Ten Year Dawn

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She sits over there, near the big shelf full of old files and you sit over here, by the louvered window that never opens. Her computer is the old type that the IT guy constantly has to come to hunch over to tinker with. The company won’t buy her a new computer just yet until this one either dies, explodes or is stolen in the night by a sympathizer.

She’s very light and keeps her nails short. You can count the number of light accountants you know who keep their nails short on one hand. To be clear, you don’t like her like that. The IT guy likes her like that. Because surely, how long does it take someone with two degrees in Information Systems to fix a small problem of a computer hanging? He can hang there for 40 mins, pulling a seat next to her, pretending to squint at her monitor. But she doesn’t like the IT guy like that even though you can often hear her laugh hard at something he said. She likes another guy, a banker guy, who has big hair. She once showed you a picture of her and her friends at Hell’s Gate and he was standing next to her, one arm around her. You don’t know his name but she’s saved him as “Beau” on her phone.

Once in a while she complains about him at the cafeteria as you eat lunch. He does and says stupid things often. Most men with big hair tend to. She’s one of those people who eat with a fork, never a spoon. Even dessert.

You are also seeing someone. But who doesn’t have big hair. So basically you are great friends. Colleagues. The year is 2001.

Then you got a different job. “Will you take it? It’s out of the country!” She asks you over lunch, excited for you but also seemingly afraid for you. So you sell your household goods. You have a big fridge, which you give her as a gift. It’s one of those with big double doors. You have a thing for fridges. How they purr. Like wild cats. She comes to pick it up in a hired pick-up. It’s a bright Saturday morning. She opens the fridge door and cautiously peers inside, as if she might find a severed goat’s head therein. “It’s so big,” she says excitedly. You also give her a soap dish shaped as Pharaoh’s head.

Before you can completely unpack in the new country, you break up with your girlfriend. It wasn’t that serious to begin with. You start thinking about her. Not your ex but the very light girl you gave your soap dish, your ex colleague. There is no WhatsApp then because it’s 2001, so you chat on Skype. She sends a lot of smileys. She’s terrible at chatting, always gone for close to an hour before she can reply. She’s still dating that guy with big hair, Beau. But she talks about him less.

In 2004, you come back home briefly and meet for lunch, then coffee and then dinner (not on the same day) and on the last day you bite the bullet and tell her that you like her. And that you haven’t stopped thinking about her since you left. And that if you don’t kiss her right there and then you’ll develop liver cirrhosis. So you kiss her. Against your friend’s silver car you had borrowed. She closes her eyes into the kiss, as people who are not psychopaths tend to do. Yours remain open, like a fish …if fish kiss. You want to look at her as you kiss her so that you can vividly remember her face on the days you are back in your empty house in a foreign country rummaging your memory of her.

Three weeks later, she decides to leave Beau. And his big hair. You start dating. She flies down for an hour to visit you in this small African country. You wiped down your keja clean. The three dishes and four sufurias sparkled at the drier. Your bathroom is scrubbed. You told your neighbour that your “fiance” was coming from Kenya. You haven’t even proposed. You are that guy who jumps the gun. That night, in bed, the curtains opened revealing a dark starless sky. She says, “My parents would never allow me to marry you. They don’t know me and Jack are over. It’s complicated because Jack’s family and my family have been friends forever and it was natural that me and him would marry.” She’s lying on your chest. You are thinking to yourself, “This nigga is called Jack? As in Jackson? What kind of a cheesy name is that?” Isn’t that a name you give a street or something? Or a port.”

“So what happens now?” You ask her, tracing the word “Jack” on her soft back with the tip of your finger.

“The only way is to make me pregnant,” She says.

“I can do that,” You say, still tracing on her back. “Can you tell what I’m writing on your back?”

She laughs and says, “Jack?”

“And now?” You write something else.

“Jerk?” She clicks and giggles.

So you make her pregnant. Because you are that guy who can make a chick pregnant on cue. Your swimmers are something else. They are Alexander. They are the best ever. Ruthless. They are Sonny Liston. They are Jack Dempsey. There are none like yours. None that can match yours. Their style is impetuous. Their defense impregnable. They are ferocious…of course these are lines Mike Tyson said and has got nothing to do with this guy’s swimmers. I thought I’d just throw that in there. Because it’s 2020. And none has ever replaced Mike.

When you go for the introductions, her people are not amused. Her uncles shake their heads when they realize this can’t be saved, that she’s six months pregnant and showing. Her father looks at you silently across the room like you would someone who has just beaten you in a game of chess. Nothing can be done. The fat lady has sung. The guy with the big hair is surely undone. Buried. Jack if you are reading this from exile, it’s probably your name that did you in, mate. Jackson isn’t a name that stirs a girl with passion. Shakespeare lied.

You come back home to start a family and a new job. A day after Christmas of 2006, at 1am, you go into theater and hold your newborn son. He’s as brown as her. He’s fragile, like a baby bird. He weighs a little less than a commercial fruit blender. You are delirious with happiness. You are in a dream. You walk on balls of cotton wool. You float. You have a son. Named after your own father. An heir is born. A brown heir. He who will stand on your right side, holding his spear, looking over your territory, bending to whisper in your ear, something like, “father, I think the beans I ate might have messed up my stomach.”

In 2009, you get a job in Eastern Europe and land smack in the middle of winter. You are a boy from Nyeri and it’s cold there, yes, but this is madness. This is sub-zero. Your nose peels off. Your ears feel like Satan licked them. When you speak, words form into ice before your face. You struggle to settle in, get a house in a big grey apartment block that overlooks a park that is now all white. “You guys have to come over,” you tell her on the phone while standing staring out at the white desolate landscape. Loneliness stares back at you. Your breath mists up the window. You draw a frowny face on it. You can’t cry.

“What about my job?” She asks.

“We can be a family again,” You say.

“What do I do with all these household goods?”

“Take them to your dad’s. He has that extra quarters behind the house.”

