The Silence Is No Longer A Mirror

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I stared at my dad’s elbows. They looked like a turtle’s chin. All aging people’s elbows look like a turtle’s chin. The wrinkles have wrinkles of their own. The bones look soft underneath. He was watering a bush of flowers using a water pipe. The bottom of his trousers were a darker shade, wet by the spray of the water pipe. He wore old sandals on his feet, like the ones Cushites wear to cross great spans of unforgiving deserts. He shuffled around, his back slightly stooped, splashing water on his bush of flowers, life and gravity finally keeling him over slowly. His dog, an unremarkable dog tethered under a tree, followed his master’s movement with a look of great tedium. 

Everytime I go to shags there is a new dog. Or puppies. Then the next time I visit, they are gone. They are all nameless because he doesn’t consider them to be an extension of himself and his boma. He sees them like everybody sees dogs in the village; as dogs. I had never seen this particular dog before, a dog that avoided eye contact as if it couldn’t trust its conscience. Maybe it was one of those puppies that grew into themselves. Maybe it wasn’t. The village is a landscape of dogs that simply pass through their dog lives; unrecognised, un-named, and loved simply by the act of being fed leftover scraps from the table. 

He finishes watering the bush and wedges the pipe between two tall trees. He’s scrupulously neat. My late mom scrubbed everything, washed everything, polished everything to within an inch of their lives. You could chop onions from our floor. Boil an egg from our kitchen sink. My father’s neatness carries on after her death; the boma is neat and organised. The hedges trimmed. No dead leaves rustling in the breeze. No old planks of wood left haphazardly sticking out. The trees in the compound are tended, flowers pruned, the kitchen garden fenced off, complete with a sturdy wooden gate. He’s a man of great routine, of studious order. It’s a wonder I’m his son because I’m his opposite; my space is chaotic, I drop things all over, I don’t return things to their rightful places, so you might find a cooking spoon in my potted plant, a corkscrew in my desk drawer or underwear behind the microwave – underwear that might or might not belong to me. Things belong where things find themselves. I never understand people who store sugar in jars labelled “sugar.” What fun is that? You want to open a jar and find salt or even find nothing because nothing is not necessarily the absence of something. 

My father’s life has always been fairly neat. It got messy for two years when I was in university, as a man’s life will tend to get messy once in a while, otherwise he has kept a fairly clean nose. Before us at least. This reflects in the boma that looks like a well-run camp. He doesn’t do chaos. He doesn’t want any creases on his sheet of life. 

Whenever I’m in shags like I am as I write this, I find him awake early on Saturdays. Actually, he wakes up early everyday, but on Saturdays, on Sabbath, he wakes up earlier, sits on a chair in the verandah, his spectacles as old as my seven-year-old son perched on his nose. He reads what SDA people know as ‘lessons” – pronounced, ‘leson.” I suspect they are scriptures, teachings, readings. With a pen and a dog-eared exercise book he reads and scribbles notes, often raising his head as if to let the teachings drain into his body, this body of Christ that he never once fed alcohol, weed, cigarettes or any form of intoxicants. He has been a complete teetotaller all his life, which simply means I’ve never seen him out of his element. 

Church has always been important to him. I feel like I spent the whole of my childhood, the whole of the 80s, in one SDA church or the other. Church was compulsory in our house. You didn’t say, ‘you guys run along, I think I will sleep in today.” Unless you were on your deathbed, you went to church and it started in the morning, by 8:30 am and dragged on painfully like a Choo Choo train until 2pm, and by this time you were famished and weak, your lips chapped, your soul resentful and your spirit nursing a runny nose. Repeat next Saturday. That wasn’t spiritual nourishment—it felt like subjugation of the spirit. 

And it was traumatic. I remember sitting there thinking, when I grow up nobody will ever make me sit in a pew against my will again. I will lounge about in my underwear every Saturday, because surely, have I not paid my debt to God my whole childhood? Adulthood? I remember my dad’s dedication to Sabbath. How he would carry many bibles; one in English and the other in DhoLuo—maybe to confirm that the white man hadn’t misquoted the good Lord. I don’t know if there is any Luo who reads Swahili bibles. Show me one and I will show you a liar. He’d always wear a tie to church—even when we went to shags. I guess it dignified him before the Lord. I remember how tall he seemed, standing in church next to my mom, singing hymns, turning the pages piously, delicately as if any sound from that action might upset God.

