Do you want some water? No, I am fine Gary, I am doing just fine. I did not want to go to school that day. I was forced to and I remember what happened in class that day. My teacher told the class to sit down and as I tried to sit down my body refused to be in contact with anything. Even wearing a boxer short was painful. My classmates quickly noticed my pain and started laughing. Oh their laughs, their cold heartless laughs. My teacher automatically knew what had happened and silenced the class. Tears had already lined my cheeks and I was cursing my father. How dare he do this to me? What wrong had I ever done to him? I was only six years old. Why was he never there when I wanted him, why, why, why? I refused to talk about it and kept it to myself. Such a monster I became because of that. Every time a classmate fell into a dilemma, I did not restrain myself. I laughed until he or she started crying. I would continuously laugh and laugh and laugh until he or she would refuse to come to school. It brought so much joy, a debt repaid I thought. I kind of believe mommy now when she tells me that I used to be a bully in pre-school. Each and every time I walked into the school yard, kids started crying and clutching on to teachers for protection. It’s hard to believe such stories when you are grown up you know!
Anyway, home was home even though. Living with my father’s siblings was a nightmare. They made life very unpleasant for the sake of hating my mommy. My father’s mother never wanted my father to marry my mother. My father’s siblings wanted to stress my mother to breaking point and the best way to do this was to mess with the kids. This hurt me a lot and I would threaten to stab them with a kitchen knife. My father was never there to stand up for us. He would never listen when we told him what was going on. Ignorant as he was, his blindness was such a burdensome curse. He was so blinded by his mother and siblings that he could not see his own children. My mother put all three of us through school, put food on the table, clothed us and put us to bed all by herself. Where was my father, I do not know. Lost in the hypnotic aroma of alcohol or his deepened affection for his mother I guess.
My mother worked hard all day and made sure she was home before the sun set. She would help me with my homework and let me play with her hair afterwards. Winters were often cold. I was afraid of the dark and I would often sleep on my mothers lap in front of the fire. Each time we heard my father at the gate, it had become a custom that we would extinguish the fire, switch off all lights and rush to bed. Not long before that, I used to be enthusiastic about seeing my father when he came home. I would wait for him at the door and help him to take off his shoes. I would sit with him by the fire and try to make sense of the testimony of his day. Now, my father, freezing from the cold outside and the alcohol in him would find wood drenched in water simmering in the fireplace and the distant voices of the people who were sitting there earlier. He would just sit there alone. Gone were the days were I would feel the urge to comfort him. Now I was starting not to care. My mother would tell me of how he used to take me places when I was still a baby. I asked “what places mommy” and the first place she said was “the bar” and she highlighted how happy I would be. I wonder why he stopped!
My brother and I also had our issues. We shared the same bedroom and always argued about space. Fighting was a daily routine for us. I remember when one fight got physical. Oh what a day it was! He slapped me and I ran to my sister who came, all engines blowing at my brother. She was holding a cricket bat and threatened to hit him on the head. I ran out of the house while my brother was in hot pursuit. My sister was pursuing my brother with the cricket bat in hand while our maid was pursuing my sister. I ran into the garage and got a broom. My brother followed and picked up an axe. I stopped and began to stalk my brother. I lashed out and struck my brother in the head with the broom. He attempted to strike my leg with the axe but our maid grabbed it and took it away from him. I continued to hit him before my sister restrained me. I admit, I always had a nasty temper, I guess that assured me that I was my father’s child. Sibling rivalry was not a major concern for me; it was mainly a tool of getting my mothers attention. Of which she did not really pay attention unless there was danger. My brother had an affinity for getting me into trouble. He always sought for ways to make my life miserable. At most, he always focused on my schoolwork. For a seasoned intellectual I surely did not like school. My class exercise grades where always hectic even though I passed my critical exams superbly.
My father did not tolerate failure, if he saw failure he would opt to lash before ascertaining the cause. Had he been a medieval king, he would have been renowned for acting before thinking. My mom had always suggested that my father was that way because his father was the same to him. He believed that instilling fear built upon earning respect. It sounds like such a misguided and childish concept for a grown man. At times, I would find myself wondering if at all, my father had any sense of moral fibre in him. Did he not even see that he was a distant star in the lives of his children? Did he acknowledge that he was a burdensome curse in the lives of his children? His actions alone were so hard to believe that tears seemed to be the only comfort and assurance that things could change. My brother was a highly reserved person, very talkative when he was with the people he was used to but very silent in the midsts of strangers. One day he was shouted at by my father and he was very hurt. He ran out of the house and hid in the backyard tree house. My mother got worried when my brother was not home for dinner and started panicking. She called my father who came home fuming. He called my brothers friends and he drove around the neighbourhood but could not find him. Out of desperation, my father took a walk in the yard and found my brother shivering in the tree house. My father dragged him out and brought him into the house. He then, he then. Ahem, he then beat up my brother and then sent him to sleep. He then set his attention on me and accused me of aiding my brother in his attempt to run away from home. He then beat me up until I was chocking in my tears and sent me to bed. Kids do wrong but why? Why was it so hard to look at the man who was my father? I hardly knew anything about him, even his favourite colour. When he was home, he would be all serious and moody that no one would dare share the lounge with him. I tried, I would get my spelling book and ask him to help me with spellings but he would turn me away. That lack of interest in my life hurt so badly. I felt as if I was a failure in his eyes and redemption was not a possibility.
Going to visit my cousins felt as if I had been liberated from jail. I could spend the whole day playing in mud or on the swing or horsing around with my cousins. Back at home, the only time I had to play was when mommy was around or when the lion was at work. As soon as I saw his car at the gate, I would run inside and go to bed even at midday. I just could not stand being around him. It was so hard to love him, no matter how hard my little heart tried. Mommy was easy because she was always there and she was open and fun to be with. My father was just something else.