So today happens to be Fathers’ Day. And what kind of a son would I be if I don’t mumble a word or two about my good old man? Don’t get it twisted though, am not jotting this piece just so my conscience is clear, I mean every single word I put here.
You know those pensive moments when you just sit down under a calm mahogany tree or lie on your tiny bed on a hot afternoon and reflect on your past life? I’ve been having lots of those lately. I think about my childhood, I think about my early life, I think about my schooling, I think about my friends, I think about my siblings, I think about my mum, I think about my dad.
Thomas Omondi Were, a jack of all trades. A man who, despite his age, still believes reading is the key to all the pleasures of life. He who recently told my big brother and I that the difference between the richest people on this earth and the poorest is that the richest spend 90% of their time reading books to gain more knowledge. That Bill Gates, he who makes millions every passing minute of the day, wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning to read a book. Yes, you read that right. That a self-made billionaire with a bank account vast enough to feed our corruption-infested country for a decade, probably more, leaves his king sized bed at dawn to read a damn book. Yet I, a mere mortal who still has to spend an entire day in front of the computer typing baseless research papers for lazy oversees university students to stack a four figure amount in the bank, can’t stand a book in sight.
You ever been forced to tell your paps a white lie just so to get some little cash of his pockets? Am not gon’ lie that I haven’t. We all have. The difference with my old man is he knows when am lying. He tells me he knows am ripping him off but he sends the money either way. Who does that? I mean, if my kid in the near future approaches me with some cock-and-bull story about how he needs Ksh. 5000 for some non-existent trip to Disneyland, I would totally whip his broke butt red. Damn straight.
Mr. Thomas Omondi Were, or Japuonj¸ as he is commonly referred to by many, hasn’t exactly been the easiest of dads to grow around. If you looking for those dads that will take you shopping and buy you fresh new clads on Christmas eve, Omondi Were is not your man. If you looking for those dads that will have mercy on you when mum is planting her firm palms on your soft cheeks and perhaps beckon to mum to go slow, Omondi Were is not your man. If you looking for those dads that will take the whole family out on a picnic every boring Sunday afternoon, Omondi Were is soo not your man. My old man does not pamper you. Thomas Omondi Were says it’s the holidays everyone must go to ocha and everyone goes. No discussions! Thomas Omondi Were; he who tunes to Rhumba stations every boring Sunday afternoon and goes to sleep on the couch humming along to the miserable tunes but dare you switch to another station. Looking back, I still don’t think I’d have wished for any other father. He is just the perfect father figure.
And did I mention the son of a gun has a black belt in karate? Yes, my old man can whop ass too. We’ve never really been gifted the honor of watching him in action and see what he can do but I always convince myself the sight would be refreshing. But how else would you describe the sight of your father showing a bunch of bandits who’s the man, aye? Besides, those black belts don’t come cheap this side of the Sahara. You don’t just walk into any karate institution and buy them like our politicians buy their school certificates. You earn them. And, boy, did Thomas Omondi Were earn his.
Like every other man, Thomas Omondi Were has a date with his bottle too once in a while. Tusker. I’ve watched the man down 5 bottles of those and he still drove us home safe. You can never tell when he is drunk or sober. In all my entire 19 years of livelihood, not a single day has Thomas Omondi Were come home in the wee hours of the night in drunken stupor talking baseless mumbo-jumbo and not a day have we gone hungry when there was something I could do.
Being a high school Principal, Thomas Omondi Were knows only too well the power of education. Am in campus but he still wants to see a report form at the end of every semester like he did when I was in high school. He tells me what units to focus most of my attention on and never fails to show his disgust when I flop in those. After all, he pays a five-figure fee at the beginning of every semester, doesn’t he?
If I had the means, I would send my old man a custom made bottle of Whisky right now. You know why? Because dads love Whisky. But I’ll spare that for another day. Today, I gat nothing buy my humble words of appreciation. My big brother has sworn to buy mum a car by 2017, never mind the fact that he won’t even be through with campus by then. I bow and drink to that. ‘Cause with that bugger, you never know. A hustler by all standards, ninja could buy the car tomorrow if he so desires and I won’t ask where he got the cash from. It’s now left to me to match the bar he’s trying to set. But I won’t say I’ll buy my old man a car, all I know is the man deserves something special. And something special he will get.
Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament. But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it. I’ve had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships my father went through to get me to where I started. Whenever I asked for pocket money in high school, he never failed to remind me of how, during his days, he was handed pocket money of only 5-shillings for the whole term and had to walk miles from his village in Masiro (don’t ask me where that is, you don’t wanna know) all the way to his high school in Ukwala. If you hail from around Ugenya, you know what am talking about. You can approximate the distance.
My old man is a survivor; a fighter.
And for that, Mr. Thomas Omondi Were, I celebrate you.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!