At some point, we’d be separated to join the children’s service at the back of church with thousands of other children clucking like hens. It was bedlam; children everywhere, some in goddamn bow-ties. Do you know how cruel you have to be to stick a bow-tie on your child’s neck? It was easy to get lost or stolen in that melee of a crusade but nobody stole children back then because people had an average of five children each so why bother stealing others? Where would you keep them? Also, I don’t think my parents would have noticed if one of us went missing until after we had piled up in the car after service and my mom turned back in her seat to do a headcount and ask, “Where is Biko? Go back and look for him. Tell him if he’s not here in one minute he will see.” 

While my mom ran our house like it was a Russian Gulag—threats, intimidation, and corporal punishment—my dad led by stony silence. He said little. He sat in his favourite chair, the throne, behind his veil of books, newspapers, and rhumba music, dispensing a daily dose of mystery. He hardly got involved in the normal noisy domestics of the day, but when a case escalated to him, a case for which my mom had raised her hands in surrender, you knew shit had hit the fan. He would put you in your place with a withering stare and a scathing rebuke that would be like a furious gale that had blown through you, disorienting your organs and disarranging your feelings, then as suddenly as it had come, it would be gone. This was directed towards myself and my two brothers, never towards my two sisters, who I never heard him raise his voice towards or rebuke. Mostly he was silent, it’s my mom who couldn’t shut up. 

His silence felt like it was both his weapon and his armour. In contrast I would sit with my mom a lot and she was a talker, a storyteller, full of hyperbole and funny quips. Her sarcasm would slice through a tree. Sitting with her and talking to her opened a window that allowed me to see who she was beyond being my mother;  her insecurities and weaknesses as a person. I have no single recollection of sitting with my father to shoot the breeze—save for the brief conversations at the end of term about my performance; me standing stiff like a guard by his seat, him poring (disapprovingly) over my report form, asking me calmly why I keep failing in Math.

I don’t want to use the word enigma on him, it’s a word that casts too long a shadow. But he was a small mystery. I didn’t know his dreams or fears. I didn’t know what he felt about certain things, like about his own father, his own mother, his siblings, his work, his passion. What I knew of him was what was on the outside, the shell he showed the world, not what was inside of him. While he (and us alike) fed off from the tall mast of my mother’s sense of humor, he provided security, that knowledge that he was in charge, that we wouldn’t be breached from the outside. That it was all going to be okay. That was how he expressed his love, I guess. Men in those days loved differently. To be fair, I don’t know anybody we grew up with who sat with their fathers to talk or shared great laughs together. Fathers were like male buffaloes kicked out of the herd; you just didn’t dither around them too long. You always kept them at arms-length. It was how we were all taught to respect them, by giving them a wide berth. 

But then I grew up, slowly and gradually and I started seeing him as a man more and more. I saw the clay feet to his golden statue. And perhaps because he started seeing me as a man, he started giving me space to find my manhood and that translated to me as this chasm of silence that kept growing and growing. He started looking like a ship that was receding towards the horizon, only its big bellow of smoke marking its presence. I didn’t see this as a bad thing, I just saw it as how men interacted with their fathers. The natural order of things. Once in university, a guy I know was visited by his dad and they drank together the whole night till 8 am in the morning. I was confused. It’s the first time I saw fathers differently. “The hell do you speak to your father about for a whole night?” Leave alone drinking together. 

When my mother died, the bridge that connected me to my father collapsed into the water. Now we had to talk, to communicate, but we were already old dogs incapable of learning new tricks. So the relative silence ensued but now it wasn’t a silence that I probed, I was already used to it. I was already a father myself, groping about in that darkness of fatherhood, his influence in this equation looming large over me. He married again, another very clean woman. I was in the village over this weekend and I looked at the carpet and wondered if she irons it daily. It looked abnormally clean and prim. He is happy again. It’s there in his steps, if you look. 

