My daddy ain’t the devil… how I met my father

Greetings again!

It must be about one week since I last published. Since then a lot has happened, haha, again. May be that’s the one plus, that my life is so eventful I can never lack content to write about, may be time but not content.

I hope you had a great Easter holiday, or if you are me, a mixture of an amazing Easter and several soul crushing experiences all at once? What were my soul crushing experiences you may be curious? I will tell them in time. For today, I shall dive right into it, “how I met my father”; my biological father.

Side note, the “how I met my father” is a deliberate reference to the comedy series ‘How I met your mother”. I haven’t watched the full series but I like referencing things that may be familiar to people.

That aside, do you have that one person in your life who you know everything about? Like, you can remember their perfume, the clothes they have worn on certain occasions, the weather of that particular day you met them…? The easiest answer here would be yes, especially for someone in love, or at least I hope that’s how it works. I have boldly admitted I cannot stand and say I have been completely in love with anyone and fully sold out to the experience, but for my crushes who I really liked, I can say I remember some such details.

Anyways, I didn’t ask that question so we can talk about lovers and crushes and the non-relationships we have had; I asked because besides my crushes who I have really liked before, I remember almost everything about the day I met my biological dad.

If I may back up a little, I wrote back in December, in my first instalment of “My daddy ain’t the devil” that I have two dads, the one that raised me; and the one from whose loins I came forth. Haha, I am totally playing with this old English with “loins” and “forth”, but you get the point. One raised me, the other was my biological source.

Food for thought … from

In that first “my daddy ain’t the devil” I was honest about having grown up in a home and village filled with domestic violence and alcoholism, which things have influenced how I see the world and perhaps men and relationships…. but I am no therapist or mind guru so I wouldn’t know how my childhood has influenced how or who I am today. The one thing I am at least sure of is that I definitely have biases against people and the world in general because of my experiences, I just may not be able to pinpoint what those biases are exactly.

Anyways, the day I met my biological father was some day, haha, in the month of February or March… but I remember the year, it was 2018. I was in my second semester of my third year, I must have been 20 then, I believe. It was after this December holiday in 2017 when I met my biological uncle who I had interacted with all my Sunday school childhood but never knew we were related. This Uncle told me during that 2017 December holidays that he had been waiting till I was old enough for him to tell me that he knew my father, because my father was his brother.

Anyways the long and short of that December holidays conversation was that I got to know my biological dad’s real name after 20 years of being alive, and I also got his phone number and address to where he worked(s). I think I describe this meet up with this “Uncle Jam” in “my daddy ain’t the devil” better than I am here, you could check it out for a better flow.

Mhhhh, I wish it was weird. But it isn’t. Here’s the thing, if you have met someone very few times in life, it is natural you will remember everything about them, because there is very little to remember anyway. With me and my dad, that is the case. I remember everything about our meet up(s) because they have been so very few, it is impossible to forget anything.

Anyways, so this day in February or March 2018….

After my 2017 December holidays, when it hit me for real “I do have another dad, and he has a name, and has a phone number, and he works in a real place, and therefore he isn’t a myth,” I knew I had to look for him. Well, not that I “had” to look for him, but that my curiosity wouldn’t let me just sit on that information and not try look for answers.

I made sure not to tell my mom about anything I had found out that holiday, because she had been very clear since my childhood that she never wanted to discuss “that man”, and that she was enough for me. My mom had indeed been always enough for me. Indeed it is the reason why I have been unable to reconcile, perhaps to date, why my mom chose to get married when I was five years.

It is not something I take pride in, or write to appear macho or anything, but I had never understood or even thought it possible for anyone to have one of their life goals as being married or having a family… it is still a bit of a mystery for me till now, haha, but may be as I continue getting older and wiser I may see the point. Have I gotten kind of jealous when I see my friends in relationships? Yes, but more along the lines of wondering “What’s wrong with me? I have people who like me but I have never found that there is anyone I want anything to do with for long, but I do desire to get close to people may be?”

Sadly, I have observed that many people can be open and vulnerable in may capacities, except to openly loving and letting other people love them; and I am trying each day to not remain one of such person. Being so shielded isn’t something I want to live forever with, No. As Pastor Michael Todd says in his sermon, “Here is Holy”, the disadvantage with having so many protective walls is that as much as it shields you from the bad, you also miss out on the good because the part that experiences pain and fear is the same space that experiences pleasure and belonging, you cannot pick one and leave the other. (You could consider for yourself where you are incapable of experiencing the good just so you can avoid the bad… then we can share notes?)

