The morning was a lazy one. 5 hours of sleep was not fair at all. Parts of my body were also in mass protest after a day in the farm yesterday. You cannot claim to have been in Kirinyaga and you didn’t go farming at least once. This made it harder for me. I took a shower and had breakfast. The kind that comes rarely. The main agenda of the day was to travel to Meru to meet my daughter and the mother.
I was so looking forward to this day. I got to Meru & had this uneasy swam of butterflies in my tummy. Why wouldn’t I, I was to meet the two ladies in & yet out my life at a go. Today was clinic day and having not seen her for a long while, I wanted to be part of it. Baby Triti & her beautiful mother Cera were waiting for me at the restaurant we had agreed to meet. I had kept them waiting but not for long. For a moment I had a flash of regret why we had separated and weren’t together as a couple anymore.
The mothers eyes were glowing with anticipation, her brows couldn’t hide the excitement. The closer I got, the shinier they got. Tears I realized. I now had to choose my opening remarks very carefully. But she was stronger than I had known her. Now it hit me more than ever that this was my family. My first family. The separation, seemed now as a very very, big mistake.
But what would I do? But be there for them. I needed to have a clear mind. She hugged me so tightly that all her emotions flowed through to the softest of my inside. I was touched. Baby Triti was looking at us with the most authentic smile & admiration I ever saw in a child. Further regret. We sat down & I ordered coffee, quite odd at midday. Cera looked at me and asked, “Not sleeping well huh?” I replied with a choke that it was of my intent not the insomnia. She gave a nod which was more of an ‘I let it go’ sign than approval. Triti fought off his mother’s grip & outstretched her tiny beautiful hands; fingers open to the cool breeze from the overhead fan towards me.
I don’t know if it was a sign from above, for she was stretching that arm straight to my left side… the heart. Oh God No!!! I said inside. It happened severally & I tried convincing myself it was the crocodile imprinted on the T shirt that she was reaching out for.
“May I hold her?”
“Yes you may; after all, she is yours”
She cleared her thoughts & corrected her statement with “ours”. I put a smile on my face as I stretched my arms to the beaming angel. She was ready for me & for a cool 15 minutes, I forgot the existence of Cera. We were having so much fun with Triti. I was talking without caring if she understood & I didn’t care what her sounds meant.
I ordered lunch which took what seemed like ages to get delivered. We ate in almost silence. We all had stuff to say but did not know how to start it off. Mid course though, we had built a vivacious conversation going. Baby Triti was leaning on my chest calmly, once in a while, reaching out for my cutlery & messing up my food. I avoided much of the emotional chatter & directed the conversation to other sectors that were less involving mentally & emotionally. All was in the affirmative until a question I categorized in the rhetorical basket expected an answer.
“Do you really think about us?” “Our future…”
“Yes I do”
“5 months is really thinking about us?” “… Don’t answer”
I broke the ice after an uneasy 5 minutes moment of silence by reaching out for the small leather folder that carried the bill. I took a quick glance at it and reached for my wallet. For a moment I debated which mode of payment I should use then recalled a past experience at a city hotel where they decided to double charge my card. Thanks to bank statements that was sorted. I removed several notes and placed them in the folder and beckoned the waitress. She gave us a look of admiration, obviously for the way I handled my daughter & the closeness with which Cera sat next to me. She brought back the change and I picked the major notes & left the minor in the folder as a tip.
We walked out Triti in my arms and walked to the children’s hospital a short distance away. It was her clinic day & it was my first time to attend. I couldn’t account for all the smiles from around us, coming from admiring mums & ladies. One young girl wasn’t even afraid to shout “nice couple” as we passed them. This was making me feel good but faded as fast as it came since deep inside I knew that it wasn’t what it looked like. We walked past the waiting bay to the nurse’s office, more glances in tug. Apparently there was nobody who was in need of the same service we required, so we went express.
We got through the normal niceties of the procedures & the nurse was quite stunned when Cera asked the ‘Fathers Name’ slot to be left blank… I assumed the move and kept staring at the Malezi Bora posters on the wall which reminded me of the ‘Afya ya Leo, Uzima wa Kesho’ campaign I participated in some years back with the Ministry of Health. What we were teaching & preaching to those mothers came back to me in a rather distressing wave of reflection, for I was doing contrary to that. For starters the father presence in Triti’s life was non existent. My eyes slowly flooding was my cue to leave the 3 ladies to do their thing.
I stepped out of the office & walked to the TV room. I noticed a weighing machine at one end of the room. I walked to it and stepped on it. I was shocked at how light I had weighed & vowed to eat & pay more attention to my health. I smiled when a friend’s comment flashed in my memory. She had said that we were feeding the baby more than we were feeding ourselves. I almost laughed. The smile was still on my face as I was turning and met Cera’s as they walked out of the nurse’s office, nurse in tow & amid blushes, she said “She is overweight!” I found myself saying something close to the effect of “That’s the mother of my daughter!”
That statement did not rhyme too well with the situations at hand as such coz all of a sudden, she got sad & I realized that the statement I just uttered was restricted & expected of serious and active fathers alone, not for don’t care dads like I was acting. With an evident flash of shame I picked my daughter & she innocently took her position on my chest, unaware of the circumstances surrounding her. Shopping was up next on the Fathers day program.
I don’t get how nature wired her stuff but, it’s in such situations that you meet old friends, classmates, relatives etc. You can imagine the surprises, small talk and all that stuff people do when they unexpectedly meet you and your family. The most surprised being the classmates who thought we would be jokers for life – which made sense to some extent. Otherwise we would all have come from under one roof. The walk to the supermarket was a long one, with everybody we met congratulating & blah blah~ing about several other stuff in relation to this ‘family of mine’. Others went ahead to compare shamelessly, changing focus from the mother to the child and to me and again to the child and giving a sort of approval. A congratulatory note followed. It was while we were at the children section that I started asking myself some tough ones… How it got to this…