My phone rang, I didn’t pick it. I was in the middle of some serious news bulletin. We were experiencing snow. Who wouldn’t be caught by such a news item. My missus wasn’t. She hadn’t liked the news anchor from the onset. She said the anchor had overdone her makeup and looked like one of Nelly’s dolls. Nelly is our first born .As a kid she always liked to dress up her numerous dolls and apply makeup on them. The makeup work was awful. I didn’t agree with the missus on this but couldn’t really voice my opinion on how the anchor looked. In my mind I knew the anchor looked smashing hot. Am not to be confused for some old dirty pervert, I just do appreciate beauty when I see it, even if it is beauty from makeup. It’s still beauty. Plus, think of the time she spent just to look good.
Back to the phone. It kept ringing. I ignored it. Who was so inconsiderate as to call a man at this hour, a time when you sit on your favorite couch, put your legs on the table, cross them if you got old swag and just get comfortable to hear what is happening in other areas that aren’t your backyard. My missus fed up by my ringtone decides to take my phone and find out who the insistent caller is. She always has this notion that am keeping a mistress somewhere. This is since most of my friends have been caught pants down breaking the vows they made at the altar. I understand why she is so insecure. Our marriage had reached that point where couples feel like they have nothing more to offer to their partners except for companionship. I have had a fling outside marriage, it was once and it wasn’t serious for that matter. It’s regretful but that is a story for another day, just don’t tell the missus. Not that you even know her.
“It’s your daughter calling,” she shouted over the high TV volume. I have a hearing problem. My doctor says I will be needing hearing aids soon. To set the record straight, I am not that old. I am at my prime. I got a kitambi going and I haven’t yet lost a strand of my hair. In fact only 3% percent of my hair is white. So do the math, how old am I likely to be?
“Which one dear, I have many remember!”
“So two is now termed as many, no wonder you got a D in English. “She retorted back.
I hate it when she brings my English grade into an argument. I didn’t even get a D. It was better than that, but since that’s the only subject she beat me at, she always brings it up just to make me look and feel bad at the same time.
“Woman! Are you going to tell me which daughter it is or do I have to shout out all the names of the daughters I have fathered and trust me they aren’t two.”I fought back. She looked dazed for a moment .I always like toying with her insecurities. At that moment I had her at a tight spot.
“Its Fazia and you better come clean with the other kids you have .I don’t want any tussle over your estate once you are gone. You are not growing any younger old hog.”
What did Fazia want? I had just sent her pocket money the other day. She wasn’t like Nelly who often made social calls to ask how this old hog was doing. She only called when she lacked money. Since she went to campus she behaves all grown up and doesn’t want my company. Imagine my little gal didn’t want me to take her for the registration since she claims my dressing style embarrasses her. Okay, I am not the cool type of dad who has outfits like the former Nai senator, but seriously why would she look down on me for wearing my 2002 Manchester united jersey along with my faded blue jeans? There was this time she didn’t want me to drop her at her friend’s place since I had on my good old safari boots. What’s wrong with safari boots? She says it was out of fashion and it portrayed a stingy personality. I was lost for words. I let her take the bus.
I took the phone from my missus and answered it. I waited for her to start talking. I always do that when someone calls. I let them speak first .It is some sort of courtesy thing to me. She didn’t speak. I wanted to get back to the snow news, so I broke the silence.
“Hello dear, what’s up,” sounds cool right. I always try to be cool with her. She is my pride .The only one of my bunch who inherited my brains. She was going to be a doctor in three years time. I was going to be called ‘baba daktari’. Who wouldn’t beam at the thought of that?
“Hello dad,” she doesn’t call me dad, only when she is in trouble. She is the only one of the brood that calls me by my first name. Don’t call me soft just yet. Thing is Fazia inherited my missuses stubborn head. So when she decided to open her mouth and say the word Ben as her first word, nothing could stop her from calling me that. Even a threat to keep her from her favorite cartoon show SpongeBob wouldn’t derail her. The name stuck and I got used to it.
“Hello I can’t hear you, mind speaking up dear” that was a lie. I did get her clearly; I just wasn’t ready for trouble right then. I then heard something like a sob. I listened again, yes there it was, a muffled sob. My little gal was crying. Why would she cry? Had some heartless bloke dumped her.No, fazia is too cute too be dumped, still I was preparing the ‘he was not the right guy for you’ kind of speech. Then she dropped the bombshell. Three words that changed my perspective on parenting.
