In May of 1996, it had been raining heavily, kind of like how it has been pounding the city this week. But on this particular day, the 13th of May, there were only light showers. A couple of people were taking shelter in buildings around the city as is the norm, to wait for the rain to subside. In one of those buildings right in the heart of Nairobi’s CBD, a slab from the roof wetted by the rain, collapsed, coming down on the people who had gathered below. 16 people died that day and a lot more injured. That was 19 years ago today. It’s hard to imagine that all that time has passed already.
It’s amazing how little I have posted about my father on this blog. I mentioned something sometime back about it but it wasn’t at length, but I am sure more posts will pop up about him on here. That day my future was etched on a different canvas. Life took a tangent that no one would have known where it would have led had that day not come to pass. Throughout, even until now I can’t ever remember questioning why. I think that’s the first thing that always pops up on someone’s mind after such a loss. Why did I have to go through it? Why did this have to happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? I have never had these questions on my mind. Instead, I always wonder whether he is proud of the man I am today and how I can make sure that he is never forgotten. I have been told once that my striking resemblance to him is already surety that he won’t.
Even though I haven’t posted much about him, or don’t often talk about him to anyone, I think about him every single day. Just this post, has been in the making for several months and I started to work on it about two months ago. The thoughts are not structured though so if you ask me what I think about exactly, the answer isn’t going to be anything coherent. It’s just passing thoughts, random musings. I see something on telly and it reminds me of him. I work on the lawn outside and I remember waking up on Saturdays to the smell freshly cut grass. I see a guitar and I remember him. I see a choir sing and I imagine him there orchestrating them. You walk in the living room, even now, and the first thing that hits you is a picture of my dad. There used to be this black old leather jacket in our bedroom. It was his and I hated that jacket. Every time I went into the room I would just get a glimpse of it, you know, those times you see something in the corner of your eye without even having to look at it. Except for the bad days where I would just look and stare at it and get lost in thought. I never found the courage to touch it.
Nineteen years is a long time to be missing someone. It’s an even longer time to be missing someone who you don’t fully know. Sure I have memories of him here and there, memories that I treasure, everyone who had the chance to have met him speaks very highly of him. But you know what breaks my heart everyday? Not knowing who he was, the kind of man he was, the kind of person he could have become. That he didn’t get a chance to walk his daughters down the aisle. That he won’t be there to see my kids or his grandkids. That I will never get the chance to have a manly conversation with him. He wasn’t there to teach me about girls and business and what being a man is. He didn’t get the chance to know me. I think about these things the most.
I remember this one time during one of the funeral meetings at our place, a man came in. It was one of the better days. I remember he was wearing a brown jacket and had this loud voice. He started shouting how life was unfair and that my dad didn’t deserve what had happened. He pointed at us and said he felt sorry for us and he kept repeating how he could not believe my dad was gone. I didn’t know him so he wasn’t a relative and after a while he had to be calmed down. I don’t know why this memory stuck, but it constantly plays in my head. And I keep thinking if anyone will feel that strongly about me. It always pushes me to be a better man and a true friend to everyone I meet.
So this day is for you dad. We dearly miss you and we will definitely never forget you.