In the streets of Kilifi, I patrolled in the dead of the night in search of nocturnal customers to carry. I was accustomed to carrying out my boda boda business at night because I had classes during the day and responsibility as a father at night.
In that night I had earned a 1,000 bob, which was far below the target I had aimed at. My son was a Class One student at a private school. The school fees were due in a week, and so I toiled the night to seek every shekel that came my way. Usually, I paid the fees consistently, but due to the pandemic, my financial situation was not as formidable as before.
Fatherhood, as I learned, was all about being a provider, and that meant I had to secure a reliable stream of income. To fulfil that end I acquired a bike which I used to carry out my hustles which kept me up most nights.
As I cruised past roadside fishmongers, and street urchins I had an epiphany that I was not ready to let my child suffer in his future. I could not bear to imagine that my son would miss school if I didn’t meet my end of the bargain. He was a bright kid with a curious mind and an imaginative streak that I didn’t want to waste away due to wanting.An undated photo of boda boda riders in Nairobi.
The nightlife was in motion, and as I passed with my bike, I scanned the periphery of the road for potential customers. The train of thoughts in my mind made me absent-minded that I almost missed a turn. I decided to call it a night, but when a woman beckoned my presence, I changed my mind.
I approached the lady, who had two knapsack bags, and she requested that I take her home. I felt elated when she agreed on the 200 bob fare I charged her for the trip. I drove off, but her squirms made me think twice. She complained that she could not feel her purse.
That fact made me uneasy, and when we got to her destination she swore she had lost it, and all the money within. She begged that I should understand her loss and that she’d make sure she paid me. I was too tired to argue so I let bygones be bygones.
That encounter made me ride home in low spirits, but the sight of my wife and son rejuvenated me. I walked to the other side of the room, which was the master bedroom, and unwhirled scarfs and jackets then changed into my comfy clothes.
It was 8 am and as I sat on my bed, I recalled I had a CAT in the morning. I went through a minor panic attack but composed myself because as a father even if my collar bone crashed or crumbled, I was to never fall or stumble. After supper, my wife took the kid to bed, and I used the table for my studies.
She sat beside me and pecked my head, something she did when she felt I was weighed down by issues. She asked what had worked me up that much, and I dissuaded her that it was just the exams. She gave me a look that said she did not buy the lie, and that I had more in store. Therefore, I opened up that I had an issue in raising fees for our son.
I trusted her verbal input to alleviate my predicament because she had supported and stood by me all through the rollercoaster of my life. We had lived 4 years together as a couple after we met in school as students. I was 26, and she was 24 when we met at a communications skill lecture and we hit it off.
After a year, we became parents at the peak of our youth, and as appealing as that sounded, it was a big mountain to climb. Our son was born when I was at my lowest because a global pandemic threatened to jeopardize the foundation of my family.
She looked at me emphatically and said she could help in any way she could. I did not invite the idea whole-heartedly because she still nursed C-section scars that bothered her seasonally. Before the pregnancy, she worked part-time as a waitress, and that brought us financial relief, but after she gave birth to our son, all the responsibilities shifted to my side. It was a rough ride balancing between work, family and school.
It was a triangle that offered many sources of conflict, and a single bad move could cost me everything. Therefore, I asked my wife what she considered to do as far as ‘help’ was concerned. She said she was in a merry-go-round chama that had cycled back to her, and that she was to receive a stipend soon. I swallowed my pride and decided our son’s future was more than the societal gender construct that said men were the only breadwinners.
“When are you to receive this stipend from your Chama?” I asked as I closed my book.
“It’s the end of this week, but I can request an early remittance”
“No… just wait for your turn, I think a week is sufficient. However, I will have exams then, so if you feel well, you’ll have to visit the bank to make payments” I said as I scratched my scrawny beard.
“Don’t worry, I will make the payments through Mpesa. Co-op bank allows you to pay school fees through Mpesa in very easy ways through their pay bill number 400222, then you enter the school code, and amount”
“That sounds convenient, at least you won’t be bogged down by the queues caused by the last-minute rush” I gently touched her hands.
“Okay dear, and what about your business? Is everything doing alright?” She asked
“Of course, it’s all good, I just had a weird night today?”
“How weird?” She sat alert, with rapt aptness.
“It’s nothing big, just had a misunderstanding with this woman who refused to pay claiming she lost her purse on the way”Co-operative Bank Building in NairobiKenyans.co.ke