Kiki (5) has been passive aggressive to me lately, lashing out some form of retribution for something I might have done. Tonight he’s taking longer than wonted on his coloring book. I glance at him go about, my hand wanders over the switch aching for the moment he’ll wear out and put that book down. Two weeks ago he kicked me out of our bedroom taking advantage of my soft underbelly towards him; all of a sudden I snore too thunderously, he doesn’t fear ghosts and I’m too old to be his best friend. So I’ve been sleeping on an inflatable mattress in the living room, fodder to the mosquitoes, as he sleeps horizontally on our king sized bed. This kid. Kiki’s been acting out for a while now. The new kid in his school ‘intruded’ and took away what he believes is his birthright, the number one class position. I once told him mama would come back in three weeks, he went to the calendar, counted three and circled a date with gusto. Didn’t quite happen, to him I’m the villain, yes I lied, but his pathetic math chimed in too. You know he still eats the inside of bread and leaves crust rings on the table. He says callous things like ‘babaa twende kwa hoteli hii chakula yako si tamu’, as if he knows what bills are. Last night I kissed him goodnight and noticed him wipe his cheek out the corner of my eye, shit, broke my heart. The nicest thing he’s said to me in a long time was ‘babaa nywele yako inaisha’ while rubbing my head. I smiled. It feels good to be noticed, even if it’s for balding.
I’m thinking of you, reminiscing our relationship in its prime. Us thinking of names we’d give to our children, your queer music taste annoying the heck out of my nerves, rock paper scissoring to decide what new movie to watch – the paradox being we’d still settle on ‘Someone Great’ for the millionth time, you scolding me for accidentally leaving my toothbrush on the kitchen counter, insisting that I always make aim for the wall when taking a leak, admonishing me for putting my whole weight on Kiki’s tricycle with him pushing me, clenching your hands in mine as we walked through mall aisles, singing E-Sir’s ‘Moss Moss’ at the top of our lungs irking our neighbors. Our wardrobe still smells of you. Holding your night dress to my face at night lifts my spirits, alleviating my pain.
After Kiki turned 4 Sue (my wife) and I started having issues. We weren’t the same people anymore. Flaring at each other for the most trivial of things like not spreading the bed, it is dismissable right? Feuding so regularly I would think something was amiss if we had three days of tranquility. I didn’t change; I still was messy. Still careless with my spending. I always forgot my toothbrush on the kitchen counter. Still left my dump towel on her side of the bed. Incessantly kept on shuffling my feet. On the flip side, Sue, had a major drift, she gradually got more vicious and sometimes switched to utter nonchalance, she even stopped getting mad at me for unplugging her phone before it got to 100%, something that always infuriated her. One time during our altercations she threw the coffee maker at me. Prior to the flying coffee maker it was all just words, we marked a new low, so we made a concerted effort to get therapy.
“You suffer from Bipolar Disorder” I still remember the hospital poker faced psychiatrist tell Sue.
Bipolar disorder? Si that’s a mzungu disease (my naivety kicks in), how does she have it? It was a long road from there checking in and out of hospital so many times that i owed the lanky security guard five cups of tea and earned a name ‘ango’ (uncle) from him. They ruled Sue unfit to watch over Kiki and enrolled her into a mental facility putting her on anti-depressants. She lost the will to be happy and gained weight as a side effect, apathetic more often than not. She sporadically smiles when we visit. We don’t talk much, we just play Monopoly, take pictures, hug and leave after.
I say to Kiki, “I’m turning off the lights now, we’ll go to a restaurant tomorrow for supper, goodnight,” tasting the salt in my tears on the corner of my lip. Damn allergies.
We went to the hospital to try and get our groove back. Our vigour back. To try and savour what we had. I found myself, partly, but I lost her. Our flower never saw its full bloom.
For what it’s worth
Song Recommendation: Thinking bout by Wild River(s)