Gentlemen

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You should have been there to hear him speak. He wore a stark white dress shirt, a subtly coiffed afro perched atop his head. He had that calming demeanor, listening to him. He spoke in unhurried sentences with emotive marrow filled on the inside. His hands remained folded across his chest for the most part, as if memories brought him chills.  An engaging storyteller.

“Do you meditate?” I asked him. We were seated at an Italian restaurant with lousy service. He nodded bashfully, artfully re-spreading the napkin across his lap. We sat by a wide-open window. 

He spoke gently, pausing to tear his bread with his hands and dabbing it in olive oil like we were in the bloody old testament and our donkeys were tethered outside to a green olive tree. He would pause mid-sentence as he searched for the words to describe the man he was talking about. During those moments he would stare outside, chewing slowly, savoring each bite, looking at the clouds or over the rooftops or a distant bird perched on a balcony. My eyes followed whatever his gaze searched. I liked listening to him. Hearing emotions spill out of him like a slowly leaking pipe that you would ignore but that eventually caused a flood of emotions around our table.

 

***

There was a slight knock on the classroom door, interrupting the math lesson. The whole class turned to stare at the door which cracked open just enough for the PE teacher’s head to pop in. His glasses had thick lenses, making his eyes look owlish. He smiled at Mr. Wekesa, the math teacher, who promptly stopped scribbling and walked to the door. They conferred in murmurs. Mr. Wekesa turned and said, “Patrick, you are needed in the office.” Patrick was me. Still is me. I sat on the last row, by the window that overlooked a small hedge that led to the school shamba where the class eight students planted maize and beans for agriculture classes. Sitting at the window had its advantages; if someone farted – and that happened a lot – all I had to do was stick my head out. During those hot afternoons, I stayed awake courtesy of the breeze that blew into the room through the open window. 

I scraped my chair back as I stood. My deskmate was a girl called Lavender who always beat me in exams. We hardly talked – Lavender and I – because this was 1988 and I was 12 years old and it wasn’t cool to talk to girls. Yet. She looked at me inquisitively, wondering what I had done to be summoned out of class. Every eye in the room escorted me out of the classroom. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I heard Mr. Wekesa resume class. Back then teachers shouted while teaching. 

The PE teacher – God, I can’t recall his name – stepped back into the corridor and said, “How are you Patrick?” I said I was fine. He then put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You are needed in the head-teacher’s office. Follow me.” I took the stairs behind him. At the office, the secretary, a glum elderly lady who had a big shiny afro on her head, looked up and told me the headmaster would let me know when he was done. I looked at his door, where a rectangular plate emblazoned in small print  read “headmaster”. I sat on a chair. The PE teacher patted my shoulder again and left. Up on a wall, mwalimu number moja, President Moi, stared down at me from a framed picture. The loud ‘tak-tak-tak” sound of the secretary’s typewriter filled the room. The air smelled of ink and paper and ribbons. I was both nervous and curious. Once in a while, a teacher would come in and ask to see the headmaster or drop a file. As they turned to leave they would look at me but not say a word, perhaps assuming that I was a troublemaker. I wasn’t a troublemaker, I was a fairly disciplined student. I did my homework, I worked hard, I tried to leave my name out of the noisemaker’s list. 

After what seemed like an eternity, the secretary’s phone rang. She listened in the receiver and said, “Yes, he is here. OK, right away, sir” asked me to go in. I knocked and waited until I heard the headmaster’s deep baritone voice through the door say, “Come in!” He was a big and overweight man with a neck the size of a baobab’s trunk. He filled his chair and his office. Behind him was a shelf full of gleaming trophies. It took me a second to realise that the other man seated in his office was my father. I was astonished. Dad never came to school. It was always mom.  He wore his kaunda suit. He was a lanky man with a modest afro and sideburns. He wore spectacles. People said I looked like him. I disagreed. I was 12, I didn’t want to look like a man with sideburns. He was sitting upright in the chair. The air was still stiff and heavy from whatever conversation I had interrupted. I shook my dad’s hand because that’s what you did, you shook your father’s hand, never a hug. 

“Hi, Patrick,” the headmaster said, “How are your classes going?”

“Going great, sir.”

“Good, good,” he said, “what lesson are you having now?”

“Math, sir.” I said, my hands held behind my back. 

“Good, good,” he repeated, then looked at my father but my father’s head was bowed to the floor. “Well, your father has come to pick you up.” 

I looked at my father. Dad never smiled much but now I noticed that he looked very sad, almost mournful. He also looked defeated. “Yes, we have to go home now,” he said. 

“So go back to class and get your bag,” the headmaster said. 

“Is something the matter?” I asked nobody in particular, but I was looking at the headmaster. 

“Get your bag,” my father handed me car keys, “and wait for me in the car.” 

When I left the office I ran into my younger brother, Martin, seated on the same chair I had been seated on. We didn’t exchange a word but I noticed that his knees were trembling as I left the office. Later, my brother and I sat at the back of the car and waited for dad. “What do you think is wrong, Patrick?” he asked worriedly and I shrugged looking out the window. Something was definitely wrong. We sat in the hot car in silence. Dad drove an old red Renault GTA, always as scrupulously clean as himself. It smelled of hot leather. 

Dad got in the car and closed the door with a soft thud. I handed him the car keys from the back. He rolled down the window and turned on the ignition. The car sputtered but didn’t start. He tried again, with success this time. He engaged the gear and drove out of the school. We drove in silence. I looked at the back of his head for answers. He stopped at a store then left us in the car without a word. When he came back he had two cold bottles of Fanta for us. We sipped in silence. He turned in his seat and faced us. “Something has happened to your mother,” he said. 

