Of Me, Family and the Long Walk Home…

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September 2016 AD:

I wake up. Last night she died. This is the very definition of incongruent. How can I wake up when she is dead? How can I be alive without her? How can I be breathing when she is just lying immobile in a freezer somewhere?

On autopilot, I proceed with my morning rituals. Take a leak, take a shower, take breakfast, and take my daughter…our daughter…to school. I take her to school in spite of everything. I doubt I’ll be winning any dad of the year awards any time soon.

I watch as my 12 years old daughter walk towards her classroom and she turns around and waves goodbye. A lot has gone on between me and Joy – my daughter – over the years but so much more has gone on between me and her mama.

My phone won’t stop ringing. “I am so sorry for your loss” is the hashtag for the day. And things that don’t make sense like “I don’t understand what you are going through but should you need anything, anything at all, just call me.” People I haven’t talked to in years suddenly materialize with “…if you need anything, just call me…” If I never called you before, why would I start now?

My social media presence is littered with “may she rest in peace” and “condolences” and “sorry” and other incomprehensible crap that humans share under such circumstances.
I can feel myself sinking, getting pulled back from the person I had become to the one I used to be. The monster that my wife rescued me from.

I drive to a local wines and spirits but it is closed at this early hour. But I know where the owner lives so I knock on his door; coerce him out of bed and into selling me a couple of bottles of Vodka. Colleagues at work keep calling, saying they’ll swing by later and asking what plans are for the burial.

“Whose burial?” I ask.

And no I don’t want them coming over. I don’t want to see anyone. But that isn’t entirely up to me. She had family too and they are calling…incessantly, bothering me…driving me nuts… so I switch off the phone and start emptying a bottle for answers.

February 2000 AD:

I am 20, I am in campus and I am the life of the party. I am shooting pool and taking shots with the boys because if HELB isn’t to be enjoyed, then what is? Me and one of the boys quarrel over something I don’t recall and we start fighting. Brawling; hardcore old school giving and receiving blows and kicks and next thing I know I am lying face down in the back of the club getting my ass handed to me.

When they are done with me, I lie on my back looking up at the night sky and suddenly, I start laughing. I don’t know why the idea of getting beat up by about four guys appears funny to me, but it does. I try to sit up but the pain at my side won’t let me. I must have broken a rib or two…or all of them. Hail HELB. You always know how to make a guy party.
So I turn on my side and cough to avoid choking on my own blood and when I lie back, there she stands, staring at me with huge and worried eyes.

Her: (Rushing to me) Are you OK?

Me: You know what I hate most about people? It’s how they pretend like they care about others.

Her: You are drunk.

Me: (Groaning and trying to sit up) And you’re an idiot who thinks I need help.

Her: (Kicks me in the ribs) Fine! (Walks away)

Me: (Hissing in pain and laugh again.) But I sure do love a woman who knows how to kick a guy when he’s down.

Her: Whatever!

And she disappears in the club. A few minutes later, Good Samaritans shove me in the back of a car and I lose consciousness. When I wake up, I find myself on a hospital bed with my mother staring at me furiously.

Mother: You are up. Good. I wonder what will happen to you first between growing up and dying.

Me: (Weakly) Growing up is overrated mom.

A couple of weeks later, I see her again. The girl; not my mother. This time, we meet on campus. I am in my third year pursuing a degree in clinical psychology and since I have come dangerously close to being addicted to a few bad habits in my life, I have a particular interest in “deviant behaviors” and “addictive disorders.”

I am the kind of cliché student who sits at the back of class but today I sit somewhere in the middle just to be next to her. Then I pass her a note that reads;

Me: You are not a lady.

She reads, rips my note to pieces and acts like I don’t exist. So I write another.

Me: See what I mean?

Her: (She takes time to stare at my note then at me, then at my note again. Her lips are squeezed close together like she is contemplating doing something stupid.) I should have just left you out there to die.

Me: Oh, does that mean you called people to help me?

Her: What do you think?

Me: And I should what, thank you?

Her: There is something seriously wrong with you. You are too immature to even be alive.

Me: Well, like I said, you are not a lady.

