If there is any baby out there who loves his father, and whose father really loves him, it is my son Sospeter. Having not been there in Branton’s early life when Sospeter was born, I went against that long-held tradition of Mwisho wa Lami’s fathers, and decided to help Fiolina my wife to bring up our son.
“Huyu Dre amekaliwa chapati,” Nyayo once said at Hitler’s,
“Nilimkataza kuoa mwanawake mwenye ako na mshahara na hakuskia,” said Alphayo, adding that a woman who has a salary, however little, is definitely a difficult wife. “Mshahara hupatia mwanamke kiburi,” he added.
I told them that Fiolina, the beautiful love of my enviable life, was a different woman. “She respects me.”
Of course that was a big lie. You see, in public, Fiolina is beautiful, polite, respectful, and a timid woman who would not a hurt a fly. But behind the doors of our bungalow, she is a tough, harsh and domineering woman.
Once I enter the house, there is never a big difference between Branton and me. I am always commanded left, right and centre. I never seem to do anything right. When I get home late, I am asked to explain where I coming am from; when I arrive early, I am told respectable men are out there making money for their families!
“Your son is watching your behaviours and unless you change, he will be like you,” she told me a few weeks ago. “You don’t know how much I toil with this son of yours while you do nothing.”
This is despite the fact I am the only man in Mwisho wa Lami and its environs who helps with the baby.
“One day I will leave you with Sos mukae na yeye, that’s when you will know what I go through,” she told me last Saturday
“No problem,” I said. After all, Sospeter likes being with me.
ALONE WITH MY SON
The next day, last Sunday, I woke up and started playing with Sospeter. Fiolina had woken up early. She was in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
But by 9am, she had not come back to the bedroom, and Sospeter had started crying. I tried all manner of jokes and games, but he wouldn’t stop crying.
I called Fiolina but there was no response. I went to look for her in the house. She was not in the sitting room, not in the kitchen or anywhere else. And Sospeter was crying even more! I tried calling Fiolina but her phone went unanswered. It must have been on my tenth attempt when she picked up the phone call.
“Uko wapi?” I asked her amidst the baby’s loud cries. “Sos analia,” I said.
“I have gone for chama, I will come back at 12pm,” she said.
“What do you mean chama, nani umewachia mtoto wako?” I asked angrily.
“Ni mtoto wako pia,” she said. “Have you changed him? Change him and give him breakfast, it’s in the kitchen,” she said, then hanged up.
I had never changed Sospeter. But having seen him being changed every day, I decided to try. I could not get the things that I needed, and it took me about 20 minutes to set everything and another 20 minutes to change him. By the time I finished, our entire bedroom was one big mess. But as soon as he was changed, Sospeter stopped crying – giving me time to clean the bedroom.
No sooner had I finished than he started crying again. I knew he was hungry. I went to the kitchen, and saw his food. I had never fed him before. Although I struggled to make him sit the right way, he quickly took the first three or four spoons, then stopped.
He would push my hand away every time I tried to feed him, pouring the food on me. He started crying again. I called his mother several times unsuccessfully.
She called later. “The way mtoto analia,” she said, “hiyo ni njaa”
“Chakula ni baridi ama moto?” she asked when I told her the baby had refused to eat. It was cold. “Warm it,” she said then disconnected.
We had a gas cooker that we used for emergencies. But there was one problem, I could not get the match box. I checked everything, ransacked everywhere, but it was nowhere. Fiolina was not answering my calls. When she answered and I asked her where the match box was, she asked me why I needed fire.
“To warm the food,” I said. “You don’t need fire,” she said. “There is hot water in a red flask, put it in the blue bowl and place the bowl with food in it for 10 minutes.”
Ten minutes later, the food was warm and I fed Sospeter without a problem. As soon as he finished eating, he was back to his normal self, playing, pulling my ears, poking my eyes among others. But not for long.
He soon became uneasy, anxious and restless. I was determined not to call Fiolina, even as I struggled to make the boy relax. I assumed he wanted to sleep and placed him on his bed but he would not – he became edgy, and started crying.
It was around 11am. This time Fiolina called. “Mtoto amelala?” she asked. I told her what was happening. “Hiyo ni usingizi inamsumbua, mpeleke alale,” she said. I told her he had refused to sleep.
“Have you changed him?” she asked. It took me another 20 minutes to change him, and he slept immediately. I then cleaned up the mess, and that’s I when I remembered that I was hungry. I went to the kitchen to get something for myself. There were several flasks in the kitchen, but there was an orange one which had milk. I used the milk and hot water to make tea, which I took with boiled ndumas and banana.
Fiolina called me just at Sospeter woke up. “Mpeleke aote jua for 20 minutes nakuja.” We went out to bask and play. When Fiolina came back home, I expected to be applauded for taking care of the baby. But I was wrong.
“The house is a big mess, kwani what was happening here?” she asked.
“And where did Sospeter’s ndumas and bananas go to?” she asked me. I told him I had taken them for breakfast.
“Umekula lunch ya mtoto?" she asked. “Mtoto atakula nini sasa?”
My explanation fell on deaf ears. “See how hungry he is, it means I will just give him milk alone,” she said, grabbed him and asked me to get him milk from the orange flask.
“It’s empty, that’s what I used to make my tea,’ I said.
“Maziwa ya mtoto ndio umetumia?” she angrily asked. “Do you know how long I took to pump that milk? What kind of man are you? Even Branton, your useless boy, can never do such! Get out of here!”
I did not even change. I left and went straight to Hitler’s where I spent the rest of the day. I will never accept to be left with the baby alone again!