Monday, May 19, 2008

Which One Is My Father?

Clemo was a class behind me in high school and one of those uppity fellows that I never quite got to either love too much or understand entirely. The chap’s pocket money never seemed to run out and on top of his stunning good looks, had a wicked sense of humour. These combined to ensure that he always had a little crew (nowadays called the hommies?) in tow around the school. He also had a way with ‘baibes’ who were his to pick from whenever the girls’ schools came visiting for debate or whatever. And wasn’t Clemo talented! He was a leading actor, articulate debater, and basketballer and pioneered the setting up of the school’s rugby team. Then to top it up, he always ended up amongst the top performers in exams. What more could a guy ask for? Beer perhaps.

Clemo took to the bottle early on and would regale us with his weekend escapades about tipple and girls at the clubs that he frequented. Occasionally his parents would let him host a bash at their house for the hommies when they traveled upcountry or abroad. This made Clemo ‘The Tough Mohine’ and quite popular. And the rest of us quite ordinary.

After he passed his high school exams, his dad enrolled him to some college in England to study law. And so he disappeared from the scene for a little while until news started filtering back that his drinking had gotten out of hand. Indeed, before a year was through, his dad shipped him back and no sooner had he arrived than we received the shocking news that Clemo had taken his life after a row with his dad. As we later learnt, his dad was not his biological father but had taken him on after marrying his mother. Apparently, Clemo’s divorced biological father was very much alive but a drunken never-do-well. On his return from England, his enraged step-father let go all manner of vitriol on Clemo, whom he could not fathom following in his real father’s ways. Not after all the effort he had made to give him the best that money could buy. Apparently when Clemo’s mum remarried, he was still a toddler and they made a pact to never tell him his real roots.

Clemo’s death left many of us in emotional turmoil for quite some time. I tried to imagine myself in his position when the brutal truth was thrown at him and I shuddered. Had this man who had brought me up and lavished me with all the things I ever wanted been faking his love? Why? Why tell me now? Is my drinking the excuse for his hate so as to abandon and disinherit me now? What will my friends think when they learn that my real father was actually just a useless village lay-about? Can I face the poor vagabond that is my father and live with him? Can I continue living here flaunting another man’s prosperity when my own father probably scrounges a living at market dumps? And mum, why did she let all this happen without even a word? Are they telling the truth now?

His burial ceremony was brief and intensely emotional. People were shaken, tearful and quietly went their separate ways. As if silently asking themselves who their fathers were.

So, do you really want to know who your father is? While it is easy to find evidence to prove that your mother is who she says she is, it may not be so for the man who claims to be your father. For although paternity matching by DNA analysis has been around for quite some time, it is only now being made locally accessible by CSI Kenya Limited, a forensic company set up recently in the country. For a fee of about Ksh 20,000, they provide a kit with which to obtain a swab from inside your mouth and that of the putative father. They then dispatch the samples to their affiliate laboratory in the US from where match results are sent after a week or two. A fairly simple exercise that should definitively put to rest the question of who your father is.

The forensic kit from CSI Kenya can also be used to provide indisputable evidence against suspects in rape cases. Hoping cost will not be prohibitive, the kit should find widespread acceptance although on the legal front it is not clear whether the rules of evidence admissibility in our courts will accommodate the use of results obtained from CSI Kenya.


Kirima said...

Tragic tale!
in my opinion the true father is the one who brings you up not the one who provided the DNA so whearas we would be inclined to blame any negative traits on inheritance (why not the posive ones?) upbringing also has a big role for we are all products of nature and nurture!

Half n Half said...

Sad sad story..
that was a cruel thing the father did. When someone turns to alcohol for comfort, its always a sign that something is wrong. If he was drinking heavily even at high school, it must be a sign that something was wrong..
Thanks for visiting

Maua said...

The 'parents' provided too much unnecessarily at an early age. He should have been left to have an 'ordinary' upbringing. In as much as the parents wanted what was best for Clemo, I feel they spoilt him, and maybe tried to cover up for him to not find out who he really was.

It was a tragedy, but I blame the parents.

acolyte said...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree it seems. I think all that spoiling as a kid made him soft so when that shock hit him, there was little he could do.

Anonymous said...

maua is right, the parents spoiled him and he couldnt handle that truth, it doesnt matter how he took it, it may sound harsh but maybe this guy was fed up with him and had to tell him this to bring him back to reality! people do this and the kids end up transforming their lives as a result. but i dont balme the parents so much coz he should've known how to handle this not kill himself.
about who my father is...ahem...i know ine is my biological and the one who takes care of me... i dont need to just do!

HLumiti said...

You’re right; we really are a product of nurture. At the time we lost Clemo we were doing just about 18 years old, an age when many are given to temperamental fits of rage. Handling such truth just overwhelmed our ‘spoilt’ buddy.

I wonder about now though, in your middle age and struggling through life and a strange rich man turned up at your doorstep claiming to be your long lost dad. Or you’re doing fairly well and the one who turns up is a disheveled act asking for a piece of your cake…would you take on one and not the other?

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Maua I agree with you. I know those types. Pampered mpaka they hit 30 plus and they still cant take care of themselves. So many parents fall into this trap thinking they're doing the best for them. Then they come to the big bad world with nasty problems and they cant cope!

Neema lol. Some of these tests will bring about some very many things if Kenyan embrace them. Can you imagine a scenario where it's made compulsory in all families? hehehehehe.

Anyway the question is, are we raising wimps?

rags said...

the story was really touching.

Anonymous said...

if someone told me ati the father i know is not my father i wont kill myself. i'd probably just have a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Maua is right the parents are to blame...Kwanza for spoiling the boy and then for concealing his true Identity. Just imagine if our friend Chemo was having love affair with his step sister….can we deny the guy could have committed suicide after knowing all about it.
As of paternity matching I think it is not necessary unless there is a case in court. I believe the matter should be left to mutual trust…that is what marriage and family is all about….Who knows the lady claiming to be your mum, stole you from the hospital, while your biological mother is done with your burial ceremony few hours after your birth, believing the good lord who gave you to her just took you back. See this link
Midnite Preacher

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Midnight preacher thanks for this very interesting link. This is truly shocking. 1 out of every 8 babies born in American Hospitals are sent home with the wrong parents?? I wonder what happens her in our local large hospitals?

And the stories that follow are equally shocking. This is a very informative link.

BP 1 said...

What a sad story!!! I think the parents are to blame for not telling the boy the true identity of his father. We can’t blame Clemo’s parent for spoiling him, I believe no parent is ever willing to spoil his or her child , , is just destiny of the child parents can’t control. Other wise all they wan’t is their children to have the best and be the best

Digzer said...

First, that's a sad toching story of a mal-adjusted boy who felt he couldn't handle life. Sad ending.

Second, what's all this talk of 'true identity'? Kwani if today I discover that my Dad is not my Dad, it will change who I am? That me real Dad is a lay-about lout or Osama or Bill Gates won't really change the 'Me' who's been me all along. I'd ask myself (and my folkes) tough questions but wouldn't start going around trying to find myself anew!

It happens all the time. I mean just ask Bishop Wanjiru's kids or Tupac (he grew up without a dad who later came to cash in coz of his success (or was that Eminem (or both))).

I don't think it makes much of a difference except in the parallel universe of 'What If'.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Digzer I agree with you totally. Also I agree with Anon 4.16. If someone came and told me that the father I know is not my father after all, I'd probably just have a good laugh and move on.