Related By Heart

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[It was just after 3pm and he was doing dishes. His wife was on a Zoom call in the living room, saying, “I think this demand-driven approach will not work in the long-term.” He could never understand half the stuff she said on Zoom. Her Zoom calls always sounded like people showing off their cryptic language. People trying so hard not to say what they mean. A diabolic contest of rhetoric. She’s a data scientist. Her boss—a pudgy white fellow whose face always fills her screen—sat across the Atlantic. He’s a trained architect who designs outdoor spaces, mostly landscaping. He likes plants and flowers and mulch and the smell of soil. He also likes making furniture—small quirky things; wooden ashtrays, a wooden dwarf ladder that nobody would ever use, a lampshade that looks like a robot, just random things that normally make his wife roll her eyes. He’s also a pseudo-farmer. He had just come out of a ‘pig’ phase’. The ‘pig-phase’ is the phase of life where otherwise normal people—completely unprovoked—decide to rear pigs as a business. Maybe it stems from loving sausages a lot. Maybe it’s the devil. 

They had met many years earlier at the moody entrails of Black Diamond Club in Westlands. She had a fresh accent from Oakland, CA. He had refreshing chutzpah from Buru-Buru, Phase One. He had locks reaching right here [points at spine] but that evening he had bound them and stuffed them in an embroidered hat. She later told him that he reminded him of one of The Wailers. It was bound to end in tears, only it didn’t. It ended in a 12year old marriage and a child out of wedlock. 

Anyway, his phone rang as he was drying a green side plate. It was his mother. “I have some terrible news,” she said, voice trembling, “Your father just died.” He had been in hospital the last three weeks;  Covid. His lungs had looked like tarmac. A yawning hole in a soul. After he hung up the phone, he continued drying the wet cutlery. He then wiped down the worktop with hot water, carried and disposed of the trash outside. He put fresh polythene paper in the bin. He soaked the kitchen towel in hot water and some Jik. He boiled some water and made some herbal tea, which he sipped as he stood leaning against the kitchen counter. His father dead. What a moment. When he heard his wife signing out of the call, he made her a cup and placed it next to her computer. He said, “Michael is dead.”

 “Oh my God!” She gasped, pushing back her chair. 

He sat and draped one arm on the backrest. 

“Are you OK?” she asked.. 

“Yeah,” he mumbled, “why wouldn’t I be?”

We sat watching his son play in the big play area at Under The Radar restaurant. It was cold but later the sun would come out and we would shrug off our jackets. His son stood at the top of a slide and waved at us as if he was at the top of an airstair and was about to take a long flight on a one-way ticket. We waved back. The boy looked like he was stenciled from him; the shape of his head (a mango), his walk, his complexion and his general mien. He was telling me about growing up in Buruburu with what struck me as nostalgia but with more bitterness than sweetness. He grew up with two other siblings. Middle-class family. Mom, a nurse, dad worked in the government. “There was always a driver waiting in the car outside the gate for dad. He was an important man, I guess. A bossman. Always wore a suit and tie. Always carried a black briefcase. He was very neat and walked with a limp. What I remember was his irregular footsteps walking in the house. We had wooden floors, so you would hear him if you were upstairs. He took time coming upstairs, almost like he was dragging that leg.” His eyes followed his son who was now about to crawl into a tunnel. “I feared him. I feared him because he was very tough on me, he made me feel small. He would shout at me when he came home drunk, mostly on Fridays. He would snap at me for the smallest of things. I was never enough for him, no matter what I did—and I tried to be enough for him. I wasn’t like my siblings who were way smarter than me academically. You know those kids who are always in the top three?”

“Yeah, the annoying type who always remembered to comb their hair,” I said.

“Haha, yeah, those were my brother and sister. I was OK in school. I was average, you know. But I was streetsmart. Whereas my siblings never really interacted with people in the estate, I was known by everyone. I talked to people. [Ma] Kanges knew me. That guy who roasted maize by the roadside knew me. The shoemaker knew me. The guy who fixed bicycles knew me. I stopped to speak to them. Mtu wa watu. You could say my siblings had no time for that, they were always studying. They took life very seriously but I guess that’s who they were. I wasn’t that kind of person, I liked the arts and people.”

His father made him believe in many ways, through his actions at the beginning and later his strong language, that he wasn’t going to amount to much because he wasn’t as academically endowed as the rest. He loved sports; football mostly. He could wipe your butt at the pool table. But sports were frowned upon by his father. It was a petri dish of failure. He thought little of sportsmen. “He would say, only failures fell back on sports. Remember this was the early 90s. He killed my sports ambition even though I was very good at football. ” Then he started exploring his artistic side and soon discovered that he was better with his hands than the average person. He had a knack for art and design, for shapes and colours, for form and angles. “He stifled that too. He asked me if I wanted to be like those people who beat drums at the National Theater.” He chuckled. 

He recalls one night during the school holidays when he was 16 years old when his father hit him. “We were having supper. My mom was being a mom, making noise at me and my brother for not having showered before dinner.” His mom could create a storm in a shot glass. His father walked into the house from work and went to the bedroom to remove his shoes and socks. When he came back he asked, “Why do you boys not do what your mom tells you to do?” Nobody answered because it was a rhetorical question. Parenthood of the 80s and 90s was defined by rhetorical questions; Do you want me to pay your fees and study for you? Would you be happy if I died from the stress of repeating myself in this house? Are you people waiting for the holy ghost to come and remove those plates from the table? Etc. Passive aggression. 

Anyway, his father comes and stands at the table and repeats the question; “Why do you boys not do what your mom wants you to do? “Without any warning, he slapped me so hard at the back of my head, so hard that my head slammed into my plate. It was violent. It shocked everybody at the table. He had never hit any of us before. I recall my sister shouting at him, ‘DAD!!’” His mom, who was in the kitchen, came out holding a wet cloth and looked at me holding the back of my head. She told him harshly, Michael, what are you doing that for, surely? Why do you have to beat this child? His father walked away to the bedroom. 

He sat staring at his plate, close to tears. His sister who was 14 years old then started sobbing. His brothers were silent. The dinner had been invaded by violence and was now ruined. Their mom followed their dad into the bedroom and they could hear them arguing. “I couldn’t eat. I carried my plate to the kitchen. I was embarrassed and hurt. I wanted to cry. I mean, why pick on me. Why had he not beaten my brother, who was a year older than me? As I passed their bedroom door, I heard my father say in anger words that changed my life, ‘I did not ask you to bring him to this home!”