Her: It’s OK that you say that. After all, I don’t think you’d recognize a lady if she walked into your life, introduced herself and kicked you in the ribs.

Me: (I smile to this. I respect her. Well, in my own kind of way.) I am Charles. I should thank you but I won’t because you won’t take me seriously and I should apologize but like you said, I’m too immature to be alive.

Her: I’m Mary… and I only told you that because I prefer it to “kile kidame…”

Me: What the hell kind of a cliché name is Mary?

And she moves to another seat. But that doesn’t stop me from writing a final note reading,

Me: Dear Mary, I know you are not well, thanks to me but that won’t stop me from asking if I could interest you in grabbing a jug of Senator Keg with me later. Regards, The Very Definition of Immaturity.

No reply. Silence is the best weapon to use against a guy like myself who talks too much.

When class ends, she vanishes in the wind before I can slip a word in and just like that, I am hooked. I have to see her again and I have to talk to her. My dictionary doesn’t contain much language that isn’t clothed in sarcasm or insults but like they say, change is inevitable.

For a while there, I start attending each and every class just to see if I will bump into her somewhere. No luck there. I try finding out where she stays but since, “Mary…you know, the chocolate skinned chic with big eyes, killer smile and a figure to die for” is all I have to go by, I strike out.

So I go back to being my usual 20 year old self. Drinking, fighting, sleeping in police cells, pissing my mom off and generally making sure that I have a hundred drinking and shagging buddies but no friends at all. By the end of the year, I have pretty much perfected the art of pushing people away and burning anyone that flies too close to me.

December 2000 AD:

End of the year exams, I see her again. We are in the same examination hall. Matter of fact, I am seated two desks behind her. And she is a bad one. Or maybe the lady seated next to her is. One of them didn’t study hard enough so here they are, exchanging Mwakenyas like crazy.

A few minutes till the end of one paper, they cut it close. The invigilator walks into sight unexpectedly and almost catches them exchanging a paper with answers scribbled all over it… she is handing it over to her friend who upon seeing the invigilator, ignores her and Mary freezes and the paper falls from her fingers and on the floor right in the invigilator’s line of sight.

He walks over and picks it up. You can shoot bullets and wound the heavy tension in the room right now.

Invigilator: (To Mary) Did you drop this? (Re: The paper)

Mary: No sir.

Invigilator: (To Mary’s friend) Is this yours?

Mary’s friend: No sir.

Invigilator: I will have to report both of you…

The arrangement is, when caught cheating, you are discontinued… might be immediately or after a hearing or two, but eventually, you will not be graduating from this university.

So I inform the invigilator that the Mwakenya is mine. She looks like a good girl who doesn’t deserve misfortunes like being branded as “that girl who went to school to copy exams” where she comes from; but me, I can carry any crap thrown my way with pride.

I am after all what everyone thinks I am. Immature, stupid, insane, undeserving of a woman’s affections, cheap, shallow…so much has been said about me, none of it flattering and hey, it is all for good reason. Hey, did I add reckless, shameless, humorless, and a lot of other ‘lesses’? Think of it, and I have been called it at one time or another.

And I transfer to a less reputable university. But I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t doubt my sanity and I don’t contact Mary after that. It is enough that I did what I did and I feel any contact thereafter might dilute the nobleness of the idea.

April 2001 AD:

I have had to restart my third year over again. Which is OK. At least now I’ll Ace most of the units. I am at a bar downtown… it is so filled with smoke and bad odor from the cheap cigarettes, cheap liquor, cheap cologne, heavy sweat, toilets and all the stenches that can possibly congregate at such a dingy joint… and I am the loudest guy in there.

I am mixing Kegs with Napoleon and something called Santa Maria (no kidding) and I am having a blast. I have just lost a game of pool and I decide to buy another jug of Keg. High is high according to the 21 year old me, whether it is given to you by Johnnie Walker, or well, Santa Maria.

It is normal for a guy like me who frequents here to walk behind the bar, replenish their jug of keg, feel the large bosomed bartender up and leave a cheap tip. Everything here is cheap. And the worst diseases come easy at places like this.