So she comes. Because she loves you and she wants to be a family again. She blinks and looks around the airport, your son’s small hand in hers, the poor boy looking sleepy and jet-lagged by her side. When he yawns, you marvel how perfect his mouths forms an “O”. You can’t believe he’s your son. He’s beautiful. You pick him up and kiss him on the cheek, deliberately making a loud sound to irritate him. He squirms and wipes his cheeks furiously. He smells of Kenya. You bury your nose in his hair and you smell your love for him, it’s all over him. He will start out in a part of Eastern Europe where Kenyans are countable, let alone Africans. He will be the only black child in his school and he will struggle to shape who he is in the eyes of those who see him. You’re now living in a bigger apartment with a view overlooking a big river called Lepenac. If you open the window, you will hear it moan, but you never open the window because of the cold. Sometimes when you let yourself in from work, when your son is already in bed and you walk into the bedroom, you find her seated at the window staring at the lights on the shores of that river. “What are you thinking, babe?” you ask her as you hang your coat in the wardrobe.

“How far we are from home,“ she says, her small shoulders shimmering with every word, “and how lucky we are to be here together.” Those nights, in bed, you kiss her with your eyes open. For months you keep asking if she’s happy. You keep checking in with her to make sure that being a mother and a wife out here in the blasted frozen land hasn’t diminished her horizons.

She gets pregnant the following year because remember, your swimmers are ferocious, their style is impetuous, their defense impregnable. You are overjoyed. Now your son can get a sibling. Someone he can fight for. Someone he can protect. Not long after, you get a job 8,048 kms away on the other side of the globe, in the Caribbean. “Here,” she points out the little country to your son, an old map spread out on the table. You sit down with her and agree that she would have to go back to Nairobi and deliver as you take up that job in the Caribbean, then she and the kids can join you later. She nods and asks, “And what are we going to do with all these household goods?”

You fly down to the Caribbean, a small backwater country with great superstitions. You settle in a fairly fancy pad with a very old black landlord who always sits in his balcony smoking tobacco through a pipe. What you do is irrelevant, but it’s evident to all that you are very good at it. People want your services. And you are the type who doesn’t mind starting over in a place where people don’t look like you, speak like you or even drive on the same side of the road like you.

The baby is due in the second week of April 2011. In readiness, you book an advance ticket for 1st April because she has a way of just getting into labour quickly and popping out the baby after 15 minutes. You are restless. She’s restless. “Last night my dad (deceased) came to my dreams as a young man to see the baby,” She tells you over the phone. “It’s his spirit coming to welcome the baby,” you tell her.

On 30th March, she’s wheeled into the delivery room. “The baby is coming,” her doctor tells you over the phone.” Can you come now?” You can’t. Your ticket is for 1st April and you can’t move it. You could take a boat if you could, but it would take a month to get to Mombasa.

You daughter comes out of the delivery room on 31st March, 2011. But she doesn’t.

She dies.

“She couldn’t stop bleeding,” the doctor says. “We lost the battle.”

“BATTLE? WHAT F*CKIN BATTLE!” You scream, crying on the phone. “I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS A BATTLE! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? PUT HER ON THE PHONE!”

They can’t put her on the phone. She’s dead. Dead people don’t take calls. Or tell tales.

You are only 39 years old.

A widower.

And now, ten years later, you are almost turning 49, you are seated before another Jackson, in a pub, but this Jackson doesn’t have big hair and he wants to know how it is to be a widower and a single father for nine years.

***
Obviously, I want to know how it feels to be a widower and to raise your children alone for ten years. He’s having a cold ginger ale, I’m having a whisky. “It feels like someone chopped off your hand and you can see the hand lying on the floor but at the same time you can still feel your hand attached to your body,” he says about grief. “So sometimes you reach out to touch it but it’s not there.” Then more somberly. “If you are married, you are a widow or widower in waiting.”

The first time he saw his daughter was when he landed and went to the hospital where she was still being held because the mother died and the father was on his way carrying his heavy load of grief and misery on his back. She was in the nursery, a tiny little girl. She hadn’t been released because she had not been vaccinated and that hadn’t happened because he had to sign some forms for that to happen.

“I bought these two pairs of dark sunglasses in Charles De Gaulle Airport, one for myself and another for my son, while connecting because I was crying all the time and not sleeping and my eyes were a mess,” he says. “And I stood over my daughter’s cot looking at her through these sunglasses and thinking, ‘she will grow up without a mother, while my own is alive.’ Then he went to see her in the morgue and she had dried blood in her mouth. “It felt like a dream which I would wake up from any moment now.”

After the burial in Lang’ata he now had two children to think of. The children were living with his in-laws because he didn’t have a house. He would do the school drops for his son. The boy would ask about his mom. He would say, ‘They put mom in a box, is she going to come back as an angel?’ and I’d look away, and say, ‘yes’ and the next time he’d ask me, ‘When do we get to see mom again, she is an angel now’ and I’d mumble, “soon.” When I’m on the phone he’d ask me, ‘Is that mom, can I speak to her?” And this went on and on, because he was so young (around 6) and he didn’t understand the concept of death and you have to be strong. You have to be strong for him and when you step outside, you have to be strong for yourself before the public.”

But inside, he’s a mess. It’s like waking up in a washing machine. “You think being a father automatically qualifies you to have and keep your children?” He says. “The first challenge as a single father was fighting for my children.” It reminds me of the Marriage Story on Netflix where Adam Driver tells his divorce lawyer in regard to the son, ‘I want him to know that I fought for him.’ Only this wasn’t divorce, this was death, which technically is a divorce but without a chance of reconciliation or arbitration.

