“CALL ME DADDY”

“Anita, call me Daddy.” Anthony whispered. I felt pure anger as I listened to him. The grip on my phone tightened with every word he uttered. The Audacity!! How can that man come back to our lives and act as if nothing happened? No, I refuse to call him Daddy. I refuse to call him father.

**************

I seethed as I clumsily opened the door to my house. I had been looking forward to an intimate weekend with my blankets and litres of ice cream but no, mother had to call us home just because our prodigal father had returned.

I threw my backpack down and heavily dropped on my bed. I was angry, but I wasn’t sure if it was at my father’s nerve to ask anything of me or if it was at my perverted brain that chose the phone conversation with my father to activate. The moment my father had said, “Call me Daddy” my brain had unleashed all the images of my kinky adventures with Alex. Groaning, I buried my face in my hands. I wonder if its possible to dip my brain in holy water. Then again, my old man should be like every other sane old man and say, “call me father” instead of DADDY. Blah blah, my brain wondered and before long I was asleep.

******************

Saturday morning.

‘Knock, knock, knock, Knock.’ Andy.  It had to be him; he is the only one in my circle who knocked every door four times.I opened the door and on the other side stood the one man I would sometimes hate but still whole heartedly love.

                   “Nita, hivi ndio unachelewanga class?” (“Nita, so this is how late you usually are for class??”)

                     “Yes, hivi tu tangu first year.” (“Yes, ever since my first year.”) I replied as I moved to hug his tall frame. I stepped aside so he could walk in but instead he just leaned on the door frame and harassed my house’s interior with his eyes.

                     “Aren’t you going to come in?” I asked only for him to shrug his shoulders and nonchalantly reply.

                     “Nita, just wear your shoes and grab your purse. Tusipotoka sahi we will be late.”

I stared at him for a few seconds before grabbing my things and walking out. As we walked towards his car, Andy didn’t say anything else. I sighed, a little glad that I wasn’t the only one affected by the sudden appearance of our father.

**************

Saturday noon.

Heavy. Not even during the Calculus exam did I feel the atmosphere to be as tense and heavy as this one. The journey from Nairobi to Nakuru had taken us almost four hours and I could tell that my brother was more than willing to be back on the road than in this house.

I leaned comfortably on the sofa and alternated my gaze between my parents and brother. Perhaps under different circumstances this moment would have been heartwarming but at that moment I did not know how to feel.

                               “If all we came here for is a staring contest and this wonderful silence, then I am leaving.” Andy coldly said while grabbing his car keys. We all watched him walk to the door quietly until my father burst into laughter making him stop in his tracks.

                                “You are still the Andrew I Know huh?” He loudly said and went back to laughing. Anthony hadn’t changed one bit; he remains to be the same man who laughs even when his life is in danger. As Andy sat beside me again, I turned to look at my mother who had a smile on her face and couldn’t help but feel angry. Had she already forgotten how she suffered, how WE suffered for five years?

                                “Mum…” I said angrily. I was trying to keep all the emotions I had buried all these years from running free and I knew that I was doing a poor job of it when I felt my brother’s grip on my hand.

I inhaled deeply and exhaled sharply before proceeding softly.

                                 “Have you forgotten how we almost lost everything because of the debts he left behind? Do you remember how you struggled to pay our school fees that Andy had to stay home for two years so that I could at least go to school? Have you forgotten how you cried for many days because of him? How we’ve all slaved to have the life we have now?”

Pamela looked at her children’s faces and was about to scold Anita but the tears in her eyes stopped her.

                                 “I have not forgotten a single thing, the pain, the struggles, but hear him out. He does have a good reason.”

I painfully held back from scoffing and rolling my eyes at her because of my sense of self-preservation. No one rolled their eyes at an African Mother and easily got away with it. So, instead I calmly asked,

                                 “What reason could that be that makes you allow him to laugh his way back into our lives without batting an eyelid?”

I felt my brother shift uncomfortably as the smile on my father’s face disappeared. Then all eyes were on HIM.

***************************

 Anthony cleared his throat and leaned forward in his seat.

                              “The last time we saw each other, I was leaving for a meeting in New York. While there I entangled myself with a group of people who together we committed fraudulent acts.”

He paused and watched as we looked at him eyes wide open, and our mother shake her head sadly as she adjusted her leso.

                             “At first I didn’t know. Then at some point when I realized that I was being used as a shield by those grabbing land and forging title deeds I ran. I didn’t want to come here; it might have endangered you all. I hid for almost three years. I had their secrets with me so I think when they figured that I might not be found, they decided it is wise if they got rid of me before I snitched. So, every act they committed at the ministry of land was blamed on me and somehow I ended up in prison for ten years.”

I narrowed my eyes at my father. I needed to know that he wasn’t lying. Andy and I looked at each other, and to our mother who looked at us with pleading eyes. I closed my eyes and placed my hands in my palms. It wasn’t his fault, I guess. But he should have called. Well, I think I kinda get why he did not call us. I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to forgive. It won’t be easy, but I will try.

                             “Anthony I…”

                             “No, call me Daa-dd—yy” He emphasized making me groan, Andy burst into laughter, my mother smiled. I suppose I could get used to it.

                              “Daddy.” I corrected and couldn’t help but laugh as he profusely nodded his head in approval. I held my brother’s hand as for the first time I felt something different other than anger towards the man. I felt love. Happiness. More love. I was happy that my father was back, but I would love to hear the entire story. I was about to say it, but my brother beat me to it.

                               “I still have to hear the entire story before I call you Da… no, before I call you father.” Andy stubbornly said and we all laughed. I suppose that now I would be able to concentrate on that CAT on Monday.

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