Family

DEAR SWEET OLD MAN

Hi Dad,

Am typing this missive from the comfort of a room in Migori County where am being held captive……by your three nephews, Paul Ollando, Don and Cecil. Now don’t start freaking out, am OK. In fact, I tried escaping on a certain night but then I remembered the fun I was having so I went back to my bed. Last week I wanted to give you an update of the happenings from your burial harambee but I was drowning in sorrow so I called my friend Willis to hold in for me. I hope this finds you well even though I can’t help but wonder if your spirit is already in the afterlife or with us. So without any further ado I will get straight to the harambee.

The harambee went down well on Wednesday 29th November. We were able to raise funds from friends, family and colleagues. I was impressed by the turn out and I pray that God may bless each soul that contributed in whichever way. Can you believe that Aunty Stella and Aunty Caro decided to surprise us the previous night? They had earlier said that they were not sure if they would get a flight in time for the burial only to appear in Kitengela on Tuesday 28th Hahaha! Apparently they couldn’t afford to miss the burial of their favorite in law.

The requiem mass was held on the day after the harambee at St.Paul’s Catholic Church. We went to collect your body from Umash Funeral Home first. The journey to church was long, filled with lots of sad songs. I am usually particular about the kind of music I listen to (which you always made fun of) so I tapped the driver’s shoulder and asked him,

“Hi can I have some 2 Chainz?”

“Sorry ma’am, this is a hearse not a jewelry store.”

“I meant 2 Chainz the rapper.”

Hahaha! OK. That did not happen. Instead, I endured to the sad music as I worried about your little girl. She was seated right next to me staring outside the window. The whole time I wondered what was going through her mind as we drove along Mbagathi way traffic. Nyawanda was seated behind me next to mum and I could see the tough face she was trying to put on.

We finally got to the church and that place brought in loads of memories of the times you used to take me for catechism there. Probably that’s why I was a little too emotional after the mass. You see, we got out I sat next to mum and my efforts to fight my tears were fruitless. I really wanted to be strong and receive the condolences believe me. Anyway, I was really touched by the support offered by those who attended the mass, moreso the classmates and teachers of your little girl.

After the mass we headed to Kitengela where your body was to spend the night as our customs dictate. We got home to find lunch was ready under the supervision of chef de cuisine, your niece, Mapesa and head of kitchen operations Ida. I think these two should start a restaurant together with Nyawanda.

The house was packed with family and friends. Later in the evening, your niece Nyangi, your former student Gabu and I went to the nearby fish farm for a walk. When we got there, the attendants had already closed business and according to them it was past visiting hours.

Despite using all tactics possible like smiling nicely at them, reapplying my lip balm as they watched, blinking my eyes seductively, they were still reluctant to let us in (hata sikuskia vibaya). My final trick was showing them your photo and they let us in old man! Just like that! They said that you were a great friend and were shocked by the news of your demise. Of course I took that opportunity to brag that am your daughter and went to show them how I resemble you and stuff. Hahaha! I have always been proud to be your firstborn. That farm made me see the vision you had for the poultry farm you always talked about. I will work hard to make that dream come true papa, I promise you.

When we got back home, more people had come to view the body. That night was packed with lots of fun. Your nieces and nephews had tons of jokes especially Juji, Nyangi and Tom these three need help Hahaha! We laughed and bonded over stories and for a minute, I stopped worrying about my lost ATM and ID card. We left for the funeral the following day very early in the morning.

The journey to Ugunja was OK until we got to Nakuru where the bus broke down. Apparently the service providers swapped buses and gave us the one that was last serviced when KANU was still the ruling party. Those dimwits were super rude when we called them so your siblings figured that we should get another hearse.

We finally got home, in groups and after a lot of struggle. The homestead was filled with mourners. Tents were erected all over and the air was filled with misery. My friend Lynn and Cecil were already at home. We took seats and began to catch up where we were joined by Yonie, Marren, Tito and Jimmy. We retired to bed very late.

Dad I would really love to give a detailed account of the funeral but it brings so much sadness so I will just give highlights. The eulogy booklet was designed beautifully. It had a picture of you and photos of your tools of trade as a contractor. The tributes were beautifully written, they made me cry. Your former collegues were there and they told us stories of how you hated it when people called you ‘Robert’ instead of ‘Norbert’ hehehe! Your in laws said you were a brother to them. Your brothers were unable to eulogize you as the pain was too much. They lost their brother, friend and contractor. Dad, your sisters eeeei! Yawa! They told us tales of how you were their defender and how you made them laugh with your endless jokes.

Mum was trying to be strong, you know her. She gave a vote of thanks to everyone who participated in the funeral preparations. Nyawanda kept telling me that she was OK every time I showed concern. The thing that broke my heart the most was the eulogy by your little girl. She fought tears trying to explain her point and that made me cry too. She said how she was looking forward to get driving lessons from you only to come home and find you gone. I will never forget her words. As for me, I tried to crack a joke while eulogizing you lakini wapi! Guys didn’t get the joke (niliskia vibaya). Maybe the joke was not funny or I cracked it at a wrong time. Anyway, we buried your body after mass and I couldn’t believe that a few months ago we visited the grave yard in our homestead and you showed me the graves of my grandparents. I painfully watched your siblings cry as they lowered the casket. Dad, you have the most loving siblings ever. Nyawanda and your little girl should emulate that hehehe!

After the burial we requested the priest to bless the new house that you were building. It’s sad that you worked so hard to build it but you will not spend even a single night in it. You know the greatest gift you gave us, was loving and respecting our mother. Through that we learnt to love one another. Dad am really scared of a future without you. Am worried about mum and my sisters because I feel like I don’t know how to comfort them. I don’t know how we will live without you. But death is a reality that we have to accept, as painful as it is. Here is one thing though, I want to promise you that I will make you proud old man. I wish you could promise me that you get this letters though because it’s the only way I can tell you what is going on. One more thing, I miss the accent challenge we used to play even though you always beat me at it. You could imitate a wide range of accents so well hehehe! Till we meet again I will be writting these letters to you. Rest in peace papa.

Your loving daughter,
Agnes Opondo.

******************************************************************************************************************

I want to thank everyone for the support during this difficult time. The doctors at Aga Khan, My colleagues, mum’s colleagues, dad’s former colleagues & students, uncles and aunties, the awesome grandchildren of Snr Chief Opondo, the lovely grandchildren of Ambrose Nyambedha, my friends mostly Lynn, Ciiku, Caro, Lulu, Willis, Cate, Biko, Phoebe, Mwasio, Pam, Gabu, Stella Finsky & Nancy, our neighbors, family friends, service providers, friends to my sisters, everyone who helped in one way or another and mostly the burial organizing committee. Shukran kabisa! Erokamano!

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