I have had a busy and stressful week. It’s like the universe had conspired to heap more and more work on me this past few days. And I couldn’t complain because bills have to be paid. It’s just the way life is. You put in long hours busting your ass but still have to be grateful that you have a job. A job that zaps away your energy and creative juices. A job that makes your writing skills suffer. Because when you get home in the evening tired from traversing different counties like a tourist but you still sit in front of your computer hoping to write a blog post, and you actually type the first sentence which reads; I remember it like yesterday, then you look at it and its got cliché written all over it, you end up pressing the Backspace key furiously until that damned sentence is no more and you are left with a blank page. And a blank mind.
I have done that for most of this week. Writing and deleting. In fact I didn’t have a story to write until one day when I travelled to Isinya. Isinya is usually hot and dry like a desert. Once in a while whirlwinds appear out of nowhere and carry mounds of dust all the way up to the heavens. On that day I wasn’t paying attention to the whirlwinds. I was supposed to meet another Maasai guy whose number I had gotten from our office. He was to assist me in carrying out some job assignment. Not really assist in the technical sense, but I hoped he would show me the site I was going to, and save me all the trouble of getting lost in the middle of the desert especially considering the fact that there was that time a stray lion was seen around that area.
So the Maasai guy came through. He didn’t fit into the typical Maasai stereotype. No shuka wrapped around his body. No rungu. No spear. He hadn’t dyed his hair red. He wasn’t accompanied by a herd of cattle. Neither did he have a gourd of milk tied to his back with a sisal string. He wore official shoes, not sandals made of goat skin. To say the least, he was smartly dressed, almost clean shaven, and stood with an upright gait. Like someone confident. Someone who knows his stuff. Even when I chatted him up after he had gotten into the car, he didn’t tell tales of killing lions with his bare hands. Or even with a spear. I concluded that perhaps the legend of Maasai morans killing lions with their bare hands and living on to tell the story exists only in our minds. In reality maybe they do it with a spear. Either way, I didn’t ask him if they actually do it. For security reasons. Self preservation. If it so happened to be true you can imagine how far worse he could do to a human being who had the nerve to ask inappropriate questions.
A Maasai Moran
When the assignment was done, I had to drop him off somewhere near Isinya Town, where he had come from. As we reached that town, I brought the car to a steady halt so he would get and be back to his business. When he got out, he waved to say goodbye, and lazily threw in one last remark. A very controversial remark. Not as controversial as the ones our politicians make from time to time, but dangerously close. To put it in his own words he said ‘Safari njema. Na usalimie watoto’. I was just about to drive off, but I turned back with disbelief written all over my face and asked ‘Ati nini?’.
‘Salimia watoto’. He retorted again. This time much slower probably so I wouldn’t have to ask again.
First things first, I think I should probably tell you this at this point; I do not have kids. You can ‘smh’ all you want, but I’m telling you, that Maasai guy actually told me to say hi to my kids. I can’t tell where throughout our interaction he had somehow picked up the notion that I have children. But before I could ask him, he had disappeared into the Isinya landscape like a genie. He was gone, but the impact of his words clung onto me like adult responsibilities. Call me petty. It’s fine. But I decided to dwell on that one remark made somewhere in the heart of Isinya, witnessed by shrubs, cactus and whirlwinds. I knew Maasais could jump, what I didn’t know was how easily they could jump into conclusions.
Throughout that journey back to the city, my mind was conjuring up arguments and counter arguments. Arguments to support the assertion that I could pass off as someone’s dad. Counter arguments to support the assertion that there was no way I could be a father at this time, because I hold this cherished belief that my cool kid days aren’t over yet. You see, I have always considered myself to be a late bloomer. I don’t look old enough to be a father, do I? Maybe it was just a silly prank Maasais like to play on other people. I couldn’t tell really.
In the next few days that followed that incident, I decided to pursue the reality that one day I really might have kids. And I wondered, what really would change that day when that newborn comes into this world with nothing but my DNA and clenched fists. When the nurse holds that bundle of joy and turns towards us (I probably will be in the delivery room to give support to the missus), eyes sparkling with genuine excitement, will they say, ‘It’s a boy’, or ‘It’s a girl’? In any case, what name would the missus and I settle on?
Or when they grow up and start viewing the world through curious lenses, what will I do? What will I do when they look up to me to give them answers to life’s most boggling questions, even when I don’t look up to myself?
Then I figured, you probably get a child when you don’t have all the answers. And you probably never will. Kids don’t come with a manual on how to operate them, a manual that you can refer to when they become sulky and moody, or when they get bullied at school or even when they are the ones doing the bullying. Or when they become teenagers, start experimenting with drugs and wearing skinny jeans like Young Thug.
In the end, I decided that when that time comes, I will sit back with the missus by my side, and watch as that strange epic of parenthood plays on, and whatever happens, whoever our kids turn out to be, I will still be proud of them. Hopefully.