I am no longer allowed to talk about you. At least not publicly. The last time I did, things did not go very well. I tweeted saying that I am manifesting getting you before the end of the year, and the world went to shit. Lakwan started getting phone calls and texts from people asking if she was pregnant already. Because on Twitter we manifest things the way miracles happen in Nairobi churches; it is already arranged. Thing is, I was holding your cousin (she’s 4 months old now) and in a moment of weakness, I tweeted that manifestation. Baby fever burns, but not like malaria fever. You see someone else’s baby and you get this fiery urge to do bad manners just to get one of your own.
And God knows I have wanted you for a while now. And I have always talked about how I can’t wait to meet you. Until the Saturday morning after my tweet. She had already been awake before me, and as soon as my eyes parted, she said “I think you need to stop tweeting about us getting a child”. Then she went on and on about the previous night and to be honest, I really did not want to be lectured first thing in the morning – I already hate mornings as it is – so I said, “OK. OK. OK. I get your point.”
I wasn’t being ati dismissive, just to shut her up. I did get her point. I just wished a man could be allowed a morning yawn first, and (if it is not too much to ask) a pee. You know? Maybe even sneak in my daily affirmations bana.
The reason for her dawn reprimand was because the previous Friday night we’d gone to Nairobi’s bedroom – the one that people otherwise call Mercury. It has been almost like a ritual to end our Fridays in that dimly lit, crowded lounge in which cocktails go for the price of NFTs, and DJs dislike the idea of a song going on for more than 10 seconds. Don’t ask me why we go there; we just do.
It is at Mercury that I got into trouble for something I technically didn’t do. As soon as we ordered drinks and settled down the first person came. It was a girl – known her for a bit. She hugs me hello, and I introduce her to Lakwan, and she goes like “Oh ni huyu?”. Then she blessed her womb. No seriously, she put her hands on Lakwan’s stomach and said a prayer – then held the area I tie my belt, scooped something neither of us could see, and deposited it on Lakwan’s tummy.
It sounds weird when I say it like that, but really, it was a tease. Rather, that is how I took it.
Then came Alex. We used to play basketball together, until our bones decided otherwise. Spotted him, said hello, and then introduced Lakwan. “aaaaaah, it is you!” he began, and then he spent sijui how long talking to her about you. I think a couple more people might have said something.
So you see how my Twitter followers got me in trouble? That is why I am not to talk about you anymore. It might sound flimsy, but it is a little more complicated than having your womb blessed by strangers from the internet.
Understand this, your mother is a woman. Duh. That gender doesn’t play with the same rules as the rest of us. And the world we live in does not care for science or fact; that’s why the sole responsibility of having you is placed on women. If for some reason we are unable to bring you to this world, it will always be your mother’s fault. Nobody will care if perhaps I am the one with an empty trouser. Nobody will want to know that you are not in her plans for this year – or that something happened and we had to put a pause on that plan until a later time. Nobody will want to know that her contraception took a bit of time to wane off – it happens. If you were to start growing in her belly, and then you are taken away from us (knock on wood), it is her womb that will turn into a graveyard.
Can you imagine the pressure? Can you feel the weight of that responsibility? Now imagine having to deal with it both privately and now publicly, because your boyfriend blasted it out to over 45,000 internet followers.
It is not even far-fetched to imagine the consequences, because the day I tweeted about it she already got inquiries. From her friends, family and akina Alex who found her at the club and decided to give her a talk about parenthood. Never mind that your mother was only here to sip on her Cosmo and listen to a DJ repeating his name as if he cannot believe it.
Manifesting closing this year with my own baby. 🙏🏿🧎🏾♂️🪔🕯🧎🏾♂️🕯🧎🏾♂️🤲🏿🧎🏾♂️🕯
I think I am ready yawa.
— M A G U N G A 🇲🇱 (@theMagunga) January 6, 2022
Make no mistake though. There is a gag order on talking about you on Twitter (thanks a bunch, Alex), but that doesn’t mean I long for you any less. In that longing for you, I unknowingly wrote the end a beautiful story before it began. And it was painful to choose someone I have never met over someone I loved. But it’s you I ended up wanting more. Then your mother came along and everything made sense, and the reality of you started seeming more and more like a possibility, and less like a compromise.
I have thought about you when looking for a house; so that you can have your own room like I didn’t. When buying furniture; even though you won’t be able to use that dining table for another half a decade. When buying a car – nothing fancy, but something you can be proud of, because I am looking forward to picking you up from school every so often.