The next morning after his father had left and his mom prepared to go to work, he went to her bedroom. She was in a nurse’s uniform, rummaging through a drawer for her stockings. Without a preamble, he confronted her, “Is he my real father?” She stood up and blinked. He asked again, “Is he, my real father?” She said, “What is this about, what are you talking about?” He said, “Tell me the truth mom, tell me the truth.” She said she was late for work, that they would discuss it in the evening. Then he asked her, “Are you my real mother?” She sat on the bed and sighed. She suddenly looked older. She patted the space next to her,  “Please sit here, son.” 

“When people talk about events that shaped their lives, that morning was it for me,” he said. “It turned my life upside down. I feel like after that conversation with my mom, I led my life walking upside down. Nothing made sense but also everything suddenly made sense, does that make sense?” 

When he was a few days old he was found abandoned in the streets of Nairobi, wrapped in a leso. He was found in one of the alleys on Sheikh Karume road. His mom, who was working in a different hospital, was told about him by a nurse friend and later adopted him. She gave him a name and a home and a family. His sister was born not long after him. This discovery set him on the path of years of rebellion. “I became defiant and angry. I often ran away from home. I got into what I was told was self-loathing. I also resented him [foster father], I refused anything from him, if he bought us shoes from his travels I would never wear mine. I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me. I felt like a reject, you know, something that was not wanted. Something that was discarded and thrown away. I didn’t perform well in my KCSE because I was so distracted. I didn’t care anymore. The world was suddenly a big lie to me. My brother was sent off to the US on a government scholarship, so was my sis when her time came, but because I had become so problematic, and because he was doing me a favour, he sent me to USIU. You know, it’s because he hated long hair that I started growing dreadlocks. I was also smoking weed. Meanwhile, my mom fought for me, she never stopped, man. She prayed and fought for me. She would look for me whenever I refused to go back home. One time—just after high school—I was running around with some bad boys from Ziwani. Some really problematic boys. She suddenly showed up at the door of this house we used to spend time in. At midnight! Ha-ha. I told her, mom, how did you get here, this place isn’t safe, you can get killed here! She said, yeah, where are your shoes, we are going home. Ha-ha.”

“Did you ever stop calling her mom?”

“Never. That woman has done everything for me. Imagine how much compassion you have to have to take a baby that was left in the streets, a baby you don’t know, they could have bad genes, they could come from a family of witches, and you bring him home and tell your husband, we are keeping this baby. Imagine that level of love. She is the only person on earth who loves me unconditionally. It took me a while to accept this. And now because I’m the only one who lives in the country, I’m the one taking care of her. I go over to see her every week. She loves the beach. We take holidays to the coast together once a year, mostly alone, on occasion with the wife. I take her to the beach. She is that kind of mom. Ha-ha. She’s in her early 60s now. I call her Beach Girl because she likes to walk on the beach with a bottle of beer—a warm Pilsner—in hand. Very ratchet but very badass. Very mom.”

His relationship with his brother changed, though. He always felt like his brother never had his back. “But my sister and I are heart, man.” 

“Heart?”

“Yeah, you know how people say you are blood because you come from the same mom or dad or grandfather? She has a heart. Heart is deeper than blood because the heart controls the blood. My mom and sister are heart. My sister—she lives abroad—would send me money when I was hustling doing my art and things. My brother and I aren’t close. We never were close.” 

“Somehow I just knew that I was different from my siblings. I was taller and darker. I didn’t look like my father or my mother or my siblings. I used to think I looked like one of my uncles but now in hindsight, it was me wanting to fit in. In retrospect there was a way my relatives treated me, not with ati hostility but, I don’t know…they were always too careful around me. I should have thought something was up. Michael obviously didn’t like me from the word-go. I think he felt like he had to put his resources into me and he never stopped reminding me how lucky I was to be getting the education he gave me. He was forced by my mom to do these things for me.”

“Does this change your idea of love?”

He paused for a while, staring at his son. “It changes everything, really. It changes who you are or who you thought you were. You question everything. For a very brief period of my life I used to wonder who my mom was, very brief period. But then I realised that it didn’t matter. I didn’t want to know her, to be in her world. I was found in an alley in Sheikh Karume road, I don’t know which one. There are like a few alleys leading into Luthuli and whatever. She could have been a trader, a mama mboga, a teenage hooker, someone who was headed upcountry and didn’t want to take the journey with a baby she resented, baggage. I don’t know. I’m not curious who my parents are, which is okay because I know I will not like them. Who would like someone who throws away their baby? Michael provided a roof and school for me, was that love? Is it love when he gave me all these with one hand but also took away my self-esteem with the other? Made me feel unwanted? The damage Michael inflicted on my esteem, I feel like I have been building slowly for the past 20 years, and I’m still building on it. Someone who ruins your self-confidence ruins you. I question love. My wife will tell you better. I have always been afraid of being left by a woman.”

“Like your mom did.”

“Yeah. I was a bad boy for a while and bad boys don’t say, I’m going to be a bad boy, it’s the circumstance. I never treated girls like people who would stay. I saw them as a flight risk as my therapist told me once. I started seeing a therapist just before I married my wife because she insisted. I thought therapy was for white folk, something she picked in Oakland. But well, it has its uses.”

“How do you love her?”

“How do I love her?”

“Your wife?”

“Hmm, she likes being done for things, as she puts her feet up; she is a queen. Ha-ha. She loves cooking, I love cleaning up, dishes, building stuff, improvising things, tending our makeshift garden, making a home. She likes when I do things for her, and I like using my hands.”

“That’s what he said.” 

We laugh. His son comes over. 

He’s hungry. Of course, he’s hungry, kids are always eating. Or saying they are hungry. He drapes his small spindly arms around his father’s neck and whispers in his ear- like he’s sharing a family secret. He holds his small hand to the bathroom to susu then later he settles to feast on his [now] cold fries. He picks them carefully with the tip of his fingers, one by one, as if he’s an emperor carefully handpicking his soldiers. His head is just at the same level as the table, floating slightly above it, so he looks like he’s hiding while eating. He’s six. He smiles a lot. He’s got charming eyes and mouth and a small nose that acts as a comma to his innocence. I wink at him. He smiles, a megawatt smile. A child’s smile fills your own lungs with baby gas, it makes your lungs float inside your chest. They converse as he picks on his chips, kiddie stuff; can you jump from there? [Points with his small forefinger]; John has a red car with two doors; what is the name of that bird? Can it eat chips?

