My father is a teetotaller. He was always home at 6 pm while other fathers came home at 10pm, knocking their gates loudly, the estate dogs barking and them shouting, “oh shurrup.” (Because when you have had too much to drink you can’t say “shut up,”, it’s “shurrup.”) Which means my dad always had his wits about him. Never a hair out of place. Never shouted. Always seemed to make the right call. The only time I saw his emotions was in 1993, when the body of his dad (my grandpa) was brought to the boma. He was weeping, while pacing up and down, bedlam all around because where I come from, funerals are spectacles.
And it was a sight; to see him weeping: He had emotions. He was human. I wonder how it would be like to drink with him if he was a drinker. What would he tell me? What would that reveal about him as a person, as a man, as a father? I’m a drinker. I hope to live long enough to drink with my daughter and son when they are of age. I hope to tell them stories because telling stories over a drink is not the same as telling stories of tea. And I hope through that exercise they see me for who I am, not who I have shown them I am or who they imagine me to be. I want to be naked before them, to show them that I have great faults, that I’m a man. I want to make my daughter laugh over a drink because she never laughs at my jokes. (And I have great jokes.)
I want them to travel and see the world and be free and courageous and on their way back, as they pass through airports, to find themselves in a Duty Free, looking at shelves of scotch and thinking, “papa, will enjoy this.” Because when you drink with someone there are no walls, unless they are drinking cider. So, for those who have an opportunity to drink with their fathers this Father’s Day (Sunday), cheers to the old man.