I watch Ayomide sleep and can’t but wonder “How close am I to the real thing?” Does the child see me and think “Farce”? Am I good enough?
The road to get here was murky, thorny and stony all at once. Before I found myself here, it was easy to look into the eyes of the man I blamed for the childhood I detested. Now, I look back and see with pristine clarity that I perhaps judged the man too harshly. No, not “perhaps”. Without doubt, I judged him wrongly.
“Walk a mile in a man’s shoes…”
I cursed the man and his shoes. Who wanted to wear such smelly, stupid shoes? Then in trying to put as many miles as I possibly could between the man, his shoes and myself, I stepped right into the same shoes and walked the same miles I tried to run from. The more I tried to be different from him, the more I became him. What’s worse, the man I tried so vehemently not to become wanted as vehemently as I did for me to not become him. But in my foolishness at the time, I found his methods incredibly, and interestingly, foolish. Such foolishness.
I was wrong. Clearly.
It was when I must have just hit puberty and had begun to try to find my way for myself that I realized, or so I thought, how wrong his was. How could all the other kids have mums except me? How could I not even know her? …what she looked like? …if she loved me? She couldn’t possibly, and it was all his fault. Why else would she leave? Certainly couldn’t be my fault and if it wasn’t mine, whose could it be but his? It was my father’s fault my mother left and no one could tell me any different. It was my dad’s fault I had no mum…
Such utter foolishness.
With that entirely flawed notion in mind, I went against everything the man ever told me: the lies, the truths and the misyarns. Everything. Everything the man tried to protect me from, I flung myself at. I went shining lights into the places he’d always hid in darkness; went seeking the people he’d barred from me; went digging up the dead things he’d buried away. And everything I sought, I found.
I found out the man I thought was my father was not.
I found out the woman I expected would be my mother was my grandmother.
I found out the man that was indeed my father was long dead.
I found my mother wanted nothing to do with me. Never had.
I found that the man I had always thought to be my father was the most selfless person ever walked the face of the earth, as far as I was concerned.
But all this I found out too late.
“A man who knows not the mistakes in his-story is doomed to repeat them.”
Already, Morolake was pregnant and we were expecting Ayomide. Just like my father had impregnated my mother out of wedlock. Just like my father had been conceived before the man I call father had wed my grandmother.
Rolake and I were to be wed though, that was the plan. We would be wed after Ayomide was born. We would be the generation in which everything changed. We would not be like the men before me, bringing children into the world who would have no mothers. We would be different. We would be different.
We turned out to be the same, just not in the same way. Morolake died before Ayomide was even a year old, leaving me all alone to raise our child. And thus, once again everything was much the same. One man, one child.
Perhaps our entire lives are all an effort in futility. Perhaps everything we fight to not be are the very things we are cursed to become; doomed to endlessly repeat the cycle. Perhaps I shall strive all my life to be as good a father to my daughter as my grandfather was to me and she would only run run run from me and everything I try to teach her.
I see now that my grandfather, was indeed the best father and mother he could possibly be, considering all his shortcomings. A man worthy of emulation. An inspiration to me and to my daughter. The way she looks at him, the way she stretches her hands for him to lift her, the way she says “gwampa”… Sigh. I wonder if I can ever be as good a father to her. I wonder if she will ever look at me with the same eyes. Eyes filled with pride and joy.
“A man who knows not his history…”
How can I show her? Show my daughter the shortcomings of all the men who came before her. How can I raise her without protecting her from the horrible realities of her past? Am I to repeat the mistakes of my father? Am I doomed to fail before I even begin?
Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t.
Now I see even clearer the dilemmas my father was forced through while raising me. Now that I am faced with same, I see the wisdom in his choices and I realise that I must protect my daughter from his ugly truths. I must maintain, for as long as I can, the hero vision she has of him. Wise, strong, dependable grampa.
“Gwampa will catch me before I fall.”
“Gwampa will always be there for me.”
“I love gwampa.”
I love grampa aka daddy. I appreciate him. He knows that now. I’ve told him in thought, word and deed. Now, I can only hope that one day, Ayomide will say also “I love you, daddy”. And if we are lucky, we won’t have to go through half the murky route my father and I had to go through before we arrived here.
This was one of several pieces which made up a week long series titled For Our Fathers hosted by @Rolayomide on her blog</em>