Wilful. Precocious. Annoying. My father tried to beat it out of me. Didn’t make things any better. Matter of fact made it worse. Made me resentful, vindictive and rebellious. I would look at him with an evil eye as he hit me. In my mind I knew some day I would grow up and would exact a terrible revenge on him. And I did.
I would wish something bad would happen to me so he would be really sorry. Whenever I walked away from home I wished I would never have to go back to him. So he would be sorry. He was never sorry. Not even till the day he died. But nothing bad ever happened to me no matter how much I wished it so I went away a little bit at a time. Now I have to recall all those little bits that went away to play.
He destroyed any chance of a healthy relationship with him. I don’t think I was really sorry when he died but I pretended to be. I only miss him when I have a question about the family history. My relationship with my father was completely self-centered. Still I was told this was ‘bad’ so I tried to, you know, love him.
My curiosity was unbridled and I didn’t respect boundaries. My risk taking was reckless and frequently dangerous. I never asked for anything. I just took what I wanted. Got me into trouble more than once till I learnt to respect boundaries and eventually even authority.
I didn’t like school and never tried too hard. I thought the teachers were silly and fake. They accused me of lying a couple times and I never lied, not really. My grades weren’t impressive. I only went to university because my father insisted. If he hadn’t I would have been happy making babies, making art, reading, writing stories, travelling, gardening. That sort of stuff. Creative stuff.
I preferred hanging out in the woods or just roaming around till I knew everywhere within walking range. I wasn’t scared of the forests or anywhere else for that matter but I was wary of people. Best job I had was working with the Nigerian National Parks running around in the bush. Better than the Ashoka job which came second.
My best friend was a cat. My other friends were never of the most popular in school ilk. My friendships with people were pretty superficial. And selfish I must admit. I didn’t make too much effort to stay in touch. Maybe I ddin’t care. Maybe I’m just too scared to care. Who knows. Does it matter? Maybe I’ll try a little harder. Why? Cause I should? Or cause I want to? Gee.
When my cat ran away to get pregnant I cried for days. Cried as hard as when I realized I wasn’t going to see my Babushka or my Mama again, I never cried like that over anyone or anything again. Not even when my son died. Not even when my mama died. Certainly not when my Papa died. I loved him when I was a little girl. I never cried when he hit me. Not really. I don’t cry much anymore. Not really. And when I do you can just see me holding it back.
I been holding in the shit and producing a whole lot of it too! I have been telling the narrative as if I was the angel, the victim, the innocent one, the misunderstood, the golden child. I was probably more like Denise the Menace really. I was what the natives called an ‘obanje’ child – difficult. My father despite his 15 year sojourn in the west and his 5 degress was after all said and done ‘a native’.
I must have perplexed and challenged him. Perhaps that was why he insisted that my hair not be cut and never wanted it cut. A spirit child his people called children like me. What I never did understand was that spirit children were usually indulged, beating me seemed to be the very thing he shouldn’t have done.