DEAR SON:  I pray you don’t inherit my two left feet

Friday October 6 2017

I also pray that you won’t inherit your my pair

I also pray that you won’t inherit your my pair of left feet. I’m a log when it comes to dancing. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

By PETER MOGAMBI

Dear Ji-jee,

I pray that when you are old enough to hurl a stone, when you start becoming politically conscious, you will be your own man. That you won’t let yourself be used by any politician who wants to boost their political capital.

For I have seen youth die at their prime after taking politicians too seriously, and a whole generation is ruined. Take it slow, son.

But I also pray that you be someone who will stand up for your rights. Martin Luther King Jr said a man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.

 I pray that you won’t be the man who bends your back for others to ride. Fight for any just cause.

Ask questions. Stand your ground. But always ensure the ground you are standing on is stable enough.

I pray that you grow up to be a man who can control his temper; who will not make headlines for doing things in a fit of rage.

For I have heard more than enough cases of a policeman who shot a lover then shot himself, a man who hacked his wife and children to death before hanging himself, a woman who jumped into a raging river with her children and more.

Always measure your actions, son.

However, don’t be the man who bottles up emotions. They were wise, the Swahili sages who said too much silence ends in an eruption.

Talk to someone. Write something. Cry, son. Forget about the beliefs that boys don’t cry. Above all, find a way to air your emotions.

It is my prayer that you will have legs swift enough to enable you run away the moment you spot a bottle of beer and a mouth that will shut automatically on the sight of a cigarette.

Okay, I’m kidding. My prayer will be that you will become a man who keeps off all the addictions that have derailed many a youth.

Our grandparents had a philosophy: let kids taste busaa when they are young and they will grow up knowing how alcohol tastes; such that when they are fully grown and have all the liberty to taste booze, they know what it can do.

Well, it worked for us. We would gulp down mugs and mugs of grandpa’s busaa and none of us five brothers ever became hooked to alcohol.

And some researchers said in January 2017 that it in fact helps when a parent who drinks alcohol lets their children have a taste of the liquor.

“These parentally-supplied children consumed fewer drinks on a typical drinking occasion. Adolescents supplied alcohol from non-parental sources had greater odds of drinking and bingeing,” said the team of 11 Australian experts.

Well, I’m not exactly a teetotaller. I drink something light once in three blue moons. So I’m not sure if the topic of alcohol tasting will ever pop up but my prayer is that, whatever the eventuality, you will keep off drugs. They have wrecked the lives of very promising people.

I also pray that you won’t inherit your my pair of left feet. I’m a log when it comes to dancing. By the time I of writing this, I thought pushing one body part this way and that way is dancing but on many occasions I had been told I was better off sitting down.

Your dad is also a national shame when it comes to athletics.

Despite living in a country known worldwide for producing top athletes, I never finished two laps on the track before a magnet of sorts developed in my stomach and it seemed like it was pulling all organs to some place near the kidney. Become a better sportsman, son.

I’m somehow confident you will be involved in some endurance sport because on the day of your birth, you proved to be the most athletic new-born in the maternity ward.

You had the loudest cry of all and even nurses had to ask why this child had lungs so “gifted” that your cries were being heard so far.

Lungs are the assets that help people win marathons, son.

Those lungs will take you far. Use them. Breathe your way to finishing tapes and to sporting glory.

I pray that you grow up to be that man who St Francis of Assisi wished to be — one who sows love where there is enmity, brings pardon when there is injury; one who would prefer to understand people more than he wanted to be understood.

Amen.

***

This series brings you writings by PETER MOGAMBI, a Nairobi residentwho became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that when the boy can finally comprehend, he will get to follow his father’s feelings.

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