Eight months are about to clock, since we laid you to your eternal rest. It looks like just yesterday. And with every dawn, I still cannot bring myself to mourn your demise. A look at a pic of you and that resounding baritone of yours rings loud in my ears, tears roll down my cheeks and what do I do? Walk away, despite with a heavy heart.
“Wanjiku, you know your father loves you so much. Nakupenda my daughter.”
“I love you too Mr. Kimani. You know I do, right? “ I would gladly respond.
“Ume-erega kuongea na mwari wa maitu?” You would ask. “Ako salama Daddy. Tumechat jana. Ni masomo tu.”
“Na Chief anaendeleaje?” You would inquire of your wife – like I am supposed to keep a family report form even on people he would engage with every other moment.
It is not like we were best of friends. Not at all. As a matter of fact, we had just come to terms, a couple of years ago. You Daddy believed that nothing is ever that serious and it is in vain to carry life’s grudges. What happened eons ago should not be a part of our daily lives. We should learn to go through life having settled our grudges. This is biblical, mhhh? The secret is to take charge of the dimensions of our lives. And to try we did. We learned to forgive and to appreciate the sunsets together.
When lockdown was imposed in March 2020, you called.
“Wanjiku, take good care of yourselves. No going out unless it is necessary. And if you are in need of anything, tell me. Your Daddy can take care of you. Do not, and I repeat, do not expose yourself to the risks of Covid 19.”
How I thought we would have forever to continue with this banter. The laughter and joys that a call from you would bring our way. And whenever I called you on a Saturday and you would shout,
“Wanjiku, hakuna mutura this weekend.”
“Jesoooo, Daddy, kweni I can only call when I want mutura?”
“Hahaha, you would burst out laughing. Relax mamii. Sasa nani mwingine nitachokoza kama siyo wewe?”
“Daddy, nimepiga kukujulia hali. Eheee. You know, daughter missing daddy! Eheee. What’s the plot for this weekend?”
“Sasa na Rais alisema hakuna sherehe, niko tu job kidogo kidogo. Alafu nitaenda nyumbani kuona tv.” You would say.
“Okay Mr. Kimani. Weekend njema. Keep being happy and peaceful. God bless.”
“Ata wewe Wanjiku. Na usalimie mama yangu pia.’’
“I will Daddy. Bye Bye.”
These days are a little weird. I wake up with the plan to give you a call. Your number still on speed dial. Then I remember, Daddy is no longer on the other end of that phone call. My venting pillow is no more. That voice of reason and courage and comfort is gone forever. What is life really? And worse still, what is death?
Daddy, I have some update to tell you. I know this did not pass you, but again, I am still the family reporter.
Your best friend turned enemy number one. Hyena in sheep’s clothing. He even tried to own your body at death. Actually, he is still at it. Took all your paper work. Cleaned out your house with the help of mama fua. Not to forget how he wanted to bury you like a dog. Your brothers too pretended to not have a say in your funeral. Followed the wind about how eti wazee wanasema. Wazee my foot. Ni wezi Daddy. Out for their kill – proof is in the amounts raised for the funeral expenses. Yet, they only used about 35 k – paid for the hearse, na matangazo kwa Inooro Tv pekee yake. Na maji ya kunywa. Nothing else. They planned your burial in our absentia and wanted your body interred at the cemetery. Not like the cemetery is a bad place. Not at all. We have laid many a great people before you at the cemetery’s. But Daddy, you had made us know where you wanted to be buried.
Yes, in Kiambu you had categorically stated. Way from when we were babies. Next to Cucu na Guka. They had planned otherwise. They did not even want to let people know of your demise. It was a push from other friends and family and standing my ground, and I representing our family that got us to give you a decent send off. And proud we are. Right within your estate you rest. Forever in our hearts.
It has been tough though Daddy. Really tough. The persons you’d expect to step up for you turned rouge. And no, we will not fight them. ‘Karma is a bitch,’ remember. And no one leaves this earth alive, right? Live and let live is my policy right now.
I still have no understanding of how you died. As a matter of fact, the way the narrative goes, you just fell. How now? Unfortunately, and till forever the truth will never be found. I don’t know why and how I was that gullible, but I never pushed for a postmortem. My mind was all over the drama of the burial and giving you a descent send off. This is the only thing I have regrets about your whole life. Someday I hope to find my peace with it.
