It’s still World Friendship Day as I write this. I feel compelled from within to explore the friendship between my father and I. In February this year, I completed my second year after a protracted semester. With Christmas and the New Year celebrations gone, 2019 dawned on me with the prospective inevitabilities that comes with any new year. Christmas had found me home for the first time since 2010. My parents were obviously elated that I ‘finally remembered them on a Christmas’ as mum put it. The two weeks that I was there were worthwhile. The good thing about Christmas in the village is that it presents you with an opportune moment to catch up with old friends and family members and cousins. In the course of those two weeks, I had lots of conversations with my parents. We talked about school, life in Nairobi, home, books, food and everything. At some point in one of those talks, I mentioned that I would be going for judicial attachment (clinicals) when my second year ends. My father mentioned casually that perhaps I should do the clinicals back at home instead of Nairobi or any other place that I had in mind. 
My heart was heavy at the time so I told him that I’d think about it. In my mind I was hoping he would forget that we ever talked about it. I had other plans. I had planned to go to some court in a remote part of Northern Kenya. Alternatively, I thought of going to a place like the South Coast. My argument was that this would divorce me from the daily stresses that comes with living in a city. Home was not my preferred destination at the time for a very simple reason. I grew up there. When you grow up in a place and stay in it for a long time, a time comes when some innate force propels you to seek something different, unique and out of the ordinary as compared to what you are accustomed to. 
My plans of accomplishing any of those wishes vanished into thin air one afternoon after my father and I had thirty-minute conversation. There is a part of us (kids) that will always listen to what our parents say. It exists in even the most rebellious of children (I am not a rebellious one though). Growing up as kids, most of us fear our parents because they have the power of the sword. This is not to mean that they literally cut you with a sword when you disobey them. No sane parent would chop off his son’s head for refusing to do the dishes. It simply means that they can ass-whoop you anytime you develop a sense of high-headedness. There is a slight contrast when we reach eighteen though. At such a stage, most of us fear our parents not because of this power of the sword but because of the power of the purse. A large cross-section of normal campus students draw their financial strength from their parents. I fall under this category too. 
So that is partly why I decided to go back home for the attachment as per the wishes of the old man. The other reason is that I have a persuasive father. I am sure he can talk his way into some of the most inaccessible of places like Guantanamo Bay. (Okay I am kidding, no ordinary person can access Guantanamo Bay). I was convinced that what he was telling was the best thing for me. I had no option but to believe him. It’s not like I had much of a choice either. So in the first days, I would rise up early take a cold shower, miss breakfast at times then rush to the bus stop where I’d get a matatu that plays Akothee songs all the way to court. 
This changed after a while. To my surprise, father started waking up earlier than usual to take me to court. I could never have known that this was going to be the start of our friendship. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we never used to get along well. We did get along. But should relationships with kids and parents be just about getting along or should it be more? My answer, as per what I observed during this period, is that it should be way much more than getting along. 
During the times that he drove me court, we talked a lot about his life and my life. I discovered things I never knew about him. I also learnt a lot about my behaviors as a little baby. He could start a conversation by asking me whether I remember the night I was born. I would of course say yes (which is a lie). He would then go on about how I came into this world laughing and with my eyes fixed on the hospital ceiling. I would of course dispute this as if I had all the details at my fingertips. He said that as a baby, I choked on breast milk countless times. I would contend that and say it is impossible considering that at the moment I don’t even love milk .But he is my father and what he says about my childhood is correct only because I don’t remember anything.
I learnt from him that I grew up with so much energy and enthusiasm. At that point I wished I could get at least a five-minute window to go back into the past and look at how little Brandon was navigating his way through life. I couldn’t believe it. I was already so much in awe of my younger self. It seemed to me as if the person I am right now is just a shadow of my former vibrant self. I asked father where the energy went and his reply was ‘I have no idea’. People change he said. Change is perhaps the only permanent thing that we have in our lives. I never knew that my old man was a quote person. 
Not all days were about talking though. There were days when we would stay quiet in the car till I alighted at the gates of Nyando Law Courts. I have met very few introvert grown-ups and I think that he ranks top among them. But as the reserved person I am, I understood him in that silence. There are two types of silence. The comfortable one and the awkward one. The kinds that we had were the comfortable ones. Those are the silences in which the parties involved acknowledge that people shouldn’t just talk because they have mouths.
Sometimes we could talk about his childhood days. He could tell me how hard the times were during those days but the option of giving up in life was not available to them. It’s not like these days where we easily get depressed at small things like having a fight with a friend. They never knew what depression is. And consequently they never felt it.  I thought that parents exaggerate so much about their struggles but he crafted it in such a way that made me not doubt even a single word of his sentiments. He told me about the famine of 1992 that nearly crashed the Kenyan economy. So bad was it that deaths caused by hunger became a common sight. Of course he would finish by telling me how lucky our generation is. Which parent doesn’t conclude his or her story by adding that part?The conversation would then turn to his deceased brothers. Whenever he talked about them or about his deceased parents (my grandparents) I never indulged. I just let him talk and talk. I restrained because I could feel some untapped raw pain in his voice. I could feel like he has never really got the chance to talk about them and that he has shattered or ignored the cumulative pain of those deaths for a very long time. So I could listen to him talk about the memorable times that they had and why sometimes he missed them. He could remember something and throw in a smile occasionally. And then this sadness would slowly creep in and I would wish for us to reach court quickly because I couldn’t handle seeing him sad. 
From his stories, my grandparents were village icons during their days. They literally forced all their children to go to school because even in their illiterate disposition they understood the power that came with turning pages of books. My grandma was lenient and soft-hearted. She had love for people. She had cows too and she could give milk to visitors. She was known for that and people loved her. She was like a magnet. On her last days, diabetes ruined her. It tore her apart and ripped life out of her. She died at age ninety one hot Tuesday evening with three of his sons and two nurses beside her. Her funeral befitted that of a true African queen. 
On grandpa, father talked with so much emotions. He had been a brave man who tolerated no nonsense. He could whip some of his defiant children even much later at old age. He owned vast lands and bred cows, goats and sheep. A witty man he was but he had the temper and anger of a pregnant lioness. Beneath his bravado and demeanor, kindness still prevailed. I still remember his last days. I was thirteen when he passed on. Prior to death, dementia, amnesia and weariness ravaged him. He could forget and confuse people. There are days he could get lost for three days and be found provinces away from Nyanza. It was such a torturous time. It’s still a mystery to date how he could evade his caretaker and disappear so many miles away. At the time of his passing, he had accomplished all that he was destined to do in this world. He had fought the fight, finished the race and kept the faith. 
Of course we had jovial conversations too. Father was the chief editor of the campus school magazine I learnt. When I expressed my doubt about that, he pulled off some of the articles that he had written back then. I couldn’t believe it. I guess I knew so little about him. One particular article struck me. He had written about the Ronald Reagan presidency and why he thought his capitalistic approach was the best way forward for third world countries like Kenya. Then he asked me if I loved writing. I told him that writing is my passion. He asked me if I’ve ever tried it before and I told him that I have a blog. But he doesn’t know what a blog his. I couldn’t blame him. In their generation, folks believed that any serious material or content must be printed out on paper. And they still do.
Sometimes he could get tired and I’d drive as he slept in the car. Then he would wake up and talk about a weird dream. Then I told him that my dreams are even worse. I explained to him how sometimes I flew in air like a bird in those dreams. I could fly at a very high speed and wake up when on the verge of hitting some very tall trees.
What started like small morning talks transcended into an unexpected friendship. Happy World Friendship Day to all friends out there. 
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