As I walk with my newly filled jug back to the table occupied by me and a few drinking buddies, someone touches my shoulder and I say something nasty about their mother.

Mary: Charles, it’s me.

And I turn around and there she stands in a blue dress and heels and braids. She looks as out of place as a housefly in a jug of milk. And I have never said anything as cliché as;

Me: What are you doing here?

It is hot in here and smokier than a kitchen. And it is louder than a market. And it stinks and it is very dimly lit and it is going on 22:00h.

Mary: Like you said, I am no lady.

Me: No I am serious Mary. What the hell are you doing here? (I am furious because she is ruining the only chance I had at being a saint. I had done something totally selfless for her because I liked her and I didn’t want to stain that with my perpetual urges to explore the wealth in her pants but here she stands, plain as the nose on my face, smiling!) Just leave me alone.

And I proceed on my journey to the table before the boys get tired of waiting for their Queenly Keg.

She takes time then follows me to the table where she sits beside me saying;

Mary: I am not leaving here before you tell me why you did it.

Me: I hate people who act like they care about others, remember? So stop pretending like you care, Mary. And get a change of name already. Who the hell walks around with a name like Mary anyway? It’s 2001 for fuck’s sake.

Mary: You know, I don’t curse at people; but seriously Charles, fuck you!

Me: Finally you are acting like your normal self. Now why don’t you and your fancy clothes and shoes and fake hair catwalk on out of here?

Mary: You don’t even know me.

Me: Exactly. And you know what? I am not pretending to care either.

Mary: Well, you know what Charles; I am not leaving till you give me some answers. What do you want from me?

Me: What do I want from you? Lady, you came to me. What do you want?

Mary: I want to know why you took the fall for me that day.

Me: Because I do whatever I want. OK? Besides, you looked like you were about to defecate in your pants and so to save my nostrils from the stench, I chose to be your knight in shining armor. Satisfied? (Not giving her a chance to answer) Good. Now leave me alone.

Mary: You know for all your faults I never figured you for a coward. Is it so hard for you to say what you really mean?

Me: Well I tried but you wouldn’t give me a chance.

Mary: Well I am here now. Be a man. What do you want Charles?

And I leave a couple of hundred shillings with the boys. And I grab her hand. And I leave that bar with her. And I don’t currently know it, but I am the happiest, luckiest man walking this earth.

January 2002 AD:

I am real close to hitting 22 years old. Mary and I have been dating for a little bit longer than 6 months now and they have been the best six months of my life. But like I said earlier, I have perfected the art of pushing people away. And I am your go to guy when it comes to burning bridges. I do that so well, it flabbergasts everyone who has ever gotten close enough to me to feel the heat.

When a woman comes onto you, you have to be a special kind of a guy to say no. I am not that special guy. I am not the man that ladies have in mind when they post “A real man…” blah blah memes. I am the guy that their mothers fight them for dating. When you are 21 and as flawed as I am, chances are you’ll ride the tide and let the chips fall where they may. And I have never had the responsibility of saying no before because I have never let anyone do something as stupid as falling for me.

So I cheat…once, twice, thrice…and before long, I am the king of the world. I think I am smart because I don’t get caught. We go to different schools, we don’t live together and hey, we only hang out over the weekends so I have too much time on my mind between Monday and Friday… and it is 2002, meaning I can’t afford a mobile phone meaning any communication between me and a side dish is verbal. Limits chances of slipping up.

But Mary is smart. And she figures it out soon enough. And she lets me know that she knows and knowing me the way she does, she says;

Mary: I shouldn’t have let myself go, but I did. I am all yours Charles. My heart belongs to you. Knowing what you know, you can hurt me if you want, but are you OK when I am not?

a)I am not happy when she is not happy.

(b) The whole thrill of cheating is making it so that you never get caught. When you get caught, when she knows that you are cheating, the thrill is gone so engaging in it after that point is rather pointless.

(c) She places the responsibility of protecting her sorely on my shoulders. She makes it so that I know that her life is kind of in my hands for me to do with as I please. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t care…I’d be a fool to even pretend I don’t love the living crap out of her.

