By: Hillary Orinde
Beep! That’s a message alert. You are briefly annoyed at the interruption of your movie. It had better not be your service provider with yet another message that starts with, “Dear customer.”
You reluctantly reach for your phone. It’s your baby; your university sweetheart. The frown breaks out into a smile. Maybe she wants to come over.
“Baby we need to talk,” the message reads. No emoji. No abbreviation. It’s unlike her. The eventualities playing in your head don’t sit well with you. What could be wrong? Is this the end? You quickly push that thought away, reassuring yourself she wouldn’t want to lose the best she ever had.
Anxious to know what the emergency is, you make sure you look smarter than usual. Maybe the sight of how good looking you are will shake off any doubts she may be harbouring. You are never on time, but today you arrive at the meeting point earlier than her.
She seems nervous and distressed. Out with it already! You think to yourself. As if reading your mind, she blurts out, ‘Baby I’m pregnant.’ Your jaw drops, your palms begin to sweat, while your ears start ringing.
Your stomach is churning, everything is spinning and without a word, you run out of there as if you’re being pursued by monsters.
A lot has happened since then. Life has thrown a lot at you, and reality has not been kind. You are a father. A father at 21. What you would call a campus father.
My child’s mother, who I was never sexually involved with save for that fateful cold Eldoret Friday night, deserves most of the credit.
She has dedicated nearly every waking second to the proposition that we, who had somehow limited our horizons, could raise a kid with a limitless horizon.
It strikes me that this is what being a parent is – the terrifying realisation that there is no handbook for raising a child. You have to fake it until you make it.
For too long, society has viewed us (campus dads) with accusing eyes, and has dismissed us as irresponsible. Most pregnancies that happen in university lead to sole parenthood, and society tends to blame us for this turn of events.
Having ‘caused’ a pregnancy, many of us flee from the responsibility. While we do not refute this, no one gives us a chance to express our reasons and our fears for acting this way.
Instead, everyone is quick to label us reckless deviants out to prove our sexual dominance with little worry of the consequences.