My father; you get to him by writing a letter #Dadslovewhisky


You know how growing up we never could really face our fathers and have a man-to-man? Mostly because it was unheard of. A letter seemed like a safe option. Well, two chaps this week have written a letter to their fathers; Owaahh and Joe Black who I’m trying to get into circulation as much as possible.

By Owaahh

I loathe voice calls. I find them draining and tedious, especially how they just spring up on you and demand attention. Whatever happened to the good old mode of text messaging? The NSA is tagging everything so you are no safer making a voice call than texting.

What if someone is in trouble? Well, making a voice call would be the daftest thing to do in such a situation. Only Hollywood thinks it’s genius to do that right before you get pulled by the legs from under the bed.

I figure my fatigue with voice calls comes from my old man. He has always preferred the detachment of a write-up to the pain of an actual conversation. It’s how we have lived, a curious silent relationship between the two men who make up the male unit of the household. The girls are noisy, always have been, and mother dearest’s mood swings would mean the house reverberated with off-key gospel music and high pitch noise. That’s when we would run, he and I. He would escape by sneering right before he walked out. I would find a quiet corner and hide with a good book.

Because father was a high school teacher of English and History, he has always had books around the house. He has been reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace for as long as I can remember. My favourite book from his library was a tattered one about the first ten presidents of the USA. That was before I discovered Pride and Prejudice and plagiarised my first break-up letter from the letter Darcy writes to Lizzy. In the story, Mr. Bennet is an old fart with too many daughters and not enough patience. He reminds me of my old man.

Mum taught me the power of the written word to him, and prodded me to write whenever our negotiations hit a brick wall. In a live conversation he would be so uncomfortable that he would run or say no just to cut the conversation. A letter though, that he could read and turn over, see the BS in your request, smile at your thinking that you have outsmarted him, and correct your grammar. It was a letter that got me my own house when I became a man. It was a letter that got him to get me a good high school, from where I wrote to him often with no actual reply except the money I asked for after giving him pointless stories for the first two foolscaps. It was a letter that got him to stop imbibing.

I have never seen him inebriated but the girls tell me he was a chatty chap whenever the ethanol hit just right. According to one of his students, a physics teacher in my high school, my old man taught many a class while mellow. He doesn’t drink, I replied dryly. I was not prepared for the shocked gaze and bewilderment that followed that response. We were clearly talking about two different men. I was born to the man when he was in his forties. The man I know hates confrontation, finds live conversation tedious and has a sarcastic answer for almost everything. The stories I hear are of a different man.

My old man stopped imbibing after my second eldest sister wrote a passionate letter to him. She didn’t appeal to his sense of honour or his ego, she touched that place in a father’s heart that only a daughter can. He stopped, completely. As if he had never been a proper drinker before. A drinker who would wake his daughters up to give them stories of his marital problems. Who would sing loudly and wreck havoc, getting into enough bar brawls. See, I do not know that man. I never met that man.

I can sometimes see the man who, when he was a campus student, had a best friend who kept a huge python as a pet. I can see the weirdo with an afro and bell bottoms who was fired by Kihika Kimani after he started dating the girl who was supposed to be the serial polygamist’s third wife.

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I can the man who was a master at coming up with punishments that made the lesson stick.

I can also see the weight on his shoulders at having to be the only man in my life in a household full of girls. More than once he made me sit on the kitchen floor and remove cutex from my nails, and gave me money to get a haircut after the girls had experimented with my hair. He told me that boys do not use Vaseline just to get me to stop wasting time.

There was the other time I ‘accidentally’ wore a blouse. He didn’t catch it in time; no one did until many hours later when I came home from church. It was one of the few times I ever saw him smile and then become furious at the same time. He showed me how to tell a blouse from a shirt and then bought me more shirts. Books he could buy comfortably but clothes and shoes were always tricky for him. Imagine my surprise the other day when I heard that he had walked into Jade Collections and bought his wife a pair of shoes. There was a romantic hidden in the man after all.

My old man is now aging and his back is arching. He talks more and asks his grandchildren silly questions. Our phone calls last 10 seconds, 20 seconds max, and so much is said in such few words that I wonder if we should just speak in code.

I haven’t written a letter to him in a long time. I should sit down and pen him one, one of these fine days. I don’t know what to tell him though.

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  1. “Hello Dad…” is always a nice place to start.

    “He told me that
    boys do not use Vaseline just to get me to stop wasting time.” Well he
    forgot to tell you what boys also do with Vaseline. Especially high
    school boys in non-mixed boarding schools. But then again those are high
    school boys, not men.

    1. Boys never used vaseline, that was the policy as we grew up. Fathers thought vaseline and beauty soaps (imperial leather didn’t count as a beauty soap) would make their sons soft….one huge bar soap was adequate for bathing and washing clothes!

  2. “Our phone calls last 10 seconds, 20 seconds max, and so much is said in
    such few words that I wonder if we should just speak in code.”
    I totally relate!
    And this happens when i can’t reach mum, so the 10seconds are spent asking ,”Hi Dad, are you with mum? May i speak to her?”
    Talk of a present but absent father!

  3. good read, i have also written to my father. although he gave up his bottle a long time ago, i wouldnt mind sharing with you this letter before i send it to him.

  4. This is so deep. And familiar. A lot of parts are from childhood too. Hmmm, My Dearest Daddy… You should start Owaahh. Just try