by Otieno Lynn

Dear dad,

Did I wake you from your sleep? Do you sleep wherever you are? 18 years is a long time, are you famished? Do you miss us? Do you work? Do you have hospitals there? How is your career? Did you get to put up that world class hospital you always dreamt of? It will interest you to know that I grew up with dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Something happened along the way though, I am not sure what it is but I can’t even stand the sight of blood anymore. Well we miss you; I particularly miss your special millet ugali…and your voice when you sung ‘Lord in the morning we lift our voices on high.’ That voice still resonates in my head once in a while. It has stuck with me all these years. Do you recall the hymn that we would all sing to during the morning prayers?

A lot has happened since you departed. The baby of the babies is in his third year of study and Bev no longer stuffs groundnuts into her side pockets. She’s all grown and have you heard? She graduated from university last year. Too soon, right? Well the government introduced into the education system an animal called double intake. I didn’t drop out of school, I graduated too; a year before she did. You know what? Some people think we’re twins…we have the same body size, same body weight and almost the same height. She has taken so much after you though. Presumably the only difference between us is that Bev doesn’t smile as often and as heartily as I do. Last week a good friend of mine made a rather weird comment about that smile. I have made so many friends by the way; and I have lost a few along the way too. So this particular friend asked me if I would still smile at the point of my death. Well you can guess what my response was; “oh yes I would.” Bev and I no longer quibble over bed space. She has her own bed and I have my own house. Talking of bed space fights, I am reminded of one night that mum beat me senseless for not being the bigger person. I didn’t know anything about being the bigger person then, but she did well. Dad, in this age and time parents don’t spank their kids, they just ground them and deny them the opportunity to watch Nickelodeon or Jim jam or visit Facebook. Well, you probably have no idea of what that is. It’s something that looks like a gigantic hall full of people; people of all races, people of all colors, people of all shapes and sizes. Here everyone has an equal chance of speaking into the microphone and he who speaks the loudest gets famous. You can talk about absolutely anything; you can rant about your cheeky cat or tell the world that you got a new job. It’s just like twitter; oh I don’t think you know what twitter is either. You’ve been gone for so long papa. I’ll tell you about that some other day. Trust me dad, if you were here today, you would be very proud of your girls.

The boys have transformed into men; some of them have beautiful families and cute little versions of themselves. Have you seen Toi? He left us too and sooner or later, you two are going to meet and he’ll narrate to you just how much you missed. He was the quiet one; he never said much, never did much. I would have shared his dreams with you but he never let anyone in on things so dear to his heart. For some awkward reason, he always told me that he hated popcorn. When you finally meet him, give him a fatherly hug, tell him things will be alright, make him believe in himself, talk to him like a father would to his son. He is dearly missed. Tim and Ric have a striking resemblance, except Ric is a little taller. Teddy is a man of very few words and he is as quiet as always. Did I mention there’s a little man named after you? We call him “Doc”. He is Baba Wesley’s son .He has an infectious smile and his teeth are perfectly arranged. He’s growing pretty fast and he thinks there’s no other woman out there who is prettier than Aunty Lynn. He knows and he is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Aunty Lynn is the standard measure of beauty. The last time we talked on phone he asked me to get him chocolate flavored ice cream and a racing car. Yes dad, in as much as things have changed, boys still love cars! Doc has two younger handsome brothers. How time moves fast!

Mum hasn’t changed much either. She is as resilient as ever, she’s still a fighter, still a warrior, still the same hardworking woman you married. She’s had to bear the burden of two and she is still fighting to give us the best. She still worries about all of us. She looks a little older than she did when you left but the gap between her beautiful teeth is still intact. She still looks lovely and her heart is as young as ever. She prays for us, however far away we are from her. She is still cooks perfectly and whenever we visit, she slaughters the fattest chicken she owns. She loves us and she is doing her best to keep the family together. People love her, her friends adore her and her house is always overflowing with guests. In another life, I would advise you to marry her…again.

I know how anxiously you’ve been waiting to read about me. There isn’t much to tell, just lessons and dreams. One thing is pretty obvious though; I don’t look the same way I did in 1997.I wonder if you would recognize me at all. Well, some people still call me Mom, some call me Atis, a few others call me Lynn, and Doc calls me Alino while others call me Nyar Daktari. A lot has changed but my smile has stood the test of time. I look so much like grandma Nyogembo. My head looks rounder, although sometimes it feels shapeless. And this forehead dad, I’m still wondering where I inherited it compliments my sometimes shapeless head so perfectly. Whenever I visit mum and leave home to go see a friend, mum grills me to know just how well i know this friend. God, I adore this woman. When I was younger it felt like she was being unfair, but now, I know it’s just how much mothers care for their children. Adolescence can turn your world upside down and have you looking at things from a weird perspective. You know that time of your life when everyone is wrong, except you. I have learnt a lot but most importantly I have discovered that life takes more than it gives.

Dad, I have met men; men from all walks of life; Tall men, short men.  In my journey of life I have seen men with bruised egos, men who are confident of themselves. Men who have it all figured out, men who are groping in darkness and still trying to find their way, men whose lives depend on soccer, men who would have wished to be women.I have met men like this one Dad I have met men who believe in working hard and those who would rather be kept and taken care of by women. I have met men who know God, and those who doubt His existence. I have met men who love with all their might and those who think love is a game of chess. I have brushed shoulders with hopeless men, others who are lost; Men who cook like professional experienced chefs and those who can only cook water. I have met men who have mastered the art of telling lies and men who live honestly. And not so long ago dad, I met a man. He is just a man. No, he’s not just a man; he’s a man you’d be pleased to meet. He possesses the agility of a hunter, and he has a firm handshake .I will definitely tell you more about him in my next letter, on father’s day.

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Kenneth Okwaroh May 31, 2016 - 9:15 am

A riveting, honest, emotion packed dad-daughter-cath-up that you won't put down till the last period.

Bonnie Oyando May 31, 2016 - 9:15 am

Interesting, there'some striking similarity between your family and mine, I have a brother called Toi and my Dad died 18 years ago.
Away from the similarity story, you have a way with words, continuing this nyar daktari, I see a brighter future

Lynn Otieno May 31, 2016 - 9:17 am

thank you…hahaa could you be my lost sister?

Lynn Otieno May 31, 2016 - 9:18 am

thanks for reading…and the comment

lilian wafula June 26, 2018 - 9:57 am

this is beautiful Lynn and a great family indeed.keep walking….


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