What being a father figure means

Last December, Cyril, the son to our youngest sister came to live with us. He is roughly my daughter’s age mate. His parent’s marriage was on the rocks and when my baby sister could not take the abuse anymore, she upped and left.

We had always been in constant communication, but she did not let the cat out of the bag. 
One midnight last December, she called my younger brother, who also lives in Nairobi, and told him that she and her son were on the bus on their way to the capital city.
“We’re in Nakuru,” she said, “I’m bringing my son so you can live with him as I’ve found work in Riruta Estate.”

She sprung this surprise on my brother because she knew that if she told me, I’d be vehemently opposed to the idea. Early that Sunday morning, as I prepared to go to church, my brother sent me a text message. He confessed that he was in no financial position to take in an extra mouth. Which meant that, as the eldest sibling in Nairobi, the responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders. 
I did not just take on the responsibility. I called our last born sister and I let her have it. I’m all about children living with their parents. I’m about parents not shirking responsibility. But for the sake of the child, I decided that I’d take on the responsibility.

Lastborn love

Cyril has been passed around different hands and homes. He has lived with my elder sister, big brother and small brother. 
When my mama was alive, Cyril spent some time with her. His mum would drop him, and up and leave. Then she would come for him ... then drop him. And so it went.
Grief can make folks do and say strange things. One strange moment during mama’s burial, our youngest sister wept: “Now that mama is gone, where will I be running for help?”
When said in Dholuo, it gave the connotation that she was using mama as a crutch. She was using mama as her fallback plan. Mama was her refuge and nursery. And now that this crucial player was rested, her game was up.

As a lastborn - “chogo” in Dholuo - she was used to being handled with kid’s gloves. She was named after our paternal grandma; who was affectionately known as, Nya’Bondo. Which means, “daughter of Bondo”. That’s the name my pops still lovingly calls her.
Pops looks at this child, not only as a daughter, but also as her mother. And, in many sons’ eyes, mums can do no wrong.

When I informed dad that I was now living with Cyril, he told me what took me by surprise: “Make sure you look after Nya’Bondo.” Which I decoded to, “don’t drop the ball, boy, that’s my mama we are talking about”.
Man, such is the love of many parents for their last born kids.

Face of the boy child

In January, I enrolled Cyril in a private primary school in our neighbourhood. I made his parents promise that they will not interrupt his education, until he does his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in 2020.

Cyril was living and schooling upcountry. From the look of things, his parents did not give much weight to education. I have forced him to change his attitude. He’s getting used to the fact that, under my roof, there are tough rules.

Cyril is the face of many a Kenyan boy child. He was merely going through the motions of life. He was devoid of a solid fatherly and spiritual direction. He had witnessed verbal and physical abuse, which had taken a mental toll.

I hope that I’m a father figure. I hope he learns from me that fathers can love, serve their families and be good role models and mentors for their offspring.