Even after years of living in this place, the world still feels strangely unfamiliar. And it still takes us by surprise how every waking moment has the enormous potential of changing the entire course of our life story – dragging us further inland.
“Tie your shoelaces before you trip and fall.”
Those words, put into motion Njeri’s resolve not to love her father as sincerely as she had intended to. Those words took up the front row seat of her mind and struck all the wrong chords. A deep disappointment had been birthed.
If you can, allow me pause the frame, and paint you a picture.
Njeri had been building an elaborate castle in the sky for a few months now. Her innocent mind, gave her limitless freedom to create and recreate. She knew what clothes she would wear that day. She knew what shoes to wear too; shoes that would enable her run into father’s arms – successfully. The artistry of this encounter mattered.
For many evenings now, she had watched with much envy, as her classmates run down the brick clad walkway, finding embrace and reassurance in their fathers’ arms. Those moments, she observed, very distinctly marked the end of a school day. All was forgotten. They were home-bound. She wanted to know how this kind of love felt.
After mother pointed him out, Njeri started her run from across the room. This was the moment she’d been waiting for. Her little feet hit the ground; her heart was in flight.
“Tie your shoelaces before you trip and fall,” she heard him say, as she approached him. As Njeri silently mastered her shoestrings into a neat bow, the castle she had so caringly built was coming undone. Something inside her little chest broke. This strange man had just erased a very crucial part of her life story and he didn’t even know it.
This was not what being loved felt like.
You see, maybe he meant her no harm. But Njeri had just been robbed. How do you love someone that steals moments and bursts bubbles? How do you love someone that scars you casually? How do you love a father that is a thief of something as irredeemable as time and space? A father that breaks a little girl’s castle…
She learnt not to ask nosy questions and look for prickly answers. The world was as is, and maybe it was better this way.
Njeri for a long time feared to innocently dream things into existence. The higher off the ground her thoughts wandered, meant her fall would be great if no one was there to catch her. And then came the disappointment and grief from the way it all turned out. Oh, how she had wanted to love him. Where was she to put all this love now? And the shame from having expected so much and received so little. She would never speak about this moment. In fact, it didn’t happen. No one had to know.
It’s agony, when the world burdens a little girl’s heart with an untold story. Or when she has to tell a myriad of lies to cover up something she has very little understanding of.