When she turned six, I began to teaching her a couple of self defense moves. That must have been a lame move on my part because Caroline learnt real fast, and soon had beat up half the boys her age in the neighborhood. No kid would play with her.
Parents came knocking with their sons almost every evening. Broken lips, a bruised ankle, a missing tooth, a bloody nose. God knows the bills I rolled out could have easily got myself a good business up at the time. I had to shake the madness out of her.
“You don’t go around hitting people unnecessarily”, I told her.
She’d tell me they came looking for her, but I only half believed that.
At thirteen, my sister called to tell me my daughter had started her monthly cycle. I was alarmed. Then embarrassed. Then I felt a tightening in my chest.
How was it that my sister over hundreds of miles away knew this before me, unless my little Carol told her.
I waited till later that evening and I talked to her about it. I swear it was the most uncomfortable conversation I’d ever had, and I barely dabbled through.
At the end I gave a rash lecture on the importance of personal hygiene and promised to get her a couple packs of sanitary pads a month. That girl, I swear I could see her sneer at me.
Then came sixteen with its special brand of boyfriend troubles. She was steady on the phone. Always up in her room. Midnight calls. Started dressing different. Make up. Barely had time for family. For me.
Boys started crawling around my house like a bunch of randy he goats. One time I pulled a panga on one chap who thought he was being brave by looking me in the face and telling me he loved my daughter. Poor boy fled so fast he left me his pants.
Such an idiot.
Then she took an interest in the choir, and we had to fight over her attending all night rehearsals.
“I don’t want you out of the house at night.” I’d tell her.
“But dad it’s church!” she’d scream.
“That’s exactly why you aren’t going! You want to rehearse, do it during the day.”
I wasn’t ignorant that in the name of all night rehearsals, these youngsters got to do lots of terrible stuff.
Years as an investigative journalist had taught me how the least expected places were where the most ugly things happened. Not my Caroline.
She didn’t talk to me for days after that.
The next year she was shipped out to Makerere. I missed her sorely. I was afraid. My fatherly tentacles would not reach her there. I just hoped for my sake she’d behave herself and remember all I’d drummed into her.
On the other hand, I must admit I had a breath of fresh air. I had time for Patricia, the lady I had met a few months back at my restaurant. We got along so well and by the following year, we were married.
From then on it wasn’t too difficult anymore. My daughter was barely home. I think she spent five or six years in school studying medicine, then got engaged and wedded during her final year.
I kid you not, I aged real fast raising that girl. God knows if she’d turned out bad, I’d have died. And my Michelle would have been disappointed.
Now my daughter teases me that I am shameless. How can I have a child that is younger than my grandchild. Yeah, I and Patricia had a son. And he’s two years younger than Caroline’s son. Crazy world.
And oh, when she brought her husband home, and I asked knowingly how they’d met, he smiled shyly.
The smile of a man who had fled the sight of a shiny panga one cold evening, a girl he’d eventually fall in love with and marry.
Turns out the kicks weren’t lame after all. It might have sent the boys running from her as a kid, but it got her a husband in the end, right?
By Eninu William: 0783 642052
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