I felt terrible the moment Petik uttered that I looked like the sadist who was my father. As far as he was concerned, I was nothing more than a good-for-nothing tot; that I was headed down the same clogged cages of Abyss as the sadist. I changed my view about myself, literally: My objectives in life, the decisions about personal attributes, the basis of my convictions, and the range of conclusions on subtle issues, all together, changed.
I became a totally different person. The things I had taken for granted, the things I had ignorantly assumed, the things I had fraudulently ignored (like the essence of my moods, the bouts of instincts, the colour of my skin, the facial looks) resuscitated in my being, rekindled in my senses, and quickened in my system.
My IQ, the masculine ego, the whole aspect of who and why I am poked a new war front. I swallowed the bile.
In the meantime, I tossed the philosophy, the innuendos, and the vowels of those seemingly scented words. As I hinged them between the knuckles in my open palms like oracle pebbles, I weighed them like seer stones in the balance of muses, just before slapping them against the stiff nestles like magic wads, and I waggled my head like an oomph gone dry… I swallowed again.
Then I heaved with a surge of adrenaline, numbered both mine and my father’s leaps in Petik’s Eshore farm, the days of service to the loyal hoe, the liturgical allegiance across the sisal stumps – and just like the prisoner caught up in the whirl of euphoria (as was versed in my judgment) redefined the ‘times’ against the master’s prickly bravado. I again clucked my tongue:
‘’How old am I?’’ I wondered, agitatedly.
‘’How about my father, at the time he vacated Eshore farm?’’
While I couldn’t institute a moratorium at the time, while I couldn’t paste the pain on my countenance, while I couldn’t let the vowels pre-empt my conscience, I was a bit more mindful, a bit more curious, a bit more sensitive to why and when I looked at the expression: how I saw the edges of it, how I judged most of its strengths the tenacity of innuendos, the halo placed around a sadist’s head.
The infallible Stella of praise (and not shame, of course as long as I was concerned), the very essence of Petik’s words couldn’t evade me. Petik had said it and he meant it.
‘’Words are like gods,” my people say.
“They empty the treasures of one’s heart; their magic is irreversible’’ I swallowed again.
‘’Words bear a spirit of their own, it was said’’ I quip.
‘’Which is the tongue of a burning splint: that spoils even the thickest of the beastly forest’’
How golden were those words that morning, the succulence of the generic theme, the indigenous and homogeneous truths laced on them, Petik didn’t know, Petik will never know. That thread of light, the trough of an awesome glow, the glittering of threads, an illumination which, again to my amazement, allowed me to peer back 23 years to the day my father, the Sadist, died.
As he stood before Petik, 23 years ago, trying to internalize intimidation of the craziest kind:
“Your duty starts at 8 o’clock in the morning, and ends at 4 o’clock in the evening, daily, except on weekends”; and then,
‘’Do you understand?’’.
‘’Yes, sir’’ The Sadist, could simply answer, his somewhat menacing hood boring his master.
He was 17-years-old to the adaptation as Petik’s errand boy, on casual terms, ‘’as we wait for a more qualified clerk to replace you.’’ And for 9 solid years, he worked with loyalty, and zeal, until the day that ‘qualified clerk’ showed up.
It was a cold humid morning, the fleshless clouds racing the whoredom of the sky, the torso of the heaven, and the axis of the universe, like a woe without a course. Between the earth and the atmosphere was the same scented wind: silky like a cloth, soothing like the breeze from the ocean: It was expressive, like the wayward gods of Eshore.
In the course of time, Petik just emerged from the balcony patio of his mansion, looking anxious, nervous, suppressive, like one in the middle of a busy highway, like one inside a capsizing boat, like one in a descending parachute. He wore a moody expression akin to mutating shades of Mukore. His lips were quivering.
In his right hand was what appeared to be an unread newspaper, its pages flaring in the wind, ready to tear. It didn’t fool him that it was still quite early in the morning, that the gods of the farms had not yet exited the clouds, and that the spirits of the hills had not yet climbed the rocks, but that the sadist, called ‘my father’ had not carried out his errand case, besides everything else.
