I turn a juicy 30 in a year or so. Not quite the dried out wrinkled raisin but I have enough life under my belt to make some fairly accurate Observations.
The generation of our fathers were the last of an old stock. In Uganda, they probably are the last to have seen three presidents and lived through Amin’s reign of terror. They are the last of the baby boomers. They still hang on to traditions like going to the village, the opinions of the public still determine how and why they do things.
The mothers of this generation are enduring symbols of strength. Most of them have endured the hardship of raising children in an uncertain times and making due with the little that the ripped economy could offer. They were your everyday run of the mill MacGyver’s. They were cooks able to scrounge up a feast with a tomato, half an onion and some dried out greens. They were doctors and nurses who only rushed to the hospital when all home remedies, both theirs and the supermoms in the neighbourhoods had failed or when sickness and injury dropped on their loved ones like a ten tonne bomb.
They stood tall, like the ageless rocks, filled with so much wisdom, and love but like the other side of the coin they struck terror into our childish hearts when we crossed the line. My mom’s favourite weapon was her hard rubber Bata sandal. Many a Ugandan bottom turned blacker after a few good whacks and when all tears were dried, her voice and hands soothed the skin she had bruised. Moms were everything.
Like the rocks the endured another silent torture, one that only they and their kind could endure. They tolerated marriages that died a long time ago to raise their children and provide a stable environment for their precious buds, the seeds of their labour to grow and blossom, nursing hopes, in their heart that they would not have to go through what their mothers had. They took the tongue lashing and the tongue wagging, braced only by the hope that tomorrow would be a better day…not for them, but for their children.
Fathers of this generation were the last of a patriarchal breed. They were never wrong, they were not to be trifled with and they were as stoic and unmoving as a tick on a buffalo’s rump. They were the lions and the jewels. The roamed the grasslands with no equal. They had those silly rituals they insisted on that showed that they were THE MAN of the house. When they got back, tea was served of course after the dotting young sons had taken off their shoes and brought their slipper.
The slumped in a chair, slurped their tea as they perused the newspaper. They then lumbered to the bathroom where hot water, cooled to just the right temperature was waiting and after they had washed away the grime and tension of a hard day, lumbered back to the sitting room and plumped back into the chair, turned on the TV to watch the news and have their supper. This was their routine.
Most of us remember the whole concept of dads chair, dad’s cup and plate etc. if you do not; well you are blessed and should think on your good fortune.
They had one thing in common, there were never really there and when we grew up we were informed that we were not alone for our fathers had scattered their seeds far and wide. For some this realisation was at their father’s funeral, when the many children and wives gathered all vying for a share of his spoils. For others this realisation was much sooner but none the less abrupt. A stranger invited into the home and you informed that you were going to share your room with a new brother almost your age or older.
For me this came when we shifted and my mom did not join us. My new mother was already ensconced in the new residence and my brothers and sisters from another mother waited me. The rest is history.
Could they do things any different? After all their fathers were just like that. They sprouted from the earth of polygamy and conquest. They knew no other. Their mothers were powerless, mere property; they could not alter the course of this tide. Into the mouths of their babes they squeezed their life blood in the hope that their desire would be heard by the ear a child has for his mother. But alas this was not to be...
And so they put together new families like ill cut jigsaw puzzles. Of course there was to be no discussion. His word was law. This chapter is too long to write but just know when we watched fairy tales we understood because we too had our evil step mothers. Some were mistreated while some were just ignored, left to the hands of neglect.
That is that rock onto which the China Cups that were our little vulnerable lives were dashed never to be gathered again. Our Humpty Dumpty experience was begun. The king’s horses or the king’s men could not put us back together again.
Words I have, but alas patience and time I do not. I could fill a book with the injustices perceived and real I suffered. The physical stuff is easy to get over, humans are made to survive those, but the emotional stuff was just too much.
It is at this point that the heroes our fathers were pulled to the ground. His castle, nothing but a man child apparition, sand washed away by the rising tide of his children’s hurt, hate and resentment.
We soldier on for what can children do? We transformed ourselves into child soldiers, true infantry, for the battle that was our home. Through this we had to live through the chaos and confusion that was puberty, another one of life curve balls.
We soldier on and somehow we make it. We travel forward through time doing school and finally university and then our first job. I cannot even begin to unravel the dilemmas we face on the way as the past; the reality of my parents is washed away by new norms and cultures.
I cannot even begin to explain the back breaking nerve racking balancing act to please our parents and fulfil their age old ways and follow the trends of our times. To integrate digital mind-sets to analogue mind-sets.
We were the new kids on the block they the old guys from the village.
It’s only now, at the threshold of 30, that I begin to deal with some of the baggage from the past. I know what you may be thinking, you may think that maybe I should have done this a long time ago and maybe I would agree. But the past 7 or so years I have been too busy growing and dodging every bullet life has shot at me and its only now, armed with some experience, growth, peace and a knowledge of myself can I go back and look into those trunks packed so many years ago, and one by one deal with the broken kid in them.
The armour is not too big nor the sword too heavy. I am a man now but I have to deal with the nightmares of a child. There are some dragons in my past that need slaying before I go on.