She has big beautiful eyes, chubby cheeks and broken braids, she sees me approaching and her eyes light up like a Christmas tree. She’s a phenomenal ball of energy and when she smiles she smiles with her whole face. Her mouth goes ajar and with a voice smoother than glass she stutters the word “shasha” squeezing it through her scattered milk teeth. She has a warm soul, and I can’t help but make baby faces like a fool.
Her mother sells me beans or githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) those days when I stagger to my bachelor pad hungry and exhausted. Those days when takeout becomes monotonous and tasteless. Those days when I’m broke, when all the girls have abandoned ship and there’s no one around to shake things up in the kitchen besides me. Those days I find refuge here.
“Daddy ako wapi?” I ask like an idiot without as much as a second thought that daddy might be a deadbeat who abandoned them for the next flame. There is pin drop silence, as if I just ventured into uncharted waters and knocked on a padlocked door. The air is suddenly musty, full with awkwardness. The kid goes numb, my heart shifts and sinks. I want to take back my words but they’re already out. Regardless of my best efforts I can’t get them back even if I wanted to. Kiddo looks at me with a somber face, her chubby cheeks now somewhat fallen. Girls need a father in their life to steer them through this treacherous world of douche-bags, to make them feel wanted, loved and protected.
“She doesn’t have a father,” her mom manages to bark in Kiswahili laced with a Kisii accent. She says the words with an icy and bitter tone. I don’t utter a single word, God knows I have already added enough firewood to the already raging fire. I pick up my beans and try to make baby faces to the now confused kid to no avail. Her mom tightens her leso and takes a seat on the three legged stool, besides the humongous sufuria covered in dark soot and assumes a sullen pose.
Fathers are usually the first love to daughters, they’re the pillars who set the precedent for all the men that will rub shoulders with a girl. They build confidence and character in the becoming woman. Abandonment at such a tender age almost always ends up in sowing a seed that grows into daddy issues and scarred woman at later stages in their lives.
First published on Modern African Guy
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