Suddenly, he barked at the Sadist, looking as if possessed of a strange omen:
‘’I am afraid to inform you that your services are terminated’’.
’’Your remuneration is next week” And that was all.
Aghast, the Sadist, who was my father could argue his case to the master who, in the very eloquence of a demeanour, the grisly of a bully, was the equivalent of an omened zealot, the agent of the blackbirding.“Is there no other reason why you must fire me?” his head leaned heavenward.
” Don’t ask me, my words are final” Petik clucked, annoyed.
‘’after 9 long years, sir?”
“Yes! You have been on casual terms, after all” their eyes clutched. The Sadist broke down in tears.
In every fair minute, I thought jerkily about the Sadist as well as about me. Who I am, where I am, and what I look like. I judged everything beneath that blurred veil of Petik’s sarcastic innuendo.: In me, I saw my father’s sadism in Petik’s drawl, in his mischievous expression, all woven together.
At first, it hurt me. There was too much sarcasm in it, a racist tone, a demeaning impression, and mockery, yet I couldn’t help but be amazed, enlightened, and thrilled.
“Am I a sadist?’ I wondered, and it pacified my soul
As the sunset, I left Petik’s Eshore farm and headed home.
At sunrise, I snatched my father’s living room portrait, locked myself in the bathroom, and looked in the wall mirror like a zombie. It wasn’t long before I began barking:
“I guess that’s a given. Look at me!” I simply pointed back at myself.
”Here he is, the sadist”, I forced a grimace.
As I licked my lips, slowly matching myself accordingly, I gazed into the interior of my body, searching for the smallest aspect of my worth.
‘’No doubt, this is the sadist, called my father’’ my tongue lolled inside my mouth.
‘’I was never aware that I am he” I said, a certain unique conviction of the-once-lost-but-now-found testimony exhibiting right before my very face.
The countenance across the mirror, the smouldering 3’5’23 feet figure, the 56-kilogram essence of mass, wasn’t the brown me, the creased me, the flamboyant me. But all the black he, the handsome he, the charismatic he.
Then the eyelashes, the lips, the teeth, 20-words-per-second tongue, were nothing of my equivalent. But the bushy he, the meaty he, the awesome he, the 10-per-second he! Oh, I was no less, the Sadist, called my father!
Then I reassessed the links that formed and joined me. say, the scalp, nose, eyes, beard, and temples. Alas, all I could see was the Sadist, called my father.
“Hmm, the exact image” I nodded “here, the Sadist stands” I twitched, then jerked forward. I was overwhelmed Then I laughed, a good, fat, cloudy whack of a laugh
Another splint of glare did split out into the room, an essence of it tagged in the voice, in the clefting of the cheeks, in the drowning of the laughter, which all confirmed the otherwise unbelievable!
‘’Indeed, my father lives in me?” I snapped.
” Or am I the one who lives in him?” it awed me.
The voice was straight, clear, unblemished – that of the Sadist, who was my father. There was no dirt in it, no grr… and no uncleanness of whatever sort; It sounded like nothing mortal, real, and mystic.
These voices, like splints, are like that-they come and go and come again. Call them echoes! My father’s echo.
I was versed with all frankness and truism of what were my father’s desires, emotions, likes, and dislikes… all entombed in one place, in his son…in his image…in me! I saw his philosophies too, his judgments too…the things he held dear… those which he trashed… and the length he could go to achieve them…to actualize them: They summarily concluded, seemingly in one thing, in one place, in one person – me!
I was young, green, full of agility– the prime of youth exhibited in the well—tightened biceps – in the firmly formed frame, the well-cut hair – the strong angled bones: I was the Sadist, my father, no disputing:
“Exactly, this is him“, then I laughed again.
‘’Just him, simply him”, I staggered with laughter.
I glanced down, even to the legs that now formed the lower (me), the general shape of the person below – the belly, the legs, and then down to the same person: The tranquillity of his physique was charming, the looks were alluring, and the form was bewitching!
What? The figure was simply that ‘echo’ from the past. And, no doubt, he was fearfully and wonderfully made: Tranquil in all aspects, the essence of masculinity. I again smiled.
