Have you ever cried Not the little sobs that slip through when your favorite movie character finally triumphs … or dies. I’m talking about full moans; the kind that produces tons of tears that can drown a little bird.
I had one as recently as January 4th.
I can not explain it. My heart (or any part of my body responsible for keeping my tears in an airtight box) just gave way.
If you walked past the Co-op Bank branch located along Kaunda Street, right next to the Town Hall annex that day, you probably saw me.
Branch of the cooperative bank along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. Monday October 21, 2019.
That middle aged man kneeling down crying on the pedestrian walkway outside the shore … that was me.
You must have seen this 10 year old girl in her school uniform with a ‘What the hell is happening’ expression on her face … it’s my daughter Lisa Kavata … or Dr Kavata, as she likes to refer to herself these days (you’ll understand why somewhere).
Needless to say, my heart always tops a dozen highs whenever she comes across as Dr. Kavata.
Let’s go back to my episode of crying.
Neither the judgmental looks I received from passers-by nor the “Daddy, you’re embarrassing me” statements I received from Lisa could stem the flow of tears.
A preview of my 2020 version is all I have to explain why I “ embarrassed ” my dead daughter in the middle of Nairobi’s CBD.
I lost my other half to the virus on August 27, 2020 … I’m not entirely okay with that yet … but a mental health post I encountered said talking about it helps … I hope the writing has the same effect.
Mama Lisa was my pillar. She was my best friend. She was the kind of person you would take to the bloodiest of battles knowing she would support you, until her last breath.
Ours was kind of a fairytale love story. We have known each other, or rather we have known each other our entire lives, having grown up next to each other in phase 5 of Buru Buru.
I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to math in elementary school … let’s just say I was madly in love with the subject, but I had a hard time doing it myself love in equal measure.
This is where the prettiest girl in “my world” stepped in.
If someone had told us back then (when Daniella was having a hard time explaining how to calculate the area of a cuboid) that we would end up getting married down the line …‘eeew’ would have been our collective response.
We had always thought of our friendship as the brother-sister kind … so, life came.
Flashforward until October 31, 2008, and you’ll find me at my local church smiling ear to ear as I watched my bride walk down the aisle.
She had just started her first job at a local bank in Nairobi’s CBD. For my part, thanks to his math lessons at the time, I ended up becoming an architect in one of the best real estate agencies in the country.
2 years later, we have welcomed our little bundle of joy. Life was happiness.
A mother holding a baby
Then 2020 arrived.
I’ll spare you and I the heartbreaking details of Daniella’s time in isolation. I’m not quite ready to write it yet. Maybe next time.
It was after this period that my Lisa decided that medicine was her path and that Dr Kavata was her new title.
The pandemic has hit our business hard. Like most businesses in the country, layoffs and pay cuts have become inevitable.
Having worked my way up the corporate ladder over the years, I was fortunate to keep my job.
However, Daniella’s treatment coupled with the funeral expenses had left us financially bleeding.
By the time CS Magoha announced that all schools were to reopen on January 4, I was running on steam.
I considered borrowing money from some of my closest friends. But “rona” had run through all of our lives like a hot knife in butter.
This led me to option B, apply for a payday advance loan from the Co-op Bank and pray that 2021 will be better.
I applied just before the firm closed for the end of year vacation.
Could I have changed Lisa for a more affordable public school? Yes. Was I ready to do it? No.
I have nothing against our public institutions, her mother and I were both cast in public schools. However, we made a wish on the day he was born.
Pupils at an assembly at Strathallan School in the UK
International school guide
“We’re going to give him any advantage in life that we can, no matter what the cost.”
Plus, the back-to-school payday advance plan I requested from my bank was as ideal as I expected.
Fate would have wanted it, on January 2 I received a call from the bank informing me that my request had been accepted and that my account was now funded.
When I entered the banking room 2 days later, with my 10 year old son in tow, emotions took hold.
As my personal banker helped me transfer Lisa’s tuition directly from my account to her school’s, tears came to my eyes.
“It’s okay?” asked the kind-hearted servant.
“Yeah, everything is fine,” I say, using every ounce of strength left in me so that I don’t collapse in front of all the strangers in the banking room.
This turned out to be impossible from the moment we walked through the revolving door on the way out.
My tears were a mixture of pure joy at having fulfilled my wish to Daniella, and an explosion of pent up emotions during the year we had just been through.
I was able to pull myself together a little later … the gazillion ‘daddy you embarrass me’ threw my way helped.
“I think kuna kitu imeniingia kwa macho,” I said in my attempt to maintain my character of Rambo in Lisa’s eyes, it’s a spitting image of her mother’s.
“Don’t cry dad, you’ll be fine,” she said. “But pia don’t think i won’t tease you hadi 2022 for crying like a little baby, ”she added.
I couldn’t help but laugh, “wee uliskia wapi nikilia,” I retorted, as we made our way to the car parked across the street.
It was time to go back to school.
The cooperative bank allows you to pay your little one’s school fees through Mpesa in three easy steps.
1. Enter the invoice number. 400222
2. Enter the school code
3. Enter the amount.
Try it today#BankingBilaLimits#LipaFeesNaCoop
A D pic.twitter.com/FfOkAN5fjj
– TBEN.co.ke (@TBEN) January 13, 2021