idea and iota of trappings that come with it-their performance at it is always pathetic! I say this because mothers seem to be overrated at the expense of fathers. When in actual sense they complement each other .Probably, this is due to the fact that mothers spend most of the time around the house, managing kids. Unfortunately society conveniently forgets that fathers too participate.
Fathers, contrary to popular belief that its only darkness that brings them back home, they actively participate in matters family albeit indirectly outside the home by engaging in activities we collectively refer to as ‘nation building’. I mean, folks, there is more to fatherhood than meets the eye! And to those who have been unfortunate not to have good fathers, my appeal to you it to participate in the creation of one. It’s all about nurture not nature. It’s my hope that all real fathers out there had a happy one.