My old man was a wise man. One who found a way to turn his own faults into learning lessons for me during a time when my old man and myself was a thing. He was not about to see me make the same mistakes he made, As I came to learn.
This piece was originally published under my Muwado Account under the same title A time when my old man and myself was a thing. on my late father’s birthday. There is only so much I can share, let alone be proud of when I mention my late father. So I hope this can be a tribute to all good fathers out there.
For those who still have father, please cherish them, learn from them all there is to learn about parenthood, relationships and life decisions because there is never better a place to learn the intricacies of life than starting right from home.
The best lesson I ever learned as a child from my paps was never fearing authority or having difficult conversations. that was one of my earliest lessons in life from the Late James Bivete Nyagahima.
Every child needs a parent. And a good parent for that matter but all I ever wanted growing up was a father, and a good father for that matter, and I got just that from my old man.
Even if it was for a short time. That short time gave me a glimpse of what I can and must become. I got a feel of what is expected of me when I too eventually come of age and take on the responsibilities of parenthood like my old man before me did.
“Dad, why do you smoke? You know! Like can’t you stop, like you know it’s bad to smoke, don’t you?” I once asked my old man. Not that I expected a straight answer, but I asked anyway. “I know son, but unfortunately I can’t stop.” He managed to say after a long pause.
“I would, though really be proud if you never smoke like I do when you become an adult. This alcohol and cigarettes. You really don’t need all that be a cool adult.” Continued my dad with a smile on his face I managed to catch from the corner of my left eye as the ray of dusk flashed across his rugged masculine face seasoned by the often long periods in the forest of God knows where.
These are some of the words I had with my father while he was still with us, a good man no doubt. Faulty in some ways but nonetheless a good man with a beautiful soul, a lightening sense of humour to go along with an unbreakable moral stand.
Today, 15th June 2020 is your birthday, James Bivete Nyagahima (RIP). My friend, my role model and a father of three of whom I’m the firstborn.
See, I was meant to post something entirely different today but what the hell. This here is a tribute to that man of a father.
My old man was a man of few words. At least my old man as I knew him but boy was he a bounty of humour and charisma! Even in his darkest days, Bivete found a way to humour everyone around him. He was my best friend for ours was a match crafted of true father-son friendship, loyalty, blood and bond.
You see, true goodness doesn’t dwell in being righteous all our days but rather in knowing when bad has transpired, acknowledging the error of one’s ways, showing remorse and making a deliberate effort to correct such errors of life. This was something my late old man often did and for that, I’m really proud.
I and my father were close. We often joked, occasionally went off at each other the way father and son do and also found each other on different corners of the room. Nonetheless, we always maintained a bond of a father who is a mentor and role model to a son who holds the kind of faith newborn flashes in their snowflake eyes in the early days of their life.
My father did what most parents did to groom a child and when he wasn’t around to do that, he made sure I had a support system of people worth of his trust to continue doing just that. I respect that old man for that.
Two to three month or slightly more before his passing (Not that I care to remember) I had words with my father.
It so happened, I was sent home along with the entire school on suspension for a strike. Even though I did not actively participate in the strike, I was nonetheless at home venting and spitting all sorts of foul language at the school system.
My dad for some reason, a soldier who was often never around came all the way to my grandmother’s home, which was close to my secondary school at the time. And so we had words.
“So Son, why did you strike.” dad asked.
“Well, I didn’t strike, the school did,” I replied.
“But here you are at home, suspended!” he said, paused and then continued, “So I will ask again, why are you on suspension?” he asked again, this time in an assertive voice.
“Well, the whole school got suspended.” I started,
“I know that.” Interrupted my father before I could finish.
“You were all suspended, but why do you feel you were suspended with everyone else?” He asked again.
“Well the food sucks, the headmaster is terrible and…” before I could finish, he bluntly interrupted again, “Have you ever gone hungry at home or eaten bad food?”
“No” I responded, rather embarrassed.
“Then what excuse do you have?” I remained silent and so he continued. “Son? You are not everyone and you should not act the way everyone else does.”
“You are a stubborn young man and it’s annoying but it’s fine. Do you know why?” he asked. To which I responded no. He continued with a smile in-between big puffs of cigarette smoke. “You are a good person, you have a good heart and a charming personality”
Even with my doubts, his words sunk deep into my heart for this man did actually know his son more than his son knew himself.
My father continued, “I have no doubt that long after I’m gone, or even if I died tomorrow you wouldn’t fail to get someone to look after you.”
Those words echo on in me up until now.
And also, those were the last words of wisdom my dad shared with me. Because the next time I saw him was in a casket a few hours before he was lowered into his grave.
I have since then pursued and completed my studies and at every turn, there was someone willing to either pay my fees or contribute to my wellbeing. See, I’m an introvert but I always have friends. Well not all of them stay but then again, humans will always be humans.
My father gave his heart to my mother but gave his word to another. That ran its course of highs and lows but at the end that was also a bittersweet lesson for me as a young man. I decided I would be a man just a little bit better than my old man.
Growing up, I was all sorts of stubborn as a child and so was my old man as far as I can gather when he was a “youngling” too. You can say, we sort of had a lot in common.
I came to learn of how he hated onions on this one occasion I was seen by my aunt who had laboured to cook a delicious local dish, pick out chops of onion from my food.
“What are you doing young man?” asked my aunt this one time.
“Well, I don’t like these things,” I responded holding onto the chops of boiled onions like they were pieces of rot. “I’m really sorry but these things don’t taste good.” I continued.
My grandmother who was also in the room couldn’t help but laugh as she seems to have been experiencing a déjà vu. Turns out my old man too, hated those gross “thingies” just like me.
Me and my old man, apart from looking alike shared a lot of other things that I only found out later on from either a relative or friend of the family and I often feel like his spirit and likeness lives on within me.
Continue to rest in peace, James Bivete Nyagahima (RIP).