Last Sunday afternoon, I watched as a mother struggled to answer a question posed by a 4 year old. At first the mother seemed shocked, then as quickly became rather agitated. Her face flushed and she almost slapped the little princess right at the steps of the mall. What sin did the young girl commit? I was left pondering. Actually, I pretended to mind my business so fast, you could hardly believe I was privy to the inquiry.
“Mummy, mummy” the girl called out loudly. “I wish I had a daddy?”
The rate at which the woman dragged the poor lass down the steps was frustrating to say the least. In her flowered stilettos, weirdly fitting tights, and that ever ugly wig or was it a weave? They hurried to the maroon colored Vitz and veered off. Now, I am not one to ‘shughurika na mabo ya watu, rakini hii’ we have to discuss.
You see, life passes by so fast, we can hardly believe it. Within the blink of an eye, phew. Your biological clock is coming to a halt, loneliness is creeping in and worse still, that beautiful baby you pretend to love ever so dearly is looking for an identity. They too want a sense of belonging. What we forget when pretending to be super parents is that our youngsters too desire to be in a proper family. They, like their peers, would love to have a father, mother and children kind of setting. What is more interesting is that in these days, we can’t just wave away and lie that the parent died. What if someday they ask to see the grave?
But we are all so blinded by euphoria, we fail to see how against the wall we’ve pushed our children. We are engrossed in our successes, driving big cars and owning bungalows, most to which we do not even own title deeds. Eeeh… you know how we do it. We laugh and do the wine, travel, cook, go to the gym then shopping. After all, we have the means to. Self-comforting becomes our order of the day. I am however concerned by the emotional and psycho-social turmoil we have put our kids into. Yes, they attend the best schools, see the best doctors and even travel the world. However, ‘daddy or is it mummy isn’t home. And worse still, they still aren’t coming either.’
The child grows up with a single parent. He or she is the bread winner, mother, father, caregiver, tutor, and friend and at times, want to play sister or brother to the child. But before I go any further, I must commend us for the wisdom to nurse our rendezvous far from them peeking eyes. And as we self-indulge, we assume the kids will understand us and where we are coming from. Well, we are so wrong. They too languish in the desire of a perfect set up. And when adolescence into young adulthood hits home we are faced with this nonsense of ‘sponsors’.
Now, who is a sponsor? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sponsor is one who presents a candidate for baptism or confirmation and undertakes responsibility for the person’s religious education or spiritual welfare. It is one who assumes responsibility for some other person or thing or a person or an organization that pays for or plans and carries out a project or activity especially: one that pays the cost of a radio or television program usually in return for advertising time during its course. And this too is the idea held by Oxford Dictionary.
In this scenario, those older persons marauding on the back of the extra coin they make are the sponsors. Young girls and boys respond to their whims in exchange of sums of money. Some even call them ‘Daddy’, ama ‘my source.’ What is more pissing however, is when the characters respond. Aki this one I have to ask… Whose daddy are you? Aren’t you ashamed of meeting your own sons and daughters indulging the exact same business with another face? Your absenteeism from their lives making leeway for their escapades. And you older woman tagging on the step on that young boy, one who should call you mother but instead you choose to abuse…. Or do we now bury our heads in the sand and say to each their own? They are 18 years old and can make their choices? Shame on you if that is your line of thought.
Shame on all of us who shut our eyes as our society is deteriorating. And when we get to bury a young soul killed prematurely for God knows what, we start blaming the youngsters. Hold on a second there. When did I miss the memo? Who is supposed to teach who manners? Why is the hunter now becoming the hunted? Why did our parents start celebrating success they have no idea where it came from? A young lass comes home driving the new Evoque or Audi Q7 and instead of questioning the source of the wealth, we are busy celebrate the blessing. Eeehhh, I see us all.
Lakini, wacha I stop digressing any further. Whose daddy are you again? Definitely not mine, on that one I refuse. Catch me in Timbuktu if you can, that is if you can run, but I won’t call you daddy. And worse still, you don’t pass for babe. So I will call you Mr… let us be honest, even a child born of such relations will not carry your name – after all, hatutaki aibu kwa mzee wa kanisa and the chairman of the watering hole.
The ever descending pot bellies sagging precariously. And mostly suffocating you with the sweaty hug on a not so pillow-like chest. Yaani, this is what we have chosen. Ni sawa tu. You cannot even buy them a gift for fear that the wife will know or worse still, it will not be the right fit. Na yet, there is a kaneigbour you lenga every morning. I think the most torturous experience for me is passing this mzee kwa stairs as he struggles to get to fourth floor. Amehema yake yote and he is carrying pampers and bread; his usual deliveries.
And just like we are on clock work schedules, I smile coyly and run down the next count of steps. Aki tell me, why are we engaging with our fathers like this? Ok, naelewa. He is just a text away and provides for your every whim. But again, if the truth is told, they too are still absentees. He will never spend the night in your bed and before you know it, he has arrived and is already snoring. you are left hanging on the high waters. Then, like one hit by a flash of lightning, he will arise with a start and rush to his tucukuru. Tomorrow is Saturday and it is guka’s day with the grandshidren…
Aki woiye. I admit I still struggle to find Uncle Y and X and their summations. Lakini, this one too has kataad. From the frying pan into the fire, we have chosen to roast our own goose. And once again, history is making itself right before our eyes. Someday, it shall come back to judge us harshly. When our sons and daughters come to blame us for not showing them the art and beauty of a family… then we shall remember the sins of our youth.
I still feel haunted by the question of that young girl on the stairs. She was justified in asking. But like most of us young mothers, the parent chose to hide the guilt and drag the child home. I can bet you she never got to explain the whereabouts of the father to the girl. And when she goes out to the arms of a ‘sponsor’, the mother shall never forgive us.
Absentee parenting will be the end of us. Nursing selfish interests at the expense of our children shall someday come to haunt too. Just like it is hitting at our parents.