Because age is breaching him, and because he is my own living parent, I decided to try to speak to him, but it’s difficult. Conversations trickled out after niceties. It’s about the rain, or my kids, or his locum, a lecturing gig he does at a teachers’ college in the nearest town or often he sits there listening to his radio and reading his bible and I sit there on my phone watching a video of someone almost breaking his neck rescuing a cat. We can also go weeks without speaking and it’s not abnormal, the silence is no longer a mirror we are afraid to look at. 

The one thing, the only thing I know my dad loved more than anything else is not only cars, but driving. I remember all his cars because of how he treated them. First, there was a Yamaha Enduro KJZ 731, a motorbike that he rode while sporting his big beard and tight shirts of the early 80s. Then came a blue Volkswagen KDJ 571, with its engine at the back. He washed it all the time. Then came a Peugeot 404 KNF 134, that looked like a finned animal. He washed it too all the time. Then a Peugeot 505, KYB 195, his retirement car, an old jalopy, that he used diligently until birds started living in it. He washed that as well, all the time. When I think of his cars, I think of how clean his cars always were.

Because his language of love is cars, one-time last year I visited shags and after my stay, after prayers, bags in the boot, we stood saying goodbyes by the car he assumed was one of the usual car hires I would normally pick from Kisumu. I gave him the car keys and told him, “It’s yours.” I had waited so long for this moment. I had wondered what he’d say, what emotion he would show, because remember, I hadn’t known him to show emotion. He was in shorts, he had woken up early to cut grass around the boma. He looked at the keys, confused. I said, “It’s your car.” He looked at the car and looked at me and he chuckled. “You bought me a car?” I said I did. He shook my hand and said “Ruoth omedi.” I was with two friends of mine and later one of them said, “Your dad is gangsta, man. Never betraying one emotion.” It was at that moment that I realized something—something that has been obvious from the beginning—that we are so alike, my dad and I; emotions embarrass us. And that we express gratitude and happiness in our own way. He washes that car all the time. 

On Father’s Day, I was going through our SMS correspondences and I realised that we don’t even talk on messages that much. Most are Saturday scriptures, Bible verses he sends after which he wishes me good health and messages of him thanking me for MPESAs I send him. I realise that my messages to him are a direct response to his messages and hardly ever out of my own volition. I think as he grows older, I want to know that I took care of him, filling the silence with acts of generosity. Our language of communication, it is apparent, is through MPESA. 

He’s 72. He’s growing old and frail.  It’s evident. His face is what you would describe as elderly. As I grow older, I understand my father’s silence more. It’s no longer loud. It’s muted now. Like watching someone play the violin under the lake. I have learned acceptance, that we are not meant to be friends. That he is who he is and I am who I am, which in great parts is an extension of who he is. So I am who he is, without being all he is. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs. 

I never imagine that I will one day grow old like my dad. When I was in my teens, 30-year-olds looked ancient. Don’t even get me started on the 40-year-olds; they seemed to be on the edge of their graves. Now, at 43, I look at my father at 73 and can’t even fathom that I will get there. I imagine youth to be my heirloom. But I will get there if God allows and I hope my children don’t relate to me like we relate to my father; at a distance, a cautious relationship without a language. I hope I don’t sit in a verandah waiting for Tamms and Kim to call, or to show up with a bottle of whisky, tiptoeing around me, conversations strained, feeling like poking a dead lion with a stick.

I hope when I’m gone and someone asks my children; did you know him, what kind of a man was he? I hope they don’t stare blankly at a wall for long periods of time and then whisper, “You know, I really don’t know.” 

Happy Father’s Day (I wrote this on Sunday, so it’s still Father’s Day in my head) to my pops, if he ever reads this, and to all the dads reading this. 

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102 Comments
  1. You have just described our household, my father is very quiet, rebukes once and goes back to his quietness. However, growing up i was closer to him than my mum, he used to bring me magazines from school to read, we would go on trips, and when he went to buy his first car, i was with him. Then as we grew up, he grew more silent. My mother on the other hand is very talkative, engages us. Though i have no memories of my time with my mum growing up we have tried to make our relationship work.

