My dad and his love for calves and bananas

“Shao morning,” My 16 month old nephew greets the two calves in their vault. They are aged 3 and 2 months.

    The calves having been serving cuteness since their birth. Standing there with big innocent eyes, a splatter of pink on their noses, and their fur- a perfect rendition of black and white together in harmony. Too soon? They haven’t got names yet, we figured calf was enough an identity until they met their chief caretaker-my dad who will then gift them a name that befits them.

       The boy calf cares less about being a good citizen. He is stiflingly catastrophic and it is predictable that there’s a macabre of things the boy will do in his wake. He has to be shackled with a rope right above his calf hoof before they step out of their vaults to go bask in the advancing sun, while he veers towards the serene green grass he loses his calm (pretense calm) and gets all jumpy like a young maasai Moran during a dance battle. He will also try hitting young trees with his 3 month old head. I see the young trees playing back by bouncing back on him and hitting him, he doesn’t like it. He’s likes to the wrong doer not the wronged. So he keeps fighting back even after he is meters away from the young tree which continues to sway-ripples of the wind but that is unknown intellect to the young prince.   

          His sister is poise and nonchalant. I call them brother and sister because they stem from the same father, artificial insemination, plus they kinda look alike so…

The girl calf is a good calf. Her mother must be delivering a character and self-love spiel in her talks of the today woman because that little girl is pure ivory. I think the conversation happens somewhere between the cow language of moo! Which we evolved humans can’t decode.

Moo,” The mama cow tells her daughter [Let’s harmonize the routine together baby]

“Mooooooooooo,” they say together [Don’t forget to pray when you wake up. Always lick your fur early in the morning.  Be kind to all, even the humans. ]

“Good girl.” The mama cow says pleased.

I can tell the girl calf has dreams and aspirations of being a good calf when she grows up. She is calm like Buddhist until she sees her brother running wild and having fun. Oh brothers! She throws caution to the wind and rejoices in the newly found freedom.

      With this lock down my father has been reduced and subdued to only seeing the calves on whats’app through photos I send him. He had gone back to Nairobi for work unaware of the brewing storm of COVID-19 that would cause a lock down and him unable to see his soon to be born calves. Obviously for the intolerably state of being we blame president Uhuru, not the disease rummaging our streets threatening to claim lives. No. It’s all on Uhuru. If we had the might (the will is already in place) we’d grab his shirtsleeve, whisper some few bible verses and brutalize him into opening the gates of normalcy.

To lift my dad’s moods up, I let my nephew (ngarana/his namesake) converse with him over the phone. He is quite the little charmer.

“U-a,” little Hinga says. He still can’t say guka properly, reason- being a kid and all.

“Yes,” my dad jovially participates.

“Shao,” [the calves]

“Gashao,” my dad says back attempting to get him to correctly pronounce the noun, “kuhana atia?” By this time my nephew is ogling at the birds. His attention has shifted in milliseconds. Kids and their loooong attention span.

“Noni,” there he goes again attempting to say nyoni (birds). My dad goes back and forth with a plethora of kikuyu words that he wants the young champ to attempt. He cackles with humor as the little boy engages his tongue and his four teeth. Little Hinga has also accustomed to the culture of pacing while on a phone call, sometimes he drums the wall with his tiny fingers as he says “eh, eh, eh.” I always have to follow him while he roams around to watch him and my phone, one because I don’t want it falling and sustaining new cracks two, because this is the only way I get blogging material. Am a stalker with a justified cause.

  Somewhere along the talk my nephew will say: ndithi. And it will remind my dad of his banana plants, the already planted and those that were about to be planted. At this point he will tell young Hinga to hand over the phone to me. We will talk about the bananas and he will ask me to send some photos, a task I have somehow come to love and do with efficiency.

      He hardly asks about the potatoes, or the corn, or the Napier grass and I suspect they feel unloved. So I try to whisper positive affirmations into their plant ears in the hope that my words can replace the feeling of inadequacy. All thanks to YouTube motivation, my vocabulary on empowerment is on point. I often tell the plants: You must clap for yourself even when others don’t. It is in these trying times that legends are created, if it was easy every plant would do it.

       See once my dad once bought and planted 100 banana plants on a new farm that he had bought. The majority of them bloomed because he has the Midas touch. Every banana plant he touches blooms because he understands banana tree language. He feels their souls, he lends a listening ear when they talk about their troubles (heartbreaks from girls banana plants and the birds who pee on them. Stop it birds.) He is not one of those people who try to outdo anyone by upping his struggle. Thoughtful is an adjective that best sums my dad. It must be why he’s a people and plant magnet. Because we all have struggles and we need someone who listens without the half-assed-listening and pain shaming .

I wonder what name my father will parcel this two calves. I know for a fact he will borrow from our Kikuyu names because he is a man who hold high his rich Kikuyu roots. Should he want an English or Swahili alternative, am suggesting ,Brayo, for that boy calf. A naughty boy who is joyous of his run-ins with the law, and who doesn’t do much for his own good.