I always imagined what my father had been like, the things he liked, the things he did not like, if he was cool, or not. Was he light skinned like me or dark as mum? I would wonder.
I day dreamed about what it would have felt like, to have him in my life, I always wondered what my friends who had their dad’s alive meant to them, hearing them talk about their father’s, seeing them visit on campus always made me feel jealous. I would smile watching them, but as soon as I was alone, I would cry, sometimes.
I felt incomplete without my father and I missed him, even though I never knew him.
I turned twenty in February. Mum came into my room that morning, singing loudly and doing a dance for me. It was so funny. I pulled the duvet over my face and chuckled, she was too much.
She jumped into bed next to me, kissed my forehead and began to tell me how proud she was of me, and how much she loved me
I grinned gratefully at her and embraced her tightly.
She started to cry. I wiped the tears running down the corner of her eyes, but she wouldn’t stop crying so I became alarmed, “Mum, are you okay?”
She shook her head , sniffing her nose. I reached out my hand, grabbed a tissue from the bedstead and handed it to her. I held her hands in mine and looked at her inquisitively, and that was when she told me.
My father was not dead as she had always told me. He was alive and he wanted to meet with me.
“Mum!, how is that possible?” I asked shockingly, gripping her hands tighter.
She sniffed, “I was young Mimi, we were both young and in love. And then I got pregnant and he was scared. He wanted me to have an abortion but I couldn’t and so he broke up with me. Even when my parents got involved, he denied it, he said he never knew me_____”
I was staring at my mother like a kid facing a monster.
“I kept you.” she continued. “My parents took care of you while I went back to school. I hated him Mimi, I hated him so much for what he had done to me. I couldn’t tell you the truth because I didn’t want to hurt you, and I didn’t see the point__”
“You didn’t see the point?” I stressed, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes I didn’t, he never wanted you so you knowing he was alive and just didn’t want you would have hurt you even more” she insisted.
She blew her nose with one hand then continued, “He found me on Facebook, traced me to the office and has being insisting on meeting with you. But baby it is up to you” she added quickly, if you don’t want to go___”
“No, I will go” I dragged the words, sounding unsure and very confused.
Her eyes glared at me in shock.
Suddenly feeling angry, I let go of her hands and rose from the bed, making my way towards my bathroom. I stopped at the door and spoke over my shoulders,
“Set up a place and time, I will meet him” I barged into the bathroom and locked the door behind me
He was alive after all
He just didn’t want me
That hurt more than thinking he was dead.
With shaky fingers, I turned on the shower and got into the bath tub. Folding my knees to my chest, I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.
He was light skinned , I observed as he opened the door to my favorite restaurant.
Mum had set up a meeting there, and was waiting in her car close by.
I came early
I couldn’t wait.
I rose up as he looked around searchingly. His eyes fell on me and I smiled hesitantly. He was tall and very handsome. He dressed up well too, expensive.
He rushed towards me and scooped me in his arms. The perfume he was wearing must have been an expensive one, because it filled my senses with a powerful scent
I let him hug me for a while, then I withdrew from him.
“I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help myself” he apologized, “You are so tall, and beautiful, just like your mum”
I smiled, accepting his apology and took my seat. He took the seat opposite mine.
We stared at each other for a while in silence . A million and one thoughts raced through my mind. I didn’t know whether to be happy or angry. I was sitting with my father, the man I had believed to be dead for the past twenty years, it all felt so unreal. I pinched myself at a point to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
“Mimi” he broke the silence “I’m very sorry___”
“Sorry?” I smiled in sarcasm “You left mum to raise me on her own. Do you have any idea how hard that was for her? How hard it was for me?__”
“No father” my voice raised as I felt anger erupt through me “I needed you, I needed my father, and you weren’t there.” Tears stung the corners of my eyes and I let it flow freely, “Twenty years, twenty years I thought you were dead, and that was bearable. But you were alive, all these while, you were alive, you just didn’t want me, why? Why didn’t you want me? I didn’t choose to be born, so what did I do wrong? And why now?”
“Mimi I was young, I was foolish. I’m sorry”
“Stop saying that!” I screamed in exasperation “Sorry won’t make it alright. It doesn’t bring back the years I had without you”
“Mimi,” he placed his hand on mine, and I pulled mine back. “I know I was wrong, and I have spent most of my adult life regretting walking out on your mother. But I am here now, and I am willing to make things right. I will make it up to you, as long as that may take”
I sniffed, shaking my crossed legs, “I don’t know father, I don’t know”.
Silence fell between us again. I could see that he was hurting too. His forehead was squeezed and his jaw tightened as he looked at me pleadingly.
I rose from my chair after a while, straightening my hands down my jeans. He rose up too. “I’m going home” I said, looking away from him.
“Will I see you again?”
“I don’t know”.
I wore my purse on my shoulder and began to walk out of the restaurant.
I could feel his eyes staring at my back as I made my way out. And I knew in my heart that I was going to see him again, he was my father after all.