Up to here, son.

Mwalimu G. Thuo a.k.a Baba Issa

Mwalimu G. Thuo a.k.a Baba Issa

Half a century ago somewhere in the middle of the East of Africa in central Kenya, in a quiet and calm village, the cry of a child brought the village to life. The last born in his family, he didn’t have an idea that somebody today would be sharing lessons from his life to the world. Mama had hope in this last one. It seemed that this child was her only source of hope. So she held his hand, sacrificed her own happiness to see him smile. Along that path, she lost the services of her husband to cruel death and that beat her down. Thank a mum for always being a star! Today, that child is a man, married, with kids, a good career and a good name to himself. When he is walking in his home town men and women alike refer to him as “mwalimu”, his age mates will call him by his first name, in the village streets young children run after his small car. A respected man in the society, I call him Dad.

Being there.
Dad has granted my life an opportunity to learn through one secret that I have learnt and that I will hopefully pass on to mine own son; the secret of being there. Been around for just over two decades and I can’t remember a period of time in my life I spent away from him, except of course for times when I have been away in school. Daddy showed me that family is far more important than anything and spending your life with them was not a noble option but an essential obligation. And if the happiness I have seen with us is anything to go by, that a lesson am not willing to sacrifice for anything.

Gift from Dad.
I remember the night in 1997 April. Mum and I were in the house when we heard the familiar ringing of a bicycle bell. We knew daddy was home! I ran out quickly to meet him but something caught my attention, instead of his usual bike, he was pushing a small boy’s bicycle, my first real birthday gift. Well, that bike is responsible for the blemish marks on my hands and legs for the many “accidents” we went through together. Both of us are still alive though, and kicking! That got me knowing there are things a father has got to give to his son that can only come from him. And if the proud son I am is anything to go by, that’s a lesson am not willing to exchange for anything.

Let him grow.
When I applied to join driving school (in Nairobi we have driving academies), I already knew how to drive, thanks to dad. I remember the first day I sat behind the wheel, I was too small that I had to sit on his lap. Actually he did all the driving, I was only turning the steering wheel. After few video game like driving trips (where you only turn the car left or right) I was allowed to use the brakes the gradually the accelerator and eventually I could sit alone on the driver’s seat. Now I know what he was doing; allowing me to grow. As I began, my body size and concentration span could not allow me drive comfortably and of course with time all that changed and today he is comfortable to let me have the car to myself. The point? Allow him to grow. And if the responsible driver I am with a car today is anything to go by, that’s a lesson am not willing to trade for anything.

Be at home.
Being a teacher in a public school dad got many transfers and promotions in equal measure. But I guess his big break came when he got a transfer to a boys boarding high school with a student population of 800 in the position of deputy principal. This also came with a good staff quarters house for which the school catered for all the costs of amenities. The only thing is that it was going to draw him away from mum due to the distance from home and the demands of the job. He did go, for 3 years but he quit recently, to go back home. The back home came with a cost and he had to go to a “small” school…small enough, but he was happy. Lesson? Stay with your wife, both of you will be happy. There is no sacrifice too hard for the bone of your bones. If it means taking hard decisions, well, let it be. And if the vibrancy am seeing is anything to go by, that’s a lesson am not willing to give away for anything.

Up to here, son.
Recently dad told me that a man has got to prepare for his days after employment, one of the reasons he had to stay at home. Having a young but promising business could not allow him to be far from home. But I took it differently. Him retiring is akin to me taking over. It is like he is saying, “Son, only up to here – you have got to go on by yourself now.” This is a man who did not have the privilege of growing up under his father’s watch yet he did his best, to be a father to his son. That is exactly what I must do for my son, my best. Someday, hopefully, he will write the lessons from me to pass on to his own son. And if that is the reality of the future, this is a life am not willing to gamble with.

6 thoughts on “Up to here, son.

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