So what’s your dad like? Strict? Harsh? Cool? Or is he freaking awesome! Lucky you. Mine is none of those.
As we sat there I couldn’t help but wonder what other diners in the restaurant thought when they saw us. Friends? Yeah right, probably not, the age difference was too apparent. Uncle and niece? Young naïve campus girl and her 50 year old boyfriend? HA! That’s a good one. Father and daughter?
said I want to see her!”
He pulled out his phone and reluctantly started
scrolling through his gallery. Oh my goodness… it was finally going to happen,
he was going to let me see her! I can’t even begin to tell you how many years
I’d spent dreaming about what she looked like. Was she tall? Skinny? Light?
He handed me his not so fancy Tecno something phone.
Old school guy that one.
For a minute I was scared to look. (Oh come on Hope,
cut the crap, you’ve been waiting to see her your entire life.) So I gathered
enough courage. And I looked, and could not stop looking. I stared long and
hard. It was magical. Same eyes, same nose, same forehead. Two freaking peas in
a pod. She was beautiful, beautiful… a slightly bigger beautiful version of me.
I was not sure whether to scroll for more so I gave
his phone back. Yeah turns out I actually have manners. I don’t snoop through
people’s phones. Ha-ha. He scrolled again and handed me the phone. Wow… I absofreakinglutely
wasn’t expecting that but what the hell, I didn’t mind seeing her again. I
could stare at her forever and not get tired, okay I’d definitely have to pee
and sleep at some point.
in the US doing medicine.”
There was this thing in this voice as he said that…
pride… Exactly, that’s it, pride. It was definitely the same thing you hear in
a man’s voice when he’s talking about his brand new ride or his really hot
Beauty and brains. I could totally understand why he
would be so proud of her. And as incredulous as it sounds, I was actually happy
for her. Impressed yes, but mostly ecstatic over the idea of possibly getting
free consultation for the rest of my natural life! How cool would that be, like
hey my sister’s a doctor and she uses words like hichoptomiasis, yeah that’s
not even a word.
My inquisitive side definitely came out. I asked a
couple more questions. Like what state she was in, what university, what year…
none of which I can remember now. But I swear to God I was paying attention.
It was fun to hear all about her until it was not. He
kept going on and on about her and medicine and the US and her and medicine
and… (Dammit! I heard you the first fifty times!) My patience was running out.
I tried to keep a straight face. Smiling and nodding and fake laughing and
sipping my almost cold coffee. How could he have been so oblivious to what he
was doing? Like come on! You’re telling your daughter whom you barely provide
for about your other daughter whom you took abroad for further studies.
Literally rubbing it in. It felt like he was stabbing me right in the heart
with a steel knife and with every sentence it felt like he was yanking the knife
out and putting it back in.
Finally! Last photo. And as he exited his gallery,
there she was. Wallpaper. She got to be his wallpaper. I mean how do you even
compete with that? That could never be me on that wallpaper. Never.
It hurt, it hurt so bad, so hard, more than it was
supposed to. Way more than I thought it would. But it wasn’t my sister’s fault.
I’m not angry at her. I’m mad at him! Super mad. Picture you finding out your
partner is cheating on you with your best friend, now that anger and pain a
million times more.
My whole life I thought seeing my sister would be the
best thing that happened to me and for a minute it actually was until it hit me
that she had everything I didn’t. She gets to study abroad, she gets to be the
wallpaper, the one he shows off. She got to have him at every school meeting,
every birthday, Christmas, Easter, New Year’s… lucky her.
Ha-ha, I know I totally sound like an old bitter and
withered lady who just had sour lemons for breakfast. But am I not justified to
feel like that? Wouldn’t you feel the same way?
He had the choice to be in both our lives but he chose to be in hers. Then 15 freaking years later he shows up like hey, I’m now ready to be your dad. After I had struggled through preschool trying to explain to other kids why I didn’t have a father like the rest of them. Dreading every composition we had to write about my family or my father. Hating any teacher that would obliviously ask us to stand up and answer stupid questions like my father is a… I would stand up and have no answer then get called out for not speaking up.
I remember this
one teacher who made a really snarky comment, “Some of you are so stupid you
don’t even know your fathers’ names.”
Maybe she’d grown up in a perfect little tightly knit family complete
with a mom and dad and was clueless of anything different from that. Bottom
line is, it stung. No child deserves that. That little girl didn’t deserve
that. It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t there when things went south, I was a child.
His child. Your child dad, I needed you to be there. That little girl needed
you but you were miles away playing dad to all your kids except for one.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to talk myself
out of getting really angry or sad because of something he failed to do or
something he did. “At least he’s trying” that’s what I tell myself, at least
he’s trying. But maybe he’s not and I’m just trying to justify his actions
because he’s half of me. It makes no sense that he could be a perfect dad to
one daughter and a horrible disaster to the other. He can afford to pay for med
school abroad but can’t afford to write one lousy cheque for a public uni here?
Wow! Beats me too.
Oh well… Enough of that depressing story. I’m a big
girl. And this big girl wants to talk to all her male friends and their other
male friends, the friends of their other male friends… Don’t be that guy. The
guy who runs and shows up years later ready to take up responsibility after the
damage is already done. My father was not there for me when I needed him, he
still is not. I would hate to see another little girl go through what I went through.
That stuff scars you for life.
There’s no excuse for leaving your child so don’t you
dare walk away. Don’t be a coward. Stay and be a man. Be a father to your child.
Be there physically, emotionally… be present, don’t just dish out cheques. That
little boy/girl needs you more than you could ever imagine
And hey, if you’re like me. Let down by the one man
that wasn’t supposed to let you down. I want you to know that none of that is
your fault, he’s the one with a problem. Keep your head up honey. Chase those
dreams. One day he’ll regret ever walking out on you.
My coffee had gone completely cold and I couldn’t
bring myself to finish the samosa I had ordered. There was this big lump in my
throat that made it so hard to swallow. I was on the verge of tears. I couldn’t
sit there anymore. I was not about to humiliate myself by breaking down in
“I have to go
home now, I have dishes to do.”
Yeah I know… I could have come up with a better excuse
for having to leave but my head was a mess. I just wanted to get the hell out
of that restaurant. Frankly speaking, I didn’t feel like he was worth anything
more than a lame excuse. God! I regretted pushing for that meeting.
I fought the tears back on the matatu back home. That Super Metro driver couldn’t have picked a better time to play sad music. Celine Dion had never sounded so depressing in my entire life. That night I cried my eyeballs out, trying to muffle my sobs with a pillow so that my mom wouldn’t hear me. In that moment the only question running through my mind was, “WHY HER, AND NOT ME.”
Wow looks like we actually did go back to that depressing story after all. Ha-ha. Hey, don’t be afraid to leave a comment. I want to hear all about your Dad-beat stories and feature some of them on the blog. DM me if you’d like to share yours and inspire someone. Also please share this with your friends who might be in the same situation and of course all the potential fathers out there. We need them to think twice before walking away. Stay safe my beautiful people!!!