Anyways, So 2017 December Holidays are over, I am back to Ngara Nairobi and have reported back to school. I have this giant secret over someone I want to look for, my father, but I cannot really tell anyone about it, because I feel stupid for caring to want to know someone who it cannot be said has cared to know me or about me. I do not know if I even told my closest friend back then that I had intentions of going to look for my father… I loved and still love my friend to death but this just felt too personal, I was going to wait, and only tell her about it if it went well(once again a very flawed approach because I think we need support more when things are bad, not when they go well …).

Anyways, so this one day in February or March 2018, I decided it was time. I would go to the office I was told my daddy dearest works, and just see. I had been afraid and sort of anxious the entire two months or so I just had his contact information and address… I had never once called for fear of being ignored, haha, daddy issues galore one may say, but well, it was the process. This particular day though, I said , “Okay, screw it, I am doing this. Let the world’s worst happen. The sooner the better, I will have to do this someday so I am getting answers, it is now or later, but now sounds better”. Surprisingly, I was not anxious that day I decided to go look for my father. I have this capacity to switch off my mind from thinking or feeling anything, or at least I try to although many times it has come to bite me back.

So, this day…

For the record, I cannot write many details about my father openly because he actually lives, and my goal is not for anyone to know who he is, it’s just to share my experience.

Anyways, this day I set out to town, Nairobi, CBD after classes I believe. I remember I went to the offices I was told he works sometime in the afternoon. The office is in Nairobi, a state corporation, and apparently(well, it is true) my father held(still holds) a prominent position there. I have stated previously that my father is an advocate. I am in training to be an advocate too but I do not think my choice to be in law was influenced by him. In any case, at the point of choosing what to study I had only heard rumors about him, from him being a judge to not living in Kenya. I did not know specifically what he did. In all honesty, I chose to study law because I was awfully confused about what to study. I did not know who to consult in picking what to study. I did not know what I was interested in. I was also afraid of making the “wrong choice” …. It was just too much confusion I hope none of my siblings will ever undergo because I am now here and thy can consult me. Anyways, stories about choices and fear of being wrong to the point of being indecisiove are fo some other day.

Anyways; to get into my father's office I had to pass though several security checks. At the gate I indicated my reason for the visit as being official, or personal, I cannot remember. At the main office reception I introduced myself and said who I was coming to see. Naturally, I was asked of my relationship with this person I came so far to see. I said I was a family friend, and his brother had sent me to come deliver some super personal message…. the receptionist bought it, and called my dad’s office to say, “There is a Risper Wanja here to see you, she says she’s a family friend or something?”

Well, the receptionist told me to wait. I sat at this super executive reception lounge, you know, black leather couches and clear glass coffee tables. It had these huge screens playing video’s of the Corporation’s plans and past past successes. As I said, it is a quite prominent and important state corporation, and my dad’s position there definitely confirms that his lack of support for me or my mom was not for lack of resources….

Well, I waited. I journaled, and waited. I waited some more, until people started leaving the office. Remember I had arrived there around 3 pm, so it was almost three hours later and I was still waiting. I must have had some serious patience back then. With too much time on my hands, after having watched each of the videos playing on the screen several times, and perusing through the visitor’s magazines, I did start getting anxious. “What will happen? What does he look like? Will he cuss me, will he be good to me? What does “good” even entail? …. Oh my God what if the receptionist realizes I have lied and she throws me out, especially now that people have started leaving?”

As I thought all of this, I figured it was about time I went to the receptionist again because I had been waiting for quite sometime now, and it was getting late. Then the receptionist asked me, “Didn’t you say you are family friends? The person has just walked out …” I got some thin sweat immediately. I couldn’t have missed this chance after waiting so long. The receptionist must have seen the anxiety on my face as she peeped outside then pointed to him, “There he is. He was just walked out… did you come to see someone you do not even know?” Haha, I almost told her as a matter of fact “I do not know the person I came to see”, but I just thanked her, and walked fast outside to catch up with this person.

Let me just go out of my way here and say something somewhat crazy; if I were a girl into sugar daddies and all that, it is very easy for me to have ended up with my own father and not know it’s him because I had never known his face, physique , name , height or anything at all actually. Haha, parents out here with children you do not take care of, make a point of introducing yourselves even if just to avoid such gross possibilities. Anyways, thank God for my high guilt quotient about things like dating “cougar” haha, whatever the men equivalent of it is.