“I am pregnant,” she said between sobs.
At that moment I didn’t know what do or what to say. I just held my phone and listened to the constant beep from the other side. Fazia too didn’t know what to do. I guess me keeping quiet wasn’t the reaction she had anticipated. You know that feeling that you get after failing an examination that you put so much effort in reading for? Well that’s the feeling I had at that time. I felt like I had failed as a father. I just didn’t know what I had done wrong. I wasn’t the kind of parent who switched off the television or sent my kids for water in the kitchen when Maximiliano decided to take off his shirt in front of Maria Desamparada , and trust me it wasn’t always because the weather was hot. This is because I always have the feeling that these millennial kids are not that innocent like we used to be at their age. With the invention of the TVs and internet, came new ways and new cultures that always make our great granddads turn in their graves. So instead of hiding the truth of what is happening in the real world, I usually used to try to share and advise appropriately, the sex talk and all.
“Dad, hello…are you still there?”
I hang up. It was the first time I had actually hanged up on one of my kids. My wife looked at me questioningly. From her face you could tell that she was deeply worried. She wanted to speak, but something stopped her. Instead she picked my phone and called back Fazia. They talked for a while, and like all good African mums she listened, questioned, swore and finally reassured Fazia that everything will be alright. She said she would talk to me about it, and talk she did.
Fazia wasn’t a kid anymore. She was twenty two and could do whatever she wanted. She could even get married if she wanted to. Who was I to prohibit her from anything? She was not that tiny girl who could come running back to me whenever the neighbor’s loud mouthed kid made fun of how obese she looked. Ahuh, fazia was so fat when she was about ten that it made my missus overhaul the whole diet and bring in bitter veggies. I have always loved my meat, ribs to be exact. I had even bought a grill for Saturday barbecue afternoons. So the thought of doing veggies for the whole week didn’t go well with me but I had to sacrifice, we all had to. I don’t know what to attribute to Fazia’s weight loss; it could be the new diet or the pressure from the final examinations. Either way I got back to eating my ribs but the missus still maintained the veggies in our diet.
It took me a day to accept my situation, and when I did, I wanted to know the whole story, from the beginning. I know you also anxious to hear it. Fazia was always a pretty girl since she was a toddler. She inherited my great grandmother’s beautiful looks. That’s my opinion. My missus on the other hand thinks she inherited her good looks from her mother. That is still a bone of contention between us. We could debate all day but fact still is that Fazia is pretty. I know most guys use pretty as a description for a girl who isn’t ugly and also who isn’t that beautiful. As for me, pretty is the ultimate word to describe my little goddess of beauty. During her teenage years she did not attract much attention from boys her age. This was since she was obese, and which teenage boy would be caught chatting up a fat gal when the trend at that time was slim, flat tummy chiqs. Of course as parents we were somehow happy about this. The burden of chasing away teenage boys from our home was taken away from us by the very nature of our girl. Though at some point we became worried. You know the inward satisfaction that a parent gets when their daughter has so many suitors? We didn’t have that, that’s why my missus came up with the new diet thing.
Fazia’s teenage life was all books and partly food. She could damn read, and her grades were the highest. I was the proudest parent at the end of each term year. I would insist on picking her up from school at the end of the term just so that everybody could know that I was the one who fathered such a brain. Call it whatever you want. This massive brain power secured her a place in med school. She didn’t want to do medicine. She wanted to venture into fashion and design. That had always been her hobby. She could draw up these designs of dresses which to me weren’t that good but according to my buddy Jemo who is a fashion guru, were marvelous. I always try to support my kids in every way possible. In this though, I had a different opinion. I just couldn’t sit still and watch fazia waste her brain. Not many people are gifted with such a mindset. Come to think of it, I was being a little selfish. I had always dreamed of fathering a medical doctor. There is some prestige from that you know. So instead of enlisting for a fashion and design course, I made Fazia take up, medicine. Of course it didn’t go down well with her. She resisted. She wanted to flee home. She just didn’t have the will to do it. She loved me and couldn’t bear to disappoint me. So she caved in and agreed to go to med school on one condition, that she be allowed to design as a hobby. I compromised and agreed to this. At least she was going to be a fashionable doctor, I thought.
