The memory is stuck with me. I was meeting my cousin for some Easter kuchafua. I woke up late on that Sunday. I did not even make an effort to go to church. Mum was not pleased but she did not say anything. I think she has reached that point where she would rather pray for me. I don’t know how to reassure her that I still have my faith and that going to church doesn’t really define my relationship with the most high.
Our rendezvous was at Uchumi before proceeding to Chugu where my cousin lives and teaches. Chugu is the mwisho wa lami of Meru. I went into uchumi to buy a cold soda and then she showed up with two other friends. We called a taxi and waited at the Uchumi balcony. If you have been to Uchumi Meru you know that entrance looks like a balcony. There were three young girls and two old men at the parking lot below. They must have been their parents. The girls appeared barely 18. Two of them got into a car leaving one girl with one of the men.
All looked calm and serene until suddenly, a slap echoed on the face of the lone girl. I thought I was dreaming for a moment. A crowd gathered but I did not have to move to catch the action. The men were conversing but it was not polite. Before long, they started shouting obscene words. I wondered what the girl had done until I heard , “Kangukwira ukeja town ukeja gakundo gaka?” He had given the daughter clear instructions not to go hang out in town with her friends and she defied the order. He called her a cunt.
The father was in black slacks and a black shirt. The slacks were cinched in place with a brown belt that seemed too tight. So tight he might have been under pressure hence the need to slap his daughter. He had on brown dusty shoes and white socks. Dirty white socks. He went round to the passenger side and grabbed the girl out of the car. As she stepped out she looked like a delicate Meru flower. Her hair was in a messy pony tail and her cheeks blushed. She had on these black skinny jeans that outlined her perfect figure. Flat tummy, perky boobs and perfect hips. Two streams now flowing down her perfect cheeks, only to dry up before quenching the dusty meru soil.
She looked fragile yet there was something defiant about her. Another look at her and I thought the dad was being over protective. I thought she might be doing unorthodox things in a bid to get back at her dad. I hope I was wrong – she will be the loser in the end. The crowd dispersed after some talk down by the other old man whom I believe was a good neighbor. I stayed on and watched as she was put in a taxi and sent home. What is daddy guarding her against to be precise? Boys? Alcohol? Drugs? Is this the only way that would work? Every parent has their own parenting rules but shouldn’t there be a limit to just how much one can do? Could this explain the violence? I don’t care if your daughter has Monalisa beauty, it’s no excuse to slap her more so in public.
They say a child is brought up by the community right? The community was watching as a father assaulted a daughter but the community did nothing. I was part of the community and I just stood there. I might have been afraid to earn a slap of my own but I still stood there and did nothing. The other old man talked the father down but what of when no one is watching. How many daughters does this man have? How does he treat his wife? Does he have sons? Does he care that he is their first role model? Worst still does he even know that he might be a bad role model? The father went ahead to insinuate that this girl was not his daughter. His daughters are expected to behave in an orderly manner. Is going to town to hang out with friends disorderly?
The taxi left with his daughter. He started walking up and down the parking lot like a lion on heat. Like a beetle waiting to mount it’s partner. His anger looked labored. He worked so hard to show the world how angry he can get. It looked like he was practicing some old John Cena move he had watched on WWF. Who remembers WWF? Our ride arrived before I could record anymore theatrics but I went wondering why? My parents have never laid a finger on me and I like to believe I turned out okay. They talked to me. They talked to me so much by the time I was sixteen I had learnt how to roll my eyes internally. I had heard enough but they kept repeating. For me it worked. I know children are different but does anyone deserve to be slapped? In public more precisely?
Fathers what do you think works? Do you beat your daughters senseless or do you have guns on your front porch to scare away all the boys that dare to even breathe in your daughter’s general direction? Maybe, just maybe, I need to go to parenting school.