“What?” Martin’s voice was high and shrill. He was only 10 years old. 

“An accident, she was hit by a car,” he said, then he turned in his seat and leaned his right elbow on the door and supported his head with his hand.  He started weeping soundlessly. 

“Is she dead?” Martin panicked, holding dad’s shoulder. 

Dad wept, maybe a bit louder this time.  

“Is mom dead?”I asked. 

“Yes,” he whispered. 

Martin started crying. I started crying. Dad was crying. We were all crying in this old contraption that smelled of old leather and despair. We were crying, holding our bottles of Fanta. It was a very cruel moment, unintentionally on his part, knowing that we wouldn’t drink the sodas after hearing the news. But what did he know? He had never lost his wife before, never had to break the news to his two sons that they had lost a mother in their childhood. When I do my math now he was only 32 years old, much younger than I am now. He didn’t know shit about anything. He was already a widower. Already bereaved with two boys. Already lost before he even found himself. Everything in my life spins off the axis of that fateful day in July 1988. 

It was a trying period. There was a house full of fussy aunties in lesos, trying to restore order in the wake of my mom’s death. Our house was suddenly full of grief and strange people, every room with a face that introduced themselves as an auntie or uncle. There was the clanking of pans in the kitchen and the pot was always boiling. Women cut and fried and braised. I felt stifled, blindsided and breached by all these people. Dad stayed in his room a lot during this time. I remember how much thinner he looked each time I caught a glimpse of him walking, head bowed, down the corridor to use the bathroom down the hallway. Funeral arrangements were a blur. We were not allowed to see her body in the morgue or even in the coffin. In fact we never saw mom again. My last memory of her was that morning as she saw us off. “Make sure you hold your brother’s hand,” was the last thing she told me because I hated holding my brother’s hand to the bus stage. Why should I? Was he a girl? 

After we buried mom my father remained depressed for two months. Of course depression wasn’t a thing then but I remember him not coming out of his room at all. We hardly saw him. Often I could hear his bedroom door opening in the dead of the night then footsteps as he shuffled to use the toilet. One of our aunts took care of us. She fed us, made sure we were washed up, she kept the house clean. She would leave food outside dad’s bedroom door and it would remain untouched. Martin would wake up and cry at night and when he did I would wake up and sit with him and I would tell him not to cry while crying myself.  Relatives came and went, telling us childish things like “your mother is now in heaven.” That she was now an angel. I hated hearing such lies. I knew my mom would never die and leave us just to rush to heaven. She would rather go to hell first than leave us. 

One day we came back from school to find my dad taking tea in the living room, reading a newspaper like nothing had farkin’ happened. His cheeks were sunken and his bones stretched his face but otherwise his eyes were alive, bright and alert. There was some hair in the dining room sink. The whole house smelled of aftershave and mint.  He seemed different. He came to our room and talked to us as we changed out of our school uniforms. I will never forget the speech. He said something about life being unfair, about tragedy and about God’s will. He said there was absolutely nothing we could do to get our mother back, that we were now alone, the three of us and we needed to stay very strong and close together if we were going to overcome this tragedy. He seemed so assured and strong. “The world is watching how we handle this”, he said looking intensely at each of us in the eyes. “No more tears, gentlemen,” he said, “okay? No more tears. We take care of ourselves now.” He called us gentlemen a lot. 

After that it felt like he had deleted mom’s death from our lives. He never referred to it, never mentioned it. Never got dragged into that conversation if any of us tried talking about it. The only thing that he left as her memory were the framed photos of her on the wall. I became very protective of Martin. In school I would fight his fights. I would wait outside his classroom after school. At break time we shared our samosas or fried cassavas. We often walked home together. 

Dad struggled as a single parent. He came home early from work and we almost always had dinner together. He asked about school. He helped with homework. He was strict and stern but loving. He never hit us, hardly ever raised his voice at us. If you erred, he sat you down and asked you why? Why did you behave like that? He made you explain your actions. Then he told you what he thought of your buffoonery, then you felt really stupid and irresponsible and you never did it again. We always knew he had our backs even if he scolded us. “Gentlemen, we have to cross over this river together,” he would often tell us. “We all have to row, if we don’t row we don’t cross. If I row and you sit watching me we won’t cross faster. We row together and we cross together.” He would also remind us that nobody owed us anything. Nobody. 

On the weekends when the help went away, he supervised the house chores. Wearing shorts, he sometimes joined in cleaning the toilet as one of us scrubbed the bathroom. 

He worked tirelessly at his government job that hardly paid enough, but he supplemented it with sugarcane farming that often didn’t do very well. I don’t think he was a businessman, he was just a man who tried. He was always shuttling between the village and the city, a journey that was over 400kms’ drive. He always wore his Kaunda suits but he couldn’t afford any more, so the ones he had were faded and frayed at the collar. He was the quintessential civil servant. He never gained any more weight after mom died. I don’t recall him getting any bigger, so he cast a very dispirited look for anybody who didn’t know him; willowy with old kaunda suits. 

We had barely enough. Often our electricity would be disconnected and we would go about the house in darkness. We always expected this because over dinner dad would always prepare us by saying something like, “Gentlemen, we are going to run into some storm, and darkness will descend upon us for some time. So let’s hold on tight to the boat.” He always made problems so romantic. I can’t count how many times we ate under the glow of candles but it never once felt like we were lacking, that we were poorer than our neighbours. It always just felt like, I don’t know, life. Upon reflection,  I have been able to manage my downtimes in life much better from this childhood experience because dad never saw lacking as an embarrassing thing. My first time visiting the barber was in university because dad always cut our hair. He used scissors and then later clippers. He would shave me and then shave my  brother then I would shave him but later Martin took over because he was better at it. 