(d) She moves in with me. And from this point on, I don’t cheat. I don’t even get tempted. I am so caught up in her that everything else just seems like smoke.

(e) I propose and finally

(f) I take her to the Attorney General’s and get hitched. Who would’ve thought?

January 2004 AD:

She wakes me up…

Mary: Baby, baby… baby wake up.

Me: (Turning away from her) Whatever it is, I am sure it can wait till us normal people wake up in the morning.

Mary: Yes it can baby, but I won’t let it.

Me: (Through half shut eyes) What is it?

Mary: I’m pregnant.

Me: (Jolted, seated upright in a second, with eyes wide open.) Are you sure?

Mary: Yes i am sure. I am also sure that it is a girl and her name is Joy.

Me: Joy? Why Joy?

Mary: (Counting fingers) A. Why not and; b) Coz she will always be my most beautiful bundle of Joy and she’ll always make me happy.

I am scared. I am almost 24 and I have just gotten my first job as an assistant of an assistant of some junior assistant and the pay sucks. But I act strong. Thing is, when you act strong long enough, you stop acting and it becomes what you do.

I never was the “quit your job and start your own business” kind of guy so I work hard and refuse to quit. And when you are with someone as I am with her, strength simply becomes what you do because she motivates you. Nothing can be too difficult as long as you have each other. I know it sounds weepy and spongy and soft and laughable but it is what it is.

August 2004 AD:

Joy is born and my mother is happy for me and my young family. Finally according to her, I have grown up. And she won’t stop rubbing it in my face how I couldn’t shut up about how growing up is overrated.

Mother: Now here you are, with a woman who made a man out of the boy you were and now you have your own to take care of. I am happy for you.

July 2005 AD:

I have finally concluded that I am simply not the paternal type. I am the worst father there is. I am tired of the disorder in the house; I am tired of waking up in the middle of the night because Joy isn’t in a mood to be joyful and if she cries one more time when I am in the middle of having dinner, I will go completely nuts!

Mary finds me in bed;

Mary: Why are you so moody nowadays? You won’t even hold your daughter.

Me: Can we talk about this on a day where I don’t have to go to work in the morning after waking up thirty seven hundred fucking times during the night?

Mary: Don’t do that Charles. Don’t you start quitting on me.

Me: Quitting? Lady, I am home by 6 every evening while the rest of the guys are out there living. Quitting? There is no father in this whole wide fucking world that helps out with the baby more than I do, so why don’t you leave me alone now, OK?

Mary: Oh yeah? And you feel what, like I should go down on my knees and kiss the ring because, “All Hail King Charles! He helps around in his own house”?!

Me: What do you want from me Mary? What more can I do for you? I have already changed the diapers for the millionth time today, I have sucked mucus out of that baby’s nose, I have gone to work, I have done everything that you do Mary! (Insert the highest order of sarcasm) So King Charles is begging you, beseeching you, persuading and pleading with you, kissing your ass till his lips are sour, what more can I do for my lady and our fussy bundle of joy tonight?

Mary: (Exclaims) Oh my God. (She is looking at me like she has never seen me before) You don’t even know what you are doing, do you? (Head in hands) Jesus Christ I am married to a total idiot. You are acting like this is punishment. Like you have been forced to help out for so long and now you are breaking out of your chains. Well guess what sweetheart; Joy is your daughter too. If you can’t handle that, if you want to go out and have a drink like the other 24 year olds, be my guest.

And I do just that. I go out and have a beer and spend the night in a hotel room. Next morning I go to work and when evening comes, I get back to my hotel room and for a while, I feel satisfied. I feel like I am in Hawaii on a much deserved vacation. I drink too much, sleep too much, listen to music too loudly and sleep diagonally across the bed because I am King Charles and hallelujah! I am free!!!!!!

But thing about me and running is I tend to go back with my tail between my legs like a whipped hound. So when I get bored with my little vacation, I put on my best, “I am such an idiot and I am so sorry face” and go back home to Mary and Joy.

But when I knock on the door and she opens, she says;

Mary: If you think you can come in and out of our lives as you wish, think again. (And she shuts the door in my face.)