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  2. The car, that was something. He must have been happy in the heart.
    Also, is this a quote somebody said, coz I loved it, its deep in its own sense, “nothing is not necessarily the absence of something.”

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  3. This reminds me of when i tried to wish a happy father’s day to my dad.
    Dad:Hello. Is everything okay?
    Me:Yeah. Just wanted to wish you a happy father’s day and thank you for everything.
    Dad:(Akward silence).
    Me:(feeling hot all over) I also wanted to ask for some upkeep money..
    May our fathers live forever

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  4. “That he is who he is and I am who I am, which in great parts is an extension of who he is. So I am who he is, without being all he is. “

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    1. It’s a shocker, that realization that we’re more like our parents than we thought – both the bad and the good

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  5. Happy Father’s Day to your pops and you too. And to all amazing dad’s and fathers because with time, I have learnt that there is a difference between these two.

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  6. The desire to live out differently while appreciating the past always will make us adjust and make changes where necessary

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  7. For a guy who doesn’t talk much every word spoken is pure gold so am dying to know what does ruoth omedi mean?!

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  8. Happy Father’s day pops Biko. You are a father to many. You have fathered many writers. You are and always be pops Biko.

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  9. We all show emotions differently ,especially if raised by Fathers who just by the look you toed the line .Completely related to this story but happy I can talk to my mzee freely after years of awkward silence and small talk.

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  10. I feel this. My late dad was my friend, terrible husband, but my friend. He’s the only one to date, who knew me and would’ve crossed rivers for me. Happy Father’s day to him, you and yours

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  11. Happy fathers day to him!

    I guess this is how our dads are, I have learned to graciously not make suggestions or advise him about his farm, small business or anything, it’s the easiest way to cause a disagreement. We wait for him to make suggestions and then we support. My dad forgets to acknowledge Mpesa somehow and you have to confirm on your next call.

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  12. Biko, I buried my dad last Saturday. Growing up we were never very close because of many dynamics in the big family. Then I grew up and my mom passed on. I realised he is the only parent I have. We became buddies. When he passed on all the 25 of us his children (okay we are not a family but a Group) were bereft with sadness. I am the only one who called him by his name, Dan. So you find us seated somewhere and I be like, so you see Dan, this is what I am thinking. Guys around the table think maybe I am his employee or something but then the resemblance is unmistakable. Then he says, this is my son Tom. Tom meet so and so. Unlike many parents of his time Dan was an open book, showing his love openly. But also very firm. Never argued a lot. Preferred to have his fists win arguments for him. I will write more about him soon.

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  13. Wow,
    What a piece. Yiur expwrience Biko is not isolated from many we fellows went through. Hardly do I remember having a discussion with my old man, albeit briefly when he gave all the attention to discuss my report form.
    Growing up, it was funny that we felt dad loved his cows more, than perhaps he loved his own kids. His first stop every evening, before he got into the house was to inspect if his cows were well feed. The cows knew him, they knew when he was approaching and they would rise up and moo in the amusement of his arrival- with his torch.
    He turns 70 Novemebr 26th and yes, we try to strike a conversation, but he will never tell you how he feels, not even when he is unwell.
    A stickler of order, time and discipline, he has been a mentor to many and spending time with his is always a blessing. He is a real comedian who probably missed appearing on stage for the glory of all those who cherish a healthy laughter.
    Happy father’s day to all legends.

    6
  14. My dad is a talkative person so there was no way you could sit in the same room and not talk. My first encounter with my father-in-law and his sons(my husband included) was so weird to me. They visit the father and sit in silence for hours! And that is their norm. I now realize that, but still find it extremely weird.

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  15. Your father sounds a lot like mine, it’s been 12 years since he rested. Reading this has brought tears to my eyes. He used to communicate in stares and things would get done.

    Happy belated Father’s day to your dad.

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  16. Ruoth Omedi means May God add you more. Also this was very well written. I loved it! Happy Father’s day to you Biko.

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  17. “You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs” Whew!!!!

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  18. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs.
    This got me!

