JOSEPH’S FATHER

 

Joseph was an eight-year-old boy who lived harmoniously with his mum and little sister Esther. He loved his mother very much. His

mother worked in Rwamagana, a district located in Rwanda’s Eastern province.

 

Every day when Joseph’s mother came home from her job she played a special game. After greeting her children, “Hello, my darlings,”

she would allow Joseph to jump into her lap, hug and kiss her, and smile at his lovely mum. Then she would spin him around and say, “Joseph, my son, close your eyes. I want you to find the gift that I am hiding.” Joseph’s favorite gift was well-prepared sweet bananas, and almost every day, this was his gift. Even when Joseph knew what his mother was going to give him, he still loved to play the game. He would close his eyes, and pretend to search for the gift, but he could smell the delicious spices. If he peeked, his mother took her purse and immediately warned him, “Eh, eh, eh! Don’t do that!” Stop!” Then she would ask him, “Guess what your treat is today?” Joseph would answer, “Banana.” And his mother would seem amazed. ”You’re right!” she would say, and then Joseph would excitedly take the banana and eat it, thanking his mother for her care.

 

His mum knew well what was Joseph’s favorite treat was the banana, and every day she would try her best to bring him one. Joseph

enjoyed the ritual treat his mother gave him.Every day when Joseph saw his mother coming from her job he was always happy. He would find himself smiling, jumping over to her, and sometimes he sang for her.

 

Mum mum, I love you mum

You are the best ever in my life

I like the way you care for me

Without you I feel like am alone in the world

But when you are near me I feel at home

God bless you mum.

 

And he kissed her after singing.

 

But Joseph had a different relationship with his father. Joseph’s father came home each day and would only say hello. Occasionally he

asked Joseph about his studies. It was a distant and focused relationship, one that Joseph didn’t fully understand.

 

One day the mother stayed at home. She did not go to work, she did not go anywhere. When Joseph came from school he met her at

the door, but she looked unhappy. He worried about what situation would make his mother look this way. She didn’t welcome him as usual, and she did not play their game. There was no prepared banana treat either. Joseph looked behind her mother and saw a big bag which was packed full. His mother lifted that bag and went into her room.

 

In fact, his mother’s mind was not there, as she was ready to go to the neighboring country Uganda for studies.Joseph came near to

where she was sitting and he asked, “What happened to you, mum?” but his mother replied, “Nothing.” Although she said that nothing happened to her, she truly wanted to tell him she was leaving, as she knew that Joseph would feel frustrated.

 

His mum worried about the relationship between Joseph and his father, and finally she explained that she was going to leave the next

morning for Kampala, in order to earn her Master’s degree. She promised that she would come back after her studies. Joseph could not hide his emotions. He asked her, “Why can’t we go together?” But she comforted him by saying he needed to be home with Esther. She tried to assure him that his father would give them whatever they needed.

 

When his father came home he found Joseph and his mum arguing. He greeted them and he sat on the opposite side.Joseph asked

his father, “Did you buy me anything?” The father replied, “Unfortunately, no I didn’t.” Joseph cried out loud asking for a banana. He was too upset and he cried until the night, even refusing to eat. He went to his room to be alone, but his mother followed him. She begged him to sit and have dinner with the others. He sat, but did not eat.

 

After dinner his mother gave them her farewell, and she tried to convince her son she would not be away for a long time. Joseph cried a

lot, so his mum took him to bed. “Daddy will look after you, really. I want you to try your best and be good for daddy.”

 

When Joseph’s mum left home to go to study in Kampala, Joseph felt sad. He lost interest in everything at school. He was quiet

and unmotivated to learn. Each evening when his father came home late from work, Joseph asked, “Did you bring anything?” And although he sometimes bought Joseph fruit from the market, it was not like getting a gift from his mother.

 

One day his father asked him to play football, even though the father was not very skilled at the game. Joseph agreed, but he didn’t

enjoy it at all and it was no fun. His dad would only ask about school. Joseph tried to understand, but also prayed every day for the same thing. “Dear God, please bring mum back so I can get everything that I need.”

 

One day his prayers were answered. He knew his mother was home because he could smell cinnamon and nutmeg from the kitchen.

He heard his mother’s voice. “Please close your eyes my darling.” Joseph shut his eyes tightly, as he did before, but as he entered the kitchen he peeked through his fingers. He saw his mother looking in her bag and she came near him. Joseph pretended to search for his gift, but felt the banana in his mother’s bag and he could not stop smiling.

 

“Guess what?” his mum asked.

“Ba-na-na,” Joseph replied.

