In my head you were always perfect
It was before I knew what absent meant
It was when I thought my mother refused you to be with me
It was when in my eight year old mind people could be perfect
It was when only the pictures of you together before I was born and on my first birthday were the ones I looked at,only
I cut out from my memory the stressful calls between you and mother
I wanted you to be perfect
I needed you to be perfect
So that the day we finally meet we will have a life I knew I wanted with a perfect father
Twenty years ago
Thinking about my attempt at the beautiful reunion I played in my head and the actual very awkward seven minute hand shake at the landing leading to your office in that posh building in my university town,has stopped bringing tears to my eyes.
You didn’t even listen to the speech I had in my bag
You didn’t even hug me
You didn’t even offer me anything
You didn’t even tell me how you had missed me all those years
You had a meeting to run to
You had more important things to do
You needed to ask your PA to make the transfer for the flights for your two children to come home for school vacation
You had a perfect life without me
Seven years ago
Mwila is a year old
Her father has been holding her from when my two month pregnancy was still lost in my post gym muscle
He has held her from when my nine month pregnancy induced pity from strangers
He saw Mwila make her grand screaming entrance
He held her at a few minutes old
He bathed her when I couldn’t
He wipes her scathed knee tears
He lifts her to her heart swelling laughs each day as she begs for more and more and more please daddy
Thank you,for making me know to not choose you,in a partner, father!
The memes still trigger the emotion
I am 40,but this time always makes me anxious
I have paid my daughter’s school fees
Her new school uniform hangs ready in her closet,from the PE kit to the hat to the tie,in three sets
Her lunch box supplies in stacks and stacks in her mother’s pantry
Her weekends with me with time for replenishment plans for the tuc
Her smile ready for reception class at the school I knew I wanted my daughter at and worked toward since she was a year old
Why are the memes doing me in?
But where was he?
Why didn’t he do this for me,even as he promised to year in year out,each term and each month until mother stopped asking?
Was I not worth his time?
Was I not worth his money?
Was I not wanted?
Did I not deserve a father?
Was I not smart enough?
Did I not fit into his lifestyle?
Were my attempts to be the golden boy through primary to university and through my employment not good enough?
Will I ever be worthy?
Will he ever know me as his own?
I am 40 but my whimpers and sniffles that of the nine year old me
Must I still try?
But why must I?
Let me get healing
And instead be a better father to Sekgele, more than you have even been to me,father.
Father, was that flimsy attempt at meeting me, yours or my mother’s?
What was that?
Were you ticking a box?
Had you promised yourself or anyone at that, this, and forgot I was the main component in the equation?
Fifteen long years,fifteen,and you slot me amid your children’s swimming schedule?
You didn’t even ask if I could swim
You didn’t invite me to swim with your trio as you call it
I am an outsider in your perfect little life with your perfect wife and private schooled perfect children
You told me about a holiday you hadn’t considered me to take wth on
I have never even been on holiday
My mother was making amends to afford us even a local holiday because there was school fees to pay
Am I supposed to be wowed by your work achievements?
Clearly I am not an achievement
I am a by the way
A by the way that I thought might end with this meeting
My expectations,all hundreds of them including the expensive fashionable shoes I had in mind, dissipated with the exhaust fumes of your car, as you hurried to pick your children and I waited for your driver to take me back home
I will not wait any longer
I will not hope any longer
I will not pain any longer
I will not yearn for you any longer
I will not want to please only you any longer
I will be here father and be just me without you
Fifteen years I have managed that,I am certain I can go another fifteen and twenty and a lifetime,father!