Then I spoke to the ‘Sadist me’, in the mirror – to the splint of cradle thereof:
‘‘Sadist’’ I called.
“This is you, here’’ I shouted. An echo anchored behind the closet.
Thus, the Sadist must have been a great person, He must have been a special fellow too, a pure breed, the perfect embodiment of a perfect gene pool, whose likeness has left such a remarkable legacy…me. It impressed me beyond imagination.
It pleased me equally to imagine that I was a part of the emblem, a part of the original Photostat that had the purest and most authentic qualities. Yeah, I was that exact impression of his, 46 years later! How great!
“it’s tragically so, that even Petik’s double eyes recognized it” oozing with adrenaline, I affirmed.
” Imagine he could single out who I looked like, so many years later” my lips quiver.
I was thus that bold Photostat of a beautiful, resilient image of the past, now cast into the present, say, that most glowing splint in an elusive domain that illuminated the figure of (who was, and is no longer) the Sadist, called my father: indeed I was both that past and the present combined, and (as in all unique progeny) all the future, now my father’s all in all sadistic progeny.
Yet, still strutting in front of the opaque mirror, I saw no other than Petik’s logic – now the splint and the echo, [again the compound of sadism] in the beauty of triumph. What do I say? My father’s convictions, idealism, struggles, and illusions, practically speaking, lay bare before me. His promise to the seed, the success of regeneration, the future so bright, the hope in the line of days, was bound before my very eyes.
And because I was he, like he, (in size and colour – in love and hate) all of [me] was thus summed up as the ultimate wonder in fullness:
‘’No other way” ’I smiled.
’’It was meant to hurt, but turned out the other way’’ I said.
“Father, I now see you’’ my head jerked, and I found myself, crying.
And after a sigh of relief;
‘‘I am now you; just exactly ‘I licked my lips. And then,
’’I don’t need any more convincing’’ my heart quaked with, not sorrow, not grief, but pleasure.
Across Savannah’s Eshore, through the thickest of Sodu, [after the nine-year stint with Petik] I was with him, even in him: His miseries were mine, his sorrows the same, his grief the same. I felt them, I touched them perhaps his Sadistic attributes showed better at this point, perhaps at this level.
I was with him, even in him, as he received his 45 shillings’ wage, the last monthly payment, as he prepared the evening pepper soup for his supper, as he trekked the whole night down the plains of Ruti, beyond the hills, going home, to Shantee.
I was with him, even in him, as he arrived home in the middle of the night the following day, as he went forth to his mother’s house to greet her, as he sat at the fireplace narrating his tribulation in the hands of Petik, his master, in-home far away from home.
’’Pleasure to see you alive and healthy, son’’ his mother would tell him.
‘’We thought you died’’ and they both cried on each other’s shoulders.
I was with him, even in him later in the week, as he went across the plains of Vadu, beyond the black hills, where he first met Flora, the 16-year-old rural damsel, who would be his fiancée and later his mutual confidante.
I was with him, even in him, as he walked down the aisle of Charismatic Church of Light in Shantee. as he wedded his bride who would be my mother, and later that very evening through the bridal party, as they consummated their nuptials.
This is Shantee, the same place, where the Sadist, called my father lived. where he tended his farm, where he ate his garlic, where he sired me, where he died. The same place where I now stand, where I now eat my garlic, where I now live, where I will probably die.
No doubt, Petik’s words were a bright splint, an eerie echo – a singular illumination to the fact that I look like the Sadist, called my father!
About the Author:
Evanson Njuki is a Poet, Essayist, and Fiction Writer, whose Works have appeared in various Publications. His poems, Earth and Mounds, appeared in the 2019 Quarterly Issue of Vasant Magazine; His Short Story, Lovebirds, was published in the July 2020 issue of The Shallow Tales Literally Review; Wear Your Mask, another short story, appeared in the December 2020 Issue (47) of Brittle Star Magazine; Comic’s Day Syndrome, a Flash story, was in the same year Published in Sofllay Microstory Anthology.
He is the Director of Elitewika, a Writers’ Club that brings together writers OF Mbeere, Embu County.
HE LIVES IN ISHIARA, MBEERE, EMBU COUNTY, KENYA