Of my girls, a man called Muchiri & why I’ll knock a random fellow’s tooth off
- February 04, 2018
It is evening of a Thursday before a long weekend. There is no work till Tuesday for most Kenyans and Nairobi is happy. So happy that I bumped into a girl while crossing the road on the way here. She smiled softly and apologised.
Any other day, she will drill a hole in your toe with her fake Gucci heel, crack open your nuts with her wildly swinging hand, then flash you a murderous glare and a smirk before sashaying away. Not today.
The coffee joints in the CBD are packed. So are the bars, I guess. The holiday doesn’t affect my job schedule. News don’t take a break. Media, therefore, doesn’t break.
But my wife will. She studied journalism, but is not in News. I am here to buy her coffee, keep the fires burning, they say. But she needs to hurry because Nairobi is full of beautiful women. It’s impossible not to look. It would be unnatural not to. I am a fully functional, healthy male.
I’m secretly surveying a lady in a bright yellow top and wondering if the beautiful, long hair flowing from her dome was actually grown by her skull or by some poor pony’s tail. I am about to make the momentous conclusion when I am startled by a heavy hand on my shoulder.
I look up from the menu I am holding upside down to a smiling face from more than 20 years ago. Muchiri was my fiercest academic rival in Primary School. Swapped positions one and two continuously until I comprehensively thumped him in KCPE. We were not enemies, but neither were we friends.
I notice out loud that he now has a beard and has grown a foot shorter. “When are the babies due?” I ask jokingly alluding to the huge protrusion of his tummy. He laughs. I soon learn he did architecture and his bank accounts are doing fine. I wouldn’t say the same of mine. I also learn that he is still scouting for Miss Right. Said he sees me on the newspaper and even follows on social media. I am flattered.
He asks how my family is, whether I’m still stuck with my little one’s mother. I tell him I might as well have married a bottle of Super Glue. He laughs and is genuinely shocked to learn that I have a second kid.
The firstborn is now four and half, I answer him. The second born turned a year four months ago.
It didn’t take long for the conversation with Muchiri to take the all so familiar route.
Him: “The first born is girl, yeah?”
Me: Yep, she is my mother.
Him: And the other?
Me: Girl too… She is my wife’s mother.
Him (in a consoling tone): Don’t worry, God will give you a boy next time.
Me (trying hard not to get angry): I’m not looking for a boy. In fact, I’m done birthing. Two are a good number and I’m 101 per cent okay with my girls…
Him (shakes head dismissively): Really? You don’t know what you are talking about…
I am a fellow with a relatively generous degree of tolerance. The road is the only place that is able to blow my highly resistant fuse at pretty low voltage. However, I’m now finding my ears begin to smoke with Muchiri and his ilk. And they are more common than you think. Perhaps you are one of them. I hope not.
This dialogue with Muchiri, I would have no qualms holding with my grandparents. But I have held it with kids whose breath still reek of breast milk. And believe it, most ‘consolers’ are women.
And, guess what, it’s also not “an entirely African thing”. I met some Hungarian lady, who had the whitest shade of white I’ve ever seen on a living human face, at a media event a month ago and conversation drifted to family. Like Muchiri, she too, insisted I should hunt for a boy –but in really terrible English.
Dear folks, just stop this child discrimination on gender. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fathering girls. Really, there isn’t.
Was I looking for a boy? Nope!
Are boys better children to have than girls? I’ve never fathered a boy (as far as I know), so nope!
Would I swap my little girl for a boy if time was reversed and I was given the option? Absolutely, capital N-O! I would want her exactly the way she is, every little inch of her tiny, pretty, woman.
Day and night
My only gender prayer was a girl for a firstborn. Experience had shown that firstborn girls are able to shape the siblings better. If you make a success out of her as the parent, she more often than not will drag the rest along. Fail with her, the others will probably crumble alongside.
As for men, we are wired totally different, if at all. We don’t tend to have come with as much care installed. Our view of situations, therefore, tends to be completely overturned from that of the firstborn girl.
Take me for example. Very pretty female cousins and sisters I was born with. But instead of chasing away the boys interested in my small sister and younger female cousins with poisoned arrows, I was the go-between. I basked in the glory of being the custodian of such beauties and that meant a never-ending supply of alcohol. Any boy seeking a connection had to make an impression on me first.
Meanwhile, my elder sister would tear to shreds any boy -or girl- who would as much as breath in the same direction of her younger charges. We, boys that is, don’t mean bad, just not wired to mother others.
So with my prayer for a firstborn girl answered upon the birth of Zuwena, I was content, no irreducible minimums. Whatever gender or order the rest of the kids turned out, it didn’t matter. So when Kendi joined the Kimsy’s on that hectic midday of a 2016 September, I was content. And from a father’s point of view, girls are amazing to have. They love their mother, that, they do. But there is a different sort of connection with their dad. At least I know there is with mine.
For example, the nature of my job requires that I leave office after 8:30pm on average. Most times, I get home closer to 11 than 10pm. And most nights, until recently that she has started school-proper, I found the older one waiting up. In an effort to fight sleep, she would sing endless songs all alone in the sitting room until her father got home. And you should see the sparkle in her eyes when the door opened. There is no feeling like that of her tiny hands wrapped around my neck, her little lips pressed on my cheeks for her nightly peck. It is an unqualified delight.
If I get home early enough, her sister, who now can walk will half run, half fly to hug my knee with “tatty, tatty…” calls filling the air. And when I lift her in my arms, she cuddles my face with her tiny palms, stroking my beard amid chuckles of unpretentious excitement. Perhaps even boys do the same. I have no idea. I really don’t care.
What I know is that I wouldn’t want different tots from the ones I have –boy notwithstanding. My girls are amazing (okay, until they open their mouths to scream but it’s a worthy price).
My prayer is that I will bring them up into women full of pride in womanhood. Women strong to enough to acknowledge that there is no superiority contest between the genders. To appreciate that the two sexes are just created different, each with it’s unique strengths over the other, traits that are meant to complement the weaknesses inherent in each.
So dear folks, the next time you meet me, please remember, I am content with my little princesses (and their mother too –and I’m not under duress writing this…help!). I hope you are with yours too, boys, girls or mix. Because the next ‘consolation’ may cost some unlucky bloke a tooth.