A few days ago, at an aunt’s burial, a stranger approached me with a wide smile, her right hand proffered in greeting.
As she walked towards me, I searched furiously within my mind, desperate to drag up her face and name before she reached me. I drew a blank.
Once in a while, I have difficulty recalling faces and names, which is an embarrassing short-coming, especially in cases where the other person seems to know you very well.
Several times, I am ashamed to admit, rather than confess that I have no idea who I am talking to, I have smiled and pretended to know the person.
“Daktari!” she exclaimed when she stopped in front of me, taking my right hand and gripping it, her smile even wider.
“It is good to see you again. I didn’t get a chance to thank you for saving my nephew’s life; we’re so grateful, and may God always grant you the desires of your heart,” she continued still gripping my hand.
Before I could recover from being called doctor and inform her that this was a case of mistaken identity, she went on to tell me how well “Javan” was doing, and would I believe that he was in Standard Two?
I tried to cut in, a bit embarrassed, but she went on, telling me that Javan’s kidneys were functioning well, and that his liver was in tip-top shape. When she finally paused to take a breath, I quickly informed her that she had mistaken me for someone else.
ARE YOU SURE?
After a heartbeat, she said, sounding incredulous, “Noooo! But you look so much like her – are you sure you aren’t Dr Wanga?” she asked.
I told her no, and informed her that I wouldn’t even know where to stick an injection needle, let alone treat kidney and liver diseases.
“Well, you look so much like her – is she your relative?” she inquired.
I had to laugh then and assure her that I had no relative by that name.
If your name is Dr Wanga, and you look like me, there’s a family and small boy called Javan that are eternally grateful to you.
This incident reminds me of another one that happened about a year ago.
I was standing outside a supermarket minding my own business as I waited for someone when a young woman approached me and announced,
“Gosh! Aki (I swear) you look so much like a cousin of mine called Agnes – she’s even fond of that hairstyle…” she said, eyeballing my swept up braids.
DOESN'T SHE LOOK LIKE AGNES?
Before I could react, she called out to a group of four women who had been standing a few steps from me and beckoned them to come.
“Si huyu anafanana na Agnes?” she asked. (Doesn’t she look like Agnes?)
You should have seen the amazed looks on the women’s faces as they looked me over as if I were a centuries-old artefact they had just discovered.
I was afraid they would start poking fingers in my ears and nostrils. At that point, I felt like a lab specimen under a microscope.
Pretending that I had spotted the person I was waiting for, I hurriedly excused myself and crossed the road, otherwise they would have probably insisted on taking my photo to shock cousin Agnes.
I’ve got a fertile imagination and such incidents kick it into overdrive, that is why, as I walked away, I found myself wondering what kind of person “cousin” Agnes was — what if she was a gun-toting criminal or a con woman and one day, in search of greener pastures, brought her criminal ways to my neighbourhood and people who knew me saw her in her element? How would I get myself out of such a situation?
I imagine this is how this conversation would go:
Accuser: “I was in the matatu you carjacked…”
Me: “It wasn’t me, it was probably someone who looks like me…”
[email protected]; Twitter: @cnjerius. The writer is the editor, MyNetwork, in the Daily Nation
Thanks for the article about men who can’t bring up children who aren’t their blood. Truth be told, we’re in the animal kingdom as humans. We are mean and very selfish.
Don’t give weight to Classic 105, especially between Maina Kageni and his callers. That said, I personally believe any man who is not ready to love and care for a stepchild shouldn’t marry a woman with such a child.
Your article raises a fundamental issue. All happenings are a fuction of the spirit. It depends on the kind of spirit that rules your life. This is basic in christianity. My first-born daughter is not mine biologically. Now she has a family and we are still very close.
What’s happening to children in many families is sad. Those inflicting pain on children are cursing their own children.
There is a reason why Jesus Christ said; “Let the children come to me.” If you take one and don’t poison the mind you will end up with an adult who does not know you are not the biological father.
Your article shows how poorly we are socialised. I am 41, married to a lovely lady who had two children from previous relationships. I whole-heartedly welcomed them into my life. We are happy.
I don’t listen to Maina Kageni. That station degrades women in at least four out of five shows. Let’s stop supporting rubbish. Zuri
We have a national consciousness of “mine”. My plot, my car, my house, my child etc. We will not share. In reality children belong to the world. We are just conduits on behalf of the Divine. My neighbour’s child is mine. We are responsible for all children, whether biologically related to us or not.
I can relate to your story but bitterly. I met the love of my life and marriage was the next step. The only hitch was she had three children from a previous relationship. My immediate family has vetoed the move. But the so-called acceptable ladies I meet are shady. I can’t understand all the fear about raising children who are not biologically yours.
We have become heartless towards children. It starts with abortion. You only need to see the numbers and see how inhuman we have become. A friend who cares for over 300 children at a children’s home tells me most of them were rejected by their parents. We must change.