When I finished primary school, off I went to boarding school and two years later Martin joined me. The day he dropped me off he hugged me for the first time and said, “It’s not about how smart you are but how disciplined you are.” I worked hard to make him proud. We became friends. We wrote letters; mine long, his pithy and full of advice; avoid bad company, keep your head low and work hard, stay disciplined, be grateful for the little we have, focus, focus. He always ended his letters with, “I’m praying for both of you, gentlemen.” Sundays were very quiet days in our home. After mom died we never went to church again. Dad was spiritual but never religious. He would sleep in until midday. He encouraged us not to leave our beds as well until late. “Sundays are for quiet reflection,” he would say. “It’s the day you give to yourself and your God.” So I never went looking for God because somehow I was convinced God lived in him. He never drank or smoked. 

He came for all visiting days. All. Visiting. Days. He came in his old Kaunda suits and his old rickety Renault. We would sit in this car and eat chapatis and chips and sausages until our stomachs hurt. He was curious about our education, he questioned us about our performance, about what we wanted to do in life, about the friendships in school, about our teachers. He treated us like men, like gentlemen, but most importantly like his brothers. I was afraid to disappoint him, to make him sad, to bring shame or disrepute to him. We both worked tirelessly to make him proud. We respected his authority, trusted his instincts. We went to university, when we both graduated he was there; smiling, proud, validated. When we both got our Masters he said, “halfway there, halfway there.” When I got my Phd, he got very emotional. 

We never saw him with a woman. We would tell him, ‘Dad, why don’t you marry?’ He would brush it aside with jokes, “No woman would marry a man with these sideburns,” or, “you gentlemen eat too much, it can scare away any prospective,” or “find me a woman who looks like your mother and I will marry her.” He brushed it aside. We worried for him, we wanted him to marry to be happy but he always said we were his happiness which just put pressure on us. If he had an affair with women – surely he must have –  he sure kept it under his hat. There was never any trail. When I brought my fiance home to meet him for the first time, he bowed and kissed the back of her hand and said, “You remind me of his mother when we first met. She  was amazing but not half as beautiful as you.” Emma blushed so hard she almost fainted. “Stop it dad,” I said, “she is taken.” Emma adored him. Really adored him. 

Dad was my best man because he is the best man I know. I got a tailor who stitched an amazing Kaunda suit. He looked elegant and dashing. He gave a moving speech at the reception that brought everybody to tears. When he sat down he looked bashfully at the floor. When Martin got married he was part of the groomsmen. Of course he missed the stag party. My brother got married to a foreigner with a daughter he adopted. He later moved abroad to be with her. When his wife got a brain aneurysm, dad and I dropped everything to join him abroad for three weeks at the tail end of winter. Emma couldn’t understand it. How I could drop everything and just run to be with him, she didn’t understand that we were gentlemen. It’s hard to explain certain things to your spouse, a deep history, a connection that isn’t just about blood and relations. They can’t see it through their own lens. She wondered if I was more committed to my brother than to our marriage. It’s an ongoing conversation in our home. I named my son after my dad. Poor kid, such large shoes to fill. 

In December of 2015, he invited us to the village for Christmas. Martin’s family couldn’t make it. I went down with Emma and my son. When we got there he had stepped out briefly to get some supplies and a stout woman with a kind face welcomed us. We knew who she was before he introduced her. “This is your mother,” he later told us, one arm around her. It was just perfect. They were just perfect. We call her Mother. She has a daughter Martin’s age. She’s a bit reserved, a bit introverted so that relationship hasn’t taken off like it should. 

Two years ago Martin called me and told me that dad had prostate cancer. I was in the office. I booked the last flight out, picked my coat from the back of my chair, went home and quickly packed a bag. I got to the village at the stroke of midnight. Dad in the verandah seated in his old wooden chair in the darkness waiting for my arrival. I dropped my bag at my feet and embraced him. He felt brittle, small, weakened. I wept. Still holding me he said, “No, tears, now we are gentlemen.” Mother woke up and served me food and some food that she had prepared earlier then she left us to talk. I got Martin on speaker. Just before dawn it was resolved: India. Martin emptied all his savings. I emptied all my savings. I even took out my son’s education policy.  “I love your father, God knows I do, but you can’t undo everything in our lives.” Emma said the night before we left for India. We were whispering because Dad was asleep in the spare bedroom. She was frightened at how erratic I was. “Our son will be okay as long as I’m here,” I assured her, “but first I have to try to save dad.” 

Mother came to India with us and stayed for two weeks then she came back home. I honestly didn’t see much of India, we were always by his bedside. We took turns to sleep in dad’s room. We spent the whole day by his bed. We pored over his medical reports, we questioned his doctors, we Googled procedures, we took turns to shave him, we talked about everything, he told us about his childhood. When I hear other men talk about not being able to talk to their fathers I don’t relate. There is nothing dad doesn’t know about us. There is nothing embarrassing enough not to tell him. Dad got better, then he got worse, then he got better.

On July 13, 2019, on a Saturday, we brought Dad back home. 

Mother met us at the airport. She had on one of those big headbands like a Nigerian woman at a wedding. She hugged him for what seemed like an hour. We stood back respectfully and pretended we weren’t watching. They whispered things. They held hands. She adjusted his collar even though it didn’t need adjusting. He said something that looked mischievous going by the look on his face. She threw her head back and laughed then turned to us,” he hasn’t changed,” she said adoringly. He hadn’t; he was weak but he was alive. He is still alive, fighting cancer. 

