I Thought I Knew All About Shadows. Clearly Not [PopScope Series]

Apart from the guarantee of my next breath, my shadow has been a constant feature in my life. Except now, I seem to have two shadows… the other is quite interactive

3 min readMay 4, 2021
(Attempting to plant some spring onion — we’re working on being gentle with our grip)

My shadow is less than half my size, doesn’t require any light to reveal its presence and requires me to house, feed, bathe and raise it. Ever since it figured out how to talk (with a vocabulary that improves weekly), walk and run, it’s been by my side constantly.

Not to brag, but being the “good cop” in our household has added to the already immense manner in which my shadow clings onto me. So much so, that I can’t even leave the house with it noticing because it will break out into a fit of rage, hurt and a tsunami of tears. Hell, since the Shadow has learnt to open doors, I find that I can’t even gather my thoughts in peace in the “Throne Room”. Another example is when the Shadow comes barging in our bedroom, bright and early, on a Saturday morning, to catch a quick cuddle before we begin the day — all I ask is that it at least greets my Partner, which she sometimes acknowledges with a grunt or a nonchalant wave.

I’ve accepted that I cannot move anywhere without this Shadow by my side and it’s almost become my “brand” here, in our neighbourhood. Ordinarily, people don’t inquire about your shadow — but for this one, there’s always a series of questions! “I see you’re without your Shadow today, is it okay?”, “It’s a little weird seeing you without pushing your trademark pram around today, where’s your Shadow?” or “I saw your Shadow with your Partner the other day, it’s growing really fast”, are some of the questions or statements I’ll receive if I’m running errands alone.

Additionally, my Shadow is quite helpful. Often times unsolicited, but always welcomed because it’s sweet. The Shadow makes a feature on work Zoom calls or insists to be part of my telephonic conversations, which I can’t really fend off because it’s a baby-toddler and doesn’t really understand the pushback just yet, so this is my life until it’s old enough to understand. The Shadow has also hit an age where it’s quite assertive on self-independence and refuses help — irrespective of how well-meaning you may be. This firmness leads to quite a mess during mealtimes, “interesting” fashion choices and constant unwelcomed discussions when we give instructions or guidance. You can imagine what it’s like debating with a Shadow whose vocabulary is 75% baby gibberish with a sprinkling of an English or Setswana word.

Nonetheless, the Shadow’s personal growth is appreciated, encouraged and tracked daily. It’s quite exciting teaching it new things, giving it new experiences, marvelling in its daily growth and doing all in our power to nurture their personality. I’ve accepted that I am stuck with my Shadow for at least the next 20 years, after which, it will then possibly latch onto my partner to take the Shadow through the next phase of its life. I know my role is not just to provide and protect my Shadow, but as a Father, I know my presence is critical in shaping it into a Shadow that should be self-confident, independent and play a great role in the greater scheme of society. All responsibilities which I happily and humbly accept.

PopScope is a series where I am focusing on my journey as a father and partner in an often challenging, fast-paced country, that is South Africa. All posts are personal insights, thoughts and observations made, based on my experience as a (almost) 30-year-old, African man trying to raise a steadfast and fearless girl in an increasingly changing world. I also share some observations on the fintech ecosystem of the developing world at PaySpective. Let’s connect on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.




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