Anyways so I walk outside fast, and being me, I just said “ Excuse me” to stop him and have him look at me. “ Are you so and so?” He said yes. With all my insane public speaking confidence and “screw it, I am doing this” energy, I introduced myself. “ My name is Risper Wanja Njagi, I got your number and information from this one Uncle Jam? He says he is your brother. I am your daughter, I believe?” Cut to the chase right?

Uuuuh, ever felt so many things at the same time you were almost numb? I think that was the state of my mind and body at that moment. I had gone from twenty years of not having known o seen this person, to misrepresenting myself to get into the offices, waiting two to three hours to meet this person whose face I didn’t know, to meeting them face to face, and because I am the one who looked for them, I also had to introduce myself. And here he was, twenty years later, looking totally ordinary and unordinary at the same time because he still was an actual stranger to me. Naturally I compared things, he was dark, I am kind of lighter in complexion… he was a bit tall, I am a bit short… he’s looking all executive in a white button down shirt and black pants… interrupted by me from just reaching his car … and here was me, kinda broke, haha, in very unofficial clothes because I had never committed to wearing official looking clothes despite being in Law school. Anyways, I do not even know why I am saying all of this…. it was almost 6:30 pm by this time, it was cloudy so it seemed darker than is normal for 6:30-ish pm on a clear sky, we are on the parking lot of this huge office building … so surreal.

Anyways, my daddy dearest looked at me sort strangely … or may be that was just my perspective. I think he said something along the lines of, “Oh it is so good to meet you. Yes I do know your mom… such a long time ago…very nice to meet you”… and we hugged. I mean, I was able to hug him though I felt weird about it a bit. In my head it was “why are we hugging? We are not friends, we are not close, we just met like 3 minutes ago …” Well, one of my involuntary super powers is overthinking and over analyzing things. It has cost me many times. I do struggle to be “in the moment” as my mind often wanders, and in this particular moment my mind was wandering, majorly.

If I am being honest, on the surface I was giving this super positive vibe of “happy” to meet you … but inside I was shaking my head and rolling my eyes, thinking, “Wow, we are good at pretending. I am good at pretending…Really good at pretending.” Thinking back to that moment now, I do not know how else that would have gone because what was I to do? Call him a hypocrite and irresponsible person the first time I meet him after looking for him?

I will not lie to you, we had what would be considered a very pleasant conversation, but for the life of me I cannot remember much of it. Because we talked about everything except “What happened? Why did you leave/ why weren’t you there?” We talked about basic stuff like “ I am now in third year of campus…. I travelled to Italy last year, I have been this and that…” You know, all the things that make me sound so good and well put together. May be I did want him to see me that way, so he would know I had been okay without him, or may be so he would be impressed with me? In all honesty, I do not remember much of what we talked about that day because I was having a conversation on autopilot, inside I had too many questions and a frustration I was afraid of expressing.

I do remember my dad saying, “Oh, I am so proud of you,” and I said thanks… but once again if I am being honest, when I look back I think, “You don’t even know me, how can you be proud of me? Do you even have a right to be or even say you are proud of me? On what account?”

As I said, I know I do not remember much of what we talked about because to me it was a very perfect conversation, meaning it was bullshit. I do not think pretending everything is okay and talking as if we have known each other forever, yet we both know we are avoiding the elephant in the room is healthy. I think perfect conversations are what avoidance, denial and disasters are made of… and I have been an excellent avoider in life. And well, my instincts were right all along because that was the one time I would have a “perfect” conversation with my dad, because it went to hell pretty fast after that one day.

I think during that same conversation I must have opened up about my heartbreak. Haha, yeah. I was going through a super weird heartbreak. Weird why? Because once again I had fallen for someone who I knew too well as I started messing around with them, that I would never be with them, it was impossible for us to ever be together… and that’s a self-sabotage thing? Being only with people who you know will never be available for a relationship so that you never have to fully commit to them anyway? I don’t know, may be I may learn someday… but for now I can sadly say I still get sort of scared of liking someone who may actually be available for a relationship.

Anyways, my very first time meeting my dad, I was 20, I lied to get to his offices, we had a shallow conversation that talked about everything but the questions I was interested in. I was very afraid of upsetting him or making him angry that I did not ask the questions I really wanted to ask, and I left still feeling incomplete.