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  19. I love your deep analysis of your Dad. He loved differently but love all the same. My Dad is quite the opposite. Many stories, some repeated severally but I listen all the same as if I am hearing it for the first time. I have glommed so many lessons from such stories over time. One aspect he shares with your Dad though is the love for God and Church. It was so compulsory to go to church on Sunday unless we had gone to visit my grandparents. We could only visit on Sunday. Saturday was for planting, weeding or harvesting and could not be wasted on such activities as visiting relatives. Long live our Dads.

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  20. Interesting. My father was the same. Never showing emotion and somewhat aloof. We only used to talk when I need something (where something = money). You know, because fathers are providers blah blah.

    Then I think he figured he’s growing old and all the birds flew out of the nest. Except this one *points at self*. So now he’s gone full out. He’s talkative, he wants to tell you about his day, he’ll offer you a sip of his drink or offer a ‘softer’ version because he has no idea that I’ve blacked out on Gilbeys. And I don’t know how to deal with this version of him.

    Otherwise, Happy Father’s Day all ye non-deadbeat, present, made-of-steel, men. We appreciate all versions of you 🙂

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  21. Happy Father’s Day to you and all fathers…
    He is a great father, most of the old generation of our African Fathers were cut from the same cloth; gangsta dads who rarely show emotions and the ‘golden silence’ speaking only when necessary…
    However as we come of age, the silence disappears; the communication improves and we are able to spend time together & have free man to man talks…

    1
  22. Growing up my dad would tell us stories, folklore complete with the accompanying music which we would dance to. even now we can chat away for hours. He is my go to when I want analysis of the country’s politics. Happy (belated) Fathers Day to him.

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  23. A good article honest and straight to the real Dads happy fathers day I am a retiree and the write up resonates well with me

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  24. Does your daddy read your blog? If he does am.sure he’ll read this and never mention to you that he read it!

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  25. Your description of that relationship is deep Biko. The bond is evident though unspoken. Happy Fathers’ day to both of you. and to all fathers reading this. May God grant you the grace to shoulder the enormous responsibility of fatherhood.

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  26. You don’t know what you have until you lose it,I lost my dad in 2018.We weren’t close really but his presence is missed,his absence loud.Happy father’s day,to all fathers and fathers-to-be.

  27. A great tribute to your dad. I sure hope he reads it, or one of your siblings brings it to his attention. It’s deep, and very moving.
    It may be a matter of socialisation, how boys/men were socialised in that era, that made them turn out like that, silent and uninvolved in the domestics; save when it came to providing for the home, and paying fees.
    My late dad was born in that era but he turned out different, possibly because his dad was very very harsh, a disciplinarian. Dad shared how terrified he was of his father. He was the last born and his mom’s pet; so he turned out to be a friendly gentleman, always jovial and constantly joking, very humble despite his position, and known for avoiding confrontation.
    Looking back, and hearing stories of many dads makes my dad seem more of a brother and best friend, than a father. I miss his stories and wish I’d have done something big for him like buy him a car, or gone on a vacay with him.
    Happy Father’s day to every father, even those gone ahead of us.

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  28. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs.

    This is it.

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  29. “We can also go weeks without speaking and it’s not abnormal, the silence is no longer a mirror we are afraid to look at.” This is me and my dad, and there is completely nothing wrong with it. The last time I sent him a Father’s day message was when I got my first phone I guess, kaNokia fulani hapo. That message has been left on read it could’ve been celebrating its 12th on-read birthday last week. We don’t talk much, but eventually we figured out that our love language is fluent MPESA, but to the contrary, he bails me out more than I could possibly bail him in a lifetime. We could be over the phone then he is like, na kai utarihite nyumba? I beat around the bush trying to change the topic then a few minutes later, I see an MPESA message. May the good Lord bless our parents for us coz we can never repay them.

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  30. Woooow…
    “You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs”.

  31. Great read as always. You’ve challenged me to document my perception of my Dad too.

    Happy Father’s Day to him, you Biko, and all the Dads out there!

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  32. Happy Fathers Day Biko and to all Fathers in the Gang.
    I know it is late but it is Fathers week, si ndio?

