It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand my father. I don’t know if it’s old age or something else, but the old man has been keeping Pius, Ford and I guessing who his favourite son is.
Since I am the one who stays around and takes care of his thirst problems, I am always the presumed preferred son.
But every time Pius visits, he brings a bottle of Kenya Cane which he says is very expensive.
He also usually upgrades Mzee from Hitler’s to Cosmos. At such times, the old man always about my existence.
And now it seems Ford, our kid brother, has learnt from Pius. You all remember the day I got a job Father called me and gave me one long lecture on how to behave as a working class person complete with financial management tips.
“Don’t visit and eat or drink in any home,” he said. “You never know what is in that food.”
When I reminded him that we had been eating in any home for years, he retorted: “You were safe when you did not have a job, but now that you are in the upper class, be very careful with the middle class people.”
He also warned me never to lend or borrow money.
“Only failures borrow, and only fools lend out anything,” he said. We were at Hitler’s drinking on credit.
Mzee then finished off by telling me that Ford, who was born in 1991, was now my son.
In Mwisho wa Lami-speak, what Mzee meant was that I would, going forward, take care of all Ford’s financial needs.
That year, I paid for his KCPE exam, and then for his school fees at Mwisho wa Lami Secondary.
Enemies of development will point out that Ford still has some fees balance at Mwisho wa Lami Secondary but they forget that any money that was ever paid at that school was mine.
Pius never contributed a penny. He always said he had educated me so that I could educate others.
Unlike me, Ford was not an academically talented student. When he sat his KCSE he scored a D+.
If you will remember, in my year, I scored a strong C-, setting a record that took years to break.
Although a D+ is not so far away from a C-, any knowledgeable education expert will tell you that a D+ of today is much worse than an E in our day; and that a C- of our days is equal to perhaps a B.
After Ford wrote his last exam, he went to Hitler’s, from where he announced to all and sundry he would never step in school again.
My father kept urging me to get Ford a college but the boy insisted he wanted to start a business – any business.
Early last year, Pius called him to Nairobi. Soon, I heard that ,using his connections, Pius managed had got him a place at the Prisons training college. After training, Ford was posted to Shimo prison in Coast Province.
Last week was the first time Ford returned home after about a year. And he arrived in style. It was the neighbour’s children who came to our home running to announce that they had seen a “jeshi”.
I was wondering what a military man would be looking for in our home when I saw Ford in his green prison warder’s uniform.
My parents were happy to see him, and not sooner had he entered the house than Mother instructed me to run after one chicken to slaughter for him.
After lunch, Ford changed into another set of uniform complete with a green sweater, and asked me to join him for a walk around Mwisho wa Lami.
You should have seen how people ran away from Hitler’s as we approached. They thought Ford was a policeman. But the moment they realised it was Ford, they all came back.
He bought drinks for a few people then we left for Cosmos.
On the way home late in the night, Ford sang loudly: “Where are those who said that I fell down in exams? Do they have a job like mine?”
I tried to calm him down but he would not stop.
Our parents were waiting for us. After supper, Ford took a bottle of Kenya Cane which he gave to Father. He also had a leso for Mother.
While they were still smiling, he announced that he had a project that had brought him home.
“I want to build my house,” he said. With the bottle still in his hands, Father quickly accepted.
The next day I returned to find Ford seated with my father. This was rare as my father was concerned about Ford’s affairs. That day, Ford paid Nyayo to cut grass in compound and trim the fences.
“Dre, the home was so bushy someone can think there is no young man around,” Ford said.
“You tell him,” Father said. “He doesn’t care about this home.”
“Dre, Mzee is getting old so we need to take good care of him,” Ford added.
Here was the boy who had been perpetually on suspension from school speaking about responsibility.
Soon he with Father for Cosmos and I did not follow them. They returned home very late.
The next day when I returned from school, I was surprised to find that Ford had started building his house near the road, at exactly the same place I had told Father I wanted to put up a posho mill. I confronted them, asking why I had not even been consulted.
“Andrea, this is not your home,” Father said. “I do not have to consult you.”
“But you know I wanted to put up a posho mill here,” I protested.
“You have been talking about that posho mill for years, I don’t think you will ever buy it,” he replied.
“Mshahara ya walimu inaweza nunua tingatinga kweli?” Ford asked laughing. “Pengine achukue Sacco loan.”
“Wewe usidharau mshahara yangu na ilikusomesha,” I reminded him.
“Ulinisomesha lakini na arrears zimejaa Mwisho wa Lami Secondary,” he replied.
“We kijana utaniheshimu!” I told Ford menacingly,“usifikirie naogopa kirauni.”
“Na ujue huyu sio ule Ford umezoea,” he said. “Ruiru sio Kilimambogo! Tumetrain kijana.”
“Askari jela hawezi nishtua,” I told him, as I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.
Our parents intervened and separated us, and reprimanded me, telling me to respect Ford.
As I went to my house to finish my lesson plans, I saw Ford and Father walk to Hitler’s. The first sign that Ford was getting broke. I hope Mzee will not be returning to me when Ford leaves.