“She is up, get her for me,” Emmy says rubbing her tummy that has now formed a flab of flesh.
Last night you were at the local cracking cold ones with the boys. A farewell of sorts because it would be a while before you ever got to hang out with them again. Nobody gave you a manual on how to be a father, not at 24. The best your clueless friends could do was buy more beer and pat your back saying ‘well it is what it is’. It’s time to take the high road and to do what parents do, worrying. And on this day right here you sailed to fatherhood.
Your eyes wander over the baby as you lean over the cot. Hands balled into a fist, this one’s a fighter. She looks like the type that’ll square up to tangle-haired bullies undeterred, stand her ground and watch cowardice creep over them. Maybe she’ll be a free spirit like you, only less reckless, more aware of her decisions and ramifications and more smart- your grades through school aren’t something you would like to pass to anyone, at least not your daughter.
You promise to protect her from creepy neighbors, like Mike, the 40 year old single man who wears tank tops and dress trousers and exercises during the night or the uncanny couple from ground floor that watches eerie crime and serial killer documentaries on maximum volume or Zabu, a self-proclaimed purist who rocks a biblical beard, walks barefoot and dresses like he was born 500 centuries late. It even extends to the caretaker, Ngige, who speaks like a rapper running out of studio time. You don’t want your kid speaking like that.
She squeals raising her hands up and you can’t resist the temptation to nibble her fingers. She burps on your face.
When she gets to her teens you’ll watch out for the prying eyes of Brians, Kevins, Denises, Jameses and whatnot whose acumen have been clouded by throbbing adolescent desires and whose ‘players gotta play’ slogan you abhor. Spiderman? Superman? Fighter pilot to shoot your rivals? Batman? Ah no, not Batman- I mean, who tortures penguins (The Dark Knight 2011) and repeatedly endangers children? He even beats up the handicapped and is a snitch. Anyway, whatever she wants, you’ll be. Even getting a superhero costume won’t be too extreme, right? Some pop star set the bar way too high by offering to catch grenades and jump in front of trains. For you, that’s a pass, but you promise do what you can for her, come what may. When she gets to her 20s and starts having little boyfriend’s around you’ll give them 30 page questionnaires to ward them off. Maybe if she insists on having them you’ll create impeccable rules and watch their efforts crumble like legos or hire private investigators in between to find out their innate behavior, invasion of privacy for who?
A recollection of some of the girls you’ve ever been with crosses your mind. Grace, Tiff, Njeri, Zawadi, Naserian, Wawira, Rehema, Luna, Dura, Fanaka and others you can’t remember. One case obtrudes to you, a 2nd year you dated in your last college year for 8 months without ever knowing her name. You made an ‘effort’ and asked ‘by the way unaitwanga?’ on text after your graduation. She never replied, you wonder what happened and what her name was. She looked like a Faith, you think, that can work, with those braids, she definitely is a Faith. Consequently, you are spooked. What if she’s handled the same way you handled other women?
Kanye’s Violent crimes rings in your head ‘people are savages, people are monsters, people are players till people have daughters and now they’re precautious…’
“Are you deaf or something, I said bring me the baby!” Emmy thunders.
You snap to reality and attend to Amani, who’s now squealing uncontrollably.