Play dispels the notion that there there is one kind of ‘proper family’

Heartstrings Kenya 3

Natasha Wanjiru as Sally accosted Timothy Ndisii as Adrian in Heartstrings' Take it or leave it. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

Talk about trending. Heartstrings Entertainment are often on the pulse of what’s trending in urban Nairobi right now. And there is definitely a trend towards single parenting, including parenting by single-parent dads, and not just moms.

But single -parent dads is an emerging trend that those men are silently coping with because, as the house-help Stella (Bernice Nthenya) in Single Dad for Sale put it in their latest show at Alliance Francaise (AF) last weekend, there is a ‘proper two-parent family’ which is acceptable socially, but theirs is only a single-parent home, implying that there is a need for a spouse for bachelor single-dad Timothy.

That’s why Stella is on a crusade to find Tim (Timothy Ndisii) a proper wife. She believes Tim’s daughter Letisha (Tasha Wanjiru) will lose her chance to marry the son of a ‘big’ name (meaning rich) family like the Kamaki’s if the girl is seen coming from a deviant single-parent home.

Yet Tim stands up for his dignity and challenges Stella, claiming that he is a respectable dad. He appreciates Stella’s opinions, since she has played mom (or nanny) to his three children for the last 24 years. But he doesn’t want to play games.

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He feels that any family that doesn’t want his daughter because they think Tim and his brood are socially inappropriate can essential ‘go to hell’. He’s proud of his family and all that he’s achieved in educating and looking after their health.

Yet Stella forges ahead and invites all three wives from Tim’s past life to come over to help out in this ‘emergency’. She doesn’t elaborate on the details of what that dire circumstance could be.

But as they arrive, we learn that all of them left their babies with Tim. They never bothered to go back and look for their child. Nor do we discover exactly why they left without their babies. But apparently, this is the new trend related to single dads and moms prepared to leave their children behind without a second thought.

Previously, the only stories related to family breakups were that mothers would never leave their children with a stranger or an estranged spouse. Now that tradition doesn’t seem to apply to present-day trends.

Stella introduces the three former wives as they arrive, but initially they don’t know one another. It’s only when Tim arrives home that he is stunned to see them.

Why are they here? He wants to know. Quickly, Stella explains the situation and all three cozy up to Tim who is now a ‘Big Man’ in his own right. None of them take note when the three big children show up.

The children are startled to see their father surrounded by three middle-aged women, and are even more surprised when Stella once again takes charge of the scene and informs the children that each one has a different mother.

Previously, they had believed they all came from one mother. Now the genie is out of the bottle, and Stella connects each mom to her child.

Among the three, Arnold (Arnold Schiour), the first born is the son of Judy (Esther Kahuha) while Letisha’s mom is the second wife, Emily (Joy Mathenge), and Kababa (Fischer Maina), being the last born is the son of Zubeida (Zeitun Salat).

It’s a glorious moment of reunion with nobody taking note that in all those years, none of the mothers stopped by to say hi to their child. It’s only Stella who mentions it in passing so it’s not a major qualm.

But the biggest stunner of all is when Mr Kamaki arrives on the scene with his son to meet the family of Letisha. That’s when we learn that Kamaki is also a single father, just like Tim.

So twice over, we see that single dads are increasingly a trend, and no longer should people believe there is one kind of ‘proper family’.

The one last surprise relates to the lad who has been hanging out in Tim’s house for years. He’s been treated like a family friend, but Hesbon (Gadson Gakenga) turns out to be Stella’s secret son.

So, she too is a single mom, who admits at the end of the play that she could’ve gone for a job anywhere and not been just a humble househelp. But by staying where she did, she was able to raise her son well, and enable him to grow up in her own ‘proper’ family.

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