The cycle of widower abuse reared its ugly head again in Got Regea sub-location, Gem Constituency, Siaya County, where my father lives.
Last Monday morning, my maternal cousin, Ochi intercepted Victor Otuchi – a paternal relative – who, unbeknownst to any of us, was rushing my father to Siaya town to ostensibly “help” my dear dad to collect his government cash transfer. Victor calls my pops kwara, which is grandfather in DhoLuo.
Help. Yeah. Like help himself to an old man’s money. Victor is part of a cabal of villagers who have turned my father into a monthly ATM.
Ochi has been an enormous help over the past several months. Though I’ve employed someone to look after my father, Ochi constantly drops in to check on things. He has never seen Victor. Until last Monday.
Ochi had to tell his boda boda rider to speed up and catch up with the pair.
“Where are you going with Jaduong’?” Ochi asked Victor.
“I’m taking kwara to Siaya,” Victor retorted.
“To do what?”
Also read: Who will protect our old widowed dads?
On Friday of the same week, Victor was at it again. He went for my father early in the morning and, against his cognitive will, took him to Yala to withdraw his pension. He switched off his phone.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Ochi asked Victor when he returned from Yala.
“There’s nothing you can do,” the abuser retorted.
Such exploitations make you wonder the real intentions of some people. And what’s worse is that this is a blood relative. Someone who should know better and do better.
I reported the matter to the sub-chief, who gave me the phone number of the headman. He assured me there’s a chain of command. I hoped the headman would intervene and, at least, issue an injunction against folks who have seen my aging father as easy prey.
But the headman’s number is mteja. Always.
That reminds me. Roy Obare, the neighbour who defrauded my father of a barbed wire, is still walking free.
That’s the nature of systems in our doggone country. Broken. Or it may just be dereliction of duty from persons in authority. Or both.
My father is not alone. Old widowers are having it rough, especially those whose children work in other towns or outside country. A reader in the diaspora wrote to me about the abuse his father is facing in the village at the hands of relatives, and how the system is failing them.
Another reader wrote to me mourning the plight of an old widower who is being abused by his children. The community is watching and enjoying this sick spectacle instead of rising up in arms.
If systems that have been put in place are not functioning or are irredeemably deficient, then it leads desperate sons to take desperate measures to protect their abused fathers.
Attention all men
I am drawing attention to this because, however you spin it, this is abuse. And no form of abuse should ever be tolerated.
I am drawing attention to this because, with each passing day, I am drawing close to where my father is. I am drawing close to a place where I may need supervised help. A place where my cognitive abilities may be compromised and I may be vulnerable to abuse.
The day may seem far away. But men can feel it in their creaking knees. They can feel that day edging closer in their failing eyesight and aching backs and receding hairlines. And if a man stands aside while an injustice is happening, it is akin to aiding and abetting the intransigent.
I am drawing attention to this because this is the last honourable thing I can do for my father. The Bible likens sons to arrows in a man’s quiver. And arrows are not for decoration, but defence and offence. I don’t want to be plagued by guilt and regrets after my father has gone to be with the Lord.
Read the first part here.