Bored with his chips, he stands and holds his father’s face and whispers something else in his ears. He wants to get on a swing. I watch his father push him on a swing. As he goes up he squeals, “Uuuuuuuuuu,” and ‘Wiiiiiii” as he comes down. So it’s, “uuuuuuu wiiiiiiii” like Snoop Dogg likes to say. Maybe he will remember this moment when he’s an adult, how his father pushed him on a swing on a beautiful sunny day, shoes off, jacket on, his chips left at the table with that man who he suspects might taste them. He’s a child of love, not a love child. He’s the chosen one. 

“When I met my wife, she was categorical: she didn’t want children,” he tells me when he’s back. “I honestly always wanted children so that I could have someone I was related to by blood.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way;” I say, “You have nobody you know who you are related to by blood, just by heart.”

“Exactly. So I wanted a child who would carry my name; a girl or boy, didn’t matter to me. But then also I was in love with this chic from the other side of the river.”

“The Hamptons.”

“Ha-ha. Yeah. I was really into her mix. So what do I do, I told her, it’s fine we don’t have to have children. She said, ‘Are you sure, because I’m not going to change my mind,’ I said I was sure. Wouldn’t you?”

‘I’d even sign with my own blood. Twice.” 

“Ha-ha. Marriage can’t hide who you are or what you want, it just puts it on hold because at some point you can no longer ignore the things you want or be who you are. I have always wanted a child. A few years into the marriage I started getting restless, so I brought up the baby thing and it caused a major row. She was adamant, she still didn’t want to have a baby. She felt I was moving goalposts, which I was. Was there a way this marriage would continue under those circumstances?”

It was a difficult, drawn-out conversation that lasted years. And it was never resolved. The participants left the negotiation table and took a long tea break, leaving the issues on the table unattended. Only that he went and had a baby with someone else. That lovely boy now swinging over there like a monkey. 

“The hardest part was confessing to my wife. The very hardest thing I’ve had to do by far.  It was complete mayhem, real shitty affair and it dragged on for years. It nearly ended the marriage, it came this close. My mother-in-law fought on my side, that helped. That’s a whole different story altogether. But now we are good, she accepted my son, she loves him, but women never forget betrayal. I know I will pay. I just don’t know how.”

“And when.”

“Yes, and when.” He looks over at his son like Moses looked yonder at the Promised Land. He never attended his foster father’s funeral even though his wife begged him to go. To let things go, to free himself from hatred. He didn’t see it that way. He told her, “I was thrown in a bin to die and he had an opportunity not to love me, but at least show me compassion instead he constantly took away my self-worth even knowing my circumstance. I buried him long before he died.” 

 

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189 Comments
    1. Let me ride on ‘first to arrive’ wave and place a possible unpopular sentiment. Our friend in the narrative, with all due respect to him, has refused to grow up, is a tad selfish and risks being a bad father as a result. He has assumed that his father, the man he despises, the one who despite his short-comings allowed him into his house and his life, arrived in that corner of life a straight and well adjusted man having no struggles of his own. In despising the man, he possibly unknowingly also hurt the woman that paid dearly to bring him up. In refusing to attend the burial, he possibly hurt her more and maybe his wife as well (it says she begged, he refused).
      Being a man is not selling ice cream in a sunny day to a bunch of eager buyers, being a man is often grit and dirt, it is commitment over convenience, it is forgiving and loving and many times over at that. I feel his pain and his loss but then, you can only blame others for so long; at some point you have to pick the pieces and let go of the bitterroot and move on. He has a son and wife, the sooner he wakes up and smells the coffee called life, the better. Being a father is a long distance marathon, like a bamboo farmer that will have nothing to show for all his hard work for seasons on end – prudence requires that you do not lug with unnecessary baggage. Ni hayo tu kwa sasa.

      Activists are free to start casting stones….

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      1. Exactly. The man and his dreadlocks is just weak and infantile. Not wholly his fault but it’s about time he manned up.

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      2. Umegonga ndipo , I cannot agree with you more – as our colonizers would say. We cannot carry rejection, betrayal as a trophy – it is tough but at some point in this very difficult life we have to try … A man/woman must try.
        One may end up behaving the same and treating their child the same way , as we attract what we think about….Easier said than done…but when done… it has better returns for the victim/aggrieved ….

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      3. Couldn’t agree more. He put him under his roof. It takes a heart of gold to put someone under your roof and care who is not your own flesh. For me it was a selfish act

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      4. From the comment section, I picked this line that hit a chord for me:

        Being a man is not selling ice cream on a sunny day to a bunch of eager buyers; being a man is often grit and dirt; it is a commitment over convenience; it is forgiving and loving and many times over at that.
        Okhwa Papa.

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      5. You have no right to tell him how he’s supposed to heal. We heal differently. Some of us who can relate with the story add hate to be able to move on. Let him hate Michael in peace. I think he is doing great raising up his son.

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        1. Yes he does. Unlike women, men are held to a standard. He has articulated the standard. There are no excuses for bad behaviour once you have grown up. That is the way of men.

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      6. Papa it’s very easy to comment as you have without any similar experience to what this man has gone through (my assumption) and are judging him based on an interview condensed into a 3 minute read. I also didn’t know there was a manual about how to “be a man” and “be a father.” If so, show us your ways Sensei. If not, let this man feel his feels. I commend him for sharing his story. That’s a huge step in the healing process. Ironically, the only person casting stones here is you 🙂

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        1. He is not casting stones. He is holding him accountable. He is a grown-ass man. As a grown-up, he must recognize that we are all broken, including his foster father. Holding that life-long grudge against him is detrimental to his own personal growth. Walking a long distance with baggage only slows you down. He should let go. As they say, a frog whose mouth is full of water cannot swallow even an ant.

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  1. I like his rawness. His ability to just say things as they are. Not trying to be politically correct. I love he’s found his love by blood too.

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  2. “She likes when I do things for her, and I like using my hands.”

    “That’s what he said.” … I read that in Michael Scott’s voice haha.