There is nothing more invigorating to me than knowing that I am wanted but not needed. That there is a life for her after me. But pride has always been a flaw for me so I turn around and leave. This time, I find an apartment and just like that, we are officially separated.

November 2005 AD:

You can be separated from your woman and live, but it is hard to call it living when you are separated from your kid. So every now and then, I swing by the house to check in on Joy. She has a few teeth now and she is simply the cutest little thing there is. When they are this age and they can’t talk but they communicate, you almost don’t want to see them grow up. You don’t want them to learn about the cruelty of the world, you just want them young and sweet.

Like when Joy lifts up her arms with a smile, I know she wants me to carry her around and nothing will get her off my arms; not even her mom. And when I try to put her down, she retracts her legs and firms up her grasp on me. Maybe there’s a special bond between us from all those mucus sucking activities late on many nights when her nose clogged up.

So one day I knock on the door with my bags at my feet and when Mary answers, I tell her;

Me: I have come back home. I could say I came back for you but you wouldn’t believe me so I’ll just say I came back for Joy. I’ll spend every night on the couch if that’s what you want until she is 18 years old but you can bet on your life that I am never leaving her again.

Mary: It feels good to finally be a man, doesn’t it?

June 2013 AD:

Mary has been having health problems. Neck pains, stomach pains, back pains, pains in other places you wouldn’t even think of…

And Joy and I have been spending lots of time together. But I doubt that’s always been constructive. See, I love watching Disney movies with her, but where there is an R rated movie that I am dying to watch and she is not in the mood to go to bed, we watch it together. Most times she just falls asleep halfway through so I carry her to bed then when I wake up in the morning, she is in my bed.

Her mom has been spending lots of time at the hospital and she made it clear that Joy shouldn’t miss out on any aspects of her life as a consequence.

So every morning I wake up, I take a piss, I take a shower, I take breakfast and then I take our daughter to school. Then I go to work. In the evening, we visit her mother in the hospital.

The doctors can’t exactly place a finger on what her problem is. Every diagnosis they hand out is the wrong one. So they tell her to exercise, to eat healthier, and to drink more water blah blah blah. She does it all and it doesn’t help. The harder she tries, the sicker she gets.

March 2015 AD:

Joy…Joy…Joy; funny how a 10 year old can make you stronger than a mountain. It is like we are a team she and I, taking care of Mary. The three of us spend more time now than we ever did before.

September 2016 AD:

I am on the verge of finishing up one bottle of Vodka and I can’t find any answers yet. Maybe I’ll find them at the bottom of the second one. Coronary micro-vascular disease is what takes her. Something about how messed up her coronary arteries are and how difficult it is to detect this problem. How difficult can it be to detect damaged heart arteries? Doesn’t matter now. She is gone and I am still standing.

When I was 10 years old, I read “The Concubine” and the line “death is a bad reaper” from when Ihuoma’s husband died (can’t recall his name) stayed with me. Now death the bad reaper had reaped her from this earth and left me. If anyone deserved to keep living, it was her.

For the next week, I am on autopilot. We view her body, I am autopilot. My body is viewing hers but my mind has flown back to 2008 when she challenged me to a pool game. I beat her, mercilessly at the game.

Mary: You are so not a good man. You couldn’t even let me win.

Me: Honey, we are motivated to win after we lose.

Mary: Fine! (Punches me in the ribs)

Me: This night reminds me of the night we first met. You had a thing for my ribs even then if memory serves.

Mary: Well, you were behaving like a pig. I had to find a way to make you squeal.

Me: But admit it, we had chemistry even on that night.

Mary: Nah. I am simply in the habit of kicking guys when they are down.

Me: I love you too thank you very much.

Mary: Dude, the ego on you! Who said I love you?

And I tickle her… and I don’t stop till she yells to the whole world that she loves me.

The sound of lumps of soil thudding on the coffin yanks me from the good old days. We had had a great run – the best I could ever hope for. Who would have known that that 20 year old keg drinking, bridges burning, loud, mpango wa kando having idiot could end up being so happy?