She went to school. We didn’t hear much from her. Just the occasional calls asking for money. She was always busy, and we didn’t want to disrupt her routine. We knew that to be a doctor you had to be a bookworm. She became distant, and that was the price we had to pay for forcing her into med school. We didn’t know anything about her grades since campus isn’t anything like high school. You just can’t call up a lecturer and ask about your kid’s performance. Some weekends I felt like driving up to the big city just to check on her, but my missus always talked me out of it. She said fazia was a big girl now and that it was time we ought to treat her as such. I did agree and could only wait for the holidays when she could stay home for a week or two.
Med school provided a whole new experience for fazia. One, she got the freedom that she lacked when she was home. She could do anything she liked without anybody questioning her. She could eat whatever she liked. It was fun. It was at this age that she realized she was beautiful. She started getting attention from lots of boys, not only in her class but the entire school as well. She did not know how to handle this attention. She was scared at some point. She turned to her best friend, her books, for help. She got so many ways on how to deal with attention from boys. A further Google search brought 1336 results for her query. They did not help that much. So in the end she resorted to just saying she wasn’t ready for a relationship whenever a dude hit on her. Pretty lame, right? That was innocent fazia. She kept this going till he came along.
They met at a fashion show. Fazia always attended these freak fashion shows to update herself with the current trends. He was a photographer. He had dropped out of school, not because he lacked fees or anything but because he felt education wasn’t ‘his thing’. He didn’t see the reason for studying for four years and still miss a job yet he could do two gigs a week and get a good sum of money that could pay his bills. The dude was an ordinary guy. He wasn’t that good looking. He neither had abs nor did his guns match those of Dwayne Johnson .I really didn’t see what fazia saw in him. That’s love; it isn’t based on outward appearance but on something more. The two clicked at once. Fazia found a guy who dared to dream and think out of the ordinary set norms. She found a figure she could look up to. It wasn’t long before fazia started to think of dropping out of med school so as to pursue her passion. It was the pregnancy that killed the thought. The two had been dating for some time and like most couples nowadays, sex isn’t left for after marriage. Sex is used as a symbol of commitment to a relationship. Fazia had to show that she was committed, and the result was a baby. They never at one time thought of abortion. I guess fazia couldn’t live with such guilt. The boy was man enough to own up for the pregnancy. He wasn’t capable of keeping a family at his age but he said he could work something out. Fazia wasn’t much impressed with that, she wanted all the best for her baby. So she turned on the most likely people who could provide that, her parents.
I accepted my little girl’s situation. I even became optimistic about it. The thought of having some kid call me granddad wasn’t bad at all. Fazia decided to come home and take a break from all that was happening in her life right then. She needed some fresh air and some new rejuvenated spirit if she was going to go through med school while pregnant. I asked if I could pick her up, obviously you know what her answer was .I let her be. She took the bus. Unfortunately that would mark her last bus ride.
The bus got an accident. It collided with a fast speeding matatu that was being driven on the wrong lane. Apparently the driver of the matatu was drunk. It was about ten in the morning. This begs the question of what exactly is the work of the traffic police if they can allow a driver to drive while drunk at ten in the morning. Fifteen people died on the spot in that accident. Fazia wasn’t among them. The drunk driver was. Fazia survived with injuries. She lost her baby on the way to hospital. Fazia could not speak after the accident. She could not do anything except move her eyes and at most times cry. She had fat embolism syndrome. Most of you don’t know what that is. I had also never heard of it till the doctor said it. He had to repeat it thrice for me to catch its pronunciation. The fat embolism syndrome was caused by the fractured bones that she got from the accident. The syndrome affected most of her organ functions. The brain appeared to be the most affected. My little girl was placed on a life support unit.
It has been a month now; she is still on life support unit. The cost is taking a toil on my wallet, but I am still hoping that she will recover. I visit her every day, my missus spends all days and nights by her bedside. At times I wish I was the one on the bed instead of Fazia. I don’t have much time left in this world so I wouldn’t mind staying fixated on a bed for the rest of my lifetime. Fazia on the other hand, is still young and with a mighty brain. She could have done whatever she had dreamed of. Her life was just beginning. Her youth surely was taken away from her. All her dreams, aspirations, goals are now flushed down the drain. Whether I will be called baba daktari, is something am still waiting to see. As for now, the greatest gift I could get for my fifty sixth birthday is to hear my little gal speak.