Close your eyes…
His heart pounded to his throat as he grabbed his school bag, gave the door a determined twist, it flung open, and in seconds, he was out. He wanted so badly to resent her but he couldn’t. She had been his breadwinner since his papa bit the dust leaving him and his younger brother under her care. She had moved on and hoped that he would too or maybe, just somehow, be happy that she did. But nay!
His papa was his best friend. The man who taught him how to ride a bike, tie a tie, give his shoes the perfect shine, and taught him to respect women. He missed him and he was hurt by the void left in his heart. He never withheld anything from him. All that he was, or wanted to be or ever could be, his papa knew. The ugly hands of death took him abruptly. He wished he had time to let him know how much he loved him. He wanted him to see the little man he had become and that he had eyes for Nafula.
*Simiyu didn’t notice the stone that just chilled by the footpath a few meters to his school gate. He tried to jump over it but it was too late. His left foot was struck with some serious pain as it collided with the stone. He staggered like a drunkard all the way to his classroom just in time for his first class. His final year in school was not going so well. He struggled to keep his grades up. His teachers were growing tired of reprimanding him and his mother was too busy to pay attention. It did not help that the other guy had moved in with them. He hated it.
Simiyu’s mom decided two years was good enough time to mourn her late husband and find herself, new love. She was a woman with needs. She got back in the game and she loved it. Her new lover was also a father to some kids somewhere. He separated from his wife and decided that he too, needed to find a new nest to lay his head. Simiyu’s mom and her new-found love behaved like two teenagers who just fell in love for the first time. Simiyu hated it.
He tried to concentrate in class but his cobwebbed mind wouldn’t let him. The previous day, his ‘father’ came back from the village with two of his kids after their mother took off and left them with his older brother. Simiyu like the ‘man’ he was, questioned his mother about it. He had barely approved of the man living with them and now this! He hated it.
The final bell rang. He got his school bag and took off. He wanted to cool off some steam. He headed straight to the playing field, found his football mates getting ready for a friendly. He had no time to change into his sports gear; he took off his navy blue school shirt almost tearing it apart and ran to his mates bare chest. Munyao, the ‘referee’ blew the whistle and the boys scrambled for the ball.
He could not concentrate on the game. He kicked the ball in anger and almost knocked the goalkeeper’s teeth out as he aimed for a score. The goalkeeper furiously ran after him and punched him. Simiyu got up and reciprocated with a fist, and then and a fight broke out. Munyao ran and separated them and instantly ended the match before the news got to any of the teachers, which would have meant suspension for them. Simiyu came back to his senses. He put on his shirt and signaled the goalkeeper to wait. He apologized for he knew why he kicked the ball so hard.
As he walked back home, he got to the famous stone and kicked it. How silly. He went his way and when he arrived home, his ‘father’ was listening to some rhumba jams. He hated it.
He almost turned off the radio but withheld himself. He didn’t say a word to the man. He dropped his bag on the floor and headed to the shower. Five minutes he was out. After dressing up in his green cargo pants and a black t-shirt with the words, ‘catch me if you can’, he sat outside the house. Suddenly, he heard his little brother confront his ‘sister’ for having taken his toy car. Simiyu like a mad boy, yelled at the girl to give back the toy to his brother. Their ‘father’ stormed out and yelled at Simiyu for yelling at his daughter. What followed was a bitter exchange of words.
That night when mama Simiyu came home from work, she noticed the tension in the house and asked her darling if all was well. He told her to ask her son. Simiyu got up and shouted at him. His mother got up and shouted back at him and asked him to leave if he didn’t want to live under the same roof as the other kids. The house was now like a mental facility where everyone shouted their lungs out at each other. But who was going to listen to the other? Good Lord!
“I will leave. Just wait till am done with my final exams. And this man you call husband is not and will never be papa!”
“Young man”, his ‘father’ stood up, “show some respect to your mother”, and slapped him silly.
“You are not my father to tell me what I can and can’t do”, Simiyu screeched as he tried to fight tears.
“Shut up you ungrateful child! How dare you? Mama Simiyu burned with rage, “This is my house and you will do as I say or find yourself another home. This is your father and my husband now. Did you want me to follow papa to his grave?” She regretted her last words and even though she couldn’t take them back, she apologized.
“I need you to move on too”, she was now calmer, “this man here has been nothing but good to us. I would appreciate it if you accepted him as your new papa”.
Perhaps this is a conversation they should have had Simiyu started acting crazy. He was sinking deep and she had no clue. She wanted him to accept her choice of the man she now called husband but he hated the idea.
Simiyu couldn’t believe his mother. He skipped dinner and went to bed. He felt so helpless. He cried all night and wished papa was still around. Maybe mama was right, his healing would come if, not when, but if he accepted his new reality and agreed it was time to move on.
The night seemed long. The wild cats ran across the roof making those weird squeaky noises. Suddenly, it started raining. He was in dreamland. He saw himself all grown up with his own family. Then out of the bushes, death reared its ugly head about to take his wife. He would be left raising their kids alone. He woke up feeling numb. Was he being harsh with his mother for moving on? Was that dream a sign to give the man, his ‘father’ a chance?
Time would tell…
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