There’s someone knocking at the door. We both ignore it, pretending we are still asleep.
It continues. Small bursts of small fingers on the hardwood door. She will keep knocking until we open. Good thing that it is my wife’s day to make breakfast. I shake her. She pretends to be asleep. So I push her off the bed. She falls off and for a full minute lies there in a crumpled heap and tries to figure out why she married me. Because love just doesn’t make sense to her right now. She wakes up, shows me the middle finger, opens the door and heads off to the bathroom. This is what marriage becomes after 3 years. A never ending supply of middle fingers.
My daughter rushes in. As fast as her little feet will take her. She tries to climb onto the bed but she is too short. I do not help her. Instead for the next 3 minutes she gets to learn resilience. Plus, it is fun watching an 18 month baby trying something and failing. Finally, she says “daddy nisaidie.” I scoop her up and onto the bed. She gets into the covers and she is momentarily on my chest.
“Daddy umelala vizuri?“
She asks this question while her face is inches from mine. We are still toilet training her, but we will in the next few weeks introduce her to the concept of personal space. She always shows her love by bringing her face onto mine, and dripping warm saliva on it. It is not cute.
Her mother flashes the toilet and walks out. I resist the impulse to ask her mama to use air freshener next time. The little lady on my bed wonders why I am over sleeping today. The teacher on TV said it is wrong to sleep for too long, otherwise one can get sick. She then asks softly;
“Daddy unataka kuwa mgonjwa?”
I do not want that.
This has been our morning ritual for the past 3 months.Her knocking, us opening, her on my chest, my wife flashing the toilet, and a continuous supply of questions with few answers. The result has been my wife and I no longer sleep naked or with the bedroom door open. We answer constant questions about everything under the universe. My son was decidedly less curious. He preferred to find out things for himself. He drove a screwdriver through my last flat screen TV. On that day, I understood how Jesus feels every time we sin. It hurt!
My daughter and I lie in bed and for the next 15 minutes. We talk about everything. It is the only time we have just to ourselves. Without her mother bothering us, or her older brother trying to get some money from me. When I have to wake up, she asks;
My answer is never satisfactory. She does not understand why I should work. She told me last week she did not want me to work on her birthday. She doesn’t even want a cake or presents if I stay home. I almost cried there and then. My heart has been exceedingly mushy these past 18 months. Daughters do that to you. I admit my wife isn’t particularly happy about this phase in our daughters life. It’s not surprising, my wife doesn’t like it when other women are obsessed with me. Doesn’t matter if they are tiny, with feet the size of my thumb.
Have you ever had a kid hold your face in their hands, stroke your small beard, look you straight in the eyes and say, “daddy I yav you.” Because they can’t quite pronounce love.
Its like God gave her the password to my emotions. And she turned the tap the whole way because the rate at which I am crying in this house is unprecedented.
She loves it when I cook. Says my eggs are better than her mum’s. She said that to her face. “Daddy, mayai zako ni tamu kulikoooo za mum.” My wife again wasn’t too pleased. I loved it! Who can blame the kid she was stating the truth. Her favorite position when I cook is on the kitchen stool. Which I have to position strategically so she does not fall off. When I start up the gas cooker, she shouts “hot, hot, daddy hot!”
She hates tea. She loves coffee. Even knows how to give instructions on how she wants it. I overheard her telling the help she wants it with a lot of milk and 1 sugar. “Na isikue moto sana.” This girl will rule the world.
When I leave for work, she walks me to the car. I ask her, “nikuletee nini?” She says, “kitu yoyote mzuyii.” This is the reason the house is filled with silly trinkets. She’s always happy with whatever I get her. A habit I’m hoping her mother will pick up. She watches as I strap in. She’s a big girl now so she doesn’t cry. The car starts, and as normal she asks,
I answer, “Eeeh nitakuja.”
She lifts her last finger, curves it.
I celebrate every man who chooses to be good to his family and especially his kids. You make the world a little bit better.
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PS….This is a fiction.