Friday morning dawned cold & hazy. It was a day I had been looking forward to with untold anticipation. The sound of freedom beckoned and my imagination danced to its tune. I could picture having my own apartment, a place where I’d be King of my own jungle and make my own rules without consulting anyone. I would come and leave as I pleased, with whomever I wanted, flip to any channel without consulting anyone, dance shirtless on a table , turn my house upside down and satiate all my heart’s fantasies. No more taking orders from my puritan father . I made a little dance .Yes, I was leaving the nest and couldn’t contain my avidness to jump, spread my wings and venture to the world unknown. Pure bliss!
Dark gray clouds hang ominously, obscuring the sun’s golden sheen. But not even the weather would put a damper on my resolve. I had purposed to move house unannounced because mum would have implored me to stick around longer. Her face would go pallid with anxiety thinking about the treachery her son was leaping into. My father would continue reading his ‘Daily Nation’ and humming along to the sweet mugithi tunes from his stereo. According to him, I should have left by 50BC. He would wonder, though, the structure I was going to put up in. My income was miserable. I was constantly asking him for money. How is he even going to pay his rent? I could almost hear him ask . But my mind was made up. I gathered my few belongings, called an Uber taxi and bid farewell to the gatekeeper .
Like any bachelor, I had nothing- just a dusty suitcase, a cup, a plate, a laptop, a mattress and a few notes in my wallet. I spent the first night on the floor – the first time to sleep on the floor. Mosquitoes whined, circled and made a good meal out of my tasty blood. The apartment was empty and so hollow that the shuffling of feet echoed eerily. The balcony overlooked the backyard replete with lush, green vegetation and trees that offered a breathtaking view. It later came to be my refuge where I would retreat to when things hit a rough patch. As time went by, one by one, I added a piece of furniture here and there, heavily bleeding my pockets. It’s dreadful paying rent but that was the price of freedom. I came to learn how crestfallen my mother was to learn of my sudden departure. Poor mum. Dad went about life like routine. Then one day he called. “Son, fix me a hot cup of tea.”
He drops by on a warm Saturday afternoon. I meet him at the gate and usher him to the parking lot. He spots a grey suit which compliments his greying hair and well-trimmed grey moustache. Despite his age, my father is a rolling ball of energy and full of joie de vivre. Not a sign of that wobble or drooping shoulders that you’d spot with a man his age. He walks in quick steady steps as if inspecting a guard of honor.
He seems puzzled by the apartment block I am residing in. He looks pensively at the well-manicured lawn, the cars in the parking lot and the entire apartment block. Bewilderment is written all over his face and I can spot an ominous glint in his eyes. We walk up to my apartment where I serve him hot lemon tea and toast mayai – the only meal I could fix effortlessly. He stares at the interior decor and deep furrows form at his forehead, wondering how on earth his son affords such an apartment.
I set the tea and the sumptuous toast on the table and flip to CNN – his favorite channel. He sips the tea & affirms, “Wonderful tea. You have shown an immense sense of responsibility” He pauses and turns his attention to a news item on CNN. He looks genuinely worried about Trump becoming the next president of US and suggests his election would spark a 3rd world war. We talk about the weather, the cow at shags giving birth to two lovely calves, the worrying state of the economy and finally, his lecture begins. He asserts it will take 5 minutes, but we all know parents. It took the entire afternoon.
“Son, I’m impressed. I underestimated you. You have outdone yourself and proved how self-driven you can be”. He pauses, picks up the cup of tea & sips some lemon tea. His eyes roam from the abstract wall painting, Sony Home Theatre and finally settle on the sofa. He puts the cup back on the table and ploughs on, “I know these items must have cost you a fortune ( pointing to my Sony music system & other appliances). Sorry to intrude but I think you are trying to live beyond your means. Your money is going down the drain on things you don’t quite need ”. I look down and stare at my feet. “I know you have a taste for the fine things in life, but please, save your money. Differentiate needs from wants and focus on the needs. Invest your money wisely. Don’t get into debts impressing your friends. Half of them don’t care. The other half will depart from you when things go south. Real friends will stay when you have nothing. Channel your money into a savings account and refrain from buying things you can make do without. Remember, you won’t be young for long and money can grow wings and soar like the birds in the sky. Build your future now. Enroll for evening classes to improve your career. Save aggressively and do anything that can grow your money. Don’t come near betting games. They have entrapped and impoverished many souls. Real men invest. There’s no shortcut to financial success. It calls for discipline.”
“At the end of the day, material wealth doesn’t make you necessarily happy. You need a woman by your side; someone to be your helper and companion. Someone to share your dreams and ambitions with. Someone who will bring the best out of you. When you go looking for ‘the one’, don’t pay too much attention to the physical beauty. Go for brains. Go for a woman with an enviable character and outstanding morals. Go for a woman who respects you and others as well. Look for someone with whom you and compatible & share much in common. That way you will work as a team and forge a tight bond.Make her feel wanted. Women love attention. They love to feel appreciated and cherished. Spend quality time with her. Call and text her and let her know how much you value her. Take her out regularly. Remember her Birthdays and anniversaries and send her flowers and chocolates. Such things mean a lot to women. Support her achieve her dreams. Encourage and motivate her when she hits a rough patch in life. Offer her a crying shoulder when she’s distressed and encourage her no matter how bleak her situation may appear. There are times she’ll act moody and want to set the house on fire. Other times she’ll break down for no reason at all. Give her space. Let her vent her frustrations. Women are emotional creatures. Be a good listener and read between the lines. Above all, respect her. She’s your partner. Be faithful and treasure her. Remember, a woman reciprocates how you treat her. You cannot plant a maize seed and expect a Sycamore. A woman sits and assesses. She’ll save you from ‘fake’ friends who pretend to be by your side. She’ll advise you on how best to invest your money and bring out the best in you.”
“Keep off bad company- Wolves in sheep clothing. Be careful who you share your dreams and ambitions with. Not everyone will cheer you and dance when you get ahead in life. People will be happy for you only when you have reached their level of achievement. Hang around people who are above you in life and in so doing, you’ll have someone to look up to and motivate you.”
“Do everything in moderation. Try as much as possible to avoid the bottle. It has ruined many”, he then proceeds to give me numerous accounts of marriages dissolved by alcohol, friends who lost their lives through drunken driving, thousands in rehab centers and hundreds of patients admitted in bed for alcohol-related illnesses.”
“Learn to live at peace with everyone. It’s a crazy world out here. Avoid trouble at all costs. Avoid getting in situations that could land you in trouble. Don’t get involved in anything that doesn’t concern you.”
“All facets of your life are equally important. Learn to balance your work and personal life. Do not overdo one at the expense of another. Your career is not greater than your social life. Nor is your social life greater than your religious side. Learn to strike a balance. Be an all-around person.”
“Above all, never forget your Maker, for without Him we are nothing. Without Him you and I wouldn’t be where we are now. Prayer is important. Never forget that. Read the Bible often, for in it you’ll accumulate wisdom. And finally son, never forget to pay us a visit. Your mum and I always appreciate your presence. She asks when you’ll go see her. Don’t keep her waiting forever.”