Sundials in the Shade

Men. That is enough of a statement to get me thinking about what goes on in their minds. I would want to pick their minds and understand what goes on between their ears. One scenario that never eludes my mind is when; our fathers are seated in the family get togethers silently nodding in agreement with each other as the women talk and chatter endlessly. Almost as if they have their silent conversations aside. Telepathy is what I call it. They create their own satellite and communication paths so that no one will ever know what was spoken among them. Only their occasional observable silent grunts and long pauses before a tiny nod that finally seals the end of a conversation.

I was casually strolling down the library trying to decide if I would settle for African slavery or Economic inflation: two topics that have been trying to steal my joy the past few weeks.

From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a man in the same dilemma as me. I slowly turn full on and our eyes meet. I smile shyly and nod in agreement and the courtesy is returned. This caught my attention and quipped my interest. I could tell probably from the young beard slowly creating its life on his smooth caramel face that he was in his early twenties. His physic lean enough to say he is an active person. Not a gym rat but probably someone who takes his walks seriously. Tall enough to reach the top of the bookshelf with a beautiful smile.

I can see him holding two books on his arm. The large-sized letters on the first book are written unmistakably “How to be the best version of yourself” and a tinier book that was tucked behind the former one. He is definitely on the self-help aisle. I cross over with a little touch of drama to the self-help aisle as I furrow my brows trying to look for a book that wasn’t part of my schedule.

“I could come back later or borrow the other books,” I think to myself. I pick up a book on Emotional intelligence just to seem as if that is what I was looking for. It also gave me an excuse to get close to Mr Man whose book choices had me hooked. I get a closer look at the tiny book and it was about preparation to be a father. I brush past him and head over to the seats and secure a two-seater at the corner. A comfortable spot.

A few minutes later, he seems decided, with three books on his arm. An additional of an even tinier book than the second and settles opposite me. He notices me and smiles again, a tiny smile of acknowledgment and familiarity.

As he places them on the tabletop, I can’t help but skim over the third book written “Poems for my African Son.” My assumption at this point is he is expecting a son any time now and he is going to be a father and a young one for that matter.

After a long hour passes, I can’t help but write a note to him. Smiles cannot be the only exchange in a world of intellect and academia.

 “Kujipanga mapema eeh,” I write and add a cheeky emoji to lighten the invasion of privacy. Luckily a tiny grin stretches his lips threatening to let out his killer smile and I am relieved. Between expecting a stern “I didn’t come here for banter” look and him moving over to a more private spot with a crumbled note in his hand this was honestly beginning to look like the start of a good conversation. Hopefully, it would end up being fruitful.

Kitu kama hiyo,” he writes.

I go on and ask if he is going to be a father soon and he replies that he is not. Sensing my confusion, he explains that he is preparing himself. His logical interpretation is that reading books in advance of events such as fatherhood and adulthood is a skill set for a promising future. The wahengas would have been proud because he went for a one-shot kill on the proverb Samaki mkunje angali mbichi, or whatever they meant. Plus it boosts my confidence he goes on.

There you go again, the statement, Men, floats above my head in a cloud of quagmire. I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole of comparison but I couldn’t help it. Here was a young man doing his best stewarding his knowledge before the sun rose and others seem to do just fine with social constructs. Shockingly still, there are men even in the wake of fatherhood still don’t understand the gravity of the situation. The best they can do is counter the baby’s mother with a comeback, “uko sure ni yangu?” or “wacha niende ninunue sigara nitarudi na maziwa pia.

After a few back and forth questions on both ends, I can gladly say I got to pick the mind of a man and was pleasantly surprised at the beauty that never fades between those ears.

I am pretty sure that no amount of books can prepare you for life. Even me who is planning to read about economic inflation as a way to counter the poverty of our currency in comparison to the dollar. Often, valuable insights come only after a failure. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life. Everyone has gifts at whatever point in life, love yourself, think positive and hide not your talents, they for use were made.


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