I do not know how many children who have died as a result of their fathers’ insensitivity but I had the rare privilege of a father whose sensitivity, to an extent, has kept me alive today. I can confidently say this each time I remember an incidence in our house in the middle of the night.
That evening was a Sunday and I had to go to school the next day. By the way, I was a primary school student who never did anything for himself at that level and age. In preparation for the following morning my mum decided to cook beans and rice but the beans was going to be cooked half way so that she would save time the following morning and I would still eat before going to school. I knew this routine so well even though I was very young but the problem that evening was that mum had prepared beans and she wanted me to eat rice for dinner. Everybody in the house knows that beans is my favourite and I just didn’t like to see white rice in front of me for whatever reason so I insisted on eating beans.
Slowly, she began to persuade me to eat rice and to remember that she had prepared the beans for the next morning. When she realized that I was not going to give up on eating beans that night, she gave up all attempts to convince me and I got so angry that I decided it was either beans or no food for that night. As it turned out, I went to bed without food. I think I would have listed to my mother and would have eaten the rice if I was so hungry but I just was not that hungry so it was about eating my favourite and not eating to be satisfied. The more important thing is that if my dad knew that I had not eaten, he would have forced me to eat but it was a busy evening and he just did not notice that I had not eaten.
A few hours later we all went to bed and it was one of those nights when late night movies were out of the discussions because of school. As far as my memory can take me, I remember waking up around 2am to prepare for school. The first strange thing was that my mum was the one who woke me up every morning and there were times when she came into my room twice before I got out of bed but I was out of bed before 2am. I took my shower, rushed back into the room for my uniform and shoes to get dressed. As soon as I was dressed I headed straight to the kitchen for the beans my mum had refused to serve the previous night. As far as I was concerned, it was already Monday morning regardless of what time it was. I took a spoon and gently elevated some grains into my mouth until I was full.
After the love affair with the beans, I went back into the room and thought of what to do because everyone else was fast asleep. A few minutes later I felt pushed to pump some water into the overhead tank so I went straight for the key to the house which also had the key to the main gate. When I gently attempted to open the first padlock, it snapped open noisily! My father raced through the corridor from his room to the kitchen to collect the key but still wondered if there was a spiritual angle to that event. Since I had the key to the gate, I could have opened it as well and just walk away forever but a sensitive father was around to salvage the situation.