08 Apr Grandma (Part III)
My father demanded us to be the best intellectually and toughest emotionally. We felt the constant need to impress him academically. However, the growing feeling of dejection and increasing need for affection was undeniable. Initially, for me, it was clearly out of fear of what would happen if I came home with the second place position in my class at the end of the term. Nonetheless, over time, it became a matter of pride that comes with being the best. In everything that I did, there was no room for mediocre performance. My father perceived my confidence level had skyrocketed by the mid-primary school, so he ceased to worry about me academically. I took the bull by the horn, not out of love or compensation for all he provided as a father, but a matter of personal pride when it came to being the best in my class. The school was the only place I could channel all my frustrations from the imprisonment of my father’s world.
We didn’t get many opportunities to see the city. My sadness sprouted uncontrollably into depression though I was too little to understand what depression was back then. You can call it a reclusive life, the type that wasn’t by choice. We weren’t allowed to meet other kids after school. We couldn’t leave the gate or play with other children in the neighborhood. My father timed us each time we went on errands. He did everything he could to ensure we did not have any playtime outside his compound. Since there was nothing we could do about our circumstances, we accepted our fate – destined to live and adapt to my father’s world without recourse.
My dad warned from time to time not to do the things he did but do as he says. As conflicting as this might sound, we knew well to a good extent that our situation was worse than sad. How my father behaved and treated us was in no way close to being right. How could a father claim to love his children and treats them the way he treated us? You want your kids to be happy, but you can’t emotionally express your love to them? You don’t want your kids to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, but you are a chimney who takes to bottle all weekend? You want your boys to grow into gentlemen, but you controlled their mother like a puppet and continually turned her into your punching bag before their eyes? You don’t want them to become bullies, but you hit them at the slightest aggravation? You want them to be smart and have self-confidence, but you shout at and whip their confidence out of their brains? No one has to be a genius to know that kids observe what their parents do.
Every morning, I noticed my father staring into a big mirror in his room while dressing up for work, usually about the same time that I complete my morning chores before getting ready for a three-mile walk to school. He leaves his bedroom door ajar while I sweep past the hallway to the stairway with a broom. I wondered what he saw every morning staring at that mirror. Was he doing everything he could to change himself, or he preferred the easier way? To keep warning us not to be like him? If my father succeeded at anything, he had exceptional children that have the natural ability to discern and live what was right from wrong. None of us turned out to be like him – his desperate prayers answered of course. At least, none of us inherited his anger. We got almost everything he did wrong entirely right. My father only wanted us to follow his words, and we did. We managed to bury all our grotesque experiences and heal completely from the wounds of our childhood memories. How ironic, that we looked up to our father, but we never emulated him.
It was a great thing that we comprehended it wasn’t the usual way of life for any kind, peaceful and loving family. Thanks to grandma, who often told him, “You are fortunate to have wonderful children. It’s not everyday men like you end up with kids like yours”.
My father was quite happy with his achievements as a youngster. However, he knew he was too weak to get rid of his demons. As we grew older and understood our father better, we longed for an escape route. The only way out was not until college, which meant we still had many years to go. My brothers and I would often fantasize about how we wanted to live our lives far from our father’s house. He technically proved how he wasn’t the role model he wanted any of his children to parallel. However, in the last installment, expect to read about how grandma helped us reflect on the right side to the coin; the qualities that made my father yet lovable despite his anomalous life.
Staying alone, a task to deal.
Staying alone—O for a man to be.
Like red coal sinking into the still sea:
A freaking fizz!
Not a sight to see.
Staying alone, amid turmoil.
Staying alone—temptation’s viscous oil.
Youthful haze crying all.
Thoughts so gall, makes it toll.
Not the face of the secret love.
Staying alone without next rib.
Staying alone—odd man be real.
Civilization prolongs time being.
Not even passion can free this.
More trouble for human being.
Staying alone, cold chill nights.
Staying alone—everyday fight.
Heavens—will ever oblige.
Still heart never to be playground.
Staying alone, yet amidst many.
Look out for the final installment of “Grandma”!