Now if you grew up in the rural area and raised by a housewife or a peasant farmer as we intelligently refer to them, you can bear me witness that mama was ever there, for almost everything. I can’t remember any day we didn’t have mum at home. There was no day she was ever on leave. And so we kind of got used to having her as a sign of security. On the other hand, dad used to work in the big city and he would come every Saturday and leave on Sunday.
Having gotten used to mum, my younger brother and I would eagerly wait for my dad from noon on Saturdays, because we knew he would arrive anytime from then and we would get a packet of malaika biscuit. Some days he would come early but most times would come so late and we would be so mad, but on sighting him, all the anger would melt and we would run towards him and jump all over him in gladness. There are times because of work commitments he would miss coming on a particular weekend and we would be sad especially if we didn’t know in advance. You can imagine waiting on him all day, preparing your taste buds for malaika biscuits and fried meat for supper just to miss. It was very disappointing.
I must say we were naughty boys just like every other boy, and mum would beat us almost every day. And I remember sometimes we would get so angry and wish our mum was dead. (You can forgive us we were just foolish and young). At times after a thorough beating, we would tell mum that we will tell on her when dad comes. And she would dare us to. We never would.
Now I remember there were occasions my mum would be late to come back home and we would get so scared and we would not enter the house in fear of darkness. This rarely happened but when it did, we would start crying and praying that our mum may come back. All of a sudden we would imagine what if she left not to come back again? Or if she got an accident and got hurt? Or died? Or a big hyena ate her? And we would cry and start praying. We would tell God that if she comes back alive, we will be good boys. We would not imagine life without our mother. And on sighting her shadow at the gate, we would run so fast, happy to see her again and we would relieve her of her luggage. Of course we never kept our part of the deal with God.
They used to say a parent is a second god. And I relate to that fully, but on thinking about my parents and God I found out something interesting. My mum is the ‘god’ who is with you every day, keen to discipline you, ready to be your friend and help you out every day, and who makes sure your life runs smoothly. But because of the unconditional love and the availability we would so often get used to her, and at times we would despise her on her face. Taking her for granted until the day she gets late to come home and we just can’t imagine life without her.
Dad is the ‘god’ who we interact on weekends. Who we would look forward to because he come with gifts, and since he is never there all week, we can manage to stage a good mannered boy, and even when mum would complain that we have become naughty, dad would not get any evidence of it. We would do everything mum wants and dad would think we are a set of angels.
And thinking about it I see the same thing at times when am interacting with God, just that he can see everything. During the week I will struggle to keep my relationship with God because I will feel like He is demanding too much out of me, adding on discipline issues and me managing my daily affairs the way He want. I don’t want a God who is meticulous and detailed. It can be tiring.
I want a weekend God, who I can dress for on Sunday and behave like a saint yet I have been a naughty boy. I want a God who comes with gifts, who we can have an intense moment then he will be off on his way to work on Sunday evening and I will have the week to myself. I want that God.
But who am I lying to? I couldn’t handle a dark house without mum around, the same way I can't handle a dark moment without God, and so I will have to drop my fantasy, which I have played along. And God I am sorry. For I know you want to be God the mum and God the dad to me, to be with me all week and even more during weekends. That I may involve you in all I do, and when you discipline me, I should delight in your corrections, I should long for intense community interactions on Sunday without watering down my daily experience with you.
God help me….
You are God the mum and God the dad to me.