“My in-laws sat down and decided that my children would be better taken care of by aunts from their side. I was shocked because they were acting like these children didn’t have a father,” he says. “I was there, I was alive and I was capable. But I think as men, people just assume that we can’t step up and be single parents. That we will naturally be incapable of raising our children alone. This caused such a bad rift between myself and my in-laws. It got very nasty. It’s the first time I realized what the term two-faced really is. People can really change before your eyes. It ended up with cops getting involved. I wanted my daughter who was only a few months old to go live with my mom out of town and for me to live with my son. I was considering quitting my job because there was no way I was going to go back to the Caribbean and leave my children to be raised by others. As luck would have it, my employer eventually agreed to transfer me to the Nairobi office if I went back and finished my remaining months.”

After six months he came back and got a place and started living with his son. “I had the most amazing Nanny in the history of Nannies” he says. “She was from a place in Karachuonyo -”

“That’s my shags,” I tell him proudly, as if I knew that Help personally. I bet we are separated by a bridge. Maybe a hill.

“She was a great help because I didn’t have a clue as to how to grieve and be a father and mother at the same time. I would drive to visit my mom and my daughter over the weekend. I would pick them up for clinics and drop them back but eventually the Nanny said, listen, it’s not that difficult, just bring the girl to live with us, I will take care of her. And she was a great help but I also had to learn everything from zero. You learn which cries mean what. There are different types of baby cries; the hungry cry, the wet cry, the sick cry, the attention cry. You learn about formula milk and feeding times and sleeping times and patterns.”

He pushed aside his interests and needs and leisure to go straight home from work and be a mother and father. And do homework as the Nanny fed the little girl. Carried the little one as the Help put the boy’s clothes for the next day ready for school. Put the little one in bed. He learnt how to see holes in his son’s uniform and make mental points when to buy new ones.

“I loved nights because it’s at night that I could dream of my dead wife,” he says. “And it was vivid dreams that she was there and it was the present.” Until the baby woke up and he had to warm the milk and rock her while she fed and sometimes she would not want to feed and she’d be crying without a reason because she didn’t have a fever, her diapers were dry, she was full, she burped. So he’d carry her, rocking her as he paced the living room, CNN on TV on the lowest volume because the boy was asleep in the next room and he needed to be up early to go to school. Often, after what felt like he’d just caught a snooze, his son would be shaking his shoulder waking him up, already dressed for school and he had to take a shower without falling asleep and then drop him off to school. “Often, in the early periods when going to bed, I’d leave the door ajar.” he says. “I’d tell my Help, usifunge mlango, mama watoto hajaingia bado. And she’d leave it open.” (Karachuonyo ladies have that Emotional Intelligence)

Then the wonderful Help had to go get married. “I started experiencing Help challenges.” You have to kiss many frogs to get the right one. “You hear women talk about problems with house Helps, it’s enough to drive you mad,” he says. “There are the Helps who would refuse to come work for me. They’d ask, ‘Hana bibi? Ni yeye tu peke yake kwa nyumba na watoto? Hapana.’“ He shakes his head. “I had Helps who wanted to run my house like it’s theirs because there was no woman’s presence. They made decisions on their own, sometimes overturning my own decisions. They silently questioned my authority. Then there are those who wanted to act like my children’s mother. It was difficult.”

His daughter grew. A lovely child. She loved sitting on his lap as she drank her milk, watching cartoons. He learnt to sit and watch cartoons. And play on the floor. “When she grew older you don’t know when to tell her about her mother. She would ask, ‘Why don’t we have a mommy?” and my son would tell her our mommy is an angel and I would tell her I’m mommy and daddy. Then one day she saw pictures of her mom in my wife’s best friend’s album and she came home and said she saw her mommy and she had nice hair. So I had to show her all the pictures of her mommy. It’s easy for her because she never met her, not so for my son.”

“Why didn’t you remarry?”

“Because when your wife dies and you have children you are faced with a choice. You have to choose between your children and a woman. I chose my children. They’d not have to share me with someone else,” he says. “There is a guy I know who remarried after his wife died and remarried and it was so strained because he had children and they didn’t get along and so they divorced and it really affected the children because now they were losing again and grieving again. It destabilizes children. But it’s a sacrifice to choose your children. You have to forgo most things that normal guys do; like going on dates, trips, having a long night in the pub. Your children take center stage and you are constantly choosing them and their needs over yours.”

“Dating has been awkward,” he continues. “The first time of course you are not sure if it’s too soon to date after your wife’s death. How long should you wait? And when you start you are riddled with guilt. I felt like I was cheating on my dead wife. I was also concerned with what society thought.”

You become domesticated. You learn everything; how to buy meat, fish and vegetables. You know how long these things should last. You can smell an orange and know if it’s got a bad heart. Avocados fear you because you know their soft secrets. Bananas go mad if you stare at them. You learn to haggle in the market. You learn how to cook and what each child likes to eat. You discover their allergies. You learn when to play good and bad cop. You hold them at night, because they are all you have left. And because you are scared yourself, scared at the uncertainty of the world and scared of your own fragility.

His son is now 13-years old and the daughter is nine. There are school functions to attend for both. “And I can’t attend all, but thankfully we all agree which one I’m going to attend and which one I won’t. My son sees how I struggle with this and he sometimes steps in and talks to his sister and explains to her why dad can’t come for your function this time because he also has to work.” He’s the father who always sits in the salon, looking like he swallowed a frog, reading old magazines featuring women who are talking about motherhood and careers and their choice of nail polish. He waits for hours for her hair to be done. “My daughter took her mom’s hair, so it’s kinky and long. Initially it would cause problems to fix in salons and she’d cry and make a fuss. We were once chased out of a salon because they couldn’t deal with her crying. So now I have had to learn what to use on her hair and which salons are great for that kind of kinky hair.” You learn how to shop for shampoos for her hair.

