If you all remember, last year, Catherine, the mother of Branton, accompanied by her man-friend who works at the county government of Kakamega and smells of corruption, came to visit. She went away with Branton, saying he was not being well taken care of.
At the time, we were staying with Branton in Mwisho wa Lami after the laugh of my life, Fiolina, went with everyone else in Kakamega, leaving me with Branton in the village. It was a difficult life.
You know Branton, I am not saying that he is a bad boy. I am saying he is not a good boy. At his age, I was a very responsible and dutiful boy who did chores without any complaint or needing to be reminded.
With Fiolina away, I expected Branton to be the same: to clean, to wash and to cook! But no, outside the school, the boy did only three things: playing, eating, and going to the toilet. It did not take long before we differed. Not long afterwards, I created a situation that made Catherine pick him to go and stay with her, saying the Mwisho wa Lami environment was not conducive for Branton.
I pretended to be unhappy with the decision but deep down I was very happy. I now had freedom to do what I wanted: to arrive home late, leave when I wanted, wake up the time I wanted, and eat what I wanted — which was out of the house. It could be at Kasuku Hotel, at Rumona’s, or at Nzomo’s. With Branton around, I always had to think of what he would eat every day. I had to ensure he was doing the right thing every time. It was not easy work.
But now that he was gone, life was going to be easy. Indeed, it was, until Catherine started messing up things. You would expect that Catherine, a school HM who lives with a man who is swimming in corruption money, would be content raising her son without help. Not Catherine. A month after she took Branton, I received a letter from her. She was demanding hefty upkeep fees to enable her to raise Branton. She was asking for money for rent, food, school fees, clothing and entertainment. In total, she wanted Sh32,000 every month.
“Are you normal?” I asked her when I called her. “Have you ever seen a money tree in Mwisho wa Lami where I can easily pluck money and send it to you? Do not be ridiculous!”
“I do not stay in a village like you where life is cheap,” she said. “Here, everything is expensive. We buy literally everything: food, water, fruits … name them. We also pay rent, school fees among others for our son. And you know how the boy eats. He must have taken the habit of eating a lot from you.”
“I understand what you are saying, Cate,” I told her. “But you know what I earn as Deputy HM.” I went on. “Plus, I do not have a rich husband like you who has a lot of money.”
“But you have a rich wife, Dre,” she said. “I have met her several times at The Golf and other expensive places blowing money. You think I don’t know her?”
“In any case, what do you do with your money?” she asked. “You do not pay rent, you do not buy food. I know you eat in other people’s houses; you do not pay school fees, your alcohol is cheap, and you give nothing to your parents or relatives. Where do you take your money, Dre?”
The long and short is that we did not agree, and I never sent her anything, except early this year when we received sacco dividends and I sent her Sh9,000. She did not even say ‘thank you’; she only sent me a receipt from Hill School Kakamega showing that Sh7,000 had been paid and the balance was Sh23,000. I did not respond to her, for I never asked her to take Branton to an expensive private school when we have free primary education. That was her problem.
Last month, Catherine called, threatening to bring Branton back to me. Not only was he expensive to keep, she complained, he also was very indisciplined.
“I wonder why you did not bring him up in a good way. The boy doesn’t help with housework, does not clean and his room is a mess. Eating is the only thing that he does well,” she said.
“It is good that you are staying with him and now know who your son really is,” I said, with emphasis on “your son” to remind her that Branton is not my biological son.
“Don’t get me started on that. Branton is our son and you cannot start bringing up this nonsense over 10 years later,” she said, getting upset. “Plus, when this boy stayed with me, he was so disciplined. He had good manners. He got spoilt when he came to stay with you.”
“We all know that I am not the father of Branton but being a real man, I have accepted to be a father figure to him, and I will not run away from that.”
I went on: “But if he is better off staying with you, why do you want to bring him back to me?”
“I want to stay with him, but you must also contribute,” she said. “I shared with you the budget already, just do the needful.”
I told her to forget about Sh32,000, and reminded her that I did not take Branton to an expensive school, that her rent was being paid by her corrupt man-friend, and that food was not that expensive.
She disconnected the call. I did not call back. Last week, she called me several times but I ignored.
Yesterday, as I was preparing to leave for Hitler’s for evening classes, I heard a car approach. It was a big county vehicle. In the car was the driver and Catherine’s man-friend. At the back was Branton and Catherine. Catherine helped Branton get out his bags.
“We have tried to give you the very best of life, but you are neither thankful nor do you make it easier for us,” said Catherine. “Please now stay with your father. I am sure you will enjoy it here.”
She did not even alight from the vehicle. She closed the door and they sped out of the compound.
My house was not in a very good state. The kitchen had not been used for over a week. I went to the butchery and bought a half a kilogramme of beef, onions, and tomatoes, which I gave to Branton to prepare as I left for Hitler’s.
I can’t promise that life will be easy for Branton and I. But I can promise that he will learn a lot.