When he died, how was that for you? I asked, feeling somewhat emotional. Sharlene’s eye bags were beginning to swell.
Sharlene is this girl who, after she read Milkah’s story here https://wanjikuthewriter.com/2022/11/21/double-daddy-issues/ she sent me an email, that read, “Foretaste: There will be suffering before we attain glory……” it sounded to me like a verse from the Bible. That drew my attention. I wanted to hear more of the suffering than the glory though. So I met with her. At a bar. Could have been her tears were coming from going over a painful past, or from the content of the glasses placed on our table. Maybe it makes her cry like it does me, or maybe not. We shall soon find out.
What will you have? Sharlene asked.
I want to go Cuba. I said in response.
She threw a grin at me and said, “me too.” Immediately , I knew we were cut from the same cloth.
On the real though, I would love to visit Cuba to have the real mojito. See if it’s any different from what they serve here. I hear it’s the muratina of the Cubans.
What’s muratina made of by the way? She asked.
Some dried stuff mixed with sugarcane juice and honey/sugar. The secret is not in the what though. It’s in the how. You can have muratina that can make you sick and another that can make you pleased. Yet, made from the same products. Here, the end does not justify the means. There’s only one way to make classic muratina and not every maker gets it right. Exactly reason why I think this mojito would taste very different and so much better from Havana. You know, my first time to hear of Mojito, was in one of those James Bond movies. Die Another Day. I can’t remember how old I was but I remember Bond flirting with Halle Berry. I remember mojito sounded so fancy through his British accent. I remember purposing to make it my punch when I was all grown and becoming. You know, to see if it gets me a James Bond kinda man. I mean a man who can woo me with that much charisma.
Haha! Good luck with that. She said.
By this time Mercy had served our drink. We raised our glasses to appease that luck.
“We were at your dad’s funeral.” I threw in as I took my first sip.
“You know, death is painful. Regardless of who the victim is or was to us. She said.
“Weeeelll, yeah! There’s that.” I said a bit reluctantly. “Okay! not that I’m heartless or that I don’t agree with you, Sharlene. But, maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. I feel like it’s different every time. Like, there are people we lose and it hurts like crazy while some, we don’t feel a thing, reasons vary for that. And others, we hurt for the people affected.”
I hear you, Wanjiku. And! You’re right. You are. I’ll tell you how. I cried at his funeral. So hard. Yes I did. “I was shocked when she said that. Reason why she had to confirm she meant exactly that.” Not for him, for my mum and for my siblings. I saw how devastated they were. That was what broke my heart. My mum was a wreck. She loved him. I know because I saw how submissive she was. Extremely. She always wanted to do right by him. Even when it included sending me away from home so he could have his space with his kids; two girls two boys. Yeah! She chose him over me. Countless times. I feel like she still does that to date. Looking at how close knit she is with his kids and how distant she is with me, years after his demise. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. You know, it is our basic woman programming to be good to our men. I don’t blame her.
“And did you always know he was not your paternal dad?”
Because of my skin tone, yes I knew. My sibling and I , we’re like chalk and cheese. Also, from how unemotional he was with me, I always felt I didn’t belong. Never felt at home once! When he was alive. I felt like a condemned child with a noose on my neck. That cold heart of darkness that dangled over his chest whenever he was around me, as compared to the loving tenderness he showered his kids, I never needed confirmation on paternity. I just knew. The dislike made things so cumbersome and so eruptive that it only needed a spark to explode. He was my dad, yes. He gave me his name at least. But I wasn’t his daughter.
“Wow!” I sighed reaching for the serviette to run my cheeks. Just so we’re clear here, it’s the Cuban cocktail that was causing me all that emotional imbalance. Okay? Ok!
I got distracted from my emotions by the warm music playing in the background, the soft golden lighting and the chatter between folks from each table. They had a life, each of their own. They seasoned into each other like the smoothness of beats in music of a good orchestra, conducted by a well versed maestro. The sound was reaching within me and pulling out the joy enclosed.
