You were there when I was oblivious to the world. You were there when my vocal cords resonated for the first time. When I took my first steps, you cheered me with a jingle formed with my Oriki. Your name I called first. Your voice I know like the very air I breathe. Your face, a constant reminder of your endearing love.
We had our bad times – days when you caned me for being disobedient and, of course, being stubborn; that’s one of the many traits I inherited from you. I will never forget the day I almost set the chicken coop on fire when I stubbornly took the atupa to check up on the birthday present grandma sent to me. Can I also ever forget the day you caught me changing my report card position from 15th to 5th ? I learnt one big lesson on that very day. Or, was it the day I sneaked out to play in the next compound and got myself bitten by Shaggi? The punishments I received for my childish atrocities knew no bounds. In all, you never stopped reassuring me of your fatherly love.
We had our good times together too. Father knows how to have a good time in his own little way. We would spend hours outside at night while I listen attentively as he formulated his own stories about the existence of things around us. He called it “Fabu”; if those stories were true or not I never cared and still don’t. I still remember how you danced to Fele songs even though you were terrible at it; the fact that you made me laugh gave you a sense of satisfaction. You were not rich materially, but you showered me with all the love and little things your money could afford.
We shared our sorrows together, when Aduke the woman you vowed to spend the rest of your life with died while bringing your second child to the world. She left us with the newborn who was to serve as a source of consolation. Then, suddenly, he died too, before he could be christened. You tried to be strong for me, but at night I heard you weep. I wish I had come to you and said “Daddy everything will be alright” but I was overwhelmed by sorrow too. So, I made a vow to make you proud, to excel in my academics, to be “her father’s daughter”; one who would always make her father proud and happy. God knows I tried. I did everything I could, but Baba mi e fori jin mi. I failed! Here I sit with a protruding stomach. The father of which I do not know, and the memory of it, I could not share. I know it`s not my fault; rape is no one’s fault. But the shame I carry is too much. I know you would welcome me with open arms, for I am still your little girl. However, I feel defeated; defeated by the world. I promised to be a soothing balm to your bruised heart, but here I am bringing the pain and heartache all over again.
Even as I write this, I still remain your little girl “her father’s daughter”.