“Don’t use the sins of my youth to judge me, Father use mercy to judge me”
This is a line from an Ibo song my father loves to sing. When I remember this song I have to smile, it makes me wonder about my father as a boy, a young man, before me, before his salient identity became “father.”
He has always been “father” to me.
Thinking about my father always makes me smile, whether it’s his boisterous smile or the inappropriate PDA he and my mum subjected us to as kids. I remember church on Sunday (half of which was spent in a queue to buy yoghurt or “orange” with our offering money. It amazes me till this day that we were never caught. (Dad if you’re reading this, I think the statute of limitations has long run out) I remember those rare family dinners cooked by my dad and how much we looked forward to them. I can’t help but think that my mum got a bum deal, she cooked every other day of the year but we always made such a fuss when dad was cooking. (Sorry mum!)
He used to be taller, my dad. I remember being 5 years old and looking up at my father who seemed to be 10 feet tall. When he lifted me unto his shoulders, I felt like the world was my oyster and that no one could possibly be taller than me, sitting on his seeming 10 foot frame. His voice needed no amplifier, whether he used it in admonishment, praise or to remind me how much he loved me, his voice bounced of the walls. Many a teenage boy has been frightened away by that voice.
I know I haven’t always made it easy for him; I used to think I knew it all, shunning his wisdom and counsel. Lately I’ve noticed a few wrinkles and a few more grey hairs and I have to wonder which ones are on account of me. Daddy, forgive the folly of my youth and the numerous times I have broken your heart. I may not have listened all the time, but I listened when he talked about music. Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke are some of his all time favourites and listening to their songs are like a throwback to my childhood; ‘let’s get it on’ playing on the turntable, my dad showing us some dance moves that were really cute at home, but made us want to sink into the ground when he did them in public.
He didn’t have children early; maybe this is why he loves us all with such ferocity. The day each of his children was born, he emptied his heart and placed us in it. It is in his heart that I grew, in his heart that I flew. He taught me how I should be treated so that no man would ever be able to dictate my worth.
Unconditional is the love he gave. His faith in me has never wavered. To pay him back, I must live up to this person he thinks I can be. It is this faith that drives me, that propels me forward, strengthening my desire to do better, to be better, if only to be worthy of his unwavering faith.
My life is an ode to his love. His heart, the place I was born. Telling the whole world the greatest love story that ever was; between this father and his adoring child. Now that we are older and he has to let go, each passing year adds another to his soul. This man that has lived for me now has to set me free. You gave us your life, you and your wife. And I pray that God will give me the grace and favour to be able to be there for you both, not as a repayment but because of the love in my heart. Because it would be impossible to repay the love you’ve given and the sacrifices you have made for me. On this day that has been set aside to pay homage to the fathers of this world, I want to say thank you, thank you for love, thank you for life and thank you for my childhood.
But you used to be taller, dad?
We at Bellanaija.com would like to wish all the fathers and fathers to be out there a Happy Father’s day! We appreciate you all. To show our appreciation, we will be running articles this week that focus on different aspects of fatherhood. Enjoy!