Now, you said at times your mum sent you away, yeah?
Yeah. I was that kid whose life they played like basketball. Dribble and pass! One time I’d go to school from my mum’s then in the evening go home to granny’s as instructed. Other days I’d go home to my aunt’s then back home. Okay! Honestly , I didn’t know where home really was and I did not have the liberty to choose where to be. Other days I missed school being that fees was always in arrears. Or because my uniform was in rags and with no signs of replacement. Even as it were, my siblings stayed in school, their uniforms in perfect shape and school fees paid on time. Eventually I would be transferred to a public school to make it easier for mum to cope.
My saving grace came from church. Literally. I’m catholic. At one of the occasions in church, I intentionally eavesdropped on a conversation between congregants. I made it intentional after I heard something to do with scholarships. Apparently, a group of nuns was offering to see bright needy kids through school. Specially Catholic Schools. They had a committee or something of the sort. I sought after them. I wasn’t bright as per the requirements but I was needy and determined. I took on the fool’s courage. I pleaded until they had no choice. They gave me a shot in one of the Schools. Like I said, I wasn’t bright but I didn’t want to miss on that. I burnt the mid night oil, cramming formulars. And Science. And Collaborators. And the Maji Maji. All of them. I passed my KCPE so well that they proceeded to sponsor me through High School.
That for me was more than I bargained for. I am grateful to this day. The struggle through High School was another handful. But thankfully it was not fees. Most times, I stayed in school throughout since transport home was a hustle. I couldn’t afford and I had no one to call on. With relatives, they won’t always come to your aide. Not that they are bad people to assume, that if your mum is married, then it is the responsibility of that husband to provide unless he can’t. Also, sometimes, these relatives have their own things going. They won’t always shelves their plates just to save you. Not especially when no one is saving them. But when we are young, we don’t see it that way. We see them as selfish insensitive humans. High School was a tough trek for me on it’s own kind of way. I couldn’t afford essentials; sanitary towels, tissue, soap, toothpaste, shoe polish etcetera. I survived under the mercies of my desk mate. So of course, I had to be in her good books, always. To that girl, I am forever grateful. Sadly to say, it was while at that stage that dad died..
Life took a drastic turn after he was gone. Mum had been a house wife all the while. Providing for me alone was back-breaking. Now, she had four more mouths to feed and fees to pay; with no job, no experience, no education. From grace to grass we went. Okay, they went. Because for me, I was accustomed to hay even with him alive. Truthfully though, it was an emotional, psychological and financial roller coaster for all of us. Most especially for mum. Some nights food was not enough other nights, we had nothing at all. She figured it out anyway. Women always do. For their kids. Casual works here and there to keep our heads above the water until the storm was ready to calm down.
A couple of years after High School, I met my biological dad. I don’t want to say I sought after him because I did not actively do that. Let me just say someone who knew him took me to him which worked to my advantage because he funded my tertiary education.
How was that for you? Meeting you dad I mean.
Awkward. You know, these relationship hardly work. Trying to build a relationship with your absent dad/mum when you’re already grown is an uphill task. Requires so much effort and skill to accomplish. I put in the effort but did not have the skill. He lacked both the effort and the skill. So we both kept it financial until I didn’t need his money anymore.
As a family, we are now at a better place financially. I bet emotionally too. My sibling are married and living well. Only the last born is still in school. We are doing quit well. I’m running a clothe line in South C which is doing pretty well. My only struggle for quite some time has been relationships. They don’t last long enough. My men always find a reason to leave as soon as we start. It used to kill me before but now, after a series of heart breaks, I don’t get caught by surprise anymore. I have adjusted. See, if two dads didn’t find the reason to love me enough, why would any other man?
Hear hear! Cheers to doing life regardless. Yeah!
Com’s!!!!! I know I have taken long to get started with 2023. Blame it on the Christmas break. I go for a two weeks break without writing and I’ve forgotten 3 decades of experience. I know it’s past mid month already but you’ve got no choice but to allow me to wish you a Happy New Year! We shall conquer. We always do.