I could barely eat my lunch; I was so excited I would finally see Dad, Muli, Mutua and Kanini. I had missed everyone so much. It had only been six weeks since school resumed. But the ‘hole’ I schooled in, made everything seem like light years away.

I stood at the school gate in the sea of blue uniforms craning my neck as I watched families stream in. And then, there he was in his signature brown suede jacket which lately had started to loosen on him. His shoulder blades sharper and his countenance worn, I was overjoyed to see him.

“Dad!” He turned and smiled, my hero! And not far behind carrying the picnic baskets was Muli and Mutua. I jumped and gave them big hugs. I felt safe and sane. Kanini smothered my cheek with a kiss and smiled cheekily as she always did. I began to tear from joy. It swept through me. The last six weeks had been hell. C.A.Ts and punishments for questioning authority, who had now decided to scrap sports and turn school, which I already loathed, into an academic prison. My stress outlet was stripped from me.

It was so refresing having people that I love with me in this hell hole. We finally got a spot to picnic. I pulled out my leso and laid it on the ground. Kanini also pulled out hers so there was plenty of cosy ground for all of us. We kicked off our shoes, I sat close to Dad; my hero. He asked me how school was, I lied, “Fine. I got an ‘A’ in my last CAT.” I said looking at him for approval.

Dad smiled, and I noticed something off about his countenance. His face was more worn than I last saw him. His skin was pale. And his lips were crooked. A tear streamed down my cheek and I quickly turned.  I didn’t want Dad to see me cry, Mutua noticed and he cracked a joke, we all laughed. He was good at making us all laugh.

I looked at Muli and he nodded, he knew what I was asking him when I looked in his direction distressed. “Dad has been sick again? Is it worse?” It was all I ever asked in every letter that I wrote. Dad coughed hard and prolonged, there was this whistling sound with every cough. Tears streamed down my face. Muli tried to distract the now somber mood. “Let’s go and wash our hands, Mueni, please show us where, we seem to keep forgetting.” Muli held my hand and we walked about 15 steps away to the tap in plain site.

“Mueni, don’t worry,” Muli began as he turned on the tap to wash his hands. “He will get better.”

“But his lips are crooked, he is getting skinnier…”

“Dad’s a fighter he will make it. You just focus on school and look for the best in every situation.”

I opened my mouth to say something, Muli shook his head to stop me from uttering anything. I felt someone come from up behind and whisk me in the air. It tickled. I laughed, it was Dad. I hugged him and held on.

“It will all be fine like it was before Mueni!” He whispered in my ear. Tears streaming down my face.