Finding Dad Part 3: Immunisation card that finally revealed his name
A year later I met my mum’s cousin. They were very close friends. My mind has a way of rearranging its shelves; so the subject of my father that I had kept at the back suddenly popped out of my mouth.
“Your father was a very tall Maasai engineer. He was the son of a prominent politician during the Moi era.
“Everyone thought he would marry your mother because they seemed to be in love. But no one knows what happened.
“He just disappeared and your mother never talked about him again. I don’t remember his name. Come tomorrow. Maybe I will have remembered.”
That was a promising lead but it was quashed the following day when I went back and she could not remember his name. The relief I had felt died.
Hello dead end and back to the back of my mind! Somehow, like Mary after the birth of Jesus, I pondered at that information in my heart.
From that day my eyes, my heart and my mind have been working together like the NIS, CIA, FBI, and MI6.
The only difference is that any information I gathered I kept to myself. By this time I had become friends with God and once in a while I would throw this issue of my father in my prayers. I was no longer angry.
“Bless him or his children. Wherever they are. ” I was also bold enough to declare to any possible suitor that I come from a single-parent family. If they or their families didn’t like it they were free to bounce.
I became a keen observer of all politicians from the Maasai community. I never missed a bulletin or article about them. I listed them down in my mind, even the ones who died during my unique investigation.
I looked intently at their pictures, calculated their ages to estimate whether they were my father, or the father to my father. It could not be the late Saitoti. Goals. Hahaha. He was Kikuyu after all.
My mind’s red pen cancelled his name. Next? Ntimama (May God rest his soul). But did you see how that man who claimed to be his son was handled?
No Lord, I don’t want to belong to him. Also, he did not have my nose. Hahaha. Every other politician or their children also cancelled out.
They were either too young, too dark, too light-skinned, eyes not big enough, nose not pointed enough or the dental formula not quite as mine.
The search changed from being an emotional to a hilarious affair. I would laugh about it in my kitchen, my bathroom or bedroom.
Sometimes breakthrough comes when you least expect it. You forget you even needed one.
In September 2018, I got selected into the Women in News Fellowship that empowers women holding positions in the newsroom. I was elated! I was the only editor from a little known media house.
These things come with quite a package, including the possibility of travel outside the country. We were advised to get the new e-passports as soon as we could.
I mentioned to my brother that I would need my birth certificate in December to apply for the passport.
He had inherited a briefcase full of documents from my grandfather when he died in October 2016. My birth certificate was kept in that briefcase, which was hidden somewhere in my grandparents’ bedroom.
It was Wednesday 28th November 2018. “My Bro calling….” read the screen of my phone. I was almost getting home. I would call back soon. But brother insisted so as soon as I unlocked the door, I picked it up.
“Hey! Hope you had a good day! I have your birth certificate. You will pick it in town tomorrow,” he said. “Wow, thank you! It had slipped my mind,” I replied.
“But I saw something else. Your immunization card. It has the name of your father. Ako na title! (He has a title!)” He added with a tinge of excitement. Silence.
“Hello, are you still there?’’ “Yes brother, am here. Who is my father?” I asked for the umpteenth time in my thirty something years. This time, there was an answer.
There was a name. “I can’t tell you. This is your journey now. Come to grandma’s on Saturday. I have left the briefcase open. Whatever you decide to do, I will always be by your side.” End of conversation.
Ladies and gentlemen! Finally, I have a father. End of part one of the story. Saturday was two century-long days ahead…
Part 4 of this story continues next Saturday. The author, Cynthia Gichiri, is a journalist now based in Nairobi. She is also a Women in News Leadership Fellow