When I think of that day, July 1988, I macabrely think that it was a blessing in disguise. I’m certain I wouldn’t have had the relationship we have with dad had my mom still been alive. Maybe mom would have loved us better, but I don’t know that, what I know is that dad is here and he loved and still loves us like two parents can. He has taught us how to be men, about compassion, about modesty, discipline and about being gentlemen. He has been many things, but most importantly, a friend. I’m almost certain that I won’t be half the man to my son what my dad has been to me. I try. I keep trying and hoping that it’s in me. That this thing is in the genes. That it’s generational. Sometimes I think tragedy does in fact bring out the best in us. 

Dad, I know you will read this because I will send it to you today. [Ha-ha]. I love you. 

***

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322 Comments
  1. Wait, what! Is that all for today? Biko Jesus is not happy with you. However, I’m glad dad got better and that you have a friend in him

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  2. My heart kept skipping bits hoping all is well.

    I have happily exhaled, and won’t complain about the length of today’s article.

    Let’s all, without qualms, celebrate the Oligarch whose fruit we gather around every Tuesday to draw some refreshment.

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    1. Guess half a story was posted earlier;

      I beg to edit the last sentence to read:

      Gentlemen, let’s all, celebrate the Oligarch whose fruit we have gathered around this Tuesday to draw some refreshment. Great Lessons

      A heartbreaking beginning with a heartwarming story.

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  3. Biko this is a second story that has not ended. i am waiting for the continuation together with the White Collar.

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  4. This is what we call short and sweet, but wait a minute, shouldn’t there be more of this story!? Wishing good healthto your dad and more happy years to them.

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  5. Eermh, hi Biko, where are you cos you definitely didn’t write this?
    I’m not saying it’s badly written, I like how mysterious it is. Mom, mother. Taking us from 2019 to 1988. I’m a littu confused but I like it but I also know Biko doesn’t write like that.

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    1. It’s me again, having read the full story now.
      Wow! Your relationship with your dad and brother is so beautiful. So so beautiful. You tell your dad you love him? Hug him even? Wow! I envy you.

      I wish your dad long life and good health. Thankyou for sharing your story with us, gentleman 🙂

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      1. I actually left a similar comment. Intrigued when i was going through the comments and found this similar thought you put here…. Those who hug their fathers and tell them they love them should tell us which side of the mountain they pray facing….

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        1. Not any particular side of the Mountain.
          It’s something that any Father sows and reaps.
          It’s a culture of friendship that the father instills

  6. I can’t even begin to imagine how awkward telling my father that I love him would be. Or vice versa. But we know through actions that we both do. I’ll probablyspend a good chunk of the rest of the day thinking what it really means do be a gentleman.

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  7. What a beautiful story It’s their connection for me ☺️…For sure everything happens for a reason and the read is always good.

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  8. Why have I read this while crying??? What a father you have Patrick!!!! May he live long enough to see his great grand children!!!

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    1. Am i the only one who is left out shedding tears after reading some of these pieces? May be I am a little bit emotional, but honestly with this, I couldn’t hold back my tears. Its so relatable to me.

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  9. Deeply and truly amazing.
    This story is shrouded in sadness, loss, unity, duty and love that will always go on. Kinda reminded me of Nicholas Sparks’ story ‘Dear John’.

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  10. God knows how much I have cried reading this …not because I relate but because it was such a beautiful story ❤️ .

    Sometimes as wives we need to respect history

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    1. Nyambura I concur…..we need to hear the dad’s version. Kwanza what he was doing in the bedroom those days that he would not even eat……and how he managed to stay focused on raising his boy not sideshows of getting hitched. Mad respect baba Martin & Patrick

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    2. these great men you don’t interview….their life is amazing….just sitting down with them is amazing. You learn a lot.

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    1. Also wondering the same. This is a beautiful and complete story. But the comments explain why our newschannels are full of negative stories. People are interested in the negative.

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  11. Sunscreen is a pain when it gets in the eyes.
    Cherish each moment. You were favoured with the best dad.
    I wish you plenty of support especially financial because cancer is steep.
    Gentlemen, be still it is well.

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  12. Ooh Mein!!! I never comment but wah I can’t stop crying! What an awesome dad, reminds me of my Dad alot, a true friend if mine. Father’s – YOU MATTER ALOT! You Matter. Thank you Biko! This is a masterpiece!

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  13. Oh men!. It’s just emotional. I want a bond like this with my son, and I want it for him and his dad. Oh Biko you did us good this Tuesday!

    Gentlemen, it’s a boat ride most of us envy!

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  14. Some situations are difficult to comprehend. The dad got wisdom like no other;Not rushing to remarry till his sons could were independent. Lovely.

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  15. Tears from my eyes keep on falling…
    Such a nice piece shinning a light on great fathers and most importantly single fathers.

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  16. This is soo beautiful, what a wonderful man. I was holding my breath waiting for a sad ending but boy, aren’t I glad it ended beautifully, God bless and keep you guys…I’m so emotional

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  17. This surely is a story of three beautiful souls, his father is one of the best there is. Wishing all of them health, wealth, more love and all the happiness!!

