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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Daddy I Dare i. Evil Father



‘Do you know how I got these scars?’ Thrice the Joker asks.

No one knows how he got his laughing scars. Instead he throws us off with three ridiculous theories, confusing us with his story each time he tells it, making up different things about it. But the bottom line is the Dark Knight faults his evil father and hates him with his mean smiles (and no doubt hates why he ended up like him). His scars are the constant reminder—and anyone else who’s not scared of his distressing face.

I too hated my father! Hate! Hate! Hate! I say those three words, or rather; thrice repeat one word. You would if he raped your mother and you were the first fruit of that forced union.

He had been sniffing up my mother, then a fourteen year old lass, and he almost sixteen. But the watchful eyes of the elders kept his depraved pursuit in check. Yet, the day of the dog beckoned one afternoon when he had taken the cows to the river for a drink while my maiden ma was drawing water. The beast pounced on the beauty, dragging her to his underbrush burrow and brutally breaking both her pot and purity.

Being the eldest son of Mukasa, the chief village elder, the scandal was downplayed and a few goats ransomed to my grandfather as tradition demanded. Instituted when feminist peahens were still eggs, the patriarchic culture was rigidly unquestioned.

Two moons later though, evidence in the form of pregnancy proclaimed itself in my ma’s belly—the pro-choice activists not yet hatched—and elders sat once again under the muted murembe tree, and decided to add a further number of cows to discharge the honourable thing that went down as one of the swiftest weddings in the history of our village. Saving face for the village whose moral marking scheme—before the seedy stain—smelled sweeter than the air in the kingdom of heaven. This type of marriage, the elders knew well, was a necessary village evil and could only be exceeded by the burning of a witches’ house.

Her honour and dignity severely injured, my ma never willingly shared the fruits of the matrimonial bed, cursing every time ‘you plucked my unripe self’ never to resist or assist his advances; that though she had not forgiven him, she had chosen silence as her conspirator. And after my birth—a game of life I was forced to partake—she resigned herself, never adding more children into the village population.

We wondered why. The drunks especially who spent most of their eternity with my father in the drinking dens said she flushed his seeds out of her womb. Others insisted instead it was the work of a witch. Whatever the case, she had become the reservoir of years of bitterness for being plucked and kidnapped from her adolescent innocence, and sentenced to being a wife in a village where most words were deaf to the tongue of a woman. The elders had handed her a mother’s manual and forced her to study it in the bathroom as orientation to becoming a woman.

Instead of studying the guide, her psychological scars flew from the frying pan to the fire when started cutting and collecting all the newspaper stories that she read dutifully—the accounts of women who had been raped, aborted and abandoned fetuses, wives who had miscarried, and cases of corrective rape to convert wo(men) to be heterosexual (and other unprintable taboo subjects that were intolerant to tradition). She shocked me once when she condemned and buried a kilo of red meat which Wa Ka-knife the butcher had wrapped in a newspaper that had a rape story. ‘The flesh and blood in the meat reminds me of my rape.’ She dismissed my pleas.

She wore my grandmother’s wedding dress and off she went behind the garden to bury them under a murembe tree, but not before mourning for these victims, reciting a dirge then circling the tree and hugging it passionately until she was tired. Finally when spent (making love to the tree, as I suspected), she went to a deep sleep in the fresh mound of red earth that made her happy—some moment of Freud’s psychoanalysis!


Problems she kept bottling up in her mind also exploded in different dimensions; in one or other outburst that were never talked about much—a quiet curse—a succession of psychological sickness: psychosis, neurosis, and other personality disorders attacked her and according to the medicine man, his herbs couldn’t cure the never seen before illnesses. If you thought that the passage of time healed, then you were mistaken; it builds up as a suppressed fart! When maladies lodged inside your yawning self, none can change them. My mom’s misery was herculean and only Hercules’ broom could sweep every filthy thing she despised out of her life.

While the village celebrated marriage or initiation ceremonies and dances, she instead spent her time in the surrealistic ranks of Brooks, reciting, performing her Mother meta-narrative ode:

‘Abortions won’t let you forget
You remember the children you got that you did not get
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair
The singers and workers that never handled the air
You will never neglect or beat
…or silence or buy with a sweet.’

Gloomy days grew worse and worse as nuptial years wore on; she, growing an anger that never cooled with age but burn even more by fuels of rage. While he, used to soothe himself, when her bitter tongue drove him from home, in the local booze den gathering around aged sages, rumour analysts and other idle village fools while drinking busaa. They’ll sit under the murembe all day, talking listlessly over village gossip or disputing tired stories about nothing. As they held their sessions, an old transistor radio kept them updated, but then they went into ignorant analysis and drowned its news with their loud debates while they were sober and when drunk, danced themselves silly to Congolese music coming from its rusty speakers. This intelligent man, forced to drink nonstop to spend time with his fools!

Installed as the chief village headman, after my grandfather’s demise, my father would force his bully self into homes, markets and every village space, helping himself to whatever he liked. With his security goons, he patrolled in full regalia, breaking the earth with his boots, breaking more young hearts, breaking outrageous records, and no one stood up to him. He was mad; many women called him a psychopath with a memory for a beautiful face like those video games that never forgot your score. To say that he summoned them later for his ritual romping would be an understatement—he imposed his way!

For me the victim, this curious business, heralding my debased birth, marked me for a unique kind of ill luck, like a tumour that turned malignant. I never chose to be a son of a rapist and what one was forced into, was neither a feat nor a failure. Self-denial in being born illegitimate was as silly as to boast about it. I just had to accept this unchosen fate as any Oedipus and live unhappily at my Colonus. This fate of an unfortunate child whose first tooth turned out decayed!

Who’d wear a cheery smile every morning but to only observe his likeness in the mirror reflecting the sins of his father? But that was what life offered me in the way of being a man, that good wombs bore bad sons, and I took it into my stride, clutching my rotten history with both hands. I had put up with him for fourteen years, and the only way I endured him was by staying away from him. Not only did I hate meeting him, but also avoided remembering him unless forced to—as force was his nature.

And even within those short inevitable meetings, arguments marked our discourse and conjured up past disputes that fanned more quarrels. The rare seasons of peace which still came sometimes were the motels where we dined for a while before setting out again into a road of masked hostility that was slowed down by our mutual coldness. This coldness should have troubled me, but trouble being my middle name, I considered the situation normal.

Life rotated intolerably in that volatile world of eternal conflict and I struggled to liberate myself more and more from those clutches of ugliness and pacify them in a facade of decency and modesty, attaining it by limiting my time at home, and when compelled to, camouflaged my position in the company of my mates whose presence my father despised anyway. 

It is said that a child belongs to its father. When life is sweet, the child finds footing in his fatherland. But when a father beats the child, he seeks sympathy in his mother’s hut, and finds refuge in his mother’s arms because her protective love is absolute. But with my mother’s misery and my father’s supremacy, I turned towards mother earth who once upon a time comforted a disowned girl whose illegitimate pregnancy had turned out to be triplets. Mother earth never disappointed to let regret weigh down on me or bring my earthly mother another burden by being like my father—even though I had his hefty build, looks but my mother’s dislike of him. Fortunately among my people, a man was judged according to his worth and not his father’s.

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