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  3. Fathers should know that paying school fees isn’t love. I applaud mothers , they are just pillars to their children’s future and boys are sensitive than girls, they never forget and forgive easily

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  4. “Marriage can’t hide who you are or what you want, it just puts it on hold because at some point you can no longer ignore the things you want or be who you are” ~ Mhenga alinena

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  5. Foster father killed the man’s manhood. It’s no wonder he cooks for and washes after his “queen” of a wife, pandering to her every whim. That said, I think his stepping out to father his own blood child was a boss move. Clearly not all was lost.

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        1. You can’t hide your self from you,what you do is ignore it and try to kill it.If you love doing something regardless of the gender,just do it,you owe no one explanations.

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      1. I agree this one has lost the whole plot!!! His understanding of this story has left such a bad taste in my mouth. He probably hasn’t experienced any success at a relationship.. how can he when he imagines he is the only one to be served purely on the basis of his “manhood?” What chauvinism and utter lack of proper sense. And to imagine that that’s our dating pool.. Lord rescue us!. That relationship is successful because there is honesty and forgiveness not because of pandering and boss moves.

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        1. 1. I am happily married to a proper wife who understands her place as much as I understand mine. Your cocky assumption that I have never experienced success in relationships is therefore null and void.

          2. Throwing big meaningless words like toxic masculinity and chauvinism will not reinvent the wheel.

          3. The subject of Biko’s story today is damaged by dint of childhood trauma. He has hence grown to be weak as a man. If my understanding of the story leaves a bad taste in your mouth, that’s your problem, not the world’s.

          4. I’m tempted to similarly assume you are probably a lonely over 30 year old woman struggling to find a man, but I will refrain.

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          1. Thanks for taking the time to further establish the depth of your misogyny in point form no less lol. If my comment hadn’t hit a nerve, you wouldn’t have taken the time to share paragraphs in response to it. Funny how you use the word weak men while you’re out here in the comment section serving emotional outbursts punctuated with insults to people you don’t know. But good luck in your “happy” marriage. 🙂

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    1. Hush, I wanted to say something harsh but there is no point. This is what I will say; Being male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of age. But being a gentleman is a matter of choice.
      #Outshallah

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      1. Mr. Clif, I am Hush and harsh is my bowl of uji. Mr. Ras here is male thanks to genes. He is a man now thanks to time. I have my reservations as to whether he is a real man thanks in one part to childhood trauma and in another part to too much feminine energy around him. If pedestalizing women is what amounts to being a gentleman in your book then I’m going to have to sit this one out. My views are my views bro, your feelings towards my views are immaterial and inconsequential. No apologies.

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    2. Imagine reading such a story and all that you picked was a man washes dishes, in his house, the dishes probably bought with his money and then deduce that to mean lacking manhood! Ah, as if being a woman is bad thing. A man can wash dishes in a hotel and be considered hardworking, a man can wash dishes for his mother and be considered a gentleman but a man washes dishes in his house, dishes he uses he is considered weak… lol… A man, born of a woman should not be thinking like you. You can do better

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    3. I have a feeling that if you look closely enough, you will see Hush shouting “you are the prize!!” on Twitter every Saturday. If you know you know 🙂

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      1. Did you just preface your comment with “I have a feeling..”? Well, I have news for you. Your feelings count for nothing in these spaces.

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  6. Wow.
    Aki watu huku nje wako na stories to tell. Weh.
    So grateful that you get to tell their stories Baldy, I mean,Biko.
    Reading these stories feels so surreal sometimes. Like wow, an actual human being went through that

    I totally understand this person for not wanting to go to the foster father’s funeral. I think I wouldn’t go too.

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  7. All kids deserve loving parents but not all parents deserve kids if they cant love them like God intented for kids to be loved.

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  8. oooh… that was hard.
    But I would have liked to know more about the Baby Mama he used to fulfil his dream of blood relations

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  9. Tough….Reading this I respect all the dads who love their foster kids unconditionally. They are rocks in an ever shifting world of emotions and insecurities.

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  10. I am now an adult; I tell myself if I ever get to raise my brothers, sisters or strangers kids, I do so as my own.
    Being wounded for reasons such as this really hurt. My childhood could have been better and so could his.
    Nice read.

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  11. sometimes one has to let go and let God be….somethings in our childhood shapes the character in our adulthood.

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  12. This post has taught me about selfishness, and how it can affect generations. The single act of not giving, not compromising, or considering others in our decisions, but it has also taught me about forgiveness and how it’s important to forgive if you want to move forward in life. Beautiful piece Biko thank you for taking your time to write. I appreciate it. I have seen content creators on youtube posting Paybill numbers for support of content creation. Perhaps you can do the same or a monthly subscription? so we could support and appreciate the work you do? Your posts give us value, you too should get value back for the investments you put into it. My thoughts and opinion though.

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    1. I support. I read and reread Biko’s blogs. I would happily make a financial contribution as my appreciation for the pleasure i derive from his great content.

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  13. Interesting story. I think this guy, now being an adult should revise how he judged his step father.
    My father rarely spoke to us beyond greetings. I know he was my real dad because I have heard several relatives including his sisters say that I look, walk and speak like him even though he had a limp, which I do not have.
    When my dad decided to whack us, he’d ask that we each bring our own stick. If one brought a short one, he’d beat him or her with it until he couldn’t use it anymore and then ask for a “proper stick”. It did not matter whether you were already wailing loudly from the first beating. I literally thought that he didn’t like me as much as the rest of my siblings. But guess what ? I miss and never hated my late dad and it was only after I became an adult that I realized what he went through, at least financially, bringing us up.
    Micheal could have put his foot down and rejected this guy completely from the onset. Most men would. He didn’t. The kids were rarely beaten and one day the fellow gets a slap and later learns that he is adopted. Emotions begin to cloud his judgement. Granted, his step dad discriminated against him in subtle ways but other parents also do the same against their own kids.
    This guy was even schooled at USIU !!!! That university where the rich take their kids !!! Not Kabiaga or a TVET institution !!! – by a guy who IS NOT HIS DAD – and he hates him so much ?
    He ought to hear stories of parents who refuse to provide for their own flesh and blood even though they are in a position to ….
    I don’t know – I apologize if I am being mean, but I see a misplaced sense of entitlement – excusable in the case of a child – repugnant coming from a grown up man.
    I think this guy should “release his step dad” and be grateful for what he provided – some “Bitterness is like taking poison and hoping that someone else gets hurt by it.”