    Please allow me to talk about my Dad.
    My Dad, like Biko’s was a quiet man, but only to those he wasn’t used to. My mum was the more outgoing and engaging one. She was the one who spanked the follishness out of me. My dad, my Father, never once laid a hand on me, on any of his daughters for discipline. Never ever. He sat us down, explained our wrong and often i would find myself crying because i felt so bad i did wrong!!
    My Dad had a huge sense of humour and would often crack us up in the evenings. We had this habit of boiling meat in chunks – he loved soup. And then he would sit with the chunk, cut it into pieces and we would then pass the plate around. And then back to him for a refill. My Dad brought home goodies like sausages, a special cut, etc. He always left a mark. I was doing my project/practicals in a hell hole of an institution for my Bachelors, guess who came to check on me? My Dad! He was over 60 by then and I lived on a 3rd floor. He and my uncle painfully climbed up. I cried. I will forever cherish that visit.
    Dad, was very very careful on the road, and it guts me that he died in a road accident, because of a stupid man who rammed into my Dad’s car. I am ashamed to admit my relief when i was told that the other driver also died. That driver changed our lives forever. I eventually forgave him but i miss my Dad, my Father, my friend dearly. His legacy lives through me and my siblings.
    If your parents are alive, love on them now.

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  33. “You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs. ”
    This made me cry – great read and happy fathers’ day to all dads, fathers, babas and papas

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  34. I was going to say that you are so much like your dad before you said it. Being comfortable alone and with silence, you got it from your dad.

  35. I laughed a lot, you’re so gifted my dad’s was KJZ 420 ..it was a car. He was quiet too, but loosened up quite a bit.. his language of love was hugs and good food. He’s always missed, can never be forgotten

  36. Biko, next time you sneak into my village, seek leave from me to evaluate my day. As a person, this geezer is a chip off your guy’s block. Without the extras, mine wasn’t, and still isn’t driving, yet.
    Maybe a year from now, I could also shock him and see whether he has Sicilian blood ( maybe his great Gramma was raped by one- Puzorian now)
    I think it was chic, and cool too, this churtzphar. When I think abt the farce I play around with my own sons.
    A real man needs be mysterious men!
    I loved!

  37. Very well written Biko….a great piece for/of your dad. I hope he gets to read it and I’d love to know what he says after he’s done reading. Probably the ‘gangsta dad’ he is will probably smile wryly and move on thinking…….this little boy doesn’t know me an inch .

    This made me miss my dad- gone 15years ago- I always wonder how look like today and what would make him smile or laugh. He had a special laughter- I always see him in crowds in CBD or in a moving mat and I cry rivers every so often. Cherish him while you can, shower him with immeasurable love of more gifts and heftier Mpesa etc.

  38. Me on Sunday: Happy Father’s day.
    Dad: Eh?
    Me: Mzungu alisema leo ni Father’s day.
    Dad: Nataka kahawa.

    This man is my heart. And I know he loves me to bits.

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  39. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs.

    I have read it like thrice at once then moved on!!!
    That hit deep somewhere on the inside

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  40. I am my father’s favourite child, I know it. I feel it.
    We rarely talk, we only exchange messages of goodwill on WhatsApp. Lakini tunapendana sana.
    Happy fathers day to mine, and to yours.

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  41. Never saw my dad,but this describes my relationship with my brother , he’s the first born and ata siwezi kaa na yeye for more than 5 minutes

  42. I can relate with the Sabbath part… your father’s still your father, and you’re a father; happy father’s day Biko…

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  43. My dad doesn’t go to church.
    I dont recall asking him questions,even about his childhood ,siblings and parents.

  44. I seldom converse with my dad.

    We sit in silence.

    My cousins will ,”ask why don’t you talk with your dad?

    I feared him,growing up ,seldom will we seat in the same place for more than 10minutes without me walking out.I was angry at him ,thus hindering our relationship.

    I also didn’t like him much while growing up,partly blaming him for problems in the family.