In so many ways, I feel like I owe my life to her; the woman who rose from kicking me in the ribs to being my best friend, my wife, my everything…

I can’t do this. I can’t stand around and watch them bury her like road-kill. I know she must be buried but I don’t have to watch it. So I leave. I take Joy’s hand; I hand her over to Mary’s older sister like she is a file at work and tell her, “I’ll be back.”

And I get inside the car and drive. I don’t know where I am going, but I don’t look back.

About 300 kilometers away from where my wife is resting in peace, I enter a bar and take a marathon of shots. I get drunk, I punch some guy in the face for looking at me while I was busy looking at his woman and I get my ass kicked.

Next morning I wake up inside my car with bruises and a killer of a hangover. I take some painkillers and call Joy’s aunt. She is mad that I left but I inform her that she’d be madder had I stayed. And she rambles on and on about how I have a habit of running away from problems blah blah and I zone out.

I feel as married as I felt when Mary and I first got hitched so even in my worst state; I steer clear of easy lays. She may be dead, but she is far from gone.

And now my life just revolves around drinking, walking, driving too fast, meeting and having empty laughs with total strangers and asking God “why?” I must have asked Him that about 4,854,858,467,894,387,845,853,573 times by now. And driving from city to city, town to town and county to county smashing faces and getting my face smashed and unleashing the inner Joker in me.

It’s been a week since we laid her to rest; or rather since I left people laying her to rest and drove off.

I am sitting in a cold cell in a small and damn near deserted police post near Malaba – just a few kilometers from the Kenyan boarder with Uganda with a couple of guys who look like they have spent their entire lives with angry cockerels in a chicken coop.

They have so many scratches on them and their clothes are all tattered but the story is, they refused to pay a sex worker for services and faced the wrath of the local sex workers union. But I look worse.

Earlier today, I fought with a guy. I didn’t know he was a cop. Hence my current living quarters. But I have always found peace in fighting. Exchanging blows releases something that was previously trapped inside of me. There is nothing more therapeutic to me than landing a punch on some poor bugger’s nose as he lands his on my jaw. But that’s just me.

In this cell, I find peace. I feel ready to go back home and be a father once more but I have a feeling Mary wouldn’t look too fondly on my most recent case of pulling a Houdini on parenthood.

I request to have a chat with the OCS with the aim of using his computer to send my daughter an email. He wants something in return. So I tell him that I am a psychologist and I will offer my services to his officers for two days for free and leave my number at the station should they require a listening ear in future…for free. All he says is “Make it three days and you have a deal.”

When my fingers start hitting those keys, my heart leaps from my chest and onto the keyboard. I try as much as possible not to make it all morbid because my little girl is only 12. And she has to know that her father is not falling apart. Even though he totally is. (I wrote this letter on March 10th 2016 and just this morning, I figured I could connect it with this story. It ain’t plagiarism if you are copying from your own work, right? Think of it as connecting dots)

Subject: Letter to my Little Girl

Dear Joy,

I don’t know why we named you Joy, but I am glad we did. It was mainly your mother’s idea. One early Saturday morning at around 4am, I was very busy sleeping like most normal people do at that hour, when she shook me awake. She was wearing that “Serious, scared, confused, excited, happy” face she wore when she didn’t know how to react to something – I am sure you remember it well. Anyway, she shook me awake whispering,

Her: Baby, baby… baby wake up. (You always wondered why she called me “baby” and you “mommy”? Yeah. Me too.)

Me: (Turning away from her) Whatever it is, I am sure it can wait till us normal people wake up in the morning.

Her: Yes it can baby, but I won’t let it.

Me: (Through half shut eyes) What is it?

Her: I’m pregnant.

Me: (Jolted, seated upright in a second, with eyes wide open. If you say “wearing your scared face dad” I won’t laugh next time you crack a joke.) Are you sure?

I knew she was sure because her face said she was sure. I didn’t know what to say but I was happy.

Her: Yes I am sure. I am also sure that it is a girl and her name is Joy.

Me: Joy? Why Joy?

Her: (Counting fingers) A. Why not and; b) Coz she will always be my most beautiful bundle of Joy and she’ll always make me happy.

And that was that.