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    1. Michael did many things right. The moment his human side showed up, it was held against him to….death.
      It’s not a popular opinion, but I believe he was a good person/father..to a child borne not of his loins.This is not in any way intended to excuse the nuances of discrimination, but let’s give ceaser his due. He did well as a provider.
      But hey Mr. you know where it pinches most. You have every right to feel the way you do. I pray you heal from your trauma and truly let your father rest.

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    2. I disagree with your statements. His “father” made him feel like an outsider his entire life. Financial investment in hs education could not make up for the emotional torture he had to endure and being told he would not amount to anything. He does not owe Michael forgiveness or even gratitude. Like he said, his mother would force the guy to do these things for him. We have grown up with the narrative that we need to forgive our aggressors. No we don’t owe them anything. You only owe it to yourself to heal which I am glad he is doing.

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      1. @Nandibae, I shallowly judge that you are a millennial girl, still unburdened by worries.

        Please revisit this comment when you start paying school fees and providing for your own, and then judge how compassionate one has to be to cater for a totally unrelated child. Not even your sibling, niece, nephew or distant relative.

        News are awash with worse parents throwing their own blood in water wells.

        Michael did just fine.

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        1. @MeheMehe you judge right on the millenial bit.I suspect you are a millenial too if you were born between 1981 and 1994. On the shallow bit, you could not be more wrong. I got depth. I work on myself but I also realise that I do not have to forgive my aggressors. I let go alright but they do not deserve forgiveness. So I will stand by my sentiments, emotional hurt and self esteem take years to heal or buid up. So Michael should not be forgiven simply because he paid USIU fees. He could have stood his ground when the wife brought the boy home but he half heartedly agreed to it then goes ahead to crush the boy.

          PS: If I would not raise a child that is not mine unless I was absolutely certain I would love them to death and treat them the same as my own

          9
          1. @Nandibae, I respect your view.

            And yes, based on you definition, am a millennial too.

            In marriages, not everything the other partner does is agreed with 100% between partners, and Ras’s adoption may have been a compromise on Michael part to appease the wife, just like Ras’s wife has compromised and forgiven with him for his philandering.

            Someone in the comments has alluded to selfishness, and I second too. Its one-sided view that drove him to intentionally spite his benevolent provider, most prominently with his dreadlocks. Its selfishness that drove him to tie down his wife, knowing too well he would change goalposts midway. Its selfishness that drove him still to sire a child out of wedlock without even exploring adoption.

            Am sad to think that the parent that left him to the streets shared the same selfishness, and didn’t want her life interrupted by an innocent child. Ras should cut the chain, for his son’s sake.

            FYI, my school fees up to university have been paid by a step-dad. One that I restricted from coming to visit me in high school because he would always scold me in front of my school mates for no reason. But am grateful, and we are in the best of terms.

            Inshallah!

            17
          2. I’d what to think you meant, you’d forgive but not reconcile because healing begins with letting go; forgiving.

    3. I agree with you. While one ought to be self-conscious enough to see and feel injustice, one is also bound to be grateful for the numerous small positive things, some of which you mention. Growing up in a family is one. Having basic needs provided for. Anyway, there are two perspectives to look at this story from: as a victim or as a beneficiary.

      4
    4. Bruv, take a pill and chillax. Like most things in life, hurt is relative and unique to each and everyone of us. It’s like wealth, I was recently watching the Singleton series and apparently Sanaa used to live in a 55 K apartment ( ebu just say that in a Kiuk accent? You have? That is an effing lot of money man!) Anyhu, I digress, see she could comfortably afford this when she had a job. And that is half my salo for a project am doing this month. Moral of the story, drugs are cool na unaeza nichangia.

      2
    5. Even if he provided for him,he made him feel unwanted like he didn’t belong.And that’s the worst thing you can ever do to someone.To make them feel like they are not welcomed.He mentally and emotionally abused him inspite of being there financially.

      3
    6. I am passionate about psychology and its everyday effects on people, and I can tell you that everything we become as adults, is due to something that happened to us, that we experienced, that we lived…as children.
      That child who experienced whatever it is, good or bad, is still stuck in all of us and to a very great extent determines the people, the personalities or the character that we have and become. We all carry wounds and some of us can identify the origin (like the subject of the story), some of us have no idea why we behave the way that we do, or why certain things traumatise us so much. You see, the mind is also a powerful thing and can bury things in there that even you don’t know are there until one day a trigger brings it all rushing in. In that sense then, there is no difference between the man and the child in how they perceive their father. This father clearly also had wounds of his own which made him treat his adopted child like he did.
      Perhaps one day when he has had an opportunity to completely heal or heal enough from his own trauma, he may finally be able to let go of his feelings of hatred. It is a difficult process and one can only work on themselves, especially because it would be sad to keep perpetuating the same behaviour and treating our own children or others the way that we were treated.

      1
    7. I respect your opinion, however, do not confuse having good things with having a broken heart. He missed the love from the dad. Money spent in USIU would not buy his father’s love or even the one he never got from his own biological mother. It’s easy to say he is not appreciative of what was given to him but do not ignore what destroyed his esteem, things that would not be bought with money unfortunately. Anyway that’s a good story may he one day learn to forgive the dad. God bless his mum.

  14. Powerful story eye opener. Thinking about my past and it brings back bitter memories that’s water under the bridge. Good insight too.

  15. He didn’t not feel loved by the father
    ..”he heard the parents arguing ,”i did not ask you to bring him to our home,”.

    His father did not choose him but his mother did.
    His father did not love him unconditionally….
    His mother might have been the one who paid his fees to usiu…

    4
  16. Great story well told…thanks Biko for “a nose that acts as a comma to his innocence”. That line had me chuckling hard!

    6
  17. This story is incomplete, I swear. This is not the year of suspense considering the ravaging fourth/delta wave.
    Can we have a bonus part two?

    3
  18. First, I applaud Michael here, for allowing an ungrateful Rastaman into his house, feeding him, and paying his school fees up to USIU for Christsake.

    Down here, we associate USIU with the rich.

    Second, we attend funerals of people we have never met, just because they are relatives to our colleagues. Your heart sister deserved some empathy when laying her Dad to rest, even a technical appearance.

    Keep your grudges, but you are luckier than most whom have gone through worse mistreatment meted by their biological parents.

    Cut Michael some slack, even if for enjoying true love from his wife.

