There's a man in the kitchen

Senior Runner-up Entry

By Angel Mhlongo

“This is how you clean the stove!” he says this with so much excitement even though his sweat is dripping onto the collar of his old torn ANC t-shirt. He has been wiping the stove top for a while now making sure it’s squeaky clean before he can walk to the local primary school to pick his grandson up.

My father is in his retirement now but he’s still so strong and likes to keep busy. One important thing I’ve picked up from this man is his open-mindedness. My dad walks my sister to the taxi rank in the early AM’s and waits till the taxi takes off. Exactly an hour later he calls to check if she arrived safely at work.

In this house there are no gender roles, you’ll fully experience this when you come back from job hunting in town and as soon as you open the door you feel the warmth from the heater because dad wanted you to be warm after a cold, busy day.

“These are killing me!” I say as I take off my white All Star tekkies, which are not so white anymore after three years of being worn.

“Mati mohisa makona,” he says (meaning – there’s hot water). What more do I need?!

It’s the little things he does that says he loves me. Him waking up in the morning to boil water, so that when my kids are up they can quickly bath and be ready for school on time, is priceless.

I learn a lot from just watching him live. The way he protects us says, “I’d catch a grenade for you, literally”. When you love someone, do it wholeheartedly today, tomorrow is not promised.

I’m typing this text while he’s in the kitchen making soft porridge for my mom. It’s not the yummiest thing he makes, but it’s the effort for me. Dads are the best. I call him Pa.

In the society we find ourselves in, a man is seen as a strong bull that takes charge, one that controls the situation at all times, calls all the shots and doesn’t do “women’s work”. Things are way different in our household. “Angie sweka xixevho.” (Angie cook some meat.) He says this because he’s already cooked the pap while I was doing some girl’s hair, that’s how I make pocket money.

The small RDP house is well kept, it is clean and everything is packed away neatly, because it’s a joint effort. When my little brother mops the floor, I cook and Pa helps with the dishes. We do this while playing some gospel music on full volume and singing along.

Fathers are special beings and can be whatever they want to be and not blame the society for how they turn out.

“Ahi fambeni,” he always says on Sundays when it’s time for church, meaning, “Let’s go”.

We’re a Tsonga family and my dad is the best!

This essay was one of the winning entries from our competition held in partnership with FunDza. Click here to read some of the other winning entries.