 

It was the best banana ever, so warm, delicious, and so special. Joseph thought everything was back to normal, but that evening at

dinner, her mother told all of them her news.“I have good news for you my darlings,” she said. “I have found a new job in Kigali. It is a good job which will bring us more money.”

 

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda, one hour from Rwamagana by bus. Joseph’s mother’s job wouldn’t allow her to have time to see

her children, as she would be waking up at 7 in the morning and not returning until 9pm. Joseph felt devastated.

 

“Are you going away again?”

“No, no,” his mother assured him. “I will be home late at night, but your daddy will look after you.” Daddy nodded . “You will have

everything you need, Joseph. I will make sure of it.”

“But it is not the same with daddy!” Joseph cried. “I don’t want it! I want you to stay!” He ran from the room crying.

 

That night, Joseph’s mother came to his bedside.

“What is wrong my darling? Why are you so sad?”

“When you are not here everything is horrible. Daddy doesn’t make me bananas or play with me. We just wake and go to school there

is no laughing! I hate it!”

His mother soothed him. “Your father loves you, you will see.”

 

The next day when Joseph returned from school his daddy asked him what he liked to eat.

“Your mum tells me that you like cooked banana.”

“No, I don’t like it anymore,” Joseph said, but his dad made it anyway. It smelled amazing.

“Are you sure?” asked his father.

“No!” Joseph insisted.

"Then how about a game of football?” his dad asked.

“No I don’t want to play with you.” Joseph said. “I am playing with Esther.”

“Okay,” his father replied. “I will play on my own.”

 

All Joseph could think about was his mother. He felt the weight of sadness on his shoulders.The next day he saw his dad go outside,

and he began to kick the ball around on his own. Joseph watched his dad through the window. He wasn’t good at football, Joseph noticed, but he seemed to be truly enjoying the game all by himself.

 

“What is he doing?” Joseph asked Esther.

“I am not sure,” Esther replied.

 

Really, the father was acting; he just wanted to make his children happy.

 

Every day after school the dad asked Joseph if he would like banana, and Joseph refused. But every night, the banana smelled better

and better. Every night father asked Joseph to play football, but Joseph would say he was not interested, so the father played alone.When she had time, the mother met with her son. She would ask him, “How is everything going here?” and he would always reply, “Nothing is good here.”

 

The father tried his best and Joseph remained constant, he would not budge. His father asked him, “Who is your best friend at school?

You should introduce me.”

“He is called Kalisa.”

“Where does he live?”

“He lives in Kayonza,” Joseph replied. Kayonza is a neighboring district of Rwamagana.

 

It was no use. The more the father tried to talk to his son, the more the son stayed distant. The father tried to change his son’s mind. He

didn’t want Joseph to hurt while his mother was working at her job far from home.One morning, early, Joseph saw his father playing football. He watched him through the window of his room. As he watched, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He said, “What! Is he my father or someone else? What amazing dribbles, kicks and running! I don’t believe he is the one.” He quickly removed his room curtain, so he could see through the window clearly. It was indeed his father.

 

Later that day, his father brought his friend, Kalisa, home. When Joseph saw Kalisa he ran to greet him and hugged him, happily.

Kalisa was also happy, for this was the first visit to his friend’s house. They both laughed and looked at each other and then laughed again with joy.

 

Father went in the kitchen and brought Joseph’s favorite banana treat. “Wow it is so good!” said Kalisa, and he took another plate of

meal to Joseph. Joseph refused to eat it, and finally his friend insisted. Joseph ate, and the banana was so good. As they were eating, the father came with a ball and told them to play after they were done. They watched as Joseph’s dad played and they were excited with his kicks, dribbles, movement and juggling. Once they were done, they both immediately joined him in the pitch to play football with him. Joseph didn’t even realize he was laughing and having fun. He really enjoyed playing with dad as well as his friend.

 

Unfortunately the night came, which meant it was time for Kalisa to leave. As he left, Joseph stayed with his father. Joseph’s happiness

made him want to go on playing, and he would have, except for the time.Joseph’s mum came home late, and she found him sleeping.

 

Early in the morning before she went to her job, she woke him and greeted him.

 

“How are you my beloved son?” she asked.

“I am good, my mum,” he replied.

 

Joseph told her about the previous day. Her mother was excited to hear that father and son were now happy. Once again, they were all

together. From that day forward, Joseph begged for banana and to play with his father and Esther. They played together and the family has been happy ever since.

 

Written by BYISHIMO Blaise 2nd November 2013 

 

Website by Pamela Schembri, 2013

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