    23
    1. I get your argument, it is valid.If there is anything I’m learning it’s that all that is pointless when we do not connect emotionally with people&how we make them feel is more impactful than anything material.
      As for the grudges,well,I agree he needs to just get past that.

      2
  19. Never. That woman has done everything for me. Imagine how much compassion you have to have to take a baby that was left in the streets, a baby you don’t know, they could have bad genes, they could come from a family of witches, and you bring him home and tell your husband, we are keeping this baby. Imagine that level of love.

    May God bless Mama Ras. She is HEART for real…..

    What does marriage do again?

    Marriage can’t hide who you are or what you want, it just puts it on hold because at some point you can no longer ignore the things you want or be who you are.

    Whew!! Solid lessons on today’s blog….

    2
  20. This guy is just a big child. The foster dad although half heartedly accepted him in his nest. Some of us lived with biological fathers who hated us like we not related. The

    11
  21. Great write up as usual…
    A story well told.

    Goes to show why the society is filled with angry/bitter folks who are doing their best to hold it together, circumstances notwithstanding.

    Methinks most can relate,only that each background is different

    1
  22. …. Parenting is super hard. Relationships take honesty & forgiveness… Over and over again.

    I love your ‘mom’ already.. pilsner in hand notwithstanding.

    4
  23. Ah. This was a beautiful read. I love that he knows he has an outstanding bill and that he is waiting to pay it. If you are reading this Michael’s step-son’s person, please be gentle on him.. So say i

    1
  24. She later told him that he reminded him of one of The Wailers. It was bound to end in tears….
    saw what you did there BIKO 😉

    4
  25. Importantly, has this guy healed? This notwithstanding alionewa or somethings are of his own making. Biblically speaking, we eventually have to work on forgiving and being ‘proper’ people irrespective of what we have gone through. Get help if you have to. The road to heaven is narrow and only few find it and follow it.

    2
  26. Always a pleasure to read. Encouraging to see more men embracing therapy. 🙂
    Mum has a heart of gold <3

    1
  27. but women never forget betrayal. I know I will pay. I just don’t know how.”

    “And when.”

    this is so true,

    1
  28. You buried your foster father long ago, but it would be great to confirm that he’s physically dead. Real dead. Stark dead!

  29. If the bro is older it’s possible that he remembers when this new kid was brought into the house. & if the dad didn’t want him, maybe there were fights even back then. & the bro witnessed them & knew they were because of this kid & he felt some type of way about it. It might’ve raised some conflicting feelings for him as well.
    Anyway, this was a good one.

    7
  30. I gerrit. But this manis really badasd. You move goal posts for your wife, you have a son out wedlock, and you don’t atténd your foster father’s buriaĺ because he never showed you love, or compassion. But he channeled his resources into you and the present you enjoy is wrought from his money. If he really wanted you out that bad, he’d have you sent away. I admit he was a ťough father, but not beyond care. You were hurt by him, felt betrayed by the world. You and your foster father aren’t so far placed. I hear so much of him in you. You are truly damaged.

    4
  31. Does anyone else think of this father-son relationship is the same as Michael and Klaus relationship from The Originals?

    2
  32. He was taken in by the mother against his father’s wishes. He went against the wife’s wishes and had a child out of wedlock. He was shown compassion by his mother and forgiven for his transgressions but he cannot forgive his father?

    3
  33. When man mastered the art of domesticating animals, he went into the steppes and found a horse grazing. He tethered her and took it home. He fed her oats everyday because they were really tasteless but he felt that the horse ought to be grateful because she lived in a stable and was safe from the marauding wolves that roamed the steppes looking for horses to devour.

    However, he did not reveal to the horse that many a feral horse still manage to grow and give birth to their offspring. That living in a stable was more stressful than the freedom the steppes offered. He didn’t tell the horse that the day she shall cease to draw a plough was the day it would get slaughtered. But the chicken said, you should count yourself lucky. I saw my own mom peck my sibling to death when she sought nutrients the boss here couldn’t provide. Lucky you, the boss gets to ride on you. You are lucky. You are not like we chicken scrounging the ground all day long for worms and seeds.

    However, when the horse turned out to be not quite a strong one; when she failed to give birth (because that requires more than just feeding her; but finding her a mate), the man slaughtered her for there was nothing in the horse he would pride himself with, for having turned a feral horse tame.

    But who knows, that horse, left to its own devices, would have given birth to a line of mustangs? Woe unto you chickens thinking that living in the stable is all that there is to life.

    11
    1. John…and that attitude is what has most people living miserable lives afraid to stand up for themselves and discover their true potential. I heard this from a movie recently ‘Life is to be lived, not stuffed in a neat little box so as to control it’.

      2
  34. Distasteful.
    He just sounds ungrateful and selfish, both from what he chooses to remember from his upbringing and what he still holds and decides to act now.

    We all have traumas, but as an adult we can’t choose to blame our actions on choices other people made.
    Those kind of arguments are acceptable until a point in a man’s life when you grow up and choose to release.

    Why didn’t he feel the need to support his mother and sister while they were mourning someone they loved!? Attending the burial didn’t have to be about him and his ‘dad’.

    That’s my opinion on this one.

    4
  35. It’s the beauty and the style for me. So beautifully written Biko. You really are the master of this game.
    That aside, the foster father should not have agreed to the adoption if his heart was not in it. Taking him to USIU notwithstanding, belittling someone is a grave sin only forgivable by a sin offering. He would even have taken him to Inorero university but retained his dignity for Pete’s sake!

    1
  36. It’s just sad… I too burried mine long time hata Kama he is my biological father… He threw my self esteem through the window… Oh the hate…

  37. So many beautifully written lines!!
    Pain is indeed such a weird thing.
    As is perspective.

    So many things to think about.
    This story has been illuminating:)
    Biko, thank you for sharing your gift!!

    Uganda loves you!!

    1
  38. Some people are criticizing the man. I guess you’ve never been betrayed, abandoned, rejected …. Somethings break you beyond repair and you cannot trade forgiveness with anything, even if the foster father had bought him the world.

    2
  39. Well…the man should try appreciating the fact that the man did not throw him out of the house,as he aint his real son.

    He paid for him fees enabling him to pursue his ambition,of being an architect.

    He was fed and clothed.He had a roof over his head.

    On the other hand ,he wasnt well likes,loved and accepted by his foster dad. Which all a child seeks n desires.

    Money buys comfort not love.