I have thought of you when I am cooking while listening to Fancy Finger’s album. I have thought of singing How I Met Your Mama and Fancy Feeling to you, even though my voice sounds like a bus preacher. This album also awakens the insecurities I have of having you. In the last song Nitarudi, Polycarp and Mordecai promise to always come back home to their children. I am still unable to listen to that song without acid burning my eyes because my father made that promise to me, and it ended up being the last thing he ever said to me. He lied. He didn’t come back. And so I can’t sing that song to you because I do not want to lie to you. I do not want to make promises I am not sure I can keep.
In his absence, my father has taught me what kind of a father I want to be to you; one whose memory will one day bring tears to your eyes.
I have thought about what I will call you. Lakwan doesn’t know it yet, but this is another battle we are about to have, and if there is one thing you should know about your father by now, is that he abhors losing. Your mother believes that every child should be given their own names; free of the weight of generations so that they can make a name for themselves. I, on the other hand, am of an old-school persuasion – the one that honours lineage, roots you to your people. Your ancestors lived so that you did not have to make a name for yourself. It is a responsibility – not a burden – bear the names of those who came before you; that is a time-honored heirloom. If I end up not being able to give you much, at least I will give you an identity; as a true born son or daughter of Karuoth Clan.
(I have a name in mind – just waiting for your arrival so that I can convince her)
Your mother doesn’t know this, but there is an age you get to and people start looking at you with squinting eyes too. Women have it worse, granted, but that does not mean men do not experience it. Get married, build a home, sire children – prove you have something between your legs. You will feel the expectation long before it is vocalized. Even though nobody will bring it up, there is the constant nagging thought that I am the only male son of my father who has not continued with his bloodline.
Your grandmother started asking questions. Like “what are you waiting for, George?” Followed by “you know you’re a man now, eh?” And when you are the bone of your mother, you know she has always seen and treated you as a child, so you start wondering, when did I stop being just your lastborn? It happens like a switch; one day she is dendoing you and the next she tapping the front of her wrist with her index finger impatiently.
She even offered to pay for your insurance. Most definitely offered as a bribe; but still as sweet as a grandmother can be.
The last time I spoke of you [and your siblings], I was in a club with a couple of lady friends. The tweet came up again. I don’t know what it is about that tweet that keeps coming up when I am out. These women kept talking about all the stresses of being a parent. Well-meaning, of course, in the assumption that I don’t know exactly what I am signing up for. They played for me the greatest hits; long days and longer nights starting from pregnancy, dirty diapers, the cost of diapers (because I can own over 30 pairs of shoes, but diapers are what will defeat Magunga kaMeja), school fees, colic (another fan favourite), baby formular, this Jubilee economy, climate change, etc.
I am surprised nobody brought up soil erosion, rural-urban migration, Al Shabaab, or Eric Omondi’s comedy.
It became pretty obvious that talking about the one thing I have wanted for so long invites people to tell you everything about how bad of an idea it is, or how dangerous it is, or just how drastically my life was about to change (seemingly for the worse). They did not know just how long I have thought about having you; that the only reason I didn’t have you sooner is because of all these reasons they have for me not having you. And I overcame these fears years ago.
Not all of the ladies were like that, though. One remained silent and when asked, she said, “all the best.”
It was then that I realized that that is all I ever needed to hear. All the best doesn’t lie to you that the job ahead will be easy; but in those words, there is a reassurance that it is not insurmountable. All the best. That’s it. Not womb blessings, or having your mother lectured on parenthood, or all these threats of Armageddon.
I haven’t written anything on here since I lost my Twitter account. But when the gag order was put in place, I had a few things on my chest that I had to put down, and 280 characters weren’t going to cut it. So I went back to your mother with a plea to lift the order for one last conversation about you and then it will be a total blackout.
“One post? You’re sure?”
“Nyasachiel, I swear just one.”
“Sawa, and then you do not bring this up again on the internet.”
“Ah, don’t worry – ata they will forget about this before the next Azimio rally.”
“I don’t know, George; the best way to end a conversation is to let it rest, not write a 2000-word blogpost.”
That’s how I got this one last chance to talk to you. Both your mother and I are under pressure, but you see, we are different people. You have to understand, she did not ask for all this attention. Also, I should have known better, honestly, knowing the internet the way I do. From now on, no more baby propaganda on my timeline however hot the fever flares.
It’s just me and you now, buddy.