  18. I can only envy the relationship Patrick and Martin have with their angel of a dad! May be, tragedy does bring the best in us indeed! And perhaps, as they say; every cloud does have a silver lining after all! The two younger gentlemen sorely missed their mother while the older one missed a significant other; and they surely must still, but the former didn’t lack for parental love, guidance and care despite the absence of their mom! At the risk of being preachy, we can always blame God when bad things happen to us – Where, ever, is He when bad things happen to good people; why does He allow tragedies, et cetera et cetera. But from this story, if the accident that claimed Patrick’s and Martin’s mother was one time of abandonment, He does not seem to have ever abandoned this family. Tragedies are simply part of stuff of which life is comprised!
    Patrick and Martin’s dad is a hero! A beautiful, beautiful piece.
    Thank you, as always.

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  19. More life to your father Patrick, may the rest of his life be full of abundant health and joy. And you sir, will be just an amazing father to your son as yours was to you because he already showed you what it takes.
    You’re truly blessed to have such dad. Your mom sure is proud of you 3, may she keep resting in perfect peace.

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  20. “Gentlemen, we are going to run into some storm, and darkness will descend upon us for some time.” I had to remind myself to stop laughing. This story is sad, inspiring and everything life is (the good and the bad).
    The dad has an abundance of Wisdom, strength, humor and commitment. All the ingredients to face the tragedy of life.
    I will remember this “it is not how smart you are but how disciplined you are”
    Gentlemen!

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  21. Having been recently widowed at almost the same age as your Dad and also having to raise two boys by myself, this is very encouraging. It has given me some strength and hope that we shall be okay.

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    1. Hugs to you Njeri.

      Patrick has shared his Dad’s Compass that they used to navigate. Use their story to put yours together.

      Best Wishes 🙂

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  22. “Sundays are for quiet reflection,” he would say. “It’s the day you give to yourself and your God.” So I never went looking for God because somehow I was convinced God lived in him. Such a great faith

  23. Patrick and Martin, you have been blessed with a very wonderful human for your father. Treasure him and always strive to those standards. Teach your children the same and I hope that your own grandchildren will get to meet this amazing family patriarch.
    Babake Patrick, you sir are what defines a servant leader. You stepped up and did a wonderful job with your sons. I hope that others will draw inspiration from you and that your descendants will always know who to look up to. May God keep you in perfect peace, joy and health.

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  24. Oh my! i almost dropped a tear while reading this. What a relationship that is. I just adore this dad, Fathers love to the gentlemen.

  25. What a beautiful story of love! Your father is a true African hero! Thank you for sharing this story and reminding us that great men are still here, living amongst us and doing their best everyday. I also think this story is a gift to Emma, so she may finally understand the bond you, your brother, and your father share. You are the man she loves because of your fathers love.

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  26. This brought really warm feelings in my heart and I have had the same relationship with my mum…she calls me everyday, we gossip together(haha) I consult her on everything, she sorts me out financially if need arises, I reciprocate, she was there when all my kids were born and I think that brought us together more….I am proud of these gentlemen and the bond they have created….

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  27. This is SSSSSOOOOO HEARTWARMING!!!!!! (Yes, I am screaming). Ahhhhhhh!!!!

    I really hope you and Martin continue raising a generation of Gentlemen.

    Ai please. This is so beautiful. Gai!!!

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  28. Best thing about my day today. It’s comforting knowing people are out there having good relationships with their dads.

  29. I miss my dad. This was a beautiful piece; Thank you for sharing your story with us. Sometimes all we have is family and if it’s the people you were born with, that’s even better! Health to your father.

  30. I held my breathe until the sentence “He is still alive, fighting cancer.” What a beautiful story…it’s no wonder Biko had to take time to describe this gentleman who clearly belongs to the Old Testament. He learned from the best! And the word “gentlemen” has never sounded so…alluring.

    “Gentlemen, we have to cross over this river together,” he would often tell us. “We all have to row, if we don’t row we don’t cross. If I row and you sit watching me we won’t cross faster. We row together and we cross together.”

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  31. This so beautiful, and beautifully written. A gentleman that raised gentlemen. A rare breed of men who don’t usually marry soon after their wives die. This made me emotional, I have shed a few tears. You are a great writer Biko, you evoke such powerful emotions in us. ❤️

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  32. A great read and a vivid portrait painted on the dynamism of life and how humans ride and pull through treacherous times. Kudoz bruh. Reading this from your next neighborhood-South Sudan

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  33. This is just one of those life stories you read,and not a word can come out of your mouth.Its just priceless,too precious to comment about.The kind you hold close to your heart and pray and hope to God that at some point in your life you’ll be able to forge such a great relationship with someone.Weeeh,!!Wacha tu.

  34. What an emotional piece! Well written, emotional, captivating and interesting!
    It is reliving that your dad got well and is happily married today. His unspoken plan when your mum died was for him to make sure you became grown ups and settled in life before he could marry again.

  35. I don’t know whether you still hold to the myth that African men shouldn’t cry because I did reading this deeply touching story. It brought into sharp focus the brevity of life and how we need to treasure those we love. Excuse me, I gotta talk to my dear wife, NOW…

  36. This made me so emotional,,,don’t get what people are complaining abt in the comments but it’s a really moving story.

  37. What a bond! These threads cannot be broken by whatever storm having seen it all. This is how close fathers should be to their sons. Kudos bro

  38. Now this, this is deep. It has brought up deep emotion in me. Perhaps my current situation has got something to do with it. I pray for an ending just like his.

  39. Reminds me of my own too
    This is so emotional but I must say it’s made my day. So real. And wait! This character- dad- answers to a description of someone I know-myself.
    Keep up man!