    I pray he heals his inner child.For if his esteem was crushed by the dad he will have a difficult time forgiving his dad from the depths of his soul.

  40. There is always two sides to a story. His foster father took his side of it to his grave. All we have been fed here is Mr. Ras’s side of the story. His closeness to only his mother and sister is a stark red flag as to the credibility of his side of the story. We will never know.

    1
  41. “Marriage can’t hide who you are or what you want, it just puts it on hold because at some point you can no longer ignore the things you want or be who you are.” THIS IS THE TRUTH THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW, NOTHING LIKE I WILL CHANGE HIM/HER AFTER WE GET MARRIED.

    1
  42. ” Imagine how much compassion you have to have to take a baby that was left in the streets, a baby you don’t know, they could have bad genes, they could come from a family of witches, and you bring him home and tell your husband, we are keeping this baby. Imagine that level of love. She is the only person on earth who loves me unconditionally.” This here made me shed tears.

  43. A grown ass man, that takes his adoptive mother for holidays in Mombasa,
    mostly alone,
    taking Pilsners along the Beach,
    with a pet name ‘Beach Girl’
    but has left his wife back in Nai.

    Loves the adoptive mom, but despises the late hubby. Was he being jealous?

    Is my mind in the gutter here?
    I need wash wash for cleansing.

    5
  44. Gratitude even for the little is better than none.

    The dad according to him never really wanted him thus he felt like he did not belong.

    Maybe we should have a part two from the siblings n the mom.

  45. Our guy here is very ungrateful! You’re taken to USIU, smacked just once and such little things make you hate your adoptive dad this much??? You should have seen how some of us were treated by our biological fathers. ENTITLEMENT

    1
  46. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
    Maya Angelou

    6
  47. Such ungrateful step – son , you are demanding so much from someone who is not even you biological dad ur not his responsibility , if you felt what he offered was not enough you could move out live in the streets or get a job and pay your own school fees ,also get the chance to follow your dreams an do the stuffs your step father discouraged you . Instead of staying in that house complain and doing nothing

  48. I applaud Ras for choosing his own path! Adoption is not a favour for “destitute” kids!

    Reading the comments here is a reminder that many people have no business having children, they think they are doing the children a favour by providing for them, etc. These children did not choose to come into the world so they are your responsibility and you need to love them right and this goes way beyond providing their material needs. If you are going to hammer at them how they “owe” you for everything you did for them and constantly break them, do not have children! Be like Mrs. Ras, if you don’t want to have them then so be it, in a society where people are constantly asking when you are having kids, and after you have the first one they keep asking when the next one is coming, do not bow to societal pressure just to tick the box.

    2
    1. Exactly. I 100% support the baby did not choose to be born nor did he choose to be thrown out in an alley on Sheikh Karume road. It was the responsibility of the adults who took him into their care to love him unconditionally. T

  49. Hi Biko nice article there. kindly consider writing some series of articles on men’s health- mental conditions such as depression.- it is currently a menace in our society. suicides are on the rise and men rarely seek counselling or health care. we need to do something for this course.. Thanks.

  50. Definitely the dad was favoring his sons which is unfortunate. I must say your mum was strong because for sure those times of you being rebellious were hard on her, it only takes a strong woman to do that. I personally think i need help in raising my son, i find myself really strict with him and after reading this i think i need to bring him back to me. Any one please recommend someone to help me achieve this.

  51. 1. Beautifully written Biko, keep it up!
    2. I can only imagine the psychological trauma & I hope he eventually heals
    3. He comes out as ungrateful, unforgiving& plain selfish.
    4. Tafadhali, comment section iwe brief..mini-blogs huchosha kusoma..don’t steal the show!

    1
  52. Only the wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches most………and just like grief; people take different angles to heal and come to terms with what happens in their lives. I’m learning how to judge less and to see good in everyone.

    Beautiful story Biko as always; I however feel a lot was left out and so……I’m putting out a plea for Part 2: thanks in advance

    1
  53. I wish people would be kind and help you uphold your self esteem because no one really knows what it takes to build it at a later or older stage unless they do it

  54. She later told him that he reminded him of one of The Wailers. It was bound to end in tears, only it didn’t. It ended in a 12year old marriage and a child out of wedlock.

    Well, if that line didn’t sink in, I wonder what else would.

  55. I grew up at my aunt’s. She took me from the poor village life into the city life with street lights and a large TV screens in the house. I listened to Westlife and UB 40 on DVD player. As a kid,I had almost 3 large suitcases full of clothes and uncountable shoes. I went to a private school where kids spoke English. My folks back at home lived in a grass-thatched mud house. That was back in the 90s. My elder sister who remained in the village, got pregnant in class 7. She had to repeat several times, at some point coming behind me in class.
    My aunt was violent and crazy. At some point she would be the sweetest human around but that would last only a few moments. The rest would be moments of tears and fear. Just a small mistake, she would whip me using her husband’s belt. When I started learning how to cook ugali, she would make me eat my watery ugali until I vomited. All this time,she sat and watched with a belt in hand. Even after vomiting, she would ensure I finished the whole of it; all because I couldn’t make proper ugali. I lived in fear. Unable to talk to anyone. I ran from home several times to spend the night out in a nearby church, I remember the cold and how I would try to squeeze myself in a corner to keep warm. At some point,a person or two would be praying the whole night. Ooh their prayers were loud I remember, I was scared of being seen so I would squeeze myself under the pews. Now I look back and see how little I was! I was little, in lower school! She once bit my hand so badly that one of my fingers got swollen, years later I would notice that one of my small fingers is bigger than the other (apparently it’s the finger bone that got a permanent swell, you can imagine how bad it was), I was only a kid! Not a rebellious one but a soft spoken, shy little girl.
    My fellow kids admired my beautiful clothes and shoes that she bought, and how many they were. She plaited my hair weekly, it was long and beautiful. I looked beautiful. But I was suffering, and I was a kid, I didn’t know.
    My friends would want to come over to my house, you know kids. But I couldn’t bring them, I was afraid, so much afraid I would cry sometimes in the evenings as I went back home from school. She would give me money, like 20 (this was a big deal back in the day) bob, daily, and I would buy the snacks and give them out to my classmates without tasting. Simply because I didn’t want to go back with the money at home, out of fear that I would be beaten for doing so.
    She would take me back home, maybe once in a year to visit, and I remember my siblings crying so badly that they also wanted to come live with us in the city. They wanted my shoes and clothes, they wanted my hair, I envied their freedom. I prayed not to go back, I literally did,and I thought God would work a miracle because that’s what I was taught in Church. Well you imagine the holidays did end and I had to go back. I would cry so bad my mother would get worried for me, but she didn’t have an option because my dad insisted that education is better in the city. I remember my mother buying me bananas to console me. And I remember crying the entire journey, passengers would be worried for me, but the conductors who were given instruction to drop me would tell them to just leave me alone I will soon be quiet.
    Years passed by, the same harsh treatment, the fear increasing year by year. Me keeping everything to myself because I had no one to talk to.
    I finally joined a national highschool, having passed brilliantly.
    And that’s where trouble started, I tasted freedom and for once I adamantly refused to go back to my aunt’s. I started operating from home. Coming back for holidays to spend with my family and going back for a term. I was rebellious for two straight years, going clubbing at the locals with other village kids and it took a long time of prayers and effort to get me to focus on school again.
    Long story short, I finished high school, and eventually campus. But there’s a huge difference between me and my siblings. I’m never successful with relationships, I prefer being on my own, I don’t know how to share my problems with anyone, I wonder how it’s possible for people to even share their issues, I have a resentful attitude, I am quiet and in my corner mostly. My siblings are free spirits, adventurous and more outgoing. Even my sister who was once ridiculed for giving birth at such a young age, appears to be much happier than me.
    On the other hand, I’m more giving than they are. I give out a lot, money,time. They tend to think more about themselves more than any other person. Not to say they are selfish people but they are the type to take care of themselves first. I take care of others first before I think of myself.
    I envy how free they are yet I’m still trying to hide myself in a little corner.
    I might have had access to the best life, clothes,shoes, food, school, but they had parental love. They were sorrounded by love, growing up. I was sorrounded by fear.

