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A Christmas letter to my late father

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By KAREN GITHAIGA

A road accident stole you from us, Daddy. Though I never knew you, you are the reason I work very hard. In my imagination, you were the most handsome, generous and hardworking of them all.

I find myself thinking of how life would have been interesting for me and my siblings with you and Mum around. How would this Christmas have been with all of us decorating the Christmas tree that you would have brought home?

Daddy, I’m here, watching as Nairobi residents head to their upcountry homes, laden with presents for their parents and grandparents, and I’m trying to figure out the perfect Christmas gift for you. You would have been in your 70s; probably a warm coat or a watch would do. I’m not sure if you loved reading; I would buy you a nice comical book to tickle you as you are busy grazing your cows.

I was told you were an accountant but I don’t know what accountants love in their sunset years.

Sadness grips me, Dad, when I see some people engaged in their daily businesses as if the birth of Jesus have no meaning to them. It saddens me more how they talk about their old parents back in “shags” (village). Many people take having parents for granted; how I wish I had you, Dad, in any status — poor or rich, illiterate or learned, dirty or clean, healthy or sick… That would be the best Christmas gift for me!

My daughter, too, imagines what a nice grandfather you would have been — chasing each other down the valleys and up the hills of Rwathia, through the coffee and tea plantations.

Eating wild fruits and dancing foolishly with the cows. Washing your sweaty feet in Mathioya River, listening to the twittering of crickets and birds.

In the evening in the thatched kitchen, you would sit around the fireplace and narrate to her exciting stories of the giant “irimu” (ogre) and other myths, proverbs, riddles and songs. I know you would probably try to weave the story of the birth of Jesus into the giants story, and maybe King Herod would be the giant and my daughter would be Mary and so on and so forth. I can almost hear the laugher crackling the silent night.

This would be a very crucial time for you to talk to my teenage daughter about staying away from boys until she’s married and it will sink into her system because you will say things in a funny manner. How easy would it be for me as I watch you whispering, smiling and laughing….

I will talk to my neighbours about how much I miss you. If I could have only a second with you, I would hug you and get to know you and make them understand how precious Christmas would be with their fathers beside them. I will make them understand how much I would have enjoyed a silent walk with you as we wait for the jingle bells, watching the twinkling stars and letting the wind blow our hair as we kick small stones around, waiting together for the birth of Christ.

Daddy, although I was not privy to your dreams, I will fulfil them all — just to make you decorate the most beautiful Christmas tree for me today.

Ms Githaiga, a former nominated MCA in the Nairobi City County Assembly, is a political science student at the University of Nairobi. [email protected]

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