  40. “Gentlemen we are going to run into some storm, and darkness will descend upon us for sometime, so let’s hold on tight to the boat”

  41. Now that is an Alpha Male, I saw pieces of my dad in this, He would take care of us when my Mum travelled. A man I aspire to be like, a fortress, a shield the unstoppable force that met the immovable object and vice versa. A man!

  42. Wow this is such a heartwarming read….soo deep! What an honorable man!! We need more like him.
    Praying for his strength as he battles cancer, but with all the love you show him he is at peace.. he has lived…loved and is till being loved that’s what he needs to survive each day…well done boys!

  43. Chocolate man, please find us Baba Patrick
    And for Patrick and Martin, you guys are blessed and thank you for making mzee proud.
    Beautifully written, I cried while reading.

  44. This is parenting done right!!! What a lovely man your dad is. I honestly pray that God gives him better days.

  45. Just sweet.
    I relate with the feeling of being fetched from school cause of a parent’s fatality; it’s a feeling you can’t explain, atleast he tried!
    Blessing in disguise and sure enough sometimes tragedy brings the best out of us! The relationships especially

  46. This reminds me of the day our school counselor called us out of class….it was on a Saturday.
    She started saying things like “when someone dies, it’s not the end and bla bla…..
    Until my aunt came to pick us and we got home and mom had died my dad never recovered, kept losing weight, staying up all night listening to his best songs until he took his own life.
    He used to tell us that music was like medicine to the soul.
    I MISS THEM TERRIBLY EVERYDAY!
    Those became my worst days to date because I still don’t understand why it happened to us

    6
  47. Mnh! Good stuff!

    Wonderful gentlemen. Dedication & Brotherhood! The 3 wise Men!

    It can surely be done fellow gentlemen. Building a relationship with our sons. I try to be friends with my two sons…inspite of not living with their mum. Its doable. I believe. One day..one conversation….one hangout at a time.

    Hats off to the Dad!

    Hats off to my late dad.

    Brotherhood Strong!!

    1
  48. This is so beautiful . It is true that nobody owes you anything. Nobody! …
    Kids fart alot btw,it’s all the things they eat indiscriminately!!

    2
  49. So this kinda relationship between father and sons truly exist? The world need such Father’s, I thought!
    What an honor to have your Dad as the best man! This friendship was made in heaven where all that was made there is beautiful!

    “We all have to row, if we don’t row we don’t cross. If I row and you sit watching me we won’t cross faster. We row together and we cross together.”

    Biko we appreciate this story. Bring us this rare father and we won’t ask for more(Is a scam).
    Long live Mzee!

    3
  50. Deep, deep deep. That’s all i can say. Makes me really long for a ‘father figure’ in my life that i never had. Got me a bit teary. Its a beautiful bond between father and sons. Really remarkable. Great refreshing piece.

    1
  51. This got me crying.. losing a mom is such a heart break! i lost mine at 27 and it pained so much.. how about 12 and 10? Thank God for their dad!

  52. Deeply profound.
    What was the father’s Damascus moment to come out of the depression bout?
    A gentleman who raised gentlemen. He called out of his sons what he saw in them and they honoured him by stepping up to the plate.
    It is true that we can only love deeply if we allow us become vulnerable.

    What a read!

  53. Such a heartwarming story! A bond like theirs is so rare and enviable. Here’s to Baba Patrick for being a gentleman in every sense of the word. He’s raised such fine men. Gentlemen indeed. May Almighty God protect and keep him. May he beat cancer and live long.

  54. Amazing….He is the real gentleman, And you Gentlemen have made him proud…..May he live to see his great great grandchildren. Amiin.

  55. This actually made me cry! We have good men out here gentlemen! May your Dad live to see his great great grandchildren. A wonderful man and reminder that God men do exist. Pass the same genes to your sons!

  56. That’s the power of a dad in a child’s life(read son).We should never underestimate it.For all dads out there,do the best you can while you can.

    1
  57. Awesome piece there, i love it, i love the relation and over all the bond of boys and their Dad, Is amazing bond and life. i wouldn’t speak of tragedy.
    However i wish i be a awesome dad to my little ones that they could also tell a story about me. Gentlemen no more weeping.

    1
  58. This is the most heartwarming article I have read in recent times. What family and true friendship is all about ❤!!

  59. Wow. Wow. Please make sure Emma gets to read this just to see the kind of man who raised the man who married her and to see what her children have inherited. Great!!!!!!!!!

  60. As a young man, am inspired. Going by what we know in our African “settings” man, we can and we are the best humans to our kids.
    What a read!!

  61. Life is fair but also unfair. Good heàlth wishes and long life to all gentlemen. Keep rowing, it is always easier when the effort is combined.

  62. My heart. Always a bitter-sweet pleasure to read about men who embody fatherhood. May the gentlemen live a long, healthy, hearty life.

  63. A very good and educative article this is….am a first timer hear and I feel hungry already for more to come

  64. This was beautiful. GOD bless that man.heal him.such men are rare on this earth.grant him longer life to play with his grand kids.Please God.

  65. This is beautifully written and such a deep and strong tribute to men in all their many facets. I saved it to read at the end of my day and it was a perfect treat. I miss my Dad. Thank you for telling the story of a great one.

  66. Wao these two boys are the luckiest boys under the sun. Most father’s do not have such an awesome relationship with their boys. Their father must be the greatest father in the world, very selfless.

  67. From tragedy to the most adorable relationship, I miss my Daddy, he was strick but most loving human person, continue resting Dad

  68. Once I began reading I couldn’t stop. Some deep and rich lessons in there about being a man, grief and resilience. It’s a master piece.

