“Son, even though I and I love the I, I and I must try secure a path back to the motherland for I and I bloodline. I am doing this for you.”
Maleek, a slim Rastafarian boy with long dreadlocks, stood in the centre of his father’s yard listening to him explain why he had to, from now onwards, live with his mother. His father, a devout Rastafarian, got the opportunity to travel to Africa but could not afford to take Maleek with him. He explained that he had every intention of sending for all his descendants when he could do so, but he viewed this journey back to Africa, as fundamental to their well being. Maleek displayed a trained nonchalance. Although he knew he would miss his father, he took comfort in the fact that his mother was more loving and was a better cook.
“You understand; don’t it?” His father queried almost rhetorically.
“Yes I,” Maleek responded, but deep down he did not.
In the first instance, Maleek could not understand why his parents were separated, let alone why his father had to now go off to a place so far away. What he did understand, was that his love for his father and his love for the first Emperor Selassie of Ethiopia, seemingly precluded him complaining about what was deemed a natural progression in the Rastafarian Movement.
“Daddy,” he said, “just don’t forget I.” His father tried to resist a smile which caused his cheeks to burn and said “Never my yout, never.”
His father looked at his offspring with pride, shook his hand and even managed a tight hug. His father was not known for such displays of affection, so the action caught Maleek by surprise.
A car horn blared outside the zinc fence. Maleek’s mother often grew impatient around his father and having her sitting around a car steering, during such times was bound to result in its horn’s loud tooting. Maleek strolled over to the fence, bag in hand, with his shoulders slumped. He glanced once more over his shoulder at the father who had been his main parent for the last two years. His father’s eyes were red and welling with tears. It reminded him of that day so long ago when his mother left:
He was eight years old and his sister, Makeida, was still a baby. His father had complained about something going wrong in the kitchen. It had something to do with oil that violated his eating practices. Maleek’s mother pointed out that she had been using that oil all along, and she was a Rastafarian too. His father was appalled and started throwing things outside; pots, plates, utensils. He argued that he and the entire family would need to fast and pray in order to rid themselves of the defilement. Maleek’s mother told him that if he wanted to do that, he could go ahead but she had to breastfeed her daughter and needed to eat in order to do that. This seemed to enrage Maleek’s father even further but his mother did not back down. In the end, his mother and sister moved out to live with his mother’s parents. Maleek’s father’s eyes were welling with tears on that evening too.
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