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  45. ‘Emotions embarrass us’ and yet this, is one of the most emotional reads I’ve had in a long time. Happy fathers day to both of you. (late but its still father’s day in my head)

  46. And I thought my relationship with my father was strange. Mostly, it’s about finances or some land. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers!

  47. This made me wonder how the children came into being seeing as their types were not much talkers?
    Him: Turn
    Her: Snores into over drive (their version of I have a headache)

    So happy father’s day to all fathers absent or present.
    My late dad 15 years on woulda been an extension of my elbow. Seeing as it is he died on my hands and my mom was still making her way to hospital.
    Haidhuru: My dad brought me up a female version of himself. Everytime I do something relatives exclaim so like her father. Tumekubali yameisha.
    Take care of your ol man. Take him on holiday to Lamu or even watamu. His new wife by his side. I guarantee you he will start talking

  48. With a pen and a dog-eared exercise book he reads and scribbles notes, often raising his head as if to let the teachings drain into his body, this body of Christ that he never once fed alcohol, weed, cigarettes or any form of intoxicants.

    I see where you are heading to..

  49. That’s me or is it we…and my military dad…he passed on without us knowing him…late mum was his exact opposite…this felt exactly like reading about our home…the only difference is my dad was a latter day teetotaler who loved his tipple during his earlier days.

  50. “He reads what SDA people know as ‘lessons” – pronounced, ‘leson.” I suspect they are scriptures, teachings, readings.” …
    “On Father’s Day, I was going through our SMS correspondences and I realised that we don’t even talk on messages that much. Most are Saturday scriptures, Bible verses he sends after which he wishes me good health and messages of him thanking me for MPESAs I send him.”

    Lessons are the major way that SDA dogma is taught to the SDA faithful. That pronunciation is the same in Uganda, ‘leson’!! Sending people “Saturday scriptures” is the SDA version of evangelism. Your dad really drank the SDA kool aid!

    It is so awesome that you got him the best gift he could wish for. May he live long and prosper. Next time tell us about his interactions with his grand kids.

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  51. The first and last time I wished him Happy Father’s Day was back in 2014. The guy didn’t reply or at least acknowledge receipt. Happy Father’s Day all the same.

  52. My language of communication to my pops is also MPESA. And he always messages me back wishing me good health and blessings for me and my kids. Phone conversations are shorter than a minute. We really have nothing to talk about, slightly longer conversations feel awkward. But I know he tries. Besides, we are now older and know what kind of mischief he got into that my mum shielded us from back in the day. So we know how human he is and not the enigma that we thought he was. I no longer judge him, I have cut him some much needed slack. To all the fathers, belated Happy Father’s Day. Be the best that you can possibly be. Show up for your child, s/he will always remember how you made her feel.

  53. Father’s are mysterious in my case. I grew up this way too; coincidentally I have an Adventist dad too. Awesome read.

  54. I also realised after the death of my father that I knew the shell/facade and role of the father but not the ‘man’.

  55. What a wonderful picture of peaceful retirement. Life in a clean, serene environment, surrounded with flowers and a well-tended garden, a faithful dog, a busy wife, but most of all, sitting quietly in intimate communion with God, through daily Bible reading. Then a surprise gift of a car from one’s beloved son. Isn’t this the way retirement should be? I like this picture. I’ve seen ugly and confused retirement pictures. This one really touched and inspired me. Reminds me of Bill Gaither’s words, “God is looking for a few good men.”

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  56. I teared up reading this post father’s day because my dad was like yours(can’t believe am saying WAS)and an agemate like your Dad.He passed on the 13th of Jan this year from heart issues.In his last months as we nursed him,he opened a bit mellow and giving up in the face of imminent death.Dad happy father’s day and rest in peace

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  57. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs.

  58. You spend your whole life trying to look at people in the way that you want to see them and you miss seeing who they actually are. And it’s your tragedy, not theirs.

  59. I don’t think there is a better writer, alive in the world than you, Biko. And I have thought about this many, many times. You have really worked hard to be this good. Thank you from UG.

  60. This just saved me from a boring session at the saloon. Asante!
    These days I get the urge to write about some interesting days I have, maybe I will need Biko’s Master class.