    I totally relate with this guy. Hugs ❤️

    12
    1. Hi Belinda. Am sorry about the childhood trauma caused by your aunt.
      I have a story, not literally similar to yours.. but your last paragraph where you say, you always pouring out from an empty cup.. like giving, before giving yourself first caught me…
      I definitely would like to know how to handle this… Thats me. I dont know. Email? Contact?

      1
  56. Oh my! this made me cry, just like many of your stories Biko.

    To our friend, I hope he gets to heal and be strong enough to forgive his foster Dad, even in death. For his own peace of mind and freedom. It takes strength to forgive those who have hurt us, not age.

    To his wonderful Mum, Asante.

  57. Wow! Just Wow!

    I’d advise the guy to continue with therapy because healing would make him arrive at a place where he is no longer resentful to his biological parents and the late foster father. Also, such jackpot you have in a wife.

    You reminded me of a guy who started dating me knowing too well that drink. In fact, the first event we met at, he even bought me alcohol only for him to turn around and say he wouldn’t want a wife who drinks. Then I would tell him to go look for those ones who don’t drink and he would be like hapana…its you (me) to stop drinking. Its ridiculous and used to get irritated whenever we fought over alcohol. Anyway, it ended. Premium tears? I do not know

    1
  58. Why is it that we always remember the wrong things done to us more than the right ones. The father paid bills, bought clothes, housed him… and all he can remember are the fights that happened 1% of the time? I mean…

  59. Just as you refused to forgive the elderly guy, your wife will bring up the topic of betrayal, and you will lose. You must mature. If you had attempted to follow old man’s instructions, I feel that things would have been different.
    Boy USIU is one of the most prestigious universities that our parents could not afford, and you are resentful of the man who made the sacrifice to cover the entire tuition.
    You are in grave danger.

    1
  60. what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. His mom and sister loved him, appreciated him, regardless of how the other two treated him. I love that for him.

  61. Cutting off people who bring you no peace or shrink you too little is okay. I am happy he chose therapy before marriage!

  62. People love arguing in this comments…suddenly you see just a simple story from different angles…of toxic masculinity and extreme feminization of a man, from bitterness and self esteem and that quote about men and gentlemen. He’s an interesting man though, picking a call about his father dying and then going ahead and soaking the kitchen towel with jik. Very interesting

  63. The man craved his fathers unconditional love, deep within he did not feel sufficiently loved by him. He is angry because of that.

  64. I think he is not the “”forgive and remember without pain”” person, definitely no one forgets, we only remember without pain….that’s forgiveness.

    Sad Michael passed on without you forgiving, i mean remembering without pain.
    Maybe its difficult for men, if it involves your manhood, maybe i don`t know cause am a woman, i do remember without pain……my meaning of forgiveness

  65. I think this story is so important. I am grateful he was so honest…family can suck sometimes. As someone hoping to adopt a child someday, I found him very enlightening.

  66. When you need kids and the other person wants a childless union, just walk away and marry someone you share common interests. This kind of compromise is called simping in the world of Men.

    1
  67. How ironic! He whinges on & on about how his dad never accepted him & was mean to him yet goes behind his wife’s back to sire a child & expects her to accept his son & help raise him what warped logic is that?! He refuses to forgive his foster father but expects his wife to forgive him & love the kid he really needs to grow up & take a long hard look at himself so many parallels btn his current situationship & his upbringing! Dude dont be giving up therapy just yet you still have a long way to go to understand the complexities of this life & give your dad the tribute he deserves. He could have thrown you out yet he didn’t & last time I checked USIU wasn’t that cheap either so hope u dont begrudge the fact that he didn’t send you abroad – after you admit you didn’t put in the work yet your siblings actually did & won scholarships so theirs was on merit not favouritism. You need to have an attitude of gratitude & stop being so self-centred!

  68. The last thing we need in this country and indeed this world is women climbing the high horse and pontificate about how to be a man. What could a woman possibly know about being a man? When we say this man is weak and it’s about time he manned, a good woman would stfu and take it as gospel truth.

  69. Biko this story has really touched the male kingdom.
    Have you ever seen such activity from the quiet male species as evidenced in this comment section.
    “My milk shake brings all the boys to the yard.” Kelis was wrong, father/son relations ndiyo mambo iko.

  70. “When people talk about events that shaped their lives, that morning was it for me,” he said. “It turned my life upside down. I feel like after that conversation with my mom, I led my life walking upside down. Nothing made sense but also everything suddenly made sense, does that make sense?”

    Yeah, it’s sensible.