I choose you, father

There is strength in numbers as family stands up for police post

In Summary

• A DNA test is shunned to avoid tearing the family apart


For a long while, I considered myself the unluckiest person in love. Turns out my father-in-law makes a good passenger in that sorry bus. For a long time, he had been married to a domineering wife he had dubbed “The Dragon”.

And for a long time, I’d thought he hated the woman’s guts, only to see him wallow in despair when she died. Now his new beau, Sgt Sophia’s mum, has left him for a man with more stars on his shoulder.

“I truly was falling in love with your mother,” Inspector Tembo tells Sophia as he perches on the edge of the bed in our small shack. “We were going to be a proper family, you, me and her.”

Sophia sits next to him and puts an arm around his shoulders. “Sorry, dad. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. My mother always takes the newest manyanga in town.”

He turns to her with a forlorn look. “That stuff she said about Superintendent Chege being your father and not me…”

(Just so you know, for the better part of her young life, Sophia had no clue who her biological father was, until her investigation led her to Inspector Tembo, and there she settled.)

“Nonsense, dad. Far as I know, my mother isn’t sure who my father is, but I do.”

“You do?”

“Yes, sir. You’re as close to being my father as any one of her busloads of lovers, and you’re the only dad I want right now.”

If she meant to buoy his spirits, it doesn’t work. “Maybe we should get that DNA test after all. Set things right.”

“Sir,” I chip in, “a friend of mine back in Nakuru used to say, ‘There’s a reason why DNA tests are expensive. And that reason is to keep families together.’ I believe him, sir. If every father was to determine the paternity of his children, few homes would stand the ensuing scandals.”

“Baby.” Sophia bats her eyelids at me. “I’ve never heard you being so eloquent.”

I scratch my head. “I’d know how to react if I knew the meaning of eloquent, but I think that’s the closest you’ve come to complimenting me.”

“You know what?” Inspector Tembo jumps to his feet. “You’re right. The simple act of fathering a child doesn’t make one a father. That honour is earned, not granted.”

He puts his arms on Sophia’s shoulders. “Sophie, I’ve only known you for a few years, but you’re everything I’d ask for in a daughter. If you choose me as your father, we shall set this matter to rest once and for all.”

Sophia hugs him. “It’s settled.”

“What about me?” I ask, feeling left out.

“What about you?” Inspector Tembo asks.

“Well, Sophia is my wife, but you don’t seem agreeable to that idea. Neither does Mrs Kali, Sophia’s mother. As a matter of fact, she promised to save our police post from State closure upon the contingent that I stay away from her daughter.”

Inspector Tembo steps up to me. “For whatever reason, Sophia has chosen you for a husband. If that makes her happy, I have no choice but to go along. As for this police post, I intend to fight for its survival. You may join me, if you wish.”

Sophia executes a salute. “I’ll be right here with you, sir.” Then smiling, she adds, “Dad.”

Inspector Tembo stands tall. “And you, Sgt Makini?”

“I’m with you, sir.”

“Good. Then it’s us three against the world.”

Sophia coughs, her gaze cast down. “It’s four against the world, sir. I’m pregnant.”

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