MY STORY: Growing up with an absentee dad
It pains me when I see my peers walk with their fathers, talk to them on phone, or just hearing them say ‘daddy’. That is the one word that my lips never find easy to utter.
I will never forget the day that my biological father walked out on me and my mother. I was young child, about three years old, but I can’t forget that day. I remember my mum weeping uncontrollably begging him to stay with us but no amount of persuasion could change his mind.
It all started with little disagreements between my parents. Day after day they had something to argue about. Ultimately, this led to physical fights. I hated what I used to see. I would run and hide under the bed to avoid witnessing such. It really used to torment me. I wished I could help my mum fight back but I was too scared. Father was very strong and extremely rough. He made it a habit of giving us sleepless nights and painful days, whether sober or drunk.
I later came to know, that my father had another woman in his life, even though he was married to my mother. This is where he used to spend all his money, time and affection. Not only was he having an affair with her; he had a child with her.
So basically, he had another family somewhere else. But that was not the problem. What hurt the most was the fact that the other family seemed to be more of a ‘family’ to him than mum and I. He completely neglected us.
I watched mum struggle with the hustles of life to put food on the table. At times we went for a day or two without eating anything. Sometimes she could only afford to get me something to eat while she slept on an empty stomach.
As I grew older, into a young boy, I would help her do a few things here and there. I remember us selling charcoal and walking with firewood from door to door hoping to find a customer or two. At some point we used to sell vegetables and fruits.
I WORKED HARD
We literally tried all the petty businesses we could manage. With the little money that mum got, she managed to take me school. Every single morning as I left the house for school, she never failed to remind me to study hard. Those words kept on ringing in my head all day long. I did exactly that; I worked hard.
When I sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, I scored high marks that secured me a chance in one of the most prestigious national schools in the country.
This was great news as much as it was challenging. Mum could not afford the school fee as it was very expensive. But the faith we had in God was so strong such that well-wishers came to our rescue and I was able to join high school.
With the same determination I had in primary school, I studied extra hard because I knew exactly where we had come from and I did not want to disappoint those who had sponsored me.
When the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results were released, I was overwhelmed. I had scored good grades that enabled me to qualify to join the university.
Today, I am at Kenyatta University, pursuing degree in Education and lucky enough, I’ve been able to secure a part-time job in the same field. I help my mum as much as I can; I do this because she toiled for me single handedly. I owe her everything I have in this world.
As for my father, wherever he is, for missing my boyhood and my young adulthood, and for abandoning my mum, I pray that one day I’ll find the strength in my heart to be at peace with him.
The story as told to Phylis A. Tambasi of Content Production Media, a Nairobi based Media Company that creates elegant content for print, online platforms, film and television.