Thursday, 22 January 2015

Final Birthday Party

By Diana Gitau


The room is full of people milling around, talking and laughing in small groups. The liquor is flowing, after all, what is a party without lots of liquor. True to our African tradition, there is food displayed all across the room. I wouldn’t want my guests to talk about my party later and only mention the fact that the food wasn’t enough. That is not a reputation that I want to leave behind.

Although it’s my party, I am seated at the corner of my massive living room all alone. I try my best to smile but after a while, the corners of my mouth start to hurt and my face is twisted into a scowl. Maybe that’s what is making everyone keep their distance.

I wonder why they are all here. Could it be the food? In this community, People never turn down an opportunity to enjoy a free meal. That explains why they shamelessly turn up at weddings and funerals uninvited. It’s all for the food. We all pretend that it is the African way of doing things, it is tradition to share meals but truth be told, we just love free meals.

I look at my eldest son, Murua, standing at the corner across the room talking to young curvaceous woman who I had never seen before. Murua has always had a way with the ladies. Sometimes, I think he is trying to show off for my sake. The young man knows nothing about women. Even at 70, I am sure that I can steal away that young thing that he is talking to in just minutes. Women love money, and I had plenty of that. 

Murua catches my eye and raises his glass to me. I loathe my son. He is an ungrateful bastard!

I have provided him with everything including his home and the truck that he drives. I have tried to make something out of him but all he ever does is chase skirts and drink my money away. He also spends every day watching me like a vulture, waiting for me to take my last breathe so he could pounce on my property. I am so sure he would waste it all in just a month. Never worked a day in his life but that doesn’t make him feel any less entitled.

“Happy birthday grand pa…”

I turn around and found a little ugly thing looking up to me. Not sure whose brat she was. Chubby cheeks, wide set eyes, head full of curly hair. Ah must be, Muthoni’s, my daughter who decided to get married across the border to a Somali man who, of course, I despise.

Soon, Muthoni and her brood comes over to say hi.

“Happy birthday, dad.” The Somali man, Husseini, Hamisi or something stands next to her smiling goofily.

Her voice sounds mechanical and she makes no attempt even to shake my hand.
Muthoni was once the apple of my eye, a bright, disciplined little girl who always did her best to please me. I in turn ensured that she was well taken care of. After University, I went a step further and found her a suitable suitor.  He was a wealthy man, just a couple decades older but very capable of providing for my precious daughter. Needless to say, Muthoni ran away from home and years later came back with this tall, scrawny looking man with curly hair from Somalia.

I have tried over the years to mend fences with her but she simply refuses to forgive me. Instead, she drifted further from me and hasn’t been home in the past three years. That girl broke my heart!

I have a few other children. Sometimes, it gets hard to keep track of them. All of my wives are also at the party, Maria, Wambui and Nduta. Three women who really despise me but they still showed up for my birthday party. Three women I who I guess have born me eleven children in total. Who knows whether I truly sired all of them? Either way, all eleven with their little army of free loaders were at my party.
Well, there’s something about turning 70 years old that makes you an instant hit with everyone. A single cough from me is enough to turn all heads in the room. They all watch me with bated breath waiting to see if I will drop dead and make their dreams come true.

This all started Last month when I had a moment of weakness and went to church. Like everywhere else, I was treated like royalty, never mind the fact that the last time I was there, was when I was fifteen. I was quickly given a seat at the front and even the pastor came and eagerly shook my hand. I knew they were not celebrating my return to church. Instead, they were thinking of my deep pockets and what I could do for the church. I saw the incomplete structure nearby which is assumed was a project that has stalled probably due to lack of funds. Anyway, I definitely had no plans to spend a single coin in the church. To prove my point, I had even left my wallet home.

The sermon was about forgiveness. A bible thumping preacher jumped up and down the pulpit spitting on everyone near him as he spoke about life after death. This got me thinking about heaven and hell. I wondered if I still had time to make amends before departing from this world. 

I quickly went home after the service and called my lawyer and by the end of the day, I had redone my will leaving everything split equally between my three wives and the remaining 5% of my estate going to the church. By the time I went to bed that night, my whole family had found out about the will, thanks to my loose-tongued lawyer.

By the next day, ‘the love’ had started. My house that was accustomed to tomb-like silence became a beehive of activities. My children with their kids in tow descended on my home like flies on a carcass. I started having good meals and some company every night because my wives suddenly showed up. I had heard rumors that my youngest wife, Nduta had gotten re-married but there she was, each and every night by my side. I am not sure what arrangement she had with her new husband but I guess desperation has made people do worse things.

The birthday party was obviously their idea but of course I met all costs. They wanted to have an opportunity to spoil the grandfather that they ‘adored’. 

What a load of hogwash!

 One thing that amused me is how much money they spent on things I didn’t need. They spared no expenses and bought four goats, despite the fact that they know that I don’t eat red meat. A truckload of liquor was bought, though they knew that my liver problem didn’t allow me to enjoy the bottle that was once a daily indulgence. In addition, there was a band that was playing some song. I have no idea what they were singing about. Nobody cared to at least ask me what I wanted. So really, this party had nothing to do with me. It was a show.

“Are you having fun?” Murua finally acknowledge me. His words were slurred and his breathe foul with a mix of beer and nyama choma as he leaned unsteadily over my seat.

“I just want to let you know, I will take care of everything, the house, the land, everything…” He went on as he dramatically solemnly put his hand over his heart as if taking an oath.

You see, Murua like everyone else thinks that I have a month to live due to my liver cirrhosis. This birthday party was more of a farewell that a celebration of life. However, greed has no bounds, even though the doctors gave me a month, I could tell everyone wished I would leave sooner. 

I had seen the cars, I knew loans had been taken, and plans of living a wealthy lifestyle already been made. They were already spending their inheritance even before my death. I silently encouraged them to keep digging themselves into more debt. 

Come on guys, spend it all!

It may not seem like it but I really enjoyed my birthday party. I enjoyed being surrounded by my family. It seemed like the perfect way to spend my last night on earth, adored like the king that I am. I had already decided to end my life on my own terms, in my bed on my 70th birthday and I had enough pills and a bottle of whisky to do the job. The whisky will probably fry my liver before the pills send me to other side.

My will is to be read a month after my death as per my orders; I will long buried by then. I have no doubt that I am going to hell but I do hope that the devil will be seated right next to me as I watch the drama that will unfold after I am the in the ground. I would like to watch the fake mourning at my funeral and chuckle at fake tears. I know my wives will definitely give the best performance of their lives. 

A month later, my family will come to realize that I had changed my will again with another lawyer who was paid handsomely for his confidentiality.  I decided to give to the church after all and not just 5 %, the church gets everything! My family gets absolutely nothing. 

Why am I leaving all my wealth to a church that I attended only once, well because I can and also because I think the whole thing is pretty hilarious. I will rolling around in my grave or in hell, laughing at the confusion and havoc that my will cause.

To my family, thanks for the birthday party and yeah, good luck with the debts.

3 comments:

  1. Heheh. Despite his horrible character, I like this old man.

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