My whole life, particularly with my experience with my other dad, I have always been the person that avoids asking the hard questions so that I may not upset the apparent perfect status quo… My dad(other dad) would come home drunk and I am the one who had to walk around eggshells on him so I do not upset him and he gets violent or verbally abusive. When I think about it now I get sad that that there are so many people who have grown up with a background like me; who even when they have been wronged, they are the ones who have to adjust and accommodate the destructive behavior of the people wronging them.

For instance, I often heard older women in my village say, “when he comes home drunk, just be quiet and serve them food, and no matter what do not talk back even if they call you names, if they hit you or seem aggressive just leave them alone …” A lot of what I now consider nonsense. I think this is how we have a huge culture of domestic violence born of bullshit advise about making room for other people’s mistakes in our lives, even when it is the perpetrator of the mistakes that should be working on themselves. I think such set ups of growing up, as is sadly prevalent in many rural homes, is partly the source of our passive culture to problems. Avoidance and fear of having difficult conversations to preserve fake perfect status quos is why we have messed up societies in my opinion. When interacting with each other, the goal is not and cannot be to agree at all time. There should be enough psychological and actual safety in our interactions with each other that disagreements will be seen as a threat by the recipients of the disagreements.

I dare say that any relationship- work, friendship, romantic- where there is no room to disagree is doomed from the start, because that is not a relationship, it is like a controlled climate kind of set up, which simply cannot work for human relations. So may be this is an invitation to you, to see which one sided relationships you could be having in the name of preserving “peace”?

I personally have had many a superficial relationships because of this fact, always hiding and only saying what other people want to hear, often avoiding saying or asking anything that might upset the fake utopia. That’s in the past though, haha, let no one think that they can now approach me because I shall look to please them… that ship has sailed and sunk, deep.

Anyways, back to meeting my day-one-perfect father, I did not understand much of myself like I do now, but I remember leaving and feeling like a sell out inside, because I still had no answers to my questions… I still did not understand why a whole father, who was clearly well financially and intellectually , would have left me alone with my mom since birth. I still was angry but suppressing it to have this one “perfect” moment with my “dad” who I fake respected but resented deep down.

You may be wondering, “Okay, so you have met your father, and now you are leaving, after about a 15–20 minute conversation that was a lot of hot air, how are you now feeling?”

The truth is that as I left I was low key hopeful but I did not want to show it, share it with anyone or even admit to myself that I was a bit hopeful, and ashamed to be hopeful. I was hopeful that my dad is now in the picture and I will not have to struggle again. I was hopeful that this first meet up went well, and now that my dad had said I “Could talk to him anytime, about anything…” I finally had a confidant who was closer than my friends because he is my father. I was hopeful I would not be getting broke again in school, haha, let me be honest, because you know, loaded father and all…

But as I said, I was also ashamed to be hopeful. How could I extend grace to this horrible human being who had rejected me all my life just because of one conversation? How could I be so careless as to forget the pain and shame and tears of the past to hope that something good could come out of this?

Have you been desperate for something so much in your life, that the first moment it looks like a possibility you want to hold on forever at any cost? I had been desperate. I am not friends with my other dad, it is unfortunate but because of his alcoholism I did not respect him that much, I generally did not feel I admired my other dad or cared much for him… But I did always wish things were different. So this moment felt so hopeful. I connect well with people I can open up to emotionally, and getting a pass to ‘talk about anything anytime” with my actual father felt like such a relief, I was willing to take whatever I could get, so a father we can talk? How could I not allow myself feel hope?

Should I have hoped that much though? Should I have given my “dad” this much credit from just one meet up? Should I have allowed my hope to be stronger and greater than the low key resentment I still held against this man from the stories and warnings my mom had given me about, “Do not look for him, he will just break your heart?”

Well, you shall have to wait and find out, in my next instalment of “My daddy ain’t the devil”.

I will conclude this article by quoting my therapist, that FOR THOSE ACTUALLY WONDERING WHETHER IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO look for their fathers or mothers… “The best possible outcome of looking for a parent who abandoned you or whatever, is that you find them dead.” If they are dead, you have the luxury of living with just one conclusion, you can have the closure of your choosing. If they are alive, God help you… A part of me does wish I had found my biological dad dead, find out why in our next publication.



I writing about re-finding ourselves, and everything in between; trauma, rejection, acceptance, healing, mental health

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Risper Wanja Njagi

I writing about re-finding ourselves, and everything in between; trauma, rejection, acceptance, healing, mental health