The daughter has adjusted to knowing that she doesn’t have a mommy. But the boy, the boy is fragile and all the childhood loss is bubbling above the surface now, making him fragile in his teenage years. He recognises the need to do more for him. “My son knows how it is to love someone and then they are gone,” he says, “and for this reason, now that he’s at this stage of his life I see the need to reassure him that I too will not go. That I will not walk through the door and not come back. I recall how scared he is when I say I’m leaving for a work trip abroad. I see it in his eyes. He’d get sick when I’m away – hyper-acidity. One time when I got back from a trip my daughter told me that he had been crying when I left and he protested and told her that she doesn’t know these things.’ So I have to tell him where I am going. I always share my itinerary. I have to call him before I board a plane, text him when I land. If it’s an early morning flight I have to wake him up and tell him I’m leaving. Otherwise he will think I’m never coming back, like his mom.”

He finished his Stoney Tangawizi and I drained my whisky and he had to leave me with my friends in the pub and run home. So I called him an Uber and I walked him out of the quickly gathering dusk and he waved through the passenger window, off to the children he chose.

I stood there for a minute, looking at my notes, gathering myself before getting back into the warm embrace of the bar. If this was a movie, I would have lit a cigarette to marinate over the moment we just shared. And stood out there, in the dying light from the sky, and smoked lazily, leaning against the pole of the verandah, and looked without seeing, two girls pour out of another Uber, laughing loudly at a conversation they had been having. The one with the shorter dress – and longer legs – bends over the driver’s window to confer about payment, while the other stands there and looks around as if she just got off a boat in an island with birds that have one leg, the laughter they just shared now melting like butter into a waning smile on her face.

But this isn’t a movie. This is life and I don’t smoke and no girls with long legs and short dresses are getting out of an Uber laughing at a joke.

Last evening I called him at 6pm. He didn’t pick. He returned my call just after I had gotten into bed at 8:23pm and was just settling to start reading.

“Sorry, homework, dinner and then I was putting them to bed,” he said.

“Even the boy?”

“Yeah.”

“Isn’t he 13?”

“Yeah. So they get to bed and I go back to tell them goodnight and switch off the lights after a few minutes.”

“Do you normally have bedside conversations?”

“Yes, mostly. But briefly.”

“What conversation did you and your daughter have today?”

“She forgot her swimming costume on her bed this morning. So she was sad she didn’t swim.”

“What did you tell her?”

“That it’s okay. There will be next week to swim,” he said. “Then I left her reading.”

“What is she reading, do you know?”

“Uhm, I think she’s reading that guy, Dahl’. He writes children’s books.”

“Do you know the title?”

“Yeah, BFG.”

“BFG?”

“Yeah, BFG. That’s the title.”

“And your son?”

“He’s read all of his [Dahl) books, now he’s into video games, Fortnite and Minecraft.”

“Boys.”

“Yeah.”

[Pause]

“Do you tell them you love them when you tuck them in?”

“Always.”

“Do they tell you they love you too?”

“Yeah.”

“Even your teenage boy?”

“Haha. He’s now getting shy to say out loud. His replies are getting weaker.”

“So sometimes you say “I love you” and he just pretends he didn’t hear and you stand there waiting to be loved back.”

He laughs. “No, I don’t wait. He mumbles it under the covers.”

“So for all you care he could have said, ‘green tea sucks pipe.”

He laughs again. “It always sounds like ‘I love you too.’”

[Pause.]

“Do you fear for him, your son?” I ask. “He sounds like a fragile boy.”

“I used to but he’s grown stronger and more independent than before.”

[Pause.]

“So what do you do now after they have all gone to bed?”

“Now is me time,” he says and I want to ask him if that means that now he has time to remove his nail polish, but I don’t because he thinks people from Karachuonyo are dope people.

“I will probably watch the news or some documentary and then sleep by 10:30,” He says. “Tomorrow the household is up at 5:30am.”

“Then the madness starts all over again.”

“Yeah, man, all over again.”

“Well, goodnight.”

“Sawa.”

****

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285 Comments
  1. It’s a lovely sunny tuesday morning and i’m here having my weekly tea at my favourite blog☺
    Wouldn’t choose a better morning,Thank you chocolate guy

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    1. Such a Sad, Lovely piece.Thank you for choosing your kids,its rare, people like you give us a reason to keep believing in humanity. May God guide you Mr,.

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  2. Such stories make me appreciate my late dad even more. My mum died young and my dad never remarried. Back then I didn’t know what a great sacrifice it was and how rare for a man to choose his children. I’m glad he did because he raised us to excellence. We are tight, happy, self-aware adults because of him. May my parents both rest in continued peace.

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  3. Wow!

    I didn’t see the part where the wife does coming (sobs)
    God bless that nanny who helped him raise his young daughter. Bless you!

    Parenting is hard honestly.
    Salute to anyone raising a child. Mad respect.
    Hats off to this dad. He sounds like such a great dad. Bless you. Thankyou for choosing your babies.

    PS: The part where he says that if you are married you are a widow or widower in waiting is so scary.

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  4. Started great… sounded like you were describing me (and the IT guy in my office) haha!
    All teary though, May God give him the grace and the strength to do it all over again,everyday.

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  5. I have read the first paragraphs at the edge of my seat thinking to myself “please don’t die,come on don’t die!” Then my heart shattered
    He is doing great. Blessings to him❤️

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  6. Oh Wow, I shed a tear for him. He is such a wonderful man, chose his children and is doing the best to take care of them. I celebrate him and pray God gives him the courage and wisdom to keep taking care of the kids.

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  7. What a sad story…….. Heavens……. But such kids become such success stories. Maybe mothers truly turn into angels when they die.

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  8. Dang! Sad man, so sorry for the guy! Waiting for her to come in knowing very well she won’t, it’s just the cruelty of death. I pray GOD comes through again with a suitable helpmate.

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  9. “If you are married, you are a widow or widower in waiting.”
    I’m struggling with that fact.
    Chocolate man, jameni, you couldn’t wait for a later date? #tearyTuesday

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  10. You Sir, (this is not for you Biko) are the true definition of strength, stability, and everything good in a human. May the Lord continually uplift you and lead you as you mould those little champs, you made a good choice.

