It’s 01:02 am and I’m still wide awake. I should be snoring- as you should if you are reading this at such an odd hour- but as you are probably feeling; my mind too can’t shush- it is dancing from one thought to the next like a wild roller coaster- I can’t stop it- so I let it roam.
Finally my mind pauses at “Father’s Day”- I chuckle…those are very empty words for me. I try to form them out with my lips in the dark. Maybe they will make more sense. Nope… none at all- I can’t remember my father…all I know about him is his energy and oratory power…everyone at home says I took after him- and the Local council chairperson of Mugosu (my village) lauds him for his persuasive and very charismatic orations. Of course I only hear of all this- I know nothing of it really. So- ya the term father remains pretty alien to me
Then I scroll down memory lane again-maybe a new found sense of celebration for this day will be discovered there
I chuckle again- in this small dark room, I realize that for the longest time- the word father only formed from the lips of rich very loved kids; (at least that is what I thought then). You know what- I actually feared the sound of it because for the most part of my childhood my playmates said it to threaten me when I won too many times during our very rough wrestling games. Which, meant I was hitting them more than they were hitting me ( which was not the agreement at the start of the games) so they needed their father’s protection.
So especially if we are referring to biological fathers- I have nothing much to say- oh don’t get me wrong I have loads of imaginations- mostly because that’s how my mind suppresses painful regretful memories. But that is not what the celebration of Father’s Day is about! Right?
So for me Father’s Day ( in the spirit of celebration) brings to mind my mischievous step-grandfather. His handsome 50 year old face glowed with all the love I needed. Everything else, he made irrelevant.
Tata Bwogi Byron as we called him- loved me as much as he loved his liquor bottle. Whenever he was not in the company of the other men…it was my company he wanted- I was like his second bottle. Everywhere he sat- I sat and leaned into his feet- and he let me! He even sometimes let go of his waragi glass and embraced me.
Tata Bwogi Byron loved me- I know this because in all his shortcomings he never forgot me. You see when the spirit would hit his head- He’d go under his thin mattress- draw out his coin collection and allow me to ask for whatever I wanted- sometimes I would ask for sweets, chicken, soda and other times after my sisters whispered in my ears I’d ask for a dress- the next market day he would go out and come back with a polythene bag loaded with second hand dresses of all sizes and shapes and colors- at my age of 5 he’d even get me bras and tell me I’d grow into them🤣😂🤣😂
My tata Bwogi Byron loved me- he taught me his passions. For instance when he was really sober- he’d let me into his tiny carpentry shop. Right on my grandmother’s verander. Oh he was sooo proud of his art- an art that frustrated my grandma as it didn’t bring much food in- but that didn’t wear his pride down. And so on those bright sober days my grandpa would let me in- teach me how to hold a hammer and hit down stubborn nails. He also introduced me to WWE- hahahahaha my grandma and I sat and watched the action as he mistranslated the words for us- but we never knew, he spoke more English than my grandma and the 5 year old me combined – hehehehe….did I also mention that he made watching Power rangers compulsory for my big brother and I? Hahahahaha to- date that is probably the best rule ever!
I think that when we speak of celebrating Father’s Day- too many of us jump to looking for perfect score daddies- but is there any?
My daddy ( tata Bwogi Byron) as you have met him was so imperfect but so perfect too- so perfect in loving me even in and through his imperfections-
so the winning score here isn’t perfect “A” s but rather it is imperfect “A” s meaning you are still able to teach, love and grow your children even with the saddling hurdle of your human-ness! Our imperfections should never be an excuse for being less than our children deserve!
So this is how my tata Bwogi story ends.
In September 2008 he passed on due to a chronic cough he contracted from his drinking friends. The night of his death- I was tucked away in my bed ( in boarding school) I saw him walk into my room, to my bed, and he bid me farewell. Some say it was a dream- I don’t know but the very next day my big sister came to school and told me that tata Bwogi Byron had taken his last breath the previous night.
I celebrate him today- for he was so brave in loving me even when his weakness was so visible- he never hid- never ran- never heard the mockery- he just loved us as best as he knew how!
As you Rest In Peace tata Bwogi Byron- Know that we still celebrate you!!!!