Look at me digressing and commencing this letter unconventionally. This is meant to be a friendly letter and if your schoolteacher is right, I should have started with, “Dear Joy, I hope you are doing well. I am doing fine here though it is not raining… (Bla Bla. I am sure you are familiar with this tiresome and dogmatic tune. But don’t tell your teacher I wrote that.)

Look baby, you have been my daughter for the last 12 years now and this is the first time I don’t know what to say to you so forgive me if much of what I jot down tonight doesn’t make much sense or if I use so many words to say so little. Your old man is just confused is all.

I am sorry your mother passed away and I am even sorrier that I am not there to grieve with you. I am sorry I left you at your aunt’s and ran off to grieve alone. I know you need me baby. I do.

Had I been telling you this face to face, I am sure you’d look at me with those big eyes that remind me of your mommy every time, and tell me that it is not my fault she passed. I know baby that it is not my fault but I have to allow myself to feel like it is and I cannot do that around you.

I know it is cowardly and selfish of me to run away from you and I am not exactly being the daddy of the year right now, but Joy, I didn’t know what else to do.

On the day we buried her, you looked into the coffin for a whole five minutes without butting an eye and you didn’t cry either. That worried me because I couldn’t keep my eyes dry for a minute. I was and I still am supposed to be strong for you and that is why I am coming to pick you up and take you home shortly.

Your auntie tells me that you are being a good girl and that you are working hard at school. I know how hard it is to breathe without dear mommy around, but we have to. We have to be strong for her and for each other. I am all you have now and you are all I have. You asked me the last thing she said to me before her eyes shut forever and I couldn’t answer that question then because I choked.

“I am cold baby. Could you please hand me that Jacket on that chair please?”

That was the last thing she said. I turned to fetch the sweater and on turning back to her, she was gone.

I know I can be proud and hotheaded at times, but I want you to know that I will be better. I will be a better father to you. You have been telling me that I am your best friend twice every year since you were six years old. On your birthday and on mine.

I want you to know that I am coming home baby. I am sorry I ran away. I needed to reflect on a few things but I am coming home. And I will never leave you again, I promise. You are my best friend too.

I can’t even remember the last time I told you I love you. I always figured you knew and that me saying it might grow old someday or something but I now know that when you love someone, WHEN YOU REALLY LOVE SOMEONE, telling them so everyday can’t make it grow old. So I’ll tell you that I love you everyday till you grow up and tell me not to say it anymore because it is weird and even then, I’ll keep saying it.

I love you Joy. You are the best gift I could ever hope for.

Goodbye for now. Tell your auntie I said hello (Whispering: But don’t tell her I am coming because she’ll be furious that I left in the first place.) I will be a more responsible daddy from here on out.

Your loving dad,
Charles.

117 COMMENTS

  1. Best I ever read😍😍

    My heart kept breaking and then some as I read till the end. You truly sliced a vein in your heart and bled out all this goodness.

    And i’m glad the website is up and running!

    • I broke your heart! Yes!!! I read once that a good story is the one you remember what it made you feel five years down the line. Well, I am humbled that it made you feel something today. Thank you.

  2. This is well articulated,the command of Englih,creativity ..the story i sflowing.Good job..could keep my eyes off till the end.God bless

  3. Thanks heaven am alone in this small office otherwise people would be wondering what is happening all in tears,This is soo emotional Charles and kinda of a true story!!
    Nice one

    • I am sure it is true to so many people out there. You know how Adele says her songs have a bit of life experience in them, transfer the same here.

      • SURE,as i read though was just imagining all happeniing and if was me and!! but surely this happen to so many young pple when you are left without knowing where to start!1

  4. I am somewhere ‘in there’ and you just tore me like surgically removing a speck of hair from a dreadlocked head.great piece. Thank you for today

  5. Good narration and a nice flow of the story, Congratulation for the good writting!. So emotional but full of real life time lessons.. Loved every bit of it!.

  6. Ur such a great writer, I look forward to your pieces all the time, and you never disappoint. Your English, use of humour, dialogue….I could go on and on, but just know, your writing skills are “up there.”

  7. Every time. Every damn time! If Joy is anything like her daddy, I’m looking forward to what she’s got to say. A combination of Mary and Charles must make for a good read too… *wink.