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  11. How does one look at an opponent who has beaten them at chess? Because I play chess and I can’t remember what such a look is like or how I have looked across at my opponent who has just beaten me in a game of chess? Mark you, I can count the number of times I have won a chess game on one hand! Yeah, I know, I take on better opponents! And oh, I had no idea Satan licks ears too! You learn something new every day! Man Jackson – and you haven’t dropped the name yet, knowing all you know about such cheesy names? Wherever you get these metaphors!
    What a read! And such a heart-warming story.
    I have a feeling this will turn out to be the greatest series yet!
    Thanks sir!

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  12. His late wife must be smiling in heaven knowing she choose the perfect father for her kids. Congratulations daddy, you have surely done it.

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  13. Dear Lord.

    This is… beautiful. I had stopped reading you, after the story of the chic who was raped in a forest. I was too deeply hurt. But something about this story has really warmed my heart. And perhaps the sunshine this morning has helped you a bit.

    Also. The changing from first person to third to sijui what has confused me a bit, I don’t think I enjoyed that. But everything else was like that caramel milkshake at CJ’s.

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    1. Someone said that life is Brutiful, both beautiful and brutal. What love! A father who fights for his children and chooses them over and over again and, over his own wants and desires!
      Bravo!! Keep living, keep loving, keep fighting

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  14. That’s a gentleman right there. Much love to you and your kids. I have brought up kids in my you g life who were ophaned at an early age and I understand all that. Now I can coil in bed after a good read

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  15. damned onions!!! got me teary all through. beautiful and touching story. May God continue to comfort you and gie you strength to shower your children with all the love they need and you can give.

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  16. I am reading a novel that is making me annoyed and wondering…why do authors create tragedy? Is that what makes their books worth reading? Then I read this, true story and I am reminded that life does happen, and tragedy is real. I choose to pick the true love angle of the story. May she continue resting in Peace. It is hard to fathom life without a mother or what to tell children whose mothers pass on so early in life. I recall my nephew asking “why did mother die and she was young”. What do you tell such a child? Hmmm… this has got me reflecting. But, the sun does shine! (okay I know that is a title of a book, but it is true). The one thing I have never understood is why people change and behave like villains when death has happened? Why do families pressure and bring more sorrowful tears to bereaved families? I am glad he got to keep the children, he is the parent..

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    1. I think its normally grief. those kids are the only piece of their daughter left so they are trying to hold on. the fear that the man may remarry and the kids get mistreated by a step mum could also be a factor. man men have abandoned ther kids soon as they remarry and get other kids with their new wife. . but i think in how he fought for them it puts the relatives at ease that he is indeed committed to raising those kids so they worry less.

      8
      1. People can mistreat children yes, but deciding you know better about the love of a father to his kids and predicting he will be irresponsible is tragic. My sister left three babies, one pre-term baby, the least we could do is to support the father raise his kids. I spent my post-secondary year before campus taking care of a little baby at only 18 yrs. It never occurred to anyone that the kids are not safe with their dad. The mistreating of spouses is not excusable and anyone mourning does not need that extra worry.

        11
    2. Hi Sophie I can recommend books that may look like tragedy but they end up up uplifting and giving some Aha moments and others that are straight up Aha!

      The Book of Negros – Lawrence Hill (might make you a bit upset but really a win in the end)
      The Illegal – Lawrence Hill
      Born A crime – Trevor Noah
      Blood the Stuff of Life – Lawrence Hill
      Americanah – Chimamanda
      What I know for Sure – Oprah Winfrey (not sad at all)
      Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

      17
      1. I am reading “ZOYA” by Danielle Steel…the tragedies! Chimamanda’s books..definitely tragedy after the other. I did not find Born a Crime sad, some deep experiences but not the Chimamanda and Khaleid Hussein’s kind of tragic plots.

        2
        1. I swore off Daniel Steel some years back tbh. ‘cept for like just a book the rest i’ve read are purely ‘onions’. Still wondering how one person in one lifetime can churn too many tear-jerking stories, i’ve never read her life story but i keep wondering who really hurt her.

          2
  17. “You daughter comes out of the delivery room on 31st March, 2011. But she doesn’t. She dies.”

    You should have changed the font after this

    5
  18. I am so glad he chose to fight for his children and that he is actively involved in raising them. I shudder at the thought of him leaving his fragile little boy to be raised by relatives. That would have destroyed the little boy. Parenting is a calling and he heeded his whole heatedly.

    7
  19. What a beautiful sacrifice! Your children before yourself. I am sure it is worth it because I made the same choice 15 years ago and I am happy that I did.

  20. Well, there is hope yet. Kudos to this dad. Nowadays, thanks to Biko and the gang, I have more patience with people, why they do the things they do, the occasional smile for the lone man selecting avocados, looking at shampoos in the supermarket. More grace to them. Now I need to learn how to not tear up in public

    7
  21. i was not ready for this. am at the office sobbing. i love that he stepped up. those men are few and far in between. beautiful writting Biko, i always know when your stories start beautifully that they will be sad.

    4
  22. Sad story got me teary, but how this guy overcame all odds and chose his family is truly remarkable. This guy is a real shujaa..I have a suggestion can we start voting for stories which have lead characters who have overcome great odds and have the given gift card or trips on days such as Fathers Day or Mothers day. This guy really stood out for me!

    18
  23. This is a beautiful piece. I teared up reading it. For some reason it resonated with me. It is beautiful to find love even if for a brief moment. All the best to him with raising his children.

  24. I see this lady as one who sacrificed her career, her life in the familiar environs of Nairobi to move to Macedonia(yeah, the river Lepenac is in Macedonia, and yes, for the ones who have just come in late for our geography class, Macedonia is a country).

    She was willing to leave her comfort zone and IMPETUOUSLY(haha, you can clearly see I picked up a word or 2 from this piece) jump into the unknown for her family……..and then we lose her Biko? Really??? Aren’t there more than enough bad people in the world that death would have taken in her place?

