What you need to know:
- Mzee was seated in his sitting room facing towards the gate so he could see anyone who approached the house.
- Usually, my mother would be been busy preparing food upon seeing me.
The last time my father summoned me was long ago. So, when last week I arrived from Hitler’s and heard that the old man had been looking for me, I got surprised. I tried calling him, but his phone was off. I assumed that he would call me back later. That was last Monday.
I continued with my day-to-day work the next day. With Branton and Electina away, Fiolina and I were shouldering most of the household chores. After finishing most of the work, I decided to take a walk around the village.
I had planned to pass by Hitler’s, but learnt that police had raided the place the evening before as he was still selling his stiff despite the government ban on alcohol.
So I went to Saphire’s home, but he was not there. I went back home to find that my old man had been looking for me, again. And his phone was still off. “Why don’t you just go and see him?” Prodded Fiolina.
Finally, I decided to visit him. Mzee was seated in his sitting room facing towards the gate so he could see anyone who approached the house. We started with the usual small talk, him asking how I was doing and I answering in monosyllables of Yes or No, or Ok. But I could see there was something he wanted to speak out and was getting impatient with the niceties.
Usually, my mother would be been busy preparing food upon seeing me. But there were no such signs. She greeted me, then sat next to her husband. I did not need a calculator to know that I would have a long session with my parents.
“How is school?” My father asked. I told him all schools were closed until next year. “So, you mean teachers are also just at home doing nothing?” Asked mum. “Are you being paid?” Mzee asked pensively.
“Yes, but you know we earn so little,” I added. “You are very lucky,” he said.
“How come you have never visited us yet huendi shule?” Asked mum. “Nilikuona Mwisho March.”
I apologised, saying I had planned to visit, but work had kept me busy.
“Which work?” Asked my father, staring angrily. The last time he gave me that look was 15 years ago. At the time, I was in Kilimambogo TTC, and he had summoned me over my drinking habit. “Just normal jobs at home, especially not that Branton is away,” I answered. “We will come to Branton matter later,” he said. “It is only last week that he left, he has always been there.”
I did not have a good reason for not visiting them, but I could not admit.
“And what do you think we have been eating?” Asked mum. “Where do you think we get money from to buy sugar and masks?”
Before I could answer, my father looked at me and asked; “When did you last send me money? Or even your mother?” I could not remember the last time I sent them something. “Some time ago,” I started explaining. “You see this Corona has really affected us…
” My father stopped me: “How has Corona affected you? Did you lose your job? Did you get a salary cut? Or are you working longer that you used to?”
The answer was No. But I could not tell him that. “It’s just that things have become more expensive.” The explanation sounded lame, even to me.
“And where is my grandson Branton?” asked mum. I told her he went to his aunt Yunia. “Do you know what he is eating there?” I said Branton went without my permission, and thus whatever he was eating was none of my problem.
“Your mother just asked if you have sent anything there to support your sister for staying with your son, whom you know eats a lot.” I told them that Yunia had not complained or asked for any support. “But she has complained to us,” said mum. “You are the only one in this family who is still getting full pay, despite not working, yet umetuwacha tu hivyo.”
“All markets were closed because of Corona so your mother doesn’t work anymore,” said Mzee before asking: “What do you think we are eating? Stones?”
I could see pain in their eyes as they narrated how they toiled to bring me up. I apologised and told them that I would send them something that evening, and every other month. Later that night, I sent each Sh1,500.
The next morning, my mother was at the shopping centre buying beef while father was busy in the bar. In the afternoon, he was walking around the village singing and praising his son, obviously drunk.
So, when later in the week Fiolina told me that her parents wanted to see me, I needed no calculator to know the reason for the summons.
I said I will let her know when I am ready to meet them. That is not happening anytime soon. My parents, too, should forget about receiving something every month!