Prose: Don’t Be Like Your Father


By Brian Munyao Longwe

“Don’t be Like Your Father”
Betrayal, pain, anger, even hate.
These are the emotions that swept through this young boy every time he heard those words spoken by his mother. Out of her tears, out of her frustration, out of her torment, the words dripped like molten lava from her tongue. Scorching his tender spirit and searing his troubled soul.

“Don’t be like your father” the words echoed in his mind as he struggled to find sleep amidst his cluttered thoughts.

His father was a person whom we barely knew. Off early in the morning before they got up for school and back late at night after they had gone to bed. Sometimes he would be gone for days on “business trips” some genuine, some not so genuine, as the boy was to discover in his later years. For years his mother’s mantra was recited daily as she ranted about one thing or another about his father. Whom he barely knew.

“Don’t be like your father”
She said, and hung her head in shame as she pleaded on her knees with the school bursar not to send her children home for unpaid school fees. This time it was serious, the school had had enough of this family that could never pay fees on time. This time, the bursar said, they were not going to listen to any stories. The children were to be sent home permanently. Expelled, their names expunged from the school’s register. She cried all the way home, and in between sobs said. “Don’t be like your father.”

“Don’t be like your father”
She said, as she stood aside distressed, with dry cheeks and a drawn, haggard face as she watched auctioneers take all her treasured household belongings away and lock the house for unpaid rent… for the fourteenth time in her 17 year marriage.

“Don’t be like your father”
She said, as she wrestled with other women for her husband’s love, affection, attention and finances. Sometimes, in her lighter moods she would show some of the scars on her body and retell the story about “Miss Ribbons” and how she punched her through a glass door for coming to the threshold of the house and demanding to see her husband. “I showed her who was boss” she said, as the thumbed the scar on her arm with a smirk on her face, savouring the memory of her fist smashing into “Miss Ribbons” heavily made up face.

“Don’t be like your father”
She said, as she gave in to other men’s advances – if only to find some solace, some made up illusion of romantic love, some temporary provision but instead found only pain, abuse and exploitation. There was no substitute, there was no replacement, no one else could take the place of the father of her children. Each heartbreak, each short lived affair ended with the words that sank like nails into the wood of a coffin. “Don’t be like your father”

“Don’t be like your father”
She said, as she searched for God in all the wrong places. In drink and drugs and sex and church and bar and temple and nightclub and mosque and gym and counselling. Ever seeking but never finding the piece of her soul that was missing. Until one day she found Him, her saviour, her redeemer. The shepherd of her soul. And with Him she found healing, redemption, forgiveness. She found respite from the heavy load she had been carrying for years; the hatred, the bitterness, the pain. She found her true love.

And he heard her say, for the first time in his life “Be like your Father.”

About the Author:

Brian Munyao Longwe has been struggling with his writing and occasionally manages to finish a piece or two. He hopes that engaging with this blog will improve his accountability and help him get more writing done. He tries hard not to be a jack-of-all trades by focusing most of his efforts on getting more Africans to use the internet and internet technologies.

Read more of his work


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