    Stay strong my brother…On behalf of your son and daughter, YOU ARE OUR HERO.

    (Grace please hand me those tissues on my desk…… I think you need a tissue as well Mike)

    18
  25. We are all widow or widowers in waiting….that is deep. Am a widow, but sometimes i feel single and other times i feel married. I hate those sheets that makes you choose one.

    3
  26. I did not see the death of his wife coming. It hit me. A little too hard I must admit.
    What a story!
    More Strength and Grace to you Mr. Keep it up. You are doing an amazing job raising your children.

    4
  27. This is such an amazing story no lie. I couldn’t help but cry….. I’m an emotional person to be honest.
    May her soul rest in peace.
    He’s a great dad….thumbs up.

    2
  28. OOH WOOOOW! ✨✨✨✨✨!! THIS IS A 5 STAR STORY!! WHAT A JOURNEY… HE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE TO LOOK AFTER HIS KIDS, GOD SHALL REWARD HIM !! I WISH HIM LONG LIFE AND GOOD HEALTH, I PRAY HE FINDS LOVE AGAIN AT THE RIGHT TIME. ❤❤❤

    1
  29. WOW this is a heartwarming story. Hard times will always come its how you learn to live with them and manage them that matter. 🙂

    1
  30. I chose my children!-I wonder why some people judge and never understand why some single parents (male/female) chose not to remarry and just raise their kids on their own.

    2
  31. My My My! What a man. Be blessed,your children wont forget this sacrifices and when they are older you they will see the impact of your actions and value your sacrifices all the more.
    May she rest in Peace.

    1
  32. Ever since I became a parent around, 2years and 3 months now, I noticed that I have a very sensitive side when it comes to my son. I want to always be deliberate in my choices when it comes to actively raising him.

    Cheers to a super dad! I know its not easy but just know that you are the best God gave them!

    5
  33. your swimmers are ferocious, their style is impetuous, their defense impregnable really loved how insistent you were with the phrase. I was almsot sure that the lady was going to die, sometime before the story ended. I cannot tell how excruciating that pain was but death sure changes lives for eternity. Glad he chose his kids over himself, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
    Loved this Biko!!! Always

    1
  34. Whaaa … oh my so moving ..if you are married you a widow or widower in waiting. So true one of you will go before the other. Am sad for him … but at least live with somebody for some years and have proper fights that are memorable. All he has a good memories..sigh

    1
  35. What a beautiful yet sad story. Jackson (the widower) is doing a great job! I salute him for choosing his children. He reminds me of my grandfather who also decided to choose his children. He remained a widower for 45 years (till his demise), dedicating his life to his children. The children will grow well and once they are grown, they’ll look back and be grateful. I’m proud of you. Kudos man!

  36. I have been rejected by my husband after six(6) years of my marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kids. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address [email protected] , who have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that the spell done on my husband has been broken, this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy to be with my husband again after all the stress i have been through. Thanks to prophet munak. His email: [email protected]

  37. He’s a super dad! And God has indeed given him the grace to be an incredible father. This piece as all sorts of feels.

    Thank you Biko.. Also, you do know your first name is well.. Oh well, never mind.

    3
  38. Best piece ever.Congratulations to the guy.He is the best dad in the world and deserves a gift.May God richly bless him and watch over him and the children…

  39. This is a nice read Biko……didnt see the crying part coming from how you had started….
    May God give this super dad a long life and successful children, he is one in a million.
    He should consider re-marrying later coz there is such a lonely life at some point in life.

    1
  40. Wow! What a story. Glad he chose the children and went ahead to fight for them. God’s guidance always shine upon him and the babies. Thanks Biko bless you too.

    1
  41. It would seem everyone forgot about Jackson,….. ‘Jackson isn’t a name that stirs a girl with passion. Shakespeare lied.’

    2
  42. Waaa this is a really sad story…Cant Stop the tears from flowing in.am glad he turned out to be a good Da…. other wise the kids would be affected terribly

  43. Wow!!! This is both good and sad at the same time. Good that he chose his children for the fear of their feelings and possible maltreatment. Sad that he lost a part of himself when he chose his children. I hope he’l find himself with time.

  44. I did not see that death coming mph I had to read it twice and was equally screaming “put her on the phone” sigh. You are a great man Man. Your children will definitely know you fought for them.

  45. Whoa! This gave me chills. Chills of sadness for the loss of the wonderful wife at birth and then chills of happiness for the strength and choice he made in life.

    He is one in a million man, good work done and God bless him. Many men nowadays have babies with their mpangos and do not give a damn like it is a kawaida thing, cementing the relationships.

    I pray though that he settles well after such a brilliant job of parenting. He is a great Dad!

  46. As your guardian angel watches over you and her children…. know that she smiles upon you every single day , for your strength, your sacrifice and mostly for your unconditional love ….. this is a beautiful story .

    1
  47. Your writing compels me to shift between some mystical intellectual universe where creativity flows like a river…I hope to write like you someday Biko ..
    Cheers for a simply amazing and intellectually fulfilling conjugation of immensely rich literature..

    1
  48. You only know your strength when it’s put to test! With time, the pain of loss goes away and what remains is just the memories. Sweet memories!

  49. As always, this is a story of compelling resilience coupled with selfless fatherly instincts and responsibility.
    I truly feel for his loss and pray that he, among all the other parents who have such a profound sense of loss will earn the Heavenly Grace and Fortitude to carry on.
    All the best Sir.

    3
  50. It’s very kind of you to choose your kids. Someone special recommended this blog and this is my first piece and I really love it.

    1
  51. Life…this life…but this is an amazingly strong father. I sure do hope that he has buddies that walk with him when the times get tough for I’m there are such moments.

  52. Zora Neale Hurston on the lessons of life:

    “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” 

    Source: Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    What a 10 year commitment and still pushing.
    Father’s Self-less, not SELFLESS!

