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Junior something

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By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

This might be because you are young. Or old. Or have selective amnesia. Most likely, you might just be pretending. And wanting to disassociate.

But, we once rated San B highly. And, that was not really wrong. Any day, anyway, we should rate San B highly. He came with a different touch. He still oozes a different touch.

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You ask, which San B?

Well, go back to the opening paragraph.

Because, we all loved San B. No, that feature with Lucius Banda might just be an icing on a cake. This one – San B – had already cut tooth by then, I think.

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Here was a guy who, in one song, dismissed a fashion – actually, made people nameless – just like that. You remember the days when we all hated our parents for not naming us Junior, that we had to go about scampering looking for a Senior to whom we could be named after?

It was San B who brought that madness to an end. One song, “Amake Junior,” and all the Juniors went missing – like the Ndazionas, Mum’deranj is, Nyamazaos on Facebook.

Suddenly, our Junior friends started reminding us of their baptismal names. They would not respond when we called them Ju. They preferred – and became – Paul, Benedict, Laurent and Sam – mostly Sam.

I am talking to a Junior. But now he is not called Junior. He is called some other funky name. Like he is a music band of youngsters in the late 90s, or maybe early 2000s – those two periods that merge with a Siamese ambiguity.

He grew up with his mother. And, his father.

“But, not my father-father,” he says.

His father left when the mother was pregnant – that is why I named him Junior.

However, he did not leave like the fathers on that Humans of New York Facebook page do: with no farewell, early in the biting morning of winter, and with finality – to never be heard from again.

He left like fathers – not father-fathers – do.

He accepted responsibility. Told the parents of the girl, Junior’s mother in this case is the girl, that he was responsible for the pregnancy and was willing to man up, but he had nothing. He was worthless, and penniless. And, to impress the parents that he was an honest man, he asked for some ‘change’ just before returning because he had nothing on him.

The parents, shocked, just knew he was a lost cause and chased him away. Poured vitriol on their daughter. Moved on. Waited for Junior to be born. Ended up loving him than they ever loved any of their children.

And, like all the parents of that time, even allowed him (or maybe ‘forced him’, if you also sired a child and pretended to be smart in those times) to be using their name in school and all official documents. He became theirs.

The father, an actual deadbeat, pretended to appear when he could.

As Junior grew, he knew there was that man – his father. They made small son-dad talk and, in some moments, he would give him something. A little cash for some snacks. Nothing big.

“I was growing up with my father in the vicinity but never really knew my father,” the kind of statement you are more likely to find in a movie.

But, like other pandemics before him, they managed to survive that man. They moved out. To a far new location.

The mother had found a new man who was ready to step up and assume responsibility. He became the father.

“It was a bit confusing in the beginning but later, I caught up. He was my father and there was nothing that I could do to change that fact.”

“That other father?”

Well, his memories were washed away. They were loved away, with packets of sweets, pockets of father-son games, trips to the Zoo (there were Zoos that day, before eventually we humans swapped roles with animals) and first lessons in manhood.

Until Ju came of age. And things started happening to him.

“I cannot say that anything changed, but I became aware.”

There had been some children born to them: his mother and father – not father-father. They had had two boys and a girl. Someday while they were living life, he realised there was an addition to the family. Then, another. And, another.

The love, that attention he basked in, appeared to be thinning.

“You know, that thing which happens when parents get a new baby?”

I shake my head, think – but never say it – that I do not know what he is talking about because I am lucky, I am a last born.

He says that everything started feeling different. In that weird way. The realisation that he was not his father started eating at him.

When Ju rebelled and the father tried to correct him, he did not see a loving father reaching out to a wayward son – with a rod. He saw a man who felt cheated attacking a nemesis.

“It was too much,” he sighs.

And, the chasm deepened. When he went away to boarding school, he would go to grandparents for the holiday.

Unsurprisingly, he met his first love there. No, it was not the child of his deadbeat father. This is even a story because the father – father-father – left and it appears not many know his whereabouts.

He is looking for him.

“I need to have some sort of a conversation with him,” he breaths.

“Like some closure?” I ask, because I think being dumped by fathers, or just parents, is an actual thing and people should just heal and move on from that.

He says it is not like closure. He wants to talk to him because he just realised he is his father’s son. An actual Junior.

“Will that have you move on from your baby and the baby-mama?”

“I am not sure, but it will give me perspective.”

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