“Mwarii, enda pale shuttle uchukue kamuzigo nimewatumia,” those calls had stated. A count five times, I went for luggage in town. Sometimes even two days later.
“Mr. Kimani, mbona unatuma chakula Nairobi?” I would ask. “Asante , coz sitanunua waruu for a while to come now. Na minjii.” I would smile, head to town and collect my packages.
Well, how and where did you use to go buying vitu za soko? I mean, Daddy, since when did you go sokoni buying waruu na minjii na carrots? We had our fun eating mukimo, njahi, name it. Lakini this would boggle my mind for times on end. We have not been farmers. And going to the shamba was not your cup of tea either. But tales have it, how you would send mama soko anunue everything, akuletee. And despite the lockdown, you ensured we had more than enough to eat during those tough times. Little did we know you were preparing us for the end.
Now all we are left with are memories. Memories of the great and joyful times. Of breath taking laughter and life celebrations with every dawn. Of times you’d would accuse me of not heeding your call and being full of myself. Of reminders that we are winners and you are forever proud of us. Of you delivering karaoke – dancing to Rhumba and Lingala in the late of the night, serving nyama choma in the process. Of pushing us to dance ‘Twisti’ despite both my feet being left legged.
“Haya maisha Wanjiku hayataki makasiriko,” you would say. “Kula vizuri. Tembea kote unataka. Vaa kila kitu unataka. Jifanyie kazi kwa bidii. Hayo ndiyo maisha mazuri. Na usimsahau Mungu.” You would say, over, and over and over again.
How I miss these our little chats. That Sunday 11:00 am call.
“Wanjiku, umeenda kanisa?” How I wanted to lie to you all those times and you always caught me midway my excuse telling. “Mami, usipofanya kitu kingine maishani, kuwa tu mcha Mungu. Mungu atawapigania ata mahali mimi apana iko.” Well Dad, He is still our defender and protector. And yes, I do go to church. Si ata TV service is church? Au siyo?
Yaani, we remain with memories of how ‘Baba yetu ni tajiri’ even when we didn’t have anything to place on the table. Electricity had been disconnected and sukari was a luxury to get. With mismatched trouser suits and endless servings of chips and chicken at Stem ama Kuku Den ama Moores Café. Na snacks za Zum Zum with a cold helping of soda kubwa. Not to forget the walk to Supa Duka for poloni and Gilanis for the movie tapes, or Rift Valley bookshop for the story books. You gave us the wings to fly Daddy. We stand strong today because we stand on the shoulders of giants.
On visiting day, Saturday Nation, Saturday Standard and Taifa Leo would make the list of deliverables for me. Aki surely, nimekumiss miezi mbili then all I get are newspapers. Like that is what will brief me of the world happenings for the two months of boarding life. You nurtured in us the desire for life-long learning. Understanding world affairs. Environmentalism and the love for great home freshly cooked home meals. Cabbage na kafirifiri with nyama choma na ugali – I still love vegetables Daddy. And so do the rest of us. Nyama ndiyo tunakula kwa umbali. Na of course miwa; you never chewed on miwa though, but sukari ulipenda hadi mwisho.
Before I digress too far, let me pen off here. I could not help myself. I had to give you a snippet into my heart. I miss you Daddy, so much.
‘Life is like an onion.’ You said. ‘ You have to peal it, one layer at a time and sometimes you cry.’ So is life. Suck it up and move on. Get over it! It happens to everybody. And I know, you would not want us mourning over you. We won’t Daddy. We will eat life with a big spoon and celebrate every moment we are alive. And cherish those memories of you.
I have no idea about life on other side. Some speak of life after death. Of the resurrection. Of the reincarnation. I honestly don’t want to even consider what either means. Please, rest easy Daddy. And keep offering them karaoke sessions and comfort to all souls. I know you are looking out for us. God only takes his best to Himself. At 75, you had lived your life well, maybe not to your fullest, but we can’t complain. Yours was a happy life. Our is to keep your legacy.
And say ‘Hello’ to Wanjiku Mkubwa na Aunty Serah.
Yours Loving Daughter.