  53. For the first time ever, (actually the second) I have cried in the midst of reading something. The first time was on June 15th, 2019, during the burial of my late wife. Unlike the Widower, both she and the baby died….and it was traumatic. At only 33, I was rendered a widower, and unlike the guy in the story, I didn’t go to check her body in the morgue, because I wanted the last memory to be of her smiling, not lying in a cold slab. To crown it all, today is her birthday! Now, really, who can judge me for crying?? Losing a spouse is tough, I would never wish this on anyone. But somehow, we learn to live, each day at a time.

    33
    1. So sorry for your loss. Live one day at a time and pray a lot. One day when your heart is ready for love, please don’t compare.

  54. She chose a good man and the kids are truly lucky to have him as their dad. He deserves dad of the year award. I wish them well.

    2
  55. Biko, how much does a commercial blender weigh .. Have been taken through an emotional roller coaster, i just wish to be strong as Mr. Widower. I hope he finds love and be able to love again. Hats off for this superdad he deserves to be loved again.

  56. Wueee….when God says He cannot test you beyond your capacity to endure, He really means it!!! But some tests are just brutal!!!! Still He comes through, even if we dont notice it immediately…..May God continue to keep His watchful eye on you and yours and put a hedge of fire around you so no harm may come upon you. You are a true hero Mr. and thanks to Biko, we now have the rare privilege of knowing you.

    1
  57. “You daughter comes out of the delivery room on 31st March, 2011. But she doesn’t.

    She dies.”

    JaKendu, please it’s 2020. This year we don’t want cases of people who collapsed and died with shock. I’ve forgiven you for today. Next time, warn us that there’s a sudden shock awaiting us.

    Such beautiful read from you. And yes, man chose his children. Mungu ampe maisha marefu

    1
  58. This is profound! May God keep this family and more particularly the fragile teenage son. Kudos to this man who deliberately keeps choosing his children and putting them first.

  59. It’s not just the Epic way you have put it Biko. This is an Incredible Testimony and Challenge to the man in me.
    Come what may, I’ll always choose my Family!!

    1
  60. Praying for long life to this Dad, for him to enjoy the company of his children and grandchildren. to his old age. This story is heartfelt.

  61. Super Dad, God bless you. May He give you the strength to keep going.

    Biko, sad but beautifully written story. Sad reality of life.

  62. Sigh!!!!!! What an awesome read…. My heart aches for the time his wife died….but he is a wonderful man…God bless him

  63. I thought this was finally the Jackson Biko marriage story…coz you started off in third person, by this was better, very compelling.

  64. That’s is the tragedy of life one has to experience both sides the good and the bad ….. Love your depiction of death

  65. Great piece Biko but this is too painful. I fear for the young boy he is raising, I can imagine how strong he’s trying to be for his dad and the little sister

  66. Bedside conversations are always therapeutic. I was a teary mess before we got to “He laughs again. “It always sounds like ‘I love you too.’” Made my heart lighter. Jack is such a great dad!

    This is a beautiful piece Biko!!

  67. Mr, you’re doing a great job….the dedication to your children is mad.The fact that you could have gone the Norm of remarrying to help raise your kids but you chose to do it alone,makes you a super dad…I am raising my kids as a single mom,I know how hard it is so for a man to do this, it is a great sacrifice.may God continue to give you wisdom..I teared up reading this.

  68. I didn’t anticipate such a sad ending.
    I honestly feel bad. I am a mother and I cant just imagine how the husband is struggling to fit in as a mother. He is a good dad and I pray that the Lord will one day give him another partner who will be an angel just like his wife

    1
  69. A teary narration, especially where “usifunge mlango Mama watoto anakuja…” A sad, lovely story, but thanks Widower for playing mummy & daddy for the love of his children…

  70. Couldn’t help shedding some serious tears…..it’s abt that time of the month and emotions are all over….(but still)….Damn! This should have come at a later date…too sad….
    But life….!!!
    May God bless and guide him.❤❤

    3
  71. BikoZuku you getting better n better. The way you play with our emotions.. Utalipa tuu. On another note I wish they could give you the BBI report to make it readable

    8
  72. WOW! this right here is a life changing story…. teaches us that nothing is guaranteed and that we should cherish every minute with those we love. Good piece Biko…and Mr. M….i wish you MORE….More life, more joy, more favor, more success (and your greatest success is to see your Kids and especially your son grow into well rounded, secure, self assured, confident and content human beings) and finally i wish you more beautiful moments and years with your kids….. i won’t call your choice to raise your kids a sacrifice… i call it choosing to pour ALL your love on them and being the rock they needed then and now, stay blessed.

  73. Only Biko can drop rib crackers like “Their style is impetuous. Their defense impregnable.” about sperm in the middle of a serious and sad story. God, I laughed!

  74. Wow! Kampala sends regards. On my commute(in a taxi) from work and I start getting teary from reading this, so I pull out my sun glasses so my neighbor won’t notice I’m crying, but wait tears roll down our cheeks huh! So he asks why, I told him to checkout the blog, hopefully another deligent reader of Biko’s writting, who knows.

  75. My mom died. My dad chose us. Everything was centred on us. It didn’t matter to him what people said. He always said, “my children…”
    I saw him struggle through the pain of standing on his own after burial but GOD been good…

    2
  76. God chooses to keep some of us alive but we still choose to stay as far away from the kids as we can and leave them to be cared for by the wife and mboch. Any absent-by-choice-dad reading this right here, take notes.

    Keep up the good work bro. There is no better investment than well raised kids when you get older. I have seen it when we go and visit my parents…..

    3
  77. Such an emotional piece….had me at the edge of my seat trying to fight back the tears…such an amazing dad…there are quite few out there

  78. A great daddy right there.

    Please start dating. If possible, a young widow who won’t have problems understanding you.

