FATHERHOOD 101: It is important for Pudd’ng to know my life story


Shopping. Every girl’s incurable bug. This bargain bug first bit the female human species in the garden of Eden when Eve impulsively bought Old Nick’s counterfeit with all our life savings.

When Pudd’ng is not in school, we do our monthly shopping together. We normally have two agendas. Hers, hidden in plain sight, is to make me buy a hot item she’s been dying to have, or buy stuff, any stuff, on impulse.

Mine is to make her appreciate that every last morsel comes at a price, that the refrigerator does not magically stock itself. Simply put, I’ve got a shopping list; she’s got shopping lust.

This is why I ask her to read the prices of all the items we put in our shopping cart. Meanwhile, as we go along, I do the calculations and tick off the items in the shopping list. This is to avoid shock and shame at the till.

“I don’t know if the money I have will be enough,” I sometimes tell Pudd’ng.

“What do we do?” she asks.



That’s the other aim of these shopping dates, to teach her that

Last Saturday, after doing our shopping, I started unpacking, having forgotten what’s become our family custom.

“Dah-dee? We’ve not prayed,” Pudd’ng reminded me.

It’s our custom to thank God for every teeny-weeny blessing. We acknowledge that regardless of prevailing circumstances, it takes God’s hand.

When taking Pudd’ng to school, we use two matatus. It would take approximately 20 minutes to get to her school by foot, but she would get tired, so we use public means instead.

“If we walk to our next connecting stop, you get to keep the money,” we told Pudd’ng the other day. It was music to her ears. It is only 10 bob, but it is something. She intends to save the money and use it for a new tradition we are starting in our family: buying each other Christmas gifts.

Many mornings though, Tenderoni is in a hurry to drop Pudd’ng in school, and then rush to work, which prompts Pudd’ng to complain that mom is out to sabotage her savings plan.

In our estate, like in many in Nairobi, there are women who do the laundry and other chores for a fee. The last time I helped Tenderoni scrub the seat covers, man, I searched for my numb fingertips for weeks.

One afternoon, mid this year, for “savings” sake, Pudd’ng and I took the initiative. We scrubbed the cushion covers and runner. To baby girl, it was, I guess, more play than work, as she gleefully stepped on the cushions in a huge basin filled with water.

“We’ll pay you 500 shillings, which is half the money we would have paid someone to do it,” I informed the little helper.

Vroom. I created a laundry monster. Now she keeps asking when we’ll next do heavy washing.


Whenever I get the opportunity, I tell my daughter about my childhood. I want her to know that behind dad’s blessings, there is grind. This day, as we pass a site where construction workers are bursting their guts, I tell Pudd’ng that I’ve been there.

Different day, different lesson. Daughter asks what’s for supper.

Dad: “Ugali and traditional greens.”

Daughter lets out a moan, which would have earned me a slap from mama.

Dad: “Once upon a time, there lived a broke man. Most days, he didn’t have money for food. Once, he only had two shillings, which he used it to buy a mango. He washed it, said grace and devoured his supper.”

Daughter: “Who was that man?”

Dad: “You’re looking at him.”

That day, Pudd’ng gobbled up the ugali as if she was doing penance for all the years she’s refused to finish her ugali.


Daughter: “Teacher told us that El Nino rains fell a long-long time ago.”

Dad: “She is right.”

Daughter: “Dah-dee? Were you born a long-long time ago?”

Dad: “That depends by what you mean by a long-long time ago.”

Daughter: “I mean, like 1997.”

Dad: “If you say so.”

INFORMED Once, I was so broke man, I didn’t have money for food most of the time. Sometimes, I could only afford a small mango for supper.