One Half the Conversation

One Half

A conversation in the car between me and dad is always a welcome idea. The best part about such conversations is that he has to keep his eyes on the road when I break outrageous news like “I quit my job” and “I am getting married”. He would wish he was glaring at me and I will be enjoying his inability to give me a scowl that would make the rest of the conversation even more difficult. Of course, there will be follow up questions like “Is she pregnant” and “how do you plan to be getting money”, and I will have an answer to neither. So, I will fill up the conversation with lots of bullshit but somehow he will circle back to the same questions because he is not stupid. I too will circle back to my bullshit. It will be a game of tag but he will have to keep his eyes on the road.

 

 

We will be driving from our townhome in Nakuru to our farmhouse in Nyandarua. He will be looking forward to having a look at the farm and the house and talk to the workers about this and that and of course he will want me to be there. I will just be looking forward to meeting my childhood friends though. The farm will not interest me and neither will the livestock, yet, I will be fully aware that this is a responsibility being passed on to me.

 

How long have you been planning this?

 

He will ask now turning half his head towards me because we will be at Nduduri Centre and the road will be as clear as the sky on a clear day. Mostly, he will want to see whether there is any mischief written on my face but he will shake a little because he will be met by a serious contemplative look. He will put his eyes back on the road, perhaps even a little glad he does not have to look at me.

 

A long time. Since the second year in university.

 

That will be true, probably the truest part of this entire conversation. I met this girl four years ago and since then all I have been waiting for was a good idea to fill my veins with a good wedding proposition. It had been around the same time in university that I had discovered I was doing the wrong course. I was in a class full of Computer Scientists while in fact, I should have been in a literature class. I do not regret this part, however, otherwise, were it not that way, how would I have met this beautiful girl?

 

Possibly, a humble reminder that all life and notable moments are born from chaos, conflict and destruction. The trick is to take in all the bedlam in gulps.

 

He will know I will want to be a writer now because he regularly comes here to read my stories, sometimes even to read my highly explicit scenes but he understands the creative process because he introduced me to reading and writing. My first collection of books were his old collection of 18+ books. So he reads from the shadows, leaves a comment here and there. We even follow each other on Instagram! I blocked him on Twitter though.

 

There will be a brief moment of lucidity before he goes to the next question…

 

What kind of wedding do you want to have?

 

He will ask, and I will have to be extremely careful about this response because of two reasons. One is that he is a church person and second is that I am not a church person and I will not want a church wedding. However, I will not say that. I am not stupid. I will start with the number of people I would like to invite which will be fifteen to twenty-five in a nice beautiful garden along Kiambu Road called Paradise Lost. Then I will explain the budget which will be relatively small and these reasons will automatically make him rule out a church wedding.

 

The secret to the victory of words highly lies on the organisation or disorganisation of the non-obvious.

 

All this will be the easy part of the conversation. The clincher will fall in like an avalanche of snow when he asks whether I asked for a blessing from the girl’s parents. Then, my skilfully planned argument will crumble like a poorly funded community project. I will not have spoken to the girl’s parents because of several reasons.

 

 

African parents expect that from a university is a job, work white collar for several years, become sufficient by yourself before you add another sufficient person into your life. They have made us believe and listen to this ideology since we could understand language, therefore, my idea to start eating the cow from the tail will receive a busload of criticism. I will be aware of this criticism and I will not even mind it but I will be unsure of how to address it before the girl’s parents. I mean, I am addressing it now with my parents in a car so that they do not have to look at me straight in the eye, would I have to convince the girl’s parents to drive me somewhere too? Would I have to pretend to be an Uber driver to have the exact same situation to ask for a blessing?

 

 

I will not tell dad all this though. Instead, I will lie that I wanted his permission first before I go to them next. He will be silent for a long while. We will almost be getting to the farm and the weather will have changed into a cold crisp and misty feel as always is in Nyandarua. I will silently make a small prayer that this conversation is not carried outside the car.

 

How will you be making money?

 

I will explain the theory behind contributing columns to major magazines and newspapers globally and he will not seem to be bothered by that. He understands I can take care of myself. He will warn me to be careful about the stuff I write and their relationship to big organisations or big personalities but I will explain that I have no intention of becoming a journalist but secretly in my mind, I will stay conscience that a good story must be told whatever the consequences.

 

 

We will get off the main road into a murram road leading to Githima our home village and all these memories will come rushing in. Githima is kikuyu for a spring, a place people have access to water. In fact, in Swahili, the same name was borrowed to Kisima. I will remember how I used this same road every single day to school and back when I was very young. I will mentally visualise myself walking on the dusty sidewalks with Dennis, my best friend and Gladys, the girl we both liked. I will make a mental note to add Dennis and Gladys to the wedding guest list.

 

 

I will feel nostalgic about the moment we lived here. When life was so easy. I will terminate this line thought abruptly before it turns to self-pity. That will not be the time to look back, it will be the time to look forward and write other future stories, as beautiful as the ones in the past.

 

 

Dad will sigh loudly, and I will wait for a comment. He always does that when he has had a deep thought about something and finally has a conclusive remark. I will wait for it but it will not be forthcoming. It will take longer. Then he will say it in more of a convinced tone than a resigned one…

 

You really love her and you also really love writing…

Since you were young everything you have done is driven by a passion that starts as tiny obsessions.

 

I will be sure he has more to say but he will seem to have completed the conversation. I will later type this remark in my Google Keep and analyse it word after word because with dad, you never get an answer, only more questions.

 

 

Did he just give me permission to get married? Was I looking for permission? Did he approve of me quitting my job? Was I looking for approval? Will he tell mom? Do I have to repeat this entire conversation with mom? Was I successful?

 

 

We will park the car outside the farmhouse just on the edge of the small private young forest and go into the house where the housekeeper will be so welcoming with a cup of green tea, in it enough milk to drown all the negativity from my thoughts. I will excuse myself and make a call to the girl, I will tell her I just spoke to my parents about our plans and they were very supportive of the idea. It will not be the truth but it will be half the truth. I will still be on a journey there, and she will not have to know all that.

 

 

She will begin to make plans on her end on how to break the news to her parents that she planned to forsake her science degrees and instead pursue full time photography and under the same breath tell them that she is about to get married to this dude from Nyandarua who writes stuff. She will secretly hope that her parents will be as accepting as mine and she will start with her mom in the kitchen as they bake chapattis together.

 

 

It will be a slippery slope. But each half will make a full unit.

 

I think.

 

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

 

Author: Dennis Peters

When I stare at an empty word document, which is often, my font is always Georgia, size 10, and the feeling constantly is that the cursor is mocking me.

6 thoughts

  1. This has to be among my favourites of the pieces I’ve read from you. Haha… heri wewe ni marriage. My Dad still looks at me funny any time Mum and I are talking about my boyfriend. I’m still worried about how to go about the we’re getting married or moving in together topic.

    Like

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