  69. What a heartwarming story!! I love your dad and Mother already!! A beautiful family, a beautiful bond. To Emma, you are very lucky to have such a loving and wonderful family. Don’t let world’s pressures cast shadows on this pure family love.

  70. Daddy Biko, thank you for raising a fine gentleman. And for “It’s not about how smart you are, but how disciplined you are” consider this advise stolen and used by me. Wish you complete restoration of your health, longer days with Mother and the gentlemen.
    Wow. A banging Tuesday 26/10/2021.

  71. Such a beautiful story!! What a connection between dad and his boys. This man faced his tradgedy in a way that has so impacted the next generation. That in itself is amazing inner strength. What an awesome inspiration!!
    Patrick and Martin, you have experienced a legendary relationship.

  72. Wonderfully written and heart warming. An ode to great dads out there doing their best in a world that constantly seeks to extinguish their fire.

  73. I pray that i be like that dad to my son (9)and daughter (5) after loosing my wife early this year, very inspiring

    1
  74. This story brought tears to my eyes. Reminds me of my dad who had to raise 4 kids alone in his 40s when my mum passed.
    This statement “The world is watching how we handle this” is all too familiar.

    Gentlemen, continue to honour that great man!

  75. My goodness! I held my breath from go until stop!

    Well written/narrated!

    I completely understand dropping everything and going to be with Martin’s wife! How I’d kill for such unity in my family. I’m so attached to this story!

    Being a gentleman is a way of life!

    May dad get better!

  76. This story really got to me. I lost my sister early this month and the way you describe loss, pain, the silver lining around it,…I pray to God that I will rise up to the occasion and stand up for my sister’s kids the way your dad did for both of you ❤️

  77. I love the sincerity and gentleness in this story. Cheers to the good men out here doing their best in whatever circumstances they are in.

    I do believe that one’s s traits can be generational because Patrick will always try to emulate his father’s good traits whether it’s genetic or purely from memory and so will Patrick’s son. Simply beautiful.

    2
  78. What a gripping recollection. A prayer I share in too is that heavens allow our generation of men to be better fathers. And you actually dropped an ‘I love you’ to your dad. I envy you.

  79. I’m weeping. I hope we can be half as good parents as this man was and is to Patrick and Martin. You give so much to your kids and you hope they can grow up to be stellar humans. It’s good to see.

  80. I love your dad too, you guys came out better and it’s amazing to read how you just kept going and going. May he live long.
    If only all men would realize what it means to just be present in their children’s lives.

  81. Wow! What a capitivating and wonderful read. I just lost my dad a month ago; he was my friend. Thank you for
    for your story.

  82. This story made me cry. In a world with so much hurt, this is beautiful and hopeful. I pray I can be half as good a mother as this Gentleman was to his 2 gentlemen.

  83. I knew my mom would never die and leave us just to rush to heaven. She would rather go to hell first than leave us.- Poignant

  84. Reading this, I pictured ourselves, my siblings and I when dad called us that Sunday morning.
    19th September, he only had a few words “your mum is gone” I felt the pain in his voice.
    Just like your dad, he did not know how to go about it too. And that Sunday night as we ate in silence, he broke down in silent tears. He asked me to pray, my sister started crying, my brother cried too. We all cried out hearts amidst prayer that night. It was our first night without mum.
    It’s 5 weeks now but the pain is still so fresh. I worry for my siblings and for my dad too. I wish I could take away their pain and help them sleep better. But I will say it like my dad said it that night. “All these questions in our hearts, God has their answers. He’s got our back”
    Grief is so heavy and lonely

    2
  85. My goodness, all tears through, indeed that’s aFather; home and away.
    It Reminds of my Father,
    Whom we talk every other day, and so will I be to My son.
    I love you Dad

  86. This one truly spoke to me. And yes, sometimes tragedy brings out the best in people. I hope your Dad beats cancer and that the Gentlemen continue to enjoy the admirable bond that you all share. Beautiful story.

  87. I got to the end with something lodged in my throat and tears in my eyes that I was fighting very hard to keep from falling.

  88. I’ve been a great fan of your work for a number of years and I really adore your way with words, I’d say you’ve been blessed immensely to have your dad by your side it’s a blessing I can only dream of,such is the nature of life or a strange twist of fate rarely do we get to enjoy or have everything for ourselves but we move on regardless,such a great piece senior.

  89. I have read it with so much emotion. After the last paragraph i scrolled up and read it all over again! This bond between the gentlemen is just out of this world. So glad that dad is doing okay. So happy that he found a companion in his old age,the boys are and will always be his life!!

  90. Our mistery guy is an Indian gentleman, right Biko… ? My statement not to profile him but truly sounds like he is…

    1
  91. Prostrate cancer took my dad. I have never seen such painful death in my life. Diagnosed at stage 4. Complications that delayed treatment for almost an year. He fought it for 3 years. 3 YEARS. 3 years of stage 4 cancer. Never seen such bravery in this life. Rest in Peace PA. I miss you .

  92. What a story! What a family!

    Please make a point of writing about the speech your father gave at the reception.

  93. Wow, this teared me up. I pray dad gets better. Unsolicited advice :supplement the medication with diet. The body shall be able to fight better. I am proud of your dad too. May the Lord bless him and grant you many years together

  94. Just Wao! Damn, I feel like I know this people all my life just after reading this article. I personally grew up without a father. I wish the old man full recovery. As for Sgt. Biko salute!

  95. Gentlemen

    Your mom loved you and you knew it

    *I knew my mom would never die and leave us just to rush to heaven. She would rather go to hell first than leave us.