    Soon (15years) the boy will start his family, and the girl too….Support the children, but don’t sacrifice all your happiness too. *Easier said than done

    2
  79. Oooh!!

    This is a moving one.

    I wish him well. Certainly! Certainly!God will never give you a battle too huge for you to conquer. He’s emerged victorious despite thinking it was an impossible task in the first instance.

    PS: Biko you’re a maestro man. You paint a vivid picture so well with your words. Only a handful of people could do it. Long live!!

    Viva!(Put Miguna’s voice)

    2
  80. i had to read this parts; at intervals of 30min, coz i couldn’t keep my eyes dry, & i didn’t want to walk around work with puffed up red eyes, weuh!

  81. This guy and Tej Josiah should form a single dads kinda club. Certain so many other dads out there will be inspired to join and compare notes.

    1
  82. Biko in cried, i cried because i felt the pain that man has been through. Those kids are lucky to have a dad like that. I wish him a rellay fulfilling life.

  83. That man is the Don Dadda. He has held up his responsibilities well. He will leave an emblem of what single fatherhood means and how to crack it up like a boss. In other news, toxic masculinity is catching up with the boy – Thou shall not say I love you to a fellow man, Never!

    1
    1. ooh so moving & it’s the ultimate sacrifice..t
      especially on the part of the wife,though I did not expect the wife to die ….ooh my it is life.
      I definitely identify with relatives trying to raise the kids as if they have no father!
      May God give you strength & grace to raise your kids.
      Thanks Biko

  84. Hats off to this guy doing his best at single-parenting aki.
    It is said that we plan, but God also plans – life is just so unpredictable *sigh*

  85. After reading this story, I dreamt of a man I knew too well only in the dream, doing exactly what our main character here did! I am yet to get over the melt-down! God bless him abundantly!
    Senior Biko, did he say he was going to get married at all? Asking for a neighbour!

  86. The story is so amazing,beautiful and most of all so inspiring,the fact that this guy gave it all up for his kids is so admirable.this is definitely true love.

  87. Well structured story Biko. Starting with 1st person (made me think it was a guest writer), then switching to 3rd person. Then finishing off with a follow up interview.

    Well done Dad. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  88. What a tragic love story. Man, you are strong. May God continue to strengthen you and may He continue to take care of your lovely kids

  89. It’s so difficult to find a man who can fit into her late wife’s motherly shoes . Kudos to him. May the good Lord bless the Karachuonyo nanny wherever she is.

  90. Wow! Its interesting when men become single parents, they become more sensitive,when women become single parents they become tough! This is a brilliant story, having been raised by a single dad and being a single mum myself, this has really moved me. To the widower,may the Grace of God abound in your Journey! Thanks Biko!!

    2
  91. Of men of honor!

    Good to know men of your calibre are not extinct.

    I can relate, only that infidelity and chasing tail was the ‘death’ in my case.

    You can now allow yourself to get back into the social scene, babies will understand. Time moves so fast and soon they will leave the nest.

    Allow yourself a love one more time.

  92. You write so beautifully Chocolate man. I love these kinds of men, these ones who choose to love right and to love hard. This is an amazing dad and man. I hope his In-laws see that and learnt to respect that.

    God Bless You Biko for sharing these beautiful experiences of people.

  93. When he said he has to pass by his son’s room when he has an early morning flight to tell him where he’s going just to assure him he’s coming back man I couldn’t

  94. Just read this, i cried, am a single mom raising a boy, deadbeat dad-2yrs now. My boy is 3yrs just joined playgroup. And you are doing great, as a single dad, am proud of you. You are a good role model, may God bless your babies and you. They are delight

  95. The widower is a great mommy and daddy. Rest in peace to the angel mom. I can imagine when the girl’s kinky hair has to be taken to a salon and dad is just there waiting in a room full of women who will, of course, sooner or later gossip about him. And it seems the girl wouldn’t mind if he remarried so he should give it a thought. Epic story with so much to learn from.

  96. “Ten year Dawn.” The widower is a fountain, one of love. If only he learns to love again.

    Love again when his children grow wings and catch the air jetstream on a mountain side and soar to the heavenly heights.

    Love again when he knows the “fragile love” he chose and nurtures can fly without flapping wings.

    Love again – let the spring flow, less of water and more of love. To hover the computer desk is to love again.

    I too tell real life stories twisted in fantasy. My novel “Reminiscing Wonderland (working title) is in the works.

    2
  97. “You have to be strong for him and when you step outside, you have to be strong for yourself before the public” Nice piece Biko, Unexpected always happen but what matters is how you come out strong. I title him THE MAN.

  98. When it rains it pours I cried through the whole article because I have lived this story I am his son having lost my mom young I know what it’s like but my dad did well and I am grateful but This guys story is beautiful and so heartbreaking at the same time

  99. Why do single fathers behave like bringing up children on their own is a major achievement? Women have been widowed, divorced, left when pregnant – thus been single parents for ages with zero complaints or any expectations of accolades for doing their jobs. Society has been harsh, abusive and I intolerant towards single mothers yet single dads are being made out to be some sort of heros. There is nothing special about man bringing up their own children after their spouse dies. Its what they supposed to do. Period. Give us a break please.

    1
  100. Wow! Glad I picked on this one. It;s been a while not reading one of these. Started off laughing but was humbled mid-way! Power fathers! No words!

  101. This is a great piece…the widower is a great dad….the loss of his wife made me all teary….
    He is better than most dads..May the works of his hands be blessed

  102. I don’t know what I feel after reading this. It’s sad,his dedicatidedication to the kids is second to none. May he find all the strength to be there for his kids

  103. It started out well but it has left me teary!
    This is such an accountable man,He is strong,good choosing kid ,it’s a rare choice.

    1. Saw the short sentences and the beautiful beginning and knew this is not gonna end well. More grace to the widower. You are one in a million who choose the kids.
      Finally on quarantine, so I can read all these past stories at a go. Last!