It really touches one’s heart when parents are overjoyed. The mixed feelings when they cry and smile at the same time, hug you close and say countless blessings over a special early Christmas gift that caught them off guard - unexpected.
My father, Matias cried. I had never seen him break down before. He dipped his hand into the new suit he was wearing and took his handkerchief, wiped his face and looked at me with admiration.
These old men usually walk with three or four handkerchiefs, one for the nose, and the others for the face. Even with the invention of wet wipes, my old man still loved handkerchiefs. The chequered ones, I know you can relate.
“Justus. Oh, my son! Thank you," my father stated as my mother looked at me, lost of words.
A brand new car. They could not believe it. “Why and how did you do this?” My father asked, sitting on the driver’s seat of the new Honda CR-V 2022. He felt the leather covering the steering wheel and looked at me waiting for the story.
We were at this showroom in Nairobi CBD. The white car was wrapped beautifully with red and white ribbons and balloons.
You see, let me rewind a little bit. I know many of us share such a similar story.
My father sacrificed his entire life to be different from his siblings and to have a better life than his parents. As many of them rejected school, he strived through thick and thin and was contented with the little they had but dreamt and quest for more.A white Honda CR-V 2022 at a showroomFile
“I used to walk to school barefoot, drink tea without sugar as my mother dug hard in the farm to sell sweet potatoes for my school fees. My father believed in me. He knew I would make it and change the family.
“Your grandfather always stated that ‘Children should strive to have a better life than their parents',” my father told me his story countless times, again and again.
He pushed himself and joined a technical college where he studied to be a teacher. Those days, there were only two prestigious courses one could undertake. Either you become a teacher or a doctor.
You became the apple of the village’s eye when you went to college. “You are our son. Kindly teach my children your ways. Oh! How blessed we are!” These are among the phrases those children who succeeded constantly heard.
My father made it, in fact, landed a scholarship to Australia to further his studies and came back wiser. I cannot recall the number of times he told me his first experience on a flight, or the first time he ate spaghetti, applied butter to bread, or opened a bank account and counted his first salary.
Back in Kenya, he strived to not only build a loving family but also support his siblings and his parents. He joined Saccos and invested in shares at various companies, maximised his income through farming and stayed humble above everything.
He loved my mother beyond reasonable doubt and adored my sister and I. We never lacked. He strived to pay school fees on time and even gave us money despite knowing that we were deceiving him.
I used to slightly exaggerate school fees or create a fake tour while in campus just to get some extra notes. I know most of us are culprits. Haaa. In fact, my sister was once caught adding Ksh30 to every item she purchased while going to school.
In as much as my parents reprimanded us, they also sat us down at times to tell to us the importance of integrity and honesty. My father prior to his retirement built a new home to enjoy his retirement, but I knew above all, he wished to own a car all his life.
That is why he went to driving school, ten years prior to his retirement.
“In my old age, I will spend my money and pension to enjoy the good things I sacrificed while nurturing you all,” he used to tell us.
When my boss at work told us that we were receiving a bonus for working hard and smart throughout the year, my father’s dream and wish popped into my mind. However, the amount, coupled with a portion of my savings and Sacco dividends amounted to three-quarters of the car’s price.
My sister and her husband contributed some money, but I was still short. I really yearned to surprise my father with a Christmas gift.
“Mummy, I don’t know how we can do this? Or should I give him the money?” I asked my sister when I met her and the husband to finalize my plans.
I felt discouraged until her husband, Jared, rescued me from my frustrations.File image of a Honda car keyFile
“My wife and I recently got a Salary Advanced Loan from Co-op bank, and you being a member, you can file for one,” Jared stated.
Yes, yes, that was the answer. My father has been a Co-op bank customer since ages ago, and we as a family followed the trend, enjoying affordable offers. Salary advanced came at the best time when I needed a saviour.
I made a trip to the bank that day, discussed with the manager the salary advance option and qualified for one and after filing some paperwork
“Indeed Co-op bank came to your rescue. I am grateful for that, and for this car too. I cannot thank you enough,” my father stated as he pulled me closer hugging me. I felt his tears wet a part of my shirt.
I saw my mother smiling and I recalled how she once advised me that it is not flesh and blood, but the heart which makes fathers and sons. She knew that as a son, I not only followed my father’s pieces of advice but also his examples.
“Nothing is dearer to an ageing father than his son. Until you have a son of your own, you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of your father when he looks at you,” she told me then.
My mother did not know the surprise I had in store for her too. I will share with you the plan some other day. For now, let me enjoy my father’s hug and celebrate this Christmas holiday with my family.