I have read and re-read the following piece, I have thought of an introduction for this lad for a couple days now. I don’t think I can find the right words that will be worth a thimble. We were introduced via E-mail so I’ve not met him, but I sure would like to catch a pint with the man. At first he sent a 300 word post but I thought it wasn’t enough, in a moment you’ll see why. He says he is not a writer but I think he has the smoking gun on it. I don’t think it’s the last time we’re hearing from him. His name is Mwaniki Nyaga. He doesn’t use his English name, if that doesn’t spell great I don’t know what does.
Here he is…
We often think of a mother’s love in colourful, warm and tender terms; but we are reluctant to do the same for fathers. Sadly, many men have been fooled into believing that the love they should have for their families is somewhat of a diminutive resemblance to a mother’s love. Most of what is portrayed on fatherhood is about ‘dead-beat’ fathers who abuse their children and children who courageously survive abandonment.
While you read this, you most probably are still living in this perfect world that hasn’t been fractured by death; a world that is safe and secure and is founded in this deceptive notion that death is a concept. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Truly, it does.
Right around this time of year memories of my time with my father come flooding in. He died as he had lived, with that raw humour you can only get from folks from two decades ago. He bowed out on Father’s Day. The irony has never been lost on us. I was of a curious age then; old enough to chew with my teeth, yet young enough to desire that hot, masticated love; love that did not need to be doctrinated. I remember him teaching me how to do cartwheels by the roadside; feeding baboons bananas in the forest…their snow white fur endings gleaming in the orange haze of the setting sun; how to play somber folk tunes on a fretless acoustic….; those simple DOS commands when I was four years old and wanted to load Prince on Windows 95…; how to revive an aging diskette…wow! How technology has changed these three decades!
It seems only yesterday that I was clad in the miniature plaid three-piece that I’d chosen myself….I guess that’s where my love for turquoise began…sweating profusely as the pink bowtie gripped my young tender neck. On my father’s funeral day, the cathedral stood bare and silent. It’s as if for a moment I was alone. The silence echoing in my young ears. No furniture was to be seen, except for the fixed choir stalls. There were no candles, no crucifixes, no chalices, no flowers. The watery sun that had shone fitfully through rain clouds much of the year cast a weak, cold light into the nave. My sister had held my hand tightly to keep hers from shaking. I could hear her soft child-like sobs. Papa was gone….
My father was not a profoundly religious man. Hence, in his Will he had decreed that no hymns be sang, no pews be set; all was to be bare in the cathedral. His coffin though, was majestic and towering as it laid there, a center-piece that was surrounded by what seemed like an orchard of flowers in my young eyes. Because of the costly extravagance of the box (after all, that was all it was, a piece of thick wood carved artistically), the eerie beauty of the singing, the uniform robes of the pall bearers, and the towering architecture that dwarfed us all, I felt the presence of something holy.
I now live in a place of warm rains, big-windowed lofts, and silent, predatory automobiles.Around this time of year, I feel the Big Sadness coming on, like there’s a shiny and sharp axe blade buried inside my chest. The only way I can keep it at bay is to stay absolutely motionless, clutching pictures of my father and I in the forest, feeding the baboons at twilight.
But I choose not to reel in despair. Running away just dooms one to endless beginnings. I chose to embrace the death of my father. I stopped holding grudges, dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, because for the longest time I blamed God for taking away papa too early. The birth of my twins; Matilda and Carmen, has given me a chance to match-up to my father’s nurturing skills. Taking them for long walks into the woods, water-coloring on canvas – creating abstract art that seems to have meaning but in truth is just a by-product of us splashing colours every which-way -, reading bedtime stories to them as I watch their heavy eyelids close…
Both the evil and the good suffer. How one comes through suffering is what will make or break you.
A father’s love is sweet because to a child it is another “sweet flavor” of human expression that makes life sweeter and more enjoyable. Happy Father’s Day.