The Apprentice: Dear Papa
By Kizzy Katawonga, Uganda:
It's been 10 years since that fateful day of March 2nd 2005 that you left us so soon. You still had a lot of years ahead of you.
A lot has happened in the last decade. Ok, we still have the same president but other things have changed; you wouldn’t believe the kind of mobile phones we have now. I’m sure you’d be bugging me to show you how to use yours all the time.
There’s a thing called WhatsApp. It's kinda like SMS but so much better. I’m sure you wouldn’t be using it though I'd have loved to keep sending you pictures and smiley's.
Mum is still here with us. She looks great. You'd be the envy of many. She misses you. She needs you. It's been hard for her but we do our best to take care of her. We can never replace you though.
I’ve also changed a lot. I've lost most of my hair just like you! I met God and have followed Him since. I'm a great designer, geek and I'm even a published writer now, can you believe it? I wish you could read some of my stuff. I call myself The Apprentice.
I met an incredible woman just about the time you left this world. She’s amazing. I think you’d have liked her. I think God sent her at that exact time to help me get through your loss and the tough personal crisis I faced after you left. I love her more than anything and yes, of course I married her. Together we have the most amazing daughters who you really would have delighted in. They love to laugh and are ticklish so they would have enjoyed playing with you.
The little boy who vexed you so much by playing video games 18 hours a day straight has grown up to be a daddy. And I’m a really good one I think. No complaints yet.
It truly breaks my heart that you never got to see your daughter in law and granddaughters. I wish you could have laid your hands on them in blessing. The day that I got married, I cried silently because you weren't there. Of all my siblings, I was the only one whose wedding you never got to see. And also the day my girls were born and you weren’t there is one of my biggest heartaches.
Life has been tough though, I won’t lie. I struggle up to this day with your absence. I kept wishing I could run to you for advice, for help, for encouragement, for laughter.
Many times all I needed was a word from you to say, “KK my son, I know it's tough and it looks like you won’t make it…but you will. I did and so will you.”
Perhaps my biggest regret is that I never really had a close relationship with you. I'm angry that you went too soon before you got to know me or me getting to know you. I was much closer to Mum. You never really seemed all that interested in me or my life but perhaps that’s just my perspective.
Perhaps, it was I who spurned your love, choosing to judge you because of your drinking and aloofness. I was afraid of you. Even now, I’m not certain you ever approved of me or liked me. And I'm angry because I will never know now.
But I'm not a little boy anymore and if you were still here, I'd do everything in my power to have a great relationship with you.
Oh Papa, I have so many questions for you. Who were you really? What were your dreams and hopes? Were you happy with us? Why didn’t you try harder to know me? Did you love me? Were you proud of me? What were you afraid of? What led you to turn to drinking so much? Why didn't you take better care of yourself when you knew you were a Diabetic?
Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my heritage? What were your hopes for me? How do I love my wife and kids? How I can stay standing in the midst of life's brutal trials and tribulations. Why didn't you tell me it's my job to take the trash out and care for the garden? It would have saved me a lot of fights.
Nonetheless, I have found my way somehow, through much painful error. I'm sure there are so many things I wouldn't have had to learn the hard way had you been here.
I am a man I believe you can be proud of. I finished school well, got married well, and I try my best to live well, in dignity and humility. I've never been in trouble with the law. I love our God but I never became a Priest. I think that would have really tickled your fancy since you also almost became one.
I try to spend a lot of time knowing my wife and my girls. I don't drink much at all and I live my life trying to encourage other men who also missed out on a proper father-son relationship to be their best.
It's been a tough 10 years but I'm still standing. I carry your name with pride and I strive every day to make the name one of great repute. One you would be proud of.
I miss you Papa. I wish you were here. You went too soon.