    Besides, I want to see the reply to Daddy’s email. A sequel. Damn right, a sequel.

    Great read Charles. As usual. Now, my beer is warm… Gotta stop reading your work in a bar too 🙁

  8. I sometimes wonder whether you are this interesting to interact with(face to face, reallife) , or it just flows on lifeless paper…….coz trust me, these are extremely high levels, and you are really good at it! !!!

    • Well, there is a difference between the art and the human behind it… I guess we wouldn’t know until we met, right?

  9. I had all kind of emotions while reading this materpiece….the sarcasm is on another level…i cried and laughed at the same time…you are great!

  10. i love reading good stories,stories that invoke your emotions and you feel like you know the characters in it and you mourn with them,cry with them and eventually you want to pat on their shoulder and tell them you are sorry.

    Stories that make you forget the world around you and you dont want to finish reading.every word every sentence feels like walking to unknown lands.and when you finally get to the end you feel hollow,empty like you just made the last foot on emptiness and fell of into vacuum.

  11. Your pen bleeds Charles! It bleeds!
    I haven’t read anything like this in a long while. Or at all even. And this is not using a clichè.

    You’ve earned an unrepentant fan in this young lady here! xx

    • Yay!! Charles has a fan! Thank you Chiamaka…
      Here is to bleeding pens… I hear they are mightier than swords 🙂

  12. Hey congrats for the good work keep it up. I like your stories very much. You have a grate talent..
    I usually sleep on second page of a novel but am surprised how you make me read unsleeplesly’

  13. Can’t get enough of your pieces. I always feel like am part of what is happening. Saying you are good at what you do is just an understatement.
    Keep on sir!!!

  14. Nice read, Charles. It reminds me that we humans are depraved. It all started after the fall back in the garden. I don’t for a moment think we were cut out to suffer this much from the beginning. I went through my share of living a reckless life and loosing loved ones at a fairly early stage which led me to ask the tough questions in life. Understanding the true gospel message that Christ had to come down and save us from sinful selves brought a different meaning in life. I know that there is more to this life. We have a chance of spending eternity with Him only if we repent and put our trust in Him.

    Charles, I love that you want to be the best dad for Joy. But that will be a short-lived goal if you try it with your own strength. I strongly believe that the best gift to Joy, her aunt, all your family and yourself will be living a godly life through Christ. I write all this because I feel like I already know you from reading this article at 4am 🙂

    Be blessed bro

    Andrew

    • Hello Andrew,

      I hope you are well.
      Thank you truly for your comment and the message you put across.
      The story is fiction and I don’t have a daughter, but I hope parents out there whose lives are similar to the main character in this story get to read your comment. It really is encouraging.

      Be blessed too mate,
      Charles

  15. A Good piece of literary writing.Suspense runs through the whole piece.It also evokes deep emotion on the reader.l almost shed tears.Quite lovely.Bravo!

  16. I can’t believe it’s not real. Kind of disappointed. I should tell you my story, or my best friends story so I see how you play around with the words. I hate hearty stories that are not real.

  17. Comment: it’s 410am and my heart is breaking into smithereens! I read alot but this is just too awesome! Totally love it! Speaks to my heart. I know about loss of very special people n how it tears us apart. I’m burying a friend today, it’s why i cant sleep, then i came across your story. I’m hooked, keep writing, you’re going places! Now let me finish my crying…..

  18. how can i say this now*slaps forehead*hahaha awesome naaah thats too shallow,,exclusive naah not really,,very very good perhaps that will do i just love what you right i mean whats always inside your head this level of creativity i want it not smh but all of it your just amazing good work charles.

  19. The honesty in this article just rips up my heart! This is a Beautiful! beautiful write. People just stopped being this sincere. I love this SANA!

  20. This is the longest piece I’ve ever read. So I’m afraid of falling in love, I don’t know what the future holds. What if I love then they disappear? whether a true or made up story it has touched my somewhere deep in my deranged self and almost made my tear.. Of course I cried a little.
    thumbs up.

  21. I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours nowadays, but I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s beautiful price sufficient for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content material as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

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