  96. Absolutely beautiful. My two sisters and I were raised by our dad and he also remarried a wonderful lady when we were all grown up. As a result, we are all very close…. We thank God for these wonderful men!

    1
  97. This is one of those storied you read and yearn to know and be known. It has left a longing in me to want and be wanted. a hunger for such a relationship. The tragedy that built something so everlasting and perfect.

  98. This was very emotional, educative and highlighting points that made you strong in bond and closely watching out for each other. I have learnt alot.

  99. This was so delicately written and recounted, I felt transported… Brought tears to my eyes and challenged me to live life simply, love my children dearly, and keep soldering on with hope and humour. Thanks Gentlemen for sharing this precious story with us. It is encouraging to know that there are still a few good, good men on this planet. I need to search Bill Gaither’s song on a few good men in YouTube right now to celebrate this happy ending.

  100. What a sweet relationship. Not many men have that kind of relationship with their fathers.
    Wishing your Dad complete healing and many more great years ahead.

  101. This is sucb à beautiful story. What a bond the three gentlemen have. The dad is indeed a great man to have fostered their relationship as is.

  102. If “stepping up” was a person, it would be your Dad. I’m happy for you gentlemen for the kind of relationship that you eventually built. I hope your dad gets better by the day.
    one question though:
    1. How did you handle/deal with not talking about your mum’s death after dad turned off his grieving mode?

  103. Patrick, you and your brother are blessed beyond measure. Thank you for sharing this with us and May God continue blessing your dad and mum.
    I am not close to my dad and that breaks my heart ❤️. I am trying to be there for my daughter who’s just 9 and this gives me hope that it is possible, it can and it has been done. May God give all the parents wisdom to navigate this beautiful journey.

    1
  104. What a beautiful piece. It took me back to my childhood. Through my rough teens and into womanhood and motherhood.
    Great writing.

  105. Reading this, and it is quite relieving to know that someone has lived a similar experience as I have. If you were to replace the role of dad with mom, I think this article will pretty much be my autobiography. I too have a single brother – two boys. I hope your dad wins the battle, I pray he does. Thanks for the amazing piece.

  106. When is your son joining school? Are you ready for cbc? Is Emma settled to make a scarecrow?
    That’s a wonderful piece.. I love it

  107. The past tense when talking of his dad made me very anxious…such an amazing dad. I’ve been fighting back tears all through. May his dad get better and bravely face his illness

  108. Damn! This was deep and emotional. It was full of hope. It hit the right spot. God bless fathers who hold it down no matter what. They are few but still they do exist and I pray our children’s generation brings forth such blessed men who take their rightful position as the head of the family and love and respect the family just as Christ. Waiting for a continuation.

  109. Such an emotional story,i couldn’t help myself from shedding tears..!”always hold your brother’s hand” May your mum keep R.I.P.

    Such an awesome dad you have,may God grant him good health.

  110. This has brought me to tears today. Wow. July 1988, when my life was starting, your blessing in disguise was beginning. To gentlemen <3

  111. a very deep and powerful story.

    Would be great to invite you to speak at my Rotary Club.

    Please reach out.

    Otherwise, Thank you

  112. If this story doesn’t make you cry then your’re probably pharaoh’s son!
    I was reading this in the office and couldn’t hold back my tears.
    God! where do such dads come from? because the bale my mum got our dad from was full of karate clothes, just shit!
    Anyway, I am more than grateful to God to know my children have a dad I know is this type!
    If all men could be half of this one, the generation of men afterwards would be a great one!

    3
  113. Wow sometimes death is just a blessing in disguise it moulds us either into better or worse people. Lovely book to read.

  114. Such an incredible story, and the think that this is someone’s real story is even more heart warming to know that such relationships exist.
    Thank you for sharing your story Gentleman.

  115. Such an incredible story, and the thought that this is someone’s real story is even more heartwarming to know that such relationships (father-son) exist.
    Thank you for sharing your story Gentleman.

  116. Gosh this brought me to literal tears. I don’t have a dad but I have a mom who has loved and loves me enough for both parents. This was beautiful in every shape, manner and size and if words could be weighed, this would bring the whole world down.
    Love it, love him and already love his dad. I’ll definitely remember them in prayers.

    1
  117. Gentlemen, I’m so sorry for that day in July 1988. Your dad is a great guy and so are you, this is the deepest article yet. I have wept, may he be well.. love to your family. Thanks for sharing and God bless your new worthy Mother.

  118. “find me a woman who looks like your mother and I will marry her.”
    This brought tears to my eyes because it almost is what my 10 year old son twlls me….just over 1 year down the line… Still hurts deep….too deep. I pray for that man’s strengthgth

  119. All i can say it that your father is such a blessing gentlemen. Now Biko can we please please hear from the Dad.. About his perspective. How he managed to overcome such grief and raise 2 great gentlemen. About why he chose not to remarry until much.

  120. Awesome read. Blessed relationship of a son and his father. Wish I could have or at least got an opportunity for dad’s relationship

  121. Maan. This made me so emotional because it’s so relatable in a different way. To all the good men who did good by their kids, who are working to be good men for their children, may God bless you. Indeed, some of us we are blessed for a father’s unconditional love is humbling and a beautiful thing.

  122. Wow! Alot has ran through my mind.May daddy and mom rest in peace.If only we get this kind of assurance,it will always be well.

  123. I began bawling my eyes out when that P.E and Math teacher conferred and I haven’t stopped. This is so beautiful!!!!

  124. I keep re-reading this article and every time I do I hits twice as hard as before. I can only imagine how the journey was, the love and the bond that is way too great to comprehend.