It was all new to me when I started blogging. It was a small universe that existed independently and silently without disturbing the rest of the world. They called it the Blogosphere. Its few inhabitants were mostly young artistic people who saw the world in a different way, for what it really was.
As a guest, I needed shelter, and a few acquaintances to act as guiding lights in this new environment. People to show me how to navigate through Blogosphere. That’s how I stumbled upon Michael Muthaka’s blog. For the longest time, it had been my favourite read and still is. He taught me simple yet elegant words that I never knew existed like ‘banal.’
Recently, I asked him to pen down a few words for the blog and a week later, he delivered, yet again something I revere. You can catch him every week on mikemuthaka.com.
Clap for him as he enters.
One bright Saturday morning, when I came to, I didn’t expect that it would be the day I get to see my father cry. I sprang out of bed wearing nothing but my boxers and I was headed for the shower when mom knocked my door and asked if I would tag along, apparently my old man’s old man condition had worsened and we needed to hurry. He had been in hospital for two weeks.
I washed only my face and my armpits, put on some jeans, and threw on a T shirt. At the time my folks were still in the room and I was instructed to get the car warmed up. I turned on the ignition and sat in the car, waiting for everyone else to get out. Only, they didn’t.
When I went back to see what’s what, I found mom leaning against the bedroom wall, with her face to her palms. She was crying, and my old man was sitting on the edge of the bed, gripping his phone and biting his lower lip. He face had lost its color and as he bent his head down, I saw a light inside him go out. It was like watching a flower wilt. And, because I didn’t know what to do with my hands, I placed my hand on his shoulder. He felt tense, and then he let out a sigh that has never quite left my ears. That sigh sits there like a hot piece of coal.
See, my old man has never really been the talkative type. He keeps his head buried in newspapers, and, since he discovered Twitter, now he’s always looking down on his phone. He likes to keep up with the times. As soon as he gets his hands on the TV remote it’s straight to the news channels. If a bomb drops in Syria he’ll have already known about it. Once in while he would throw in a comment about politics or some such thing, and it would turn out to be a most profound thought. Sometimes it would be so funny you would fall off your seat.
These instances, however, became less when his dad fell sick. They had to admit him in hospital for about two weeks. His condition never improved. What started as a blood clot in his leg went ahead and became a cyst in his tummy.
In those days my old man became quieter. When he was not visiting his father in hospital, he’d spend much of his day in his room and came out only for meals and the news. In the evenings he would sit on the couch and watch an episode of TD Jakes. What he had done was, he had sunk into a bubble of aching silences and prayer. I hated to see him that way, I really did.
And then one day I heard him talking on the phone. I was in the corridor going about my business and his bedroom door was open. I only caught bits of what he was saying. It was something about the hospital bill. And, standing there, I was instantly taken back to a moment I shared with my pal Preston.
But first, Power.
I stumbled upon a series called Power. It’s a show that reeks of lust, cocaine and gunpowder. And apart from a very muscular-looking lady called Jukebox –whose gangster and overacting are simply annoying- I find the show to be rather pleasant.
It’s a show about a bunch of criminals making a dollar and the gruesome means they use to get it. It’s about the unscrupulous dealings of the drug business and the hedonistic nature of men. Mostly, it’s a show about a man faced with the difficult task of choosing between his wife, his mistress, and his drug business. Interests clash and it makes for some good drama.
This man’s way of getting away from it all is to take a lot of showers so that we’re treated to the sight of his humongous tattooed shoulders.
He goes by the name Jamie St. Patrick, alias Ghost. He’s a criminal, a notorious drug dealer who moonlights as a club owner. He has a chest the size of an island and, even though he doesn’t like it, once in a while he will have to kill someone because he understands it comes with the job. Jamie, naturally, is rich. He has a penthouse in the city and a chauffeur and everything else, really. He can wear a suit and can put on an even better face when he needs to a cut a deal or some such thing. And he’s smart because not everyone gets to build an empire out of coke and not get caught.
The thing with Jamie is that –apart from the drugs and the guns and the tattoos- he has the kind of life most men would want to have. You wake up to an eager to please wife, a hot shower, the morning paper and a chauffeur waiting outside to take you to a hotel room where you can have some more sex with your mistress. All this while your bank account continues to swell because you have a whole network of minions who are willing to get their hands dirty for you.
Jamie is what they call a self-made man. He has done his time in the trenches and now he has curved up a name for himself. And it’s because of this that people respect him, which brings me swiftly on to Preston.
He’s an inch or two shorter than I am, with short hair and a well kept goatee. He speaks in a low voice. The words cuddle in his throat so you really have to pay attention. He’s always smiling or laughing about one thing or the other, Preston, and I guess this makes him easy to talk to.
Preston is the kind of guy that knows something about everything. He has tales ranging from corrupt government schemes to the legalization of marijuana and he believes he’ll be the one that unites Africans. We’ve always joked about me being the one to write his biography.
He talks mostly about the complexities that surround men and women, how the sexes relate and the general shortcomings they have while relating. And I’m usually compelled to listen because he makes a lot of sense. There’s always something to learn from this boy.
So one time we were shooting the breeze. The topic was my recent break up, and we laughed over that time when I got my cheeks slapped by a girl. And then he got introspective. He talked about how pointless it was get into a serious committed relationship at our age. In so many words he said that this was the time to make something out of life and make it sustainable. And then he pointed out how, by and by, we would start to see our own dads growing white hair and falling sick once in a while, and we’d have to be the ones who foot the hospital bills.
Standing at the corridor that day, I wondered if I would be able to take care of my dad the way he did his. And it was a scary thought. I went into my room mulling over this, and then I sat at the edge of my bed and cried.