Sammy has made fortunes in the IT world. He develops apps for start-ups and is paid in dollars. His father wanted him to be a doctor but he missed the mark, with only a few points. Knowing what he knows now, I don’t think he would come into medicine. He is not ready for the midnight groans in the labor ward. He had previously asked me why I chose to be a doctor, I told him it is because I had a deep desire to save humanity, and possibly myself.
Sammy has reminded me several times that I should have gone to an Ivy League university, where I would have had the opportunity to be scouted by top global companies like Microsoft and McKinsey. I have told him more than a million times that I am a happy doctor. I would rather be taking care of kids in an isolated ward at a sub-county hospital deep in the intestines of Nyakach than be on a constant move creating profits for multinationals.
“Sammy, medicine offered me an opportunity to learn about life and its ills, particularly the ills of modernity,” I tell him one day when we are on our way to Nairobi, to celebrate Dorah’s birthday. Dorah had just turned 23. I got her a pair of Nike shoes and Sammy organized a bash for her in Milan, and that’s how she crossed over. Still young, but wild at heart.
“What is your greatest fear, Sammy?” I asked him as we scrambled for the basement parking in Milan. He looked at me right in the eye. “I fear bringing up a dysfunctional family,” he said staring into blankness. “I love my wife so much that I fear bringing up kids with her who will become addicts and or criminals. If not, they just become a bunch of unhappy adults. I don’t know how I will handle it.”
Then he tells me how he goes to the extremes to ensure his family never lacks. He also insists on giving children unconditional love as they grow. It is the small humiliations, neglect, and lack of parental presence that make children disconnect from themselves. And then they spend the rest of their lives looking for this reconnection. Some children of course end up finding their true north, and others navigate life as broken adults, with anxiety and always on the edge.
“What do you teach your children ?,” I asked him. His eyes rolled sharply to the left as he reached out for his car keys, which he uses to press onto the lift buttons. 2nd floor. “I teach them kindness, by showing them kindness. every month, my family reaches out to vulnerable people, in children’s homes, in prisons and in the streets, in our small way, we want to embrace kindness, practically.” I looked at him and nod in agreement. Virtues are actually taught, practically.
Milan is punctuated by a motley of humanity. Dorah and her friends are dressed for the wilderness. One of her friends is damn beautiful. I like. “Daktari, huyo ni mdogo bado, she is just 19,” Dorah says when she sees me looking at her friend. I signaled her and told her that it was fine, but I will have her number and wait till she matures. Hahaha. I am joking.
We order a bottle of Glenfiddich, 12. It’s about to go down in Milan. The bills are on Sammy, much to my relief. I was broke.